(Into the Waters Ministry, Inc resources the earnest, helping them linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. Now more than ever, we need to know Christ and practice settling our souls in His presence, anchoring in His promises. Will you help us expand reach and impact? Listenership for our Peace Be Still prayer podcast is steadily growing! So many more can benefit! Please consider a donation! Help us match the $1K per month challenge pledge! Every donation is a blessing! Thank you for considering it. Now on to today's interactive Advent exercise...)
This is the 10th exercise released over the last 10 days for the Advent season! Find the interactive prayer exercises on the podcast tab or click above to find the podcast on Apple podcasts! Below is the content of today's Peace Be Still episode if you prefer to read it to engage. Blessings!
Hello Gina from Into the Waters, welcome to Peace Be Still and this Advent season! It’s Friend Friday, a time to experience the presence and person of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, with us is God. Isaiah 7:14 says the LORD himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Let’s call upon His Name today.
Yesterday’s episode shared in the prayer portion that Isaiah wrote those prophetic words 700 years before Jesus was born. We see those words reappear in Matthew 1. An angel of the LORD appears to Joseph telling him not to be afraid, but to take Mary as his wife, because the child within her is from the Holy Spirit; he should be named Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. And then it says that "all of these supernatural events took place to fulfill what the LORD has said through the prophet Isaiah: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
Jesus, God with us, fulfilled that prophecy as he ministered on the earth, and continues to fulfill that prophecy for you today. God is with you. Deuteronomy 31:6 is a promise from Jesus in the Old Testament- Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Remember Jesus is timeless, eternal, that Old Testament prophecy is from Jesus himself. We get a glimpse of His eternity and coming from the prophecy in Micah 5:2-
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Jesus, a leader coming from ancient times,? Yes. NKJV says "Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” The Amplified version clarifies his goings forth saying- His goings forth (appearances) are from long ago, From ancient days.”
The prophet declared God himself was coming! And yet Jesus has always been with His people, from the creation of physical time and space, Jesus has been with us!
So today, let’s proclaim His presence with us. Just position to repeat, affirm, and invite His presence with an open and receptive spirit.
Jesus, you are with me.
I carry your Spirit within me.
Nothing can separate me from your love.
Immanuel, you are with me.
You will never leave me or forsake me.
No one can snatch me out of your hand.
You are with me in the storm.
You speak to the wind and the waves within.
“Peace Be Still.”
You are with me in my fear.
I am not to be terrified or afraid.
You go with me.
You promise to guide me.
Your rod and your staff they comfort me.
Save me from guiding myself.
I need your wisdom.
By your Spirit, whisper wisdom.
Now wait quietly in His presence.
Help me obey your counsel.
Help me surrender to your whispers.
You go before me.
I am not alone.
Jesus, you are with me.
Immanuel... with me is God.
When I pray with people, very often they release a deep sigh. It's indicative of a heavy burden being released through the prayer time. I bring it to their attention so they can connect with what may have triggered the sigh, to consider what was said in the prayer that helped release some tension. This gives them insight and helps them connect with the relief they are experiencing.
This same type of "deep sigh" is one of the benefits of spending extended time with God in prayer. His rest doesn't just give us soul rest, it gives us physical rest. When God ministers to our soul, it releases the tension we carry in our body. Our feelings and thoughts do affect our physical state. When we are unburdened, it ministers to our body. But when burdened, we feel it as a loss of strength.
Proverbs 17:22- A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
So this encouragement is to schedule a time to linger with God for at least an hour, to experience the rest and renewal He promises. The event happening on 8/22 at 9am EST is based upon Psalm 23! You can listen to today's podcast for more encouragement, which includes a 4 minute prayer over you at the end, for you to rest with God. (If you want to listen to the podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Spreaker, simply search for "Peace Be Still Daily prayer download" on those providers!)
On average, over 50% of past participants of Into the Waters events, when surveyed, say that God gave them wisdom, insight, and revelation for relationships and circumstances in the sessions. He ministers sweetly and deeply for a sigh of relief that brings rest! After all, God is Wonderful Counselor! His help is our way to REST!
When your soul is at rest, the entirety of you rests. Yet we rarely experience these benefits with 5 minutes of prayer here and there. Just the same way a 5 minute massage is not nearly enough time to warm up the body, work on the pressure points, and loosen the knots, neither are quick “hi-bye“ exchanges with God.
We need extended time with God to settle in, open up, breathe deeply, unburden, be renewed by His Spirit.
So do you need this? Do you need to be relieved of burden, for your body to relax, your breath to deepen and soften, internal pressure to be relieved, restful sleep, for the Spirit of God to energize you with supernatural hope and life and peace? If so, please join Saturday 8/22 at 9am EST for a 1 hour session to rest with God!
