I spent some time in Africa years ago as a short-term missionary, back and forth from home to Africa every few months. The people – particularly the women – in the country that I went to were incredibly resilient after years of oppression, abuse and horrific realities that I cannot even type out here. Those who knew Jesus as Lord and Savior were particularly glorious to watch! I loved their culture and customs and how they responded to trials with such Jesus-Kingdom mindsets and actions. I was utterly inspired by them and remain so, even 12 years later.
This morning while praying for a friend, I was reminded of a day that I spent in a Christian village in this particular country. There was a woman in the village who needed some serious emotional breakthrough, and apparently was feeling shame for something she had done which I did not have details to. I watched as some of the women embraced this one lady, they all pulled her into a circle that they had made around her. They began to pray for her, and then sing and dance and do a beautiful, high-pitched traditional call that one often hears in Africa. They joyfully danced around this woman until she had stood up, tall, confident and unashamed, and they kept going until she, too, was dancing and singing and rejoicing.
Psalm 32:6-7 says, “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.”
This morning while lifting my friend up in prayer, I was declaring this scripture over her, and decided to look up the Hebrew meanings of “shouts” and “deliverance.” Essentially, it means that a cry of JOY will make a way for escape! I realized that the scripture here is talking about the Lord surrounding us with shouts of deliverance, not us shouting praise aloud to Him.
That’s when I was reminded of this scene in Africa that touched my heart years ago. I began to tear up at the thought of the Lord singing and dancing over me until I could stand strong and confident, knowing that I had been rescued.
As I reminded my friend today, I want to remind you….the Lord is a hiding place! He will preserve you from trouble, and He will surround you with CRIES OF JOY THAT MAKE A WAY FOR ESCAPE! The Lord will surround you like my African friends, dancing and shouting and joyfully singing over you. The great rush of waters will not reach you in this place.
Let Him be your hiding place today as He surrounds you with shouts of deliverance!
“The glory of this new house will surpass that of the old,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “and in this place I will grant shalom,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot.’” Haggai 2:9
Sunday morning I woke up and a FaceBook Page I follow had shared this verse. It really touched me and spoke to me.
I was visiting some friends and they had invited me to their Community of Faith, so I went with them. We began to worship and I felt the need to write. I found a pen and began to write on the bulletin.
Worship continued for over an hour and when it finished the pastor looked at his wife (they co-pastor) and said that she was going to deliver the message and she replied by saying, “I don’t believe it is for today. I sense that it is not in the right stream and it needs to be saved for another day.”
As this was taking place my heart began to pound. I truly sensed that the Words I had written were from Holy Spirit and needed to be shared. I didn’t know these people. I don’t usually do this. But, I leaned over to my friend and told him that I felt like I needed to share something. He got up and went to the pastor and told her. She told him sure and had me come over. She asked what it was I felt led to share and I showed her what I had written and she got confirmation, so she told her husband and next thing I know I am holding a microphone and sharing what Holy Spirit had given me.
As I was writing the words, I also knew I needed to share them with others. Here is what I wrote:
“I hear the Lord saying this (a community gathering) is what He wants you to prepare in your homes. The days are coming when corporate worship will be difficult. Begin to prepare your homes to reach your communities. Your neighbors will be lost and look to YOU for HIS strength because it is IN you. You will be HIS lights in your neighborhoods. Don’t be afraid to share HIS worship that is within YOU with those around you. What you have here this morning will be in your homes. Your homes will be HIS safe haven for others.
I had the opportunity to live in Israel for many years. Living there taught me that when the Temple was removed and destroyed, the place where the Jews went to worship was taken away. Today, the Jews consider their homes their ‘temple.’ Their homes are the place they worship. Shabbat brings HIS WORSHIP. It is time to PREPARE your homes.
Some homes are a mess. It is time to change it. Prepare your homes!”
After church a woman approached me and said, “Thank you so much for sharing. When I moved into my home 12 years ago I called it a ‘safe haven.’ I even had a worship room with a piano. Over time, as my kids grew, things got packed away and it became another room in the house. Holy Spirit has been convicting me to get the piano out and prepare the worship room again. I was supposed to do it yesterday, but now I know I need to get it done.”
She went on to tell me that she had also recently gotten to know her neighbor a little better, and another neighbor was facing cancer. She knows her house will soon become a “safe haven” for those around her.
Friends, here is a verse we all have heard:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (NIV)
I also tell you this: you are Kefa,” [which means ‘Rock,’] “and on this rock I will build my Community, and the gates of Sh’ol will not overcome it. (CJB)
The CJB gives a more accurate description here. God’s original intent was to build “communities.” It will be HIS Community. A lesson I always taught when I was in Magdala or Capernaum in Israel is this:
“God wants us to LIVE in our neighbors and communities. ‘Going’ to church is fine, and the Word does say, ‘Go and make disciples…’ BUT, if we cannot BE a part of the community around us, we are missing the mark. We miss the intent of being a LIGHT to our neighbors and a LIGHT in the place He has placed us. Early communities of faith met in homes. They WORSHIPPED in homes. This is where true fellowship took place. It did not happen at the synagogue.”
Covid has already given us the experience of not being able to meet together. Countries/Governments around the world have already stopped communities of faith from meeting. The Word is clear that we will face more and more challenges and difficulties as the return of the Messiah grows closer. I believe the day is coming when Governments will shut down communities of faith and we will be forced to gather and fellowship with those who are “in our community.”
The verse above from Haggai clearly says that the “new house will surpass the old and it will be filled with PEACE.” When we have Holy Spirit in the middle of it all, HIS peace will fill our house. That peace can, and SHOULD BE, shared with others.
The New Testament Communities of Faith grew FROM THEIR HOMES. They gathered together and shared together DAILY in their homes. Are you ready to do this?
We must begin to prepare our hearts and HOMES. We must purge and clean out physically, spiritually, and emotionally so we can be READY to approach the throne with “clean hands and a pure heart.” We must be ready to be HIS LIGHTS to our neighbors.
You ARE His vessel and will be used for His purposes. Don’t be afraid or fearful.