Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope that you had a memorable time of worship and fellowship with God and others over this holiday! We are just a couple of days beyond Christmas so giving you a post birth scripture account to meditate upon. Maybe you are just finding time to wind down after the hustle and bustle of the season. Hoping you take a few moments to sit quietly with God and consider Simeon's joy! His joy is to be our joy as well!
Luke 2: 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the LORD's Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign LORD, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."
Verse 25 uses a phrase "the consolation of Israel". Simeon was a man who had a life mission to see it. Consolation is a calling near for comfort, solace, encouragement, refreshment. Clearly Simeon was a good man who was burdened for God to draw near His people as One who comforts. He did not want to die before seeing that promised Messiah, and God was good to share His secret with Simeon! He sent the Holy Spirit to tell Simeon that indeed he would see the promised Messiah!
It's such a tender, awe inspiring moment, which I think Ron DiCianni's artwork of "Simeon's Moment" above captures. There is inexpressible elation in his face! There are tears of joy and clearly some sound of holy praise coming from a place deep within. He held the Holy Promise in his arms! There was no doubt in Simeon. He recognized the promise as foretold by the Holy Spirit. He was led by the Holy Spirit to enter the temple at the exact right time! And Mary and Joseph were also led straight to him to perform the circumcision, cleanse Mary, and accept their offerings.
Have you ever imagined holding the Son of God in your arms? Do you have a heart response similar to Simeon? God's greatest and highest call is for us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind. Love deepens the more we realize how desperately we need God's forgiveness, the reason the holy child was sent.
Luke 7:47- Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus knows the depth of your love and whether it is surface based or if you are one to unashamedly bow at his feet like the wise men did. Do you read that as a guilt message or an opportunity to more deeply experience the goodness of God? The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy, Psalm 103:8. He is right there waiting and longing for more time with you. Are you satisfied with where you are with God or do you long for more? He promises to openly reward those who go into their prayer closets and talk with Him, Matthew 6:6!
Meditate upon whether or not you are moved to emotion when you worship God. Can you connect with inexpressible joy because of God's love and sacrifice for your sins? Are you free in your time with God to unashamedly pour out your thanksgiving and marvel at His holiness? Do you have goals and longings related to experiencing God at a deeper level in the coming year?
Into the Waters will continue holding online sessions to give you an opportunity to linger in God's presence and deepen your relationship with Him. The sessions help you sit with the LORD, talk to Him, and get to know Him better. He is openly rewarding those who have been attending! A January session will be announced next week! May you join!
Until then, meditate on God as consolation, as comforter. Close your eyes; and do what Simeon did. Hold the Son of God as a newborn, born to die for you. Have you held a baby with a thought, "This child was born to die for me?" It's ludicrous to even think it, except if you are talking about Christ the Messiah. Note during your meditation that Simeon told Mary some very profound truths about who the child was, one who would pierce souls, including her own. See Luke 2:35. If any thoughts of fear or condemnation come up, remember again He is CONSOLATION (COMFORTER). Evaluate your emotional attachment to God. Review areas where you need more joy, where you need a new level of intimacy that brings freedom with God as your Comforter. Ask God to wake you up if you have no passion or desire to press in for more of God. Time is so short! May you invest now in deep fellowship with the heart of God! It is where your life can be made new by God's tender mercies every morning. Great is God's faithfulness, Lamentations 3:23!
Isaiah 9:6- For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
If these blogs have been a blessing to you, please consider an end of year donation! Thank you for your consideration! See our donate page to make a tax deductible offering!
The quote of "I just can't take it anymore" is what I am hearing from people without hope, the other is a testimony full of renewed hope after an Into the Waters led meditation session done for a private group. As you read, evaluate if you lean more towards not being able to take it anymore or more towards, “This is the breakthrough I’ve needed for awhile.”
