Today, we’ll go into ancient times and take a look at how children were viewed under Roman rule and why Jesus’ circumcision is an important detail not to skip over!
Yesterday, those who receive emails from the ministry got a blog devotional about the "science" behind Jesus being circumcised on Day 8. It was also yesterday's podcast. (Scroll down our podcast page and listen to Wed 12/21 or find Peace Be Still Daily Prayer Download on your favorite podcast app and listen there. 80% of our listeners use Apple podcasts!)
Today, we continue where we began yesterday, taking notice of Luke 2:21 which says that He was officially named on the 8th day, the same day that he was circumcised. Big deal? Yes or no?
Turns out that detail is pretty interesting and very important! Let's look more closely at ancient culture to understand.
In the time of Jesus, the Romans ruled. And so we are to take note that Luke writes his account to Theophilus, Luke 1:3. He calls him “most excellent Theophilus”. In Roman culture, this implies a Roman title of respect and official importance. So we can make a strong assumption that Theophilus was an important Roman official. Luke also writes the book of Acts to Theophilus. See Acts 1:1. Luke is clear that his account is an orderly account, Luke 1:3.
In his Gospel account to Theophilus, Luke carefully includes the decree issued by Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. It is the reason Joseph and Mary go back to Bethlehem. They are to be “registered”. There is an official count happening of the entire world, Luke 2:1-5.
To understand this better, I'm referencing an exhaustive work written by a man name O M Bakke. It’s called “When Children became people- The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity”. In it, he explores theological and social history of Greco-Roman and early Christians towards abortion and child prostitution, pedagogy, moral upbringing, and their value within society. It is a shocking and insightful read, especially considering the direction our world is now heading, or should I say reverting to. I highly recommend it.
Related to birth, in the Roman way of life, Bakke notes the father was LEGALLY allowed to decide whether his newborn would live or die! Think of that in modern view. He was legally allowed to decide if the newborn would live or die after birth. He could do so within the first 8-9 days.
So if he accepted the child as a family member, they would hold a ritual known as a day of purification. It was on this day that a child was given its name and LEGALLY REGISTERED. The ceremony for boys was held on the 8th day, and the ceremony for girls was on the 9th day. Under Roman law, the ceremony marked the child's social birth, as compared to biological birth. Read these 2 pages from Bakke's book below.
Pretty upsetting right?
With Roman rule in mind, re-read Luke 2:21 again-
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Luke is making it clear that Jesus was officially counted in a worldwide census! As a Roman official, Theophilus could check the record! Can you hear him ordering the Bethlehem census be brought to him?
And just think about this detail as it relates to the many arguments that Jesus never existed. "Jesus is a fictional figure. Jesus is a fairy tale." No. He was real and counted in Caesar Augustus' worldwide census! The promise of Good News for all was included in a worldwide census! The most important One to ever be counted and included in a census!
How awesome is it that we have this holy record! That Luke wrote his account to a Roman official, including significant details that validate Christ, not just under Jewish covenant of circumcision, but along with Roman mandate of legal registration! How awesome that he lets Theophilus know the words of the Angel to Mary…
Luke 1:31-33- 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This might cause quite a stir within Theophilus don’t you think? If you were a highly influential government official today and received word of a king being born whose kingdom would have no end, would you take a closer look at the careful details shared about him?
May this stir you to notice the tiny details in scripture that maybe you gloss over, skip over, or dismiss off-handedly. Meditate on scripture. The revelation of Luke’s intent to highlight Jesus being officially registered came as a result of digging deeper and wrestling with scripture. Dig deeper to uncover the hidden treasure!!!
NEXT STEP: Consider how thousands of years before Roman rule of 8 days for males to be official and socially registered, God picked the 8th day for males to be circumcised. This brought them under the holy covenant given to Abraham and his descendants! Read about the covenant of circumcision in Genesis 17! As a believer, you are included under that covenant. How does it affect you? Do you know by memory what it includes before reading it again?
We are so blessed to live in a time of solid biblical resources. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead you to Spirit filled revelation! May you and yours have a blessed day of celebrating our eternal King and His coming Kingdom! The greatest gift of all!
(It's year-end. Does this ministry bless you? Will you consider a year end donation? Click the donate button above to give through PayPal. Thank you so much for saying a prayer for the ministry’s reach and impact by the power of the Holy Spirit!)
The picture above is part of my skinny pencil tree. It's filled with olive wood ornaments from Jerusalem. I wanted olive wood souvenirs when I went to Israel in 2015, but they were pricey, so I decided to get something when I got home.
It took a couple of years to find something I wanted, but a few years ago, there was a huge lot of olive wood ornaments from a former shop owner for auction on Ebay; and I won the bid! I got around 150 ornaments for $20 plus shipping. :). I love them! They perfectly fill my 7' pencil tree!
