Archive for September, 2010

The Appointed Time(Part 3)

“Thou wilt arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to be gracious to her. For the appointed time has come. Surely Your servants find pleasure in her stones and feel pity for her dust.” (Psalm 102:13)

What does “the appointed time” in God produce? It produces a special moment in the mind of God to accomplish more in a short period than in other seasons. God has many things He wants to fulfill in the life of His people individually and as His family. Sometimes those things which are a manifestation of His grace at work in us are done in a moment. At other times, things seem to be delayed for a special moment in time. These delays are not denials. For example, as we said in our previous entry, Israel was kept out of the land of promise for forty years because of unbelief. The fathers of ten of the tribes did not take God at His word that the land of Canaan was a land prepared for their inheritance. The result was that they died in the wilderness. Forty years in the bible is often representative of a generation’s passing. But at the moment of a generation’s passing…God, as it were, arises once again to fulfill His design and purpose with a new generation.

God does not forget His promises, but sometimes they are delayed through our disobedience. At other times, God looks for individuals who will obey His purposes, and He quickly sets about preparing them for His fulfillment. The scriptures says, “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro in all the earth looking for those whose hearts are toward Him in order to strengthen them”(2 Chronicles 16:9) In other words, He empowers individuals with His anointing and favor to accomplish things in His “appointed time”, that all may see that this is a work done in God. We see this principle worked out in the life of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was the most unlikely candidate to rebuild the walls of Zion for God’s appointed season. He was “Cupbearer to the king”(See Nehemiah 1). He was far away from the trouble of his people. They were in real-time trouble due to the fact that the walls and gates of their city lay in ruin. They were exposed to their enemies all around, who had no concern for them nor God’s cause. And yet…. when Nehemiah receives the report of the condition of things, He prays, asking God to change things. This gives us the first clue that God’s appointed time had come. After 70 years of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, and with no concern or activity toward restoration in the land, God finds someone concerned enough to pray. His prayer was not a passing momentary thought. It proved to be a true agony of concern. He prayed and fasted, going without food for days; he read God’s word afresh and reminded God of His promises; he confessed the error of his ways and that of his people. This got God’s attention. Nehemiah got an answer to his prayers. God said, in essence, “Nehemiah, Welcome to the next level!” To Nehemiah’s amazement, he had become the answer to his prayer. God will choose those whom He’ll use. But one thing is for sure, when He chooses, it will be a person(s) of prayer. What happens next?

God raises up and releases Nehemiah from his cupbearer duties before the king, to go and become governor over his people. In the cupbearer was a governmental anointing to rebuild the wall of His city. The compassion that rose within Nehemiah as he waited on God activated and released him to be God’s history-maker. He was sent with the favor and assignment from God to rally and inspire his people to rebuild the walls and repair the gates; it was done in record time. What had not been done in 70 years was accomplished in less than 60 days! (Read the Book of Nehemiah). How did it happen? God’s favor…a set time had come. I believe we are, once again, at a special moment in history. God is looking for the Nehemiah of today who will see, in the midst of great challenges, the possibilities for a God-invasion in the land. They will arise and watch God work through them to have mercy on Zion. The set time to favor her has come.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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The Appointed Time(Part 2)

“Thou wilt arise and have compassion on Zion,for it is time to be gracious to her. For the appointed time has come.” (Psalm 102:13)

Who is not aware  that today we are facing the fact of a fatherless generation? This fact needs to be filtered through the history of Israel which is recorded for our instruction. (Read Romans 15:4)

Israel was delivered from Egypt in God’s time, God’s way, for God’s purpose. And yet there was failure on their part (as a first generation) to reach their divine destiny. But, as the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 102, their failure would not cause God to fail in His good purpose. He writes, “A generation yet created shall praise the Lord”(Psalm 102: 18). When would this take place? At the appointed time. God has a special moment when He rises as it were from His throne and fulfills all that He has purposed in His Son, Christ Jesus. Paul reminds us that everything was prepared for Christ. “It is through His Son that we have redemption—that is, our sins have been forgiven. He is the visible image of the invisible God. He is supreme over all creation, because in connection with Him all things were created—in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities—they have all been created through Him and for Him”(Colossians 1:14-16 Complete Jewish Bible).

