I love a new year. It is a great time for change, a time for new priorities, a time for leaving the past behind and looking toward the future. For 2019, I have felt to pray and believe for things for which there is “NO PRECEDENT”.
Before I explain why these two words are my focus, I want to invite everyone reading this to join with my church, Grace Community Church, and me as we start our year strong with a week of prayer and fasting starting Sunday 1/13 through Saturday 1/19.
I will be posting a daily update starting Sunday morning with the daily prayer focus topic and pertinent Scriptures, which I encourage you to pray and declare over each topic.
Additionally, I want to encourage you to add some level of fasting to the week’s activities. There are many types of fasts and there are great benefits to pairing prayer and fasting together.
Now I want to describe my focus of “No Precedent”. When I think about the word precedent, the first thing that comes to my mind is the way it is used legally. Let me share that form of the definition.
The noun precedent means an example from the past that provides evidence for an argument. It is most commonly used in legal circles and, more specifically, can be described as a previously decided case that guides the decision of a future case.
- Having discovered a similar case in the past, the prosecution team used this precedent to support their argument.
- There is precedent with last year’s Smith versus Jones case. 1
Two other ways precedent is defined in Merriam Webster Dictionary is:
“Something done or said that may serve as an example or rule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same or an analogous kind a verdict that had no precedent; a person or thing that serves as a model” 2
I want to share one last example I found which is…
Precedent and the Supreme Court
“A precedent is something that precedes, or comes before. The Supreme Court relies on precedents—that is, earlier laws or decisions that provide some example or rule to guide them in the case they’re actually deciding. (For example) When hostages are being held for ransom, a government may worry about setting a bad precedent if it gives in…” 3
Now that we have considered many definitions of the word precedent, I want to contemplate “NO PRECEDENT”. What happens when a case comes before the Supreme Court for which there is no precedent? In this situation, there is no previous example to guide the decision making process. The judges are forced to look outside of just what they have experienced or read from the past, and they must now move forward with the facts, knowledge, and wisdom they have been given. There is no history, tradition, or precedent to guide their thought process.
Another way to consider this thought is inventions. Before something is discovered or invented, there is no precedent to guide the thought process about the discovery. Think about electricity as an example. Since electricity is a natural force that exists in our world, it didn’t have to be invented. It did however, have to be discovered and understood.
Most people give credit to Benjamin Franklin for discovering electricity, In 1752, Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment. In order to show that lightning was electricity, he flew a kite during a thunderstorm. He tied a metal key to the kite string to conduct the electricity. Building upon Franklin’s work, many other scientists studied electricity and began to understand more about how it works. For example, in 1879, Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb and our world has been brighter ever since! 4
We have all experienced times when due to a storm or technical issue we lost our electrical power. Most can’t imagine living life long term without electricity, yet before it was discovered, there was NO PRECEDENT for electricity and all the benefits it provides us. People didn’t sit around and say, “I sure wish someone would discover electricity, it sure would be great”. They didn’t know what they were missing because there was no precedent for it at that time.
Let’s consider an example that is near and dear to most of us, the mobile phone. At one time, we thought it was great to be able to sit attached to a cord and take turns using our phone with our neighbors for whom we shared our party line. At that time, there was NO PRECEDENT for this device called a mobile phone, which is now so much more than just a means of verbal communication. This gadget is our camera, GPS, computer, video gaming system, flashlight, calculator, dictionary, video camera, weatherman, photo album, mail, Bible, and so much more!
When the Lord began to challenge me with these two words, “NO PRECEDENT”, I was reminded of three specific images from my childhood church, where I started attending when I was only 4 years old.
The first image I was reminded of was an out-house! Unbelievably, I vividly remember having to go outside to a wooden building as a small child when I first started attending that small community church.
The second image I saw was the old church fan. That device made of cardboard and a wooden stick that we used to stay cool since there wasn’t any air conditioning! Thirdly, I remembered those hard wooden pews.
When indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and padded pews were available, the church embraced and welcomed these things. Why is it then that the church, is often less likely to accept the spiritual things for which there is no precedent?
- There was no precedent for a women until God formed Eve from the rib of Adam
- When Noah spent years and years building a boat on dry land, there was no precedent of rain
- There was no precedent for a baby being born from a virgin until Mary delivered Jesus
- There was no precedent for Moses’ burning bush or Saul’s bright light on the road to Damascus, but both of these men were never the same after these experiences.
Just because there was no precedent for any of these examples, does not make them any less real. Have you ever thought about what would have happened if Mary had said to the angel, “No thank you, I won’t carry the Son of God because there is no precedent for that!” Thankfully, she responded positively and said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). I don’t believe that meant that she totally understood everything, but she was willing to do something that had never been done to see God’s plan fulfilled!
