Talking with the Lord on Saturday, December 3, 2021, as usual I asked him the question:
“What is going on right now, Lord? What are you doing?”
And he began telling me, as he nearly always does.
“Making the dark, darker,” he said.
“There are still a few slivers of gray and white among the dark places, and I am closing those gaps and making it all dark. Very dark.”
I knew that wasn’t all there was to it, and it wasn’t. He continued.
“I’m also making the light, lighter. Brighter. The contrast will become ever more evident around the globe, as those who have preferred the dark are beginning to long for the light.” For Jesus, the Light of the World.
I knew that Father God is not responsible for the darkness and so I waited for more discussion. He went on to explain.
Making dark places darker is making them much more obvious, much more evident. Far more repugnant to those who have loved the darkness… up until now. That love is turning.
A spiritual revival has sprung up in various places around the planet in recent years, growing more widespread; gaining more attention.
It is a precursor of a soon-coming global outpouring of the Holy Spirit with tremendous worship and joy, miraculous signs and wonders, miracle healings, salvations and deliverances. Years-long prayers and intercessions are coming into fruition; patience is paying off.
At the same time persecution and murder of believers is worsening. The battle for the Faith — the faith of believers — is certainly not new. It started with the apostles.
But Christians worldwide, and particularly prayer warriors, have been under many deadly and increasingly vicious attacks in recent days, some insidious or temporary irritations, but some long-lasting disasters.
All are designed to distract from the Word of Truth and from the work of the intercessor. The enemy assumes (rightly so in many cases) that it’s hard to minister to other people when you’re in real distress yourself, physical, mental, emotional, financial, family, or community.
The increasing supernatural darkness can never stop the Light from coming, the overwhelming, engulfing glory of God.
2022 will be a year of contrasts, challenges, conflicts, and confusion. And a year of confirmations and celebrations.
Do you sometimes have doubts? Wondering, questioning your faith and then feeling guilty about it, those kinds of doubts?
You’re not alone.
“Doubting Thomas” is a familiar Bible character. One of Jesus’s original apostles, he had seen all the miracles. He’d even participated in some of them!
And yet, “tch, tch, tch,” he declared he would have to see and feel Jesus alive again for himself, in order to believe he’d really been resurrected.
What a disappointment Thomas must have been. Jesus commented, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Did you know Thomas wasn’t the only one? Hundreds of people saw Jesus back from the dead, alive and well just as he had promised. “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.” (1Cor 15:6)
And yet some of the apostles doubted! When they saw Jesus, “they worshiped him… but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17) Amazing.
But doubting wasn’t a new sensation for them. Jesus had explained more than once that he would be killed — he had to be killed to fulfill prophecy — but don’t worry, he would rise again! And they just didn’t quite believe it.
He’d done many miracles along the way. Multiplied food, healed sick people, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, raised dead folks. The twelve hadn’t just seen it, they had done it too! So how could they doubt?
Well, the word doubt in Matthew 28 is “distazo,” meaning to waver; to believe two opposing things. “Yes, it’s true. No, it’s not true.”
Jesus spoke that word to Peter. Jesus said, “Come,” so Peter did, he left the boat to walk on the water like Jesus, but soon began to sink.
“Why did you doubt?” Jesus asked him. (Matthew 14:28-31) “Come” surely meant that Yes, Peter could do it, he could walk on the water too! And so he climbed out of the boat. But as his senses saw, heard and felt the storm, his resolve wavered. No, he couldn’t, all his senses said. Jesus could, but Peter couldn’t.
Chiding him, Jesus pointed out the problem: Peter’s wavering between belief and doubt; resulting in little faith. Peter called out for help, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Mat 14:31 ESV)
One other thought: Jesus’s Why question means Peter could choose between two options: “Yes, I can do this,” or “No, I can’t do this.” He chose the right one first, but then switched to the wrong one.
After Jesus rose from the dead, his followers (men and women) still had problems with doubt. Maybe his promise wasn’t of a physical resurrection, they probably wondered; maybe it was only spiritual. But the tomb is empty — where is his body?
