New Wine for New Wineskins December 2011

By , December 5, 2011 12:55 pm

starofbethlehemWhere is Jesus?

It is common at this time of year for believers to scratch their head and wonder where Jesus is in all of the Christmas chaos.

Where is Jesus?  Follow the signs! Jesus said that when people love him they will obey him and he will manifest himself to them.  When we hear that God is doing something it is a sign that he is saying something about what he wants to do more of and where he wants to take the church!  Signs are real but they always point to a greater reality.  Signs are never an end in themselves.

Hebrews 1: 1 – 4

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Jesus broke four hundred years of prophetic silence as the WORD became flesh – GOD WITH US!  Religion had been trucking along as usual during that four hundred years but had lost its way to a great extent and was wrapping people up in legalistic chains rather than setting them free!  Jesus came to correct that and to move things to a new level!

In many parts of the church there has been a long prophetic silence while religion has continued to do business.  The basic salvation message has been perfected but there has been a dearth of real spiritual life and supernatural manifestation of the presence, power, and glory of the LORD!

This has reduced the church’s influence in the world to a place where Christmas can be celebrated without Jesus!  How ludicrous is that?

Matthew 2: 1 – 12

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

1.    WISE MEN SEEK JESUS BY FOLLOWING THE SIGNS

Wise men sought Jesus – and they still do!  Wise men follow the signs that point to where God is speaking and moving – to where the prophetic word is coming forth and where the message of the kingdom is being confirmed with the miracles of the kingdom!  A virgin giving birth is a major miracle! Signs point us to where his presence is being manifested.  Where Jesus is, that is where healing is, cleansing is, resurrection power is, deliverance is!  Wise men are willing to travel long distances to be where Jesus is!

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

When God is moving the principalities and powers get nervous and the people who live under their control get stirred.  Don’t ever be surprised to discover that not everyone is pleased that the Holy Spirit is moving and people’s lives are being changed!

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘ But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

We need to be aware that the devil wants in on the move of God in order to destroy it!  He will even send people into churches where God is moving to try and sow seeds of discord or to release a complaining and critical spirit that if left unchecked can steal the word, kill the life, and destroy the work.  Be on guard for that critical spirit that comes in when the full gospel is being preached and when there are signs and wonders taking place!

9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

2.    WISE MEN WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH

There are sometimes those who seek a sign for a sign’s sake.  Jesus said that it is a wicked and adulterous generation that seek after a sign in this way, but he also invited those who rejected the validity of his message to believe him on the basis of the works that he did and to accept these as a validation of his message.  Adulterous people are driven by lust and are only interested in taking and pleasing themselves.  But those who follow signs because they lead them into an encounter with the one they worship are motivated by love that desires to give and please the one whom they love. Jesus said that the Father is seeking worshipers in spirit and truth.  He also said that we would find him when we seek him with all of our hearts!  If he is seeking us and we are seeking him then the good news is that we cannot miss each other!  When signs of love and affection are no longer evident in a relationship that relationship is in trouble!

As soon as we stop pursuing the LORD and lose our desire to know him more we stop moving forward.  Often, what we already know can be the greatest hindrance to what we need to know in order to move forward into the fullness of the plans and purposes of our heavenly Father.  It is essential that we always remain humble and teachable!

12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

3.    WISE MEN FOLLOW SIGNS UNTIL SIGNS FOLLOW THEM

These men brought gifts to Jesus but they didn’t leave empty-handed!  They had come following a sign that had led them into an encounter with God and now they had a direct line and they could hear from God!  When we learn how to hear from God and obey his direction signs begin to follow us!   The wise men’s pursuit of the sign had led them into an encounter with the living Word that would change their lives forever!  The sign had pointed them to a place of encounter with the living Word and brought them into a new level of intimacy that enabled them to hear and discern the voice of God.

Those who have a hunger and thirst after the manifest presence of the living God experience things that those who are content to simply know about him never do.  John Wesley said that if he could find ten men who loved no-one but God and hated nothing but sin, they could change a generation.  I don’t know about you but when I hear a statement like that my spirit cries out to be one of those generation changers!

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

4.    WISE MEN RECOGNISE THAT THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE TO PROTECT THE MOVE OF GOD

Remember Joseph was a just (righteous, upright) man and the just live by faith!  Although the move of God is God’s move he gives us the responsibility of stewarding the move!  Because Joseph was diligent in acting on the word he received, he moved out of the place where God’s new thing could have been squashed in its infancy!  There is a principle here that we would do well to take note of!

