The Season and Alignment
To His various audiences, over the course of His earthly ministry, Jesus’ message consistently sought to raise the bar. He did so to be in sync with the standard, to be prepared to address the realities of the times, to which each segment of His audience was in some way unaware. Across the Gospels His message always began with a wakeup call to be able to operate with the dramatic Kingdom solutions that He sought to impart. Yet for far too many there remained a disconnect to be surmounted.
The Passion translation accurately captures the dynamic that was at work tied to the spiritual dullness of His listeners: “Their minds are dull and slow to perceive, their ears are plugged and hard of hearing, and they have deliberately shut their eyes to the truth. Otherwise they would open their eyes to see and open their ears to hear, and open their minds to understand. THEN they would turn to me to let me instantly heal them. But your eyes are privileged, for they see. Delighted are your ears for they are open to hear all these things.” Matthew 13:15-16
The reason for the dullness was two-fold. First it was from trying to discern spiritual realities through the limitations of the worldly mind-sets of their finite minds, rather than by faith. Second, it was the result of the god-of-this-world’s deceptive, seducing religious spirits.
Both were in operation on the Mount of Transfiguration when one of the crème de la crème of Jesus’ inner circle, Peter, responded to what he was seeing by suggesting a very religious response. Jesus replied sternly with: “Get behind me Satan, for you are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Countering the dullness of hearing and religious spirits was at the crux of Jesus’ message to each of the array of His audience segments. Short-sighted perspectives that were seedbeds for religious spirits were evidenced in not just His inner circle. They found root in those being added to His followers, to the broader group of masses curious from what they had heard about Jesus, as well as from the skeptics and the religious elite who should have known better.
Jesus’ explanation of the Kingdom, its radical mindset and the requirements for its operation, was the central message to all who came to hear. It was and is the strategy for living God-centric lives victoriously in a fallen world. It was the basis for which the mobilized Church of the First Century operated, which was the magnet in drawing new converts.
Jesus never sought to “dumb-down” His message to the level of His audiences. Rather He challenged them to raise their sights, expanding the awareness and operation of their spiritual perceptions and impact. He raised the bar. The foundation of His message was first to wake up those with ears to hear the realities of the Truth and then to alert them to the shifting realities of the times unfolding around them.
Jesus’ message reflected the heart cry of the Father, expressed by so many of those whose writings had become Scripture. The Psalmist captured this heart cry with the words: “Teach me your ways O Lord and I will walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalm 86:11) What this expresses is not just a response and alignment with God’s heart and ways, but in doing so with an undivided heart.
Alignment and Balance
In walking with the One who created all things, alignment and balance are two primary matters that His followers need to consistently be reaching for. That alignment is both with God and with the season, in response to the surrounding, changing world.
Getting it right requires listening; listening on a spiritual-level. It recognizes that our relationship with God is not static, but progressive and growing. Likewise, with both spiritual and societal factors constantly undergoing change, the need is in anticipating and embracing the role of forerunners in responding to the change underway. It is why at the time Israel came together and made David the King, that one of his first acts as king was in bringing the sons of Issachar into serving as his inner council: because of their ability to understand the times to know what to do.
Since God’s ways are so much higher than the best that human effort can ever hope to attain, embracing His ways and walking in His Truth with an undivided heart is an unfolding lifelong process in the spiritual growth and maturity of the believer.
The importance of balance comes from recognizing the unending process toward spiritual maturity and knowing Him without oversimplifying; or in getting stuck in incomplete, interim truths; or in simply becoming overwhelmed by the depths. Whatever dimension of God’s presence or being that we come to grasp, we can always know that there is more, much more. It is why in knowing Him and His ways that balance is so important. Jesus explained that upon His resurrection that the Holy Spirit, which He referred to as the Spirit of Truth, would be our Guide.
Discerning the Season and Preparation
So, what Jesus had to say was about preparation and being alert to the hazards that engender spiritual blindness. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, it was a gateway into the realities of the spiritual realm, while being distanced from the influence of religious spirits. It was a warning to those whose focus was mired in minor, religious trivia, failing to grasp what was taking place all around them
Jesus pointedly observed: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say a shower is coming and so it is. When you see the south wind blow, you say there will be hot weather and there is. So, how do you discern the face of the sky and the earth, but fail to discern the times?” He was speaking of being alert and prepared from God’s perspective on the changes underway in the spiritual atmosphere impacting the surrounding world.
Jesus came not to design a great escape, but rather to mobilize and align an unstoppable force willing to pay the cost to penetrate the veil; to bring restoration. Without the benefits of TV, the Internet and social media, the early Church didn’t take a generation to set this force in motion.