Regarding the first quote, a couple of days a week I talk with many, many people about what they are dealing with emotionally, mentally, and physically. It is a secular setting, not a ministry setting. I am not allowed to openly talk about God in this setting, which is very limiting and frustrating to me. There have been times however, where I broke protocol in gentle ways, out of intense burden. I simply share in some way, "I will be praying for you." It has always been well received. However for the 99.9% of distressing situations I hear about, I have to just do the best I can to offer words that comfort and acknowledge their pain. Would have to say of late, the words I offer are momentary, split seconds of kindness that don't take them beyond our call. Over the last 2 weeks have been deeply burdened by talking to a parent after their young child was raped, people whose sleeplessness is taking their sanity, anxiety and depression so severe people are going on disability, violent behaviors of family members seemingly possessed by "something" not of themselves, I am newly hearing and regularly hearing, "I just can't take it anymore." Their tone, their tears, their anger, their shaky voice says it all.
They need hope. And they are reaching out to medicine and doctors as they search.
What is hope exactly? Can it be trusted? In our dictionaries, hope is defined as "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen". If that is as far as it goes, in my opinion, hope in and of itself as a concept is pretty shaky. Feelings are fleeting. We can have a feeling of hope to live a long life; but die at an early age. We can have a feeling of hope for a relationship to be "the one"; but end in rejection. Same for a hope for a good marriage; yet to end in divorce. We can have a feeling of hope for our children to prosper; but see them make bad decision after bad decision. We can hope for peace of mind; yet have crippling anxiety. Hope, in order for it to be true and life saving MUST have a cord of attachment to a source capable of manifesting the thing hoped for. But we don't see this qualification in our secular dictionaries. Yet, this is in fact how God defines hope in biblical dictionaries. It is defined as a literal cord of attachment that brings expectancy.
HOPE- Strongs 8615 tiqvâh, tik-vaw'; from H6960; (compare H6961) literally a cord (as an attachment); figuratively, expectancy:—expectation(-ted), hope, live, thing that I long for.
The word hope (tikvah) comes from the word kavah which means to wait by binding together, gathering for strength. The more cords are bound together, the stronger a rope is. The more weight it can hold, the more tension it can endure. These are pictures behind the strength that comes in waiting in God’s presence, attaching your hope to Him, having expectancy. Practical questions to examine would be:
Reviewing our hope through these questions takes courage, but is worth it. It is very hard when our hopes do not come to pass. Some of you are in a lot of pain right now because hopes have been dashed. However, these can be opportunities to ground ourselves anew in hope that alone comes from God. He is the God of hope. And regarding hope, if we are willing to strengthen our cords to Him, He will resurrect hope within us. it is His divine design that we overflow with hope by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
NIV- Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
OVERFLOW OF HOPE>>>>>> Trusting God is key to being filled to joy and peace. Isn't that really the bottom-line request of all prayer... joy and peace? Your bank account can be overflowing; but if joy and peace elude you, what have you gained? You can be model skinny and have beauty that stops traffic; but if self scrutiny and continual dissatisfaction plague you, what have you gained? You can have a very successful career; but if loneliness and stress are your constant companions what is the point? We see the recent outcome of celebrities whose hope was in their children attending the best schools; but at what cost? The bottomline truth is that joy and peace come from the power of the Holy Spirit as you trust in God, not yourself or empty promises from the world.
So how is God-trust being developed in you? Are you experiencing an overflow of hope that comes from God? We all can be challenged by this question. It's a gentle reminder to invest in time before God's throne, to receive the joy and peace that He alone promises and delivers.
Here is a quote from someone who recently invested in lingering with God through an Into the Waters prayer and meditation session. See if you can see hope that came as a result.
"Thank you SO much for leading us on Thursday! It was a beautiful experience for me personally, and it was a breakthrough I have needed for awhile now. The revelation about (xxxxxx) was totally unexpected, but it continues to resonate so strongly with me. I have somehow put a limit on what God will do, and it definitely stems back to that season of my journey. I believe He will do those impossible, wonderful things for others, but not for me. I have dealt with this issue on so many levels and have felt peace along the way, but God not answering my prayers as I wanted at the time, has definitely affected how much I trust Him, I mean that deep, deep level of trust. Thank you for starting the process of tearing that false belief down in me and beginning another layer of healing."
