“Since that day I have spent thirty-two years, a changeable man, in a changing world, but John 3:16 has never changed and never will. All those years have only served to endear to me my blessed Saviour and His Holy Word. His unchanging LOVE, unchanging WORD and all-atoning BLOOD is where I rest today”.
from the book ‘Seen and Heard’
(which I miraculously found on my own bookcase, having no idea of how it came to be there)
The battle field is empty
The soldiers all gone
Unused, forgotten, alone
A tired old banner hangs,
sad and forlorn
And I stand and look and wonder:
Where have all the warriors gone?
The belt of truth, I see
It lays forgotten in the field
Look, at those brave soldiers’ boots
That used to tread out
The gospel of peace
What to make of this?
What on earth has happened?
I look beyond the hill
And I see the enemy-
He still advances
His banners read “Peace
We want no war with you”
put your feet up
And we will leave you alone”
Alas I now can see it:
The warriors – why they’ve gone,
They’ve believed the propaganda
And they’ve all headed home
These are the only things
For which the “church” will fight
In this last generation.
The sword is at my feet….
What can one person do?
And (the big one):
What WILL they think?
in my mind, these make a to-do
I don’t care anymore
I’ll do it!
I lift up the sword!
In my hands it is powerful, alive
The eternal Word of God
As I lift it up
Those ancient words
In my heart revive
“for to whomsoever i shall send thee
Thou shalt go
And whatsoever i command thee
Thou shalt speak”
My son’s work, 7yo
The fear of man all gone
In its place – the fear of God
It surrounds me
And propels me forward
Where those before me trod.
My daughter’s work, 10yo
“Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.” John Wesley
God has been showing me that right now we are entering a new season. Right now we are leaving behind the years of “plenty” and entering into the years of “famine”.
In Amos 8:11 we read:
““Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famineof bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord.”
I believe He wants me to share with you that whilst there is coming a wide-spread famine of the Word of God, He has a plan – a plan of mercy. And this plan is already well underway.
In Genesis 41 we read about another famine. One that spread throughout the whole world too. But of course back then God also had a plan.
God gave Pharoah two dreams. When no one could interpret their meaning, Joseph was summoned:
“Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: 26
The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. 28
This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.
29 Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; 30 but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. 31 So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.” (verses 25-31)
The first seven years were years of plenty. The second seven years were years of famine.
We know that seven in the Bible is used for perfection, divine completion. I believe God is saying now the first season of plenty is complete, it is over. Now we are entering the second phase: famine.
A famine of the Word of God.
Just as God had a plan of mercy for the famine in Egypt, so too God has a plan for this famine. Just as God sent a man, Joseph, ahead to Egypt to prepare for the coming famine, so too has God sent a Man to prepare for this one.
Just as Joseph went out from the presence of Pharoah to prepare for the coming famine, so too has Jesus Christ gone out from the presence of the Father to prepare for this coming famine.
If we look at Joseph’s plan, we see that it was quite simple. In the first season of the seven years of plenty, he stored up one-fifth of the food that was grown in local storehouses all across Egypt.
“So (Joseph) gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them” Genesis 41:48
In His sovereignty God knew this famine was coming. In His sovereignty God had sent ahead of it a man to bring about His plan of mercy, so that the: “food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” Genesis 41:36
Likewise Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, has been gathering and building into God’s storehouses during this past season, in preparation for this coming famine.
Whilst Joseph used Pharoah’s stone or clay buildings to store away the grain, God has a very different type of building in which to store up His food.
It is us.
We are God’s storehouses. We are His plan for the coming famine. Into each of us He has been building day by day, year by year. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.
“…we have this treasure in earthen vessels…” 2 Corinthians 4:7
Whilst Pharoah used earthen buildings, God uses earthen vessels.
Whilst Joseph used the local storehouses to hold the grain, God uses the local Body of Jesus Christ to store up His divine Life. Every time we pray, we hear from God, we read the Word, we worship Him, we talk to Him, we spend time with Him He is building into us the bread of Life. He is storing away the grain in us of the Bread of God.
