July 21 Vision: The Lot Has Been Cast

Thursday, July 21, 2022

I was about to lay down for a nap at 4:00. At 4:05 I was literally running to find my wife.
In a mere 5 minutes the Holy Spirit gave me one of the most vivid visions I’ve ever seen. (I can only think of one other as lifelike as this.)

As the vision opened, I saw several giant red and white dice being rolled out of the Father’s Hand, bouncing across the hills and plains of America.

Before the dice settled, apocalyptic storm clouds, filled with lightening and doom; clouds that stretched from the north to the south rapidly unrolled from the east coast to the west coast of our nation. A company of intercessors stood on what looked like a large relief map of the United States. Beneath the destructive canopy of the clouds one calamity after another burst onto the continent: hail; tempest; famine; plague, sword and more… One calamity spring-loaded the next – in such quick succession it was impossible to blink between each – like a slot machine filling its windows – bing, bing, bing, bing, bing – maybe 12 successive disasters; each thundering with darkness.

Once the disasters were finished being released, and while they were accomplishing their decimation the intercessors looked at each one saying: “Ah! that one!”, and “I remember the Lord speaking to me about that one from the scriptures.” We were very familiar with what we were seeing – but still filled with profound dread knowing they were actually being manifest in our day, in our land – and in such swift succession.

Before the vision finished, while the demolition was still raining down on our land, I (in real-life) actually jumped up and ran out of the bedroom looking for my wife, Kathy. I eventually found her outside watering the garden. My eyes were filled with alarm as I asked her, “Are you OK?” We stood there in the yard staring at each other for 30 seconds or so, until she realized I was serious… Kath is MUCH more attune to these realities. Finally she quietly asked, “What just happened to my husband?”

The Father has cast the lot over America. This is the most poignant aspect of the vision. The picture of the dice tumbling across the landscape still jolts my spirit with trepidation.

A sequence of destructive events is about to explode across our country – like the plagues of Egypt – packed into a much shorter time-span.

4 Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.
5 For He brings down those who dwell on high, the lofty city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He brings it down to the dust.
11 Lord, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see. But they will see and be ashamed for their envy of people; yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them. (Isaiah 26:4-5, 11)

The calamities are meant to compel us into an intensified season of preparedness – like preparing our house for the onslaught of a hurricane. The Lord is zealous that our nation know that it is “the Lord Who is speaking” (Isaiah 25:8) through the calamities. (This isn’t a subversive plot of the enemy to undermine our civic liberties or reshape our social structures.) The Father wants us to “be assured” that He’s the One Who is “casting the lots” so we respond to Him with abandoned holy sobriety.

Behind the storm is a King; “One Who is filled with might” and “Whose sandals we are unworthy to untie” (Matthew 3:11). The Giver of the vision; the Bringer of the storm; and the Bearer of the Kingdom is the One to focus on.

He is adamant that our world know “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

When John announced the Kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 3:2), his exhortation was to “repent“.

When Jesus announced the Kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 4:17), His exhortation was also to “repent“.

When Peter and the apostles announced the Kingdom of heaven was at hand (Acts 2:38), their exhortation was to “repent“.

The Lord is filled with zeal to extend mercy, even through these rapid-fire disasters, but the singular way to access that mercy is through repentance.

Repentance is the full-throttle message the Lord is calling His Church to saturate herself with in this hour. We must understand it, pray it, let the Holy Spirit bring it to bear on our lives and be convinced witnesses to its necessity in our churches, our gatherings, our prayer meetings, our evangelistic endeavors and all engagements with our culture. “Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand!”

The good news is that one day the Lord will remove the clouds of doom. This truth is meant to produce faith and endurance within us so that we fully do what is necessary as we go through the difficulty of the hour.
7 There He will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth.
8 He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The Lord has spoken!
9 In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the Lord, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!” (Isaiah 25:7-9)

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JSB • July 23, 2022

What Are We Learning About Jesus’ Heart Through the Judgments of the Lord?