God will tear down our false beliefs in order to bring another layer of healing and hope founded in His faithfulness, love, mercy, goodness, provision, etc. The power of the Holy Spirit deposits His life in those who trust! We are strengthened after waiting in His presence. Hope is renewed as our cord of attachment to God flows with new life from Him!
Do you need a fresh deposit of supernatural joy and peace, to overflow with hope from the Holy Spirit? In the Fall, Into the Waters will be holding some online group sessions on HOPE. These will be small groups of up to 10 at a time. Stay tuned for more announcements and sign up opportunities!
But for now meditate on the truth from Romans 15:13! Seed it into your heart by reading it in many translations. Reading it in many translations will do a couple of things.
NIV- Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
NLT- I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
ESV- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Berean Study Bible- Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
KJV- Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
GNT- May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25:5 NIV
First reflect on the fact that Jesus wants minds firmly set on the reality that He was formerly dead; but by the power of His Father in Heaven, he was raised up from the dead, Ephesians 1:20!
Long time followers of Jesus may find the above "too familiar" and not challenging to their prayer life. People can tune out saying to themselves, "I've heard that before, nothing new." But that reaction more so indicates a "lukewarm" state of heart, than a correct judgment. And it probably means your mind is more set on other things right now than on Jesus.
We must do hard stops to redirect our thoughts from the day-to-day and into the victory of Christ. Jesus was nailed to the cross, released from the grave, and is now seated on His throne in Heaven. This is to be a treasure trove for mind renewal. These places (the cross, risen, and then ascended) are always a dwelling place for prayer and mind renewal.
So let's set our mind on things above! In order for something to "set" or be "set", it means that it is fixed, it has been readied and prepared. For someone's mind to be "set", one has first sat and hardened so that a thought has become fixed. This can lead us in a good direction or a bad direction. Assess where you are "set".
Where have your thoughts been sitting? Where are you set in your ways and immovable? Are they good or bad places of thought? (Later, read this recent blog on how to determine what is good.)
Examine today where your thoughts are "set". Do a quick inventory.
Based upon those answers, put yourself on a spectrum.
To be sure, life is not a rest filled day laying in a hammock, above a field of flowers, with song birds cheering our hearts all the time. It is quite easy to skew to the left on those questions above. Reality is that there are countless things happening to easily bring worry, heaviness, striving, and longing for attention. This is why God's word is clear that that our thoughts are not God's thoughts, our ways are not His ways. God wants it to be clear that our minds must be supernaturally renewed! He gives us access to his thoughts and will transform us so that His ways become our ways!
For this, we must do a hard stop and position to SET our minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Here is a test for Christians- Have you ever pictured yourself seated at the right hand of Jesus in Heaven? Is that a ridiculous exercise to you? It should not be. You being raised up with Christ and seated with him in Heaven is a God thought. Here is proof-
Ephesians 2: 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
Are you able to quiet yourself right now and envision yourself seated next to Christ in Heaven?
Colossians 3:1-2 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Read detail below on the medical condition Jesus experienced that caused him to sweat blood. Ponder if you have ever experienced in just a small way Jesus’ extreme distress.
Have you ever broken a sweat in prayer? Probably not, and even more unlikely you ever sweat blood in prayer. But Jesus has, look up Luke 22:44 on Google. The reference from the book of Luke was written by a disciple named Luke who was a doctor. His account of Jesus alone states that Jesus’ sweat was like drops of blood, falling to the ground when he prayed about what was about to happen to Him. There are 3 other books (Matthew, Mark, and John) with accounts of Jesus praying before his suffering, with Matthew and Mark also referencing his severe anguish. He himself said that his soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. All accounts describe what a severe panic attack would look like, someone under traumatic internal distress.