Most of the first generation of Israelites died in the wilderness, though they had been delivered from Egypt. Why? Not because of the length of the journey through the wilderness. Most scholars agree that they could have been in the promised land within a minimum of two weeks (On foot!). Nor did they fail to arrive because they lost their way. Paul gives a sad commentary of their first generational history: “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness”(1 Corinthians 10:1-5). Please note that although they did experience the supernatural protection and provision of God under Moses’ leadership, bringing them out from Egypt, most of that generation died in the wilderness because of “the fathers” over them.

Each tribe was to have a father over their tribe, one for each of the twelve tribes, to go and spy out the land and bring back a report. Only two fathers (Joshua and Caleb) came back with faith in their heart and a good report on their lips. The other ten fathers of their tribe came back in unbelief and a bad report. The results? Because of the fathers ’unbelief, their entire tribe and generation died in the wilderness. Today, there is a cry upon a new generation of believers, “Where are the fathers who can lead us into our promised land?” They recognize that signs and wonders alone will not fulfill the need or lack of fathered sons in this critical hour.

God’s way is to use fathers to bring the Father heart of God to His children in order that they might carry forward a legacy of His grace and glory into the earth. It takes the grace of fatherhood in the house of God to give to the household what is needed in this awesome hour in which we are living. Please notice that Abraham, “the father of the faithful”, makes this a matter of argument and intercession before God after his great victory over the five kings.(See further Genesis 14). He says, in essence, after God appears to him, “What good is a victory if I have no son to carry on my legacy? I don’t want Eliezer, my servant, to be my heir”(Read Genesis 15). Abraham understood that sons are to be heirs–not servants. So it is true in this hour, God is taking those with servant hearts to become sons in His house (Read Matthew 13:51-52 & Galatians 4:1-7). In the spiritual economy of God only mature sons can rule over His household. This is an appointed time when this process is taking place in the earth.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

The Appointed Time

“Thou wilt arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to be gracious to her.  For the appointed time has come.” (Psalm 102:13)

Are there more favorable times to accomplish things in life than at others?  Yes, there are.  For example, if you plant certain crops in the wrong season you will not get a harvest.  And by the same token, if you observe the appropriate season for sowing you will often reap a harvest that far exceeds your expectation.  In the same way, God has arranged spiritual seasons that bring vast results (often much greater than perhaps years of previous efforts).

The psalmist declared in Psalm 102 that the seasons of God’s favor has come for Zion.  He has observed (and apparently shared in experience) that the season prior for God’s people had led to isolation and depression.   They seemingly felt that they had been abandoned by God.  But he knows the ways of God; that God ends all His “Days” in Creation order in Light.   For example, in the Beginning you’ll notice the order of the expression, “The evening and the morning were the first day”….”The evening and the morning were the second day….” “The evening and the morning were the third day” and so forth (See further Genesis 1).  God was establishing, as a spiritual principle, an order in Creation that would continue as His principle in the order of Redemption.

Again, God announces His ways through the prophet Jeremiah: “For I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them,  and give them joy for their sorrow”(Jeremiah 31:13b).  God promises that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  Things may start off looking bad; they may appear dark as if we have to accept defeat.  But God says, “Not so!” You may be in a time of testing by God, but if you hang on in faith God will see you through to the end with blessing. And in the end–Victory over all the power of the enemy ! (See Romans 8:28-37)  We must persevere to the end, because the end of a matter is greater than it’s beginning.

For example, take the life of Job.  Job was the wisest, richest, most godly man in the East.  God had made him so.  And yet… God allowed Job to be tested on every level.   He suffered the loss of his children; his business suffered bankruptcy; his health failed him, and his friends accused him of “sin in your life”.  And yet, James reminds us to think about how Job’s suffering ended: “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful”(James 5:11).   Again, read the record in the Book of Job: “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold”(Job 42:10).  Job understood that no matter what he was going through… God was setting him up for a greater capacity.  “Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly” (Job 8:7).  Job prayed for his accusers and God released him into a greater dimension of blessing.  There is an “Appointed time” when God comes to His people with favor like nothing they have previously experienced.  As someone has said, “He tests us to bless us”.  Lift up your heart, for your Redeemer is near!  He is the Glory and Lifter of your head!