The Dynamics of Preparation
Within a single chapter (11) of his gospel, Luke the Physician presents a focus of Jesus’ preliminary preparation for those with a heart to be change-agents. In this chapter are the key elements of His message and the responses He made to the key segments of His audience.
This chapter in Luke begins with Jesus stressing the importance of persisting in prayer, with the illustration of the parable of the man who inconveniently sought to borrow bread from a friend at midnight. It unwraps key aspects of this vital theme noting that even those whose ways are questionable will give good gifts to their children, so how much more might be expected from our heavenly Father, who bestows good gifts on those who seek Him.
Then, while many marveled at His authority over the spirit-realm; in response to those who scoffed at Him casting out demons, He commented that the ones, who claimed His power to cast out demons came from Beelzebub, were blinded to the operation of the Kingdom of God. He concluded this point concerning those denying the power of His authority over the spirit-realm with the observation that “whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (v 21-23)
Each of these points of His message and His response to the various segments of His audience sought to raise the bar from the standard previously held. In continuing, the chapter then notes a woman crying out ecstatically: “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed.” Again, Jesus raised the bar to this emotional response with the pointed wisdom of: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (v 27-28)
At that point, Jesus raised the bar even further, commenting that his audience were all living within an evil generation. His focus was targeting those who in their skeptical response to seeing His authority over the demonic were asking for a sign. For them, the only sign would be that represented by Jonah who spent three days in the whale and upon emerging … brought repentance to those in Nineveh, a wicked people, yet ones willing to accept by faith that God had supernaturally sent Jonah to them. The Nineveh of those days was known for its temporal prosperity, yet as a center of crime, was described as a bloody city full of lies and robbery.
With that Jesus warned that judgment would come to those failing to see what was right in front of them. Again, He stressed it would require being sufficiently spiritually-alert to have eyes to see and ears to hear what was unfolding around them.
Jesus continued with the flip-side of his point concerning judgment encroaching at the door of the spiritually blind by noting that those who have the Light don’t hide it, but rather place their lamp stand for those who have eyes to see to see it. He further elaborated that the eye is the lamp of the body. When the eye, processing the realities around them is healthy, then everything else concerning them would be sound. Then came another warning: “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” (v 35) In other words, he punctuating the point of the Psalmist whose cry was for an undivided heart.
Following what Jesus imparted to the crowd that had gathered, Luke explains that He was then invited to eat with one of the Pharisees who had been there. However, in being challenged by failing to ceremoniously wash, Jesus responded with: “You Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” (v 39) His counsel was to address giving alms for the right reasons, instead of neglecting justice and the love of God, punctuating His comment: “Be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”
This chapter was then summed up with the words of Jesus once again expounding on the need to raise the bar and be alert to the unfolding realities: “The Wisdom of God has said: ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets will be charged against this generation. Woe to you who have taken away the key of knowledge. You fail to enter [the Kingdom] yourselves and are hindering those who were.” (v 49-52) Clearly a word of judgment for those with divided hearts.
The Seduction and the Superficial
It’s been said that the worst enemy of the best … is the good. So what the deceiver has been working overtime on, since Jesus raised the bar and made things so plain, has been to seduce believers into accepting the superficial facets of the faith. To oversimplify and give such keen focus to the good that they become stuck, being blinded to the best. To do the very thing that described the Scribes and the Pharisees: of majoring in minor things to such an extreme that they totally miss the big picture.
The big-picture is that of restoration. What took place in the early Church was a mobilized remnant whose actions reflected such alignment with divine power that they reshaped the culture around them. They did so without apology for their identity and purpose in God. Nothing hindered them. Likewise, keep in mind that the Church in those days was not an institution, but a movement.
Such is the dynamic of the transition for this hour. The bar has been raised. It will require new mind-sets. These will be new mind-sets that while not rejecting the institution of the Church, distances itself from the goal of the institutionalization process, toward the goal of restoring the Church to being a movement of change, that reshapes the culture around it.
From the time God has had a people, He has made them to be self-sufficient. That means there needs to be change in the perception of the Kingdom model: of it including community and the economic with the spiritual. At its foundations, this three-fold model is what has long comprised Jewish thinking. Within the context of the many Biblical examples — Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Esther and on and on — were people who God placed in positions of influence in the societies of which they were a part, whose God-anointed mandates brought significant change to their host cultures and societies.
