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I have been involved in Christian education for over a quarter of a century. Over the years, I have found one of the major obstacles that pastors face today is believers that are frustrated in their spiritual walk. They are worn, weary and at wits-end over the fact that the spiritual harvest times in their lives are more filled with weeds, rocks and thorns than the harvest that God promises in His Word. They see a few others occasionally that do have those blessed times of harvest – but it always seems to be out of their reach.
Those of you familiar with Biblical Life know that we address things such as generation curses, cloaked pagan practices in the Church and a host of other spiritual warfare topics that can stop our blessings cold in their tracks. The source of this problem, I believe, runs even deeper. The problem is our culture in America. There are things built within our very culture that can hold back our harvest.
Now before I get started, let me say this loud and clear – what I am speaking is NOT against America or being American. I am a veteran and would pick up arms to defend this nation in a heartbeat. (You vets know what I mean. I can still put together an M-16 with my eyes closed.) It’s not the country; it is junk that has crept into our culture over the years that runs opposite to the Word of God. In the Old Testament, God continually warned Israel not to allow the cultures of other nations to influence them. Over time we forget the ungodly origins of some of the things we do, and they simply become our traditions or culture. As you read this article, my prayer is that you have one of those “selah” moments that will cause you to examine why you do what you do.
Genesis 8:22 (KJV)
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
From the very beginning, God began teaching man about spiritual things through agricultural types and shadows. Constantly in the Word we are given teachings such as:
Galatians 6:7 (KJV)
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:9 (KJV)
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Matthew 21:33 (KJV)
33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and letit out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
Matthew 13:31 (KJV)
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
In all of these scriptures, God is trying to establish the correlation between how things operate spiritually and how seed matures and then develops into a harvest. Much of the Body of Christ has understood the seed principle, and we hear about it almost continually on Christian Television today.
What we have missed is the “season” principle. I believe there can be a direct correlation between the seasons in the physical and those of the spiritual. Let’s review the seasons and their spiritual application for the sake of clarity. (When everyone has the same understanding, they usually end up at the same place.)
Winter is a time of resting. There is no physical growth of plant life above the surface of the ground, but a lot is going on underground. It is the same with us. God is not doing a lot externally, but He is hard at work internally. This is a time to press into God and let your roots run deep. Remember, the Kingdom of God is first within and THEN without.
Luke 17:21 (KJV)
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Everything starts to come alive. It seems like nature explodes with a desire for life and beauty. For us, it is a time that God is speaking. There are times of great revelation and watering of the Holy Spirit. Seeds of the Kingdom are being planted everywhere. Rhema from God falls like the spring rains, and it is so easy to see the Holy Spirit move in our midst.
The heat of the summer represents trials and toil. Satan comes to test and to steal the Word that was sown in our hearts during the springtime. Jesus taught us about the summer in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark 4:14-20 (KJV)
14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
We always pay attention to the seed, but not to the season. The only time the seed can grow and mature is in the summer!
If you have ever gardened, you will understand what I am going to share next. Just planting the seed is not enough! All summer long you must:
· Plow in between the rows to keep the soil aerated. (Repentance)
· Pull all of the weeds. (Pulling Down Strongholds)
· Make sure adequate water and sunlight are provided. (Time with God and His Word)
· Continually pull rocks out of the garden (Developing Biblical Paradigms)
· Guard the garden from anything that would eat or destroy the crop. (Spiritual Warfare)
Over the past few years, Missouri had been in a draught. (Praise God it appears to be over!) What we learned during the draught was that it was not the spring or fall that made or killed the garden. The deciding factor was primarily the summer. A long summer of no rain and too much hot sun will destroy a crop. Actually that is the point that I want to make – our reaction to summer in America is killing much of our personal spiritual harvest!
In the springtime, ministries seem to get moving forward again. There is excitement in the Body about what God is doing and about the Kingdom of God. There are fresh words coming from Heaven. Then it happens! What happens, you might ask? Kids get out of school, our thoughts turn to vacation and we go spiritually dead for three months. “Hey! It’s the summer. Time to play, have fun – everything else will wait till fall!” Isn’t that the American way? Attendance in Church drops to a minimum as well as the offerings for all ministries across the board. (We even have many students that completely stop paying their tuition during the summer and begin again right before they get terminated for non-payment in September. ) The Church is then hit square between the eyes with the great American summer play time. Everything else comes to a screeching halt.
Friends, what happens if you plant a wonderful garden in the spring and then abandon it all summer? What are you going to find at harvest time (September – October)? How about weeds, rocks and thorns! We have been so conditioned by our culture to abandon (although we call it “putting it on hold”) our spiritual gardens during the summer that we are the ones destroying our own harvests from neglect. We do it year after year and always get mad at God and frustrated over our lack of harvest in the fall.
Here are some words of wisdom. First, summer vacation is one or two weeks sometime during the summer. Enjoy it, do wonderful things with your family and be blessed with not having to go to work for a few days. Here is a reality check – the vacation does not last for all three months! If you do not go back to work after that one or two weeks off, where will you be in September? Bankrupt! Many Christians find themselves in the same exact position spiritually.