O Most Upright, you weigh the path of the just.
Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You; the desire of our soul is for Your name and for the remembrance of You.
With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for WHEN YOUR JUDGMENTS ARE IN THE EARTH, THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS.
10 Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.
11 Lord, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see. But they will see and be ashamed for their envy of people; yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them. (Isaiah 26:7-11)

It has been more than 26 months since the Lord has brought the increased pressure of His judgments upon the earth. For almost two and one-half years He has been summoning the just (Isaiah 26:7) to come to Him and “seek His Face” in an intensified way.

Isaiah 26 speaks of five universal truths regarding the nature of the judgments of the Lord. These truths are vital to us if we want to respond well to the Voice of the Lord and make ourselves ready for His return.

1. The judgments that are upon the earth right now are primarily about “weighing the path of the just” (v.7)

1 Peter 5:17-19 observes: ” 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’ 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”

The Lord is bringing His Church into alignment with His heart so that in the season that’s ahead the Church may accurately reflect His ways to a world that has not known the ways of God. In a mere moment the world will be experiencing great judgments, and signs and wonders from the Lord, and the people of the earth must know how to respond to His invitation to dialogue. We, the Church, have the privilege of giving them an example of how to respond to the Lord, today.

2. The judgments of the Lord are meant to be precious to the believer. 

Through the increased pressure the believer understands that “the Lord is at hand”. He is our desire (v.8). He is the One we are waiting for. (v.8) We long to be marked by His Name

His judgments tell us that He wants to draw us close to Himself so that, just as Aquilla and Priscilla did with Apollos in (Acts 18) He can “take (us) aside and explain to (us) the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18:26) His judgments are an urgent invitation to focus on “one thing”.

4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

Through the judgments of the Lord the Church hears the Lord’s invitation to “seek His Face”, and we respond, just like David, who learned the great value of these honest, soul-enriching conversations with the Lord (Psalm 19:9-12), “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; wweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:9-12)

Isaiah 26:9 reflects that same value that was in David, a spirit that cherishes dialogue with the Lord: “With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early.” When we experience the mounting pressure in our world, we run into closer fellowship with Him; devoting more of our lives to meeting with Him in the “tent of meeting” where we can behold His glory, hear His voice clearly, understand His heart, and discern His ways so that we can walk with Him in increased love and faithfulness.

3. The judgments of the Lord draw us into dynamic dialogue with the Lord where we “learn righteousness”. 

Righteousness literally means, “the right order of the King”, or “the way of the King’s heart”.

As the pressure on the earth increases, and we respond to the King’s invitation to come and “reason together” (Isaiah 1:18) with Him, He unveils what He thinks, and how He feels about key issues in His Kingdom. This is the same dynamic that Jesus engaged in while He was on the earth: teaching and shaping the thoughts and perceptions of His disciples. Jesus is doing the same with His disciples today; teaching, commissioning, analyzing, evaluating, dialoguing, rewarding and calling us to adjust to His ways. It is through His judgments that He bids His Church to collectively learn lessons regarding His Kingdom:
a.) How does Jesus feel about aborting human life?
b.) What is our King’s heart for Israel and the Jewish people?
c.) What does the King think about homosexuality and transgender sexuality?
d.) In what way does He want us to regard the weak and the vulnerable in our communities?
e.) What does the King have to say to us about how we’ve treated those of different races?
f.) What is His attitude toward our nation, and the history of our nation?
g.) To what degree are we to manifest the Sermon on the Mount in our politics?
h.) How does He release prophecy and deal with false prophecy?
i.) What is He saying about the rebellion that’s in His Church’s heart?
j.) What is His attitude toward the violence that’s in His Body?
k.) How does He view “idolatry” in the “household of God”?
l.) Why is prayer, and corporate prayer so important to Him?
m.) What does He have to say about our knee-jerk response to “self-justify”?
n.) What does it mean for us to “deny self, take up our cross daily and follow Him” (Luke 9:23)?
o.) What does it mean to live “in the fear of the Lord”?
p.) How do we live with each other “in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3)?
q.) What are we discovering about the Lord’s extravagant mercy, patience, tenderness, zeal and long-suffering?

