Every morning, I have two prayer times. My first is my horizontal prayer time, when I wake up and just thank the Lord to show and appreciate Him just because, because, because of who He is and what He has already done.
On a particular morning a few weeks ago, I woke up to get ready for a meeting but had my eyes were still closed because I was having my first prayer time and I had my earplugs in. I felt my dog jump up on the bed next to me, which is normal; then I felt this presence and I thought my wife sat down next to me.
Through my earplugs, I heard the word "Zoe." And that was it, just "Zoe." I thought my wife was trying to wake me up, but when I opened my eyes she was not there, and my dog was not there. I realized it was the Lord.
As I began to process over the next few days and ponder it in my heart, I wondered, "What is He trying to tell me?" I heard it so clearly and audibly in my head.
Zoe means "life," but not just any kind of life—it means living out the fullness of life with God. Another word that comes from the same root word is "Zao," which means "the breath of life" and is used in the context of coming alive again and being resurrected.
The Lord is calling us back to place of the Zoe life, or divine God-life. We need to manifest God's Word because His Word is true. We need to speak truth because we need the Zoe life, the God-life, to manifest in more ways than ever before. We need, as a church, to awaken from our slumber because the hour is late.
Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). He also said, "I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). That's the Zoe life!
That's the life God wants to give us, the divine life so that we can manifest His breath of life to a world that desperately needs him. They need the good news that only comes from Him.
Culture of Death
Less than two weeks after I got this word from the Lord, our nation was rocked by the news of two horrific mass shootings, causing senseless deaths in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, less than 24 hours apart. My response to the shootings was published online by Charissma News, and said:
There are many factors that have incubated and manifested such human depravity in our culture today. There is no doubt there are ugly and dark unseen forces and a spiritual battle being raged. Our hope is in the Lord, and our responsibility as the church is to be a tangible expression of God's comfort, healing and hope in the midst of all the suffering. Jesus said in Luke 21:13, 'But it shall (should) be an occasion for your testimony.' Rather than being caught up in the fray of personal opinions, bantering and fodder, may we remember to be sensitive, and be Christ-like examples in the midst of all the heartache, pain and suffering.
We live in a culture that battles over the value of life. There is a war being waged to desensitize us all to death and destruction; or, on the other extreme, to make us so afraid that we cower in the darkness. We today, like Rachael, should be weeping at the sacrifice and slaughter of our children (on every level); and like Elizabeth, we should be rejoicing at the emergence of a prophetic generation who will go forth as revivalists and forerunners. We must speak Zoe life (and the Word) over, for and to this generation.
The church has the answer for the world today, but we need the breath of God! We need the life of God, the Zoe of God, to move in and through us so we can make an impact on our culture—so we can live the life God intended for us. God is stirring in the mulberries (2 Sam. 5:24). The breath of God has begun to blow, regardless of the difficulties we see around us.
3 Keys to Walk in the Zoe Life
How can we walk in the fullness of the Zoe life? I believe three important things we can do is:
- Pull down every vain imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5). When the devil tries to deceive us with lies to discourage us and make us feel unqualified, we must respond by pulling down the vain imaginations that come against our identity as a child of God. We must know the character and nature of God. We must be in His presence and stay in His Word.
There's something about the Word that changes our capacity so we can do more than we ever thought possible. As Jesus did when tempted by the devil in the wilderness, we overcome the devil's lies with the truth. When you don't know what else to do you speak the Word, speak what you know. Because the Word never fails.
My heart was broken recently when I heard about a pastor I knew who ended his own life. He had a powerful ministry and was just a great guy. There is spiritual darkness, a deep funk, looming over people and they are succumbing to the lies of the evil one. May we remember our Zoe life is found in God. Is it He who "called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Pet. 2:9b, MEV).
When Adam and Eve hid from God after they sinned in the garden, He asked them, "Who told you that you were naked?" (Gen. 3:11a). We need to ask ourselves this same type of question. Who told us we're not smart enough? Who told us we're not good enough? Not old enough? Or too old? That vain imagination is anything the devil is lying to you about. Remember, he is referred to as the serpent, meaning he is cunning, sly and deceptive. When we have been in the presence of the Lord, the sly, cunning and deceptive one tries to question God and His Word over us, thus planting seeds of doubt that places vain imaginations in our thoughts.
Each year I am part of the global summit of the Christian Men's Network and the Global Fatherhood Initiative, of which I serve on the board. Last October, 2018, I was the kick-off speaker, as I've often been over the years. Later that day, Bishop T.D. Jakes spoke and shared something that resonated with me. He mentioned that as we go through life and age, we may not be able to do what he used to do, or be the man we used to be, but that doesn't mean we can't be the man (or woman) God has called us to be today and tomorrow.
