Waters from the Throne

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:1-2 NKJV 

Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine. Ezekiel 47:12 NKJV 

In the revelation (vision) that Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle John in the text above, John saw a new Paradise that mirrored Ezekiel’s vision of healing waters that flowed out from the Temple of God.

The river flowing from the Temple symbolizes the blessings of eternal life that flows from the Throne of God and the Lamb. It pictures the perfection of life in God and His eternal blessings to satisfy our spiritual thirst (John 7:37-38). Waters flowing from the Throne produces trees—trees of righteousness—their “fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”  Food is that which is eatable to satisfy hunger, to nourish, and sustain the body. Medicine is a substance used to cure or treat disease. Waters flowing from the Throne feeds us and heals us: spirit, soul, and body.

Furthermore, this vision of water flowing from the Throne is not only a vision of the new Paradise, but it also a pictures the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, and paradise lost by Adam and Eve, restored to the redeemed of the Lord (See Gen. 2:8-10; 3:22-24). In the Paradise of God, in addition to the Tree of Life, there shall be all “kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary”, and the leaves of these trees are for the healing of the nations.

Why would nations need to be healed in Paradise? (See Rev. 21:4-7). Both Ezekiel and John revealed that when waters flow from the Temple and the Throne of God and of the Lamb, the water produces trees with healing leaves. Now, this doesn’t suggest that there will be sickness in Paradise, but rather it emphasizes that the water of life produces health and strength wherever it goes and flows. Hallelujah!

Believers, like trees (Jer. 17:8), grow and overcome the “rough rapid waters of life” by spreading their roots in the river of flowing waters from the Throne: flowing under and expanding (humility), flowing to the ankles (walking in the Spirit), to the knees (praying in the Spirit), waters to the waist (being strong in the Spirit), and not being afraid of rising waters deep enough to swim in (flowing in the Spirit). Spread your roots in the water to grow, and the flowing water from the Throne lets you know that God is with you to heal every sickness, every situation, and every problem. Your fruit will be for food, and your leaves for medicine!

 

 

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How Trees Grow

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV 

God calls believers, “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isa. 61:3).  “Trees of righteousness are planted by the “waters” (Psalm 1:3). But how do trees grow? Naturally, trees grow from the inside out starting at the core, as growth continues wood (strength) is made on the inside. The roots of the tree spread in the soil to collect moisture and water, minerals and nutrients that gives it life. The more collected, the deeper the roots spread making the tree more sable and stronger.

Spiritually, it is equally true that spiritual trees (believers) grow much in the same way. “For [believers] shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river” (Jer. 17:8). The Prophet Ezekiel’s vision of water flowing from the Temple in Ezekiel 47:1-7, best illustrates this growth process.

In Ezekiel’s vision he saw the Man (the Lord) bring him back to the entrance of the Temple, and he saw water coming out from under the threshold of the Temple toward the east (the Temple faced east). The waters issuing from under the threshold of the Temple speaks of humility (1 Pet. 5:5-6); then, he saw the Lord go eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led the prophet through water that was ankle-deep which speaks of walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25); then He measured off another thousand cubits and led him through water that was knee-deep which speaks of praying in the Spirit (Jude 20; Rom. 8:26-27); then,  He measured off another thousand and led him through water that was up to the waist which speaks of strength of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit (Eph. 6:10; Gal. 5:22-23); and again, He measured off another thousand, but now the running waters became a river that Ezekiel could not cross— the water had risen deep enough to swim in — a river that no one could cross. This undoubtedly represent flowing in the Spirit (John 7:38). The 1000 cubit measurements before each rising level of the waters are emblematic of perfection of life, i.e., divine completeness unto the Father’s glory (see Rev. 21, Millennial Period).

Now after the Lord had brought the prophet through these expanding waters that flowed from the Temple, He asked him, “Son of man, do you see this?” (Ezek. 47:6). Do you see what? Do you see how trees grow when they spread their roots by the river? In the vision, the Lord then brought Ezekiel back to the bank of the river, and when he arrived there, the Prophet saw a great number of trees on each side of the river (Ezek. 47:7).  Believers grow by humbling themselves, walking in the Spirit, praying in the Spirit, being strong in the Spirit, and flowing in the Spirit—trusting in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord!