These are many of the Kingdom issues that the Lord is confronting us with in this hour. The fact that these topics are so prevalent in our own human conversations tells us that the Lord is wanting to talk about these issues. What is more, He wants to be the Centerpiece of our conversations! He’s returning in order to establish His Kingdom on the earth, and He urgently wants His Bride to be in alignment with His heart.

4. Many in the Church, will spurn the Lord’s judgments and fail to dialogue with the Lord about vital issues in their heart. 

They will assume they have all the knowledge of His glory that they need. They will not “behold the majesty of the Lord” (Isaiah 26:10) any more than they have to. 

All of heaven, that lives in perpetual adoration of the glory of the King, laments this heart-posture on the earth. Isaiah sees this and calls it “wickedness” (v.10) The reasons for snubbing the Lord’s summons may be the result of complacent theology or self-righteousness or carnal distraction or fascination with conspiracy theories. But (v.10)’s indictment is no less the same: “Those who refuse to respond to the judgments of the Lord and come and behold the majesty of the Lord, will not learn the ways of the Lord’s heart and will live in injustice, and not walk uprightly. They will be content to be clothed with wicked minds, wicked hearts, wicked speech, and wicked paradigms.”

Let’s read (v.10) again: ” 10 Let grace be shown to the wicked (though the Lord is gracious in bringing us into conversation with Himself), yet he (the wicked) will not learn (in fact, he refuses to learn) righteousness; in the land of uprightness (in the Kingdom where uprightness is the order of the heart) he (the wicked) will deal unjustly (he will continue to operate disconnected from the just ways of the King’s heart), and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. (The wicked one will neither behold the Lord’s glory in the tent of meeting, nor will he/she increase in his/her knowledge of the King’s glory)”

Obviously, this is a very very dangerous way of operating in the King’s realm in the minutes before His appearing. Jesus warned:
45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. (Luke 12:45-47)

5. The final state of those who spurn the Lord’s judgments is to be devoured by what they envy.

11 Lord, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see. But they will see and be ashamed for their envy of people; yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them.

As difficult as the judgments of the Lord may be, there is one condition that’s even worse: for the Lord to NOT confront us regarding the waywardness of our ways. 

As His hand places pressure on our families, our communities, our politics, our economics, our social-structures, our laws, our liberties, our relationships with other people-groups etc. we see (Isaiah 26:11) the ways of His Kingdom more clearly.

If we continue to spurn the Lord’s judgments, Romans 1 tells us three times that the Lord will ultimately give us over (Romans 1:24, 26, and 28) to that which will inevitably devour us.

Should we not learn His ways about politics, political violence will demolish us. Should we not learn His ways about race, racial hostility will consume us. Should we not learn His ways about insurrection and rebellion, revolution will overtake us. Should we not learn His ways about prayer, the forces of this world will swamp us. Should we not learn His ways about idolatry, our idols will corrupt and destroy us.

Isaiah 26:11 says that in this state it will actually be our very own “envy” that destroys us. We  envy what we believe we should have. We experience plague and we believe we have a right to live in a plague-free world. We experience racial hostility and we believe our world is, or should be free of racial strife. We experience political corruption and we believe we deserve a nation without political corruption. We experience an epidemic of mass-shootings and we believe that our society owes us violence-free environments. We envy the promises that the god of this world offers us, and in so doing we manifest the very same heart attitude that separated him from the God of all provision and goodness: pride and independence.

In the end, the judgments of the Lord aren’t about achieving plague-free world for ourselves. It isn’t about arriving at a racially harmonious, politically honest, respectful, free, compassionate, sexually moral, peace-filled nation. It’s about learning how to live in the order that we were created for. It’s about learning how to live intimately connected to Him, in thankfulness for His close provision and the daily and moment-to-moment goodness of His majesty. This is the fellowship He longs for – with us! This is where His heart is determined to lead His Bride in this hour. And this is precisely what the enemy wants to keep us from: intimate, heart-to-heart, dialogue and dependence upon our Bridegroom King.

