I’m here in the Galilee on the shore of the Kinneret. It’s late afternoon and, as usual, the winds have come up. It’s a beautiful time of the day and these cool breezes will continue until the sun sets.
I have found a shelter from the wind while still enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of early spring. So that’s why I’ve chosen this setting for today’s message, “The Winds of Change.”
Friends, we have all been thrust, suddenly and unexpectedly into these winds of change. I believe this is a kind-of dress rehearsal for what lays ahead. Therefore, we need to find refuge in God’s hand of grace and mercy. Being assured of His faithfulness, we can walk through these winds with determination, regardless of the circumstances, to fulfill God’s purposes through our lives for such a time as this!
Let us lift up our eyes unto the hills where our help comes from and beyond this current situation. Corona 19 will come to an end so as to make room for Corona 20, 21, maybe up to #30.
Scripture warns us there will be:
- Perilous times
- Wars and rumors of wars
- Nation will rise against nation
- And kingdom against kingdom
- And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places
All these are the BEGINNING of sorrows!
Jeremiah’s challenge is relevant to each of us today:
“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5)
Friend, it’s crucial that we learn NOW how to walk peacefully and victoriously through winds of change.
For the last 15+ years, many people recognized that we were headed for a change. We kept hearing “this is a new season.” But neither the season nor the goal were defined. We seemed to take a step forward and two steps back. Nothing was certain. We were definitely in a time of transition, but a transition to what?
Yet the suddenness of this catastrophic challenge was indeed unexpected.
So let’s step back and take a larger view.
Whether personal or political, transformation usually doesn’t happen suddenly. I suggest there are three steps of change:
Tradition: Our lives are, to some level, secure. Our days are structured, ordered, and in a word comfortable.
Transition: The in-between time of uncertainty, discomfort. We know change is in the wind, but we’ve lost our balance and desperately try to control the situation by clinging to the past…our comfortable traditions.
Transformation: Our new normal.
Yet seemingly overnight, God moved the entire world out of the uncertainty of transition and brought us a step closer to His ultimate transformation as revealed in Scripture when:
[W]hom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,
and the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory,” (Romans 8:9; Habakkuk 2:14)
and I might add: His love, mercy, grace, justice and holiness.
In the words of a great rabbi, “The old is gone and the new has come!”
Personally, all the comforts of our lives and traditions are gone, having been violently ripped, away. Likewise, our plans and dreams have become doubtful if not thwarted. Despite our efforts, we can no longer put this new wine into old wineskins. We are at a loss.
Globally, nation after nation is in chaos.
Politically or personally our dreams are fading. We speak of the “good old days,” but friend, be honest…they weren’t that “good.”
We try, but simply cannot find our footing as God is bringing us back to the ancient paths, devoid of the traditions of “man.”
Scripture told of this day, but most of us either ignored or denied what we deemed to be “Tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow” is here and now.
O dear one, God has not and will not forsake us. He is “making ready the people who are prepared for His coming.” (Luke 1:17)
This is the time of our final preparation.
So how can we find hope and peace during these winds of change? Let’s open our eyes and our hearts, look through our circumstances, and hold onto the nail pierced hand of our Savior. Then we will walk together through these winds of change as we prepare ourselves to be ready for the coming of the Lord.
Let’s consider 6 ways of preparation:
Recognize the surveillance
Surveillance is not new; it’s just been hidden. Now we know we’re being watched, but by who?
But remember that there has always been Another who has been watching not only our movements, but knows our thoughts and hears our words:
I say to you that for every idle word men may speak,
they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
Worse, all your words will be broadcast so that everyone will hear! (Luke 8:17)
Many people today are “home bound” with severe limitations on movement. Suddenly neighbors who were once strangers are now friends, concerned and willing to help. Now, let’s be real, one day a lack of petrol would have brought us to this same place!
Through this crisis, God has brought us back to the first church of Acts 2:40-47 when the church:
continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,
fellowship, and in prayers.
Breaking bread from house to house,
they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
I wonder if it’s God’s hand that has allowed our church buildings to become unnecessary and released its finances so we can each minister locally to our neighbors? Meanwhile, we can thank Him that as long as possible, we can still keep connected to our pastors digitally.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can adjust to a simpler way of life? Lack has a way of changing our priorities.
Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 430 years and were used to lack. But influenced by the “mixed multitude” Israel soon began to complain about the food left behind. Their murmuring was not pleasing to God and He gave them the desires of their heart – quail. And while the meat was in their mouths, He brought judgement.
We need to beware of satisfying the flesh while starving the soul!
Discern the voice of God not man
There are so many voices screaming to be heard. Self-made prophets are clamoring for attention and their many followers are willing to send their “Words from God” to the thousands on FB lists.
Now is the time to be quiet and learn to discern God’s voice: test the spirit against His Word. God will never contract His written word with His spoken word.
Please beware those who claim that God is “doing a new thing.” That phrase is used only twice, and both times the context is clear…and it is NOT now!
Establish healthy boundaries
God is identifying His remnant. Don’t be unequally yoked, your time and energy are precious.
Stay out of the wilderness of the flesh
The wilderness can be a place of transformation, consider the future of Israel (Hosea 2:14) when God allures her into the wilderness to speak tenderness. And then there was the transformation of Paul (Acts 9:5)
At the same time, as the Spirit brought Yeshua into the wilderness, it can be a place of testing (Matthew 4:1).
Finally, the wilderness can be a place of temptation and discipline as Israel learned; the wilderness kept them out of the Promised Land.
It’s so easy for us to keep one foot in the wilderness (the flesh) and one in the Promised Land. Paul turned to Jesus to win the victory over temptation (Romans 7:13-25.)
Every morning I use the words of Paul to make this commitment to God and to myself,
by the mercies of God, I present my body a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God, which is my reasonable service.
I determine not to be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of my mind,
that I may prove what is that good and acceptable and
will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Beloved, consider these winds of change as God’s gift to be prepared for the coming transformation.
What started as a global health issue has now expanded into a financial crisis of proportions beyond that of 1929.
And, in the midst of the upheaval we, the followers of Jesus, are God’s beacon of light reminding the world with His message:
Be still and know that I, God, will be exalted over all the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
Sadly, the hearts of many are focused only on the situation before us. I hear pain and fear in their voices crying, begging for God’s grace and mercy to protect them against this terrible virus.
These prayers will not prepare us for what is to come.
Friends, we don’t need to beg God for His grace and mercy. Because of and through Jesus His grace is assured in any and every situation. Look back to those times in your lives when God did what only He can do…rescue you from the seemingly impossible.
Furthermore, we have the example of the Apostle Paul:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.
(2Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:11-2)
Consider God’s grace and mercy:
God’s grace and mercy when Israel was in bondage to Egypt:
He heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. So I have come down to deliver them and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.
God’s grace and mercy because we are alive for such a time as this.
God’s grace and mercy because He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
His Grace and mercy as He has given us His word to discern these times and His Holy Spirit to
Shed his love in our hearts (Romans 5:5)
Lead us into all truth (John 16:13)
Give us power to endure to the end
His ultimate grace and mercy:
Consider Jesus, who, being in the form of God,
did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
For the joy set before Him endured the rejection, abandonment and betrayal of the very people for whom he came to save and those who had been His closest friends.
Precious friend, God’s grace and mercy has been, is, and will always be with us!
Let me close with this challenge from the prophet Isaiah!
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Now, go forth into the winds of change with hope as the Father transforms us
into the image of Yeshua and
fills the earth with the knowledge of His glory!
It was a David versus Goliath moment as PM Bibi announced the steps necessary to combat our unseen enemy – Covid-19. I felt numb as I watched his grim “game face” and listened to his rapid staccato gun-fire presentation. I heard but couldn’t process what he was saying. Until he spoke words that took no processing:
- Digital surveillance
- Victims of the enemy
And then came the explanation:
“We need to use the same digital surveillance that we use on terrorists to be able to locate and isolate those who have become victims of the enemy.”
Numbness became nausea.
This sudden change in our lives made sense. How can we argue against a system that will save lives? Especially me! I’m 75 and because of my severe dietary issues I’m a prime candidate for the disease.
But to say that someone who might have been exposed and therefore contagious needs the same surveillance as a terrorist? Is someone diagnosed with the virus a “victim of the enemy?”
Day by day restrictions become more severe. Since many Israelis are not following instructions we’re hearing the threat of new and more odious restrictions. Furthermore, to the Jewish psyche, the selection process of the elderly, the infirm, and the weak is a reminder of our horrific past.
