MIRACLES IN THE SHADOW

Acts 5:14,15 – And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.

For some people this passage is a little to hard to stomach and could even be called embarrassing. For those who have tasted the power of His anointing it is encouraging and quite believable. When you do a little digging we are talking about more than the ordinary shadow of some unsophisticated fisherman from Galilee here. Actually, the word shadow in this passage is a rarely used word that is describing a manifestation of the glory of God. This is how the Passion Bible notes describes this passage.

“The Greek word translated “overshadow” is episkiazo, which is used exclusively for the power of the Almighty “overshadowing,” such as with Mary, who conceived a child supernaturally by God. It is also used for the cloud that overshadowed Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.This was not a natural shadow created by the light of the sun, but the supernatural overshadowing of God’s power coming upon the sick to bring healing.”

If you combine this passage with Psalm 91 you can come to an interesting conclusion. Psalm 91 is filled with promises to those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty. To the Old Testament believer this is describing the place of safety underneath the shadow of the wings of the cherubim on the ark of the covenant. For us today, we have boldness to come into God’s presence by faith in the blood of Jesus. Psalm 57 gives us a glimpse of this idea in the Old Testament.

Ps.57:1 – Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,

for in you my soul takes refuge;

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,

till the storms of destruction pass by.

The sick and suffering recognized the power of God on the apostles in the early days of the church. Today, that power has not abated. We have access to the presence. We can live in that shining glory cloud of God. For those who dwell there, the Lord will keep them from fear, pestilence and plagues, will drive out your enemies, and satisfy and extend your life.

SHADOW DWELLER

Ps.91:1 – He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

If you paid close attention to this passage, you found the key to being in the world but not of the world. Did you see it? This place of rest in the midst of turmoil and hard work is this, making the Lord your habitation. The temple was the place, in the Old Testament, that God had chosen to dwell. In the New Testament, He has chosen to dwell in His local church. The gathering together of His people for worship becomes our QUIET HABITATION. This is our place of safety from the storms of life and the place of rest and restoration on our journey. It also becomes our place of fellowship, teaching, correction, accountability, and empowerment. Follow the ark, it may lead you through some unusual places, but the ultimate destination is the glorious city of God. So you and me, we are just passing through. Our citizenship is in heaven. As we travel through new and uncertain terrain, you can be sure of this one thing, God Himself is our QUIET HABITATION. Adam Clarke describes the secret place spoken of in this Psalm.

“In the secret place of the Most High. Spoken probably in reference to the Holy of Holies. He who enters legitimately there shall be covered with the cloud of God’s glory-the protection of the all-sufflcient God. This was the privilege of the high priest only, under the law: but under the new covenant all believers in Christ have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; and those who thus enter are safe from every evil.”

For the Jewish person at the beginning of the Christian era, this had to be the most shocking thing of all, entrance into the Holy of Holies. The Jews knew the sacredness of the holiest of all and the power that resided there. To consider entering that place was unthinkable. The apostles not only said we could go there, they said this would now be our habitation. Christ has made it possible for anyone to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Entering His presence and cultivating life behind the veil is our place of safety. In these last days perilous times are upon us. Learn to be a shadow dweller, that’s where we find refuge from everything being thrown at us.

COMFORTERS

2 Cor.1:3-7 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

Paul was able to get by all of his trials and afflictions by the revelation he received from the Lord. He experienced imprisonments, betrayals, beatings, stoning, and even a shipwreck or two. The Lord told Paul that His “grace was sufficient” to get through all of the resistance that he faced. Make sure you read today’s passage carefully because in it you see a very important key to effective ministry. Paul said that his comfort was proportional to the afflictions he endured. He also said that he was enabled to help others in their afflictions because of the comfort he had received. Obviously he could relate to people who were hurting because of the things he had gone through. Maybe there is more to it than that. Maybe Paul actually received an impartation of comfort from the Comforter Himself that he was able to impart to others. That is actually a very important key in ministry, receiving from the Lord through the difficulties of life empowers us to effectively minister to others. In today’s passage Paul uses a form of the word comfort (paraklesis) ten times. Here is the definition of that word from Loew and Nida’s wordbook.

