Tag Archive | Jesus

History and The 9th of Av

Israeli Flag 1

The 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz begins a special season for the Jewish faith (Israel) to which we, as believers in Christ, have been grafted in (Romans 11). The fast of the 17th of Tammuz, (Shivah Asar B’Tammuz), is the beginning of a three-week season of mourning that commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem and the First and Second Temples.

A 21-day period of teshuvah (repentance) is called Bein haMetzarim. This is translated “between the straits” (between the days of distress), or The Three Weeks. This twenty-one day period of mourning and fasting begins with the 17th of Tammuz and ends with the 9th of Av.

During this period, the Orthodox will limit celebrations and enter into a more solemn season of prayer.  This solemn rite is not without hope. Zechariah 8:19 prophesied an outbreak of joy and hope…

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:

The fast of the fourth month,
The fast of the fifth,
The fast of the seventh,
And the fast of the tenth,
Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts
For the house of Judah.
Therefore love truth and peace.’

The Siege and Destrucion of Jerusalem. David Roberts, 1850This season is especially remembered because of the destruction of the First Jewish Temple (Solomon’s Temple) in 586 BC by the Babylonians, and the destruction of the Second Temple (built by Ezra and Nehemiah) by Titus and the Romans in 70 AD. Both events occurred on the 9th of Av, nearly 655 years apart. But the 9th of Av holds other significance in the life of the Jewish people. Other historic events of significance are associated with this day…

  • Rabbinic tradition says (Mishnah Taanit 4:6) that ten of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land (all but Joshua and Caleb) brought back a negative report on the Promised Land (Numbers 13), and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness ensued . The night the people cried out in unbelief marks the first 9th of Av becoming a day of mourning for all time.
  • Following the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans subsequently crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt, destroying the city of Betar and killing over half-a-million Jewish civilians (approximately 580,000). This took place on 9th of Av, 135 AD. Following the revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, along with the surrounding area.
  • In 1096, at the decree of Pope Urban II, the First Crusade commenced, unleashing anti-Semitic fever across Europe resulting in 10,000 Jews killed the first month in France and the Rhineland.
  • Jews expelled from England… 1290.
  • Jews expelled from France… 1306.
  • Jews expelled from Spain… 1492.
  • HimmlerGermany entered World War I… 1914. Most historians also believe that the events surrounding the end of World War I led directly to World War II and the Holocaust, wiping out nearly 1/3 of the earth’s Jewish population.
  • Nazi SS Commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from Adolph Hitler for “The Final Solution” resulting in the Holocaust… 1941.
  • The deportation of Polish Jews by Hitler… 1942.

 … and I could go on.

Yet it was this season when they expected
the coming of Sar Shalom… the Prince of Peace!

I am praying in these days, as we move toward the 9th of Av (sunset July 31st through nightfall August 1st) that Jesus the Prince of Peace would protect Israel and His Church, and that soon He would come.

Across the Water

The Cost of Service

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BedfordNestled in the heart of Virginia, there is a small town named Bedford. Unassuming in its quaintness, with a population of less than 7,000, Bedford is quintessential “small town America”. But if you dig a little deeper, Bedford has a unique and hallowed distinction in the life of America.

img_2738.jpgThis small town lost more men, per capita, in the Normandy landings on D-Day than any other municipality in America. In 1944, this small town had a population of around 3,200. On June 6, 1944, Bedford lost twenty of her sons in the event known as Operation Overlord, the allied incursion that was the beginning of the end of the Nazi stranglehold on Europe.

Earlier this week marked the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. With a force of over 150,000, the victory that day was significant. But at what cost?

IMG_2803With over 10,000 casualties including over 4,400 soldiers killed, the Allies paid a steep price for the victory at Normandy. In the wake of victory, within days, communities all over America were mourning the loss of their sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers who died on those beaches; men who put their lives on the line for the sake of freedom, not just for our nation, but for freedom loving people throughout the world.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17), but comes at a cost to someone. Freedom and liberty come at the cost of diligence and, when necessary, brave men and women fighting and giving their lives for the sake of freedom. Wealth and prosperity come at the cost of years of hard work and keeping one’s nose to the grindstone. Staying healthy comes at the cost of diligently eating right, exercising, and taking care of your body. For the Christian, salvation is free, but came at the cost of the precious blood and life of Jesus. Service and sacrifice are the price of the things that are most important to us, and anything worth having is going to cost something to someone.

