God’s New Temple, part 3

Stoning of St Stephen

This five-part series explores how the early Church separated from the Jerusalem temple, where the first Christians often met (Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:20-21). Part 3 is about Stephen’s rejection and execution.

The rejection of the religious leaders

At his trial, Stephen lambasted the religious leaders: “‘You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!’” (Acts 7:51 NIV). Stephen accused them of betraying and murdering their Messiah.

The Sanhedrin’s rejection of Stephen’s teaching was merely characteristic of their rebellion against all the prophetic messages God had sent them in the past. Jesus had prophesied,

50 “Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world,
51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.”
–Luke 11:50-51 NIV

Ultimately, they refused the One to whom the prophets pointed. In the same way they condemned Stephen, they had executed God’s one true Messenger—the Christ, the Son of God.

Stephen accused them of the utmost hypocrisy: receiving what they considered to be the word of God, but refusing to obey what it said (7:53).

This climax of Stephen’s diatribe was ill received.

The stoning of Stephen

54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
–Acts 7:54–56 NIV

The focus of Stephen’s teaching had been that God is not confined to buildings. He had quoted Isaiah 66:1: “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.’” (Acts 7:49a NIV).

The moment he finished speaking, Stephen was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and, looking up, beheld what he’d been teaching about: He saw the throne of God and Christ standing at God’s right hand.

Stephen had preached that God’s place was in heaven; the Holy Spirit confirmed the word and unveiled the Lord in His heavenly glory.

7:57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,
58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. …
–Acts 7:57–60; 8:1a NIV

In essence, Stephen proclaimed that worshiping at the temple and observing the ceremonial laws associated with temple worship were no longer necessary for Jews who had received Christ (Heb. 9:8-14 NIV).

As God revealed this to the early Church, the divine plan for them began to unfold. Yet there was a price for progress; Stephen gave his life for the word of the Lord.

In their sin, the people who stoned Stephen rejected his message and refused to accept what their Scriptures already stated—that God could not be contained in human-made structures. God was building a new house to dwell in.

We’ll learn more about this house next time.

More information:
God’s New Temple, part 1
God’s New Temple, part 2

Jesus, Crowned with Many Crowns

Jesus

Sweet visitations of the Holy Spirit came to me early in 2015, and I want to tell you about one vision I experienced the morning of March 18, 2015.

Vision of Jesus on his heavenly throne

I was listening to some worship music (Darlene Zschech, “Worthy Is the Lamb”), and the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit came upon me.

I saw myself ascending to the throne room, and beheld Jesus glorified on his heavenly throne. I bowed at his feet, weeping and worshiping and adoring him. There were so many, many, many gathered around him doing the same.

We crowned him with many crowns, and I saw crown after crown—many thousands of crown—coming from the worshipers, flowing to him and being placed on his head, which was brighter than lightning, brighter that the noonday sun, and being taken in and absorbed, and him growing brighter and more glorious. He ascended high into the heavens, with rays of light flowing down upon us all and over the entire earth.

Later, as I typed this vision and listened to the song again, the holy Presence and weeping came upon me again, and I began to clap and speak in tongues. The interpretation follows.

Interpretation of tongues about coming up higher, the glory

For yea, the Lord says, I am calling you up higher. I’m calling you into the heavenlies. I’m calling you to come up and to be where I am. I’m calling you forth in the Spirit and to step into the Spirit.

I will provide that which you need to be a catalyst for you to step into the Spirit, to launch yourself into the heavenlies, that you might be with me where I am, that you might enter the realm of miracles, that you might enter the realm of signs and wonders, and that you might enter the realm of angels and of the glory of the Lord.

For I desire to reveal my glory unto you in this day and in this hour, and it shall come forth shining as the sun, and it shall come forth and it shall bestow upon you gifts and graces that only have been promised you before by the words of my mouth. And I will surely make good on all my promises to you. I will pour my Spirit through you.

I will anoint you to do the things that I have called you to do. I will anoint you to call in the lost, I will anoint you to speak forth my plan and my purpose, I will anoint you to be my spokesman, to be my prophet, to be my mouthpiece in this day and in this hour.

Here and there, I will take you. Here and there, I will speak through you. Here and there, I will bring them, and I will bring them so that they may sit in your presence and hear from me, says the Lord, for I have a glory to share with you; I have a glory to share through you; I have a glory to share among you, that you might walk in my presence and my power.