Paraklesis – to cause someone to be encouraged or consoled,

Many of us have gone through stuff in the past. Maybe you went through the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans and were met by God at various times. If so, that is still available for you to draw from as we minister to folks in today’s current crisis. The God of all comfort has comforted you in affliction that you maybe able to comfort others now.

DEATH SENTENCE

2 Cor.1:8-10 – For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,

Paul is teaching something here that is unfamiliar territory for our ‘me first’ culture. He is teaching about the very strength of the early church, resurrection power revealed in us in times of persecution and death. Paul not only died as a martyr, He lived as a martyr. He preached that it was the death experiences that he went through that released the resurrection power of Jesus through his ministry. One example was in the city of Phillippi. He was beaten, put in stocks and bonds, and thrown in jail. It was at that moment the power of God was poured out and Phillippi began to turn to the Lord. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this passage.

“This is an exceedingly beautiful and important sentiment. It teaches that, in the time to which Paul refers, he was in so great danger, and had so certain a prospect of death, that he could put no reliance on himself, he felt that he must die; and that human aid was vain….The effect, therefore, of the near prospect of death, was to lead him to put increased confidence in God. He felt that God only could save him; or that God only could sustain him if he should die…He was near to death; he had no hope of rescue; and the manner of the death which was threatened was peculiarly frightful. Paul regarded rescue from such a death as a kind of resurrection; and felt that he owed his life to God as if he had raised him from the dead.”

Paul’s rescue from death was considered a kind of resurrection. Paul learned to cling closer to the Lord, the power of signs and wonders brought awakening to a city. None of us like going through death experiences, I know I don’t. Its on the other side of those seasons that the Lord does beyond what we can imagine.

“A LAMB FOR EVERY HOUSEHOLD”

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS

“Take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their father, a lamb for an house: … the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses” (Ex. 12:3, 23)

WHAT WOULD OUR CITY LOOK LIKE IF THEY HAD A LAMB FOR EVER HOUSE? HAVE YOU PARTAKEN OF THE LAMB?

John the Baptist speaks out to us today-“Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world!” John 1:29

Of all the Old Testament sacrifices, there is none that gives a clearer or richer revelation of the person and work of our Lord than the Passover. The Paschal Lamb aimed at deliverance, not of the individuals, but of families. He is enough for all of us and there is ample supply in the Lamb! He is covering us and our families!

Christ, our Passover, is slain for us. Christ, the Lamb of God, is still “a lamb for an house”! His blood may still be sprinkled upon the door that the destroyer enter not. There is a new and better covenant, and with the precious blood of Christ, the principle still holds good! Our faith has divine warrant and will be rewarded with the divine blessing. Our prayers avail much and secures us divine influence. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us! I Cor. 5:7 and 1 Peter 1:18-20 tells us that “we’ve not been redeemed with corruptible things but the precious blood of the Lamb”.

One more to remember is that every year the believing Israelite was to sprinkle the doorposts with blood, so testifying that it was only in the blood that he and his house could stand before God; he was also to write upon these same blood-sprinkled doorposts the words of God’s law. Deut. 6:7-9 So every day when our feet hit the floor we can apply this revelation day by day, in faith and prayer, in teaching and living. There is a Lamb available for every house! The Holy Spirit will reveal in His power all the truths that cluster round the promises of God for they are alive and active. I believe that the same God that showed up in Katrina will meet us again! I was visibly spoken to during that season and a new season is upon us!

What makes this Lamb so special? Well in the book of Revelations 5:5-6 it says, “I behold in the midst of the throne stood as a Lamb as it had been slain, having 7 horns and 7 eyes, which are the 7 spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. He is the all seeing all sufficient God for each of the situations that we face.