You will be blessed to spend extended time with God to settle in, open up, breathe deeply, unburden, and be renewed by His Spirit. You can sign up for Saturday 8/22 via links on the home page. It will be about an hour of being gently led through some simple prayer exercises for soul rest. He rewards those who earnestly seek Him! He rewards with deep soul rest for mind, body, spirit, heart restoration. If you have any questions about the upcoming session, please let me know!
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.—Psa. 63:8
I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain. - AW Tozer, “The Pursuit of God”
We need to wake up. All is not yet over in this uncomfortable season that we are in. As AW Tozer wrote over 50 years ago, God is waiting to be wanted. In this season, is He waiting for us in vain?
What are we waiting for? For things to go back to normal? For routine? Eating out? Socializing? Entertaining? Attending events? Traveling? Shopping? All life activities that are normal, but in no means necessary. Have you replaced some of that time with a fresh pursuit of God?
What if our pursuit of God played critical part of transforming brokenness into God's glory?
2 Chronicles 7:14- if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land
Humbling ourselves. Taking initiative. Our soul following HARD after him...
Yesterday I started the day uploading a podcast I had recorded the day before. Then after, I went for a walk using it to spur me on for the day. I spent 45 minutes listening to God’s word, proclaiming God’s word, praying God’s word for myself and others. Before you think I am patting myself on the back, wait for what happened next.
I went home and ate breakfast. I changed clothes, and headed out for a simple task to get my vehicle inspected because it was due. Yes, I waited to the last day of the month. However, my check engine light had been on for weeks and I was hoping it would go off. When I had gotten into the Jeep that morning it was off! So just in time! Just in time for a spiritual test...
What I thought was going to be an easy task, ate up my whole day. For the first place I went, 3 bays were opened with cars in line. I was one of them. After about 15 minutes, I noticed a bay on the end, the only one that had a BIGGGGG banner across it that said "NY state inspections". Since it was an oil change place, I figured that they had that special bay just for inspections... so as to not interrupt efficient flow of getting cars in and out for oil changes. So I moved from my position; and went partially into that bay to ask. No sooner do I do this, and a man with a stern look comes into the bay and starts waving his arms in upset for me to leave the bay. I open my window and attempt to tell him I just needed an inspection and he barks out, “Get in line with everyone else.” I told him that I was in line before; but since there was a sign on this bay for inspections… He talks over me, cuts me off and says “unless I own the building, I should not be driving into the bay without first being ushered in”. I was shocked. Clearly he took great offense at what I had done, and refused to listen to my reasoning. He stayed intense, and began motioning with his arms, using airplane controller type movements to silence me and get me to back out of the partial entry I made into the bay.
Well. I could not believe how rude he was! So I thought, “Forget you. I’m leaving.” I didn’t want to be serviced there. I took offense at him taking offense. So off I went to find another place and the next places required appointments. So much for trying to stay close to home. I decided to go to my normal place 20 minutes away. Upon arriving, same backlog of cars for bays. I was told it would be a wait of a couple of hours. Okay.
Long story short, 3 hours pass, during which time I leave and walk across to Wegmans. I come back when its finished, only to check out to be wrongly charged for something they were to do (tire rotation), but didn’t do, but said they did. I see my paperwork on the seat, read that they didn’t do it, bring back my receipt for a refund and the confusion ensues for an additional 10 minutes. In the confusion I find myself short-tempered with them for arguing with me when they themselves typed the note into the system of not completing the work, which is also clearly on my paperwork.
The manager admits he forgot it, which I do believe was sincere. But then they couldn’t figure out how to refund the money. At this point of the day, I have lost my patience and let them know I cannot continue to stay, to please figure it out and call me when it is done.
Why am I detailing all of this? Because this was a wake-up call to me. I spent a good portion of the previous night in a 1 hour prayer walking session, then an hour interceding for the nation later on, then waking up to another prayer walk for an hour. I was very disturbed with lack of Spirit led response.
I knew that I did not extend grace to the manager who was being kind to me, but he was just overwhelmed with how busy they were. He was clearly the one trying to help, apologizing for the mistake, and even though he couldn’t figure out how to refund me, was indeed trying to resolve it. Plus, I knew that at the time I was leaving they had about 10-12 cars lined up in 3 bays all waiting for hours. He was under tremendous pressure, and I knew it was like this for them all day.
So I dealt with myself. I had a good talking to myself and with God. I was not a jerk to them, but I was impatient and had let the earlier situation get me stewing and upset. I had opportunity to speak and act in a way to reveal Jesus; but didn’t.
