Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Repairing the East Gate

This week we will continue our prayer walk around the gates and walls of our hearts and homes. Today we take our prayer walk to the East Gate. It is located on the eastern side of Jerusalem, opposite the temple area and facing the rising sun.

What does the East Gate tell us? The East Gate speaks of hope because it faces the sunrise. The sunrise speaks of the daily reminder that God's mercy is new every morning.

During the prayer gathering, when we presented this aspect of the gate-restoration project to the Urban Life family, we displayed a picture of the sunrise as it appears at the East Gate. Sunrise at the East Gate was a daily reminder that a new day is always coming. No matter how difficult and dark life might be right now, morning is coming.

This gate is obviously in ruins in many lives because of the hopelessness that is growing throughout our nation. Hopelessness is the source of a lot of despair and fatalistic behavior in America today. Many families seem to have no ability to cope with the trials of life. They have no East Gate. They have no hope.

Here are three scriptures that express the HOPE that is revealed by the East Gate:

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) reads: For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 42:5 reads: 
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

Psalm 146:5 reads: 
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,

When we first gathered to pray about the East Gate, we rehearsed the words to a popular Broadway tune from a musical called Annie.

The lyrics are: 
The sun will come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There'll be sun

Just thinkin' about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow 'til there's none

When I'm stuck with a day that's grey and lonely
I just stick up my chin and grin and say, oh

The sun will come out tomorrow
So you gotta hang on 'til tomorrow, come what may!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're always a day away!


A more spiritual song to express the East Gate is this well-known tune:

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way


When we shared these lyrics with the Urban Life family, I began to weep because much of my life, as an inner city youth, was filled with hopelessness. I was the most pessimistic person you could ever have met. Since I was born into a grief-stricken household, sadness and sorrow were part of the core of my being. 

For Carol, after her parents split up, she had very little hope or expectations for life to ever get any better. Through the years, the East Gate was eventually built and established in our lives; especially in our marriage. Today we know, first-hand, why this gate must be built in our families. The EAST GATE is where Godly hope and expectation is established in our hearts and homes.

---Chris and Carol Green

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Repairing the Horse Gate

We have been taking a weekly journey around the walls of Jerusalem, stopping to observe the condition of the gates that surround the city. We leaned that in 587 BC, Babylon attacked Jerusalem. They burned the Temple, the palace, all the houses, and all the important buildings. They broke down the city walls and burned the gates.

In about 466 BC, Nehemiah was an exiled Jew in the service of King Xerxes in Persia. He learned the Jews who remained in Jerusalem were rebuilding the Temple, but that the city’s defensive walls and gates were still destroyed. The Persian King gave Nehemiah permission and support to return to Jerusalem and begin the restoration process of the city’s gates and walls. 

This week we want to talk to you about the restoration of the Horse Gate. 

The horse gate was located next to the horse stables. Horses were used in battles against Israel's enemies. The horse is always the symbol of battle in Scripture.  This is the gate that reminds us that we are in a spiritual war! We must restore this understanding in every household, so they are prepared for spiritual attacks. There will be surprising events, and unexpected circumstances in our lives. Everybody is going to face a battle. However, we can be equipped for the battles.

Ephesians 6:11-13 (NKJV) reads: 
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This is what we are geared up for daily, in order to fight this battle. We are not fighting against people. Your heart and home must accept this or else you will find yourself fighting against those who are not your true enemies.

We need to be alert to this reality of spiritual warfare. Let’s restore  the gate of spiritual warfare; the Horse Gate!

 ---Chris and Carol Green

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Return to the Water Gate

Today, as we continue our prayer walk around around the walls of our hearts and homes, we want to stop now at the water gate. Water, in Scripture, is the symbol of the Word of God or the Spirit of God.  

Here is the account of the water gate restoration from Nehemiah 3:26-27 (NKJV) ---
"Moreover the Nethinim who dwelt in Ophel made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate toward the east, and on the projecting tower. After them the Tekoites repaired another section, next to the great projecting tower, and as far as the wall of Ophel."

The interesting thing about this account of the renovations around the Water Gate is that there is no indication that this gate needed the same level of repairs as the others. Perhaps this is a prophetic indicator that the challenge for us is not necessarily the restoration of the water gate, but the restoration of the areas that are taking time and attention away from this gate's role in our hearts and homes. Perhaps, this is a gate that many households simply have to start accessing again, accessing more often, or accessing for the first time.

This is the gate that reminds us of our need for the Word and Spirit of God. We must have the Word and Spirit, like the physical body must have water.

Jesus said, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."  (Matthew 4:4). 

We are receiving more than just inspiration and encouragement when we read the Word of God. We are literally drinking new life into our souls.

If we jump ahead to the completion of the entire wall and gate restoration project, we discover a profound event. We read in Nehemiah 8:1-3, 

"Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law."

The picture is very clear: Every family and household; every heart and home must restore and return to the water gate to receive the Word of God and the very presence (Spirit) of God.

---Chris and Carol Green

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Repairing the Fountain Gate

Let's continue with our prayer journey around the gates and walls of Jerusalem, which in this context, represent our hearts and homes. This week we're focusing on the fountain gate.

The restoration of the fountain gate speaks of the living waters of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38)

There is a fountain that God wants to release from within us, however, our hearts are clogged and blocked by many negative issues.

Just look at what the Bible reveals in Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV); Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. This scriptures urges us to consider the issues that are important to people because these issues are directly connected to what has happened in their hearts. 

Hearts have been damaged, crushed, raided, abused, and ravaged by abandonment, divorce, divisions, death, disasters, etc.  Restoring the fountain gate touches the very purpose for which God sent us out. HE sent us to people who have been deeply wounded in their souls. The very soul of America cries out and wails in anguish.

While religion points out and judges the behavior and actions of mankind, God looks at the wounded sin-sick soul and starts there.

This gate is for those souls today.

For most of us, our lives were devastated in early childhood. In Isaiah 61:4, we read, "And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities."

Former desolations refers to devastating things that happened in the past; in particular they refer to devastation that happened in the early years of your life.  

In my life (Chris), my soul was wounded before I was even born. My mom was pregnant with me when her youngest child was killed in a food-choking accident. Her grief and sorrow engulfed my unborn substance. I was an extremely melancholy inner city kid because I was always overwhelmed by grief, sorrow, and despair. I lived a very sad, depressed and pessimistic life, even after I gave my heart to the Lord. As human beings, we develop habits and vices as we turn to pacifiers and some other way to try to ease or comfort our pain.

I even developed a very violent and murderous temper and nearly killed my younger sister in an outburst of rage. Shortly afterwards, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and the rage was literally washed away in the streams of living water.

Last week, we talked about restoring the refuse gate and the many toxins that we need to eliminate from our lives, but this gate (fountain) is where we find the actual power and ability to follow through with those decisions to get the trash out of our hearts and homes.  

The Bible presents a very powerful admonishment: And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

In this context, drunk means to be under the controlling influence of wine (or whatever it is that you turn to for comfort). The issue was not the mere drinking of wine, but the lack of moral restraint. The caution and warning is about becoming a person who is given to immoral and improper conduct. The emphasis is on being filled and under the controlling influence of the Spirit of God.

Let’s rebuild, restore and renew the fountain gate and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

This is where you and your family will become empowered! When the river is unleashed, you will no longer simply respond from the issues of a broken and damaged heart. With the fountain gate restored, your heart and home can be brought under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit.
---Chris and Carol Green