All this is for my welfare!
Certainly the length of the hidden incubation and its rate of infection is serious and scary.
But I contend MUCH MORE serious and scary is the ramification of our response:
Friends, in breath taking speed our lives changed and our lives have a “new normal.” Our geographic location is irrelevant. Suddenly it is the dream of every globalist as we are all facing the same challenge. Recently MSNBC Senior Business Consultant Stephanie Ruhle said, “We need global cooperation and a global leader. Yes, global cooperation and honesty.”
The stage has been set and in a manner no one could have anticipated. But set for what?
People are reeling; the present is up-side down and our futures seem uncertain.
Uncertain? Not for those with eyes to see; God has given us a glimpse of what the Bible calls
- Perilous times
- Latter Days
- Day of the Lord
- The day of vengeance for the cause of Zion
Even though God’s prophetic word is 30%-40% of Scripture, these words are usually ignored, denied or dismissed. There are arguments about the reality and timing of the Rapture, perhaps teaching the book of Revelation, but a thorough teaching of the entirety of the subject is sadly omitted.
AND THEN CAME SUNDAY
This “new normal” of life kept me under the covers; I simply was not ready to face this new day. Just as God’s mercies were new this morning, I sensed God wanted to do something new in, through, for and by my life. Indeed, “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Proclaiming the Gospel wasn’t an issue; Jesus was and will always be the only source of life and peace. Nor was I questioning the mission statement of my life and Novea Ministries:
“To fill the earth with the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Christ Jesus.”
No, I was questioning God’s new assignment to fulfill that mission. I didn’t doubt that everything I have been doing, was preparing me for something. The words of Mordecai rang in my ears:
“You have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
God answered almost immediately from the words in Luke 1:16-17
“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Israel should have been prepared and ready to recognize and receive her Messiah. Simeon and Anna were, but no one else. In fact, Israel was disciplined because she wasn’t prepared nor ready:
“For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every sideand level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44)
For This Purpose
God has given us His “end-time” plan for a purpose. This current situation has shown us that as watchmen we need to be ready to minister to Israel and to the nations armed with an understanding of God’s prophetic word.
Commonly known by both Israel and the church is the term, “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), but few Jews understand its reality. God is committed to making Israel His people, so must discipline, refine and prune the land and the people. This is God’s purpose for Jacob’s Trouble.
But what is not commonly known in the church is “God’s vengeance for the cause of Zion” (Isaiah 34:8) when God fulfills His warning in Genesis 12:3 against the nations who have cursed (made light) of Israel. God has been patient with the Gentiles, but His patience will be replaced by His fiery jealousy for Israel. It behooves the Church now to understand God’s unique relationship with Israel…God’s witness.
Whether Jew or Gentile, these days are to be avoided at all costs.
Now is the time to:
TURN ISRAEL TO THE LORD THEIR GOD
…by proclaiming the Gospel. Jews shudder when I say, “What is coming will make the Holocaust look like a picnic.” To minister more effectively to Israelis, I have to warn them of what’s coming and give them their only hope – Yeshua.
TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS
From a “mother in Israel” (who had an absentee father) fathers need to be challenged to love their children to teach them the ways of our Father God. The Bible warns, “If possible, even the elect will be deceived” (Matthew 24:24). Through God’s love, fathers need to lead their children into truth.
[TURN] THE DISOBEDIENT TO THE WISDOM OF THE JUST….
Today more than ever, the Church needs God’s wisdom to talk to people by knowing their hearts. We cannot make even thirsty horses drink until they realize that they are thirsty! We can reach into people’s hearts can be learned by watching Jesus, listening to His spirit and speaking truth without compromise.
PREPARE THE PEOPLE
Jesus is coming soon! Without an understanding of eschatology, we will not know how to discern the times. Furthermore, there is a dire need among the Body to really know God through His word and not just experience. We need to be prepared in our bodies, souls and spirit; preparing mentally, emotionally as well as spiritually.
MAKE THEM READY
Jesus wasn’t “ready” for ministry until He won the battle of temptation against Satan. Throughout the New Testament we hear the words, “endure to the end.” The “Hall of Fame” (Hebrews 11), 1 Peter, 2 Timothy 1-3, James all remind us that suffering is part of the Christian life. Paul iterates his sufferings yet considers them “light afflictions” because he “…determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2.)
