We are in the final lap of a cosmic race that began before the foundation of the world. The baton has been passed to this final generation as we are tasked with completing this race and crossing the finish line. Each one of us has the great privilege of being a participator in this race rather than a spectator.
There is a question that must now be asked to those who desire to run this race: are you willing to lay down your life to win the prize?
Each proceeding generation had to wrestle with this question and from every nation, from every generation, there were those who carried this baton and finished their course. This generation is unique. We will see the culmination, the climax of all that the Lord began from the foundation of the world.
With that in mind, what must we do to prepare ourselves for this race?
I know form experience as a younger man some of the preparation that it takes to run in a race. My sport was distance running with an emphasis on the mile and two mile events. I knew to pace myself so I would not expend most of my energy at the beginning of the race. That didn’t mean I was to coast and take it easy – no I had to challenge myself to push the limits of my endurance to keep an acceptable pace and to stay in the pack. However, the time came when we entered into the last lap, in particular the last 220 (half a lap) that it was time to dig deep and give it everything we had. The finish line was in sight. Only one would be the winner in this race so with all that was within you would push yourself to the point of collapse to win.
We must realize that to cross this finish line, the status quo of the Christian life and experience is not enough. We must choose the consecrated life – a life of discipline, sanctification and holiness in order to fulfill our destiny in this hour.
Let me give you an example. Often times while traveling and ministering I will have individuals come to me wanting to know the ‘secret’ of moving deeper into the things of God. They want a quick one off solution to walking in the spirit.
While this does show a measure of hunger and passion, there is a flaw that has pervaded the church as a whole and that is the concept that everything scripture has to offer should be given with no effort on the individuals’ part. This is not accurate nor biblical.
While Jesus paid the price for our redemption He clearly states in His word that we are to ‘work out our own salvation’. What does that mean? I thought it was all paid for on the cross and I’m a completed work! Yes and no.
In John 1:12-13 it states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Notice it says that those who receive Him (salvation), to them He gives the right or the privilege or the power, to become children of God. Salvation is the starting point. Maturity is a process of the development of Christ like character.
Every day each one of us is faced with challenges. In each challenge throughout the day we have an opportunity to make a choice of whether or not we will respond by the spirit or react in a fleshly way. The simplest example that most of us are familiar with is the road rage test! How do you react/respond when someone cuts you off on the road or is so slow that the artic ice shelf moves faster then them? Do we react by cursing them and shouting or do we respond by praying for them?
The choice was ours. Though you are saved – you are still in a process of becoming more and more like Jesus. Just like Paul – we must learn to ‘die daily’ to the works of our flesh that we may model the life of Christ.
Some years ago the Lord spoke to me over the New Year Holiday and said He wanted me to study the word ‘name’ in scripture. I had never even thought of studying a word such as that in scripture and was intrigued so I agreed to spend the year studying and meditating on what I was discovering. It changed my life forever!
In the Old Testament the word ‘name’ in every instance but two speaks of ‘character, honor and authority’. In the New Testament the word ‘name’ means ‘character and authority.’
In Proverbs 18:10 it says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.”
Let me define that for you based upon our understanding of the word ‘name’.
The CHARACTER of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous are conformed to it and are safe!
Now, that’s an amplification based upon study of the original Hebrew but it is accurate. It is conformity to His character that brings us into a realm of relationship and intimacy that so many want! Not only that but without this conformity we will never fulfill our destiny!
In Genesis 17 we recognize the ongoing story of Abram as he travels from his home land to a country and destiny that only the Lord understands. But by faith he obeys the voice of the Lord. He is given a promise that his descendants will be as numerous as the sand of the seashore and the stars of heaven. I love this depiction as it gives us an amazing revelation of what we as individuals are to do with the promises the Lord has given us for our lives.
Every day while wandering in the wilderness of the middle east Abram would look before him and see sand! Every night as he would sit by his dwelling place and gaze into the heavens he would see stars! Day and night – the promise of the Lord for his life was continually before his face!
We are to keep His promises for our life continually before our eyes so that day or night, we are looking at His promises not our circumstances!
Now we come to Genesis 17:5-8 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Abram had a promise and a destiny for his life. However, he was unable to see the fulfillment of that destiny with his current name/character! The Lord was basically telling him that he needed to submit to a change of character in order to see the fulfillment of the destiny God had pronounced over his life!
Abram means ‘exalted father.’ Abraham means ‘father of a multitude.’
You see this change of character/name many times throughout scripture. Sarai which means ‘princess’ was changed to Sarah which means ‘princess of a multitude.’
Jacob at Jabbok in Genesis 32:22-28 is a very graphic example of this process of conformity to Godly Character. Jacob, whose name means ‘heal catcher, deceiver, supplanter’ was a man with a profound destiny. Throughout his life however he continually tried to see that destiny accomplished through his own manipulations and strength.
