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Moving Out of Spiritually Dry Places

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If the Prophet Isaiah were with us today, he might repeat a declaration from the 43rd chapter of the prophetic book he penned. Since he’s among the great cloud of witnesses, I’ll make this Spirit-led declaration instead. Behold, the Lord is doing a new thing! We need to move forward with His Spirit so we don’t get left behind in the desert.

Interestingly, Isaiah was the same prophet who announced John the Baptist’s day, another time when the Lord was doing a ‘new thing.’ John was a voice crying in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3). The Bible says he was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb, and when he launched his ministry – to prepare a way for the Lord – he was visibly anointed.

In fact, despite his less-than-luxurious meeting place, his uncouth exterior and his fire and brimstone message, the Baptist probably drew some of the largest crowds since Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal hundreds of years earlier. The Bible says people went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.

As anointed as was John, though, there came One mightier: Jesus of Nazareth. Baptizing Jesus and announcing him as the “Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” was among John’s last assignments. Indeed, this was a defining moment in both men’s ministries.

Move out of spiritually dry placesThe spiritual burden to usher in the Kingdom of God would shift from John to Jesus. John had done his duty. He was decreasing that Jesus might increase. Or you might say, the old move was now serving as a foundation for the new move. Sure, the old move was still bigger than the new move. John still had more disciples than Jesus. But it’s interesting to note that the ones who discerned the ways of God followed the Spirit – they followed Jesus. The ones who didn’t fell prey to religion.

Andrew was the first of John’s disciples to catch on to what the Spirit was doing. One day the Baptist was at the Jordan with two of his disciples. When Jesus walked by he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35). When the disciples heard him, they immediately followed Jesus. One of the disciples, Andrew, fetched Simon Peter and told him he had found the Messiah. From there, the movement began to gain momentum. Philip and Nathanael joined the revolution next, and the others soon followed until there were multitudes.

Not all of John’s disciples followed the Spirit, though, and some of them got religious. Remember when Jesus and John were both baptizing? John’s disciples were none too happy. They went to him and whined, “Rabbi, you know the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan? The one you authorized with your witness? Well, he’s now competing with us. He’s baptizing, too, and everyone’s going to him instead of us” (John 3:26 MSG).

Do you see the competitive, jealous, comparing religious spirit? They were upset because Jesus’ congregation was larger than John’s. Spoken like a true prophet, John tells his disciples that “This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines” (John 3:30 MSG). That’s just what happened. John soon landed in prison. The message he was preaching – “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” – didn’t fade away. Jesus picked up the same message and added to it. See, the former moves of God are treasures, foundations for what God plans to do next. New moves often spring forth from the former moves.

Even after John was put in prison, some of his disciples still didn’t have eyes to see or ears to hear. Soon, they would fall into the same mindset of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the ones their leader called a ‘brood of vipers.’ Yes, John’s disciples had the unmitigated gall to ask Jesus this pointed question: “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, [that is, abstain from food and drink as a religious exercise], but Your disciples do not fast?” (Matthew 9:14 AMP). Jesus’ response confirmed the transition to the new move. He said, “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:16-17).

You would have thought these disciples, who had studied under a man Jesus called the greatest of all prophets, would have had ears to hear, wouldn’t you? We don’t know for sure how they responded. Hopefully, they moved on with Jesus. That’s what John would have wanted for those to whom he imparted his prophetic insight while Jesus was awaiting His revealing.

What about you, prophet? Are you holding onto a past move that’s dried up? Or are you moving with God daily as He continues to reveal His plans and His ways? Ask God to show you if you’ve got some catching up to do. It’s never too late to follow the Spirit out of those spiritually dry places. The Message Bible puts it this way: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands” (Isaiah 43: 18-19). It’s 2008. Follow the river of God’s living water.

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