Last November I was in Okinawa, Japan attending meetings with a number of global gatekeepers. During our time together an Asian leader shared a story.
The previous week, he had met with a remnant of believers from his nation, so that they might seek the Lord together for breakthrough into victory over the many obstacles they have faced for generations. Churches had fasted, prayed, worshiped and repented and yet they were not experiencing the breakthrough that they were seeking. This man told us how, in the midst of their meeting together, they became aware of several families among them who were in severe financial need. The entire group stopped everything that they were doing, laying down their agendas and schedules, and proceeded to take up an offering for these families. As the money was distributed to those in need, they received it with humility and gratitude, deeply touched and profoundly blessed.
Later, when they all regrouped and returned to prayer, crying out once again to the Lord corporately, everyone gathered sensed the witness from the Holy Spirit that they had received the breakthrough they were looking for.
As I listened to his story my spirit was moved and I heard:
“They crossed the threshold of Isaiah 58.”
It was like having water splashed in my face, awakening me to a vitally important truth that we often neglect as we contend for a corporate breakthrough. We forget that the body is made up of individuals, and we can find ourselves rejoicing in a corporate victory even as many individuals leave and return home feeling the weight of oppressing circumstances upon them.
Isaiah 58 is the chapter about God’s chosen fast. It begins with passionate words to those who have fasted, prayed and called out to God but to no avail:
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
These words echo the cry of those who had stood on behalf of that Asian nation and yet they were not experiencing breakthrough. But let’s read further:
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
The leader I mentioned told us how within his country, many churches competed with one another to see which was the biggest and best congregation. This led to leaders treating their people—and even their own families—in harsh and abusive ways as they strove to be the best. Leaders were dealing with divisions, offences and broken family relationships. They looked good on the outside but the “family” within their walls was broken and divided.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
When these leaders turned their hearts to the needs of individual families, putting aside their public agenda to meet the financial need, they crossed a threshold from the old way of doing things into the new “true” fast. They stopped striving for breakthrough the way they always had, and in doing so, became the breakthrough for others. As they released the ones in need from the yoke of oppression, God released them from the yoke of oppression that was upon the whole. Already, the promises of Isaiah 58 are beginning to come upon them as pastors and other leaders have begun to humble themselves and repent for their pride and harshness, seeking to repair broken relationships and release new freedom among their people.
Maybe the poor are among us as an invitation into the corporate breakthrough. Will we remove the oppression from them, or simply ignore their need? Will we point a finger at them and wonder what they’ve done wrong to be under this yoke of oppression or recognize that—just possibly—they are under that yoke because we have not taken it off of them. Does all of our time and money go to building church walls and better ministries, or do we first stop and build a strong family? Maybe our promises are found in Isaiah 58’s wisdom….just maybe.
Give and It Shall Be Given Back to You
One of the first words the Lord gave me as we approached 2016 came from Luke 6:38:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The Holy Spirit emphasized this verse again and again to me. I knew that God was about to deal with the poverty spirit that presides in the Church. This spirit is rooted in fear and unbelief. We must take God at His word and truly know that to whatever measure we hold back, that creates the measure that is held back from us; but also, to the measure we give, so are overflowing blessings given back to us.
I often hear believers say that they can’t give because they do not have enough to meet their own needs, but this is the very thinking that often causes God’s children to not have enough. It is as we give that it is given back to us. Remember the story of the widow’s mite?
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Her small gift was counted as more costly than those who had given large amounts out of their wealth.
Many years ago when my husband and I were living in another country with our four children we experienced something similar to this story. We were living on missions support and our monthly support base was much smaller than our monthly needs. One Sunday morning, as I sat in the morning service, I was feeling a great weight of oppression upon my shoulders as we only had a couple of dollars in coins left. We needed groceries and gas, and there were bills due. When it was time for the offering, I wished desperately to give something, even though I really wanted to save our last few dollars for milk. But, as the basket came nearer, I remembered the story of the widow’s mite, so when the basket was put into my hands I turned my wallet upside down and emptied all that I had. It was a very small amount and yet it was such a great sacrifice.
God is faithful, and we somehow got through that next week.
The next Sunday our church was filled with many visitors due to a large conference our fellowship had hosted. The pastor who was speaking that morning gave a brief message, and then called my husband and me up to the front. We were startled, and our surprise turned to astonishment as we heard him recount how he woke up that morning and the Lord told him that He wanted to pour blessings over us. Ushers set two chairs in the front of the church, and we were instructed to sit down. The pastor then invited everyone assembled to come forward and pour money over our heads. People began to empty their wallets over our heads (just as I had done the week before with the offering) and then people set cash in our laps and checks in our laps until it seemed as though we were covered. When the cash and checks were counted the amount was over $7000.00!
I gave my “widow’s mite” and in return, God sent hundreds of people to pour provision over our heads. “Give and it shall be given to you….running over, will be poured in your lap.”
It was literally poured in our lap!
Your Faith Will Be Perfected
God is perfecting our faith in this hour. When His people begin to move forth in faith and trust in all that He has said in His written spoken word, it creates momentum that begins to move us forward. But moving forward requires action on our part. On February 22nd (2/22) I heard the Holy Spirit say, “It is a 2:22 time.” I began to seek out what the 2:22 meant and was led to
You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works.
Here is the context of that portion of Scripture:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Our faith is perfected when we obey by taking action on what the Lord has spoken. Many hear and believe, but do not add action, instead requiring proof through what they can see. Their attitude is “seeing is believing.” But we believe even before we see. We believe, therefore we act as a result of our faith. God is looking for the remnant of modern day “Abrahams” who put action and works to their faith.
When God called our family to move to another country, all we had was His word to us. Our house hadn’t sold, we didn’t have support raised and we only had temporary housing set up. But God made it clear that we were to go, and He would provide every step of the way, so we put action to our faith and moved. He was faithful to take care of us through the years. There were times we were afraid, but our fear was not because of unfaithfulness on His part but rather unbelief on our part.
Wrapping it Up
I believe we are in a kairos time, where we can cross over thresholds that have kept many of God’s sons and daughters from breakthrough. Here are vital keys for all of God’s people in this hour:
• Walking out the Isaiah 58 fast, where we remove the oppression off those in need;
• Giving generously according to Luke 6:38, which breaks the poverty spirit; and
• Moving forward in obedience to God’s direction as stated in James 2:22, putting our faith into action.
We are called to be light and salt. I am convinced these truths written in the Book of Life will bring both light and salt back to His body. They will be beneficial in breaking the orphan spirit, the poverty spirit and the despair of hope deferred off of many. We were created in His image and must reflect His image in our private and public lives. We must put works to our faith, be generous in our giving, give care to those who are oppressed and stop the pointing of the finger in accusation against those facing hardship.
The truth truly does set us free and His Word is truth.