The Japanese art of kintsugi has a meaning to find great value out of brokenness and a similar word, wabi-sabi, has come to mean finding beauty in seeming imperfections, including finding beauty in the aging process. The Lord is our wise master potter who takes broken vessels and out of our brokenness makes us more valuable and more beautiful than before. Don't let vain imaginations from the enemy make you doubt your worth. Even in our brokenness, God can create something beautiful. We should not allow the enemy to deceive us into comparing ourselves with others or with what society determines as valuable or beautiful. We don't need to be on the cover of some fitness magazine, beauty or business magazine to have great value. I think of great influencers like, Nick Vujicic, our brother in the Lord from Australia. He was born with no limbs. In the natural, he doesn't fit the societal prototype of greatness, but God has used him in a powerful way to impact untold numbers of people around the world. In Christ, he is truly successful and beautiful and of great value!
- Fix your gaze on the Lord. (Heb. 12:2-3). The book of Genesis tells us the tree of life was in the middle of the Garden of Eden. But when the serpent questions Eve in Chapter 3, she replies: ""We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die'" (Gen. 3:2b-3). She is referring here to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which shows us her focus has shifted. Instead of "life" being at the center of everything, she is centered on the one thing she cannot have.
As it did with Eve, deception comes when we no longer fix our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2-3 tells us to look unto Him, "the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls."
In the midst of a storm, an eagle is able to soar above the clouds by fixing its gaze on the brightness of the sun. Likewise, when we go through the storms of life, we must look past the clouds and fix our gaze on the brightness of the Son. It's in that place we find our Zoe-Zao life.
- Speak Zoe life. The word "Zoe" appears in the New Testament at least 135 times, and the word "Zao" appears 142 times. God has a message for us here! He wants us to return to the tree of life, to get back to living a Zoe life! We need to speak Zoe life over one another—over our spouses, our children, the situations in our life that seem impossible.
Scripture tells us the importance and impact of our words:
- "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21a).
- "It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life" (John 6:63).
- "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so" (James 3:10).
We should be speaking life over people, speaking that which is not as though it were. We need to know the wiles of the enemy so we can respond with the life of the Word—it is written.
In Exodus 17, God told Moses to strike the rock and water would come out for the people to drink. Later, in Numbers 20, God said speak to the rock. Moses disobeyed by striking the rock, as he had done before, and it cost him dearly.
We all have a tendency to do what we're comfortable doing, or doing what we've done before, especially if we've been walking with the Lord a long time. "Well, God did it that way before. God did it that way for that person." In Moses' case, God did not tell him strike the rock again; He said do something different this time.
What does this mean to us? As Christians, Jesus was struck on the cross for us. He is the rock—the rock of our salvation. He was struck for our salvation, healing, liberation and deliverance. And now God says, "You don't have to strike Him again—use His Word and speak to the rock, speak His Word! Speak Zoe life!"
Don't lean on what you've done before or on your own understanding. It's time to hear from God and receive fresh manna and a fresh revelation. We can look at the landmarks in the past, but we should seek and ask God for what He wants us to do today to get us ready for tomorrow.
Speak Zoe life into your situation, because God's Word never comes back void.
Breath of Life
On the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to leave the next day, preached to them and continued his message until midnight.There were many lamps in the upper room where they were assembled.A young man named Eutychus sat in the window, falling into a deep sleep as Paul spoke for a longer time. Being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third floor and was taken up dead. Paul went down and leaned over him, and embracing him said, "Do not be troubled, for he is alive." When he had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed for a long while until dawn and departed. They took the lad in alive and were greatly comforted (Acts 20:7-12).
Sometimes our spirit man is so overwhelmed with stress and the pressures of life that we don't even realize we have fallen asleep. We fall to our death, so to speak. But the word for "alive" in verse 12 is Zao, showing us that God's life spoken in the right situation and the right scenario can resurrect us.
We see a similar story in Ezekiel 37, where God breathes His Zao life into the valley of dry bones. The breath of God can help us rise up to a place of hope in the midst of difficulties. God is saying to us again, "Wake up! Speak Zoe life!"
"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
God wants to turn things around. He wants to take our dry bones and breathe the Zoe-Zao life back into them. He wants to take us from that place of slumber and discouragement into a place of hope. He wants to speak life to us and He wants to breathe His breath of life into us, into our situations, and into communities and nation.
Isaiah 60:1 tells us: "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord shall rise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you."
This is where God has us right now. Why? Because the "suddenly" is about to happen! He wants us to be ready so that when the breath of His life comes, He can ignite our hearts and fulfill His destiny in you and me and the corporate body of Christ.
Let's position ourselves to receive His Zoe-Zao life as we pull down vain imaginations, fix our eyes on Jesus and speak life over ourselves, others and our situations. It's time for us to live in His fullness!
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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