3/22/2020 1 Comment
Grace Upon Grace
This was a message delivered at HOTHOP Austin in early 2019.
2019: 5:52 AM, the Lord woke me up with this word:
“I know who the world thinks I am, but who do you say I Am?”
I looked up Isaiah 55:2, “Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.”
This morning, 3-19-2020, the Lord reminded me of this word. Last year, when I first delivered it at the Sunday Morning meeting, I said that I believed it was a prophetic word and God might be speaking about something that was still to come. Still, I came home and put it away… until today. As I read back through it, I realized that it was, indeed, a word of instruction and promise for this present moment we are in.
How ironic it is that for the first time in decades, we are struggling to find the food that sustains our bodies. I believe that God is reminding us that we have not been eating the food that He provides.
There is a marvelous message in the time that was on the clock that morning, 5:52 or 5-5-2, and the question I heard the Holy Spirit ask as He awakened me.
This is what I believe He was saying.
Biblical meaning of the Number 55 is “Grace upon Grace”
Few would doubt that the Hand of God is being revealed in a visible way all over the world, but why? I believe that He is inviting us, His children, to turn from the sin of believing that we are strong without His manifest presence in our midst. We have gone our own way.
The Bible meaning of repent is, “The act of changing one’s mind.” In other words, “To turn.”
God’s Hand is always an invitation to turn.
To sum it up, in the first two numbers, we have grace upon grace, the Hand of God, and an invitation to an action, “To turn.” But what does the “2” tell us?
The Biblical Meaning of the Number 2 is “Differences.”
Differences that are submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, will always reflect the Oneness of God. God hates division but Loves differences. He created our differences. In context of scripture, our differences are meant to be displayed as prisms of Light in a unified setting.
Which is why, what the world thinks of God is directly related to what we believe about Him and how we act on that belief.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” Isaiah 53:6.
Division represents Satan’s agenda for our differences.
The number 2 signifies a divided heart. Two gods. We have two eyes, but if their focus is divided, we are blind. The division among God’s people today testifies that we are all going our own way, which translates to the world, “which group is going God’s way?” We have built edifices of division, creating our own doctrines, our own methods of worship, denominational idiosyncrasies, and we have isolated ourselves from the differences that Christ anointed to serve His body.
Unity is not control. Unity isn’t forcing everyone to believe the same thing or punishing those who have a different revelation. Unity is the found in the blood of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection as the Only Begotten Son of God. There is only One Way to God and only One Way to be unified and that is by the power and witness of the Holy Spirit Who lives in all those who are called according to His purpose.
When His Spirit bears witness that you are my brother, then no matter how I feel about our differences, we are not divided.
Isaiah 5:2, “He plowed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines. In the middle he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter.”
Isaiah 5:2 is a picture of grace spurned. The humility necessary to receive God’s grace was rejected. There was no turning and the crop failed. We have been in a season of grace, a time of plowing, planting, and waiting, but our divisions have spoiled the vines and produced bitter fruit.
The true church, God’s Ekklesia, will be known as a place where differences prosper and division dies. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” John 13:35.
Not only will the House of God be known as a place where Love thrives, but His Temple, us, our personal, intimate relationships will be famous for Loving one another. We will no longer be peacekeepers, but peacemakers. We will be known as those who bring heaven into the divisions, the brokenness, and the devastation sin produces.
Our mouths will speak Truth and the Love of God expressed through us will set captives free.
In the expressions presented by His separate and individual Temples differences will become the prisms that reveal Christ’s Love to the world.
2 Kings 21:1-7, “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned 55 years in Jerusalem... And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the nations whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel…”
Abominations – Strong’s Concordance #08441 – Tow ebah meaning – A disgusting thing.
A divided heart is disgusting in God’s eyes. He hates the mixing of the holy and profane. Yet, we have had hearts divided by doctrines, opinions, and loyalty to denominations and men for too long.
As in Isaiah 5:2, grace covered us until it harvesttime. But it has come, and the fruit is spoiled.
Manasseh was King of Judah, which means, “praise.” We have enjoyed a season of unprecedented praise and yet, amidst the melodic sound of our worship, division, strife, and bitterness has flourished.
Our soul is divided. We can lead the praise team or be on the praise team; we can preach, teach, evangelize, and prophesy and still be following the desires, thoughts, opinions, impulses, and cravings of another lord: our undead Self.
Whatever lord (Lord) a leader worships, that lord (Lord) is the one ministering to the hearts of the congregation.