There are various kinds of camels, shepherds, manger scenes, stars, candles, wise men, donkeys, angels, crosses, roosters, doves, Mary with Jesus. Like a little girl can get lost staring into her miniature doll house world, I get lost in my tree. They remind me of that trip, especially our time in Old Jerusalem & in the ancient olive grove just a Sabbath day's walk from the city. The walk is about 3000 ft.
Here is a picture from the photo journal I put together. I'm looking at Jerusalem from within the grove, standing on the Mount of Olives.
This is how Christmas hits my spirit now. For Advent, I think of the sights and sounds of that trip, and enter in, as much as possible, the ancient scene of my promised King's arrival. I meditate upon possible feelings and thoughts of my ancient family. For today, I was thinking about Joseph's mental wrestling after learning that Mary was pregnant.
It's the inspiration for today's Friend Friday Advent exercise! Note--- Advent exercises started on Monday. I hope you follow along to listen to all!
You can read below to get most of today's devotional and exercise. And then listen to it, so you can participate in the the prayer and processing not included below, click here- https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/friend-fri-advent-ancient-prophecy-and-prayer-of-wisdom/id1506101286?i=1000588516738
(And if this ministry blesses you, will you consider a year end donation? Link at the bottom! Thank you so much!)
Joseph had relationship problems.
As do we.
Joseph reasoned on what to do.
So do we.
He went through the scenarios in his mind and came up with a plan.
So do we.
But God intervened.
Scripture is clear that Joseph honored God and the laws of God, Matthew 1:19. God intervened in his thoughts.
If we honor God and follow Jesus, God will intervene in our thoughts too!
God sent an Angel of the LORD to cast down the arguments wrestling around in Joseph’s mind. The Angel came with a message to hold his thoughts captive to Christ.
He told him, it wasn’t what he thought it was with Mary.
He let him know that he was intricately woven into a 700-year old prophecy about the Messiah.
Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” That is found in Isaiah 7:14.
You too are part of an ancient prophecy spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 33:3. “Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction,”
It is you being spoken of in this ancient passage! You are included in those who bow down at His feet to receive instruction! Tell people you are in the bible and then show them this passage! He loves you. He is holding you in His hand!
The Angel of the LORD also affirmed Joseph as a son of the royal line of David.
The Spirit of the LORD affirms to us that we are God’s child.- Romans 8:16.
The Angel of the LORD told Joseph, “Do not be afraid…”
The LORD is telling us, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
The Angel reframed Joseph’s thoughts. He told him to take Mary as his wife, because the baby in her womb was conceived through the Holy Spirit. He told him that she would give birth to a Son with a capital "S". And that Joseph was to name Him Jesus, because Jesus would save His people from their sins.
He saves all who call upon His Name, who by faith, believe. He can reframe your thoughts today and give you that wisdom you need!
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Let’s pray... (for this part, listen to the podcast!)
God is so good! I’ve been waiting to share, but haven't, because the testimony isn’t complete yet, but will share in part. Recently, I received a HUGE and unexpected blessing! Someone who wants to remain anonymous gave me a check for $30K to go get a new vehicle!!! So generous and kind!!! And he had no idea about how precious and touching the timing was related to a deep heartache I recently experienced. I burst into tears when he offered the gift .
The timing of the gift was a clear message to me, that God sees me and is with me and He is my provider!
I'm guessing most of you know that I am in ministry full-time.
Many may not know however, that I live by faith in terms of financial provision. I could post screenshots of the 8 or so texts that I have received from my bank with alerts of balances below $50 over the past year.
Yet, I have NEVER been without and God ALWAYS provides!
Over the last 6 years of ministry God has moved in various people to gift me money at various times!!! People suddenly step in and have taken care of things. It has happened over and over at just the right time. But in the midst of it, there have been real times of stretching my faith and trusting in very humbling moments. In it, God has taught me to be content in all circumstances.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV
When I started ministry 6 years ago, my church covered my mortgage for a month and paid for me to get my car fixed. At the same time, a leader told me to just do ministry as a hobby and go get a job. There were real moments of challenge to buckle under human reasoning and critics. Or I could choose to believe in God’s promises and step out in faith.
God led me to work part-time (2 days a week) and do ministry as main focus. After 4 years of working part-time, He moved me to believe in full support and within 2 weeks of that decision, the donations were there!
In first years, the part-time job and donations did not support my needs. So God sent people who came to me saying, “God told me to give this to you” and gave me money. And over all years, others have come and taken care of house things… buying me new windows, a lawnmower, a humidifier, a dishwasher (hand-washed for 2 years), new gutters, electric work, new kitchen and bath fixtures, plumbing repair, etc. One very special person has cared about my work/rest balance and arranged for me to get away 2 times this year and also been beyond generous with sudden blessings!
