Symbolism of Dreams and Visions

If you have dreams and visions you may often feel at a loss of how to interpret  them biblically. I’ve had that problem and am very hesitant to go on-line to dream interpretation sites. But even after finding what various symbols may mean, I still had trouble interpreting the dream or vision.

For example, I have seen Jesus a number of times  wearing a sharp black business suit. Black usually means darkness or sin, but that couldn’t be the symbolism in this case. I found an excellent site that explained meanings of colors (Collection of Prophetic Meanings of Colors by Carol Nemitz) from a Christian/biblical perspective. I am also blessed to know a brother who has a prophetic gifting and is courageous enough to tell me what he believes the symbols mean. If you know such a person be very respectful of them and their gifting because they are meant to be a gift to the Body of Jesus. Ask them questions. Where did they get their information or ideas? Usually the dreamer will have some indication of the meaning, whether negative or positive. Sometimes the dreamer will be completely surprised but will have a witness of the truth of what the prophet says.

The more you make an effort to remember your dreams the more your dreams will be a blessing to you. Don’t ignore a scene that flashes before your eyes. Yesterday morning I saw a beautiful Victorian house but it faded before my eyes. Was that something from the Lord? I wasn’t sure so I looked it up on the Internet. A Victorian house could represent a tradition or something from the past. A day or two previously I had received a Scripture admonishing me to remember not the things of the past nor consider the events of old (Isaiah 43:18-19. The vision of Jesus in a black business suit came the following morning and I found an interpretation that suggested that Jesus’ appearance in a black suit represented the end of a season and the beginning of a new season. The second vision confirmed that Jesus wanted me to let the past fade and move into a new season. I needed to know that so I could cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His guidance.

Trying to understand the meanings of dreams and visions helps to keep our minds focused on the Lord and His purposes for our lives. He is pleased when we focus on Him and meditate on His Word and His revelations. Be cautious about using dream sites that are New Age and occultic. Accept sites that are clearly biblical and ask the Lord to lead you to someone who can help to interpret/prophesy.

Other good sites:

http://www.joshuamediaministries.org/dreams/dictonary/miscellaneous

http://christiandreamsymbols.com/

https://huiskerk.co.za/free-christian-dreams-dictionary/

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Brother’s Homegoing

My brother and his wife moved back home at the end of October 2017 and that same week my brother was taken to the local hospital Senior Behavioral Unit. My purpose here is not to go into all the details leading up to this tragedy or to detail all the miscarriage of medical treatment. My desire is to tell you, the reader, about his spiritual journey.

H. was the eldest son of five children born into a very violent and abusive home. As is often the case, the abused became the abuser and H. was filled with hatred and mistrust of people in general. He seemed to have a death wish and raced cars nationally with all the violent energy in his body. He was also a man of excellence, but the hatred and feeling of not being accepted lead to him hardening his heart and treating people badly, particularly his wife and children.

When he was taken to the behavioral unit he tried to find ways of persuading the personnel to release him but nothing worked. He was allowed to return to his new home for only a few days before being taken to a nursing home. When he was at home I sometimes stayed with him while his wife ran errands and I began immediately to talk to him about my emotional healing from abuse – and I did use those terms.

I spoke of the importance of forgiveness and how hard it was for me to understand how to forgive, for I hated with as much passionate  violence as my brother did. Then I read a parable that Jesus told about a rich man who canceled the debts of several of his servants. So, forgiveness was canceling people’s debts! I understood that very well and desperately wanted freedom from the bondage of anger and resentment and rebellion.

The Lord forgave me but I still had the grief and pain of the wounds, so I found the Scripture in Isaiah 53 about Jesus taking our griefs and sorrows, and I began to petition Him for healing of the gaping wounds I carried. He came and gave me the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. I couldn’t get enough of Him.

My brother was doubtful but too polite to say that. He did listen without comment, though.

I began to visit my brother twice a week in a nursing home about 25 miles from his home. Twice a week required gas money and I didn’t like to be on the highway especially during subzero weather in snowy and icy conditions. But I had a mission and it was to persuade H. of God’s ability to heal and restore him according to His plans for him.

