Reap the Whirlwind

Let me share with you the Scripture that is at the front of my
heart as I’m stepping into 2018. It’s Hosea 8:7, “They sow the wind,
and reap the whirlwind.”

God was confronting idolatry through Hosea. By following false
gods, the people were sowing to the wind. False gods were as
wind—they were nothing. By sowing to the empty winds of idolatry,
the people would reap a whirlwind of judgment. As it turned out, that
whirlwind of judgment came in the form of military invasion by enemy

If the negative is true, is the positive also true? That is, if we
sow to empty winds and reap a negative whirlwind, is it also true that
if we’ll sow to positive winds that we’ll reap a positive whirlwind from
God? I think the answer could be yes. I believe the positive principle
in the verse is this: If we will sow to the winds of the Spirit, we will
reap a whirlwind of divine visitation from the Holy Spirit.
This principle is supported by Paul, who wrote, “He who sows
to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal 6:8). There are
ways to sow to the Spirit that produce blessing in our lives.

For me, the lives of three men in the Bible represent the
principle of Hosea 8:7. Job, Ezekiel, and John sowed to the winds of
the Spirit and eventually reaped the whirlwind of God’s visitation.

Job. How did Job sow to the winds of the Spirit in his trial? By
enduring in faith. He continued expectantly in prayer, in this midst of
his great suffering, keeping his eyes on the Lord. In chapter 38, he
told how God visited him in the whirlwind. When God came to Job in
the whirlwind, everything changed. That whirlwind signaled that God
was now intervening on Job’s behalf and fighting for him. Job actually
saw God with his eyes. What an awesome whirlwind to reap!

Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a priest, and at age 30 he should have
been officially inducted and commissioned as a fully functional priest
in the temple. Instead, the temple had been burned by the
Babylonians and Ezekiel was an exiled captive in a foreign land.
Turning 30 was a reminder of the divine calling he would never fulfill.
His 30th birthday could have been cause for him to be despondent
and depressed. Instead, Ezekiel got in the Spirit. He gave himself to
prayer and to the Holy Spirit. And even though he was a captive, the
whirlwind of God invaded his life and changed everything. “Then I
looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north” (Ezek

That whirlwind was Jesus Himself coming to him, riding in a
chariot consisting of four cherubim. The cherubim were Jesus’
chariot, Jesus’ car. This invasion of God, via the whirlwind, marked
the launch of a powerful prophetic ministry through Ezekiel. Seeing
God changed Ezekiel forever.

John. Like Ezekiel, John was also a captive. He was a prisoner
of the Roman penal system on a prison island called Patmos. And he
was in his 90s. He had reason, in the natural, to bemoan his living
conditions. Especially on the Lord’s Day, which was a celebration of
Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus was resurrected and alive but none of that
resurrection life was touching John. All John felt in his body was
death, loneliness, and deprivation. But instead of getting depressed,
he got in the Spirit. Here’s how he described the launch of his
visitation: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind
me a loud voice, as of a trumpet” Rev 1:10. Jesus Himself had come
to him and was talking to him. John sowed to the winds of the Spirit
by getting in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and he reaped the whirlwind
of a history-changing encounter with the resurrected Christ.
Therefore, take this cue from Hosea 8:7: Sow to the Spirit. Sow
to the winds of the Spirit.  And watch for the whirlwind of God.

This is the scriptural thought at the front of my heart as I step into 2018.

May you have grace from above to sow to the winds of the Spirit in 2018,
and may you reap the whirlwind of God.

5 Ways to Awaken Your Spiritual Vitality

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For a vine to produce succulent grapes year after year requires constant dressing. The vine must be pruned, fertilized, protected, watered, and harvested. If the vinedresser gets negligent or lazy, the health of the vine suffers.

In the same way, for our heart to be healthy and alive in Christ requires constant attention. The neglected heart begins to shrivel and die.

Jesus addressed this issue in a letter to the church at Sardis. At one time they had been spiritually vibrant and were known as a revival center, but through neglect they had shriveled and were dying.

Here’s Jesus’ letter to them:

Rev. 3:1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Rev. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’”

If you’ve known Jesus for a long time, you know there are times when we’re tempted to relax in prayer. We might have a name for being spiritually vibrant, but that vitality can easily fall into disrepair. Our reputation can outshine our reality.

When things are dying, what should we do? Jesus’ letter to Sardis contains five injunctions—five ways to renew our spiritual vitality. He told them to watch, strengthen, remember, hold, and repent.

1. Be watchful. Be attentive to your spiritual health. Take your own temperature. Scrutinize and evaluate your heart condition. Evaluate your current ability to see and perceive. Are you able to see your true spiritual condition, or are you self-deceived? How is your faith and love? Do you still weep when praying the word? Take candid stock.
2. Strengthen. Strengthen those things in your heart which still have some life. Expose the cooling embers to the Holy Spirit’s breath. This will take time, energy, and effort. Just as a muscle is strengthened through exercise, our heart is strengthened through spiritual exercises in the word and prayer.
3. Remember. Remember the joy you had in the past in times of special devotion to Jesus. Review your journal. Remind yourself of the things God has spoken to you in years past. Renew your vows.
4. Hold. Hold fast to the things you’ve received from Jesus in the past. If they’ve been slipping from your grasp, rise up and lay hold. Again. Renew yourself in the precious promises you cherish. Refuse to relinquish or lose anything of those good things which you’ve received from Jesus.
5. Repent. The main idea in repentance is changed behavior. Don’t just nod compliantly and affirm your desire for renewed passion. Change. Actually change. Actually do something. You know what you need to do. Now do it.

Recently, I wrote a book entitled, RESET: 20 Ways to a Consistent Prayer Life. I tried to make it relevant and helpful to new believers. To my surprise, however, seasoned believers have also been strengthened by the book’s message. Who isn’t tempted to relax and neglect prayer?

Perhaps this blog is coming at just the right time for you. Is it time to reset your prayer life? Listen to Jesus’ counsel. Watch, strengthen, remember, hold, and repent.

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