A New Season!
By Bishop Francis Wale Oke
President, Sword of the Spirit Ministries, Ibadan, Nigeria
Foundation Scripture: Acts 9:31
Sunday 20th October 2013
Our foundation scripture reads: 'Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. This account in scripture is recorded after a turbulent period in the days of the early church. The church had recently experienced a wave of unrest and persecution, imprisonment and death. Apostle James had just been killed and many other believers, including Apostle Peter had been imprisoned, shaking the whole church.
Acts 8 records that the church as a result of this was scattered everywhere, with only some of the apostles remaining in Jerusalem. However, note that these events were pre-ordained by God. Despite all these, we can be rest assured that the church will stand, because of Jesus's promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). Every time the church undergoes a season of trial and tribulation, she always emerges better, stronger, richer and greater. And I believe that New Wine church will also become better, greater and more prosperous after the difficult season we've experienced in Jesus name.
God brought the church into a new season as we've read from our foundation scripture. There are five hallmarks that I would like to share with you from this passage:
a. Rest: Having experienced different forms of stress - mental, emotional, physical and spiritual, the people were naturally stretched and strained as a result. Then God intervened and ushered in a season of rest. Isaiah 14:3 reads: 'It shall come to pass in the day the Lord gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve'.
The future of New Wine Church is bright, colourful and glorious because Jesus is alive. I declare rest in every area of your life: career, marriage, family and mind. The Lord delivers you from stress in Jesus name.
b. Edification: To be edified is to be built up, restored and renewed. The root word for 'edified' in our foundation scripture is the same word that is used in 1 Corinthians 14:4 where Apostle Paul was referring to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Prophesies edify the church while praying in tongues edifies the individual praying. The picture that best describes these examples in Corinthians is that of a depleted battery that needs to be re-charged. Can I submit to you that when you are praying in tongues, you are 'recharging your spiritual battery'. This is what Isaiah was also speaking about in chapter 40:31; 'those that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength'.
Here are some scriptures that refer to this same word - edification; In 1 Samuel 11:14, Samuel calls out to the Israelites to renew the kingdom. Psalm 51:10 reads '...renew a right spirit within me', a scripture that David wrote after his affair with Bathsheba. Isaiah 41:1 also reads: 'Keep silence before Me, O coastlands, And let the people renew their strength!. Also see Lamentations 5:21 which speaks of the renewal of our days.
This is one of the duties of a shepherd in taking care of his flock. The process of their renewal involves leading them towards green pastures and a running stream where they could be fed and watered, restored (Psalm 23:3). The best place to renew your strength is in the presence of God (Isaiah 41:1). The church during those difficult days in the book of Acts renewed their strength by gathering together and encouraging one another (Psalm 16:11). Having been through a season of tribulation in New Wine Church, it's time to usher in a season of edification and renewal. God is ready to renew our strength.
c. Walking In the Fear of God: This refers to the awe, the reverence and wonder of God's presence. Jacob experienced this in Genesis 28:16 and 17 in which he exclaimed: 'Surely, the Lord is in this place and I did not know it'. “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” God's presence overwhelmed him leading to the re-dedication of his life to God. God is with us. I love the rendition in the book Zephaniah of God: 'The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty'. (3:17 KJV). Let's walk and conduct ouselves in the light of His presence. Remember that God knows, sees, feels and understands us and he will reward us according to our conduct.
d. The Comfort of the Holy Spirit: There are critical moments in our lives in which the comfort offered by men will not be sufficient in consoling us - it's only the comfort of the Holy Spirit that can bring relief to the pain and sorrow. Probably Apostle James had ministered and connected with the congregation, and his passing may have brought a wave of sadness to the church.When the Holy Spirit comforts you, He turns your mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy. All the persecution that the church witnessed did not stop her from going forward and fulfilling God's plans. I pray that the Lord comforts you during those moments when you are alone and wondering about the events of the last couple of months. May the Lord strengthen so that you can move forward.
e. They Were Multiplied: Despite the troubles that the church faced, she could not be stopped from multiplying. There is a new season ushered in today - Believe, pray about it, and work for it. Ezekiel 36:37 reads '‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock."
We are in a season of an unprecedented wave of God's glory - may you see it, partake of it and enjoy it!
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