Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in the first twenty verses of the forty-eighth chapter. This particular set of verses continues Jeremiah’s prophetic discourse to the nations, peoples, kingdoms and lands which surrounded Israel and Judah. Perhaps one of the most interesting and intriguing realities surrounding this particular section within the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that after the Lord was finished dealing with His people—after He had unleashed and dispensed His judgment upon them—He then turned His attention to the nations, lands and peoples round about His heritage. In essence, the Lord could not, would did, and did not allow the nations which surrounded His heritage to escape His judgment—despite the fact that those nations and peoples which surrounded Judah and Jerusalem gloated and even boasted over the demise and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the nations and peoples which surrounded Judah and Jerusalem saw a people carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans, and another people who had utterly and completely abandoned the inheritance to go down into Egypt, they looked upon the land with envy, with desire, with lust, and with covetousness. The nations and peoples which surrounded Judah and Jerusalem saw a land that had been utterly and completely decimated and devastated by the Chaldeans, and perhaps even found themselves sitting upon their own lofty pedestals. There is something to be said about those who look upon the demise and destruction of others and immediately perch and prop themselves up in a place where they are both exalted and elevated over them. There is an incredible danger that surrounds those people who look upon another who has experienced the chastening of the Lord, and who immediately look upon them with disgust and disdain. Imagine the report that would have undoubtedly circulated among the nations and peoples which surrounded Judah and Jerusalem as they heard how the Temple had been destroyed, the wall had been broken through, the gates had been broken down, and a people carried away captive. What we must recognize and realize is how the words of the apostle Peter concerning judgment beginning in the house of the Lord directly applying to this particular reality. Judgment began within and in the midst of the heritage and inheritance of the people of God, yet once that judgment had worked itself in the midst of land, it transitioned to the nations, peoples and lands which surrounded it. JERUSALEM: THE EPICENTER OF BLESSING! JERUSALEM: THE EPICENTER OF JUDGMENT! The more I consider this reality, the more I can’t help but look upon and consider the city of Jerusalem as being the epicenter of the divine work and will of the Lord. As you proceed to study Scripture, you will discover that Jerusalem could very well be the epicenter of blessing which would flow to and flow among the nations, peoples and lands within the earth. Conversely, Jerusalem could be the epicenter of judgment, as the judgment of the Lord begins in Jerusalem, but then moves within and moves upon the earth like a ripple effect. It’s almost as if judgment could have been dropped in the midst and in the center of Jerusalem, and that drop of judgment would have created a ripple effect that would have directly impacted the nations, peoples and lands surrounding it. What’s more, is that much like an earthquake has an epicenter—the point of origin for its impact—so too can the judgment of the Lord have an epicenter within and upon the earth. The judgment of the Lord would be manifested directly in the heart and center of the inheritance, and the effect, force and impact of that judgment would be felt among the nations round about. In other words—if Jerusalem would experience the judgment of the Lord, the nations, peoples and lands round about her would also feel and experience the judgment. It is absolutely impossible for Jerusalem to face and experience the judgment of the Lord and the nations, lands and peoples round about not feel and experience it themselves. On the flip side of this coin—if Jerusalem experienced the blessing of the Lord upon it, that blessing would be felt and experienced by the nations, lands and peoples around it. Consider the Queen of Sheba who came from a great distance to see the splendor of Solomon’s kingdom and reign over Israel, and the grandeur and wonder of the Temple of the Lord which stood in the midst of Jerusalem. Consider how the Temple of the Lord would not only stand in the midst of Jerusalem to draw the Jewish people to its courts to worship the Lord, but would also call and beckon peoples from the surrounding nations and lands to come and worship the Lord in His holy sanctuary. In all reality, we must recognize and understand that our lives can be, and our lives are much like the city of Jerusalem, for our lives are either the epicenter of blessing to those we come in contact with, or our lives are the epicenter of judgment to those we come in contact.