CARRY THE ARK

Josh.3:17 – Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Everyone wants to carry the ark of God, at least they think they do. That often changes when the cost of carrying the ark becomes clear. In today’s passage the priests were called to walk into death itself to prepare the way for the rest of God’s people to enter the land of promise.

Years ago I was planting tree in Coos Bay, Oregon raising money for our Bible College. I remember one day being discouraged to the point of giving up. I felt like the sacrifices of living in the mountains and planting trees was more than I could bare. The Lord encouraged me that day by these priests in Joshua. I was reading a devotion by Watchman Nee and the Lord strengthened me to finish what I had started. Looking back at that dilemma I was in makes me laugh today. At the time it is was enormous and the Lord met me powerfully. Here is that devotion that I still remember almost fifty years later.

“We must have faith to see all God’s people brought into their inheritance. That is His purpose, and it will be carried through. But as a means to realizing that purpose, God needs those willing to step right into death if need be, and to stand there steadfast until all are safely over. Because that little band of priests did so, holding firm with the ark in the place where death threatened, a whole nation passed dry-shod clean through Jordan. Not one soul remained behind! Of course it was not they but the ark of God that opened the way into a land of promise. Never forget that. But note this too: it was they who took it there and held it there. By their act of faith in standing with the Lord amidst death, others passed into abundant life. Am I ready for this?”

So maybe you feel like throwing in the towel, the sacrifice just doesn’t seem worth it. What does it take to change all that? Just a glimpse of God’s harvest and your connection to it changes everything. Let’s carry the ark down into the rivers of death, supernatural harvest is the sure result.

ACCELERATED LIFE

Jn.4:38 – I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.

The blessing of the Lord has an accelerating effect on everything it touches. In this passage Jesus is using the move of God in Samaria as a glimpse into the day when the whole earth would experience supernatural harvest. He had ministered to the woman at the well in Samaria and her amazing testimony served as a catalyst for many other Samaritans to come to Christ. The Lord takes that situation and begins to apply the word from Amos about sowers overtaking the harvesters. He was speaking about the harvest that would come to its peak at the end of the age. I believe we are experiencing the beginning of that Amos 9 prophesy in our world today. Here is a description of this verse from Barclay’s Commentary.

“Jesus went on to show that the incredible had happened. The sower and the harvester could rejoice at the same time. Here was something no man might expect….There is something else hidden below the surface here. The Jews had their dreams of the golden age, the age to come, the age of God, when the world would be God’s world, when sin and sorrow would be done away with and God would reign supreme. Amos paints his picture of it: “Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, when the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed” (Amos 9:13). …It was the dream of that golden age that sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting, would follow hard upon the heels of each other. There would be such fertility that the old days of waiting would be at an end. We can see what Jesus is gently doing here. His words are nothing less than a claim that with him the golden age has dawned; God’s time is here; the time when the word is spoken and the seed is sown and the harvest waits.”

This is a word of prophesy I have been standing on and experiencing for over forty years. I think the full manifestation of this word is beginning to break out among us now in the year 2020. Put yourself in a position to be part of this exciting word. Get involved with your talents and your resources in the Lord’s harvest and watch favor, unprecedented favor, break into your world.

REAPERS, PLOUGHMEN, AND SOWERS

Amos 9:13 – Sept. – Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when the threshing will overtake the harvest, and grapes will ripen at the time the seed is sown, and the mountains will drip sweetness, and all the hills shall share in it.

I will never forget how fast things happened when we experienced revival outpouring in our church beginning in 1994. We saw the same kinds of things as before but there was a huge acceleration on everything. There was an acceleration in financial provision, souls being saved, and major increases in the area of miracle healings and deliverances. It seemed that things that would take weeks, months, and years would happen in a moment of time. We saw healings of all sorts from blindness, HIV, cancer, heart ailments, and many others. We had seen these things over the years but now there was a distinct acceleration. We saw Beyond the Grave begin with its 20+ years of a surge of souls being saved. We saw Mary’s Song begin with its radical display of supernatural restoration of broken lives and families. That’s what this Amos prophesy is all about, a season of shocking supernatural miracles in every arena of our lives. This last week the Lord has been reminding me of this amazing passage and speaking a word of acceleration of miracles over our lives in 2020. Here is a word from Adam Clarke on this prophesy.