And I’m drawing those unto myself. I’m drawing you and I’m drawing those unto myself that you might together come and be that body that I have equipped you to be and to be members of the fold that I have called you to, over which the banner rises, “Accepted in the Beloved.” The banner over you is love.

I’m calling you, says the Lord. Will you not come up higher? Come up higher and rest in me, and you shall find your refreshing, and you shall find the power that you need to fulfill your calling in me, says the Lord.

Lord, let your word come to pass quickly.

Under the Umbrella of God’s Protection

On the evening of December 15, 2017, I was listening to the voice of the Lord within when I saw a picture in my spirit.

It was a black umbrella, and it was open. I wondered what it meant.

UmbrellaLord, what would you say to me about this umbrella?

I will shield you from the fallout. Know that I am protecting you. What will fall on others will not fall on you. Stay under the umbrella of my protection, and I will guard you and keep you.

Lord, what kind of fallout are you talking about?

I felt like it’s things that are falling upon the world.

Lord, what would you say more to me about this?

I just see myself being hidden under the umbrella while flakes, or more like ashes, fall around me.

Is there anything final, Lord?

I will keep you in the hour of trial. I will shield thee and protect thee. Remain under the umbrella of my protection, and I will protect you from the fallout.

Needless to say, this vision and explanation intrigued me. What would be falling upon the world that I needed protection from? I prayed about it over the next few days.

On December 19, 2017, I asked further about the vision and the message.

Can you tell me more about this fallout that you’re protecting me from? Can you clarify, give me more detail about this protection and this fallout?

Political influences are changing the climate of this nation. And I desire that you be immune to their effects. I will cover you. I will keep you from fear.

Though others hearts fail them for fear in this time, I will protect you. I will strengthen you. I will undergird you. I will lift you up in my arms and keep you close to my heart.

Fear not, says the Lord, for all is under my control. I will exert my influence in ways that you have not seen before. Certain things may happen that seem discouraging. But know that I am in control and that I am guiding the courses of all nations.

I will guide not only your path but the path of my Church, the path of all those who follow me and seek my face. And I will put my hand upon this nation.

Know that nothing will befall this world that I do not know about. I have many plans of which you need not be concerned. But look to me and trust in me and find your rest in me, and I will keep you in perfect peace. Fix your mind, stay your eyes upon me, and I will keep you in perfect peace, says the Lord.

Thank you. Is there anything else that you would say to me or show to me?

world in handsI see the hands of the Lord open and cupped together, and they’re holding the world. I’m reminded of that song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

History is mine, says the Lord, the past, the present, and the future. Things will turn out just as I have planned.

Know that I am Lord of time and all creation. And the courses of the nations are set by my determined foreknowledge.

Though the nations rage, I am on the throne. And I will work my plan to the glory of my Kingdom and the praise of my Son.

Follow that King. Serve him and trust in him, and he will keep you safe and lead you along the way everlasting.

The world and the U.S. are in turmoil. But regardless of what happens, God can protect us and keep us at peace as we look to Christ, the King of Kings. Remain under His umbrella of protection and know that He cares for you.

“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
—Isaiah 54:10 NIV

Vision of the U.S. Flag at Half-Staff

The Harvey Weinstein exposé has flung open the gates to air accusations of sexual abuse and harassment going back a full generation.

Thirty years ago, a scandal of a different nature rocked the Christian church with the disclosure of the PTL fraud, exposing the financial wrongdoing of Jim and Tammy Bakker, in addition to the moral failings of Jimmy Swaggart and others.

God judges first the Church, then the world

Recently this verse has haunted me:

For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
–1 Peter 4:17 NRSV

Wouldn’t it be better to examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5) and take care of any issues privately with the Lord?

31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
–1 Corinthians 11:31–32 NRSV

Yet, when people continue to grossly misbehave, it goes on for only so long. God eventually brings it to an end. If we don’t police ourselves and mend our ways, wrongdoing becomes public, as we’re seeing at present.

If God didn’t spare the Church from embarrassment and correction in the 1980s, God won’t spare the world now. What other crimes are revealed in Hollywood and among our political leaders remains to be seen.

Basket of iniquity

Yesterday (Nov. 18, 2017) I spent time in prayer, asking the Lord to speak to me and show me inner pictures. Although I wasn’t expecting anything so grave, I received some significant images I want to share with you. My questions are in bold.

Heavenly Father, I come to you in Jesus’ name, and I ask that you would open my eyes and open my ears to see and to hear. What would you speak to me? What would you show me?