IMG_2823So with the examples set before us, for what are we willing to sacrifice? What principles and beliefs are we willing to get up off the couch for, leave our comfort zone, and dedicate our lives to the service of? At what point do we decide that we are not here for ourselves and our needs, but are to serve others and their needs? For the patriot; duty, service, and honor are the prices of strength and freedom. For the believer in Christ, Paul put it this way…

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. ~ Colossians 3:1-4

IMG_2838Regardless of the circumstance — whether standing for the truth of God’s Word, for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged, against the forces of dishonesty and corruption in our world (like fake news, lawless counter-culture activism, and Godless ideologues that parade themselves as social justice warriors) — the time has come for decent people of good will to get off the fence, off the sidelines, and get involved in making a difference through serving others, and letting their voices be heard.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for
good men to do nothing.”

This famous quote by Irish statesman Edmund Burke is a great reminder for a society seemingly at the tipping point of anarchy. But Burke said something else just as pertinent to where we are today…

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing
because he could do only a little.”

Truth.

We all have different gifts, abilities, and resources. But it takes all of us working together with whatever gifts we are given to make a difference, in this world and in the next.

Think about it.

Pastor Ron

Revival in the Age of Instant Coffee

Coffee w TAIWWe live in an age where we want everything fast… instantly, as it were.

Like coffee.

Sure, it smells and tastes like coffee. It may even have enough caffeine to give you a good jolt. But to most discerning coffee aficionados, they can smell a cup of instant coffee coming a mile away, and they are NOT happy about it. To them, there is nothing like the taste of a fresh-brewed cup made from freshly-ground coffee beans from some exquisite place, where the air, soil, and atmosphere are perfect for the growing of those sacred beans., Yes sir, the true coffee-snob can tell you what kind of coffee it is, where it was grown, and a variety of facts about the country of origin.

So why do we think God is any less discerning?

Most of us want things fast and on our terms, and in most cases if we are honest, the spiritual life is no exception. The only problem is that anything related to a Spirit-filled life is not dictated by our wills, whims, and calendars, but by the Holy Spirit of God Himself. He has His timetable (“a day is as a thousand years…”), and is not at the mercy of our schedules.

Azusa StreetMost people who run in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles are familiar with the Azusa Street Revival that began in 1906, considered by many to be the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement. Led by William J. Seymour, the Azusa Street Revival continued for several years, and included Holiness congregants, Baptists, Mennonites, Quakers, Presbyterians, and others. However, many in our country may not be familiar with another outbreak of the Spirit, in Europe, that preceded Azusa Street…

The Awakening in Wales.

In her book, The Awakening in Wales (and some  of the hidden springs), Jessie Penn-Lewis documents the Welsh Revival (1904-1905), a mighty move of the Holy Spirit that took the country of Wales by storm. During that period, approximately 150,000 people gave their lives to Christ, in a country with a population of approximately just over 2 million. Miracles, signs, wonders, and incredible outpourings of the Holy Spirit happened during that time.

So what prompted such radical transformation? What was it that made the Welsh Revival different from the “revival” happening at the church down the street from your house right now? What were the markings of this mighty move of God? In The Awakening in Wales, a few points repeatedly come to the surface…

They prayed and prepared.

Not just days and months.

In the YEARS leading up to 1904, Christians in Wales joined in passionate prayer, believing and asking God for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit. “Prayer-circles” were formed and people met at specific times to pray earnestly and deliberately, for hours on end. People traveled from place to place and spread the “fire” they had gotten in one place or meeting to other towns and villages. Prayer-circles began to spring up simultaneously and spontaneously, not just in Wales, but in other countries as well.

As well as prayer, many who participated did not wait until the events of 1904-1905 to seek after the Spirit of God. Many came to the meetings, having already been filled with the Holy Spirit. Much of this was due to the fervent prayer that went on ahead of time; people seeking after God with no reservations or selfish agendas. They didn’t wait for a meeting or a moment for something to happen; the further outpouring of the Spirit of God at the meetings was a by-product of the months and years of preparation that had already taken place.

There was unity.