 

 

 

Trees Planted by the Waters

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV

The blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord and makes the Lord his hope and confidence. God says, “he is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water”—a tree not blighted by heat (tests and trials) nor worried by a season of  drought—spiritually speaking—because his “leaves” remain green, and he continues to lead a productive fruitful life to the glory of God.

God analogizes the life of a believer to a fruitful tree that is planted by the waters. What a powerful metaphor! This metaphor was first spoken of by David in Psalm chapter 1 and then reiterated by the Prophet Isaiah in his prophesy of the coming Christ. Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Sovereign Lord would be anointed of God to preach the good news to the poor in spirit; heal the brokenhearted; proclaim liberty for the captive in sin; recover the sight of those who are spiritually blind; and, release those imprisoned by darkness. Then, He would proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’s favor and comfort all who grieved and mourned in Zion (the Church) and bestow on them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. Why? So they would be called Trees (Oaks) of Righteousness, the planting of the Lord, so that God would be glorified (Isa. 61:1-3; Luke 4:18-19).

Two things about the planting of the Lord: (1) Trees of righteousness are planted by the river of waters, and (2) Trees planted by the river of waters are fruitful trees (Psalm 1:1-3). The river of waters speaks of the Holy Spirit—a spiritual baptism into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). When God plants you, He sets into the ground to grow, to prosper, and to have a good success (Joshua 1:8). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

 

 

The Planting of the Lord

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;  2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord . . . 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3 KJV

The “acceptable year of the Lord” is the year of favor. Favor is God’s grace, acceptance, and kindness; it’s His grace operating in a person, grace on the part of the Giver, and a divine influence on the heart of man (Prov. 21:1). Of His fullness we have all received, favor for favor (John 1:16). The “set time” to favor those who have accepted their righteousness of God in Christ is now (Psalm 102:13)—they are called “the planting of the Lord.” In Christ Jesus, believers are “Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” (Heb 12:22-23), “that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that [H]e might be glorified” (text).

The planting of the Lord means that God has set you into the ground (His Word) to grow, to be established, to be settled, fixed and rooted. To be planted reminds you to be “steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Where does God plant us? God plants His people on the “mountain.” The “mountain” speaks of an elevated place of enlightenment; a place of exaltation; and, a high place of spiritual realization (see Ex. 15:9, 15-17). On the mountain, you have a clear view of the enemy’s tactics and overcome them in victory.

God said to the complacent Israelites, who had camped out at Mount Horeb for a long time after being redeemed from Egypt: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the [mountain] country of the Amorites . . .” (Deut 1:6-7). The Amorites, the largest of the Canaan land nation tribes, were summit dwellers, mountaineers, and highlanders who had a reputation for wickedness and destruction. Spiritually speaking, the “Amorites” can only be overcome by ascending their mountain to elevate your thoughts and deeds, i.e., being transformed by the renewing of your mind (Roman 12:2).

Because the righteous are the planting of the Lord: “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . .” (Ps. 92:12-14). Palm trees stand tall and are known for their long life–a symbol of beauty and fruitfulness. And, cedars of Lebanon can grow to 120 ft. in height and 30 ft. in circumference. They are solid, strong, and immovable—a symbol of strength and permanence. Like the palm tree and the cedars of Lebanon, you are a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord!

 

 

 

Trees of Righteousness

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord . . . 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3 KJV

To those who feel poor or afflicted, bruised, crushed, or shattered; to those who’ve been led away physically or spiritually, to those who feel surrounded by darkness or groping in blindness: there is good news for you!

The Gospel is the glad tidings (good news), from Jesus Christ, that heals broken-hearts; it proclaims liberty to those captive to sin; it recovers sight to the spiritually blind; it opens the “prison” to those who are bound;  and, it proclaims the year of the Lord, i.e., the year of favor (Isa. 49:8; 2 Cor. 6:2). Those who receive the “good news” shall be called trees of righteousness—“oaks of righteousness” the planting of the Lord.