“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:33
Remember: God always has a plan. He is in control. He is Sovereign.
When the second season began – the season of famine, the “famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.” Genesis 41:54
There is a time coming soon where there will be no bread for this world apart from what Jesus Christ has stored up in His own storehouses – in us, His people.
At that time Jesus will open up all of His storehouses and “all that is in them” (Genesis 41:56) will be given out to the starving masses.
Notice that it is the work of God to prepare for the coming famine. He is the one who gathers, who stores and puts away the food in us. All that is required of us is that we are there, receiving from Him.
Like Pharoah’s buildings we just need to allow the food to be stored up in us, and when the time comes, we need to allow our Lord Jesus to open us up and to use us.
We will be emptied for the sake of others. But it is when we give out, that He is able to pour more of His life into us again.
I want to encourage you brothers and sisters that the years past of your time with Christ, of pain, of suffering, of being built into… it is not in vain. It is for a purpose. God has been preparing His storehouses for such a time as this. Take heart, God sees you, He loves you, He is about to use you.
Building in, building in….in order to give out, give out.
Many times I said it. Even though I had always read the Bible, even from a young child. I read it a lot. I memorized verses even. I believed it was truth, I believed it was the Word of God. And over and over God used His Word to teach me and to speak to me.
But I didn’t love it.
I certainly didn’t desire to read it or look forward to reading it. I did it because I knew it was the “right” thing to do.
Then one day I watched that old “Jesus” movie…. In it Jesus picks up the scroll of the Old Testament in the Temple preparing to read from it. But before he reads Isaiah 61 he kisses the scroll. That simple act convicted me.
I blurted to the Lord in almost desperation: “Jesus, I love You, but I don’t love Your Word. Not like that.”
I knew I loved Jesus. I loved Him with my whole heart and soul and mind and strength. I could see that “in the volume of the book it is written of Him”, I knew that Jesus is the Word made flesh. And it didn’t make sense to me. If He really is the Word made into human flesh, and if I really loved Him, how could I not love His Word as well?
Well of course there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t make myself love it nor desire it.
Actually, there was one thing I could do – and that was to be honest with Him about it.
So I was. I just kept telling the Lord what was in my heart.
“Lord I love You but I don’t love Your Word.”
Then gradually my prayers began to change : “Lord, give me a love for your Word. Make it real to me.”
It took some time, but one day I realized that I could honestly say that I now loved His Word. And I still do. I LOVE it. I desire to read it. I can’t wait to find more treasures in it. I can’t wait to discover my Jesus concealed in the pages of the Old Testament and find His beauty and grace revealed in the New Testament. I love reading the apostles revelations and teachings in the epistles. I often cry as I read it now, I am so blessed with this wonderful, old Book. There is nothing like it.
So what’s the difference now? The Book certainly hasn’t changed.
No, the difference is that now the Holy Spirit is bringing life where before there was death.
This principle is true not only with reading the Word of God, but with everything in the Christian life – doctrine, preaching, church meetings, worship, fellowship, prayer, giving to the poor… it can all be dry and lifeless. It may all be cold, dead duty, ritual or tradition with no life in it if it’s done in the power of the flesh.
Without the Spirit of life breathing His life into something, anything, there is in fact, a ministration of death. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, so when He is in something – whether it is prayer, reading the Word, preaching- there is reality there. There is Life. It rings true to us, it ministers life to us and we are changed by it.
A long, eloquent prayer may bring death…. If there’s no anointing of the Spirit.
A sermon with all the right doctrine may minister death to the hearers…. If it’s not infused with the life of the Spirit.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not an added bonus or extra in the life of a believer – His ministry of Life is essential. As Watchman Nee said “We either minister life or death. There’s nothing in between.”
Let us pray for the reality of the life of the Holy Spirit in every part of our lives, worship and ministries.
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