The Holy Spirit And The Counting Of The Omer
Part Two - Growing Up Unto Christ
The time between Passover and Pentecost is 50 days, the same number of days between Israel's deliverance from Israel and the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. The counting of the omer is the time in between these two powerful events that foreshadow our salvation and the baptism in the Holy Ghost. This is the time we actually count aloud each of these days, a foreshadowing of the waiting the disciples did in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. Some today are in the valley of decision on receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit just as many Jewish people today wait during this time for the celebration of the giving of the Law. The Holy Spirit is so needed today to guide us into ALL truth. He is truly our helper and counselor and power.
By Chris McDonald
TEXT: Acts 2:1 - And when the day of Pentecost was fully come...........................................
The Counting Of The Omer Is Supposed To Be A Time Of Growth
Classic Talmudic commentators say that the days of counting the Omer were used by God to increase Israel's spirituality and level of commitment to Him. He knew what lie ahead in the days to come and knew that many would fall by the way side along this journey. This necessity for self-growth is stressed in the Torah's description of Abraham: "Abraham was old, he came with his days" (Genesis 24:1). "He came with his days" teaches us that Abraham used each of his days to the fullest extent. At the end of his life, he came to old age "with all his days" in hand. No day was without its requisite growth.
Our natural growth is similar to our spiritual growth. When we are babes in Christ, our level of responsibility is not as great as when we are in Christ for a longer period of time. You don't expect a 10-year-old to act the same way he did at age five. But somehow as adults, we lose that impulse to continue growing. Yet should a 30-year-old act as he did at age 25? As adults, we could be using those five years in a very powerful way.
The formula for staying young physically is to continue growing. Losing that capacity at any age is tragic. Any time we're not growing and changing, we're not living. We're just existing. Friend, God wants us to GROW up into CHRIST! Spiritual maturity is needed in our lives today. We need to be changed from glory to glory!
There are seven blessings of perfection or spiritual maturity we want to look at in this journal concerning the Holy Spirit and the counting of the Omer:
longer children (Ephes. 4:14)
God's Grace Is Always Progressive, Religion Is Not
A major impediment to spiritual growth is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. The biggest reason people fail is that they have set a goal which is too lofty and unattainable. We inevitably fall short and get discouraged.
In Jacob's famous dream, God shows him a vision of a ladder reaching toward heaven. Spiritual growth, like climbing a ladder, must be one step at a time. By setting small, incremental goals, we will be encouraged by the periodic success. Take pleasure in the times you achieved your goal, and use that as a motivation to improve further. Don't castigate yourself if you do not always succeed. No human being is perfect. The Kabbalists say that spiritual growth is "two steps forward and one step back." We will inevitably have setbacks. What's important is that we're heading in the right direction. Grace is always progressive and rejoices in PROGRESS.
There are some people who are bound by a spirit of demonic perfection. EVERYTHING has to be just perfect before they will join themselves to it or sponsor it. That is not God's system of ministry. The Holy Spirit is changing us each day "from glory to glory."
King Solomon tells us in Proverbs (24:16): "The Tzaddik falls seven times and gets up." The definition of a Tzaddik is not someone who never makes a mistake, but rather someone who, although he may fail, does not give up. He tries again and does not despair!
Abraham, it is said, "staggered not in unbelief," at the promise of God. But we know from reading his history that Abraham staggered all over the place reaching the place where he trusted the Lord like he should. That is not a contradiction in statements. It means that no matter how many times Abraham failed God, he got up and never quit. And neighbor before you begin this journey into maturity, you must understand that you and I are going to fail sometimes. It's not that we should or shouldn't fail, it's what we do when we fail. We are but flesh and the Lord understands that. What the Lord does not tolerate though is arrogance and pride that puffs us up and keeps us from seeking HIS FACE and allowing the Holy Spirit to change us. God RESISTS the proud, but gives GRACE to the humble.
Religion keeps count of your progress in such a way if you fail more than once you are automatically labeled as sinful and wicked. We are such hypocrites sometime in the body. We are so quick to judge others based upon their actions but when we judge ourselves we always judge ourselves based upon our intentions! Our neighbor uses a cuss word and he's "not right with God I guess." We use that same cuss word by accident and "we just lost our temper, we're ok with God!" Sound familiar? "They smoke those cigarettes because they are just a bunch of backsliders." When we smoke a cigarette, "it's just one of those habits I'm dealing with." That is religion and it stinks to high heaven in the nostrils of God. He is not pleased with those attitudes in our hearts. Religion will tear down someone seeking to find their way with God instead of building them up. God's process of Grace gives room for failure but it does not give room for presumptuous sin. What you did two years ago you're not doing today. As Christians we seek NOT to find reasons to sin, but we find reasons to live for righteousness. If we fail, we repent quickly and continue striving to overcome those sins in our lives and hearts.