So it has been over the centuries, that Jewish thinking has greatly impacted the economic, governmental, financial, legal, educational and moral compasses of the societies of which they were a part. They’ve done so, not by being like everyone else, but rather by being strong in their identity; in understanding and being practitioners of God’s ways. In short, they’ve done so by being unapologetic examples and a voice.
On the Isle of Patmos, John received profound revelation about the turbulence that would result from the impact of the change to be released in the final days. In more than a single instance, his revelation caught a glimpse of what it means to be a voice: the word of their testimony. There’s a difference between being a voice and just being a part of the clamor.
It bears on the words of Peter in Acts, when in the attempts of the religious to silence him, he stated: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you judge, but we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.” After three years of being groomed by Jesus, it came down to not a theological debate, but instead simply describing the things Peter had seen and heard. Again, in Revelation the resurrected Jesus revealed that: “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” and that “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” Taken together, this premise releases the power and authority evidenced in Acts of describing believers as “these who are turning the world upside down.”
This very basic premise of being a voice involves another dimension for those God has placed in positions of authority and influence in worldly settings: the Josephs, Daniels, Nehemiahs and Esthers. It is in speaking God’s timely word of judgment. Not to be presumed upon, as the days are evil and administering judgment can backfire if misapplied. Nevertheless, such are the dynamics of the season before us; that is bringing with it the greatest mobilization of the Body since the days of the early Church.
The Dynamics for the Season
This alignment bears on the shift Paul wrote the Ephesians about: into a level of spiritual maturity of the Body that releases what he referred to as the Glorious Church. A mobilized Church that operates outside the walls of a building, penetrating society and bringing influence in government, economies and in restoring foundational infrastructures; being a witness by living according to the Kingdom standard. This shift will be strongly evidenced by the fear of the Lord that triggers the restoration of power; by judgment and the miraculous that counteracts religiosity; by an overshadowing of the angelic; and by transitions into higher dimensions.
The Fear of the Lord that Triggers the Restoration of Power. In both his gospel and the Book of Acts, Luke speaks of the fear of the Lord falling upon the people because of the wonders they saw. In Acts it speaks of great fear coming upon all the church and on all who heard of these things as many signs and wonders were being done among the people through the hands of the apostles. The result of these demonstrations of God’s power in the streets was that multitudes were being added to the church. So it will unfold in this season.
Judgment and the Miraculous that Counteracts Religiosity. The season will bring a cleansing of the phony and the frivolous. Such were the examples of judgment against Ananias and Sapphira, the fear of God impacting Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8), the death of Herod (Acts 12), the judgment on Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13), and the backlash against the presumption of the sons of Sceva (Acts 19). Likewise, the miraculous that includes bringing life to the dead will mark the season, as well those being martyred.
An Overshadowing of the Angelic. Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry there was strong evidence of, as well as His testimony of the angelic being at His side. The intensity of His all-night sessions of prayer with the Father and the angelic coincide with the supernatural that was consistently a part of His demonstration of who He was. The angelic activity of this season can be expected to reach heights seldom seen within this last generation, apart from tangible glimmers, as God brings restoration and balance into the five-fold ministry that was operating so strongly in the early Church.
Transitions into Higher Dimensions. Revelations notes believers who “loved not their lives, even unto death.” The early Church understood their identity and purpose. They faced serious issues distorting their image and with those issues serious threats, both from within the religious hierarchy to the secular governmental rulers looking for scapegoats. For those who have ever visited Rome, for me the Coliseum where Christians were fed to the lions for their faith was chilling. Yet, it was in this very deadly and toxic spiritual atmosphere that the higher dimensions of the Spirit were being consistently manifested and the world of its day and its culture turned upside down.
Wisdom in Discerning the Spiritual Atmosphere
Never has there been a time when believers have had a greater need to be aligned and balanced in adhering to the Kingdom standard in being a Light to the world. Along with that is having a firm and discerning grasp of the spiritual atmosphere of their assignment.
It is a time for digging in; a time to get focused. In preparing His inner circle for His death, Jesus described the conflict that would result in this season: “Walk while you have the Light, lest darkness overtake you. He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.” (John 12:35) Jesus was explaining that judgment was about to take place against darkness and that everything was about to change. In Matthew 24, He describes the impact of the birth pangs of this conflict in great detail. In the same manner that Jesus once told the skeptics that a particular sign, that of Jonah, was reserved for them; so it will be for the skeptics of this season that their sign will be the return of the Jews.
This is the generation. Restoration is in process. With it will be unparalleled opportunity. It is not a season for believers to be hesitant or waffling, but rather in strongly maintaining their identity and purpose, while being wise in understanding their specific assignment and the atmosphere of their assignments. Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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