One time I pointed out that marriage wasn’t as popular in America as it used to be. That didn’t mean it would ever be abolished because it was, indeed, God’s idea. Because it seemed to be failing didn’t mean it would go out of practice because it was a symbol of God’s love for His people; and His commitment to His promises would never fail.

The same thing was true for LOVE. The Scriptures say God is Love. He will never fail to be Love regardless of how little love can be observed around us. H. said he didn’t feel God’s love. So I prayed for the sweet, intimate Holy Spirit to manifest His love to my brother. I asked H. later if he noticed God’s love and he said yes, a little. So I smiled and kept praying for more love.

One day a couple of months ago H. was waiting for me to come. Would I please pray with him for salvation? He had already prayed but he wanted to be sure the transaction was fully completed. So we prayed together – repentance and a request for forgiveness. Then he asked me to pray blessings on every church congregation he had ever attended. We couldn’t remember every congregation, so we prayed some “blanket” prayers of blessing over the many  churches he had cursed. Lastly, he asked me to not forget to pray for his family when he was gone.

He worried about his wife being on the highway alone during winter. He asked her to find a nursing home in the town where they lived but no nursing home would accept him. He told me his wife had been kind and considerate of him even though he had not been good to her. He was pleased and grateful for her faithfulness to come every day to be with him. She often brought home-cooked meals and treats for him. And she read the Bible to him since he couldn’t read it for himself. She washed his clothes and decorated the room according to the holidays.

Those were the last conversations we had before he became unable to express himself very well. What a sacred relationship of trust we built and what an incredible payback on the investment of time and love poured into somebody else’s life. But it was worth  every mile of time and gas money, tears of petition, and patient, humble self-control on both our parts. I told him how proud I was of the changes in his character: his obvious self-discipline when a CNA didn’t come when he needed one; or humility when a young woman had to help him in the bathroom. I saw a quiet personal dignity develop that I knew was a reflection of the gentle Savior living inside of him.

All of H.’s siblings had a part in expressing love to a helpless man who needed to be loved and honored for who he was and most of all, as Jesus’ child. I’m so happy he is surrounded by God’s Love and is rejoicing in Heaven now as he never imagined possible.

 

 

Looking into the Future

 

The following is from a prophetic friend and I wanted to share it with those who read my blog.

The following words represent the sensing of my spirit by way of describing the current state of affairs in both the civil government of nations as well as God’s Kingdom Government on earth among His Body and Bride. Some of this prophetic information will be extremely provocative.  Please remember, however, that these are truly the end-times and there will be no historical relevance or purpose in judging what is to come by using what has occurred in past except as the Word (the Logos) reveals Itself further for our understanding.

In the world that we live in today, civil governments have obviously been aligned in purpose and dominion insofar as creating a one world government.  The pendulum has swung so far left-of-center (Satan’s path) that without the sovereign action of God through President Donald Trump, the end would have come too soon – the end would have come before the final harvest has had an opportunity to manifest. Now, God is not only slowing down the one world government forces, He is also decoupling nations and throwing them into chaos as a means of creating two outcomes.

Outcome #1, God is slowing down the momentum of the antichrist much like the scattering of the Tower of Babel. The scattering of former alliances will bring chaos, and chaos will lead to a search for answers – with Jesus being the only one and true answer. Then, this process will lead to Outcome #2 which is the deconstruction of the enemy’s plans such that the antichrist forces will be set back as the pendulum moves back to the right-of-center (God’s path).  While America will remain safe, she is going to be fighting for her life with new allied forces including these formerly pagan nations of India, Southeast Asia and the former Eastern Block of nations. Israel will always be our closest ally, and she will face new enemies who will become future leaders of the antichrist when it resurfaces later after the harvest. Do not be surprised to find that the outpouring and the harvest will be most prevalent in other nations (involving China and India) and NOT America. While America is kept safe as a sign of security to/for Israel, America will also become even more ambivalent and decadent. America is not hungry, and she will suffer later when “the roll is called up yonder.”  If it were not for The Remnant, there would be no America because God would not save a nation who has been so blessed and fortunate yet pokes Him in the eye whenever she has an opportunity. But, America was established for Israel and God’s purposes by men of Jewish faith (the Jew named Christopher Columbus and his sea-worthy crew of sailors).