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF YOUR LIFE? WHAT IS THE FORCE OF YOUR LIFE? Your life is, and your life has an epicenter within it, whether you like or want to admit it or not. There is absolutely no escaping the reality that your life has an epicenter that creates a force which is and a force which can be felt by those you come in contact with on a daily basis. What is the impact of your life, which is felt by those you come in contact with on a regular basis? What is the force of your life, which is felt by those you come in contact with on a day to day basis? I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the Lord of hosts spoke to Abraham when He called him forth from Ur of the Chaldeans. “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, AND I WILL BLESS THEE, and make thy name great’ AND THBOU S HALT BE A BLESSING: aAnd I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: AND IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED” (Genesis 12:1-3). Please don’t miss the incredible significance and importance of these words, for the Lord not only desires to bless you, but the Lord desires that you might bless others and be a blessing to others. Did you know the blessing of the Lord was never meant to remain in your life and never flow forth? How many men and women in this generation are nothing more than their own Dead Sea, for they continually receive, but never pour out and give forth? How many men and women among us are just like the Dead Sea, for they do nothing more than receive the blessing of the Lord, yet the blessing never proceeds forth or flows through them or from them? There are many men and women who do nothing but receive, receive, receive, yet never give, give and give. We face both the danger and the threat of becoming dead when the only thing we do is receive, yet never allow anything to proceed forth or flow through us. I would dare say that one of the main reasons why certain men and women among us in the house of the Lord are dead is not because they have not received or are not receiving, but because they aren’t giving. It is possible to receive—and even receive from the Lord—and yet become dead in the presence of others because you never allow anything to flow forth from you. There are men and women among us who are experiencing a certain deadness and certain dryness—not because they aren’t receiving from the Lord, but because they aren’t releasing what they have received. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—are you releasing what you are receiving? Have you become a professional receiver, yet you have not become a professional releaser? Know this, and know this well—you were never created, nor were you intended to be a receiver only without releasing what you have received.
As I am sitting here right now, I am completely convinced that one of the main causes for some of the deadness and dryness men and women are experiencing within their lives—even when they come into and enter the house of the Lord—is because everything they hare received just piles up in their lives. BURDENED BY BLESSING! BURDENED BY PROVISION! BURDENED BY RECEIVING! Is it possible that you can become burdened down by everything you have received, and everything you are receiving? Is it possible that you can actually become weighed and weighted down by that which you have, and that which you are receiving? The Dead Sea is named thus—not only because nothing living can survive within it, but because it does not release what it receives. The main source of provision for the Dead Sea are the waters from the Jordan River—waters which extend to the Sea of Galilee and even beyond the Sea of Galilee. FROM DEW TO DEATH! It’s interesting to note that the source of the water which flows into and through the Sea of Galilee is Mount Hermon, and Scripture even speaks of the dew of Hermon. I mention this reality of “dew to death,” for it reveals how Mount Hermon receives the dew of heaven, and that dew eventually flows toward the Sea of Galilee, and through the Sea of Galilee via the Jordan River, yet where does the dew of Hermon end up? The dew of Hermon provides life to the Sea of Galilee and for the Jordan River, yet once it reaches the Dead Sea, it is met with death and death alone. I would dare say that it is possible to become so weighted and so weighed down by everything we have received, and everything we are receiving, and it eventually produces a deadness and dryness within our hearts and lives. I am convinced that we can even receive from heaven that which the Lord desires to bless us with, yet if that blessing does not have a method of release, it can eventually grow stagnant and stale. It’s much like the manna which the Lord provided for the children of Israel in the wilderness, for they were instructed to only gather what they needed for each day, and nothing more. Should any among them choose to gather more than what they needed for that day, it would not only become stagnant and stale, but it would become infested with maggots. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how much of what men and women are receiving and have received is becoming and has become stagnant and stale, and infested with maggots. WHEN THE PROVISION OF GOD BECOMES STAGNANT AND STALE! WHEN THE PROVISION OF GOD BECOMES INFESTED WITH MAGGOTS!