“The ploughman shall overtake the reaper. All the seasons shall succeed in due and natural order: but the crops shall be so copious in the fields and in the vineyards, that a long time shall be employed in gathering and disposing of them; so that the seasons of ploughing, sowing, gathering the grapes, & treading the wine-press shall press on the heels of each other; so vast will be the abundance, and so long the time necessary to gather and cure the grain and fruits.”

I believe there is a surge of miracles, financial provision, and harvest of souls for those engaged in His work in these last days. The only way you can miss it is by putting down your harvesting tool or by stop sowing into His work. The Lord is serious about His church and He will bring unprecedented glory on His bride in fulfillment of the Amos prophesy to close out the age. I am in a state of unprecedented expectancy. Put in the cycle and reap, the ploughman is about to overtake us.

“God, your God says so”

MERRY FRIDAY by Parris

– Amos 9:13-15 The Message (MSG)

“Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” God’s Decree. “Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel: “They’ll rebuild their ruined cities.They’ll plant vineyards and drink good wine.They’ll work their gardens and eat fresh vegetables.And I’ll plant them, plant them on their own land.They’ll never again be uprooted from the land I’ve given them.” God, your God, says so.”

Last year I really pushed to get clarity on my voice-to lift it up like a trumpet. In Jer. 23:28 says, “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?” God want to breakthrough in your lives and others. Fire comes into our lives to refine and bring out the best, then after we are tested he uses our voice like a hammer to break up the fallow ground or the rocky soils in our lives and others! USE YOUR VOICE MY FRIEND!

Well 2020 is up and running just like that. Time doesn’t wait around for us but just keeps on with it. Frank and I, on a whim, brought a 19ft Airstream and took off after Christmas to explore the great outdoors with our two pups camping at Florida State Parks. It was hilarious, yet wonderful, cramped yet caught gazing at stars at night, exhausting but contending for joy. While on this trip we embraced 2020 in a trailer in a state park with a beagle and terrier when the word of the Lord came.

It won’t be long now that your head will swim, and things will follow you on the back of your heels. Seasons will overtake another, as we break off the fallow ground we will experience fresh harvest. This supernatural outbreaking will be both spiritual and with financial blessings that is wholly beyond nature. Each one of us will experience the fullness of God with unbroken continuance. Unceasing outpouring of riches tapping into hidden reservoirs of supply! There will be no break in the heavenly husbandry! The Work of Grace will work in harmony with every aspect of your life. God your God says so!

SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

Gen. 8:22 – While the earth remains,

Seedtime and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease.

I had to learn quickly about provision when the Lord called me to pioneer a church in New Orleans in 1979. I had spent my previous six years as a Christian living in a Christian community. Like everything else, community living had its pros and cons. For example, it wasn’t easy to turn over the whole pay check every week. We had a common purse so everything went into the kitty. The positive, I had no concern with bills or financial matters, that was someone else’s concern. The problem I was facing in starting a church was this whole provision thing. I had to provide for my family as well as figure out finances for a new church. That’s when someone turned me on to a book from Oral Roberts on seed faith living. Those principles of sowing and reaping enabled us to get started in our ministry with God as the source of our supply. Here are some thoughts from Oral Roberts about seed faith living, these words can be a huge help in your life.

“Noah’s first acts after the Flood were to build an altar and to sacrifice to the Lord. God was pleased and made promises to the human family through the faith of Noah. He also instituted the Law of Seedtime and Harvest: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest . . . shall not cease”. When God created the first living thing, He gave it the ability to grow and multiply. How? Through the Seed. Your life began by the seed principle. Every act of your life since your birth has operated by the seed principle—springing from good seeds or bad seeds you have sown—whether or not you were consciously aware of your seed-planting. The principle continues today. To overcome life’s problems, reach your potential in life, see your life become fruitful, multiplied, replenished (that is, in health, finance, spiritual renewal, family, or your entire being), determine to follow God’s law of seedtime and harvest. Sow the seed of His promise in the soil of your need.”

So have you bought in to God’s plan of provision? Connect yourself to the Lord’s work financially and see God as your source. You too can begin to enjoy the harvest of a seed faith lifestyle.