The message of the Gospel declares that God has anointed you for favor (v.2). Favor (Charis, Greek word) is God’s acceptance of you and His kindness towards you. It is His grace operating in you; it is grace on the part of the giver (God); and, it is a divine influence on the heart of man (Prov. 21:1). Grace is the opposite of Law. The Law was given by Moses, but grace, truth, and favor came through Jesus Christ (John 1:16-17).

God’s favor is not dependent on your deservedness, but rather on His grace and mercy. “[The Lord] will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come” (Ps. 102:13). God has appointed, granted and provided blessings with your name written on them (text). These blessings await the righteous—those who receive the glad tidings. God calls these hearers: “trees of righteousness”—“oaks of righteousness” the planting of the Lord.

The oak tree is the mightiest of trees and symbolizes strength and courage. It is a perennial plant (present at all seasons). As a “tree of righteousness”, the blessings of God are present to you in all seasons and under all circumstances. This reputation of righteousness glories God!

 

 

Happy Mothers Day!

There are times when only a mother’s love
Can understand our tears,
Can soothe our disappoints
And calm all of our fears.

There are times when only a mother’s love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we’ve dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.

There are times when only a mother’s faith
Can help us on life’s way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.

For a mother’s heart and a mother’s faith
And a mother’s steadfast love
Were fashioned by the angels
And sent from God above.

~Author Unknown

 

Tell Them Something Good

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, your God reigns! . . . The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound . . . Isaiah 52:7; 61:1 NKJV

It’s been said that, “bad news travels at the speed of light; good news travels like molasses” (Tracey Morgan). Many people, including church folk, are more conditioned to think and to say that which is bad or negative, and expect the same to be thought and said of them. But in Christ, there ought to be a difference in the words of the anointed and the un-anointed. When the Spirit of God comes upon you and anoints you, you ought to be a messenger of “good news”—not bad news. Tell others something good; don’t lie to them, but tell them the “good news”  of what God has done and is doing.

In His earthly ministry, Jesus’ anointing preceded the proclamation of His “good news” message. God anointed Jesus and—news flash!—He has also anointed you in Christ (1 John 2:27) to also go about doing good as healing presence to others (Matt. 9:35). Jesus didn’t use His words to depress but rather He healed all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). The God of the same anointing and power is with you (Ps. 23:5; Heb. 13:5; Luke 10:19).

You are anointed with “beautiful feet.” Others should love the sound of your foot steps, when they hear you coming their way, because you are one who will proclaim glad tidings to them; bind up their broken-hearts; proclaim liberty when they are captive to sin; help them recover their sight when they are blinded by the enemy; open the “prison doors” when they are bound; and, proclaim our God reigns and this is the acceptable year of the Lord. Tell them something good!                                                                             

Be to them like a “cup of cold water” to a thirsty soul (Prov. 25:25). Let your words refresh their soul, give them hope in God, and a reason to believe that this is their acceptable year in the Lord. Tell them something good!

 

 

 

 

The Acceptable Year of the Lord

 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn . . .” Isaiah 61:1-2 NKJV

Isaiah’s prophesy above outlined two comings of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ: His first coming as a preacher of the Gospel of His kingdom and His second coming as a vengeful judge. The first advent of Christ is about the “good news” of salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) and the second is about the bad news of judgment (See Rev. 14:14-20; 19:11-16).

Jesus, prior to commencing His public ministry, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, He was baptized in water and filled with the Holy Ghost (Matt. 3:13-17), and He was tested, tempted and tried by Satan in the Wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). But most of all, He was anointed by His Heavenly Father (Acts 10:38); As a result, Jesus returned into Galilee in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14) with a ministry and message of good news: “the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

His message was a “good news” gospel proclaiming the “acceptable year of the Lord.” In the “acceptable year of the Lord” glad tiding are preached to the meek (See Matt. 5:3 translated “poor”), broken hearts are healed, liberty is proclaimed to captives, the blind—literally and spiritually—recover their sight, prisons are opened to those who are bound, spiritually. Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:14-21).                   