God has gifted me with faithful monthly donors, all of whom I am so thankful! Some have been donating monthly for 6 years!
I AM SO THANKFUL FOR EACH ONE WHO SUPPORTS THIS MINISTRY AS A MONTHLY OR YEARLY DONOR! For the one who gives $10 a month up to the one who gives above and beyond the others, I am so very thankful!
This is a boast in His provision and faithfulness, not that He owes me anything at all! It’s always been evidence of His promise that I do not provide for myself; He provides for me. I am just to keep Him first and serve Him as led. Walking this way has been so humbling and amazing!!! His favor and kindnesses have always been perfect timing and supernatural expression of the promise of Matthew 6:33.
I pray that you will consider the promise of Matthew 6:33 if you have not. (Many of you have your own testimony of this provision. If you would like to tell me your story, I would love to hear it! My email is email@example.com.)
Some people are about to go into tough times and will need to know where hope will come from. We have just hit 2 successive quarters of negative GDP growth, i.e. recession. God promises to provide as you trust in Him and walk with Him. Remember Psalm 23:1 and read Hebrews 13:5 above again.
In my research on how to buy a vehicle yesterday, I learned that car repossessions are already at 2.2 million for first 6 months of 2022. Compared with the previous 12 months of 1.8 million. Predictions are for auto prices and home prices to start major correction. Some will be upside down soon on car loans and mortgages. Layoffs are beginning and inflation continues with interest rates rising.
Times are setting up for many to call on the Name of the LORD to be rescued.
He can help you. He wants you to ask for Him for wisdom and help.
As practical example of asking for wisdom... for a vehicle purchase, God has been putting on my heart to “wait”. I didn’t understand why until I stopped looking and started researching what was happening in the auto industry. Now, I understand that the market is about to be flooded with repossessions and dealers will be desperate to sell.
I had been hearing "wait", but stopped looking when God stopped me from making a wrong purchase last week. I prayed on the way over to a dealership that if He didn’t want me to buy the vehicle I was interested in, that He would intervene. When I got to the dealership, I could not get the key out of my Jeep ignition, neither could the sales manager or the sales person. This meant my battery would drain while I was there. So I could not focus and left. When I got home, my key came right out! And so this weekend I took time to learn more, and saw the bubble is about to pop. So I will heed God’s good counsel and wait.
I share this as evidence that when you ask God for wisdom, He answers. See James 1:5-8. I could insist on my own way, but have learned (the hard way at times) to heed the whispers (mostly ).
Where do you need God’s help today? In what areas of your life do you need supernatural provision and wisdom? Ask to know Jesus in these ways. He is not a vending machine or a genie though. He is a Savior who forgives, rescues, redeems, sets free, heals, and supplies beyond what you deserve. I pray that you ask Him for what your soul needs today.
“Lord Jesus, I lift this one up to you. I pray for their heart to be open and receptive to your grace and truth. Move upon the waters of their heart and soften them towards your ways. Flood their soul with light, the light of Christ. Prompt them in the direction of your will. Humble them to surrender and trust in any area of self-sufficiency. Lead them into fellowship in the Body of Christ, to safe relationships and bible filled counsel. Thank you for being merciful to this one. Thank you God for gifting all who call upon your Name with a supply of life and power that we do not deserve. We are not worthy of such kindnesses, but that is who you are. May we know you this way and so seek first the kingdom of God. Then all that we need shall be given to us. Amen.”
Hope this encouraged you! Please forward to a friend who needs to hear of God's faithfulness!
👆 🎧 (Click image above to listen.). Today's podcast was a spontaneous prayer prayed over you.
When is the last time you asked someone to pray for you? When is the last time you were covered in a prayer?
This should be something you experience regularly.
Very often lately in social media prayer requests, requests are prefaced this way, "I don't ever ask for prayer but..." This is evidence of someone carrying something for too long and now the pressure of the situation is too much, and they are breaking and finally asking for prayer.
Asking for prayer should be a habit we develop. It revitalizes us. It comforts us. It encourages us. The Spirit is present to do what only God can do. It is a blessing to be prayed for.
And did you know that for relational issues, answered prayers are often obtained through prayers of agreement? Read Matthew 18:15-20.
We are to share our burdens with Christ and carry each other's burdens. The Apostle Paul shared one of his prayer requests this way:
Romans 15: 30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.
He says, "Join me in my struggle..."
Are you asking anyone to join you in your struggle? Do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you believe as Paul did that prayers of others and the Spirit of Christ is your way of deliverance?
Philippians 1:19- for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
God has a way for you. He has victory. He has answers. He has supernatural assist. Ask for prayer.