Jesus’s voice convinced Mary but she couldn’t convince the others. They all had to see him in person, hear his voice. Thankfully Jesus was understanding, and fulfilled their desire. (Mark 16:9-11)
Wavering is still a problem with Christians.
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting (wavering), for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas 1:6-8 NASB20)
Doubt / waver here is the Greek word “diakrino,” meaning to examine all the facts in order to determine the truth, but never coming to a final decision. Yes, it’s true! No, it’s not true! Faith-nullifying wavering and doubting.
Paul also addressed this problem. “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1Cor 16:13 NASB20)
Do you have doubts sometimes? You’re not alone. So did the apostles! Just don’t stay there. Choose the right option.
Matthew 4 and Luke 4 describe the temptation of Jesus in the Judean desert. Most of my life I had a mental image of that desert as being mostly sand dunes, rocks and lizards. One day, out of curiosity I decided to check out that wilderness, where it was, what was in it, what it was like at that time.
I wondered, what was there out there that could tempt Jesus? During the 40 days before Satan showed up, that is. Here’s some of what I learned:
East and south of Jerusalem, it’s one of the smallest deserts in the world, much of it lying adjacent and west of the Dead Sea. Craggy and rough, it’s hilly and mountainous with steep cliffs and deep ravines. It was difficult but not impossible to traverse on the well-used paths and trails that criss-crossed the area.
There are streams and many wadis, some containing pools of water in shaded areas; and also beautiful oases. The most famous oasis in the Judean Desert is in Ein Gedi near the northern part of the Dead Sea, called David’s Waterfall.
There are also many fruit trees and other vegetation (see the section on trees below).
Sparsely inhabited but not empty, the desert contained several small villages on its edges. Bethlehem was one, a place where many of Jesus’ relatives lived.
Bedouin encampments the size of small towns (the Bedouin were and still are very hospitable people to visitors) plus camels, sheep, goats, and donkeys.
Leopards and other wild animals also inhabited the area, although leopards are scarce today.
This palace complex was atop an artificial hill built by Herod the Great, the site of several archeological digs through recent years. After his death this opulent summer “resort” was used by many Roman officials.
Also in the desert is the fortress of Masada which overlooks the Dead Sea, captured and built up by Herod the Great as a military base. Both Herodium and Masada were occupied by Roman officials and solders who regularly traveled to and from those sites. Both are Israeli National Parks and popular tourist attractions today.
Many fruit or nut trees occupy wadis and oases, including date palms, pistachios, wild figs, carob and acacia:
Carob / Locust trees bear fruit that is edible green or dried; the dried fruit is used in candy and other foods as a substitute for chocolate. The sweet, soft flesh of the green fruit is called “honey.”
Carob and acacia (below) are legumes, members of the pea and bean family.
Acacia is a “rain tree,” so-called because its leaves fold together in rain or high humidity. Edible and primarily used as animal fodder, it provides helpful gum and has many medical applications also. The Tabernacle and Ark were made of acacia wood.
Considering everything there was for him to see and do in that wilderness, what was Jesus tempted with?
Food, people, animals, a magnificent natural environment and impressive man-made structures — a better question might be, what wasn’t Jesus tempted with?
Anything and everything that human beings today are tempted with, including distractions, tempted Jesus in that desert. Think he doesn’t understand your situation? He does.
I Cor. 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)
And Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”
Recently I heard someone say, “We need to dig the wells again.” I thought that meant we need the anointing of God that once flowed freely in the life of the church. Remembering the 1970’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Florence, I murmured a quick prayer, “Do it again, Lord, do it again here!” (But the words I’d heard were “We need to…”We need to…”)
At a meeting with several other intercessors this week, the Lord began speaking to us:
“The spiritual wells of the Holy Spirit that were opened here in the 1970’s have become clogged with chunks and rocks and boulders and dirt. Doubt, unbelief, wrong belief and ignorance. Anger, worry, anxiety, frustration, depression, disappointment, even complacency and apathy have been piled on.
“Many distractions and diversions, the ordinary busyness of life have been dumped in until there’s little sign the wells were ever there. It’s time to dig those wells out. You, this small group of you, can begin that process.”