The acceptable year of the Lord is here and now; it proclaims a time of God’s favor to those who repent and believe (John 1:16; Isa. 49: 8; 2 Cor. 6:2). The acceptable is grace and favor, favor and grace. All other circumstances, conditions, situations, sickness, disease, bondage, etc. in life are unacceptable!

When Jesus stood up to read from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue, He purposefully did not read the second sentence in Isaiah 61:2: “And the day of vengeance of our God” because in His first coming, He came to announce the “good news of God’s salvation by grace, but in His second coming—beware!  He’s coming again but with vengeance to conquer and judge every foe and those who obey not the gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-8). Thank God, we’re living now in the acceptable year of the Lord!

 

 

 

 

The Message

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures . . . 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NKJV

The Gospel means “good news.” The Gospel has three constituent elements: Jesus’ death, His burial, and resurrection. Now, because of the resurrection, guilty sinners may now freely receive salvation by grace. The Gospel also consists of Christ’s person, His redemptive work on the cross and His resurrection, His work from creation to restoration of fallen man to the ultimate consummation of all things. The message of the Gospel is “good news”—a message of grace rather than legalism; a message of faith and righteousness; a message of freedom; and, a message of power.

Paul the apostle., after delivering the gospel message of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to the Galatians , was amazed that they had so quickly deserted the message—the grace of Christ, for a different gospel, which was not a “good news” message at all.  Whenever the “good news” message is comingled with legalism or any other unscriptural teaching, true believers ought to be disturbed that the true gospel message is distorted. Paul felt so strongly about the purity of the gospel message that he said, even if he, or an angel from heaven, preached a gospel contrary to the message of salvation by the grace according to the finished works of Christ, let he or others be accursed! (See Gal. 1:6-9). Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the cross provides fullness of grace and salvation by grace alone—that’s the message (John 1:16-17; Eph. 2:8).

Paul establishes that the message of the gospel is at its core is about faith and righteousness. “[You] have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer [you] who live, but Christ lives in [you]; and the life which [you] now live in the flesh [you] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [you] and gave Himself for [you] (Gal. 2:20). Not to accept this message is to “set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal. 2:21). “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain . . . you are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15: 14, 17). “[I]f righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died needlessly.

Furthermore, the gospel message is a message of freedom—not bondage. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). We are enjoined by Paul to “[s]tand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).

And, moreover, the gospel message is about power (God’s supernatural ability available to the believer).  It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. For in the gospel (the message) the righteousness that comes from God is revealed— a righteousness that works by faith from one degree to another, from the first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith (Rom. 1:17).  This is the message!

 

 

 

 

 

The Gospel

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 NKJV 

The Gospel means good news or good message. It is a “good news” account—not just of history but His story. The Gospel is a proclamation of the truth that paints, proves, and persuade a truth in the hearts of mankind that “nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by —which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Gospel has three elements: Christ’s death, His burial, and resurrection.

Romans 4:25 says that, “[Christ] was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Jesus died on the cross, for all people, to satisfy the righteous demands of a Holy God. Now, because of the resurrection, guilty sinners may now receive salvation which Christ purchased in His death on Calvary’s Cross. He paid and satisfied a debt of sin He did not owe. That’s the good news!

The gospel is first mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew 4:23 as the “gospel of the kingdom” and last mentioned in Revelation 14:6 as the “everlasting gospel.” But the first to preach the gospel, other than Jesus Himself, was Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11)—not Simeon who blessed and praised the Babe in the Temple, and Anna the prophetess, prophesied that the baby Jesus was One that all would look to for redemption Luke 2:25-38). Mary Magdalene—a woman and devoted disciple—notwithstanding her dark and storied past, she was the very first to announce to others that Jesus, who was dead and buried, had arisen (Mark 16:10-11).  That was good news; that was preaching the gospel.

Thank God for women like Mary Magdalene who preach the gospel even to this day (see Psalm 68:11 “women” is the word translated as “company” in numerous translations of the Bible, e.g., NASB, NASU, ASV, MOFF, TLB, etc. Who ever said that women can’t preach?   Mary Magdalene preached the gospel!