As for God’s Kingdom Government on the earth, the march toward “one new man” will become something like the charismatic movement of the 1980’s except that the “one new man” is not a movement — it is God’s final calling of the Bride of Jesus unto Himself by reconciling the Old Testament with the New Testament. This reconciliation will move forward without interruption until Christ returns. The Body of Christ is presently, and very generally, split into three groups – Catholics, Protestants, and The Remnant (the “one new man”).  A return to the early church will not be possible within the confines and pagan boundaries established by the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant denominations who have only placed bandages and pharmacy prescriptions, so to speak, upon the break-away rebellion that led to a total redefinition of God’s Word, God’s calendar, and God’s intent in 325 A.D. The Remnant, the “one new man”, is the final collection of the true Bride of Christ comprised of Jews and Gentiles who know the times and the seasons – and the season is NOW, and the time is SHORT.

Summarizing briefly, look for God to use (1) the “one new man” churches to establish the face of apostolic control over the harvest-to-come as He implements the harvest processes through the five-fold ministries of the “one new man” (early church) Kingdom Government. However, in spiritual concert with those churches, do not be surprised to learn that (2) the vast majority of the Kingdom leadership will emanate from the quiet and unseen locations of their apartments, their homes, their workplaces, and their homeless shelters.  While their names will never be written in any earthly book of Church history – they will be of the highest calling (true servants) with the largest mansions in Heaven one day. Remember, God almost always chooses the least likely people to lead His teams of servants.  This will likely become even more pronounced as the “one new man” goes underground.

Next month — the answer to the question of, “What is “one new man?”

Why I Don’t Celebrate Christmas

Christmas is a hugely popular holiday celebrated by some 2 billion people worldwide. Even people in nations with little or no Christian history or tradition (Including China) are celebrating it in increasing numbers.

Christmas is so big that it plays a key role in the economies of many nations.

Why would anyone not want to celebrate Christmas like nearly everybody else?

1. Jesus wasn’t born on or near December 25.

Remember those shepherds who were “living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night”? (Luke 2:8). December weather around Bethlehem is often miserably cold, wet and rainy. No shepherd in his right mind would have kept his flocks outside at night at that time of year!

As an aside, the flocks raised near Bethlehem, which was near Jerusalem, were for sacrifice at the Jerusalem temple. Jesus, the Lamb of God sacrificed for mankind, was born in a manger at the city where the sacrificial lambs were raised.

The Complete Book of American Holidays tells us that Luke’s account of Christ’s birth “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night” (p. 309) rather than keeping them outdoors.

Also, Luke 2:1-4 tells us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because his parents came to that town to register in a Roman census. The Romans were well known as highly efficient administrators. It would have made no sense to have conducted a census in the dead of winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and traveling was difficult due to poor road conditions. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating!

2. The Christmas holiday is largely a recycled pagan celebration.

Consider the customs associated with Christmas. What do decorated evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe, yule logs, a jolly plump man in a fur-lined red suit, sleighs and flying reindeer have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ?

None of these things have anything to do with Him, but they have a lot to do with ancient pagan festivals.

How did December 25 come to be assigned as the supposed date of Jesus Christ’s birth? It is believed that the emperor Constantine adhered to Mithraism, a worship of the sun, up to the time of his conversion to Christianity. He was probably instrumental in seeing that the major feast of his old religion was carried over to his new faith” ( The Christmas Almanac, 1979, p. 17).

It’s difficult to determine the first time anyone celebrated Dec. 25 as Christmas, but historians generally agree that it was sometime during the fourth century—some 300 years after Christ’s death. And then a contrived date was chosen because it was already a popular pagan holiday celebrating the birth of the sun god!

Similarly, virtually all of the customs associated with Christmas are recycled from ancient pagan festivals honoring other gods.

3. God condemns using pagan customs to worship Him.

Since Christmas is supposedly a day to worship and celebrate God the Father and Jesus Christ, wouldn’t it be a good idea to look into the Bible to see what it says about how we should worship God?

The answer is quite clear. God gives specific instruction about using pagan practices to worship Him. Notice what He says in Deuteronomy 12:30-31a (NIV) “and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates”.

