Let me first say, "We have come so far!" We are growing in faith and allowing God to expand our minds in the knowledge of Him. Looking back across the past decade of our walk with God we see His handiwork so clearly. Our body hears the Lord and obeys Him! We have been transformed by revelation, been touched by words of knowledge, received prophecy, and experienced miracles. Over and over again we have been amazed by the wonderful working of His power in our families and places of work. But we shall not stop here on the journey of faith. Beloved, together we sojourn in the land of promise, pursuing "a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10).
Friends! (Sorry to shout.) There is so much in my heart toward you! Every day you are present in my thoughts, seeing your faces as I pray for God to touch our congregation. My spirit is always on alert, listening for God's word of encouragement, that you might be strengthened and filled with boldness to declare His love. I have shared this with you already, but I love our Sunday mornings together. After everyone at my house goes to bed on Saturday evening, I press into the Spirit concerning our worship the following morning. How I enjoy this time. It is such a pleasure to be quiet before the Lord, already together in the Spirit with you, waiting for Him to speak.
One Saturday evening in March, while preparing for Sunday service, I began to sense the Spirit moving. Many times when the Spirit speaks to me, His voice takes the form of a change in the spiritual atmosphere - like the way you can feel a storm coming before there is a cloud in the sky. I have learned over time that these feelings are a prophetic indication of God's future work in our church. Each time I encounter one, I hold it close to my heart; the feeling becomes a lens through which to see the next days.
That evening, I felt a powerful force pressing in upon me. Something I couldn't define was trying to break free. The energy was seeking a pathway to flow through but was being held at bay inside of me. In the midst of this encounter, I couldn't understand why the flow would be blocked. I was unable to perceive if there was a need for repentance in me, or if the experience was revealing the heart condition of our body as a whole. Seeking wisdom and understanding, I wrote a prayer, and because it lays the groundwork for our continued discussion, I'm going to share a portion here:
"Lord, I can feel a surge in my spirit rising. Like water behind a dam, I perceive your power building and forming a new outpouring. Turbulent and swirling, folding and enveloping, the water is looking for an opening. It is searching for a crack to pour through - a breaking point - a broken and contrite heart - from which this fresh wave of power can explode. Let me hear. Let me see. Father, I have to know."
My prayer for understanding was answered a couple months later when Parker, Elizabeth, and Hunter stood and gave testimony of visions of a coming wave of power. A central theme in all of these visions was that the wave would be released through individual lives - every person obeying the Spirit, walking in the fullness of God's calling. Each act of obedience then working in concert with one another would bring about a sea of change in our city. Two weeks later, Parker delivered a sermon expounding on the vision he saw. He laid out in greater detail God's methods and purposes for releasing this wave. If you have not heard this sermon, it is available on sundownchurch.com/sermons. Go and listen. It will be time well spent. Yes, there is a wave coming. With it, we will grow in the experiential knowledge of His power. This wave will be His instrument to reshape our land, carving out a vast reservoir of life-giving spiritual water.
We have in the visions the Spirit revealed to these three, a prophetic word from our Father. They reveal to us His thoughts and plans for our future. They give us hope that He has great and mighty things in store for our families and our body. They stand as promises, as Ebenezer stones, which we can reference to strengthen our resolve and set our steps. But, by any prophetic word we are presented with a question: Will we believe? Will we build our life upon this word even if we cannot see the wave with our eyes, nor hear it with our ears? Will we stake our future on the fulfillment of this vision? Even in the face of adversity will we persist in our belief? I pray we do.
Believing is everything. It is the vehicle that allows us to know the glory and love of God as He fulfills His promises. To help us place our confidence in these visions, and thereby ensure our experience and participation of their manifestation, we should discuss the gift of prophecy by which they come. The gift of prophecy is so remarkable and unique that Paul called it the greatest of the spiritual gifts and wished that we all would prophesy. This may be a silly analogy, but the gift of prophecy is the biggest box with the prettiest paper under the tree on Christmas morning.
It is an overwhelming experience of joy to share a prophetic word with a brother or sister in Christ. To receive a prophecy that speaks of God's victory over our current struggles, or of coming spiritual breakthrough thrills the soul! The gift of prophecy is born of God's generous nature toward His children and by enjoying the work of the prophetic gifting, both receiving and releasing it, we engage fully in the intimate relationship we share with our Father. For what parent does not have dreams, hopes, and plans for the lives of their children? What parent does not earnestly desire to share these? "For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11) Our Father uses the gift of prophecy, by the working of His Holy Spirit, to share His thoughts with us, that we might stand by faith in that future and that hope. Whether it be a word so strong that we can confidently say, "Thus says the Lord," as Isaiah and Jeremiah did, or if it is a vision or highlighted scripture, the blessing of a prophetic word is to be cherished. Because we know the One who spoke the word, we can trust that it will come to pass.