In Wales, the people of God came together. Churches set aside denominational labels and walls for the sake of a common goal: A mighty move of the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians 1:10, Paul appeals to the believers in Corinth…

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Penn_LewisBut the unity was not just between the people of Wales. Jessie Penn-Lewis stated…

“The object-lesson that stands out the clearest, and speaks the loudest, to the Church of God, is the fact that the Spirit of God moved upon the unsaved in converting power as soon as the Christians in a particular church, or specific meeting, were in harmony with God.” ~ from The Awakening in Wales

The people were in unity and harmony with God. And make no mistake about it… being in unity with the King of Kings is all about being in His will, His timing, and His purposes.

The message of the Cross of Calvary was central.

 

“As we recall the conditions preceding the first Pentecost, we cannot forget that CALVARY WAS A TERRIBLE FACT to each one of the little company in the upper room.

There is no Pentecost without a preceding Calvary.” ~ Jessie Penn-Lewis

The message of the Cross, and Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, was the central theme of the Revival. Penn-Lewis went on to say…

“The world has seen before its eyes that the preaching of the Cross is in very truth the dynamic of the Gospel, and is the energy of God to actually and really save men from the bonds of sin. And what is of greater consequence, the Church of God has been rallied, as by a voice from Heaven, to the banner of the Cross.”

Others also explained…

“We have been critics of the Bible when we should have been devotees. We have preached Christ as an ideal of sacrifice, but have left out His atonement for sin. Now, thank God, there is a return to the Book, and to Calvary…

The Revival has brought us back to the Cross of Christ.”

It is the Cross that saves. It is the message of the Cross, and the power of the Holy Spirit that convicts men and women of their sin, and their need for a Savior. The recipe for revival is actually a fairly simple one: Prayer, unity in the Spirit, and the Message of the Cross. The fruit of that was evidenced in the more than 150,000 souls who entered the Kingdom of Heaven through the principality of Wales in 1904-1905.

Seriously.

The revival we speak of is not going to happen until we get serious about seeking God through prayer, fasting, repentance, and unity of the Spirit. God told His people in Jeremiah 29:13…

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

All of our heart means we check our schedules at the door.

All of our heart means we set aside our agendas and our plans.

All of our heart requires singular focus, with a constant eye on the prize.

So are you ready for revival? A REAL revival? A revival that changes the course of a nation, and ushers souls into the Kingdom in droves? A destiny-changing moment in time that is more than an event advertised on a marquee?

I am.

It’s time to put on the “coffee pot”…

Let it brew nice and slow…

Allow the aroma to fill the air…

And take time to prepare something worthy of the King.

The Lazarus Conspiracy

There was a buzz on the streets of Jerusalem as pilgrims flocked to the city for Passover. Rumors swirled that the Messiah could possibly be there. But those rumors were being fed by the fact that a man named Lazarus was there as well.

Yes… THAT Lazarus.

LazarusThe dead guy.

Word of the miraculous resurrection of this man from Bethany had already spread like wildfire. Just weeks before, Lazarus was lying dead in a tomb.

Stone. Cold. Dead.

When Jesus showed up, His presence did little to dissuade their sorrow. Even before He made it into the village proper, Lazarus’s sister Martha came out to meet Him.

“Lord, if You would have been here my brother would not have died”, Martha exclaimed, probably in mid-stride.

Mary, Lazarus’s other sister, waited until Jesus got to town before she fell at his feet, echoing the same exclamation of hopelessness. The display of genuine mourning moved Jesus, in spite of the fact that He knew what the outcome of the day would be. Although God, He was human as well, and subject to human emotions such as sorrow. Lazarus had been His friend, and although the irony of the moment was not lost on Him, He also was not immune to its emotion either.

“Remove the stone”, came the command from the Master upon arriving at the entrance to Lazarus’s tomb.

“But Lord… he’s been in there for four days! What about the stench???” inquired the always practical Martha.

Again with the doubting????

“Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Jesus’ tone with His reply made them think better of asking any more questions. They rolled the stone away, and after lifting His eyes to the heavens in a brief prayer of thanksgiving to the Father, Jesus set His focus on the opening before Him.

“Lazarus! Come forth!” Jesus commanded into the darkness of the cave.

Moments later, a grave-linen-clad Lazarus appeared within sight of all who were gathered there.

Even in first-century Judea… news traveled fast.

