For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. These will be his royal titles: “Wonderful,” “Counsellor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” “The Prince of Peace.” His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world. This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven’s armies has dedicated himself to do it! (Isaiah 9:6-7 – The Living Bible)
When God Speaks Are You Listening?
God’s prophetic word had been given. He was to send his Holy Son to the earth. And so the Messiah was expected by the Children of Israel. All were supposedly longing for and looking for his appearance.
But how were they looking?
Why did they miss his coming?
Why did they not recognise him when he finally came?
What distinguished those who “expected” Christ the Son of God and coming Messiah, from those who “experienced” him?
I’d like to suggest that those who heard about Jesus and were privileged to receive divine revelation regarding him and saw him manifested in the flesh, possessed three particular qualities. I’d like to suggest that if we in our day-to-day lives wish to be those who not only hear about Jesus but also “see him” (i.e. have a personal revelation of him) and experience his tangible presence, we also need to possess these attributes. I’d like to suggest that having an expectation of Christ’s miraculous intervention in our lives and having a desire to experience his rule, his counsel and his peace, is simply not enough. We must actively pursue and foster the following in our lives:
- Faith (Hebrews 11:6)
- Favour with God (Psalm 5:12)
- Fear of the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:12)
For years and years, Simeon waited patiently in faith for the manifestation of the Messiah (Luke 2:25-26). Mary, the mother of Jesus, found favour with God and was chosen to bring our Saviour into the world (Luke 1:26-28). The shepherds, as they went about their duties were favoured by the appearance of the angel of the Lord who told them about Jesus’ birth and these shepherds demonstrated faith by immediately acting upon what they’d been told (Luke 2:8-20). Anna showed utter devotion and reverence for God in that she opted to dwell daily in his presence, fasting and praying non-stop. Anna’s actions demonstrated her fear of the Lord (Luke 2:36-38).
When God Acts Are You Ready?
Bearing in mind the events surrounding Christ’s birth, let’s consider how we can apply these lessons to our own lives. Let us consider what can blind us to, or disqualify us from experiencing the presence of the Holy One?
- Personal ambition, competitiveness and insecurity (Matthew 2:16)
- Human perceptions, preconceived ideas and prejudices (Mark 6:1-3; John 7:40-43; Acts 1:6)
- Lack of spiritual discernment (John 7:31, 45-52)
- Religious dogma (Matthew 23:23-28)
You will note from the above examples that the religious leaders knew the prophecies and scriptures. However, their knowledge did not foster a genuine love-relationship with God. These religious leaders prioritised their limited sense-knowledge over the supernatural, over revelation knowledge, causing them to reject Jesus and even orchestrate his death.
You will also observe from the examples above that:
- Herod felt so threatened by the news of this Child King, he sought to kill him.
- The religious rulers were so caught up with observing their rules and rituals and presenting themselves as the spiritual authority, they resented Christ’s presence and power
- The Jews were so blinkered by their personal knowledge of Jesus and their perception of him as “only one of us”, they were highly offended by and dismissed his Messianic claims.
These examples reveal how an inflexible, self-obsessed, or religious mindset can blind you to, or make you hostile towards the presence of Jesus, cutting you off from the very blessings for which you await (Mark 6:3-6).
When God Delays Are You Still Expectant?
Now, if you are looking and expecting God to manifest himself in and through your life this year, may I encourage you to:
- Look at your circumstances with the eyes of faith
- Expect the unexpected
- Keep asking, praying, serving and worshipping whilst you wait upon him
- Place yourself in, and maintain a position of “being in the know” (the secret of the Lord is with those who fear him – Psalm 25:14).
In Proverbs 1:7, the Amplified Bible describes the Fear of the Lord as reverent and worshipful, as the beginning, the principal and choice part of knowledge.
Do you reverence the Lord?
Herod did not – he was prepared to kill him!
The religious leaders did not – they revered their traditions and teachings above the one around whom those teachings/traditions were based, above the one for whom they waited. Serving God made them feel superior (Luke 18:9-12), so when the one whom they served finally arrived, they weren’t prepared to step aside for him – unlike John the Baptist who declared: I must decrease and He must increase (John 3:30).
Women of Warfare, let’s make sure we don’t fall into the same trap. Let’s make sure we are not so busy serving God and ministering to others that we don’t even recognise or welcome Jesus should he make a sudden visitation in our lives or communities. Let’s ensure we aren’t so concerned about the letter of the Law that we fail to allow God’s Word to dwell within us in a rich measure… that we miss the leading of His Holy Spirit.
Women of Warfare, let’s not be guilty of teaching, sharing, or praying God’s Word, yet shut the door of faith through which The Word himself longs to walk through, in order to manifest himself in supernatural ways and make a dynamic difference to our lives. Let’s develop and exercise our faith and court the favour of God in our lives. Let’s seek his face with diligence and walk humbly before Him in the Fear of the Lord.