Just as soon as I was finishing up talking to God about this and evaluating myself, the manager calls and says he worked it out reversing the incorrect charge. I had a much different frame of mind after repentance and was kinder, and expressed empathy. He ended the call by adding he would not charge me for the inspection either because he felt badly about the inconvenience and time. And invited me to come back another time, so he could look at my tires for free, and figure out how to get the stuck lug nuts off and complete the work.
Again, why do I tell you all of this? Because folks we are in different times. And people are easily set off; and as a Christian we must have a spirit of self-control and a grace and mercy that stands out. If I am in prayer all that time, yet letting the fact that things happened that ate up my whole day, and then snuffing out my light, how great of a witness am I? This is not a time to be stewing within. It's not a time to be demanding. We may have to take some hits. We may have to be like Jesus right now. Yes. It's time. Let's be like Jesus, no offense. I am saying that to myself and praying for the Spirit's work in me.
He answers. More time in prayer, more time with God makes us much more self-aware. Why? The Spirit is answering our prayers to make us more like Jesus. If you want a "less of me, more of you" exercise, try episode #84 podcast from last week. Found at this link, just scroll down to the episode.
Anybody who would have observed me yesterday might say, “What’s the big deal? Anyone would have been annoyed.” That’s not the point. The point is revival within. I'm not to be anybody. I am to be a reflection of Christ. And it is so desperately needed in me, it is so desperately needed in you. It is a time to walk with the peace of Christ and reveal Him.
As we approach the elections, you can be sure more chaos is around the corner. Chaos and anarchy have not yet subsided really. It is still abounding in some cities. Murder rates are rising at alarming rates in New York, Chicago and other areas. Lawlessness is breaking out. 30 million people just had their unemployment benefits end. People are on edge and easily perturbed like I experienced at my first stop yesterday.
We need a wake up call to the times still. Would you say Christians are awake? Are we in revival mode? Or are we just in a mode of frustration or complacency wanting for things to go back to normal? It’s not going back to normal. And in it all, God is waiting to be wanted. He is waiting for a fire in our belly to burn for Him.
He can intervene. He can heal. He can turn things around. He can revive us. But it begins with you. It begins with me. Non-essential activity vs essential activity. Strip down to essentials…
“If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to "babes" and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.” AW Tozer- The Pursuit of God
Give yourself a wake up call. Assess if you are in a mode of revival or not. Is the Spirit thriving in you? Are you in hot pursuit? Is God enough?
If you want to go further in reading AW Tozer and the spiritual challenges he brings to bear, it might help in your wake-up call. You can find it offered FREE from the Gutenburg project at this link- https://www.gutenberg.org/files/25141/25141-h/25141-h.htm
I highly recommend it. I am re-reading it myself.
Otherwise, I have continued to release podcasts Monday-Friday. I will highlight yesterday’s. It is a 10 minute proclamation of blessing that you agree and proclaim. Try using it while walking! Listen to it more than once. Let the truth of God’s blessings penetrate, take ownership of them! Wake the sleeping giant within! He’s waiting to be wanted!
Hello and Happy Friday, this is Gina from Into the Waters. And today is a day to pray for you! (Note: You can read the content below or you can listen to it in today's podcast found on our podcast tab above. Or search for it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Spreaker!)
Earlier today in the Peace Be Still's Private Group Facebook page, opened a prayer room through Facebook’s new “room” option. Prayed for a few folks! Prayed for some others in different settings as well, through church and also friends. I’ve missed praying for people in person; but certainly, there is no poverty of options when it comes to connecting to pray for someone AND sharing it with them!
After I pray for you, I hope you will take time to pray for another! Write it out, text it over, post it to their wall, send a recording of you praying from them. Maybe surprise a Christian friend, a leader from your church, some faithful servant of God who would be greatly encouraged to receive a message from you of God’s love and mercy in the form of prayer!
I pray for a fresh expression of the light of Christ to be shed abroad in your heart, filling you with a new measure of love and eternal hope, given by the Holy Spirit who is in you from God. (Romans 5:5)
I pray that you would abound in comfort from Christ. That you would know God as the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who will comfort you in all your troubles, so you that can comfort others. ( 2 Cor 1:3-5)
I pray for you to experience the Shalom of God, peace that leads to wholeness, completeness, and soundness of mind. Be blessed with His peace which surpasses understanding, guarding your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7).