NO PLAGUE

Ps.91:11 – No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

The world, our nation, and our city has suffered the rage of a virus called corona in the last several weeks. Like Jesus said, “men’s hearts are failing them for fear”. It seems as if the fear has intensified daily as the economy has suffered and the media has relentlessly beat the drum of the coming doom. Churches have closed their doors and the restaurants and streets have emptied. Visiting a grocery store seems like a bad movie of a third world country or a step back into Katrina-land. How should Christians respond to such a crisis? Rather than risk being labeled a Pentecostal fanatic I think I will give the floor to the well respected Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon. Listen to how he dealt with a plague in London as a young preacher.

“In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighborhood in which I labored was visited by Asiatic cholera….Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave…. I became weary in body and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it. As God would have it, I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window in the Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore in a good bold handwriting these words:

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm.”

I love the way the Lord met this young preacher in the midst of his battle with fear. If you are afraid today read Psalm 91 again. Maybe you too will experience a surge of faith and find yourself standing under the shadow of the Almighty.

DEALING SPIRITUALLY WITH PESTILENCE

Lk.21:11 – And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.

All of us are evaluating where we are with this corona pandemic and are trying to make decisions about protecting ourselves and loved ones from this pestilence. I wanted to share a few thoughts with you today about dealing with pestilence spiritually.

First, APPLY THE BLOOD ON YOUR LIFE AND FAMILY BY FAITH.

Ex.12:13 – Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

The blood of Jesus is a protection for the children of God. By looking to His precious blood we can provide a covering for ourselves and those we love.

Secondly, FEAST ON THE LAMB.

Ex.12:7,8 – And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Jesus is the Lamb of God. We feast on Him by devouring the written word and drawing near to Him in prayer and worship. As we feast on Him we are providing nourishment and health to our whole being.

Third, GATHER AROUND THE LAMB WITH THE FAMILY (BIOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL)

Ex.12:3 – Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.

I think having prayer and sharing communion with your biological and spiritual family is essential in times like these. Feasting on Christ with His family is essential for life.

Fourth, RECOGNIZE GOD’S PROMISES OF HEALTH AND HEALING. Here is a promise from Ex.15:26 – So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

 There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.”

The Lord has given us precious promises about health and healing. He said two major things in this passage. He said He would put none of these diseases on us. Next, if we are sick He is the Lord who heals us. Apply these promises to your life by faith. He will strengthen you in this unusual season.

THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR

Rev.22:16 – “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

This is the very last name in the Bible attributed to Christ, needless to say, I don’t think that is an accident. Christ has appeared in these last days to bring light into our lives and to point us to the glorious day that is dawning on our world. We live in the last moments of the darkness, the glorious day is about to bring in upon us. As I was beginning to prepare for my Revelation class I came upon several quotes about the bright morning star. This first one is by Albert Barnes.

“Its place—the first thing that arrests the eye in the morning—might serve to remind us that the Saviour should be the first object that should draw the eye and the heart on the return of each day.”

This connection of Jesus to the morning star reminds us to center ourselves every morning by turning our attention to Jesus. It is impossible to sustain your faith without a consistent, daily time with the Lord. Learn from the morning star and look to Jesus as we begin this new year. The next quote is from jonathan Edwards.

“And he is the fountain of that spiritual influence whereby this light is caused to shine into the heart: he is the luminary whence all this light shines into the heart. And therefore he himself is the daystar, or morning star, that rises in the heart.”

What else can you say, light flows into us as we look to the morning star Himself. Next is Adam Clarke.

“The bright and morning star. I am splendor and glory to my kingdom; as the morning star ushers in the sun, so shall I usher in the unclouded and eternal glories of the everlasting kingdom.”

Clarke says that the morning star is ushering in the glories of the eternal day. All we can say is come quickly Lord Jesus. The last quote is from Matthew Henry.

“He is the fountain of all light, the bright and the morning star, and as such has given to his churches this morning light of prophecy, to assure them of the light of that perfect day which is approaching.”

