Go Forth, And Testify! (Moving To Wider Territory) – March 15, 2023 (82-84/365)

We’ve talked about how 2022 was a year where we would take our time to be overwhelmed by God – His goodness and His greatness, His love towards us, all proven and guaranteed by none other than Christ and His birth, death, resurrection and ascension.

We’ve talked about how this year we’d be moving. We established how it is inevitable – because Christ moved, and is moving in us, so we move. The more we move, the more we see Christ, and the more we see Christ, the more we move. And the more we reflect on how we are moving, the more we see that our movements are by no means random or erratic. We are moving, and we are moving forward.

We’re moving forward, and we know that we’ve moving forward with progression; In fact, the only reason why we claim progression is because we have been given a vision. By Christ’s finished work we have seen just how far He would go for us, and as such, we are driven with direction. As Christ had us in His sights, so we see Him in the finish line… And for the moments we have trouble figuring out our vision – well, we also have Christ with us right here, right now. The same Savior who healed the blind is willing and able to give us sight.

We’re moving forward, and not only are we given direction by Christ, but through Christ we are propelled with enduring love. Right now, as I recall all we’ve been talking about, I could say that we are (1) moving with progression and direction, and now also (2) moving with propulsion from enduring love. As we are loved, so we move forward… and as we move forward, we realize and observe more perspectives to what it means for us to be loved.

Finally, we’re definitely moving forward, and we’re moving forward without any hindrances. Or I guess I should rephrase that and say that we are moving forward, and though we may be hindered, we would not be hindered for long. Just as David proclaimed to Goliath, so we speak before our hindrances, that we come before all of it in the Name of the Lord, who will give us the victory. And in fact, we may be moving and we would see God’s goodness, by way of how the nation of Israel was delivered during the time of King Jehoshaphat. It may come to a point that even as we run to the Lord, and even as we take each step with worship at the forefront, these hindrances may fight each other and fall… leaving us to pick up the spoils.

Yes, we’re moving, and we’re moving forward. We’re moving forward with direction, in enduring love, and without hindrance. But these past few weeks we’ve also talked about how we move higher. We’re moving higher and higher, and we’re seeing that as we move higher, the more we need Christ in our lives. And consequently, the more we realize we need Christ in our lives, the more we’re automatically brought to the higher, more strategic places. Christ brings us to higher perspectives – in fact, perspectives from a eternal and infinite point of view. And just last week, we also respected the fact that we are in this world, and it’s not always about us moving ‘higher’ according to our observation – but just as we see Christ in the heights, so, when we are in the depths and the lowest of lows, we realize that Christ is with us there as well, Faithful and True.

We shall now talk about the final aspect of our movement… and that is, our moving wider. We move forward. We move higher. We move deeper. Moving wider means we also move and cover more territory.

We’ve been talking a lot in terms of parallels, or at least that’s how I see it – what do I mean? I mean how we couldn’t talk about one thing without talking about another. You remember? We said we couldn’t talk about love without talking about God, and we can’t talk about God without talking about love. And we went even deeper by saying we can’t talk about God’s love without talking about Jesus Christ, and we can’t talk about Jesus Christ without talking about God’s love. Parallels.

And I think I see another parallel here – Apparently, you can’t talk about possessing land without having offspring… and one more purpose to have offspring is to possess the land. God’s conversation with Adam and Eve shortly after their creation comes to mind: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”Genesis 1:28

At the onset, God wanted Adam and Eve to be blessed – but what are the details to being blessed? Well, that means that we are to multiply and subdue the earth. To have offspring, and to expand. To expand, and to have offspring. Unfortunately, this was taken away from us at the fall. God was specific in what He wanted for Adam and Eve, and He was also pretty specific about the consequences of their actions. Let’s have a look at Genesis 3:16-19.

To the woman who was to be fruitful and multiply He said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

And to Adam, who was to fill the earth and subdue it, He said, “…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Let’s go back to the time of Abraham in the Old Testament. Genesis 13:14-18 says the following:

The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.”

It’s not as the song goes… or rather, Father Abraham did not actually have seven children. Scriptures say… wait. Hah. He actually really DID have at least seven children. I only recall Ishmael (his son with Hagar) and Isaac (his son with Sarah), but apparently there was Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah – his sons with Keturah.

Thanks, Google. Anyway Abraham had Isaac, and from Isaac, Jacob and Esau were born. And the same God who spoke to Abraham (then Abram) spoke to his grandson, Jacob: “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:13-15

And look, we see here that God actually mentioned having offspring (‘be fruitful and multiply’) BEFORE receiving the land (‘fill the earth and subdue it’). But no matter what does come first, it’s clear – The Lord wants to bless us with offspring to expand, and the Lord wants to expand for our offspring.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.Isaiah 54:2-3

We see here that the Lord spoke through Isaiah, saying essentially the same thing: We are to spread, and our offspring shall ‘possess the nations and fill the desolate cities’. My point in pulling out all these verses is simply to say that from the beginning of creation, and through the generations, spanning through the entire Old Testament, God wants us to expand, and to multiply; God wants us to multiply, and to expand.