Finally, after years of struggle he comes to a moment of crisis and decision; a dark night of the soul experience. He is left alone at Jabbok to wrestle with God. Jabbok means, ‘to be poured forth, to become transparently empty.’ It speaks of a transition from the life of the flesh to a life in the spirit.
In this dark place he is wrestling with the messenger of the Lord (most scholars agree this was a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ) until the breaking of the day. He is desperate for a touch and blessing from the Lord. So the Lord blesses him! At once his hip is put out of joint! (vs 25).
Now, I don’t know about you but when I read this I thought, “What kind of blessing is this?” Well, if you understand true biblical prosperity this would make perfect sense. From that day forward Jacob was no longer able to rely upon his own strength to get him where he wanted to go. He became utterly dependent upon the Lord to lead him!
Still, Jacob persists and will not let this messenger go. He wants another blessing! Now pay attention to this messengers answer: vs 27 “So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’
Here’s the blessing! Vs 28 “And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled/wrestled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’
Did you get that? The blessing was a change of character! What is your name/character? I’m going to give you a new character – a new name!
Jacob went from being a man of deception to a man whose character was ‘prince with God’ or ‘one who rules as God.’
In order to fulfill his destiny there was a deeper work of sanctification that was necessary!
We are all in a race – we are encouraged to run that we may obtain the prize! To move towards the end of the age without contending with the Lord for our character being conformed to Christ is the surest way to not winning that prize!
In the New Testament we see some profound truths as we look at some well known scriptures with this understanding about the word ‘name.’
Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawelessness!’”
Many today believe they are doing great things in the name of the Lord yet when you examine their lives you find there is nothing that shows them walking in Christ-like character. There is a deficit. They may have exercised their gifts to the point of being proficient in them, but there was not a yieldedness to God in the exercising of those gifts.
Many ministries while professing an intimate walk with the Lord still fall short of submission to His will. They know they have a call and so in an effort to see that destiny fulfilled they embrace many of the ideals of the world to become more visible and “successful.” After all, they state, we are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We have to be culturally relevant.
Allow me to make an observation – the bible is culturally relevant and has set the standard for human conduct for generations. We do not change the word to fit the culture! We conform the culture to the word! We are not call upon to embrace worldly standards of success to ministry. We are not encouraged to enact Madison Avenue marketing techniques to help us become more visible and successful.
We are called to be LIKE HIM! When His light shines in us, the world will come to that light. When we try and look like the world we become ineffective! We are doing our own works and not His.
John 2:23 states, “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.”
Jesus’ works were an outward display of His character! His works did not define His character, His character defined His works. In John 5:19 He said that He only did what He saw the Father doing. In other words – He only did what the Father told Him to do – not what He thought was right or what He wanted to do. Not what the Denomination or the current Theology said should be done. He did what the Father told Him to do!
We as a final generation are called to walk as Jesus walked – in total submission to the voice of the Spirit of God. Forsaking what we think we know for the challenge of obedience to Jesus and His word. Conformity to Christ-like character is a must for those who desire to walk in the deeper mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven in this hour!
In John 14:13 we see a profound truth in regards to the word ‘name’. “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Whatever we ask for with Christ-like character He will do! So many have difficulty in the arena of seeing their prayers answered. I’ve seen so many give up in despair because it seems as if the heavens are brass. Is it possible we have been coming to His throne of Grace without an understanding of what He is looking for?
If we come to the Father in Jesus’ name/character then the Father sees Jesus! He sees an exact representation of His Son Jesus because we have been conformed to His character! Now He will answer in full confidence that we are not coming to Him with the idea of seeing our own lusts being fulfilled and our flesh being enlarged!
Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name (character) of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Are you seeing this? Am I making sense? If we are to take the baton and win this race then we must choose this lane/path of sanctification and conformity to Christ. If we are willing to do ‘anything’ to walk in the supernatural realm and to experience the powers of the age to come we must understand the process of maturity that is necessary for us to become like Him.
If we want victory in every area of our lives this is the key! At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess He is Lord!
As His character of developed in us we will realize a startling truth. When we walk into any circumstance or challenge – immediately we will see the manifestation of the power and presence of the Lord then we must walk in His Character!
It is very telling throughout scripture when a demonized individual was brought into the presence of Jesus they would immediately bow their knee and confess He was the Son of God. That is dominion authority and power! My wife and I have witnessed this on a number of occasions since we have received this revelation and are conformed daily! Demons manifest without us saying a thing! Healings take place instantly! The atmosphere of heaven invades earth!
We continue to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! We strive daily to enter this rest! We choose to die daily to the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
We are on a quest to run this last lap and win that prize! The choice is ours to make! The choice is yours!
For His Glory,