(Holy Spirit continued…)
“New wells are being dug, present tense. Where a well never existed before, a new well is springing up — in a living room, a storefront, a back yard, a church building, a workplace, even a school. Young children who were told Bible stories about Jesus now believe them; Jesus is their Savior now. They are beginning to pray for their family and classmates, teachers and other adults. They will pray for the sick and they will be healed.”
As he spoke I began to see these new wells, almost like grass sprouting up here and there. But these weren’t water wells — they were oil wells, each one topped by a flame! I realized that they weren’t just wells of God’s manifest presence, these were wells of his supernatural power. “Fire power,” to ignite his passion in our hearts to see people saved, truly saved. Rescued, healed, and delivered.
His supernatural fire to burn away things in our lives, including some things that aren’t bad in themselves but would hinder God’s plans. (Matthew 3:11-12.)
The message ended with a thought-provoking statement, two assignments, actually:
If you truly desire revival, you have to “re-dig” the old wells, clean out those self-imposed blocks of spiritual debris; and
Dig new wells for the Holy Spirit’s presence to flow through, not allowing preconceived notions and memories of his past work to create blocks to his working now.
How, Lord? How do we do this? Here’s what he answered.
By repentance, prayer and intercession, praise and worship
Listening and obeying the Holy Spirit as he specifically directs our actions, our prayers and decrees
Allowing the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate in our lives
Teaching the Word, including by “show and tell.” Dealing with Ignorance in the body of Christ, as much as it depends on us; our words, testimonies and examples are powerful
Exercising authority over spirits of compromise, complacency, apathy, deception and distraction in our own lives and in our areas of influence
Repentance and forgiveness aren’t just important, they are essential.
Some of us were here when God’s spirit was poured out in Florence, and some of us are responsible for clogging up those wells.
We took his blessings for granted. We got busy with life, we let distractions and diversions block his presence. Deception too, believing the lie, “That was nice, but this is real life.”
Others of us weren’t even born yet, but that’s no excuse to accept the status quo.
We can take the initiative to repent as did Nehemiah. (Nehemiah 1:5-11.) Ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. Ask the Lord what to pray and pray that; what to speak, then speak that.
God delegated his authority to the body of Christ to decree, declare and command what he wants done in the earth. Do we really want to see revival?
Matthew 3:11-12 (NASB) “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Nehemiah 1:5-11 (NASB) “I said, Please, LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps the covenant and faithfulness for those who love Him and keep His commandments: let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.” “Remember, please, the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I have chosen to have My name dwell.’” “They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. Please, Lord, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to [fn]revere Your name, and please make Your servant successful today and grant him mercy before this man. Now I was the cupbearer to the king.”
This is going to be long. Hope you will be patient as you read, and also pray as you read.
The other night as I prayed, I asked again, “Who are you, Lord?” He replied, “Chief Warrior. Lead Warrior.” Oh my.
A lengthy conversation ensued with images and descriptions of what those two terms mean. The next morning I did some online study on what those functions look like in the natural world. All of that brought on a great deal more prayer about these functions in the spiritual world, and the conflict going on in the heavenlies today. I began to realize that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are involved in spiritual warfare a great deal, more than I usually considered.
Leading the army of Israel, Joshua met a man one day who described himself as captain of Jehovah’s army. Joshua asked him, Whose side are you on, ours or theirs? It soon became obvious that this was no ordinary meeting, not an ordinary man or even an ordinary angel – if there is such a thing. It was Jehovah God himself.
“And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy. And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:14-15 KJV)
Thinking about these things, I asked myself (and the Lord) another question. Is there a difference between Chief Warrior and Lead Warrior? Yes, there is, and God is both.
The Chief Warrior is in overall control of all military branches. This work includes:
— Supporting the overall mission of national security and defense
— Information gathering
— Intelligence receiving
— Decision making
— Strategic planning
— Appointing and delegating authority
— Providing funding, people and materiel to carry out plans
— Giving orders
The Lead Warrior carries out those orders, leading and fighting alongside other warriors.