If you look more closely at what Jesus was experiencing in the garden of Gethsemane, you will see the extreme mental and emotional pressure overwhelming him. To assist with this, I've included some detail from a renowned chief medical examiner and forensic pathologist, Dr. Frederick Zugibe. He detailed what it takes for a human being to sweat blood in his book “The Crucifixion of Jesus”. Here are some summarized excerpts and other thoughts to ponder-
• There is a rare medical condition called Hematidrosis which is defined in Stedman’s medical dictionary as excretion of blood or blood pigments in the sweat.
• It is associated with a severe anxiety reaction triggered by fear.
• One study of 76 cases showed individuals experienced extreme psychogenic factors of acute fear and mental distress as precipitating reasons for hematidrosis.
• It is a reaction from the nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. How can we know Jesus wanted to “flee” what was about to happen to him? Consider Jesus’ prayer of, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me, yet not as I will but as you will.”
• In a threatening situation, the body responds with the “fight or flight” reaction via the sympathetic nervous system. Pupils dilate, heart rate increases, sweat glands activate, blood vessels constrict to raise blood pressure, blood is diverted away from the skin to the brain and muscles for focus and rapid response, blood sugar is released to provide additional energy.
• In a threatening situation, it is not just the physical body alerted but also the psychological systems of the body. Specifically, the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. When the emotional center is reacting, a person experiences breathlessness, a choking sensation, heart palpitations, muscle tension, chest tightness, trembling, sweating, pallor, and overwhelming feelings of acute panic, as if having a heart attack.
• Combine the physical and psychological symptoms and you have what Jesus was experiencing when he says his soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. It explains why he fell to the ground in prayer, falling to his face, emptied of strength. Dr. Zugibe states that Jews normally stood to pray as a sign of honor to God, so it is important to note the Gospels detail Jesus falling to the ground while in prayer. He says it is detail to support the extreme distress Jesus was experiencing.
• Dr. Zugibe also explains in detail the tiny blood vessels that surround 2 million sweat glands in the skin. He explains how the blood would have been diverted from the glands during Jesus’ mental and emotional trauma, but how the blood would have rushed back to the delicate capillaries that surround the sweat glands when the angel came and strengthened Jesus, Luke 22:43. Yet Jesus was still in anguish, even after being strengthened, and he prayed more earnestly. It is at this point Luke notes that Jesus’ sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
• Dr. Zugibe summarizes Jesus distress in the garden of Gethsemane by stating the following, “The severe mental anxiety due to a profound fear of his prescient sufferings stimulated the fear center of the brain (amygdala), which sent out a general alarm to all centers of the brain, invoking a full scale fight or flight reaction. This reaction lasted for hours resulting in a total state of exhaustion, only to end abruptly in a severe counter reaction after the angel came and ministered to him, and he accepted his fate. This caused severe dilation and rupture of the blood vessels into the sweat glands, causing hemorrhage into the ducts of the sweat glands, and the subsequent extrusion onto the skin, exactly as St. Luke described it.”
• A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus clearly says He is the Good Shepherd who dies for his sheep, John 10:11. What does his suffering mean to you?
• Take time to see in your mind’s eye Jesus’ praying in extreme distress in the Garden of Gethsemane. Let yourself feel some of his panic and sense how He would feel overwhelmed to the point of death. See the tremendous cost the Good Shepherd contemplated as He wrestled with His fate to die for the sheep, for all who would call on His Name.
• “If there is any other way”, Jesus vulnerably prays, “please take this cup from me, yet not what I will but what you will Father.”
• This reading is a pre-cursor to tomorrow’s meditation that will be posted on Into the Waters’ Facebook page. The focus is on Jesus calming our circumstantial fears and crippling thoughts. Those are the 2nd and 3rd of 4 fears that the Good Shepherd alone can calm. The first one was relational upset, and it was the focus of last Friday’s meditation. Please visit Into the Waters Facebook page and listen to it. And tomorrow’s meditation will be about circumstantial fears and mental attack you imagine threaten your livelihood. Praying you carve out quiet time with the Good Shepherd!
Drudgery. Ugh. How to get through it? The repetitive, the boring, the whiny, the weak, the difficult, the demeaning jobs. In these places, we look for ways of escape. I've been there lately, impatient about an assignment and wanting out.