This summer make a determination before God to not abandon your spiritual garden. The summer separates the men from the boys. All the boys want to do is go out and play. Real spiritual men and women are cultivating their spiritual fields; watering, weeding and caring for their gardens; and pulling up every stone that would in any way hinder their harvest. They work their gardens because they have their harvest in sight!
The final truth I want to express in this article is that God shares in our frustration. As God was giving me the concepts of this article, He said to me:
“You need to understand how this grieves My Spirit as well. As I move in the spring to expand My kingdom – just as the momentum starts to really pick up, the Body in America runs off to play and abandons what I am doing. That is the difference between America and other countries. People comment that I am moving so much stronger in other nations. Son, it’s not Me; it’s your culture. I used to move greatly in America. My heart longs for times like the great revivals of old. You need to understand that Satan’s countermove to those great revivals was this American summer time culture. This obsession with continual summer fun may drive the economy, but it is stalling out the Kingdom!”
Well, now you know the truth – it’s either culture or kingdom. For some, I may have answered many questions as to what has happened to their spiritual harvest. For others, I have made them mad because I kicked over a sacred cow. The latter shows us just how engrained this is within our culture and how diabolical the plan of the enemy is. Why do I say it was diabolical? Because blood washed saints are upset that I was messing with their summer fun instead of being upset that anything would ever stop the expansion of God’s Kingdom in the earth!
So here is my final question for you:
“What are your plans this summer?”
Copyright 2008 by Michael K. Lake, Th.D.
I just got off the phone with a BLCS student in Bronx, NY – Jose Rosa. He and his wonderful wife have been faithfully downloading and listening to our MP3 messages each week. Jose asked permission to translate the “Foundations in Biblical Prosperity” series into Spanish – word for word. His heart’s desire is to make these teachings available to those in the Spanish community that do not speak English. He believes it will make a powerful difference in the next generation in the Hispanic community.
Please keep this labor of love in your prayers. When Jose is finished with the project, we hope to have the MP3 CD version of this series available from our offices as well.
This week I have received e-mails from not only believers in the U.S., but three other countries about how our weekly messages are making a difference in their lives. Some share about victories they have experienced, some share about their new found hunger for the Word of God and some ask for mentorship to help them get to the next level. I am blessed and amazed at how God is using our weekly MP3 posts.
The best I can figure out from our website stats, we are having around 10,000 downloads per week. I am believing for that to at least double this summer. Pray with me that God would lead those that are spiritually hungry to our website for Spirit-breathed manna from the Word of God.
God has been speaking to me a great deal about understanding strategies in spiritual warfare. Most believers, if they are serious about spiritual warfare, tend to do so by the seat of their pants. For them, spiritual warfare is like occasionally confronting a bully on the playground in elementary school. They are aware of the event, but are never aware of the “long game” of warfare. Strategic warfare is a concept that is foreign to them. Unfortunately, the enemy is quite familiar with strategic warfare. In fact, it is the only game he plays.
What is the end result of this? Most believers approach spiritual warfare like they are either playing checkers or, even worse, dodge ball. Satan always plays chess! He strategically weaves things into the church and society over decades and even generations. I believe this is one reason the “Moral Majority” has become the “Minority Without a Clue.”
I plan on addressing many of these issues in our new class “Kingdom Authority & Warfare 3” this fall. Between now and then, I plan on sharing some insights to help you in the battle now. It seems that we are entering into a new stage of warfare that is adding pressure from all sides in the lives of believers. I receive e-mails and calls from Christian across the U.S. and other nations each week seeking understanding to what is happening in their lives and around them.
To start with, I want to look to the Book of Daniel for some insights. Speaking of the Anti-Christ, Daniel states:
Daniel 7:25 (NKJV)
25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.
The Amplified Bible gives us a little more insight:
Daniel 7:25 (AMP)
25 And he shall speak words against the Most High [God] and shall wear out the saints of the Most High and think to change the time [of sacred feasts and holy days] and the law; and the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time [three and one-half years].
I have taught for many years that the Anti-Christ system has already accomplished some of this. Daniel was writing about the end-times and that the saints shall become “worn out.” There is no way around it; Daniel was speaking of you and me. Notice that the Anti-Christ would change the times of the sacred feasts and holy days. This part he has already accomplished. Few believers know what the Feasts of the LORD are or that they are still a part of our acceptable worship of the Almighty. Instead, we have replaced them with holidays that originated in Babylon – the spiritual seat of power for the Anti-Christ system. Whether you are ready to hear this are not, it is time to grow up spiritual and fully embrace only what is in the Word of God – from Genesis through Revelation. Although I could go into more detail regarding this, I will leave that for another time.
There is another aspect I want to get into here. Dr. David Stern, in the Complete Jewish Bible, translates this verse somewhat differently. Let’s take a look at it.
Daniel 7:25 (CJB)
25 He will speak words against the Most High and try to exhaust the holy ones of the Most High. He will attempt to alter the seasons and the law; and [the holy ones] will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.