And lest some think this is simply an Old Testament command that no longer applies, the apostle Paul makes the same point in 2 Corinthians 6, where he addresses whether unbiblical religious customs and practices have any place in the worship of God’s people:

The apostle Paul told them in no uncertain terms to leave behind all these forms of worship and worship God in true holiness as He commands. Jesus likewise said His true followers “must worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24)—not revel in recycled pagan customs and symbolism.

4. Christmas is worshiping God in vain.

Since Christmas is a jumble of ancient pagan customs invented by men, and a holiday found nowhere in the Bible, does God honor or accept such worship?

Jesus provides the answer in His stern rebuke of the religious teachers of His day, men who had substituted human traditions and teachings for God’s divine truths and commands: “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites . . . ‘in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ . . . All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:6-9).

In the 17th century Christmas was actually outlawed in England and some parts of the American colonies because of its unbiblical and pagan origins.

5. You can’t put Christ back into something He was never in.Putting Christ back in Christmas may sound like a nice sentiment, but it’s really only a misguided effort to try to justify a long-standing human tradition rather than what the Bible tells us we should do.

6. The Bible nowhere tells us to observe a holiday celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth—but it clearly does tell us to commemorate His death.

Notice what the apostle Paul, conveying the instructions of Jesus Himself, tells Christians: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’

“In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes . . . Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:23-28).

And yes, many believers do what they consider a form of this today in taking communion or “the Lord’s supper.” They fail to realize, however, the full significance of these acts, or that what Paul is actually describing here is the Passover — which is what Jesus Himself called this observance (Matthew 26:18-19; Mark 14:14-16; Luke 22:8-13, 15).

The point is: Jesus expected His followers to commemorate His death – not His birth – by observing the Passover.

I’ve given you my reasons for not celebrating Christmas. What do you suppose God thinks of your reasons for continuing to observe it?

Other resources:

Santa-tizing: What’s wrong with Christmas and how to clean it up by Robin Main. Heavily documented from Scripture and ancient history.

Post on Nov 25, 2006 by Scott Ashley. The Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Celebrate Christmas. Edited for brevity.

When Was Jesus Really Born? Jonathan Cahn on the Jim Bakker Show.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptlsXtTf6n0

The Impact of Words

It is so easy to impulsively say what I think, and later regret the impression I left.. There is much in the Bible that urges God’s children to be in charge of their words. Sometimes just stating a fact can be a strong influence for harm and would be better left unspoken.

Conversely, we have all probably been victims of someone else’s impulsive words. We know how it hurts to be wrongly spoken of. So why is it so easy to speak quickly and regret in leisure?

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Perhaps part of the reason for impulsive words is that we want to fill an empty moment. Why not practice speaking blessings? It isn’t necessary to sound like a Pollyanna to make a positive comment.

Even in one’s silent thoughts it is important to “think” positively. One can curse oneself by focusing on failures or instances where “I wish I could have done better”. But when I constantly direct my mind to kind thoughts and ideas, that’s most likely what will come out of my mouth.

Breaking bad habits takes patience and persistence. But it is important, with the help of the precious Holy Spirit, to begin to bear His fruit. In your quiet time, spend time meditating on the positive qualities you observe in others – or wish you could in yourself. Then, speak those thoughts to bless and encourage others. Let peace be the atmosphere you bring with you when you meet others for conversation.

Speak blessings:

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

Luke 6:28 …bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Numbers 24:9b “Blessed is he who blesses you, And cursed is he who curses you.”

Deuteronomy 28 (NIV) Blessings for Obedience

1 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you.

11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.

13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

 

Fruit of the Spirit

Last week’s post spoke of what grafting meant. Only with grafting can a sprout produce consistent, high-quality fruit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (humility), and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Greek word translated “fruit” refers to the natural product of a living thing. Paul used “fruit” to help us understand the character of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian. The Greek word is singular, showing that “fruit” is a unified whole, not independent characteristics. As we grow, all the characteristics of Christ will be manifested in our lives.

Yet, just as physical fruit needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen in our lives overnight. As successful gardeners must battle against weeds and insects to enjoy the sweet fruit they desire, we must constantly work to rid our lives of the “weeds” of our old sin nature that want to choke out the work of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to crucify the old sin nature. We can say “no” to sin and accept the “way out” God faithfully provides (1 Corinthians 10:13) by following the Holy Spirit’s leading.