The thing I want out of is a part-time position that not only wearies me; it challenges any and every part of my pride. It has been inexplicably hard at times to do a job that is "way beneath my pay level" so to speak. Me wording it in that way should give you a sense of my pride and resentment of the assignment. At times it has not bothered me; but mostly I didn't think it would last this long. I do a good job and am liked; but too often of late, I am offended and feeling impatient.
This week, first thing Tuesday morning, I was sitting at my desk stewing. I knew this was not a way to start the day, so I decided to look at Oswald Chambers My Utmost devotional for that day. I know if I need a "good talking to" so to speak, I can find it with Oswald Chamber's spiritual writings. He speaks directly, cuts me right to the quick. I love it. Sure enough, from the very first sentence of the devotional, I am convicted. But it feels good because I sense God's presence and know He is right there bringing my darkness into His light for spiritual transformation. I keep reading and the words become ever more convicting within.
"Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. " - Oswald Chambers
Owwwweeeeee. Drudgery. As clear as day, there it is. I am rejecting what I perceive as menial, tiresome, and dirty work! With words so directly applicable to my current state of mind, suddenly the fog clears. It's crystal clear God is lasering in, joining me in my pity party, but only in order to shift my focus. I am to reflect on my spiritual genuineness. Direct hit. I said a quiet prayer asking for His mercy and power to serve genuinely, John 13:4-5,12-17. This type of prayer and reflecting took all but 3 minutes; but it turned my whole day around! And don't ya know that right after I got a call from a very unhappy woman who was short tempered, cold, aggressive, and at the same time sounded very defeated. How would I handle it?
By God's grace and freshly filling me with His power through that little 3 minute prayer and reflection, I found myself impervious to her ill nature and easily focused on the defeated part of her that I heard. I couldn't believe it in the moment. But was almost giddy within as I listened and rose above her difficult ways. I encouraged her that her frustration could and would be addressed and not to give up on getting some medical direction for a family member. She spewed some things; but praise God I didn't react. She didn't soften towards me despite my way towards her; but she agreed to let me elevate the situation. About 45 minutes later she called again; but this time she was in tears, sobbing deeply, and extremely apologetic. I could barely understand what she was saying through her tears. Her repentance moved me deeply , so much so that I felt tears well up in me. She was so remorseful! She just kept saying "I'm so sorry I was so mean. It's not right. I know better". Again, I was amazed knowing that God did something in her. He was helping her release pent up emotion, frustration, heart ache, loneliness, fear, etc. I "got it" and was able to stay with her in that moment and speak gently and help calm her down. Turns out she is terrified of what is going on with her family member and in a state of total dismay, feeling trapped, defeated, and very alone. She continued to profusely apologize for how aggressive and mean she was to the medical person who called her back and for how she was towards me. I thanked her and told her she was forgiven. I let her know she wasn't alone. I shared tears with her. I shared some of what I have experienced in helping a senior family member, reminding her again that she wasn't alone. I told her about local resources for social work help, a grief group at my church, and told her I would pray for her. I'm not sure what impact it had beyond her quieted countenance and "thank you"; but I know the impact it had on me. God rose up in me. His love and knowledge of that woman and her need for that morning was "my lowly assignment". He wanted me to be Him to her. And before that could happen, I needed a heart check. Praise God for his intervention in me so that I could be an offering of His grace and comfort to her!
This is the necessity of prayer that does a hard stop. It is a prayer that steals away for a moment (the difficult ones); and cries out for divine intervention and wisdom. He is near. He will give wisdom. He says, "Ask and it will be given to you..." But be open to his reply. Because in those moments He will show us some difficult things about our hearts. But if we do not avoid those moments, if we have eyes to see, the door is wide open to divine power and supernatural life and BLESSING! There was a supernatural joy that refreshed my heart and mind after those 2 conversations with a broken and weary woman.