It is impossible to overstate how precious and vital the prophetic is to us. What amazing things God has to say about it in His written word. In Revelation 19, the angel tells John, "Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10) Astounding! Let's read it again but in the New Living Translation this time (read it slowly to maximize the impact), "Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus." Wow! Consider for a moment that everything in the Old Testament, the old covenant, was a prophetic foreshadowing of the coming of Christ, His redeeming work on the cross, and the intent of God to indwell man with His Spirit. The old covenant was the promise and foretelling of the New Testament. This new covenant, under which we now live, is in the same way a revelation of life during the millennial reign of Jesus on the Earth. When the Old Testament saints obeyed God, we saw a symbol of the real victories we would experience within Christ Jesus. Our obedience to the Holy Spirit today is a foretaste of life after His return.
Put more simply, if you have experienced the moment of overwhelming joy that comes after obeying the Holy Spirit, then you have tasted of life in the millennial reign. Our friend Melanie recently stood and gave testimony of a wondrous day spent in service to the Spirit. On this day, while Melanie drove her route as a postal carrier, God highlighted a young woman, saying, "This one is yours." In obedience, Melanie stooped to care for her and God supplied all the necessary words and wisdom. Moment by moment, God healed her heart. Then, at the end of the day, sharing a moment of prayer with the young lady and her friends in their home, the Holy Spirit moved across them as a breeze. The joy and passion of this experience were clearly visible in Melanie as she spoke to us. The moment of God's glory and presence she described is what life will be like in the days after Jesus' return. Melanie's obedience allowed a wave of God's power to flow from heaven into the earth, giving a taste of those one thousand years. On the day she testified of and on the day she spoke to us, Melanie was a prophet - her every action and word expressing the essence of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus. When we obey the Spirit, we too become prophets of the Millennial Reign.
As if this were not enough, the prophetic gifting is also the vehicle by which the Spirit encourages and edifies the body of Christ. It is like fuel for the fire. A divinely-timed message from Him will strengthen our resolve, renew our energy and refresh our spirit. But, because fuel is combustible, please understand that it must be handled responsibly. The blessing of a prophetic word is a sign of trust from our Father that we are mature enough to handle its contents. We share a collective responsibility to be good stewards of His prophetic promises. To do this well, we are required to leave the word precisely as it was spoken or seen, free from interpretation and any superimposing of our imagination. If we do not do this, we will miss the experience of the fruition of these covenants. That is not to imply the assurance of God's fulfillment of prophecy is in some way dependent upon us. The completing of a prophetic utterance is held entirely within God's sovereignty and power. However, God can accomplish the work He has foretold by the Spirit while we completely miss it. We see this in the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. For centuries His coming had been promised. Word after word and vision after vision disclosed to the prophets of the Old Testament revealed the day and the hour of His appearance. But, His own people missed it. You see God fulfilled His part, but the Jews failed to uphold theirs. They did not have eyes to see the earthly manifestation of God's Old Testament promises. They imposed their own imaginations of who the Messiah should be and what the day of His arrival would be like. When a humble Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, the optics were all wrong. This could not be their Messiah.
Let us not fall prey to the same blunder as the Jews of that day. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to keep in mind that prophecy is a spiritual communication which will first be completed in the spirit realm. Let me say that in another way, through prophecy God is showing us His plans to perfect a spiritual work in us. When Rhea and Amanda described prophecy to us, they characterized it as seeing a mountain range far off. The mountain range in their description represents the spiritual realities God is revealing to them at that moment. In their prophetic visions, they can survey the beauty of the peaks, describing their grandeur in great detail; however, the distance one must travel to reach them remains hidden. This is true because it the hearer who determines the pathway. After receiving a word of prophecy, we can be lead by God in the spirit on His direct route to the promises' expression. Or, we can choose to pursue a spiritual vision with our own understanding. I assure you this will be an arduous journey fraught with wrong turns. God will be faithful to return us to the path of His leading, but walking this way will add needless miles and pain to the passage. When we set the route with our own understanding, or paint the mountains with our own imagination, we are walking a dangerous road. All prophecy must be kept in the Spirit, hidden and protected within Him, so that we may know and rejoice when we stand upon the summit - or for us, when we are riding the crest of the wave.