Beloved of God, we need to be ready to endure to the end…keeping our eyes fixed on the joy set before us.
The world is in chaos:
Everyday I learn of another crisis, often in the lives of my friends, 5 of whom have lost a child to suicide! Hearing the cries of the pain of such loss, the pain of health issues, the pain of ….well you name it…makes words of comfort empty.
And yet, in the midst of all this pain and confusion, God keeps bringing me back to the subject of His feasts. In my head it makes no sense when there seems to be more important issues I should be addressing.
But God the Spirit keeps pushing me to try to “recover and restore” His appointed times (His feasts) to the church.
The prophet Jeremiah said it first:
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
And then the writer of the letter to the Hebrews
Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17-18)
In other words, hope in God is an anchor to our souls (our minds, our emotions and guides our wills.) No wonder God’s first command is:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Dt 6:4-5
So why the feasts?
Because they give us hope.
God designed the feasts as opportunities to:
- Remember His mighty acts of deliverance and His character
- Recognize: Jesus, Yeshua
- Reflect: on the significance of the feasts to our lives, whomever and wherever.
Let me tell you a story:
THE PARABLE OF THE SEA SHELLS
I was living in Tel Aviv, not too far from the Sea. An early morning walk along the shore as the sun was coming up was a morning necessity. One day I became fascinated by the shells. They were an unusual color so my eyes were riveted.
The Lord’s voice broke through my concentration, “Look up” He said.
I lifted my eyes and the undulating movement of the waves caught my attention.
So many times God shows His power through the waves. He challenged Job by asking:
”Who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’ (Job 38:8-11)
The waves also speak of overwhelming pain or anxiety
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me. (Ps 42:7)
And the love of God referenced, not the waves, but the sand:
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You. (Ps 139:17-18)
The voice of the Lord broke into my thoughts, “Look up” He commanded.
The beauty of the skies was broken. The sound of horses pawing the air, straining in their eagerness to be released. (Revelation 6) “Father, what are You saying to me?”
“This is a parable” the Lord explained. “The shells represent your daily lives; the simple seemingly insignificant chores of life. Or perhaps a life impacting situation.”
Friends, when facing a major problem, all our attention, rightfully goes to that situation. It doesn’t matter what else is going on, you are focused on the immediate.
The Lord continued, “The waves represent the world around you -your neighbors, community, your country and even other nations.”
- At this moment here in Israel we’re facing an election. Ironically so is America.
- China is fighting a horrifyingly new virus which is infecting thousands and is not only spreading throughout the world, but is impacting financial stability, and as it spreads throughout the world international markets and finances are being impacted.
- Several years ago there was a terrible tsunami in Japan,
- Severe hurricanes, fires, droughts
- Maybe closer to home as a neighbor suddenly dies, or …
Regardless, our attention, even for a moment is off our own problems and our focus, perhaps our money or involvement goes to others.
Our attention bounces from the shells to the waves…back and forth as different issues vie for our attention.
“But Abba, what about the heavens?”
“The heavens are a reflection of Me. My child, you always need to discover my perspective of your life and the world. Don’t let the ‘facts on the ground make you discouraged or confused. My perspective will enable you to rise above all cares and confusion and live in peace.”
Friends, seeing the world through eyes of the all knowing, all powerful, all loving God gives us hope. The same God who parted the Red Sea and delivered Israel is the same God who can deliver you from whatever challenges you are facing.
Because His character never changes, when we align ourselves with His perspective, we can rejoice regardless of our circumstances and rest in His plan for our future.
THAT’s why God appointed times. Sure these special times revolved around God’s mighty acts of deliverance for Israel…that’s because God chose Israel to be His witness to show the rest of the world His character: His mercy, grace, holiness, justice, power, goodness, covenant-keeping love.
There was a mantra when I was growing up and learning how to cross streets:
This is a good description of God’s special times.
We are to stop, bring our cares and concerns to Him and leave them at His feet
Look up from our cares and concerns and find God’s perspective
Listen to His voice.
And let me add: Rejoice and rest!
Remembering, rejoicing and resting are what the biblical feasts are all about.
Celebrating Jesus through the biblical feasts are anchors for our souls.