Let’s consider the passage in Luke 5:36-39 from the New Living Translation.
36 Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. 37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”
Jesus’ comment in this passage concerns the Pharisees who rejected the “new wine” or the gospel and held that the “old wine” which was first century Judaism was better. Up to this time, there was no precedent for the gospel that is now being preached. Jesus was very controversial and not all believed or followed Him.
I could show you many examples, but this one has always stood out to me the most. Look with me at portions of John 6:53-67 NLT
53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.
60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” 61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.)
66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
The disciples felt that what Jesus was saying was very hard to accept. He was teaching them spiritual truths that didn’t make sense to their natural thinking. There was NO PRECEDENT for this type of teaching or believing. In fact, we read where many couldn’t accept it and they deserted Jesus.
Those who stayed had to make a decision, just because they had never seen what Jesus was doing before, just because they had never heard these teachings before, would they choose to have faith and believe or would they decide this is too hard and walk away.
I want to remind you of the verse I read earlier
“But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.” Luke 5:39 NLT
In 2019 are you content to say,
- What I have is just fine?
- Where I am with God is just fine?
- All the undiscovered bottomless things of God are just fine?
- Just getting by is just fine?
Do you remember what I said about electricity? It didn’t have to be invented, but it DID have to be discovered and understood. We need to be driven to discover and understand the bottomless things of God, EVEN THOSE FOR WHICH THERE IS NO PRECEDENT!
If you are like me, then you are not satisfied with “THIS IS JUST FINE” MENTALITY! In 2019, we have to be willing to put on some new flexible wine skins. What that means is we may have to be willing to sacrifice our own ideas, opinions, agendas, and preferences. We may have to sacrifice our time, our comfort zones, and our traditions!
Traditions can be a good thing; we just enjoyed a holiday season where I am sure many of you have traditions. Certain traditions can be healthy, but some can be harmful.
When tradition is doing something for the simple reason that we have always done it this way, it can inhibit growth and forward momentum. I heard the Lord speak to my spirit….this year choose ignition instead of tradition!
In that context, I am talking about tradition as doing something simply because we have always done it that way, even though God stopped directing that a long time ago.
When I think about IGNITION, it gives me the idea of a rocket ship launching. I believe God is challenging us to “Fan into flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to each of us” (2 Timothy 1:6). WE NEED TO BE IGNIGTED!
We need to dare to believe again, dream big again, and have faith to hope for the things we haven’t seen yet. Even the things for which there is NO PRECENDENT!
I opened with definitions of the word precedent, now let me take you to the Bible’s definition of “NO PRECEDENT”.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV
9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
I particularly love that last verse in the Amplified Bible; it says, “The bottomless things of God”! While I know that we often think this passage only pertains to heaven, I believe it also applies to earth. There are some things that eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and man has not even thought of that God wants to do for His people to advance His kingdom.
Are you someone who wants 2019 to be full of the things God has that eye has not seen and ear has not heard? If that is you, let me give you some next steps.
- It’s a new year and it is time for a new wine skin! We need to get alone with God and allow Him to renew our mind and transform us from unhealthy tradition to ignition.
- We must avoid imposing past traditional structures on present renewals. We should understand that yesterday’s forms are often incapable of handling today’s dynamic of spiritual renewal
- Make prayer a priority! Plan now to be a part of our week of prayer and fasting starting this Sunday January 13th.
- Ask God to show you specific things that you are to pray and believe for in 2019. Then write it down. This will keep you focused throughout the year.
- Begin now to plan how you will participate in the fast. Write down your plan so you will be more likely to stick with it.
- NEW BEGINNINGS….BELIEVE AGAIN!
- I realize that sometimes it is easier to settle, to feel like the old is good enough, but I am here to challenge you to hope and expect again.
- It is important to inspect what you expect. Set some goals; write down what you are expecting God to do in the coming days. Have courage to believe again, even if you have been disappointed, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and dare to believe again!
- Stay persistent! Many people plan to change the way they eat or the way they exercise at the New Year. The reality is, the majority will not even make that change last until the end of the month. If you go back to the old ways, you never have anything new. If you want something you have never had, you are going to have to do something you have never done.
I am asking God to help me let my guard down; to not be afraid to believe for the big things. I am asking Him to change any doubt into faith, and to give me some bulldog tenacity and persistence to stay with it until the end. I want to keep on believing for the things I see with my spirit eyes regardless of what I see with my natural eyes. Will you believe with me this year?
- Web. 1 Jan. 2019. http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily confused/precedence precedent.htm
- “Precedent.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
- Web. 1 Jan. 2019. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/precedent
- Web. 1 Jan. 2019. wonderopolis.org/wonder/who-discovered-electricity