In America, “The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of all United States Armed Forces as well as all federalized United States Militia. In this capacity, the president exercises supreme operational command and control over all military personnel and militia members, and has plenary power to launch, direct and supervise military operations, order or authorize the deployment of troops, unilaterally launch nuclear weapons, and form military policy with the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. However, the constitutional ability to declare war is vested only in Congress.” (From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powers_of_the_president_of_the_United_States)
One notable American Chief Warrior was President Dwight D. Eisenhower. While he had extensive military experience, he never fought in combat. A notable American Lead Warrior was Douglas MacArthur, who fought in combat but was never President.
Several American Presidents did serve in both functions but not simultaneously, including George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. None served in both capacities at the same time.
However, King Albert I of Belgium did. “King Albert I of Belgium (during WWI) was one of the last Kings to take the risk of joining his men in battle. When Belgium entered the war, King Albert I took personal command of the Belgian army… With him in command the Belgian troops were able to hold off Germany long enough for Britain and France to prepare for their own clash with the Germans. He never stopped fighting with his men… It was said that whenever he was on the front lines the Germans refused to fire on him out of respect for him being the highest ranked commander in harm’s way… At the end of the war, King Albert I led the Army Group Flanders and liberated Belgium. Once Belgium was free King Albert and his family returned to Brussels to a hero’s welcome.” (From https://historycollection.com/7-royal-escort-kings-led-armies-battle/)
I firmly believe that God himself is involved in spiritual warfare a great deal these days, as Chief Warrior AND Lead Warrior. Who do you suppose is winning this global battle?
Living here and now, believers in Christ have God the Holy Spirit living inside of them, interested in their daily activities, their thoughts and wishes. Instructing, explaining, giving out assignments and directions, including what to pray.
If we are inhabited by God himself, and if we are praying what God desires for us to pray, then what might hinder us from getting those prayers answered?
Unbelief, which can come from (1) a willful refusal to believe, or (2) ignorance of who God is, his character, his love, his grace, and his will. The result is the same, a lack of active, energized faith. Faith and belief are from the same Greek word, pistis.
Matthew 13:58, Mark 6:5-6 – Jesus could do no mighty works in Nazareth because of unbelief.
Matthew 9:25, Mark 5:40 – Jesus put unbelievers out of the room (case of the ruler’s daughter).
Acts 9:40 – Peter also put unbelievers out of the room (case of Tabitha/Dorcas). Read the passage about Aeneas first, then this passage.
Peter put the unbelievers out of the room first, before praying. He prayed not for the dead woman, but to get God’s instructions on what to do about her. Then he turned and just spoke to her, as he had done to Aeneas, telling her to do something she could not do. And she did it. There was a good reason to put the unbelievers out, unbelief can kill you.
In Mark 9:23-24, the father of a demon-oppressed boy came to Jesus after the disciples couldn’t help him. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
Honoring the small faith the boy’s father did have, Jesus helped his unbelief – he healed and delivered the boy. (Jesus told the disciples, this kind comes only by prayer and fasting.)
Misbelief, a mistaken belief, believing the wrong thing, such as:
Miracles ceased with the apostles, not for today – yet more miracles occur today than ever.
Healing is not in the atonement, it’s not always God’s will – but Jesus healed ALL that came to him. The word for healing is the same Greek word for salvation. You can’t parse this word, it’s the same, single word: Greek sozo, soteria.
“Whatever will be, will be” – but that’s from Eastern religion, it’s not a Christian principle.
You can’t really know God’s will for sure – but He wants you to know his will more than you want to know it. See Colossians 1:9.
You don’t deserve answers to prayer because of past sins, or not being good enough. But salvation is by grace, it’s not deserved, it is by accepted faith. So are answers to prayer.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Current sinful practices may hinder answers, but it’s not because you don’t deserve answers. You put up a barricade to receiving answers by believing the wrong things.
Doubt. Doubt may come before faith, and frequently does. Doubt simply means trying to decide between two things; the choice and decision is yours. This is usually from the Greek word diakrino, to examine in order to make a determination; to judge, discern, contend, waver, determine; doubt.
In Matthew 21:21, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”
In Mark 11:23, he said “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
James 1:6 translates this word as wavering, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Doubt is not bad unless you remain there, never coming to a decision.