Everything in the Kingdom of God, and even this universe, moves in cycles. In fact, anything that is “alive” will have some sort of cycle to it. The Feasts of the LORD are cycles of learning more about Messiah and His workings in the full plan of redemption. There are seasonal cycles to nature. There are even cycles in the life of a woman that is all about reproduction and giving life. There are also seasonal cycles in the life of a believer and even the Body of Christ. Let’s take a look at them.
Winter: A time that appears to be dormant. Things appear to be dead. For plants, not much going on above the surface. A time to deepen the root system.
Spring: Everything springs back to life: much activity, new seeds are sown and a great deal of rain.
Summer: Things get hot, dry and a lot of hard work. Little benefit is seen from labor – which is always difficult.
Fall: Finally the payoff comes. The temperature cools down, there is a refreshing and a harvest from seeds sown and toiled over.
Looking at this list, you can easily apply these seasons to your life or your ministry. We all cycle through those at different rates. For some, it is a 6 month cycle; for others, it can be several years. The cycle is there, and it is undeniable.
Here is where the enemy’s plans come in to play. What if he is able to change your seasons? If he has done things to get us off the timing of God somewhere, our seasonal rotation could look like this:
· Winter, summer, winter, summer, winter, summer
· Summer, summer, summer, summer, summer
· Winter, winter, winter, winter
There would be no times of refreshing. There would be no real harvest. There would be only variations of the dead of winter and the drought of summer. If we are truthful, it kind of sounds like the testimonies I am hearing from believers worldwide.
I wish that I could tell you I had all of the answers to solve this dilemma, but I don’t. I do have some insights that I would like to share to restore your spiritual cycles.
1. Repentance: Repentance is always a great place to start. The enemy got in because we made a tactical mistake somewhere. Repentance always throws the devil off. He is incapable of repentance and cannot comprehend it. One of the major “doctrines of demons” today is that there is no need for repentance after you are saved. The biblical truth is that your repentance has just begun! Always be quick to repent and to be corrected by the Holy Spirit. It crucifies the flesh and breathes life into your spirit!
2. Seek to Get Back into the Rhythm of Heaven: This can start by researching and beginning to celebrate the biblical feasts. Do not just use the traditional Jewish observance. Allow Messiah to come alive and let the Holy Spirit guide you as you observe them. Never do anything that would take away from what Jesus has accomplished. Rather, seek to understand more of what He has done and what He will do. It is all there in the feasts.
There are also daily and weekly cycles that are specific to each one of us. Times of worship, devotion, fasting, prayer, study, etc. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you each week. They should get more meaningful over time and become spiritually rich. Don’t let the devil kick you into autopilot. Live each day with awareness to the Kingdom, and live it with purpose. The Kingdom of God has no drones – only sons and daughters that are alive, vibrant and aware!
3. Command the Enemy to Release Your Seasons: (Note – only do this after a time of repenting to make sure your armor is on properly.) I can tell you what I am seeing spiritually about this. If you have been going from winter to winter or winter to summer – over and over again – all of those springs and falls are not lost! I see a large dam that the enemy has erected to hold them back. You need to start binding the enemy over stealing your seasons and command him to release what he has already stolen. You may have a fight on your hands over it. Discouragement will come knocking on your door almost immediately. Actually, that is good news. Why would the devil hit you if you were missing it? Two great allies to a soldier of Christ are determination and consistency. The enemy has stolen your blessing, your refreshment and your fulfillment in the LORD. Heaven is saying that now is the time to fight to get it back. The more years the enemy has stolen means the more that must be released. It is time to go from being “worn out” to “thoroughly blessed!” The time of the harvest is near!
© Copyright 2009 by Michael K. Lake,Th.D.
All Rights Reserved
You may freely distribute this article, unaltered, to anyone that is hungry for more of God.
Purim: Starts at sunset on March 9 and end at sunset on March 10.
Passover: Starts right before sunset on April 8.
Feast of Unleavened Bread: Starts at sunset on April 8. (April 9 a High Sabbath).
Shavuot (Pentecost): Starts at sunset May 28 and ends at sunset on May 29. (High Sabbath).
Feast of Trumpets: Starts at sunset on September 18 and ends at sunset on September 19. (High Sabbath).
Day of Atonement: Starts at sunset on September 27 and ends at sunset on September 28. (Day of Fasting and Prayer – High Sabbath)
Feast of Tabernacles: Starts at sunset on October 2.
Last Great Day of Feast: Starts at sunset on September 10.
Other days to be aware of and to pray about:
Tisha B’Av: Starts at sunset on July 29 and runs through sunset on July 31. A time of watchful prayer.
We have just completed a twelve part series on “Foundations of Biblical Prosperity.” This powerful series is available for download free at our website. Series Achieve
Since we are approaching Pentecost, we will begin a new series this weekend on “Partnering with the Holy Spirit for Days Like These.”
Remaining Feast Days This Year
Feast of Trumpets
- Begins at sunset on September 29.
Day of Atonement
- Begins at sunset on October 8. Complete fast day.
Feast of Trumpets
- Begins at sunset on October 13. We will have our Tabernacles celebration during our services on the 18th.
Last Great Day (Final Day of Tabernacles)
- Begins at sunset on October 20.
Festival of Lights (Hanukkah)
- Begins at sunset on December 21.