What have you been learning about the ways of the King’s heart through the judgments of the Lord?

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JSB • July 18, 2022

Pride Vs. Humility

“God opposes the proud, but graciously cares for the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

Our Father is zealous for us to engage and enjoy the life, joy, wisdom and strength that comes from being in humble dependence upon Him. In a hostile world, separating ourselves from the sufficiency of His strength (for whatever reason) is sure destruction. Pride is an argument in our own soul that keeps us from seeking the shelter and provision that the Lord offers to us through His extravagant mercy and grace.

How do we know if our hearts are in pride or humility?
The following list contrasts twenty specific differences between how pride functions and how humility functions in our lives. As you examine each of these distinctions…
a.) ask the Holy Spirit to show you where your heart may be operating in pride,
b.) ask Him for help to let go of the pride and repent, and
c.) on the basis of (John 16:13-15) ask Him to fill you with the grace-filled humility of Jesus.

Pride in the heart is quick to blame others.
Humility in the heart accepts responsibility for one’s own actions and consequences.

Pride in the heart perpetually claims and demands rights.
Humility in the heart is ready and willing and able to yield rights.

Pride in the heart seeks to conceal one’s own sins and weaknesses. When it confesses sin at all,  it confesses in generalities.
Humility in the heart is zealous to have the Holy Spirit reveal the roots of one’s sin.

Pride in the heart compares one’s self to others and seeks to gain honor for one’s self.
Humility in the heart compares one’s self with the holiness of Jesus and lives in appreciation of His mercy.

Pride in the heart is inclined to draw attention to self and our own abilities.
Humility in the heart says “It’s not me. It’s Him!” and witnesses to Jesus’ greatness.

Pride in the heart is habitually concerned about being “respectable” and “acceptable” to others.
Humility in the heart concerns itself with being honest, and real before God and then with others.

Pride in the heart looks at one’s own faults through a telescope, but examines others’ with a microscope.
Humility in the heart is compassionate, forgiving and searches out the best in others.

Pride in the heart is defensive when criticized and desperately strives to establish and protect one’s own reputation.
Humility in the heart is not provoked. It yields its own reputation to Jesus’ reputation and allows Jesus to establish her/his reputation.

Pride in the heart finds it difficult to share significant needs with others.
Humility in the heart searches others out to be open and transparent with.

Pride in the heart exploits the failures, faults and weaknesses of others for one’s own benefit or image.
Humility in the heart strives to protect the dignity of others in love, prayer and the hope of redemption.

Pride in the heart has a hard time saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
Humility in the heart is quick to admit one’s failure and seek forgiveness.

Pride in the heart hears a message, and quickly thinks of someone else who needs to hear it.
Humility in the heart hears a Word and receives it, and allows the Holy Spirit to plant it in one’s own soul.

Pride in the heart is self-conscious.
Humility in the heart has learned to be “agape” conscious.

Pride in the heart yearns to demonstrate how much it knows.
Humility in the heart is zealous to learn, no matter who is doing the teaching.

Pride in the heart keeps people at arm’s length for fear of others’ seeing one’s imperfections.
Humility in the heart risks getting close to others with the hope that one may find friendship even in the midst of weakness.

Pride in the heart makes one unapproachable.
Humility in the heart is easy to “be entreated”.

Pride in the heart has a tight-fisted, demanding spirit.
Humility in the heart is generous – very generous.

Pride in the heart feels wronged & offended when others are promoted beyond it.
Humility in the heart maintains one’s peace when it is overlooked and rejoices in the good fortune of others.

Pride in the heart is driven to prove self.
Humility in the heart is secure and confident in the integrity of one’s words and actions first before God and then before men.

Pride in the heart is consistently working situations and people in order to maintain control.
Humility in the heart consistently listens to the Spirit, and willingly surrenders control to God and those He brings to help offer leadership.