This light that flows from Jesus is the light of prophesy. As we gaze daily upon the morning star we can chart our course through the turbulence of our new year. The Lord is drawing this age to a close, whatever you plan to do, do it now.

THE BEAUTIFUL COMMUNITY GATHERING

1 Cor.14:39,40 – So, beloved friends, with all this in mind, be passionate to prophesy and don’t forbid anyone from speaking in tongues, doing all things in a beautiful and orderly way.

I love church gatherings. I love the large corporate meetings with amazing worship, the Lord’s incredible presence, and the powerful preaching of the Word of God; I especially love the altar calls. I also love the small gatherings where we see the community of Jesus in action. Paul said that we can have the moving of the Spirit in these meeting in what he called an orderly way. Here are some notes from the Passion Bible that describe these beautiful gatherings.

“This is the Greek word taxis (ORDERLY WAY), which can also mean “in battle array.” Here are some summary observations concerning believers’ gatherings: (1) When the believers gathered, they ate together and frequently observed the Lord’s Table. (2) Men and women participated together and used their spiritual gifts. (3) The main purpose of gathering together was the mutual building up and encouragement of one another. (4) Several people would speak in the meetings, and the leaders would discern and direct. (5) Expressing love was more important than gifts, teachings, or prophecies. (6) Everything was to be done in a beautiful way and in order.”

I can remember the first time the Lord used me with a word of prophesy in a small church gathering. I was only a few months old in the Lord but I felt His anointing come upon me in a special and unusual way. I instantly recognized what it was and waited for the appropriate time in the meeting to share the word from the Lord. What an amazing blessing the gift of prophesy is. I was blessed by His special presence on me and especially blessed to be used by the Lord.

I think today there has been a major restriction put on the gifts of the Spirit in many churches. I have found that the small group gatherings are the perfect place for these gifts to operate. As Paul said, 1 Cor.14:26 – “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification”. This, to me, describes the beautiful order of the Spirit. He conducts the meeting and everyone present is majorly blessed.

THE PESTILENCE CALLED CORONA

Lk.21:11 – And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.

Jesus was prophesying about the end of the age in this passage. He spoke about wars, and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, and men’s hearts failing them for fear. He also mentioned a word that no one wants to hear and no one is comfortable with. The word is pestilence. Jesus said that there would be pestilences (plural) before He returned from heaven to this world. When I think of pestilence I think about some of the things that happened in Egypt just before the Exodus. There were plagues of frogs and locusts, unthinkable outbreaks of boils, the Nile River turning to blood, and flies so thick you couldn’t see. The final tragedy was the death of every first born who did not belong to the Lord. There is something we can learn as we look to the death of thousands of Egyptian sons and the protection that was on God’s people. The people of God were instructed to put the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their houses. This was an act of faith in their covenant keeping God.

What is the lesson for all of us in this story? At the writing of this devotion the Corona virus is entrenching itself in our world’s population. Those that don’t know the Lord have literally nowhere to turn. For Christians, we can look to the precious blood of Jesus. His blood forgives our sins, heals our bodies, and protects us from the pestilences of the devil. As Isaiah the prophet boldly predicted,

Isa.53:3,4 – Yet he was the one who carried our sicknesses

and endured the torment of our sufferings….

He endured the punishment that made us completely whole,

and in his wounding we found our healing.

When Jesus was here on earth He boldly laid His hands on people suffering from contagious disease. Many instances are in the gospels where Jesus tenderly laid His hands on those suffering from leprosy. The results, they were all healed. Jesus hasn’t changed and He is still healing the sick.

In dealing with our current circumstance I would say follow all of the precautions we have been hearing. Washing our hands, properly cleaning our facilities, and staying home if you are sick are all great advice. What can I do spiritually? Ramp up my prayer time and my Bible reading. Don’t forsake small group gatherings and church services as long as that is available to us. If it is necessary to miss services, avail yourself to the live stream services that are available.

Jesus is coming back and this age is wrapping up. We better become like men (or women) of God and not shrink back. The world needs what we have. Maranatha !!!