As we give the Spirit more control of our lives, He begins to do in and through us what only He can do – to shape us and grow us to look more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

Since God’s goal for all His children is for us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29), the Holy Spirit constantly works to eliminate the “acts of the sinful nature” (Gal 5:19) and display His fruit instead. Therefore, the presence of the “fruit of the Spirit” is evidence that our character is becoming more like Jesus’.

The word “Spirit” is spelled with a capital “S” which means these nine traits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves. It is not the result of any effort anyone can make. Not the effort to have faith or to be loving and kind. The fruit of the Spirit has nothing directly to do with any exertion a believer can make.

The fruit of the Spirit is the natural result of the presence of the Holy Spirit residing in a believer. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Conversely, Isaiah 64:6 says, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…” In and of ourselves, we cannot do good. As Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Now may the God of peace … equip you with everything good that you may do His will.” God accomplishes this as the Holy Spirit indwells believers, changing their character (Philippians 1:6) and manifesting His character.

The most important concept regarding the fruit of the Spirit is that it is the Spirit’s fruit. We are often admonished to be more loving, to have joy, or to be kind, but without the power of the Holy Spirit in us we can’t. It is the Holy Spirit who gives love (1 John 4:7), joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6), peace (Romans 8:6), patience (Colossians 1:11), gentleness (2 Corinthians 10:1), goodness (2 Thessalonians 1:11), faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), humility (James 4:6), and self-control (2 Peter 1:6). Here’s another thought: the precious Holy Spirit is far more than the nine fruit named in Galatians 22. He is also integrity, wisdom, steadfastness. He is an infinite resource of everything we need and hunger for.

As our graft sends out tiny root hairs to drink deeply of the sweet nourishment of the root-stock we grow and are strengthened and begin to blossom and the character of the Holy One can be detected. How gentle and long-suffering He is with His wild shoots grafted in to the root-stock of Jesus.

 

 

 

I AM the Vine

Grafting is a common horticulture technique. It’s an efficient method of propagation that produces offspring genetically identical to the original plant.

What is grafting?

Grafting typically involves joining together parts of two plants to function as a single plant. One of the plants provides the lower trunk and root system. It’s called the rootstock. (That’s Jesus) The other plant provides the upper portion (stems, leaves, flowers and fruit) that has the desirable characteristics (beautiful flowers or delicious fruit) called the scion.

The rootstock and scion must be closely related and compatible for the graft to be successful. (Jesus said a wild branch could be grafted into Him; that’s us gentiles!)

In general, a wound of some type is made on the stock plant. (Jesus was wounded for us.) A piece of the scion plant is then inserted into the wound.

That means the roots of the stock can provide water and minerals to the scion, and the scion can produce food in its leaves and send it down to the roots of the stock. This creates a functioning plant composed of two genetically different parts.

Why graft

As in other methods of vegetative or asexual plant propagation, grafting allows us to create exact genetic duplicates of superior individual plants.

If you find a superior pecan tree, for instance, grafting allows the efficient creation of thousands of pecan trees with those exact, superior characteristics. And grafted fruit trees will bloom and produce sooner than those propagated by seeds (which do not produce genetically identical offspring).

By Dan Gill, The Times-Picayune garden columnist                      Editing and emphasis mine. https://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2015/03/how_when_and_why_plants_are_gr.html

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Just as a vine’s branches rely on being connected to the trunk from which they receive their energy to bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples depend on being connected to Him for their spiritual life and the ability to bear strong, healthy fruit. The fruit we produce is that of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (humility), and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23 KJV). Our source of life and spiritual fruit is not in ourselves; it is in Christ Jesus. We can live and serve Him only if we are intimately connected to Him in a faith/love relationship as the above description of grafting describes.

Jesus emphasized His point by saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This illustration of the vine and branches is no thoughtless generality or careless simile. It is absolute, stark reality. No believer can achieve anything of spiritual value independently of Jesus. All true branches bear fruit. Just as we know a healthy, living tree by the good fruit it produces, so do we recognize fruitless branches as having no connection to the True Vine. This is why Jesus tells us, “By their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:16–20). Those who do not produce good fruit are cut away and burned.