3. Spiritual Maturity Is A Call For Us To Be Grounded In The Truth
The real truth is JESUS. ALL TRUTH IS IN HIM! HE is the substance of what we believe. If what we are listening to is pushing us and challenging us to become more like CHRIST then we can be sure what we are listening to is from God. If what we are listening to is causing us to become more like our fellow man or become indoctrinated in a certain creed or movement, we can be sure it is false. Secular humanism has seeped into the church in these last days and the gospel most hear is nothing more than wrapped up New-Age humanism. It's a message that elevates man to a place where man controls his life and is able to make himself better through a myriad of methods and operations. The church bites into this apple with great glee offering sinful man psychology and a sort of all other formulas for victory.
Let me tell you something this day. Hear what the SPIRIT says to the church friend. There is NO other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved and that is the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Christ crucified and the power of His death on the cross is the only answer for man's ills and bondages. The alcoholic will never be free by sitting on a shrink's sofa but by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sir, your marriage is going to hell in a hand basket, NOT because you are having psychological "issues" with intimacy. The issue is not about your emotional state, it's about SIN. SIN is the problem. It may be both parties, it may be the husband or it may be the wife - but SIN is the problem. And when SIN is the issue, there is only one remedy for sin and that is the finished work of Christ and the blood of the Lord Jesus.
This message is shoved out the door by most churches today and is rejected by many. But when the dust clears and all is revealed in the day of the Lord, I pray I be found embracing the cross of Christ at all costs because it is the POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION to those who believe. It is FOOLISHNESS to them who perish. When the storms of time come, friend the anchor that will keep you safe through the storm is the power of the blood of Jesus. NOTHING in my hand I bring, SIMPLY TO THY CROSS I'll CLING! TRUTH is centered around His finished work, not man's ability to bring himself out of man's horrible pit. Man is more lost than man will ever want to admit. When God found us, He found a MESS. NOTHING was worth saving. Nothing He saw was worth shedding blood for - but HE DID. Because of HIS MERCY and GRACE to a rebellious, fallen, hell-bound human race, He broke the chains of darkness and set mankind free from all His ills. And when the church ceases to place its faith in what HE HAS DONE, we have apostatized.
In these last days, to grow up unto Christ, we must be GROUNDED in the TRUTH. We must have an encounter with the one whom the truth embodies - CHRIST.
I can tell you from my own experiences that I am not even close to this. I know many times the Lord has tried to speak to me and because of my being "dull of hearing," I have not heard His voice. Many times when we do things that are our own will and not His it's because we have not heard from Him and done things according to our own heart, not His. It's a serious issue in the body today. How many churches have been built in the name of man, instead of a God-given ordained call? How many ministries are being built right now on a man-birthed revelation instead of God?
I had lunch with a dear pastor friend this week who serves on the pastoral staff of a huge church in N. Georgia. One thing he told me that is happening in his community is the utter shamelessness of division among many church pastors and leaders. There is such a sectarian spirit today that says if you don't belong to us and don't believe the way we do then we don't want to fellowship with you or have any thing to do with what you may be doing for God. 90% of the problem he said was so many splits among the churches as men seek to build a kingdom to themselves and not God. We are DULL OF HEARING and BABES. There is coming a separation to the church soon of those who will say "NO" to this type of outreach.
Satan said "I will 'make' myself just like the most High." And the church world today is trying to 'make' themselves like God instead of allowing the Lord to change our hearts and make us what HE wants us to be, not what our denominations tell us we should be. There is an experience, a pillar of fire experience, that separates the true from the false. The false will agree with salvation, but it won't touch the glory of God. The false counterfeit spirit will walk side by side with the true move of God, but when it comes time to become partakers of the pillar of fire, the rubber hits the road and it reveals itself as one from the enemy, not the Lord.
THAT SPIRIT INFESTS THE CHURCH today in an awful manner. The separation that is coming is going to divide the mature from those who continue to be dull of hearing and do not wish to change. We MUST be able to discern good and evil in these last days. The false spirit today that grips the body looks so much like God that as Jesus spoke, 'even the very elect,' would be deceived if possible. One of the main components of this false spirit is the attitude that the laity and the clergy are two separate entities and the laity must answer to the clergy in matters pertaining to God.
Friend, I believe in godly submission, but when it comes to Chris McDonald's eternal soul and destiny, I am not putting that in ANY man's hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO YOU HEAR WHAT I SAY TO YOU. I am the one responsible for my eternal soul. I am the one responsible for the intimacy level between me and my Lord Jesus. A preacher or a priest cannot purchase intimacy for you. But the church preaches "submission, submission, submission," and hides a more sinister spirit that seeks to destroy the TRUE work of the HOLY GHOST in one's lives. PREACHER, PASTOR, you are NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is your job to lead the sheep to a deeper level of intimacy with Christ through the HOLY SPIRIT. The reason most of our people are neck deep in deception is the fact we have not allowed the Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of Truth, to keep us from evil and deception. Spiritual maturity is a state where we are not tossed to and fro and we're free from the spirits of deception. We HEAR the voice of God for OURSELVES, not because our preacher tells us it's ok or not ok to believe God.