I feel like I’m seeing something like a basket covered over with cloth, and it seems to be a flag, but I don’t know what kind of flag. Feels like a national flag, perhaps symbolic of all nations.

Lord, what does this mean?

The flag is taken away, and underneath, the basket is full of insects, hordes of teeming insects. It gives me a feeling of uncleanness and revulsion.

5 Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing.”
6 I asked, “What is it?”
He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.”
–Zechariah 5:5-6 NIV

Lord, what else would you show me, or what would you speak to me about this?

I feel like the Lord is saying that He knows what lies behind all nations. I’m seeing the division of sheep and goats. I feel He’s saying He knows who are His and what the nations stand for, and they cannot hide behind their flag.

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.”
–2 Timothy 2:19 NRSV

U.S. flag at half-staff

Now I’m seeing the American flag on a pole. I see it being lowered to half-staff.U.S. flag at half-staff

Lord, what does this mean?

I feel that it’s a time for mourning, a time of repentance for America. And if there is not a time of repentance, then the nation will be laid low.

I looked up the meaning of the U.S. flag at half-mast:

FLYING THE FLAG AT HALF-STAFF: The pertinent section of the Flag Code says, “by order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. [Source: http://www.usflag.org/nff.half.staff.html]

Lord, what would you say about this? Or do you have any more pictures?

I see people kneeling around the Cross. Not the flag, but the Cross, confessing their own sins. A time of brokenness and repentance.

What else, Lord?

I have called this nation to bow at the foot of the Cross and not the foot of the flag. I have called them to a time of and a season of true repentance and a not a glorying in false religion—a religion that shuns the outcasts and despises the lowly.

I have called for a true fast. I’m calling for the inward look and not the pointing of the finger. I’m calling my people—my people—to take the beam out of their own eye.

I will give you eye salve. Come to me and humble yourself before me, and I will raise you up, and I will shine the light of my glory upon you and pour out my Spirit among you.

Come to me and seek my face, and I will heal you and release you from the chains that bind you.

With this promise from the Lord, let us examine ourselves and receive Christ’s cleansing, making amends for any wrongdoing, that we may receive mercy instead of judgment.

For the holy Church of God, that it may be filled with truth and love, and be found without fault at the day of your coming, we pray to you, O Lord.
–Book of Common Prayer

More information:

Vision of the Coffee Beans

Recently in my listening time with the Lord I’ve been asking him to show me things by my visionary faculties. Here’s a little object lesson he gave me that may encourage you in your gifting.

Heavenly Father, I plead the blood of Jesus over my eyes, my spiritual vision. And I ask you, Lord, not only to speak, but I pray that you would show me. Lord, you said one time that just as I listened for your voice, I could look and see that which you show me. So I’m asking, Lord, that you would show me something, whether it’s here in the room or whether it’s inside. Show me and then converse with me about it.

coffee beansI’m seeing a big pot of what looks like coffee beans. A bowl or a pot of dark brown coffee beans. Whole beans.

What does this mean, Lord? Is there anything else that you want me to see? Let me focus on what I saw…

I’m just seeing the coffee beans. They’re very rich. Fragrant.

Lord, what would you have me to know about this? What would you say to me about this?

As you see the beans and you know that it is coffee, and you know what it is used for, you can smell its aroma. You can anticipate tasting the brew made from these beans. But they are not yet in the form which you may make use of them.

I am showing you raw materials from which you may derive something useful and enjoyable. You must take these beans and you must grind them, and put them in a state where they can be used to create coffee.

And how does this apply to my life now?

I will show you many things. I will give you the raw materials. I will give you opportunity. I will provide the resources that you need, but you must meditate upon these things. You must grind them. You must put them to use. You must combine them with your work and your effort before they can be used to produce something you enjoy.

Know that I will be with you and that I will help you understand that which I show you. Know that I will teach you how to process that which I reveal to you. As Jeremiah had his eyes opened and corresponded with me, I will correspond with you and teach you what I am showing you and deliver to you the word of the Lord.

Thank you, Lord. Is there anything else that you would have to say to me?

I am calling you up higher. See that you keep your mind staid and fixed upon me, for I have many visions to show you. I desire that you enter into my presence and that you fix your eyes on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Look to me. Call upon me. Converse with me. Look again. Look deeper. And I will open your eyes, and I will speak to you.

–Lee Allen Howard