... but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear. - 1 Pet 3:15
In Zechariah 12:10 Yahweh, the Eternal God, says, "I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look upon Him whom they have pierced. Yes they will mourn for Him as one mourns for His only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn."
The spirit of grace and supplication causes us to focus on Jesus, to see Him as He is. We cannot see Jesus firstly as the glorified One, but firstly as the crucified One. In our desire to grow to maturity, to inherit the glory and many other wonderful things in Christ, we can never go past the reality that the faith is in Christ "and Him crucified" (1Cor.2:2). "That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" 1Cor.15:3b-4: these are the foundational truths of the faith.
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone" Heb.2:9.
Supplication: Heb #8469 'tachanuwn' means: earnest prayer; from #2603 'chanan' which means: to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to favour, bestow; to implore, to move to favour by petition. The word supplication can be summarised as meaning to petition God for grace.
It is praying earnestly for more grace. This is the spirit of grace and supplication.
Scripturally speaking the house of David is the house of Messiah and Messiah is Jesus. Therefore the house of David is referring to the church of Jesus Christ ["whose house we are" Heb.3:6 & 1Tim.3:15]. In the days of Zechariah the house of David was a very small remnant of God's people, who had returned to rebuild the house of God in the city of Jerusalem. Prophetically today, the house of David is referring to a remnant church who know they belong to Messiah Jesus.
The inhabitants of Jerusalem, spiritually speaking, are born again, baptised, Spirit-filled children of God who are following Jesus. By submitting to His training and obeying His every word, this remnant are proving to be members of this house, and belong to the Jerusalem which is above.
We are entering in to the last days revival; we are declaring we want to be involved and included. This is the last days revival that has been prophesied to go forth from Australia into all nations, preparing the church for His coming.
We believe that Australia has the potential to be used as a model nation, as the church obediently prays according to 1 Timothy 2:1-12.
How will the message of Jesus be known in Australia - somebody needs to testify, that is, to speak forth and declare who Jesus is, and what He has done. This is our mission!
"You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God"(Matt.16:16). The Messiah is the Anointed King. When we start to preach who Jesus is, this causes kings to be troubled, such as king Herod (Matt.2:1-8).
Psalm 110 declares that Jesus is the Lord, sitting at the right hand of God (v.1); He is ruling in the midst of His enemies (v.2); "He shall judge among the nations" (v.6).
Jesus is the Son of the Living God, that is, He is God manifested in the flesh (1Tim.3:16).
This Jesus is calling to us to "Come Follow Me" (Matt.4:19 & Matt.9:9). He did not say to join any church or any ministry. We are to follow Jesus! This is the call to be a disciple.
Jesus saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew; they were fishermen (v.18)
Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men (v.19)
They immediately left what they were doing, their livelihood and followed Jesus (v.20)
John and James were also called from their father and the family business (v.21)
They immediately followed Jesus (v.22)
We are called to follow a Person - Jesus. Discipleship is firstly a relationship.
Consider Jesus the Apostle. As the apostle:
* Jesus is going somewhere;
* He is on the move;
* He has a mission;
* follow Jesus and join the mission
* He has done something wonderful for us
* Receive what He has done for you
* He has redeemed us from all sin and unrighteousness, He saves us
* This will enable us to follow Him as the apostle
In Genesis 12:1 God told Abraham to make a radical shift in his lifestyle. "Now the LORD had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.'" To be a disciple means for us a radical change in our lifestyle. We are called to forsake all and follow Him: get out of your country (national identity); family, father's house (culture, lineage); move out from what is 'comfortable for us'. God will take us to a new 'country, family and father's house'.
God told Abram that if he did this he would be blessed and that in him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen.12:3). We are to be a blessing to the nations.
Because Nehemiah's heart was already full of faith, he was able to make a total commitment to serve God's purposes in his day, no matter what the cost!
In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah enjoyed what we would call a "cushy" job: he was the king's cupbearer; he was the king's counsellor; he held a privileged position; he was on intimate terms with the king. His was a luxurious job.
However Nehemiah was a man of integrity, a man of God. He had kingdom priorities in his heart; he was not attached to the easy life of privilege. He was willing to give up his position of luxury and privilege due to news that came from Jerusalem.
His commitment was to turn his back on prominence and privilege and to do what God was calling him to do. This meant a dangerous journey into an uncertain future.
Paul's testimony is a true example of a disciple whose lifestyle totally changed when he became a follower of Jesus. Christianity is a lifestyle. Jesus warned that even in our families there would be division over this different lifestyle.
Paul went through a major change of lifestyle, from being a Pharisee who was persecuting Christians, to become a persecuted preacher of the gospel. Paul was the epitome of a highly educated man in his professional field, which for Paul was being a Pharisee of the Pharisees. Even after Paul had become a follower of Jesus the other disciples were afraid of him (Acts 9:26).