These are days to be pressing in. These are days to be covered in prayer. Many Friend Fridays are episodes where I cover you in prayer.
Make it a habit to want to be prayed for, to want to be covered in prayer. Go to church on Sunday and ask someone to pray for you. Listen to the podcast and receive the prayers often prayed over you in the sessions. Click on the image above to be connected to today's Friend Friday prayer over you!
And read the review below for encouragement on the power of prayer! And if you didn't see Doug's letter from the last email I sent out, he has a very encouraging message on persevering and pressing in to the gift of prayer!
This ministry is part of fulfilling the Great Commission. Please consider a donation so that we can disciple more! Blessings!
Praying into the Lord's prayer
All week we’ve been finding prayer inspiration using Jesus’ teaching on prayer found in Matthew 6:5-15!
Within these verses we find the "Our Father" prayer, along with instruction from Jesus to find a private place and talk to our Father who is unseen, assuring us that He sees us praying in secret, and will openly rewards us, Matthew 6:6.
A few verses after that instruction, He tells us, "This, then is how you should pray..." And then gives us Spirit filled words that an untold number of saints, throughout the centuries, have known and treasured as the "Our Father" (or the Lord's) prayer.
In yesterday's podcast episode about the Our Father prayer, you are led to listen and repeat the prayer, after pondering its beauty and its power for intercession. You are called to notice its unique ability to unify God's people in a common language of prayer.
The "Our Father" prayer crosses denominational lines, borders, and even languages. In a room of strangers, whether believer or unbeliever, many would know the prayer and be able to join in its holy expression in a moment's notice.
We should treasure these ancient words, breathed by our Holy King. "This then is how you should pray... Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name..."
But Jesus encourages that prayer should not be the same words repeated over and over, Matthew 6:7. Right before He gives the "Our Father" prayer he tells us not to babble on like pagans, using many word repetitiously, thinking that somehow our many words could influence whether or not the Father hears us.
So in the exercise you'll find below, and in today's podcast episode, you pray "into" the Our Father prayer, honoring Jesus, our holy Friend and Savior, obeying His model for prayer-
He begins by teaching us to speak to and acknowledge the Father with honor and respect- "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name."
He encourages us to lift our eyes and pray for the Father's Kingdom and will to descend- "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
He tells us to ask for supply for both body and soul, as he teaches us in John that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. So we are to pray- "Give us today our daily bread."
He instructs us to ask for mercy daily, under the condition of also releasing others from owing us anything- "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors" (i.e. those who sin against us).
We are to ask for protection against temptations of flesh- "Lead us not to temptation."
We are to ask to be delivered from the enemy of our soul- "Deliver us from evil."
(Notice the plural pronoun "us" that Jesus repeatedly uses. It's intercessory style prayer, taking us beyond the small world of our own lives and perspective, connecting us with each other's needs, praying in agreement. "Give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us..." Listen in to episode #342 to hear more on the power for intercession within the Lord's prayer.)
If you count what Jesus tells us we are to pray for, you find 7 areas of prayer:
Regarding those 7 areas, its inspiration to pray "into" the Our Father language, instead of using the prayer as a repetitive exercise.
Next is an exercise to do just that. It's also the exercise in today's podcast. Agree with the deeper sentiment that Jesus wants us to express to the Father. After, experiment with expressing your own heart as you pray "into" the Our Father prayer.
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. You are not just my father, but OUR Father, you set the lonely in families, you sought us and adopted us, we are now yours through Christ. Hallowed be your name. May you be honored and revered through US, through your children today.
May your kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Part the heavens in a fresh way Lord and come down. May your fame be made known throughout the whole earth. Be glorified, be known, release the Kingdom message into hearts, bring the world under subjection of your reign and rule. Your kingdom come, your will be done.
Give us today our daily bread. Thank you for giving daily supply, thank you for releasing our hands from striving. Thank you for fresh provision. Speak a word to us Father that sustains and satisfies the deepest places within us. We confess that we do not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Forgive us our trespasses, our debts. Lord we’ve fallen short this week. Impatience, quick judgments, disdain, offense, worry, doubt, apathy towards Kingdom things. Have mercy on us God, you know we are merely dust, you know the weakness of our frame.
As we forgive our debtors. Find us today holding no accounts; releasing any demands of anyone owing us anything. For you have forgiven us debt we could never pay, for the imperfections of our soul. Do a deep work in your people to let go, so that we may also be forgiven.
Lead us not into temptation. Get ahold of our flesh nature God. Stand in the way of any wayward leaning in us. Lead us by your Holy Spirit. Turn our eyes from worthless things. Cleanse and purge our souls from lusts of the flesh.