What is so unique about the provision of the manna from heaven is that even though it was provided for the children of Israel by the Lord of hosts, they weren’t supposed to hoard it. How many men and women among us in this generation are doing nothing more than becoming professional hoarders of the blessing and provision of the Father? How many men and women among us in this generation have not only received the blessing of the Lord, but have hoarded it all to themselves? Much like the man in the parable which Jesus told concerning the man who obtained much wealth and then tore down one barn to build an even bigger barn to hold his increased wealth. BUILDING BIGGER BARNS FOR THE BLESSING OF THE LORD! BUILDING BARNS FOR BLESSING! I can’t help but think of how many of us are doing nothing more than building bigger and better barns for the blessing(s) we have received, yet aren’t realizing that we were never intended to build barns for the blessing. We play a very dangerous game when we treat the blessing of the Lord as something which is meant to be enjoyed and experienced by us alone, and never act as vessels and conduits from which that blessing can flow. The problem with living such a life and reality is that eventually we become so full that we can’t contain or hold any more. Consider a glass that is filled with water, and how so long as that glass if filled with water, it can never receive new water. It is only in the emptying that we can truly be filled, for we weren’t meant to be filled once, and then once we received that filling, we no longer have need of being filled again. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women have reached the point in their lives when they can’t be and aren’t being filled anymore by the Lord—not because the Lord does not desire, nor is unable to fill them, but because they aren’t allowing themselves to be emptied before and emptied by the Lord. While this isn’t the case—could you imagine if because the Dead Sea only receives and never releases, the death which is found within it begins to impact and affect the Jordan River? Could you imagine what the Jordan River would be like if the death that was contained in the Dead Sea began contaminating and polluting the Jordan River, and eventually even reached the Sea of Galilee? BACKED UP BLESSING! Oh, I would dare say there are men and women who are living in the place of “backed up blessing,” for the blessing of the Lord is backing up within their lives, and is actually doing more damage than good. I would even be so bold as to say that the blessing of God has become too big in your life, or you have become too big for the blessing of the Lord within your life when it can no longer be released and flow through you.
Did you know that your prayer closet is not supposed to be a barn which houses and stores the blessing which you receive from the Lord? Did you know that your prayer closet is not supposed to be a barn which houses the provision and promise(s) of the Lord within your life? What’s more, is that your prayer closet is not supposed to be, nor was it ever supposed to be something which you tear down and persist in building bigger and better so you can hoard that which you have received? I can’t help but consider the thought that there are a number of churches who may have built bigger and better churches, yet what they have done is nothing more than build a bigger barn as did the man spoken of in Jesus’ parable. Have you experienced a dryness within your spiritual life? Have you experienced a certain deadness within your spiritual life? I would present and suggest to you that the root and cause of that deadness and dryness has absolutely nothing to do with what you have received, or what you are receiving from the Lord. DON’T BLAME THE LORD FOR YOUR DEADNESS! DON’T BLAME THE LORD FOR YOUR DRYNESS! The Dead Sea can’t blame the Jordan River for its deadness, for the Jordan River flows straight into the Dead Sea, nor can the Dead Sea blame the Sea of Galilee for its deadness. The Dead Sea can’t blame that which flows into and that which contributes to it, for both the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee are doing what they were created and intended to do. How many among us are blaming others for our deadness and even our dryness, yet we don’t recognize and understand the root cause for both our deadness and dryness is our inability, and perhaps even our unwillingness to release that which we are receiving. Did you know that you can’t even blame the pastor or minister for the deadness and dryness in your life, for that which you receive on Sunday mornings was never meant to remain in your life only—it was meant and intended on being released and perpetuated in the lives of others. What’s more, is that if you are relying on the minister or preacher for your spiritual diet and spiritual sustenance, you should expect nothing less than a general dissatisfaction, deadness and dryness. We play a very dangerous game when we rely on the minister and preacher to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst, rather than going to well and coming to the table throughout the week. If the only time you come to the well and come to the table is on Sunday morning—my dear brother, my dear sister—I would lovingly tell you that you are in a dangerous place, and are playing a dangerous game.