Many years ago, Doug Stringer stood at the front of a once powerful church, historic for revival. He said, “God has only one fire. It burns in revival or judgment, depending on what He finds when He comes.” Several months later, as the morning worship service was just getting underway, I heard the Lord say, “Run!” The sound was so urgent, I left my seat at the front and ran down the aisle, past the people, and into the foyer. There was my husband, standing with his assistant, and I asked, “What is it?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “God won’t let us go in, yet.” Over the next few moments, the doors opened 4 different times and 4 different leaders and intercessors came out.
The worship service could be heard in the background. The sound was beautiful, but the spirit was foul. The team was made up of varying degrees of protected sin.
One of the intercessors went to the bathroom to pray and the others congregated around Johnnie and me. I asked one of the leaders, “What did the Lord say to you?” She replied, “I heard Him say, ‘Swine on the Altar.”
A few minutes later, the pastor noticed that his entire front row of leaders were missing and demanded that we return. Obediently, we went back in. It was time to send the children to their class and one of the associate pastor’s called them up to the platform. His short message was on “illusions.” His prop was a small bowl he had taken from his office. Each of the leaders who had fled that morning were aware of this bowl. We had seen it many times. A small pig perched atop the lid in the center, appearing to be a handle one could grip. Instead, when we reached out to touch the pig, there was nothing there. It was an illusion projected from inside the bowl.
As he spoke about things not always being as they appear to be, the pastor passed the bowl around to each child and asked them to touch the pig. Afterward, he asked two ushers to pass the bowl throughout the congregation, insisting that everyone touch the pig. My friend, who had received the word from the Lord, looked at me and said, “Don’t touch the pig!” Of course, I wasn’t about to.
A divided heart cannot hear God’s voice when He speaks.
For decades, He has been speaking through His prophets, but we have allowed our doctrines, our judgments of the messenger, and our differences to determine whether we receive or reject the word. Our ears are not tuned to the sound of His voice, Proverbs 4:20.
The day God said that swine was on the altar of our worship only a few were tuned to hear Him. When flesh feels comfortable in God’s house, it is a clear sign that God is not.
Less than two short years, later, the building that once housed great revivals, became a church for those who practice sexual perversion and unrestricted sin.
The leaders followed the impulses and desires of a divided heart, Luke 16:13, and the fruit was disgusting in God’s eyes.
Proverbs 25:26, “When a lover of God gives in and compromises with wickedness, it can be compared to contaminating a stream with sewage.”
Proverbs 21:16, “When you forsake the ways of wisdom, you will wander into the realm of dark spirits.”
2 Chronicles 33:10-13, “And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they would not listen. Therefore, the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh in chains and bound him with fetters and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he sought the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers and prayed to Him and He was entreated by him and He heard his supplication and brought him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom.
Then Manasseh knew that the Lord, He was God.”
God has always known what the world thinks of Him. Afflictions do not come to ravage their hearts, but to turn us from our unrighteous ways.
We have used His grace to produce bitter fruit.
Which brings me to the reason God woke me up this morning. Like Manasseh, God is asking us, “Who do you say that I Am?”
The great irony of Manasseh’s story is repentance. Even in a time of judgment God’s grace was within reach, but it was only accessible through turning.
Manasseh took away the foreign gods and idols out of the House of the Lord. He tore down all the altars he had built on the mountain and in Jerusalem and cast them out of the city. He repaired the altar, sacrificed peace offerings, thank offerings, and commanded the people of Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.
Manasseh turned… and the people followed.
And Manasseh reigned 55 years.
55: Grace upon Grace. The most wicked king in all of Israel’s history received a double portion of God’s grace!!
I do not care how wicked our nation is today, God is not judging them for their wickedness. An eternity without Him is more judgment than any earthly dilemma we could ever face.
Instead, God wants to pour out a double portion of His grace, IF we, His people, will repent. If we will turn.
“…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” Romans 5:20. Here we see 5 and 2 together again. Grace and division. Man’s divided heart always leads to abomination and disgrace, but God’s amazing grace can still restore the standard.
Isaiah 30:5, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved…”
Humility is key to receiving grace, James 4:6.
Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, (2) what is good. What does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
If we want to carry His presence in the public place, we must spend time with Him in the Secret Place. Psalm 18:11 tells us that “He made darkness His secret place…”
Psalm 66:12, “You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us into abundance.”
Fear and darkness may gather around us but those who abide in the secret place of the Most High will find rest and grace to help in time of need. They will come forth singing a new song.
Because darkness is the place where intimacy erupts into pregnancy and pregnancy gives birth to the impossible. What you believe about God in this season of quarantine, will determine how you emerge and how you emerge will determine what the world sees.
We are living in the time of Mannaseh, again. We have far surpassed the magnitude of innocent blood shed in his day. Yet, God has extended His grace to us… Grace upon Grace.
If we will turn from our divisions and seek His face.
He will hear and the world will believe.