We depend on Jesus for everything, including our very life—“For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). No one can truly serve God until he is grafted into Jesus. Jesus is our only connection with the God who gives life and who produces in us the sweet, healthy fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and self-control which are character traits of the precious Holy Spirit.

Taken from: What did Jesus mean when He said, “I am the True Vine” (John 15:1)? Edited for brevity.                                          GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/true-vine.html

I grew up thinking the fruit of the Spirit were character traits of a Christian, so I worked hard at developing each one; but eventually I gave up. I couldn’t develop patience, for example. I did not tolerate fools gladly! Then one day the Light dawned and I understood that those nine characteristics belonged to the Holy Spirit and He wanted to permeate me with His character!! Oh! What a welcome revelation. Being knit with Jesus as my rootstock and being fed from the richness of my dearly Beloved, the fruit I long to bear is sending out buds and tiny shoots. It is amazing that we are commanded in God’s Word to bear fruit and then the way is provided by Jesus being wounded for us to be grafted in – even wild branches can be engrafted. Our part is to surrender all to Him. He gave everything for me. How can I give less than all I have and all I am in return for His sacrifice and pain to buy me back from Satan and restore me to His original plan for my life? Not to mention the deeply satisfying intimacy of knowing Him and being known of Him in ways that challenge description.

 

Cities of Refuge

In the ancient Middle East it was the custom among the heathen to take a life for a life, an eye for an eye, etc. God set His people apart by directing Moses and Joshua to choose six Levite cities in the Promised Land as places of refuge for the accidental murder of a fellow Hebrew. A person guilty of accidentally killing another could flee the blood avenger by running to one of these cities.

The six cities were to be strategically placed, three on the east and three on the west side of the Jordan River. The avenger was the person who was to protect the family’s rights, so the cities of refuge were provision for the hapless murderer to escape the victim’s family.

There were certain rules to be followed concerning who could come to the city to find asylum from the avenger in each situation (Num. 35: 22-25).

  1. The slaying had to be accidental and not premeditated (Num. 35:16-21).
  2. The person had to flee immediately to the city of refuge. He was safe from the avenger only when he was inside the city.
  3. The person was not safe from vengeance if/when he decided to leave the city. The unintentional killer was a prisoner within the city walls (Num. 35: 26-28).
  4. When the High Priest died the unintentional murderer could safely return home (Num. 35:25, 28).
  5. The law included aliens as well as citizens (Num. 35:15).
  6. The manslayer could not pay a ransom instead of fleeing to or staying in a city of refuge. If a ransom could be paid, a poor person would be at a great disadvantage (Num. 35:31).

In spite of the harsh rules instituted in early Israel, the provision of refuge cities showed God’s mercy for the innocent. Without these cities many people could have been killed who were innocent. This foreshadows God’s grace and mercy toward the innocent and the poor who could not have paid a ransom for their lives. Unnecessary bloodshed was not a part of God’s nature. These six cities were to be easily accessible to all travelers and prominently located. They were to be prepared by the city fathers sitting in the gate waiting for offenders to come. The gates were never closed and where there were crossroads, there were to be signs clearly pointing to the city of refuge.

I found in some Jewish writings that ”No hillock or river was allowed to be in the way, over which there was not a bridge….” “And in every double way, or in the parting of ways, was written, Refuge, refuge” lest he that fled thither might mistake the way.” “The mothers of the High Priests used to feed and clothe those that for murder were shut up in the cities of refuge, that they might not pray for the death of their sons – since the fugitive was to be restored to his country and friends at the death of the High Priest….” (https:www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/lightfoot-new-testament/matthew/centuries/of-the- cities-of-efuge.html)

Kedesh #6946 in Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary means sanctuary, the ultimate refuge.

“I saw no temple in the city for the Lord God Omnipotent and the Lamb are its temple’ Rev. 21:22.

Psalm 20:1-2 (NIV) May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;

may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary

and grant you support from Zion.

Shechem #7926 (Strong’s) between the shoulders, as the place of burdens. “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17, 18).