Paul was not ashamed of the radical change in himself because of Jesus, and he boldly declared his faith to the apostles (Acts 9:27), and spoke boldly in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:29).
One great thing to learn from Paul is that he never faded but was still sharing his testimony years later, when in prison, and in his hired house "with all confidence" (Acts 28:30-31).
Esther was willing to submit totally to unknown circumstances. She made a decision to submit totally to the situation that she found herself in. This total selfless submission led her to become queen. When she found herself confined in the chamber of the women, in an alien situation, the chief eunuch became her best friend and helped her.
Esther's willingness to submit herself brought her to the place of being able to make the right choice, even if it cost her life (Esther 4:14-16). As it turned out it brought about the deliverance of the Jewish people.
Submission is dealing with pride and trusting God even when situation seems impossible. True submission is a character quality. In the case of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, they were submitted but not obedient; submission is of the heart.
To follow Jesus requires total submission
Moses was sure he was the wrong person to be called, "just don't send me" (Ex.4:13). God was not happy with Moses; in fact He was angry (Ex.4:14). God had already spoken to Aaron's heart, that he would be a helper to Moses. God knew that Moses needed a helper and He had prepared a helper for Moses, but God wanted Moses to accept the challenge without knowing that God had already provided a helper.
Initially Moses was rebellious to the call and had been disobedient to God, failing to circumcise his son (Ex.4:24-26). God was even going to kill him.
Let us desire to perfectly obey God. The greatest challenge is to lay down our life to be obedient to Jesus.
The story of Peter is amazing and I am sure all of us learn much from the highs and lows of Peter's discipleship. It seems that Peter regarded his experience with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration as perhaps the greatest reward that he had received.
Peter said, "We were eyewitnesses of His majesty, seeing the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory" 2 Peter 1:16-17. Peter said, "we were with Him on the holy mountain" v.18.
Paul also saw the Lord, "Then last of all He was seen by me also" (1Cor.15:8). Paul's vision of Jesus sustained him in his discipleship and ministry until his dying day. He had seen Jesus in the glorious light of heaven.
Stephen saw Jesus in His glory. He said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). Stephen did not mind dying because he already had his reward.
To see Jesus in all His glory is the greatest reward!
What God is doing in the church today is different to revivals of the past. God is always moving on in history and every time He sends revival [or a time of refreshing Acts.3:19] it is for the fulfilment of His purpose in that particular time of history, to bring His church more fully into what He is doing.
We have personally experienced revival some years ago. It began sovereignly in 1995 when about twenty of us gathered on a Wednesday night to seek the Lord because we were hungry and thirsty, desiring more of Him. There is much more we could relate about those years, but the main thing is that God brought us into the apostolic restoration that we have been flowing in now since 1998. For us the purpose of that revival was to be swept into the apostolic revelation by the Holy Spirit who had captured our attention in that time of refreshing.
This time of revival is to empower the remnant church to arise apostolically and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God (Matt.24:14). Most have heard something of the gospel of salvation, but most have not heard of the authority of Messiah Jesus (Matt.28:18), that He is the anointed King, ruling and reigning in the earth today through His saints (Acts 2:32-36).
Most do not realise that the world is actually His field and Jesus is raising up His sons in the world so that at the end of the age, the world will be loaded with the sons of the kingdom whom Jesus has planted (read Matt.13:36-43). According to the word there is coming such a revival that "all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness will be gathered out of His kingdom" (v.41). This takes place when the sons of the kingdom have come to maturity and the Lord Jesus sends out His [angel] messengers to proclaim His word.
The Scripture says "and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him" (Matt.4:22).
It is good for us to examine our hearts to see how much we trust in riches, even if it is only a social security pension. So many of our brethren live in nations where there is no pension, and very few jobs.
How much do we rely upon family relationships and how much do we prioritise those relationships above and before our discipleship in the kingdom of God?
How much do we depend on culture and language that we have grown up in and allow that to define who we are and what we think?
How much do we trust in our own achievements, or how much do we excuse ourselves because of our failures? We must back away from our achievements and failures of the past and find ourselves in Jesus. "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law [what we can do], but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" Phil.3:9.
Discipleship is not based on what we have done, but discipleship is being led by the Holy Spirit in godly disciplines that bear witness to others, enabling them to come into the kingdom of God.
In Genesis 24, the servant of Abraham was given a very important task, to find a wife for Isaac. Isaac was the heir of God in the earth. As the servant came to the knowledge that God had led him to the young woman who was to be Isaac's wife, he proclaimed, "I being in the way, YAHWEH led me" (Gen.24:27).
We need to position ourselves as disciples, ready to do the will of God. If we do this, then God will be able to lead us. Last year's plans and priorities have already been left behind. Now is a new opportunity to follow Jesus in 2014.