Note: Sometimes you have plenty of time, but sometimes you have to decide quickly. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God can you make the right decision when you don’t have much time…
In Matthew 14:26-32, Peter was headed to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. As the wind arose he looked at two things, Jesus and the boisterous waves. Doubting his own ability (and perhaps his survival), Peter had to make a quick decision. He made the right one. “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Belief problems can be solved. Hindrances to successful prayer, God-directed prayer, can be removed. Studying the scriptures and getting to know God’s character is essential to that, because active faith – belief – comes by hearing, present tense, the word of God (Romans 10:17).
(Notes adapted Class Notes, Principles of Intercessory Prayer.)
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.)
Your silence says it all. I don’t feel angry, I just feel sad and grief-stricken at Christians, and especially pastors and other church leaders, who refuse to answer when asked the question, “Who did you vote for?”
Because it matters.
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14)
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16 NIV)
One candidate claims to be Catholic, but he does not follow the church’s precepts. He was refused communion at a local Catholic church because of that.
He supports abortion (child sacrifice) and many other ungodly things. He promised if elected he would govern by those ungodly beliefs.
He plainly told people to vote for him at campaign events, in news print, emails, snail mail, television and radio ads, billboards and yard signs, on social media and more across this country.
Repeatedly he said, “Vote for me.”
And so, Christian friend, did you obey him? Did you vote for him? This matters. Because if you voted for him, you were spiritually yoked to his platform and principles. You have invited a curse into your life. I can no longer trust you, which is sad too.
“Wait and see. Keep praying,” the Lord told me, and so I have been. Since then:
On the evening of January 1 as I was praying before going to sleep, the Lord gave me a mini-vision of an array of angels dressed in battle armor, thousands upon thousands of them in the heavens. Silent and still they stood arm to arm, facing the earth. Above and behind them a fierce spiritual battle was going on, but these warrior angels weren’t taking part in that battle; they were protecting the earth.
On January 2, the Holy Spirit told me, “It’s coming down.” He showed me the warriors descending from the heavens onto the earth. My prayers became even more intense.
On January 3, he said, “The battle is joined.”
On January 4, he added, “We are now on a war footing.”
After that evening I haven’t heard anything specific from him during my night-time prayers. There’s just a deep sense of continued watchfulness.
Despite having received those words, like so many others I was terribly shocked at what happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. I realized that the Lord’s word to me about 2021 was coming to pass.
What will happen next? The Lord hasn’t told me. He may or may not. He just keeps saying, “Wait and see. Keep praying.” This is a spiritual battle and it’s not over.
Late in 2018 I read many opinions and prophecies from around the world about the year ahead, from both secular and spiritual sources. The majority were optimistic and encouraging, although some did contain warnings about continued opposition from certain areas.
“Overall things will improve,” they said, “socially, politically, and spiritually, eventually. There may be a bit of conflict beforehand — but 2019 will be a good year, even a great year.”
That was thought-provoking to me, considering these messages came from all corners of the world, from varied spheres of interest. Spiritual leaders encouraged continued prayer. And so I prayed about it.
“What should we expect in 2019, really?” I asked the Lord. Here’s what he told me:
“Confusion and uncertainty will affect many in the body of Christ. ‘Am I believing right? they will ask themselves. Am I praying right? Did I vote right?’ “
“Why?” I asked him. His answer was brief: a short list with no further explanation:
Flashpoint — Critical Mass — Paradigm Shift
And so I did quite a bit of research to be sure I knew just what those things were:
Flashpoint: Chemically, the lowest temperature at which vapors of a volatile material will ignite, when given an ignition source. Gasoline and spark plugs in a car engine, for example.
In International Relations, a flashpoint is an area, or a dispute, that has a strong possibility of developing into a war. Political pundits today include the Middle East as a major flashpoint.
Critical mass: The smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction, such as in a nuclear power plant. (A supercritical mass would result in an explosion, such as the atomic bomb in WWII.)
This concept is used in other contexts, such as group dynamics, where it refers to the smallest percentage of people in a group needed to trigger a change. On occasion it takes quite a long time, not to mention lengthy persuasive arguments, to acquire the needed percentage. Amending the U.S. Constitution to allow all citizens to vote, for example.