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JSB • July, 2022

PDF VERSION of PRIDE vs. HUMILITY

Radical Repentance

“So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him.” (Joel 2:13-14)

In our evangelical culture we have practiced repentance as a type of cosmetic application, when repentance should, and is always meant to be “radical”.

Radical Repentance calls the soul to the threshing floor…

It engages in the thorough process knowing…
a. the fear of the Lord
b. the worth He has to receive everything of us
c. the nature of holiness
d. the utter sufficiency, magnitude and depth of His grace

Radical Repentance “IS” messy. (Get used to it… We WANT to get used to it…)

Radical Repentance looks for nakedness, despising excuses…

Radical Repentance ALWAYS asks: “What is the eternal King of Glory worthy of?”

Radical Repentance takes time… often.

Radical Repentance is rooted to the voice of the HOLY Spirit unveiling the heart in the light of the Word…

Radical Repentance is one of the key signs of a sober and clear-eyed church, and/or House of Prayer in the hours of tribulation…

Radical Repentance is a life-style choice, not a two-hour annual event.

Radical Repentance is the way of Isaiah 40:3-5, and John the Baptist that prepares us for the return of the King.

Radical Repentance is a “me” thing.

Radical Repentance winces at the mention of “our rights”.

Radical Repentance aims at “meekness”.

Radical Repentance looks for shared ways and common avenues rather than narrow boundaries of separation and distinction… Simply put: It’s an “us” thing. Not a “them back then”, or “them over there” thing.

Radical Repentance is focused on and motivated by the increase of Jesus – or it’s just more hyper-religion.

Radical Repentance looks at the sin and darkness that plagues our culture and asks: “How are my thoughts, narratives, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, spirit and words contributing to this?”

Radical Repentance asks: “How do my thoughts, narratives, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, spirit and words contribute to unbelief, adultery, lack of first-commandment love, insensitivity, hostility, murder, rebellion, superficial worship, idolatry and unrighteousness?”

Radical Repentance looks at abortion and asks: “How am I contributing to the discarding of human life?” Where am I aborting the Word of God? Where am I turning a blind eye to the pornification of women? Where am I insensitive to the distress of minority conditions? etc.”

Radical Repentance looks at gun violence and asks: “How am I contributing to a violent spirit in our culture? How do I turn a blind-eye to the madness in adolescent souls? How am I trusting in the power of a gun to keep me safe? How do I allow my rights to usurp the beatitudes?”

Radical Repentance looks at sexual perversion and asks: “How am I contributing to sexual perversion in my culture? Where do I wink at pornographic content? Where do I excuse predatory sexual behavior? Where do I allow my sexual appetites to rule my relationship(s)? etc.”

Radical Repentance finds no cover in conspiracies. In fact, it knows that “conspiracy” is the alternate state to the spirit of repentance. Radical Repentance prays: “Father, show me where I am hiding myself from You in a lie or a conspiracy.”

Radical Repentance looks at the Sermon on the Mount and allows the Holy Spirit to scrutinize “self” in light of all 55 of Jesus’ injunctions.

Radical Repentance looks at the Father’s heart for Israel and asks, “Where is my perception of of Israel out of sync with Your heart for Israel? Where are my thoughts about Israel and Your purposes for Israel too rooted in the way of the flesh, and not established in the light and promise of Your Word?”

Radical Repentance looks at our lives of prayer and asks, “Where have I allowed myself, and my church to become impoverished in prayer? How is my life of prayer different than Jesus’ life of prayer? How is Jesus calling me and my fellowship to join Him in the place of intercession?”

Radical Repentance looks at Political Idolatry and asks: “Where am I looking for political power to accomplish what I should be investing in God to accomplish? Where have I shunned righteous circumspection that is opening my soul and the soul of my nation to real evil?”

Radical Repentance looks at Idolatrous Nationalism and asks: “Where do I believe and further a lie about our nation? Where do I not tolerate truth to be told and taught about our nation? How am I exalting my nation higher than God does? Where do I love my nation more than Jesus?”