I could have stewed in my own emotions, kicked and screamed within, resisted the day and had a really bad attitude. But instead, I chose to let God in, to let him search me, and to seek out His wisdom. His wisdom was served on a silver platter carrying words hard to swallow but covered with grace. I turned. The result was blessing and spiritual transformation in me, a temple of the Holy Spirit. You too, if you know Jesus as Lord, are a temple of the Holy Spirit. And you need the inspiration of God in your drudgery.
"The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task, but after we have seen it done, it becomes different. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. Our Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it, and now every believer’s body has become “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). " - Oswald Chambers , My Utmost
Break away and pray. He sees what is done in secret and will reward you. Give Jesus the thoughts of resentment about the day-to-day drudgery assigned to you. What is your drudgery? Unending piles of laundry, everyday referee of bickering children, an ill tempered spouse, unthankful bosses, smiles that betray, work that is "beneath" you? Let Him enter those moments. It's so transformative if you do! He is right there willing to help with the state of heart and mind if you ask. Accept the hard word He might give about what needs transformation in you to get through the drudgery. Surrender. Go back in with His power humbly serving at the feet of another. Divine transformation and untold blessings await your heart!
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Do you consider yourself "born again"? If that statement makes you bristle and you deny association in those terms, I can guarantee there is something very wrong and very weak about your prayer life. If conversations about the Holy Spirit make you squirm and you call the Spirit "it" vs "He", there is room for much growth in your prayer life; and in your understanding of who God is.
Jesus was very clear when He said, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God, unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again'..." Those words are from the book of John, chapter 3, verses 5-7.
When Jesus references being born of water and Spirit, there are a couple of very moving and comforting pictures that can be helpful in lingering with God in prayer, that is if you are open to it, and do not think of Jesus' words as "weird".
The first picture is a womb. Jesus references it in the statement "being born of water". Note that a mother's womb is made up of 98% water. But Jesus is not referencing a human womb, He is referencing a spiritual one. The very tender truth contained here is that a womb is how God defines His mercy and compassion. (If you want to check me on that, click on this page which defines mercy as a womb from several spiritual lexicons.)
When Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born of water to see the Kingdom of God, He is essentially telling Nicodemus that he must willing to receive the tender mercies of God. His heart is to be made new, turned from stone to flesh, and made clean by the purifying new life from the Spirit. Once this new birth happens we are to be transformed daily by the love of God who carries, feeds, nurtures, protects, surrounds, delivers, and sanctifies by His mercy. This is to be forgiven, loved and never forsaken by a Heavenly Father who does not abandon us as human parents might, Psalm 27:10. Many aspects of this type of love are the things that a womb is purposed to do when it is carries a baby. How offensive and weird is that message that God carries, nurtures, protects, surrounds, delivers, sanctifies, carries into eternity? It's not offensive or weird. It's life and life eternal for all who would believe.
This is the supernatural transformation that results- Ezekiel 36:25-27 KJVS
 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. …
The second picture for being born from above is of the Spirit. Notice the promise of a new spirit in Ezekiel 36:25-27. Remember Jesus says, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." After Jesus references the Spirit, he does something very interesting. He starts speaking in plural to Nicodemus. He tells Nicodemus, "Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony." That's 4 "we's" and 1 "our". Why, does Jesus refer to himself in plural terms?
I personally see reference to the indwelling of the person of the Holy Spirit that happens when we are born again. Jesus had just demonstrated that when being baptized by the Spirit in John 1:32-34. The same happens with those who believe. Upon our confession of belief in Christ, Heaven opens, the Spirit of Christ descends and we are now one with Him. Ultimately, our "I" has been changed to "we", one with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We are now forever saved by the tender mercies of God, carried gently and held and surrounded and fed and nurtured and comforted and delivered into eternal life by the Spirit.
Review all those images, consider bringing them into a time of prayer.
What situations are happening that you need to connect more deeply to the fact that right now God is surrounding you, protecting you, carrying you, delivering you etc? Think about a few and bring them to the God of tender mercies. Confess willfulness and any rebellion. Turn from independence and flesh based choice. Cling instead to your spirit nature that is one with God. Turn from despairing thoughts and feeling without hope. He has not given up on you. He has never left your side.