Now Jesus is in Jerusalem, Lazarus is there, and the subsequent attention that both were attracting was not all positive. While the rumors of the Lazarus miracle had attracted the attention of certain Greek converts with a fired-up desire to see Jesus, the religious crowd had other plans.

Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. ~ John 12:9-11

So… Lazarus has died, Jesus shows up four days later and raises him from the grave, the people are now flocking to Jesus in droves, and your big plan is to kill the guy Jesus just raised from the dead???

Really?!?!

Maybe if they had spent as much time studying the prophecies as they did in scheming and plotting, they would have realized what Jesus then revealed to these Greek converts — a traditionally scholarly bunch.

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. ~ John 12:23

In this statement was a huge paradigm-shift. Up until this point, Jesus had — on multiple occasions — declared the opposite; “My time has not fully come” was the reason given on more than one occasion and for more than one reason. But now He was declaring that His hour HAD come!

But what hour?

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the season to be realized.

While the priests were busy plotting against the diversion of the Lazarus conspiracy, every prophecy about Jesus was falling into place. All of the prophetic chess pieces were falling into place, and the Pharisees and chief priests were mere pawns.

The prophecy about His death was about to be fulfilled.

All of the typology of His passion was about to be understood.

The stranglehold that Satan had on the human race was about to be broken.

Jesus understood that His entire life had led up to this moment; the whip, the garden, the betrayal, the mocking, the crown of thorns, and the cross. His entire life on this earth had been a road to the cross. Before time began, God knew of humanity’s fall, and had His kingdom planned (Matt. 25:34), His people chosen (Eph. 1:4), His salvation finished (Heb. 4:3), and the cross and the redemptive blood of Christ planned (1 Pet. 18-20). As the saying goes… “it was over before it started.”

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the seed to be sown.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. ~ John 12:24

Jesus saw the giving of His life in harmony with the ancient principles of seed-time and harvest. He was not forfeiting His life. He was giving His life. It was not martyrdom but rather an investment. As Lord of Creation, He understood the Laws of the Harvest

You must sow to reap.
In order to get a harvest, you must first plant seed (John 3:14-15)

You reap what you sow.
Jesus sowed righteousness to release a resurrection life.

You reap after you sow.
Jesus knew what was coming, and knew what He had to do (Heb. 12:2).

You reap more than you sow.
Just as a single seed births an apple tree that produces thousands of apples, Jesus sowed His life, and reaped a new human race.

Jesus understood that the judgment being executed was not His execution.

Jesus knew going into His crucifixion that the real judgment was not the one handed down by Pontius Pilate, but was the two-fold judgment being sealed by His death on the cross.

Christ1Everything the human race was and is in Adam was judged on the cross. (Rom. 5:18)
Jesus knew that all of the history of mankind until that moment was being judged at that moment, and that, in three days, everything would be different.

Satan’s judgment was assured. (Col. 2:14-15)
Satan was “the prince of this world”. He was the cherubim over all the planet earth until his fall. In Eden, he tried to regain what he had forfeited. At the cross, his infernal plans were thwarted once and for all, and he was stripped of his authority.

Jesus understood the attraction of the cross.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
This He said, signifying by what death He would die. ~ John 12:32-33

The cross was an ugly thing. It was one of the most diabolical methods of torture and death ever devised by men. All along, Jesus knew it was coming. Yet, because of Jesus death, that very cross — repulsive to the Jews and a cause of scandal to the Greeks — had a drawing and saving power no one can explain.

They still can’t.

 The cross is more than two ugly wooden timbers fastened together, or a piece of beautiful jewelry to be worn. The cross is the crossroads of human history — the focal point that every moment before pointed to, and every moment since is dependent upon.

You see, the Cross is:

 “of all times the turning point;
   of all history the crucial point;
   of all love the highest point;
   of all salvation the starting point;
   of all worship the central point.”

Fresh Oil Follow-up

 

Last week, we experienced an incredible outpouring of God’s presence at Fresh Oil New Wine 2017. From the speakers to the worship, every word was timely and anointed. Thank you to everyone who attended, spoke, sang, and ministered in even the tiniest way. We are forever grateful for your fellowship, and your faithful and sacrificial service.

Here are a few of the highlights from Fresh Oil New Wine 2017Enjoy!