Radical Repentance looks at Racial Hostility and asks: “How are my attitudes contributing toward racial animosity? How does what I say about my nation’s past hurt other people-groups, and diminish the grace of God? How do I fail to champion and celebrate other ethnic groups?”

If the Church in America hopes to offer our curse-filled world a slice of the Kingdom that is honestly preparing individuals for the approaching reign of the King, now is the hour to fill our prayers, our worship gatherings, our ZOOM meetings and our conferences with Radical Repentance.

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JSB • July 10, 2022

One Man’s Description of “The Fear of the Lord”

In the Old Testament the phrase “fear of the Lord” is NOT attached to the hebrew word for “awe” (יגורו), meaning “dwell together”.

The two words the Bible uses in the phrase “fear of the Lord” is 1.) the Hebrew word for fear (יראת), and 2.) the greek word for fear (φόβos). Both of these words mean “fear, terror, terrifying”.

When the Lord gives us a fear of the Lord…

…it comes with a real, holy dread and apprehension that “undoes” our casual, laid-back spirit;

…it challenges all our paradigms;

…it creates real crisis in our lives;

…it shakes our foundations;

…it causes us to examine all our ways;

…it cross-examines all our pet theological beliefs;

In a season of the fear of the Lord, day after day your spirit is recast into (Matthew 5:3) “poverty”; the alarm and trembling is real; and because the face to Face encounter is nakedly substantial – the hunger for more is like daily having your spirit set on “auto-pilot into an incinerator”. (Hebrews 12:29)

The “fear of the Lord” is Abraham with Isaac laying on the altar (Genesis 22).

It’s barefoot Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3), and then wedging himself in a rock in (Exodus 33:22).

It’s Joshua after asking his binary question of the commander of the Lord’s army (Joshua 5:15); and the one who couldn’t bring himself to leave the tent (Exodus 33:11).

It’s Joshua again, standing outside of Achan’s tent (Joshua 7).

It’s David in (Psalm 27:4) and then in the presence of Nathan (2 Samuel 12).

It’s John (Mark 1:7) before the One Whose sandals he wouldn’t dare to untie.

It’s Peter (Luke 5:8) before the holy Messiah.

It’s Peter, James and John on the Mount of transfiguration (Mark 9:7).

It’s Herod’s guards in the garden (John 18:6), and then the Roman guards at the tomb (Matthew 28:4).

It’s the Roman centurion at the cross under the storming sky and the shaking earth (Mark 15:39).

It’s John on his face (Revelation 1:17) before the One Who held seven stars in His right hand.

I am praying for me, our community and our American, evangelical family to engage a fear of the Lord that we struggle to describe, and have no strength to get up from.

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JSB • July 8, 2022

The Corporate Nature of the Judgments of the Lord

“These things says He who holds the SEVEN STARS in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the SEVEN GOLDEN LAMP STANDS.” (Revelation 2:1)

“Corporate” Is Uniquely Difficult for Western Christianity
One of the elements of the Kingdom that 21c western Christianity struggles with is the degree to which we are “corporate”, and not merely “individual”. The Lord (all throughout the Bible) sees and treats humanity on the basis of our “corporate” nature/influence much more than we 21c Americans believe, teach – or like.

Yes. Each of us will ultimately be judged for our own individual covenant relationship with Jesus Christ (Revelation 20;15) But we are greatly influenced (for both good and bad) by the views and values of our corporate family, community and nation – much much more than we often acknowledge.

By neglecting to let God refine and purge our corporate ways, norms, sins and standards we leave influential idols on the high places of our culture, and these idols infect our individual hearts with destructive lies of the enemy.

The judgments of the Lord are primarily about the Lord bringing both reward and rebuke for the ways of family, community and culture.

It’s so vital that we understand how the Lord deals with us in a corporate way in this hour. If we don’t understand this Biblical truth, we can easily find ourselves working against the Lord. On the other hand, if we give ourselves to this reality we will find ourselves (note this is plural) in new dimensions of freedom, authority and maturity unto the glory of our King!