WHY ARE YOU SHAKING YOUR FIST AT GOD BLAMING HIM FOR YOUR DEADNESS AND DRYNESS AS IF HE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT? The Lord of hosts had absolutely nothing to do with the deadness and dryness you are experiencing within your life, for you have learned how to receive only, yet not release. Please understand that what I am suggesting is not that you should no longer receive the blessing of the Lord, nor that you shouldn’t receive the provision of the Lord any more within your life. What I am suggesting and speaking of is the fact that you must not and cannot hold on to and hoard that which you have received from the Lord. There are men and women right now who have received much from the Lord, yet despite the much they have received, they are experiencing and have experienced nothing but deadness and dryness. Consider how many who win the lottery and come in to all that money don’t find themselves in a state any different than the one they were in before they won all that money. Consider that many who have won the lottery have actually become more miserable than perhaps they were before winning—not because they won, but because there was no release of that which they have received. Oh, are you willing to release that which you have received? Are you willing to let go of that which you have received of the Lord? It is true that every good and perfect gift cometh done from the Father of lights in whom there is no shadow of turning, but even the gifts of the Father weren’t meant to be hoarded and held on to. Neither you nor I were created, nor were we intended to build bigger and better barns to hold and house the gifts we have received from the Father of Lights. There needs to be an outlet for the blessing of the Father within our lives, and there needs to be an outlet for the provision of the Lord which we have received. INLETS WITH NO OUTLETS PRODUCE NOTHING BUT DEADNESS AND DRYNESS WITHIN OUR HEARTS AND LIVES. We cannot, we dare not, we should not blame the Lord for the deadness and dryness we have experienced and are experiencing within our lives, for it may very well be that we have received, and continued to receive without releasing, and life is not able to be cultivated in that place. LIFE CANNOT BE SUSTAINED IN RECEIVING WITHOUT RELEASING! How many of us are trying to sustain life within and among us, yet we are doing nothing more than receiving without releasing? The Lord declared unto Abram that He would indeed bless Him, but that He would be a blessing, and that all nations would be blessed through Him. The blessing would originate with and from the Lord of hosts, and it would extend and flow unto Abraham, yet Abraham was meant to be a canal through which that blessing would flow. The Lord blessed Abraham so through Abraham He might be able to bless others, and the same reality is true of us. The Lord seeks and desires to bless us so that through us He might be able to bless others. How many times have we been guilty of robbing others of being blessed by the Lord because we have been too selfish with what we have received from Him? Heaven help us if we are guilty of robbing others from being blessed by the Lord because we are too busy and too concerned with holding on to it for ourselves.
Transitioning back to the forty-eighth chapter of the book of Jeremiah, there is a verse contained within it that bears tremendous significance. In the tenth verse of this chapter the prophet Jeremiah declares and speaks these words—“Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood” (Jeremiah 48:10). When I read this verse earlier today, I was immediately gripped and struck by the significance and importance of it. This verse seems to suggest and imply that the sword was meant to wielded to shed and draw blood. If one took up the sword in the days of the prophets, or even during the days of the judges and kings, they took it up to raise it against their enemies. When David took up the sword of Goliath after felling him to the ground with the stone hurled from his sling, he did so for one purpose, and one purpose only—to cut off the head of Goliath. When David raised up the sword in battle, he didn’t do so to serve as a threat to his enemies and adversaries, but he had full intention of using that sword against his adversaries. When Joshua took up the sword upon entering into the land of Canaan, he took it up to use it against his enemies. Whenever anyone has taken up the sword, they have taken it up with the express intention and purpose of using it against that which is before them. Consider even the sword of the Lord, and that when the Lord removed the sword from its sheath, He intended on using it against His enemies and adversaries. No one takes up the sword without having any intention, desire or motive of using it. This reality must hold true even when consider the words of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews concerning the word of God being quick and powerful, like a two-edged sword. Moreover, this reality must hold true when considering the words of the apostle Paul concerning the sword of the Spirit, which he knew and understood to be the word of God. For both the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, and the apostle Paul, the sword was meant to do one thing—draw blood, pierce and divide, and be raised against our enemies and adversaries. With this being said, I am convinced that when we think of the word of God as a sword, we seem to think that the only blood it draws is the blood of our enemies and adversaries. While it is true the word of God is as a sword which draws the blood of our enemies and adversaries, that sword also draws blood from us as well. How many men and women expect the sword to draw the blood of the enemy and adversary, yet never experience the reality of the sword within their own hearts and lives.