Isaiah 14:24-25 (ESV)

24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:

“As I have planned,

so shall it be,

and as I have purposed,

so shall it stand,

25 that I will break the Assyrian in My land,

and on My mountains trample him underfoot;

and his yoke shall depart from them (Israel),

and his burden from their (Israel’s) shoulder.”

Hebron #2275 (Strong’s) seat of association.

“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” 1 Corinthians 1:9.

Psalm 45:6-7 “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

Bezer #1221 (Strong’s) an inaccessible spot; fortress.

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” Colossians 3:3.

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.”

Ramoth #7216 (Strong’s) heights.

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places” Psalms 18:33 (KJV).

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:6-7 (NIV).

Golan #1473 (Strong’s) captive.

“…now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. This is why it says: When He ascended on high, He led captives away, and gave gifts to men” Ephesians 4:7-8.

Isaiah 5:13 (AMP) “Therefore My people go into exile because they lack knowledge [of God]; And their honorable men are famished, And their common people are parched with thirst.”

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Let’s take a closer look at Hebron. The word comes from a root (#2275) that means to unite or be joined as in a marriage or a strong alliance as in occult practices. According to Joshua 21:10-13 Hebron was given to the Kohathite branch of the Levites which would have included the High Priests. They received no land but they could live in specifically assigned cities and villages.

Deuteronomy 10:8-9 (NIV) “At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today. 9 That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the Lord is their inheritance, as the Lord your God told them.”

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The Cities of Refuge city fathers had authority to hold court to determine the murderer’s guilt or innocence. If it was an accident, he was given a place of safety in the city. As long as the man stayed in the city he was secure. The power of the city fathers in the Cities of Refuge was unquestioned.

The foreshadowing of God’s character and His plan for the new nation of Israel is revealed in the names of these six cities of refuge. An amazing God.

These cities of refuge are graphic symbols of salvation to be found in Jesus. The cities are for us today a reminder that Jesus is a place of safety. Just as there was a death sentence on anyone who took the life of another, so there is a death sentence on all born in the human race because of Adam and Eve’s sin and subsequent fallen nature. We are guilty both by birth and by choice.

Following is an interesting article about Abner’s murder by Joab in the gate of Hebron. https://fascinatedbytheword.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/abners-death-in-the-gate-of-hebron/

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from the Kohathites. Part IV

TEAMWORK

S, J. and I worked as a team when a newly converted gay dancer with the State Arts Bureau asked for deliverance. We chose S as our leader, with J. as a male co-leader.  Again, I was present as a silent watcher/intercessor/servant.

J. was unassuming but mighty in the Lord and I held him in high esteem. He taught English to adult professionals and used this opportunity for witnessing. After the new believers were established he started cell groups specifically for Christian leadership training. I remember the first year how careful he was to lay a solid foundation in the Word. More than twelve to fifteen individuals became a security risk for meetings, so he kept dividing, and by the end of the second year he had possibly two dozen cells-far too many to maintain by himself. I also remember when several Chinese businesswomen told him the Lord was calling them to be pastors. He lived in an apartment just above me and came down so we could talk about this or that problem. He had been taught that women shouldn’t be in positions of authority, but he recognized the call on their lives, so we talked about weakness inherent in male and female leadership so that he could prepare them properly.

J. was not an intercessor in the usual sense of the term, but once in a while he would knock on my door and say the Lord had sent him to pray for me, or my brother. He had not met anyone from my family but when we began to pray the Lord came down in a way I can only describe as awesome and powerful! Onetime, we were praying and the Spirit led me to speak to some demons troubling him. Deliverance! This was an unplanned event but he accepted it so humbly. Of course, confidentiality was extremely important because J was a fellowship leader. The Scripture in 1 Corinthians 13 about concealing what might hurt someone you love comes to mind.

SERVANT

In another university in a different city I acted as a personal intercessor for a European teacher of French. Although he was a Catholic religious and I a Protestant charismatic, he actively sought out my prayers and even allowed me to hold him accountable at times.  This was a heavy responsibility, so I shared everything with a married, Spirit-filled young woman, to help me stay balanced and pure. These types of intimate interrelationships are precious beyond telling – the trust and respect held for one another in the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, I’m not so foolish as to present these people as being perfected already. Commitment to the Lord, knowing who we are in Him, and trust in each other is the key.