The Kingdom Precedent for Corporate
Jesus, the prophets and the apostles spend a great deal of time addressing the ways of corporate people groups because He/they know three things:
1. We are greatly influenced (for both good and bad) by the values of our friends, family, and culture
2. We greatly need each other if we are to go deep in vibrant righteousness. (Satan knows this too…)
3. Jesus is returning for a corporate Bride; not just a collection of individuals.

Repentance is meant to be a corporate endeavor, not merely an individual endeavor. It’s meant to be both, because both greatly influence the nature and destiny of our soul.

The Biblical Testimony of Our Corporate Nature
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 is a call to corporate repentance.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

The Psalms are filled with references to corporate and generational blessings and corporate and generational curses.

Joel 2 is a call to corporate repentance.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders… Let them say, ‘Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach.” (Joel 2:15,17)

Daniel 9 is a prayer of corporate identification and corporate repentance.

Lamentations is a book of corporate repentance.

Jesus speaks woes upon corporate groups of people.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:21)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13-15)

Peter addresses the corporate sins of the people in Acts 2:36-37
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart…” (Acts 2:36-37)

In Acts 17:11 the whole church in Berea is commended for the nobility of their ways.
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”(Acts 17:11)

Paul’s mindset is continually addressing the corporate dynamics in the churches he writes to – for both encouragement and for reprimand and correction.

In the end, the whole Bride makes herself (corporate) ready. (Revelation 19:7) It isn’t some are ready and others are not.
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and HIS WIFE has made HERSELF ready.” (Revelation 19:7)
From the whole testimony of scripture, we understand that the Holy Spirit has the capacity to bring the whole Bride into first commandment love for Jesus. This is perhaps the greatest miracle, sign and wonder of history. Our mutual, corporate, wholehearted adoration and proclamation of Jesus will be the pinnacle witness and testimony to the redemptive power of God. Our unity under the reign of Christ will be the dagger in the heart of the devil.

He wanted to divide and conquer and separate us from God, and each other through hostility and alienation. Perhaps the Lord’s supreme expression of the depth of His power to save will be put on display through our unified acclamation of Jesus as the One King that we all submit to. The declaration “Jesus is Lord” is actually, “Jesus is OUR Lord!” This is the complete undoing of the dynamic of blame and enmity that satan sowed into the hearts of Adam and Eve in the garden.
“The Lord said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13)

The Seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3
Jesus addresses seven spiritual communities in Revelation 2 and 3.

In the seven churches of Revelation we hear the Lord releasing four realities into corporate bodies:
1. Corporate Commendation – The commendations that Jesus issues have real, cascading/viral blessing attached to them.
2. Corporate Rebuke and Correction – The rebuke that Jesus issues to corporate groups address real sins that can also compound, delude and harden a people-group in the ways of unrighteousness.
3. Corporate Warning – The warnings are issued corporately, because we are meant to help guard each other from the ways of unrighteousness.
4. Corporate Promises – The promises are issued corporately, because Jesus knows that we need each other to propel us deep into the reward of righteousness, and because part of the great reward of righteousness is enjoying it corporately. There is a greater joy to be had in celebrating corporate righteousness than there is in celebrating private righteousness. (This is why you never want to hit a hole-in-one by yourself. We were made for mutual celebration.)

It’s significant that Jesus specifically calls the seven churches (corporate) to repentance seven times. Not one of those exhortations are a call to individual repentance. They’re each a call for corporate repentance.

Vital Current Controversy
We are the inheritors of a great corporate blessing from the foundations of our nation. We are also inheritors of great potential threats from the curses (like any group of fallen creatures) attached to the foundations of our nation. We need to take both as seriously as God does. He does not only see us as individuals. He also sees how inextricably linked we are to each other; to our forefathers and to our children’s children. We bear a debt of mutual responsibility to each other.

This also goes for churches, church cultures, regions and families. We inherit both the strengths and the weaknesses of the corporate groups we are a part of. This is the way we were made.

We were made for family and community. God is family and community. We are called to family and community.