I am reminded of the words which were spoken unto Mary concerning the sword piercing her own heart and soul. It was made perfectly and abundantly clear to Mary the mother of Jesus that she would not and could not escape the sword, but that it would pierce her very soul. There are many of us who expect the sword to only be used against our enemies and adversaries, and we love thinking about the word of God as a sword against our enemies, yet we have a difficult time considering it as something which pierces our own heart, and soul and spirit. The prophet Jeremiah declares “cursed be he that keep them back his sword from blood,” and I am convinced this is a prophetic word for many within the church today. There are many today who are holding the sword back from taking and drawing the blood of their enemies and adversaries. There are many today who know and understand the word of God is as a sword which can be used against their enemies and adversaries, yet they aren’t wielding and using it as such. In all reality, I would dare seek to present it this way—cursed be he which refuses to draw blood from his enemies. Cursed is that man or that woman which refuses to raise the sword of the Spirit against the adversary to draw blood. With that being said—please don’t misunderstand me and think that I am speaking of taking up the sword against our brother or sister, or even our neighbor. What’s so interesting about this concept of the sword is that it ultimately has two targets—our enemies and adversaries, and us ourselves. There are a number of men and women who have no problem considering the sword as being able to take and draw blood from their enemies, but they are unwilling to consider the fact that the sword needs to pierce their own soul and spirit, and divide both. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and it is supposed to divide our soul and spirit, and discern the thoughts and intents of our heart. Cursed be that man or that woman who keeps the sword back from drawing their own blood. Cursed be that man or that woman who refuses to allow the sword to pierce and penetrate their hearts and lives because they are trying to avoid the shedding of blood. Scripture declares that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin, and I would dare say that without the drawing of blood from our hearts and lives, the work of God can be greatly hindered.
Consider that man or that woman who needs to undergo an operation and surgery, yet they are unwilling to go under the knife because of the blood that will proceed forth. How many of us are willing to bleed in order that we might be changed and transformed by the power of the Spirit of Almighty God? How many of us are willing to allow ourselves to be pierced and cut, and even experience the drawing of blood in order that that which is within us might die? Neither the cross nor the altar were clean and orderly things, but both were incredibly gruesome, blood and messy places. Consider all the blood that was shed at the altar, and all the blood that was shed at Calvary, and you will understand that the cross and the altar are messy and blood places. Cursed be that man or that woman that keepeth the cross back from drawing blood. Cursed be that man or that woman that keepeth the altar back from drawing blood. Cursed be that man or that woman that so guards their heart, so guards that which is inside them that they are unwilling to allow themselves to be pierced, wounded and even cut. Consider the words of Solomon in the book of Proverbs concerning the wounds of a friend being faithful. If the wounds of a friend are faithful, how much more the wounds which come from and as a result of the word of God within our lives. We play a very dangerous game when we refuse to allow the word of God to cut, to pierce, and to draw blood within our lives. Without the blood of the enemy being shed, there can be no victory, and without the sword being able to pierce and penetrate our own hearts, souls and spirit, there can be no change and transformation. Let it not be said of us that we are keeping the sword back from accomplishing that which it was released and intended to accomplish. The prophet Isaiah declared of the word that it will not return void, but that it will accomplish what it was sent and released to do, and we must not do anything to hinder and prevent that word—which is a sword—to accomplish what it was designed and released to do. Oh that we would not hold back, keep back, or prevent the word of God, which is a sword to draw blood—even our own blood if it is necessary to bring victory and triumph.