I mailed money to A, an African student of medicine when he was transferred to another Chinese city after learning Mandarin in Beijing. The Chinese postal workers hated me for that, so finally I started mailing the money as cash, which was risky. A. wasn’t a good communicator, not even telling me if and when he received the money, but at the end of his stay in China he called me with a story. It seems the head of the university where he studied feared and hated him because he was active in organizing protests when the school authorities were abusive. You see, the Chinese educated African students in exchange for foreign currency to pay tuition, room and board. To increase the amount of money the Chinese could keep, they refused to heat the dorms and even limited the amount of food they served. Worse, A. was isolated, his food and spending allowance withheld. He had no other way to get food until I sent money! When he returned to Beijing he was very thin but in high spirits.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS

Since returning from China I have been praying for the fulfillment of the redemptive gifting over this area. M is to be a City of Refuge to the weary travelers and ministers who pass through. We who live here are to be hospitable and offer what we have to refresh and restore our brothers and sisters in Jesus to strength and vitality.

I have tried to make my home hospitable to those who need a place to sleep while traveling, or to store things in my garage for a period of time as a concrete way to pronounce redemptive blessings on my American home town. And I can feel the recoil of the enemy. I kept a youth ministry couple in my extra bedroom for nearly a week two different years. Perhaps they will tell others about my extra bedroom.

My purpose in writing is to tell why being “second” is my gifting and that I find it deeply satisfying. Whether I am a door guard or an emergency intercessor, or inspire others to worship and sing to Jesus, it is all a joy. Coming along side those who carry the responsibility of leadership is not always joyful; for they aren’t always kind or understanding of their need, but my obedience brings a sacred intimacy with the Holy Spirit that defies description.

People tend to be unperceptive and I don’t need affirmation in these areas. My walk is with Jesus only and my desire is to be obedient to His promptings. Each committed Christian has a unique story to tell. The inability to tell it just makes the intimacy with Jesus the more treasured.

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Deut. 10:8-9 “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God promised him.

 

PROPHETIC STATEMENT CONCERNING 2019 AND BEYOND

From my prophetic friend:

Beginning in the fall months of 2016 and continuing through the calendar year of 2018, the Father has been using a strategy of “the turn-about”. The turn-about affects the national and international geopolitical governments of man, and creates an effect of taking what was intended for evil by the one-world-government leaders in America and across the globe and thereby “turning things about” – turning things into positive results for the Kingdom government of God. Every mechanism used to deceitfully create nefarious outcomes has been exposed and turned into something God uses for good.

Now, what is next – what will 2019 be like and how will it impact America and the entire earth? The answer is that now “turn-about is fair play”. In other words, what the enemy has created for evil will not only be turned into something good for God’s people, but it will seek “fair play” (justice) and be turned back against the perpetrators and the evil ones. When this occurs, the evil doers will experience seven times the level of destruction that they intended for God’s people and for America. Up to now, turn- around and turn-about has occurred to expose and deliver God’s people. Now, the enemy will suffer extreme judgment for the evil seeds that he has sowed for decades all across the nation and the earth. Now, “fair play” will bring down strongholds – not just expose them – and come back against the evil ones. The bringing down of strong holds (“the deep state”) will last for three years involving 2019, 2020, and 2021.

2019 will become known as “The Year of Man’s Government” as directed by the Holy Spirit. The manifestation of God’s Kingdom Government will become congruent with the Government of Man in America. The process of bringing Kingdom Government back into the realm of Man’s Government will begin to accelerate within the three-year period noted above. This process will conclude its mission in ten years – by the end of 2028. The deep state will be obliterated and completely replaced by moral and ethical government. What happens in America will spread to many other areas of the globe and will bring many other governments into congruence with America.

Summarizing . . .

First came a tectonic shift on the earth (2016).                                                                                Second, came the turn-about (2017-2018).                                                                                      Third, and now, the “fair play” or judgment (justice) comes back upon the shoulders of evildoers (2019-2020-2021).                                                                                                                  Fourth, comes the maturation process lasting a total of ten years that will complete the bringing of America back to its roots of Judeo-Christian heritage (2028).

The Great Awakening has begun. More on this topic later.