Paradigm shift: Paradigm refers to a pattern, model, or overall concept accepted by most people in an intellectual community, because of its effectiveness in explaining a complex process or set of data. A paradigm shift is a change caused when someone discovers data that disproves the pattern or concept.
One notable scientific paradigm was believing the Earth is the center of the universe, that the sun, moon and stars all revolve around the Earth. That changed with the discoveries of Copernicus and others (telescope) in the 17th Century.
“Justification is by grace alone” (Romans 1:17) was a major paradigm shift in the religious world, instigated by Martin Luther and resulting in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century.
Apparently those things would happen — or begin to happen — in 2019. Any one of them would cause or contribute to confusion and uncertainty around the globe, including across the church world. “Optimistic and encouraging?” Not exactly.
After a while I prayed again and asked, “How should we respond to those things?”
“Having done all to stand, STAND,” he said, emphasis on STAND. 2019 is going to be an interesting year, I thought to myself.
I was right.
(Originally published January 1, 2019; slightly edited to republish June 10, 2020.)
What exactly is a cog? It’s one of the tooth-like parts around the edge of a wheel in a machine that fits between those of a similar wheel, causing both wheels to move; cogwheel, a wheel with cogs around its edge, used to turn another wheel or part in a machine.
“A cog in a wheel is an important element; it keeps the machine running smoothly. If it’s cared for – cleaned, oiled, and polished regularly – it will serve the machine well for years. If it’s not cared for, it will break, bringing the machine to a halt. The breakage may even cause greater damage to other parts of the machine.” (https://www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com/2015/05/18/a-cog-in-a-wheel/)
“Is it time for me to quit?” I asked myself the other night. “Time to quit reading, quit studying, quit writing, quit praying – quit interceding? Is my time on planet earth over? Am I finished?”
I was feeling tired. Exhausted, actually, physically, mentally and emotionally. And a little bored, too. I was feeling like a very unimportant, worn-out old cog in a machine, no longer necessary and easily replaced if broken or removed.
I had been thinking of Jesus’ words in John 19:30, “It is finished.”
What was the IT, I wondered? The IT that was finished? His earth-life existence as a human being? His work as Savior? His sacrifice for sins? What exactly did he mean by that?
I’ve read some opinions on the meaning of that final statement. Here’s one I like:
“Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The word in this verse, “finished,” is actually from the Greek word, “tetelestai,” which is the same word that means “paid in full.” Often, it was used in an accounting term, which indicates a debt was paid. The uniqueness about the way it was written is that the tense of the word indicates both a point in time it was complete and that it would also continue to be complete or finished. And this is the essence of what Christ came to do. He came to “finish” God’s work of salvation in us. He came to “pay it in full,” the entire penalty, or debt, for our sins. He’s at work in our world still today in powerful ways.” (https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/the-power-of-jesus-last-words-the-meaning-behind-it-is-finished.html)
But think about this: Some things were not actually finished. Jesus would return as a human being in a few days, remaining on planet earth for a few more weeks. At the moment on the cross when Jesus said “Finished,” he had not yet presented his blood in heaven so his sacrifice for sins wasn’t finished; his work as Savior was not complete.
His ministry to human beings wasn’t done either. More was still to come on the day of Pentecost! And beyond that, his ministry as intercessor for believers is a never-ending assignment.
Of course, none of those things could have been realized had Jesus not actually died on the cross — died body, soul and spirit. In that regard IT was indeed finished. The debt we owed was truly PAID IN FULL.
As I meditated on all this, the Holy Spirit began to talk to me.
“Finished, hmmm? Just an old cog? Unimportant? Unnecessary?” He began to show me a few examples of old cogs, the way He sees them.
Abraham and Sarah — parents at 100 and 90 years of age; think they needed to be re-energized?
Moses — failed son of Pharoah’s daughter who became a shepherd in a foreign land; recalled to be deliverer of Israel at age 80.
David — many long years running for his life from King Saul, chased, persecuted; tired?
Zachariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents — elderly new parents whose son became a “wild man” living in the desert.
I’m sure they’d all prayed, waited and wondered; wondered if IT was finished, whatever IT was in their lives.