As those feathers rained down upon my garden yesterday, they spoke of a sudden end to flight; a seemingly harsh cutting short of a life story. But, as always with the Holy Spirit as our Guide, there is more to the scene than meets the eye. Following on from the digging out of the feather encounter from a few years back, He placed His finger on yet another bird experience which spoke volumes to me. The communion wine is available for us to partake of because the Lord of Life shed His Blood for us, and no doubt the release of the end-time wine, the blood of grapes, will be accompanied by the sound of the blood of many martyrs calling for the full harvest to be brought in. With this in mind, see how beautifully the Spirit taught me to see this from His perspective:
This is for the Birds!
I came out one morning and found the cat crouching over a little bird with red feet and a red beak. It was just sitting there and did not seem to be attempting to get away. I disposed of the cat and then checked on the little creature. It was still seated in exactly the same position and did not seem to be afraid. I tried to pick it up but it flew off a little way and settled down again. I was so relieved that it could fly because that meant it was able to flee to safety if the cat came near it again. The second time it allowed me to pick it up and I carried it gently to the other side of the garden and set it down. Still it was in no hurry to get away and displayed no fear. I spent the rest of the day rejoicing at the demonstration of those saints who have tarried until they received power to fly on the thermals of the Spirit.
Little did I know that the story was not over. At supper time I was walking through the dining room and there on the carpet was my little red-footed friend, lying on its back, dead and cold. I couldn’t believe it and distraught, asked the Lord what this meant. How could the cat have got this bird? It could fly – surely that meant it was safe from the enemy? Quietly, the Holy Spirit dropped a scripture into my heart;
Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
He continued, “this bird represents those who will lose their lives for the sake of the gospel. The red feet speak of the shoes of the gospel of peace. The red beak represents them overcoming by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”
Rev 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: Rev 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Rev 6:11 And white robes were given to every one of them; and it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
And then I understood that, just as in the first century when the disciples spilled from the upper room full of the Holy Ghost and power and yet many of them were martyred for the sake of the Gospel, so too some of those equipped to fly in the coming days will lose their lives. The church in the east understands this well as they have lived with persecution for some time already. However, I felt that the Spirit wanted to prepare the hearts of those of His tarrying saints in the west; that they would not be alarmed and thrown off course when persecution for the sake of the gospel breaks out openly.
Jesus Himself warned His disciples what lay ahead for them:
Luk 21:16 And you shall be betrayed also by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends. And they will cause some of you to be put to death. Luk 21:17 And you shall be hated by all for My name’s sake.
Luk 21:18 But there shall not a hair of your head perish.
This seems a contradiction – some of you shall be put to death BUT not a hair of your head will perish! How is that possible? In Jesus’ conversation with Martha at the grave of Lazarus, He again says something seemingly contradictory:
Joh 11:25 Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. Joh 11:26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?
It all revolves around our concept of when eternal life begins. Do we believe that when we die, we begin to live eternally? It seems that the teachings of Jesus concerning eternal life are different to this:
Joh 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My Word and believes on Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.
The passing from death to eternal life occurs at salvation, when we are born of the incorruptible Seed of Christ. The death of the mortal body is merely a passing from one realm to another, the laying down of the perishable. This is why Paul could say, “for me to live is Christ. To die is gain”. When we really have a revelation that we have begun to walk out eternal life now in the earth, it changes our view of facing death. With our feet on planet earth, we are able to walk in constant communion with the Creator of the Universe. Death does not change that, it only enhances it!
Back to the picture of the little red-footed bird! These saints who have tarried and received the latter rain outpouring carry the message of the gospel of PEACE. This is the message of the cross – that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, that the price of building that bridge has been paid.
Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those dwelling on the earth, even to every nation and kindred and tongue and people, Rev 14:7 saying with a great voice, Fear God and give glory to Him! For the hour of His judgment has come. And worship Him who made the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
During the time of God’s judgment, the everlasting gospel is preached to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. It is carried by a messenger flying in the midst of heaven, not a messenger dwelling on earth. This speaks of those who are dwelling in heavenly places, seated in Christ at the right hand of God carrying the eternal gospel to the ends of the earth. Remember the little bird remained seated even when the cat was poised over it? These saints are not intimidated by the threats of the enemy and perilous situations do not cause them to abandon their seated place in Christ, nor fail to fulfill the assignment they have been given.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and those dwelling in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and in the sea! For the Devil came down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a little time.
Those who dwell in heavenly places can rejoice in the midst of tribulation because they dwell in the presence of the Father and drink from the river of Life which flows from the throne. However, the devil has a short time left and in these end times there comes a great attack upon anyone truly bears His Name, is a dwelling place of God and carries His presence:
Rev 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. Rev 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
We must remember that when a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it yields a rich harvest. Much has been spoken of the great end-time harvest that is about to come in. We must realize that the reaping of it will come at the laying down of the lives of many saints for the cause of the gospel.
In our comfort-based western style of living, any form of self-denial or suffering is avoided. Even in the Church, we have stopped preaching the eternal gospel and turned to ear-tickling doctrines which possess no power to equip believers for the Day that is upon us. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture has further served to make believers totally unprepared for that which they will face. Jesus told us that in the day of the Lord there would be ‘men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth’. However, He did not intend for His bond-slaves to be in the same state. He intended for us to have boldness in the day of judgment:
1Jo 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God has in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1Jo 4:17 In this is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, that as He is, so also we are in this world.
That little bird displayed no fear, even when faced with the enemy. In the same way, those who abide in God and God in them, will walk in holy boldness as all is shaken around them. As Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, so are we in this world. We have access to the same resources, the same power, the same wisdom. We have an ever-deepening revelation of the love of God which caused Him to send His Son. We have revelation of the love Christ had which caused Him to lay down His life willingly and we know that death could not hold Him – therefore we have no fear.
1Jo 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He who fears has not been perfected in love.
We need to be perfected in love in order to be free of fear. This word ‘perfect’ comes from a root word meaning ‘of full age, man, complete’. There is a completing, a maturing unto full manhood which must come to the Body of Christ through the revelation of God’s love in these end-times. Jesus came to deliver those who have a fear of death. Sadly there are many Christians who are even now held captive by this fear unnecessarily.
Heb 2:14 Since then the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same; that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death (that is, the Devil),
Heb 2:15 and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Beloved, it is no longer necessary to be afraid of death. The death of Jesus destroyed him who had the power of death and now Jesus holds the keys of death. You will not die until the day appointed by the Father for His glory and the extension of His kingdom. All the days of your life were written in His book before one of them came to be.
Rev 1:17 … And He laid His right hand upon me, saying to me, Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, Rev 1:18 and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.
No form of suffering is able to separate you from the love of God because you are dwelling in Him and He in you.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Rom 8:36 As it is written, “For Your sake we are killed all the day long. We are counted as sheep of slaughter.” Rom 8:37 But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us. Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Rom 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For those of us who have been laying down our lives daily, we have been playing out a multitude of dress-rehearsals for that day, should we be called upon to lay our lives down or shed our blood for the cause of the gospel. Just as rehearsals for a play put the actors through their paces so that on opening night they know exactly what they must do, so too you have been put through your paces by the Spirit of God. As Paul said, “we die daily”. Death has no sting and the grave has no victory because of the glorious victory of Christ Jesus.
Remember also that the dead body of that red-beaked bird lay in my dining-room. This is the place where meals are served. Those overcomers who carry the eternal gospel of the power of the Blood of the Lamb and lay down their lives for His purposes, will feed many with the meat of the Word. Our lives are His, to use for His glory however He deems best. So let the same purpose that Paul expressed to the Philippians be our determined endeavor:
Phi 1:20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that I shall be ashamed in nothing, but as always now Christ shall be magnified in my body with all boldness, whether it is by life or by death.