Unfortunately, for all the efforts and good intentions of the nation of Israel, the found themselves time and time again falling short of what God wanted for them – And it’s not to say that they haven’t tried to expand, and later restore their physical territory. And through the generations, they certainly didn’t fall short of multiplying by bearing children – In fact, what a wonder it was for them to survive as a nation with a substantial population, even after centuries of war and conquest! But through it all, their best wasn’t good enough. We see what I’m trying to say in the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi.

See, it’s more than just a book where we can pull out a verse to encourage people to give. In fact, we see so much more through Malachi. In summary, the prophet called the people to repentance with respect to: the priesthood, which had become corrupt; worship, which had become routine; divorce, which was widespread; social justice, which was being ignored; and tithing, which was neglected. The pain of childbirth mentioned at the fall was indeed multiplied. It was as God mentioned – the woman’s desires shall be contrary to her husband, but he shall rule over her – implying a conflict, which bloomed into moral bankruptcy. The curse of the ground ran deeper than the physical soil; the corruption was found in even the most holy of the men of Israel.

For all our efforts, it was ultimately sin that kept us from multiplying. It was sin that kept us from expanding. We were hopeless.

But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.1 Corinthians 12:31

In the fullness of time, we were saved from our hopelessness. See, in His infinite wisdom, it was Christ brought to us a new and excellent way of expanding:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” Acts 2:1-11

As some of you know I have the opportunity of acquiring land behind our residence. But it’s not as easy as just going into a website and buying it – no, you need to actually interact with a person… and in this case, you need to be careful who to choose. I’m under the impression that it’s best to be in direct contact with the owner of the land… and even that’s complicated because the one who holds the title isn’t always the actual owner of the land. I mean, someone else in the family could be taking care of it, but the one whose name is on the land title may be dead, for all we know. Take note, we aren’t even talking about the actual process of purchasing, composing deeds, and processing the transfer of name, and all that jazz.

On my own, I have trouble acquiring and protecting literal soil. But through the word and by the power of the Holy Spirit we are brought to understand that Christ’s finished work tells us that there is a new and excellent way. We see here that by the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to go beyond the efforts of landgrabbing to expand… no, Christ has given us a way to subdue the earth – how? By the word of our testimony. These ‘uneducated’ Galileans spoke with tongues of fire in the marketplace, and those who heard were amazed and astonished. And take note! Not only were these folks representatives of entire nations, but entire people groups that resided in multiple nations! Isn’t that amazing? I mean, I counted at least 15 people groups that were mentioned in the Scripture!

Friends, we can learn from this. How do we move wider? We subdue the land. And how do we subdue the land? Well, we speak of the mighty works of God in the marketplace, and people of entire nations would hear us. If the apostles spoke in the marketplace and reached so much, imagine what we can do in our day and age, where we have been given access to the public square by way of a couple of taps of our fingers!

We keep going down Acts 2 and we see that Christ brought to us a new and excellent way of multiplying:

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.Acts 2:37-41

I don’t care what relationship status you claim to have on Social Media. You can be in a relationship, married, in a domestic partnership, or say that it’s complicated. You can say that you’re single, double or triple. But friends, ALL of us in the Body of Christ – regardless of where we stand on our own relationships – ALL of us are able to multiply! How? Again, by the word of our testimony!

We may not necessarily have children of our own, but we are certainly able to increase our numbers in what matters – or rather, WHO matters – Christ! Because we celebrate Christ, and because we love one another, the world will see this, and they will want it as well – and as they give in to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit, they would see and be in awe of the goodness of God in their own personal lives, and be led to repentance.

How do we move wider? We multiply. And how do we multiply? Well, we speak of the mighty works of God in the marketplace, and people of entire nations would hear us… but not only shall they hear us, but they shall listen, and they shall ask, ‘What shall we do?’

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Folks, the Lord has never deviated from His charge to Adam and Eve, and to all of us – We are to be fruitful, and to multiply. We are to subdue the land. The Old Testament has taught us that even if we try our best to do this off of our own strength, we will always end up falling short – because of sin, none of our efforts have infinite value.

But praise God for Christ! In the fullness of time, Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and ascension have guaranteed that we are not only saved from sin and death, but we have been made righteous, and alive – Yes, a life everlasting, and a life that is fruitful!

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

1 Peter 3:13-16

As we live our lives in celebration of Christ, we testify. There will always be the possibility that out of the multitudes of those who hear, some would see how their efforts in multiplying and subduing the earth are fruitless, and/or they may want to celebrate as we do… and there’s always the possibility that they would ask.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:23-26

To sum it all up, our literal lives here on earth testify to the goodness of God. We do not expand, nor do we have dominion, according to how the world would tell us to do it. The measure of our expansion is not in the number of square meters we possess, but in our impact in the hearts and minds of others. I like how Paul says that we are temples of the Holy Spirit… But I’m also saying, in our movement, we are also living, breathing testimonies of the goodness of God.

Until the next post, God bless you.

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