5.Spiritual Maturity is a process leading us to speak the truth in love
6. We must grow up into him in all things and desire to grow constantly - the end result - UNITY
The end result of this work in our hearts will be true unity. As we write these words, we are days away from our Pentecost conference concerning the Jewish roots of our faith and the dynamics of the Jewish feast of Shavuot. One element of the day of Pentecost was the unity of the first church - they were all in "one accord." ALL things were common among them. No one had preeminence over the other. They were more than just a family unit, they were a functioning BODY for the Kingdom of God on the Earth. We are so busy building churches today that we have forgotten that our goal is not "church" it's the KINGDOM! When we become Kingdom minded it won't matter who gets the glory for what is going on. When we are Kingdom minded we won't become offended at the drop of a hat. When we become Kingdom minded the only aching desire of our heart will be intimacy with GOD and His Son Jesus Christ. When we become Kingdom minded the greatest cry coming from our hearts will NOT be "Lord, bless me, bless me, bless me," but "Lord, let me bless YOU, let me bless YOU, let me bless YOU" and as a result of that become a blessing, promise and WORD to others on a living, daily basis.
Our pastor spoke last night about the anointing and how it is vital we all have one. He was right on target. What I say now is not to change what he said but just add a thought. Anointing IS important without a doubt. To do the works of Christ we must have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But to reach a generation bound by the gross powers of darkness this generation faces today we must also have AUTHORITY in heaven to go along with that anointing. It's not just enough to cast out devils. It's not just enough to do many wonderful works. Many will stand before Jesus one day having done those things to be cast out of the Kingdom because as He said, "I never knew you." You can have an anointing and not know Christ. You can have power and not have Kingdom credentials. If you don't believe me, ask Judas Iscariot. He was as anointed as any of the other11 while on Earth walking with Jesus. But he never had authority in heaven. Spiritual maturity is when we walk in both anointing AND authority. A better word for authority is intimacy perhaps but it goes even beyond intimacy. It goes to REALITY. A reality of walking, talking, seeing, experiencing the FATHER, Son and HOLY GHOST on a daily basis.
7:20-21 - Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.  Not
every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew
7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name
done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew
you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
As I close this short journal series let me say a few things. I have not reached this place yet. I dare say that any of you reading this journal to this point can say "I have reached this place." Only the proud and immature boast of such things. True maturity always, always, always, always keeps us in a place of humility knowing that we still have room to grow. About three weeks ago a close friend of mine and me had a breakdown in communication and as a result I got very hurt at him. I stewed and stewed and stewed for a week vowing to cut off the relationship and yada yada yada. I thought something he did was deliberate and took it offensively. Since it had to do with ministry it made it that much worse. Up until that point I had really been "proud" of myself thinking "boy, I sure am growing in Christ!"
When this happened it shattered my view of the level of maturity I THOUGHT I was at. I realized that I was so far off from the level of spiritual growth God wanted me it made me weep for many days after.
And that is my point in bringing this up. You and I may THINK we are mature when at that very moment God sends something along the way, or allows a close friend to hurt us, to show us just how desperately in NEED OF HIM we still are and always will be! My friend and I have reconciled since then but it opened my eyes to the fact that I'm FAR from where I need to be with Jesus. I am part of the Body of Christ. I am PART, not the WHOLE! Things that happen to me and around me do not necessarily have anything to do with ME, but they have EVERYTHING TO DO WITH HIM! When I get sensitive and become offended at what people say about me - I'm acting immature. When I refuse to seek reconciliation in matters and hold grudges and resentments, I'm acting immature. When I seek religious experiences instead of seeking intimacy with God, I'm acting immature. When I seek to build a ministry, instead of seeking to build the Kingdom, I'm acting immature.
Let me encourage you as I close here. This process of maturity may be painful, lonely, heart breaking and at times make you feel like giving up. DON'T LOSE HEART! The Lord's chastening of us is to produce FRUIT, not destroy us. He will never leave us or forsake us in this journey. It may feel like it at times, but He is always there. His grace is sufficient to keep us safe in the dark days and bring great relief and blessing in the brighter days. Some of you are going through things right now and you don't understand why. It's the season of omer in the church. The Lord is bringing us into maturity in a way that we have never seen before. His love will produce this in us, not the Law.
The counting of the omer is a call to spiritual growth and maturity. Our pastor told the church last night that it's time to grow up. The church we attend is about two years old now, Lisa and I having attended for six months now, and is at the same growth level as it was when it basically started. The pastor's call to us is my call to you today - GROW UP UNTO CHRIST. Throw everything aside and abandon yourselves to seeking HIS FACE and intimacy with HIM. Come along side today with Him on the Emmaus Road and allow His words to cause your heart to BURN inside. His words always do! Man's words leave us empty and wanting more. Anointing is great and God knows the church needs all the anointing it can get, but AUTHORITY is more important. As we count the omer up to Pentecost, let us move on unto perfection not laying again the foundation of dead works as we become more like JESUS.
Heavenly Father, in Jesus name, forgive us Lord for seeking power, miracles and prosperity instead of seeking after YOU. Forgive your church today for its state of immaturity. Lord we know you love the church and want it to become mature, not wanting anything, not carried about with every wind of doctrine and sleight of men, but GROUNDED in the truth and centered on JESUS. Bring us to that place today during this Pentecost season in 2004. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.