I pray for you to receive strength from on high, that he would make your feet like the deer, enabling you to tread upon spiritual heights, reaching high places to the glory of God. (Habakkuk 3:19)
I pray for you to experience the love of Christ though it is too great to understand fully, that you would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God, made complete by all the life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:19)
I pray for your consolation in any mourning, for you to carry your ashes of disappointment, failure, broken dreams to God to receive a crown of beauty, the oil of His joy, instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)
I pray for you to have knowledge of His will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, that you would live a life worthy of God, pleasing Him in every way, growing in the knowledge of God and being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great patience and endurance. (Colossians 1:9-11)
I pray for you to be humble in heart, so that in due time Christ will exalt you. (James 4:10)
I pray for the Spirit of the LORD to be upon you, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, that your delight should always be in a holy and reverent fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2-3)
May you pray this forward and bless another! Share with a friend!
I haven't posted in awhile, mostly because doing the podcast Monday though Friday is a challenge, especially when working a part-time job on Mondays and Tuesdays. But feeling purposed through it and encouraged! Over 500 listens in the first month. And lately average daily listens are increasing. I have received only very positive comments about it as a prayer resource and that it is speaking to hearts. If you haven't listened yet, please give a couple episodes a try. It can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spreaker, and on the PODCAST tab above. If you want info on any episode before listening, simply click on the little grey circle with the "i" in the middle of it. It will bring a pop-up window with episode detail. As of today, there are 35 interactive prayer episodes with over 4 1/2 hours of listening! That is a good amount of free prayer inspiration! If the episodes are a blessing to you, please consider a free-will donation. It can be a one-time donation or as a monthly donor.
Why donate? We'd love to be able to market the podcast, but costs are easily at $250 per ad through Spotify or other similar podcast sites. We have some technology upgrades to make also. You can help spread the word too! Word-of-mouth is very helpful! And pray for ministry reach! Please share episodes with friends. People may be more receptive than you think!
There are many who are struggling. People are searching for answers. I witness on Quora and the question that has gotten a ton of new activity with over 12K new readers over the last month is, "How many times will God forgive a repeated sin?" People are reflecting on life and death issues. Ask God for greater boldness to witness!
Recently I shared a video on our Facebook page and our private group "Peace Be Still Daily Prayer Download". It was a state of our nation's faith video for National Day of Prayer and had 2018 research from The Barna Group. In summary, a majority of the population in the USA (over 70%) still identify as a Christian. Those are encouraging numbers! However, the majority of those Christians have not attended church in over a year. Only 20% had attended at least once in the month of the survey. The fastest growing faith category was "nones", i.e. those who are identifying as having no faith at all. Based on other data Barna shared in the online presentation I attended, there is clear evidence for a need for God's people to return to Him with a generational trend to not believe in the authority of the Bible. We're trending down and away from the God of the Bible.
Which brings me to the question for the post, "How are you doing?" Answers could be all over the map on that, but in general I am definitely crossing paths with people who are increasingly "not ok". The distancing and sudden change of life routine has sent shock waves into their thoughts and emotions. I shared in the last post (found here) some scriptures that the Lord has put on my heart during times of intercession, to ask God for direction on how to pray. I hope you read the scriptures posted and reflect on the consistent, cohesive message within those scriptures. There is a shaking mentioned in Hebrews chapter 12 to consider as a big idea for Christians to discern, as is 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew Chapter 6. He will shake so that what remains cannot be shaken. His end goal is a faith rooted in Him that cannot be shaken!
God's calling us to "reset, pause, prioritize, return to Him as first love". Returning and prioritizing God is a choice. Are your life choices more of a consideration lately?
Joshua 24: 14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
What is God challenging you to "put away"? What things of the world so consume your time and thoughts and energy and money? If our house is in order, praise God! We have chosen well! And we are reaping the blessing of stealing away to spend time with Him and receive comfort in our troubles, nourishment for our soul.
The word I am hearing for you as I type this blog is "disconnect". What do you need to disconnect from in order to prioritize God, to return to God as first love? Take that challenge. Take it to God. Confess weakness and any waywardness. Use Psalm 116 verses 1-9 as inspiration with prompts as noted...
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
- Tell him you love him.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
- See Him turning to listen as you pray.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
- Reflect on your life before God's grace.
Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!"
- Remember the simple gift of calling on the name of the LORD
The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
- Tell him who He is.
The LORD protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.
- Humble yourself, approach him in childlike simplicity
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.
- Speak to your soul, remind yourself of how good God has been to you.
For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
- Rejoice in the life to come, no more sorrow, no more tears.
that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
- Discern the times. Time is short. Order your life towards heavenly reality.
Be blessed in your private time with the Father in your prayer closet! Simply shut the door behind you and pray.
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.
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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!"