The enemy wants to divide us and separate us from each other. He knows the wisdom of “separate and conquer”.

There is a powerful two-fold spiritual truth attached to the corporate that the end-times Church must avail herself of:
1. We will go further and deeper and more brilliant in righteousness and Christlikeness in the company of others.
2. We will also go further and deeper and blinder in unrighteousness and godless idolatry in the company of others.  This is the testimony and lesson we can derive from all 66 books of the Bible. Every single one.

This is why Paul admonishes those who are caught in the downward spiral of sin:
THEY did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave THEM over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; THEY are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also give hearty approbation to those who practice them.
(Romans 1:28-32)

This is also why Jesus takes our mutual influence and potential to cause others to sin so seriously.
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)

There are more than 100 references to “one another” in the New Testament. The Lord knows, indeed, He has built within us the capacity to enlarge and enhance each other through corporate life together. (This is why every team wants to play the championship game on their home field. It’s called the home-field advantage for a reason!)
“Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”(Hebrews 3:13)

“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24,25)

We Need Each Other to Cultivate A Responsiveness Posture to the Lord’s Prophetic Voice
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:44)

We need spiritual family to help us be responsive to the Lord’s voice. We need to live and be surrounded a culture that values:
1. A Spirit of Humility
2. Prioritizing the Pursuit of First Commandment love
3. Fear of the Lord
4. Maintaining a Spirit of Repentance
5. Lifestyles of Corporate Prayer

One of the most vital things pastors and leaders in the body of Christ can do in this hour is to realize our capacity to help each other prioritize cultivating these five traits of responsiveness to the Lord. Cultivating communal values for these five values is great spiritual warfare in this hour.

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JSB • June 29, 2022

A World Rages for Abortion

Singer, Kendrick Lamar closed the Glastonbury Music festival Sunday night with the song / chant: “Godspeed for women’s rights”

“Forced pregnancy is a crime against humanity.” (NY Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)

“It’s burn it to the ground time.” (Seattle Sounder soccer player, Megan Rapinoe)

“The whims of idealogues have attacked the essential freedom of millions of Americans.” (Barack Obama)

“I am pro-abortion. I loved my abortion.” (Billie Eilish)

Watching the world’s colective, demonic rage against the Dobbs’ decision may be the most bonafide, objective verification of the God of the Bible we’ve seen in a long time.

And yet, in even this, God is manifesting His justice. When His Son returns to rule the earth His judgment of 7.8 billion human hearts will be “altogether just, and true, and righteous” (Revelation 16:7). 

People argue, “How can a loving God order people to go to hell???” 

On the day that the world sees the resurrected Jesus return to earth to set up His government, they (Planned Parenthood, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Starbucks, Ms. Rapinoe, and Mr. Lamar) will tragically love their sinful ways and opinions no less than they do today. They will rage for their right to abort human life no less than they do today. 

The Father will not suffer insurrection against fidelity to His Son. (See Psalm 2) The supreme expression of justice on the earth is that our Redeemer King is worshipped and loved and honored by all of creation. His judgment (to finally turn human beings over to the torment and fear that’s been raging in their hearts) will be altogether just and true and righteous. They will not love nor submit to the way Jesus administrates His reign over humanity any more in His presence than in His absence.

This is also why it is SO VITAL that the Church respond to the (1 Peter 4:17-18) judgments of the Lord in this hour by giving the world an example of how to respond to a holy, sovereign and gracious God. If the world sees us casting off the judgments of the Lord with self-justification and violently demanding our own way, they will find no reason, and see no example of how, or why to respond to the Lord any differently than we have.

The judgments upon the Church right now are intended to be a witness to those who don’t know that there is a salvation to be had from the tyranny and murderous ways of unrighteousness.

The way into that salvation is through HUMILITY • CONTRITION • REPENTANCE • IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD

“As soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you (and the way you responded to the sovereign judgments of the Lord), for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath… So the two men… said to Joshua, ‘Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.” (Joshua 2:11 and 23)

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JSB • June 27, 2022