Picture His light circling you, his forgiveness washing you, hear the songs of deliverance surrounding you. See him carrying you through the difficulties. Admit weakness, ask to be carried. If you are His, these images are scriptural. I could list a thousand scriptures to show you the images, but here are just a few.
+++++++ God blesses the righteous, he surrounds them with his favor like a shield, Psalm 5:12.
+++++++ You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance, Psalm 32:7.
+++++++ Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Nehemiah 9:19
+++++++ Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2
+++++++ Deuteronomy 1:29-31- Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
If you are not his child yet, there is a door in your soul that so far has been closed to knowing the truth. That door must be opened so that His light can be shed abroad within you and then you will see, you will be born from above. To know is to see, to see you need light. To know Jesus is to see Jesus, to see Jesus, you need His light to enter your soul. Call on His Name. Ask for His tender mercy to carry you, fill you, protect you, deliver you, feed you, sanctify you, teach you, nurture you. Then wait quietly, whispering his name, Jesus. Heaven will open. He will send His Spirit and you will be born from above.
John 3:21- Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 4:6- For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ."
John 15:26- "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father- the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father- he will testify about me..."
Romans 8:16- The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
Based upon the survey results, a Facebook Live session time has been scheduled for this coming Wednesday! If you are a Facebook user, hope you can join! Also, contrary to survey results, the most popular Facebook log on times are NOT the times people noted for prayer. Makes sense! If you are spending time with God, you are not on Facebook! So we will experiment with times we post interactive prayer exercises and teaching content. In that line of thinking, a second time has been set for Friday, November 23rd at 10pm. This is to see if “bedtime scrollers” check in.
Its all an interesting new endeavor! Time will tell what God intends on reaching and inspiring people this way. In my time as an online mentor for Focus on the Family over the last year, God has clearly revealed the countless people who are online and seeking answers. It has been mind blowing really. Yet, always an adventure to follow His Spirit! Press in with us! You will try prayer exercises. Practice quieting yourself in new ways. Be inspired with promise based language for heart expression. Open yourself up to God’s love and reach!
Finally, pray for the ministry’s fruit in this endeavor! And watch the video to hear more survey results and the invite! Blessings!
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV
Kind of been a whirlwind of end of summer with lots of prayer ministry! It has included 2 public meditative prayer sessions in a park, an overnight teaching retreat, a private ministry meditation session, an extended 4 day private women's prayer retreat in Colorado, and a good amount of one-on-one prayer with people. It's all been a rich creative time and learning experience; and a blessing to be a part of His intimate work in people through the secret garden of prayer!
For this blog, you can watch a slide show of God's beauty on display with a few pictures I took while in Colorado recently. You'll read some pure and holy promises. Read them, pray them, claim them, repeat them. Before you know it, you'll have spent quiet time in a secret garden created by time with God. He offers supernatural life to those who join Him in His garden. Its a garden He fully intends for you to walk with Him, talk with Him, and live eternally with Him.
But first, take a minute to see yourself, visualizing yourself in your usual daily activities. This is to help you connect with how you rush and go and do. By visualizing yourself, it is kind of like an out of body experience. Start by seeing yourself wake up this morning and review how you went about your day today. Close your eyes and see yourself in your activities of this day.
How much of that time was quiet, peaceful and refreshing and life giving? Any time? Was it just mostly going from one activity to the next, trying to get through the day?
Genesis 2:8- Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
God planted the first garden. How very sweet and good of Him! He created it for man and woman, the work of his hands, breathing into Adam and Eve, the breath of life. The garden is for us now that Christ’s agony in the garden (Matthew 26:37-46) has been worked out on the cross. Oh how desperately we need to appreciate the high cost He paid to give us access again into the garden where we walk and talk with Him in the cool of the day!
In the beginning of time, God's garden contained all that Adam and Eve would need to live in peace and divine purpose. The "problem" in offering that garden was that He gave them personal choice. God didn't make humans to be programmed like a robot, programmed to just say "yes" to all of His commands. He gave humans a choice whether to listen to His voice and obey His instruction, or to disobey and follow their own way.