Copyright (c) Walter Fletcher, Jr., 2010.  Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge,  provided that it is not altered in its original form and content.  Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

LIFE FROM THE DEAD

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment”(Hebrews 6:1-2)

One of the great mistakes when studying the scripture is not entering into the immediacy of a passage for ourselves. When we do this we miss the intent of the written word. It was given to us in order that it might benefit our lives here and now, now merely in a life hereafter. Take for example the verses written to the Hebrew believers…
The writer to the Hebrew Christians is writing with a sense of urgency that the new followers of Jesus would not quickly slip back or fall away in their spiritual progress.

This is a good warning for each of us today. We do well, as did the early followers of Jesus, to examine our footing in God. There is no neutrality in the Lord. If we are not moving forward in our maturity in Christ we are already slipping backwards. Hence, the writer speaks of a maturity meaning, or as the original Greek word implies coming to a “completeness or perfection”. We should be a people who have come to the place that there is nothing lacking in our development in Christ. Today there is a real sense that many of God’s people have slipped back in their experience with Christ and are coasting or as the writer expresses it, they are “drifting away”(Read further Hebrews 2:1-4).
How can we move forward in the Lord in this hour? The key is making sure we have a proper foundation upon which Christ builds in our lives. Notice Hebrews 6:1-2 gives a basic checklist of the essentials of foundational experiences:(1) Repentance from dead works (2) Faith towards God (3) Doctrine of baptisms (4)Laying on of Hands (5) Resurrection from the dead (6) Eternal Judgements. Each of these are more than doctrinal teachings for our minds to absorb. They are spiritual realities that we are called to experience in our walk if we are to “go on to maturity” in Christ. Unfortunately, we cannot go into each one individually here. But let’s take for example the doctrine of the “resurrection from the dead”.
If there has been any teaching or understanding of this doctrine it will only have its emphasis as an “eschatological” or Last Day event. That being, an event when those who have died bodily in the Lord Jesus will be raised bodily to life when Christ returns. And yet, the New Testament gives clear teaching that the beginning of this experience is a spiritual experience. Paul teaches, “If the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in you He will make alive your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”(Romans 8:11). Paul earlier taught that when we follow the Lord Jesus in obedience in Water baptism, it is like a resurrection. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life”(Romans 6:4). Newness of life is an experience NOW if we are followers of Christ Jesus.
What about Abraham? He is our father of faith and our example. He experiences the reality of this resurrection from the dead (at least twice) in his earthly journey with God. The first instance is when he faced the fact that if he was to receive the promise of God to have a son in order to become the father of many nations…it would have to happen through God’s miracle intervention(He’s 100 at this point and Sarah his wife is 90!). What does the scriptures teach? “And without being weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead…and the deadness of Sarah’s womb”(Romans 4:19). He believed God, “who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist”(Romans 4:b). Nine months pass and Isaac is born! Many years later, Abraham would once again be tested in his faith and once again experience the truth of resurrection life when he was told to offer as a sacrifice Isaac, his promised son. In obedience he did so and received him back (in type) from the dead (See Genesis 22 & Hebrews 11:17-19).
There are many today who are proving the spiritual reality of “resurrection from the dead” as they walk through various trials and circumstances. They are watching situations that are “killing the dream or thing” given to them by God. They are being asked to relinquish or “let go” in order that God might give the promise back to them with a better resurrection! Let’s remember the words of Jesus Himself and be encouraged in the midst of what may appear to be an apparent contradiction or reversal in fortune. He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abides alone. But if it dies it brings forth much fruit”(John 12:24). The “seed” life must go into the ground and die, experiencing an “implosion” of life in order that it might experience an “explosion” of life! It is God’s way of doing things.

(c) Walter Fletcher, Jr. 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form or content. Please direct all correspondence or feedback to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com