Arise and Shine, Church!
I saw a movie a number of years ago about an Amish community. In the movie, when someone needed help, whether a crisis, a barn-raising, or help in harvesting their fields, they would ring a large bell. Within minutes, the community would appear in all directions, hurrying to help and assist the one calling for help. This scene from the movie has continually reoccurred in my thoughts lately. When I asked the Lord what He might be speaking, I felt He said it was the Spirit of God who is now ringing the bell for the worldwide Church to awaken to "Arise and Shine" and fully step into Her role as the Ekklesia and Royal Priesthood. There is a call for intercessors to pray and the Ekklesia to put the decrees of God in their mouths. There is a call for the harvesters to come forth and go into the fields to bring in the great harvest.
God is calling and assembling His Bridal army. Before a large military move, the troops have a time of inspecting their equipment, packing and assembling their supplies, and physically and mentally preparing for the battles ahead as they move forward to take new land. We have been in such a time, as the Body of Christ, where the Spirit of God is going deep into hearts and lives to touch those things that are not adequate to take on the journey into the new land He is giving us. It is a loving work of His grace and much deep healing is taking place in hearts, families, marriages, and lives.
I see camps of intercessors sharpening their swords and immersing themselves in God's word. God is releasing upgrades in their weaponry and larger, more powerful swords are being released. These praying ones are consecrating themselves, surrendering everything to the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. New revelation for greater strategic warfare and blueprints for wisely reaching and harvesting each of the seven mountains is being released. Rivers of refreshing are being poured out, and battle weary warriors are being rejuvenated, uplifted, and wonderfully refreshed in the waves of joy, peace, and love He is pouring out. Those who feel too weary to go another step will suddenly be energized by the power of His Spirit.
A Kingdom of Priests
There is a thread running through scripture, beginning in Exodus 19:6 where the Lord first spoke these words to Moses asking him to share with the Israelites, "...You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." What was God looking for? It is evident that He wasn't looking for just one person to serve as a priest, but He was longing for a nation to step into that place. Notice Peter's declaration in I Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." The longing of God's heart was becoming a reality!
Hallelujah! The people of God no longer needed a mediator to approach Him because of the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Now, they must embrace and step into their identity as a holy nation with a holy occupation.
Every believer is called to be a priest unto God. I believe we are just beginning to grasp the significance of our role as the Royal Priesthood. We have been seated in Christ in heavenly places and it is for a purpose. Jesus Christ is on His throne at the right hand of the Father, and we are seated there, in Him. A throne signifies governmental authority. The One on the throne has been given all authority, and the right to rule. As we own our position in Him, we must acknowledge and embrace our inherited authority to rule with Him. We step into our "royal" role by choosing to enforce the rule of God's kingdom from our seated position in Christ. As His Ekklesia, we take up our keys, binding and loosing, and bringing heaven to earth by releasing the decrees and declarations we hear from the Spirit of God.
"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:22-23
In Luke 4, Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll proclaiming these words, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Part of our role as His Royal Priesthood is to carry on the works of redemption and restoration that Jesus came to do. What an incredible honor to be able to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming freedom for captives, and releasing prisoners from darkness. What a joy to proclaim as His priests the year of our Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God!
The Isaiah 60 Church
As we move forward to embrace our call as His Ekklesia and Royal Priesthood, we will see the Isaiah 60 Church emerge. The Isaiah 60 Church is a lighthouse and a beacon for the nations that are engulfed in the thick darkness. We are experiencing a time of thick darkness and the Lord is calling the Church to Arise and Shine to Her full stature and position. As we embrace our call and respond to His awakening Spirit, we will need to be grounded in these things that would be a strength for us and for others:
The Isaiah 60 Church Walks in Hope
Hope acts as an anchor for us. It stabilizes us amid the tumultuous waves of trials and oppression that come against us. Hope acts as a light for others, pointing the way when darkness hides the path we should go. Hope causes us to be immovable and unshakeable. Hebrews 12 indicates that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
We grow in hope by focusing on truth. Many are going through necessary mind renewal as the enemy has assaulted the thoughts and minds of many. The Spirit of God is calling for His people to abide in Him and His word. From this place we then learn to speak and declare His truth over our own lives, and then the lives of others. It's not enough just to speak the truth though, He actually wants to change our very thoughts. As we continue this process our thoughts do begin to change, and we find we are thinking in alignment with Him and His kingdom. Emerging from this process is a powerful people of HOPE. Nations will be drawn to the hope that we carry as it will become a more and more valuable commodity in the days ahead.
The Isaiah 60 Church Walks in Favor
God's favor on our lives is a work of His grace. But, as we grow in hope, it actually opens the door to His favor on our lives.
"...the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord." Isaiah 60:5b-6.
God wants more for us than for us to just "get by". He actually desires that we flourish. As we flourish and grow in favor we represent our good Father. But, our favor is not just for us to enjoy--it is for the benefit of others. Our favor will grow as we learn to steward it for the benefit of others. Stewarding our favor well involves honoring the people He places in our lives and arenas of influence. "Jesus increased in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52) If it was necessary for Jesus to grow in His favor, then it is certainly necessary for us as well.
The Isaiah 60 Church Walks in Peace and Well Being
"Instead of bronze I will bring you gold, and silver in place of iron. Instead of wood I will bring you bronze, and iron in place of stones. I will make peace your governor and well-being your ruler. (Isaiah 60:17) God has transformation and upgrades for His people. Like hope, peace is a very valuable commodity in these times. In times of crisis, your peace will be called upon. We grow in peace leaning into our relationship with the Prince of Peace. We learn to walk in peace by cultivating it during trials and times of crisis. It is His desire that we all walk in His peace, His shalom, with nothing missing, nothing broken.
The Isaiah 60 Church Walks in Intimacy
"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. (Isaiah 60:19-20)
The people described in this verse know that God is their light source. He is the source of their strength and their glory. As we behold His glory we become like Him. We are totally dependent on Him. Like a battery that must be recharged, our light will wane if we are not connected to Him, the source of our light.
The Isaiah 60 Church is answering the call to awake. As carriers of His light, we will step into our call to displace the thick darkness with the powerful kingdom of light that we carry. His glory, His weighty Presence, rises upon us and the world is watching and waiting for the Isaiah 60 Church to step fully into Her call to Arise and Shine.