It's not very hard to connect with the first man and woman. I see myself in them every day. I am very easily predisposed to choose my own way outside God's counsel. What about you?
Through Christ, my nature to rebel is hidden. My life, all of me is totally hidden in Christ, Colossians 3:3. This is for all who believe! From Christ’s selfless sacrifice to give his life and pay the price for our sin, we receive life and life to the full, John 3:16-18 and John 10:10.
He also promises wisdom and knowledge not accessible anywhere else. Scripture says very clearly that in CHRIST are HIDDEN ALL TREASURES OF WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE. Do you believe that? Or would you argue otherwise? If you argue, you have discovered the Adam or Eve nature within you.
Colossians 2:2-3- My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Full riches. Complete understanding. Knowing the mystery of God. Namely ALL hidden in CHRIST.
If we really believed this, how much more of a desire would we have to spend time with God?
See yourself going through your day again. Did any thought cross your mind of, "I can't wait to go recharge with God".
If not, just simply tell him. "God, in the busyness of my day, I didn't start well with you, I didn't make enough time for you. I just simply pressed hard into what I wanted and what I needed to do. Have mercy on me. Draw me into quiet time with you. Let me freshly discover treasure hidden in Christ. Bring me into your secret garden."
If you want a bit more, watch this slide show and let His promises penetrate. Surrender to the invitation. Afterwards, consider doing the exercise posted on 9/26/18. Linger longer, draw near and know Christ!
This meditation is inspiration from Psalm 62:5-8.
The ministry is on Instagram. A feed has been added to the right. Click on any picture to reach that post. Consider following to receive prayer inspiration! For an idea of content, below is today’s Instagram post, including all its emoji splendor. 😊
Answers to prayer come when we admit in prayer that our ways are not God’s ways, our thoughts are not His thoughts. He himself tells us this in Isaiah 55:8-9. Believing it, I recently received a very quick answer to prayer 🛐. I began by admitting to God 💞 that my ways weren’t his ways, my thoughts weren’t his thoughts. I needed His wisdom ✨ on something. (Do you need wisdom?) In my situation, I was hearing heightened emotions, strong opinions, upsetting conclusions made by people about something, people I like. I was influenced by some of these opinions and was becoming upset. (Are people around you, are you yourself making upsetting conclusions?) I had a choice; you have a choice. We can let ourselves be drawn into emotional whirlwinds that lead us to make bad decisions which fuels chaos, or we can take it to God. God was very quick to answer my prayer, transforming 💫 my thoughts into His thoughts and leading me to take a series of steps according to His ways! By his Spirit, he sent wisdom to me as promised in Isaiah 55:10-11. This resulted in me going out in joy 😁 and being led forth in peace 🤩, the promise given in Isaiah 55:12. As a result so far, I strengthened 💪 some relationships, helped settle upset in a few others, and got to put Isaiah 55:8-12 to memory 🧐 and into prayer practice with others. Try it. See if God deposits new thoughts into your mind 👤. See if His way is more powerful than your ways. See if He leads you in peace and joy👏. See if chaos subsides in your mind and heart. Give your upset 😠 to Him, ask to be awakened to ways and thoughts that are not of Him for transformation. You will grow in wisdom and you will be transformed! ✨
... #bibleverse #isaiah55 #wisdom #testimony #helpme #faithingod #godanswersprayers #humbleyourself #anxietyhelp #talktogod #meditatedaily #christian #prayers
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Prayer is Gift!
Into the Waters Ministry is a 501(C)3 public charity. Our mission is to inspire you to linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. For those willing, it is a place of supernatural hope and healing. I know this first hand. My name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 20+ year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and receiving His life in greater measure! I've experienced radical healing in mind, body, and spirit and believe God for more! I long for others to position themselves for the same! Into the Waters' resources help you spend quality time with God to enter His rest and receive His divine provision. Let us help you experience more of God! Read the blogs, try the exercises, participate in online sessions! His promises for life and wholeness are offered to all! But you have to say "Yes!"