Deliver us from evil. The enemy is always prowling about as a roaring lion seeking whom He may devour. Rescue us from his wicked schemes, deliver us from his lies and perversions. Hide us under your wings. Shelter us from the storms of his design.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen. You alone deserve the glory Father. King of kings, Lord of lords, maker of heaven and earth. Amen.
There is so much inspiration for fresh prayer language through the "Lord's prayer"! Use its structure to linger longer with Him! Pray into the language. Go deeper into His holy expression!
Listen to all the episodes this week for more reflections on the "Our Father" prayer! And listen in to the weeks prior, for a series of 9 episodes praying through Psalm 23!
Please consider supporting our mission of prayer! We want to reach more with the podcast and inspire others to linger longer with God!
Friend Friday- Prayer over you
WHO IS PRAYING FOR YOU?
Has your Christianity become far too independent and earthly grounded? When is the last time you asked someone, "Will you pray for me?" If you haven't asked for prayer or received prayer in the last 2 weeks, it's not a stretch to say, your faith is too earthly grounded.
Believers are to make up a house of prayer, Matthew 21:13. We are to be interdependent upon each other and to pray for each other, Romans 15:30 & Colossians 1:9 & Ephesians 6:18. Our agreement in prayer breaks strongholds, Matthew 18:19. We are blessed when we pray for our friends, Job 42:10. We receive what we ask for, 1 John 5:14. There is promise of healing as we open up to each other and pray for each other, James 5:16.
Are you positioning to receive these promises? Do you believe in the power of praying together?
If we are honest, this is a very challenging question, and is answered in the frequency in which we do it. Just like if I were to ask, "Do you believe in working out to maintain physical health?" Your conviction is answered in the frequency in which you do it. Same with prayer.
Give yourself a challenge to ask another Christian to pray for you over the next several days. And for another prayer covering over you, please listen in to today's podcast, episode #313. You can also scan through other Friend Friday's to find even more episodes of prayer covering over you. This is not a substitute for others praying over you in person, but it is an additional resource of supernatural protection and power that is so important to your walk of faith! Take 6 minutes today and receive prayer covering through Peace Be Still Daily Prayer Download!
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Saturday, June 16th was a GOOD day, filled with gentle breezes in the park and of the LORD! Souls were gathered, refreshed, filled, and renewed! For those who are curious and might consider attending in the future, this blog will explain how the time was used and include reactions from attendees. There was a good range of ages that participated from early 20's up to 60 "ish". Two men after God's own heart attended! Drawing near to God is not just for women!
We started off gathering under the shelter shown above. For the beginning, some introductory messages were given about the format, reason for the ministry, and a beginning teaching with associated meditative exercise. Then each was given an MP3 player that contained 30 minutes of preparatory breathing and prayer meditation to do alone on a walk in the park. The recording was to help participants begin to open up and invite God to search within and give some freedom in preparing alone. Then, upon return, they were ready to connect with current thoughts, feelings, actions, and words causing upset within. A form was handed out and participants took time to consider what was not currently good in these areas and write them down. We then focused on God's meaning of good with visual pictures to help identify God's activity to do good within our souls and satisfy our deepest needs in all areas of our lives.
True "good", as defined by God, is definitive and unchanging. It is not opinion based as we use it. True good is seen and known in the life of Jesus, who qualifies himself as the "Good" Shepherd. A good shepherd MAKES his sheep lie down and rest, Psalm 23:2. How? We looked at 4 areas that create unrest within sheep folds, and saw how these areas perfectly translated to 4 areas of upset in our human lives. These are the areas that a good shepherd has to settle in order for his flock to lie down and rest. Those 4 areas were brought before God in meditative exercises. With the help of the Holy Spirit, participants processed, released, and received fresh revelation and rest from God. During this part, I also included time to pray for the group in each of the 4 areas. If you have never been prayed for, this experience alone can be quite comforting and healing. God intends that we have moments when someone is standing with us to cover us with God's good promises. We need others to stand with us in agreement for renewal and supernatural life, especially when we are weary and heavy burdened. Participants received this covering. This period of time (From the time of return from the walk to completing the meditative exercises) took about 1 hour.
The ending was a transition from the exercises to worship played on a speaker. Worship time helps each one end gently and in their timing, alone with God. Participants were invited to worship for as long as they wanted, or continue journaling, and/or receive personal prayer. Each were free to leave in their own timing. Some stayed for an 10 additional minutes, some stayed another 40 minutes. Some asked for personal prayer for the areas that God brought up to them in the meditative exercises. There was a good amount of release of gentle emotion from most participants because God was good and ministered to deep areas of need.
Overall, it was a wonderful time with the Good Shepherd! But I'll let the remaining input come from some participants who turned in a survey. (Note they chose the roles that are associated with their comments.)