FORTY YEARS

Jn.4:35 – Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.

God’s word is more powerful than any of us can realize. After all, everything that is was created by the power of God’s Word. God’s word has power for salvation and healing as well as creation. The Word of God is also prophetic. It declares and forms our future. This verse in John has been instrumental to the founding and shaping of Victory Fellowship. It has been involved in everything from those early evangelism teams to Feed the Multitudes. It has continued shaping our course with life groups, Beyond the Grave, Feed the City, and Mary’s Song. This prophetic word has been the heart beat of our community, challenging and empowering us to reach our city with the good news of the gospel.

Something that stands out to me in this passage is the eternal presence of ‘I am’ in this verse. Jesus said not to put the harvest off to four months in the future. He would also say don’t get caught up in the ‘glory days’ of the past. What would He say? Look again, the fields are white right now for harvest. After forty years He is still calling us back to the fields, the harvest is ready.

Just as He did with His first disciples so many years ago, He said ‘launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch’. He is still calling new ‘fishers of men’. The funny thing about the Lord is this, He loves to call the least likely to effect our world. Who knows? Maybe He is calling you to launch your boat out into the deep.

I see this forty year anniversary of Victory Fellowship as a transition. One awesome season has come to an end. The effect of our church over the last forty years is impossible to gauge; thankfully only One is able to judge it and we will leave that in His hands. Leaving behind one season inevitably leads to the entering of another season. What will this next era of our church look like? Who will rise to the day to lead the charge? The Lord will suddenly raise up new voices and new talents to meet the challenge of this generation. I don’t want to linger too long thinking about the glory days gone by, “I am” is moving amongst us and I want to be included in the new voices that usher in His kingdom.

CONSIDER THE LILIES

Matt.6:28 – So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…

What is Jesus getting at? Why did He say for us to “consider the lilies?” He was saying that the lilies don’t need our help to grow. Plant them in the proper environment and they will do just fine. We don’t have to fuss and hover over them, there growth is certain. After all, the Lord is the Master Husbandman. Actually He is always at work taking care of us. The Lord was talking about worry and our daily provision. He said simply do your part, seek first the kingdom, and everything else will be sorted out. We don’t have to be anxious and strive, the harvest of the kingdom will always come about. Here is a story from A.B. Simpson’s devotional that illustrates His point.

“It is said that a mother found her small boy standing beside a tall sunflower, with his feet stuck in the ground. When she asked, “What in the world are you doing there?” he naively answered, “Why, I am trying to grow to be a man.”

His mother laughed heartily at the idea of his being planted in the ground in order to grow like the sunflower. Then, patting him gently on the head, she said, “Why, Harry, that is not the way to grow. You can never grow bigger by trying. just come right in and eat enough good food and have plenty of play and you will soon grow to be a man without trying so hard.”

Harry’s mother was right. There could not be a better answer to the question: “How do the lilies grow?” than Hannah Whitehall Smith’s comment, “They grow without trying.”

Our deepest spiritual life is the life of self unconsciousness through which we become united to Christ. We live continually on His life, being nourished, fed and constantly filled with His Spirit and presence and all the fullness of His imparted life.”

Harvest and provision happen without us really trying. We focus our attention on the Lord and His kingdom and harvest is certain. Plant your seed in fertile ground and go about your daily responsibilities. Don’t be anxious by delays or uncertain timing, in due season your harvest will suddenly appear. Consider the lilies, they are beautiful and abundant.

CROWNS EVERY YEAR

Ps.65:11 – You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.

You ever take time to think of all the resources you go through in a year? How much food , clothing, and stuff does it take for you to function each year? How much does all of it cost?

If you really want to get crazy, think about the resources to make America function for a year. Add to that countries like China, Mexico, or Great Britain; the amount of provision to sustain this one planet is quite unthinkable. The amazing conclusion, the wealth and generosity of God is just over the top. He crowns every year with His harvest of abundance. I don’t want to treat that as common or insignificant; I want to give thanks to the Lord for His continual, abundant supply. Here are some comments from Spurgeon on today’s verse.