Yes, there is a wave coming, and we are on the cusp of its demonstration. Right now we stand at Kadesh Barnea. By the testimony of visions, we have received the scouting report from the land of promise. It is a "bountiful land - a land flowing with milk and honey." (Num. 13:27) But, how do we know the report is accurate? What evidence do we have that this promise is indeed spoken by the voice of God? Will we journey forty years in the wilderness rather than entering directly in? The word of prophecy is given to us by the Spirit through the mouths of men and women. Likewise, it is by the Spirit that we know the word is correct. Did not the Holy Spirit in you bear witness to the word when it was released? I know my heart quickened within me as the feeling I had in March, and expressed in prayer, was foretold by those prophetic visions. Therefore, because the Spirit has testified to our spirits that the word of promise is real, we shall believe. In so doing we cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. Through faith, taking possession of God's destiny for our body.
But, the land is not without strongholds - here I am speaking of the ground that is our souls. There are principalities and powers that seek to eradicate the living Word of prophecy from within us; leaving us baron and without hope. However, belief in God's Rhema word shines the light of Christ throughout our beings, exposing all the dark spots. Let us then be vigilant and open-minded, actively seeking to believe the Rhema Word of God; thereby, bringing down the walls of each and every stronghold.
For this purpose (that is the preparation of our hearts for the wave of power), He is laboring in the garden of our hearts. In the coming days, He will uproot any tare that would stunt our belief in the word of prophecy. With divinely timed encouragement and revelation, He will provide pure water to the seeds of His planting. The Husbandman will prune us, that we may bear more fruit of the Vine. Therefore, "Let grace and peace be multiplied," (2 Pet. 1:2) unto us as He begins this work. I implore you all to grant God full access to your being, hiding nothing, not holding anything back, so that His truth may have the complete measure of its working. While He removes the tares, be patient. When He sprinkles fresh water over the seedlings, rejoice. With joy, we will embrace both the comfort and discomfort of God's gardening, knowing that it "yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11).
Therefore, let us live open before Him. May we take to heart the words of Isaiah 66:1-2:
"Thus saith the Lord, 'The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath my hand made, and all those things have been,' saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word."
Why does the Father value the poor and contrite spirit so highly? It is because this heart is forever open to the Word of God, spoken by the internal voice of the Spirit, and by the mouth of brothers and sisters in Him. A person of this character will walk humbly and be ready to receive the outpouring of the Spirit whenever, wherever, and however it comes. The one who possesses a broken and contrite spirit has not become rigid and stubborn in their ways. God's hand can still mold this person, shaping them more and more each day into the likeness of Christ.
And why does He look on the one that trembles at His word? This person will obey! "Trembling at His word," is another way of saying fear of the Lord. Which is not to say we are afraid of our Father, but that we respect Him, knowing His power and strength of will. The one who fears the Lord will stand before their Father eager to move at the smallest instruction from Him. Everything they do will display abundant faith because they know the character of the One who goes with them. It so important that we walk according to Isaiah 66:2. We must be of a broken and contrite spirit, trembling at the word of our Father. This is the only way we can both receive and release the coming wave of power.
A few years ago, I was meditating on how the testimony of Jesus' works, and the deeds of the New Testament saints continue to have relevance in our lives today. As I meditated on this, a picture began to form in my imagination. I saw a vast body of water stretching from horizon to horizon, completely still, with a surface like a sheet of glass. As I surveyed the endless size of this ocean, an invisible hand dropped a pebble in front of me. Striking the water, it sent out tiny ripples in every direction. But, instead of weakening the further they went from the point of impact, the ripples gained strength as they traveled. They became waves, and the waves became tidal waves. The horizon line disappeared, and all that remained visible were the waves produced by that pebble striking the water.
This is the way of God's Kingdom. The results of His working never diminish but are ever-increasing, ever-multiplying, continually bearing fruit. What He did and said through Jesus and the New Testament saints will always be gaining strength until the day of Christ's return. So too are the effects of His working through all of us. Our testimonies of His goodness and faithfulness are pebbles dropped into that same sea producing that same result - waves of ever-increasing power bearing eternal fruit.
Friends, cast aside all fear and doubt as the wave of God's power approaches. If we will obey His leading and have faith in His faithfulness, we will see that the surge is already upon us. Drop each pebble He gives you and become prophets of the Millennial Reign!
I cannot express the depth of my joy as I watch this occurring in each of you. All that can be done is to worship Him together with you in an explosion of praise! Oh God, let the wave come and the shouts of praise arise!
To my friends,