Perry Stone

Matt Smith

Rabbi Curt Landry

Damon Thompson

Tony Valdes

Ron Phillips & Ronnie Phillips, Jr.

Randy Caldwell

Dwain Miller

Rise Up!

With all of the protests going on around our nation right now, it’s a mantra we hear every day…

RISE UP!

Rise up for this cause! Rise up for that offense! Rise up and be counted among the… well… the people who are being counted.

Allow me to invite you to RISE UP for another — more worthwhile —  reason…

RISE UP and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit!

When we allow the power of God to control our lives, He can accomplish more living and operating through us than we can ask or imagine.

This year, we celebrate 20 YEARS of our Fresh Oil New Wine Conference! It has been amazing to look back and see how God has operated through this event in lives and churches across the nation. Just to give you a couple of blasts from the past…

This is from our first Fresh Oil Conference, 1998…

Jack Taylor was our special guest on opening night in 2000…

John Kilpatrick brought a word in 2003…

This year’s conference promises to be a moment in time like no other…

Perry Stone, Damon Thompson, Rabbi Curt Landry, Randy Caldwell, Dwain Miller, Tony Valdes, and Matt Smith will be joining Pastor Ronnie Jr and I as we RISE UP to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us!

I hope you will join us for Fresh Oil New Wine 2017! Registration is FREE, but we would like you to register so we know you are coming.

To register, go HERE.

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See you at Fresh Oil New Wine 2017… RISE UP!!!

Faith for the Finale

Think about this…

Would you run a marathon — leading the entire way by a mile — only to sit down at the end, 5 feet short of the finish line?

Would you finish Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor with a pianissimo oboe solo?

Would you compete for an entire season — going undefeated for all of it — only to refuse to come out of the locker room for the championship game?

vince_lombardi_bart_starrFor many of us who are sports fans, we just witnessed a historic event. In Super Bowl LI, we watched as the New England Patriots — who were down by 25 points at halftime — came back to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the 5th time in a stunning overtime defeat of the Atlanta Falcons. Never before had a team overcome more than a 10-point deficit in the Super Bowl. Never before had “The Big Game” gone into overtime. When the New England Patriots came out of the locker room for the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was all but over. I had friends who actually turned off the game because it looked like such a blowout. “On to other things.” So what happened?

Well, one of the things that the commentators kept saying was “how young the Atlanta Falcons were”… How young they were…. How quick they were… How much older the Patriots were. Yet for all of their youth and exuberance, it seems that they lacked the one thing that the Patriots did have: Focus. During the second half, the Patriots stayed focused on winning. They stayed focused on the task at hand. They kept their eyes on the prize. Whether it was blown coverages or senseless penalties, the Atlanta Falcons went from a team hungry to win to a team trying not to lose. Somehow, they lost sight of the hard-fought lessons that got them to Houston. They had the motivation and energy to make it to the championship, but lacked the grit and determination to get them across the finish line.

The entire human race is running full-throttle toward the edge of eternity. So even though prophets, preachers, seers, and scholars have been discussing the Last Days  and The Day of the Lord for over 2,000 years, how should we live now.. today? What should our mindset be in 2017? Should we be filled with fear or faith?

Among the customs of some Native American people was a ritual of a young man passing into adulthood. He would be taken out into a place away from the community; he would then be blindfolded and left in that spot all night. He was not to remove the blindfold until the morning came and the sunlight began to shine through the blindfold. So all night, he was in that place, feeling alone and isolated… unsure of his surroundings and what potential threats waited for him, unseen because of the blindfold.

Well, I am sure you can imagine his surprise when, upon removing the blindfold at morning’s light, he found himself surrounded by his kinsmen — his father and uncles. Though he may have struggled with the fear of loneliness and the unknown, there was never a moment when he was not being watched over by his elders, who remained just out of reach and by his side the entire night.

Just like the young brave was never abandoned by those who loved him, so we are never abandoned by a loving Heavenly Father who never lets us out of His sight.

It is that unwavering attention to His children that allows us to run the race, and have Faith for the Finale.

At Abba’s House, I have just begun a series of messages by the same title…

Faith for the Finale.

I want to encourage you to join us, whether in person or online, as I take you through the steps and mindset that it takes to be an overcomer in adversarial times, and what YOU need to do in order to finish well the race set before you.

See you Sunday.

Pastor Ron