“The harvest is the plainest display of the divine bounty, and the crown of the year. The Lord himself conducts the coronation, and sets the golden coronal upon the brow of the year. Or we may understand the expression to mean that God’s love encircles the year as with a crown; each month has its gems, each day its pearl. Unceasing kindness girdles all time with a belt of love. The providence of God in its visitations makes a complete circuit, and surrounds the year. And thy paths drop fatness. The footsteps of God, when he visits the land with rain, create fertility. It was said of the Tartar hordes, that grass grew no more where their horses’ feet had trodden; so, on the contrary, it may be said that the march of Jehovah, the Fertilizer, may be traced by the abundance which he creates. For spiritual harvests we must look to him, for he alone can give “times of refreshing” and feasts of Pentecost.”

Now let’s get specific for a moment; what has the Lord done in your life this past year? Has He provided your resources again? Has He kept your feet from stumbling? Has He brought harvest into various areas of your life? Has He opened new doors of business or ministry opportunity? He crowns every year with His bounty, we just need spiritual sensitivity to see it. As we celebrate another year of harvest this Thanksgiving let’s join with David and say, “the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.”

BEYOND COMPREHENSION

Rom.11:33 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Just when you thought you had God figured out He blows you away again. His ways are higher than our ways. Everything from Creation to redemption astounds us with the magnificence of God’s glory and wisdom. His prophetic insight, revealed through the apostles and prophets, causes us to stand in awe before His unfolding mysteries. He has a plan for everything. In my life I have watched as the iron curtain fell and the bamboo curtain was penetrated by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Who would have thought that I would see the gospel preached openly in the former Soviet Union. Now we stand on the precipice of the great final prophetic events of the age. First the Islamic world will be shocked by the sudden harvest of souls

BEYOND COMPREHENSION into the Christian world. And finally, one last revival that will shake the nation of Israel to its foundation. Today’s verse touches on the mysterious and prophetic nature of our God. Here is how R. C. Sproul describes it.

“The first lesson in systematic theology deals with the incomprehensibility of God. The fullness of the essence of God’s glory so far transcends human ability to sound its depths that we are left in a state of awe before him. I am not saying that we are involved in some sort of mystery religion where the things of God are unintelligible; what God reveals we can grasp, to a certain degree. Central to the teaching of John Calvin was the axiom… “the finite cannot contain or grasp the fullness of the infinite.” Even after we are in heaven—when we are no longer looking through the glass darkly but basking in the refulgent glory of God—we will not have an exhaustive knowledge of the Creator.

Eternity is not long enough for the creature to come to a comprehensive knowledge of God, because even in eternity we will be creatures, and as creatures we are finite and will remain subject to Calvin’s axiom…. The depth is so deep that we cannot plumb it.”

So once we begin to recover from seeing His greatness revealed in the redemption of this age, then we step into the age of all ages. Eternity will be an unfolding of the greatness of our God.

FOUR MONTHS

Jn.4:35 – Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

Sometimes the unthinkable happens. The planters are overtaken by the harvesters. Jesus may have had Amos’s prophesy in mind when He was describing this supernatural harvest. Amos 9:13 – “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it.” Amos was describing the harvest at the end of the age, Jesus was saying that this time had come. Here are some thoughts from Barclay on this supernatural harvest.

“For once, it is the contrast between nature and grace of which Jesus is thinking. In the ordinary harvest men sowed and waited; in Samaria things had happened with such divine suddenness that the word was sown and on the spot the harvest waited. H. V. Morton has a specially interesting suggestion about the fields white for the harvest. He himself was sitting at this very spot where Jacob’s well is. As he sat, he saw the people come out from the village and start to climb the hill. They came in little batches; and they were all wearing white robes and the white robes stood out against the ground and the sky. It may well be that just at this moment the people started to flock out to Jesus in response to the woman’s story. As they streamed out in their white robes across the fields, perhaps Jesus said: “Look at the fields! See them now! They are white to the harvest!” The white-robed crowd was the harvest which he was eager to reap for God.

Jesus went on to show that the incredible had happened. The sower and the harvester could rejoice at the same time. Here was something no man might expect. To the Jew sowing was a sad and a laborious time; it was harvest which was the time of joy.”

So maybe these are the days we are living in, the days when the reapers catch up with the planters. When that begins to happen look up because the Day of the Lord is at hand. Maranatha !!!