"Amazing!!! The combination of the walk and guided meditation was very helpful and woke me up to areas in marriage and work that I was anxious and controlling. Gina's meditations help me process emotions with better clarity and gain new ways of becoming closer with God." - Youth Ministry leader and Professional Career.
"Really enjoyed MP3 use; but it wasn't long enough. I wanted more." - Adult Ministry leader and Parent
"The meditation was very refreshing and insightful. The park was a perfect setting! I found the images you described (like God's mercy as a womb) very helpful for a fuller understanding of God. I thought the pacing of the meditation was just right. I appreciated how we were able to reflect on our feelings and then progress to meditating on God's provision for these troubling feelings. I especially like the phrase "shameless audacity" and have used it in my prayer life this week." - Parent and professional career
"I really enjoyed the experience. I feel I gained some tools in being able to go deeper in meditation and reflection to grow closer to Jesus. The park is one of my favorites so this helped me also. Nature is one of those places that I really connect with God." - Parent and Business Owner
"Gina is a connector- her gift to help you enter the presence of God, no matter how 'stuck in the mud' you feel- is truly a gift." - Life Coach
"Thank you for this ministry! I appreciated the time to ourselves for reflection. Not often that we are able to slow down and process life events or emotions. Thanks again!" - Professional Career
"The location was perfect. After the meditation I felt so encouraged, loved, and near the Lord. There was a sense of renewed hope. All those troubled thoughts were gone. Got a vision of Jesus wrapping his arms around me and insight of walls built as a hedge of protection from God. The teaching on the shepherd was amazing. He is a good shepherd!" - Parent
"I really appreciate your gentle leadership. You shared wisdom and scripture but very much in a way of drawing in (not talking at)." - Bible teacher, Youth Ministry leader, Parent
"I loved the Into the Water's Experience. Would love to know where to go from here. Often I find I get a little taste, but then back to the 'crazy'. How do I get this muscle to be my go to?" - Bible teacher, Youth Ministry leader, Parent
"This time of meditation provided a much needed respite in a time of turmoil and uncertainty. Through Gina's gentle promptings and interactions and non-judgmental approach we were led into the presence of the "Good Shepherd", basking in His love, reflecting on our own thinking and actions and learning to wait patiently in Him. Draw near to Him! Thank you Gina, you have been a blessing in my life!" - Bible Teacher and Professional Career
"Enjoyed time shared with God in nature, His creation. Refreshed and revived in His Spirit. Felt calmness, soothing release of emotions. It was a time to bring God's good into my soul and then my home." - Seeker
Participants were also asked the following questions with percentages shown of majority answer, from majority of attendees who submitted a survey-
1) Overall, how satisfied were you with your experience at today's meditation?
This is all written to give you a sense of the experience and to encourage you to consider attending an event. Additionally, please leave a comment below if you have interest in learning how to bring this type of session into your small group setting. You can also send an email of inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. A similar event will be posted for the 1st Saturday in August. Sign up will be posted next week, keep an eye out on the calendar page! Draw near!
Questions to ponder, consider, meditate, and process in God’s presence…
1) What is a destructive root system working within you, that needs to be destroyed? A system that is invasive and damaging to yourself and your relationships? A long-standing root system that is affecting your ability to see and know God’s peace, life, and power?
2) Next week's blog- Are there destructive root systems in those around you? Are their thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and criticisms destroying the strength of your faith foundation? Is there someone you need to approach because their state-of-heart is damaging your faith walk and obedience to Christ?
For more, read on…
This week a friend of mine sat in with me for a situation that needs resolve. After the situation that she attended with me, we went to her house and asked God to help us process what just took place. We took about 30 minutes to worship and pray and wait on God’s input. She received 2 words for me, “New roots.” For context, she gave a couple of scriptures, one being Jeremiah 17:7-8:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Roots. The things we can't see growing underground. How important are they?
Did you know that roots can be more vigorous in growth and change than the leaves above? Did you know that new roots form RAPIDLY AFTER INJURY? This was revelation to me. For some reason, I had a picture in my mind that roots would rapidly grow just based upon season. I never factored in DEATH of roots as reason for rapid growth of NEW roots.
From a report called “Tree roots: facts and fallacies”, it states, “injury to and death to roots are frequent…”
Injury and death, commonly referred to in scripture as suffering and dying to self.
In the report I read, the roots referred to as being injured and dying frequently were not the main tree roots; but the feeder roots. Feeder roots are made up of a complex system of network roots that primarily grow out and up. They absorb water and other nutrients to feed the tree. These feeder roots reside much closer to ground level and therefore are more easily damaged by surface level contaminants. They are more easily injured by surrounding plants, insects, animals, chemicals, and human action.
To me this brought great revelation and gave me much to ponder. I’ve been really struggling with what God is doing right now in my life. Why so much injury and pain as this year starts? I’ve been upset about a call to “suffer” not willing to follow God’s lead. It’s been causing a great amount of distress and push-back in me.
But though I have been a reluctant participant in whatever He is doing right now, of late I am turning and obeying, trusting Him to help me face pain. Through a series of “yes'", the new roots God wants formed are beginning to find their way deeper in Him. Its not over yet; but I know I am on the right path. Certainly I have made mistakes, but praise God as I reach for him, there is promise of healing. Do you believe that for yourself?
Luke 6:19-and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
My revelation will not be your revelation; but I believe God wants me to share steps I've taken for revelation because too many travel alone. I haven't gone on the path of healing alone. As I have said yes to God, I have invited people into my pain and had it all laid before God with them. There is healing if we trust and have confidence in God as Jeremiah 17:7-8 listed above promises.
What steps have I taken?
1- Ultimately I have given in, I have surrendered to face the painful situation that God is asking me to face. Our first step is to say, "Yes Lord." - John 14:23
2- I haven’t process my pain alone. In very difficult moments, I've called friends. I've asked them to come over and “be with me”. I’ve been willing to mourn in their presence and be vulnerable, no matter how awkward it has felt to do so. - James 5:16
3- I've let several people pray for me; and have been tuning into what is coming from these “intimates” after they have prayed and sought God on my behalf. There is a common message forming.- Matthew 18:19
4- I have not faced difficult meetings alone. See Matthew 18:16, where 2 or more are gathered, there Christ is with them. I have taken a spirit filled friend with me. for confrontation and to address situations.
5- I’ve not trusted in my own perceptions or other human perceptions after those meetings. I’ve processed my questions at the foot of the cross searching His Word, asking Him to give me and others His wisdom and His thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9
6- As this process has continued, I’ve become more willing to face suffering and pain believing it will produce more of Him in me. 2 Corinthians 1:5-7
7- I’ve been more willing to look at my anger. I've cast it on Christ, and have gone "deeper" to feel the pain and confess the fear driving it. - 1 Peter 5:7,
8- I’ve been obeying His call to sing during the pain, despite not feeling like it. -Psalm 63:7, I Thessalonians 5:16.
9- I continue to seek scripture for wisdom. Night and evening, praying continually asking God to speak to me through scripture and give me His wisdom. I want the new roots. I want healing. - 1 Thessalonians 5-17, Psalm 119:10.
10- New roots are forming as I continue to cry out asking for more of the Holy Spirit. “Holy Spirit come, open my eyes that I may see and understand and obey.”- Luke 11:13
What are the new roots he wants forming in you and me? What is the purpose behind the injury?
He says to you, He says to me, “Let your roots go deeper in Me.”
Is there distress in your life? What feeder roots might God be injuring? If you were to picture yourself as a tree, what does your root system look like? Are they thirsty? Are they feeling contaminated, raw and right at the surface, easily damaged? Is something cutting through those surface roots? What do your leaves look like? Are they green and flourishing?
Take time to consider yourself as a tree. Ask God to show you a picture of where you are planted, by His stream or alone in a desert? Pray for God show you your root system. Ask Him where you need to go deeper. Are "Holy Spirit filled-others" prayerfully with you in your injury? Go through the list of 10 things above, are you taking these steps? Ask God to provide intimate others who are surrendered to God, to be with you as you face the pain He wants to heal.
Next week’s blog is about asking him to show you a root system in situations and people around you that might be damaging to your foundation. Until then please try out the 2 meditations offered on the meditation page. Consider becoming a monthly supporter at just $10 per month! If you do, you will exclusively receive future meditations and accompanying resources once a month! I will receive notice that you have signed up as a monthly donor and your name and email will be added to the distribution of each month's prayer meditation resource!
This week, I have created a prayer exercise based upon Psalm 46:10a- "Be still and know that I am God."
Frequently, behind God's Word, He has images to look at, cultural context to understand, and actions to take. This is true of God's command to "be still".
As God's people, we are called to trust and be still. In God's terms it means to slacken. To relax. To let fall, especially the hands. The idea is that we are to leave off our own attempts. It is about letting go, loosing (not losing) control, and trusting God to deliver and rescue.
It's a process to trust God. That's why after the words, "Be still", he then says; and "KNOW that I am God." To know him the way He means, is that we would see AND perceive Him with clarity. He intends that we acquire intimate knowledge of who He is. The more we know Him this way, the more we trust Him to step in, the more we cry out that He intervene and take the reigns. The more we love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, the more we will find rest in storms and have peace that surpasses understanding. We will release and trust Him for deliverance.
God has many names to know Him by. One is Prince of Peace, see Isaiah 9:6. The prayer exercise at the end of the blog invites you into a quiet and restful time with the Prince of Peace. It takes about 5 minutes. Feel free to linger as long as you'd like though, there is no rush. Have your Bible and a pencil and paper near to journal thoughts and reference the Word.
Creating and distributing resources like the video below is one part of this year's goals for Into the Waters. Our mission is to inspire people to linger longer with God in prayer, resourcing the earnest to draw near and know Christ. If you are one of the "earnest", I invite you to receive a biblical prayer meditation resource like the one below, on a monthly basis!
For those who would support this ministry at a minimum of $10 per month, every month you will receive a 5-10 minute biblical meditation for use in your prayer closet! You will receive access to a "locked" page that will contain the meditation resources. Know your monthly support will help fund efforts as we go out and execute small group meditations, pray with people, and create more prayer resources for distribution and individual/group use. Help is needed to go out! The goal is to have 50 supporters at $10 per month or more over the next 6 months. Please pray for the ministry and agree for the provision!
Visit the updated donation page to see detail on how to be a "recurring" monthly donor. Read the testimony page for a refresher of what God does and how people are blessed to spend time with Him!
Would God lead you to be a regular supporter? We are a unique prayer ministry in terms of having a foundation based upon scripture meditation and active listening. The Spirit, the Word of God, and Jesus are the central inspiration! Thank you for considering being a monthly partner! If not, one time donations are always greatly appreciated, no matter how big or small. Blessings! God loves you! Press in for more and enjoy the meditation below!
MEDITATION DESCRIPTION: The "Be Still" meditation is completely silent. It lasts approximately 5 minutes and 45 seconds. It might help to watch it once before entering your prayer time. You will see the slides transition, with some holding for longer periods to give you time to pray and process. You will be prompted with questions and asked to consider what you need to release into God's hands in order to experience the stillness He promises our souls. Be patient with yourself and the process. Let God work in you. Note: For monthly members, future uploads will include some sort of musical chime or sound to keep you in tune with slide transitions. As well you will be given access to complementary resources for deeper levels of processing and life application. Enjoy!
I'm in the process of sending out donation letters for 2016. In them, I am including a summary of ministry fruit and thought I'd include the same content in this week's blog. He deserves the glory!
Know that God worked through you in any financial support, words of encouragement, participation as a reader or in an event, and in any form of prayer for this ministry. These means helped sustain and advance initial ministry activities for which I am truly thankful and humbled! They were also evidence that God is directing the mission of Into the Waters.
The mission of Into the Waters Ministry, Inc. is to inspire people to linger longer with God in prayer, resourcing the earnest to draw near and know Christ.
Towards that mission, in 2016:
Over 87% of attendants stated they were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their prayer experience! They gave excellent feedback via survey and email responses, making it clear that the Holy Spirit ministered deeply to individuals in the sessions. The Word of God renewed minds with scriptural truth. People heard from God. Many processed and confessed weaknesses, releasing burdens. About 30% asked for personal prayer. Overall it was clear God’s presence was the reason this ministry touched people! All glory to God!
Already in 2017, 3 sessions have been held. Two of the 3 sessions have been private sessions using Psalm 23, with 12 people in attendance within those 2 private groups.
2017’s main focus will be on expanding reach through private small group sessions instead of community sessions. The community sessions were very helpful in introducing the mission of the ministry, testing and revising format, giving people an initial experience of biblical meditation, and opening doors for invitations into private group settings. New people are being reached as group leaders invite Into the Waters into their settings. This shift of going out will also enable the ministry to do some outreach to local organizations as the LORD leads and opens those doors. Visit the "Invite Me In" page to inquire about a private group session for your small group or ministry.
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you…”
Into the Waters Ministry is going out to make disciples, Matthew 28:18-20. Using the Word of God as inspiration and with the Holy Spirit’s help, people are lingering longer with God in prayer. They are waiting on His presence, listening for His counsel, wrestling with and confessing weaknesses, carrying burdens to Christ, and drawing nearer to renew their minds in Christ. Is that a ministry that you would continue supporting? If so, please consider becoming a regular partner of the ministry and support the LORD’s heart that his house be a house of prayer, that people would humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their own way to His way. If we do, He will hear, forgive, and heal, 2 Chronicles 7:14.
With additional donations, the ministry would like to focus on developing downloadable resources and printable resources for individual’s private prayer closets and for use in small group settings. Thank you for any donation that contributes to our prayer equipping and resourcing mission! Visit the donation page to donate- www.intothewaters.com/donate.
Thank you so much for your readership and support! May 2017 be a year you seek His face like never before! As 2017 begins, consider a fast. Forget what is behind and go forward in His grace and life! Below you will find a document to guide you in fasting from leaven, a symbolic object of flesh life.
Live in the life of His Spirit!
Servant of the Good Shepherd
Into the Waters Ministry, Inc.
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Prayer is Gift!
Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!