PART 1: A CLEANSING
If you were at Highland Community Church this past Sunday, then you heard Rob and I communicate that we believe God is getting ready to usher our church and our community into a new season - a season of harvest. For those of you who were unable to attend, we wanted to put in writing what was said and prayed for so that as the body of Christ we can begin asking God, in unity, to fulfill His promise.
We started the service by reminding ourselves of the promise God gave our family 12 years ago from Ezekiel 36:33-36. The difference this year, as opposed to years past when we have looked at this verse, is that we believe the fulfillment of this promise is now upon us. In this passage, the Lord says that He is going to bring about a cleansing among the people, and then, after the cleansing, He will begin rebuilding all that is desolate and broken.
We believe the cleansing the Lord is referring to will look like a time of revival within our church and our community. We started the service with a time of personal prayer and reflection because we realize that before God can bring about a cleansing within the community He must first start with His church. We asked God to reveal anything within us that was not of Him and that as a church we would desire truth in our innermost being. We got on our knees before the Lord and begged Him for forgiveness of our sins and asked that He might return to us and show us His mercy and bring healing to our community.
After our time spent asking God to cleanse us as individuals we then moved into a time of reflecting upon John 15. I explained to the church that I started last January going through a study on John 15. What I thought was simply going to be a month long study on that portion of scripture ended up lasting throughout the entire year. Every time I would think that I was ready to move to another part of Scripture, God’s spirit would pull me back to John 15 letting me know that He was not yet finished teaching me and awakening me to the truth and the power of those words. So for an entire year, I read and reread John 15. What God did in me throughout last year is something that cannot easily be explained in words. All I can really say is that God awakened in me an overwhelming desire for my life to be a fulfillment of the words spoken in John 15. A desire for my life to bring forth fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains. A desire to be the embodiment of John 15:16, which states, “I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you.” For several months I earnestly prayed that scripture over my life, my family’s life, and the life of our church. As I continued to pray, the Lord began to reveal to me what was hindering us from producing “more fruit and fruit that remains” in the North Highland community. The answer was found in Mark 9.
Mark 9 tells the story of a father who has a child possessed by an unclean spirit. Jesus inquires about the situation and the father replies that he has a son who has a mute spirit and that the spirit causes his son to try and destroy himself. The father asked Jesus’ disciples to cast it out, but they could not, to which Jesus replies, “You unbelieving generation...bring the boy to Me”. Out of desperation, the father cries out to Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus responds by saying, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Jesus then rebukes the unclean spirit and says, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” At the end of the story the disciples come to Jesus in private and ask Him why they were unable to cast out the unclean spirit. Jesus’ response to His disciples was, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” As I read this passage I sensed the Holy Spirit leading me to understand that the
same unclean spirit that possessed that boy is the same unclean spirit that hovers over the North Highland community. In the story the father told Jesus that the boy had a mute spirit that caused him to try and destroy himself, but notice what Jesus said when He rebuked the unclean spirit: “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him...”. I cannot tell you the countless conversations Rob and I have had with people living in our community who with all sincerity tell us that they no longer want to let alcohol consume them, and no longer want to abuse drugs, and no longer want to be part of unhealthy relationships. But day, after day, after day, they are doing that which they do not want to do. I also cannot tell you how many times Rob and I have literally begged and asked our neighbors, “Do you know the Lord? He is your only hope!” More times than I can count the conversation ends with Rob or I praying on their behalf, only to see them the next day doing exactly what they said they no longer wanted to do. When I read Mark 9 it was like the Holy Spirit turned the light on and I could finally see what was really happening. The reason our family and Highland Community Church have not been able to bring forth the “much fruit and fruit that remains” Jesus refers to in John 15 is because the North Highland community has a deaf and mute spirit that hovers over it whose influence also brings about a desire to destroy oneself. What does God’s word say about faith and salvation? It says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Many times in Scripture, you will hear God describe a group of people as “having ears, but cannot hear; having eyes, but cannot see; mouths, but cannot speak”. You also see in Scripture that the Lord is searching among His people for someone who will INTERCEDE on their behalf (Ezekiel 22:30).
This past Sunday morning as our church got on our knees before the Lord, my hope is that as God was searching the Earth that He looked upon Highland Community Church and was well pleased. Because this past Sunday, our church took the authority we have in the name of Jesus through the promise found in John 15:16 and we began to intercede on behalf of the North Highland community, and we began to ask God for greater things. We began to ask God to bind the deaf and mute spirit that hovers over our community and to bind the spirit of destruction. We began to beg that in return He would loose the Holy Spirit to invade our community and convict our streets of sin, righteousness, and judgement and that he would lead us into TRUTH. We began to ask, with one heart and mind, for a harvest of righteousness!
Members of Highland Community Church and/or supporters of Highland Community Church and Truth Spring, I know that this is somewhat of an unusual blog. However, I am convinced that the words found in this blog are the key to us having spiritual victory here in the North Highland community. I am also convinced that our victory will be directly connected to our prayer life. I beg you to please pray. May we find much encouragement and boldness from Jesus’ words found in John 15, “Ask anything in My name and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified by this that you bear much fruit.” This is it! This is the season of harvest! May the Lord fulfill all His promises to the North Highland community as His people, through much prayer, ask for His Spirit to be loosed among us.
How to pray for North Highland in 2018:
1). Ask for God to start cleansing our community, starting with Highland Community Church.
2). Ask God to bind the deaf and mute spirit that hovers over our community whose influence brings about a desire to destroy one’s life.
3). Ask God to loose His Holy Spirit in our community and that the Holy Spirit would convict us of sin and lead us into truth.
“This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:29
- Carrie Strickland