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

If we are faithful and obedient then it is the opposition that will die!  But remember – every prophetic word requires our obedience if it is to be fulfilled!  The devil will always try to kill righteous seed because a move of God that reaches the next generation unhindered gains powerful momentum to effect far-reaching and long-lasting change that can transform a society!  Tragically, that is why church history is full one-generation movements of the Spirit that failed to pass on what God was saying and doing to the next generation!  Instead of moving forward into the next generation they tried to pull the next generation back into where they were stuck!  If the righteous seed is not protected then all that is passed on is religion and religion is spelled D-E-A-T-H!  The devil is intent on destroying Christian marriages because that is one of the most effective ways of destroying righteous seed! That is why God hates divorce!  (See Malachi 2: 15 – 16)

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 “ A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”

5.    WISE MEN LISTEN FOR AND OBEY THE VOICE OF GOD

After the world-changing events of 9/11 testimonies began to come from those who had a sense that they shouldn’t go to work that day or get on a plane.  Others who were in the twin towers received directions from the Holy Spirit that were contrary to those given by those attempting to rescue them and because they obeyed they were saved while those who followed the general instructions perished!  Is it not possible that many of those whose children perished under Herod were also warned just like Joseph but failed to recognise the voice, or chose to ignore it?  This is the promise of Psalm 91 when it says that a thousand will fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you!  How much heartache and disaster could be avoided if we were in that place of intimacy with the LORD where we could hear and recognise his voice?  When you lose contact with the voice of God you become disconnected from life as God intends it to be lived – in abundance of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – in the fullness of salvation, healing, and deliverance!  A life that is lived supernaturally naturally and naturally supernaturally!

There are many who have been around a move of the Holy Spirit who either didn’t appreciate what was going on at the time or refused to follow the direction of the LORD and so they lost everything!   Remember Esau who lost everything by messing with the blessing and even though he wept bitterly there was no way of reclaiming it!

19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

6.    WISE MEN DON’T JUST FOLLOW GENERAL DIRECTIONS – THEY LISTEN FOR SPECIFIC DIRECTION

With all the best intentions the church can become a great rolling hulk of machinery that has received a general commission but has lost touch with its commanding officer when it comes to the specifics of who, how, where, and when!  This leads to the introduction of all kinds of substitutes for the power of the Holy Spirit in order to try and fulfil what can never be fulfilled without the fullness of the Spirit’s power and anointing!

The church isn’t really functioning as the church unless it is completely dependent upon pentecostal power and prophetic direction.  Everything we do should be directed by the Holy Spirit or we could miss the fulfilment of the prophetic word that maps out our destiny!

Isaiah 30: 21

21 Your ears shall hear a word … saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.

Over and over scripture repeats to us, “Thus says the LORD”  and “He that has an ear let him hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church.

When Jesus was born God spoke into the earth and we must stay tuned in to his voice!  Signs point us to where the LORD is speaking and as we obey his voice signs follow us that point others to where he is speaking.  Man cannot sustain spiritual life with signs and wonders alone but only by taking every word that God speaks and living by it which will always produce more signs and wonders!  I have always wondered what Jesus meant when he said that we would do the works that he did and also greater works.  Some time ago it came to me that we should never make do with or try and justify anything less than the works he did and the best way to ensure that is always to seek more of God’s presence, power, and glory!

I was meditating recently on what Jesus said concerning a prophet not being received among his own people.  He had returned to his home town and discovered that he was unable to help many people because of their unbelief.  You need to hear that!  If you can’t help someone it is because of their unbelief!  In Mark’s gospel it says that he was amazed at their lack of faith!   But Jesus also said elsewhere that those who receive a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward!  What is a prophet’s reward?  The fulfilment of what he has prophesied!  If you can believe the message you can receive the miracle!  It’s as simple and uncomplicated as that!

How many people have been distracted by all of the trappings (interesting word) of Christmas but have never heard the voice that began to speak into the earth again that first Christmas!

Luke 2: 8 – 14

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour (over-generous preferential treatment) rests!

Listen up!  It is time to wise up!

Proverbs 4: 4 – 13

4 He also taught me, and said to me: “ Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. 5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.  6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. 9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.” 10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. 11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.

We can continue to live in the permissive will of God with the fateful as opposed to faithful attitude of “whatever will be will be”, or we can choose to tune in to the good, acceptable and perfect will of God where his favour – his overgenerous preferential treatment – abounds!  Just listen for the voice that speaks a “rhema” word to you to direct you through every minefield and into the fullness of his provision!

WHERE IS JESUS?  WISE MEN FOLLOW THE SIGNS!

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy