Hello! Have you signed up for our next session yet? It’s approaching! Saturday January 25th at 8am is the date and time! Sign up here! The session is called the “WORD of GOD” and it’s tied to the 2020 WORD “ASCEND” that I shared in the first blog of the year. Read it here.
Over the past several months I have had conversations with 2 different men who both diminished to not just tears, but deep sobbing as I spoke with them. One man was about to put his dog down. He was going alone to do it. He started out stoic in the conversation, until I mentioned God. The other was just betrayed and left by his wife after 25 years of marriage. He started out complaining, until I mentioned God. Neither were believers in God to my knowledge. My conversations with each were different; but a common “WORD” I said to each was, “I will pray that God comforts you, that you know you are not alone.” With those words, emotion broke through. The intensity of their emotion surprised me, but I took it as a holy moment, and prayed for their souls while they released pain. Each were in desperate need of a sustaining WORD from God.
While searching for a picture for this blog I found this one without copyright restrictions. The man who took the photo made this comment about what it means- "...I always keep a wide smile on my mouth, but sometimes I feel that I am lifting mountains of depression on my chest. Wondering why? My keyboard will run out of alphabets if I answered that question! MAY GOD HELP ME!"
That's a big unspoken confession. Mountains of depression! Prayers alone, without the WORD of God, are they enough to sustain us? See below on 4 temptations of Jesus. How did Jesus reply, with prayer or in another way?
Each of us, no matter our circumstances, need a sustaining WORD from God... as regularly as the meals we eat! Jesus was clear that we do not live on bread alone, i.e. on things that sustain our flesh. But we live by every WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God. What is the last sustaining WORD that God has spoken to you? Can and do you quiet yourself to hear it? Do you need to practice sitting quietly with God to receive it? Is the hustle and bustle of life preventing you from taking a good hour to be with God and His WORDS? If so, sign up for January 25th!
The first handful of scriptures in the Gospel of John tell us that the WORD (Jesus) “was” already. In the beginning, Jesus already “was”. Therefore, Jesus is eternal. Jesus is self-existent, just like God the Father. Before the beginning, Jesus was with GOD the Father. And Jesus is God. John tells us that Jesus is the Source and Creator of all things. In Him is life. He alone possesses life. His life is the source of light to all. Therefore, if you do not have his life in you, you do not have light in you. His light overcomes darkness. Darkness cannot lay hold of his light; it cannot overtake his light. Darkness can only be transformed by his light.
Here are the actual scriptures of John 1:1-5:
In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, without Him nothing was made that had been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines through the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it.
John chapter 1 goes on to say that the WORD became flesh and dwelt here on earth among us… If the WORD of God became flesh in Jesus, it is to become flesh in us! You can practice that with the group who is already signed up for January 25th! Sign up!
Why practice? Because you are a target for attack. If you look at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 ,and drill it down to Satan’s strategy, what do you see? You see that Satan attacked the identity of Jesus, the Son of God. And what did he tempt Jesus to do? This is not an exclusive list, but there are 4 big things that I saw as I meditated upon it this week:
“If you are the Son of God…”
Jesus when tempted by Satan, responded with the WORD of God that was in Him. He told Satan that man does not live on bread alone but on every WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God. He didn’t need bread to feed his flesh. He himself was the WORD that sustains. He himself is the WORD that sustains you.
For a WORD from God, Jesus wants us to consume His WORD. He wants us to hide it in our hearts so that we do not sin against Him. If Jesus had to battle using the WORD of GOD, we do also! Is His WORD in you to quickly refute and overcome lies, temptations, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, anger, judgment, self-obsession, self-hatred, pride? How do you battle and gain victory over the negative thoughts and temptations that entice your flesh desires? Or are you giving in to temptation?
Jesus has a sustaining word of the Spirit for you. A WORD from God sustains! A WORD from God heals. A WORD from God reaches into the deepest places within to restore, renew, and reframe our mind.
What is the last WORD from him that sustained you? That fed you?
The session on January 25th is about taking our eyes off of what can be seen. Because what can be seen is temporal. Instead we will focus our eyes on what is unseen, because what is unseen is eternal. We are to focus on the invisible. Looking up, reaching up, climbing up, ascending to the realm of God’s WORD. His supernatural WORD descending in us to raise us up in the power of the Spirit. Sign up for January 25th! Tell a friend!
Fear and anxieties prevent rest. God knows all about it because He experienced it before going to His death. He worked through it in prayer. Please reference this post from last Thursday to read in detail what He experienced physically and emotionally in that time of prayer in the garden. Knowing Jesus experienced such trauma on your behalf is meant to soften your heart towards Him. He is not a God of words only; but action. His actions prove His love. We respond to His love by getting to know Him and spending time with Him. May you find 9 minutes to process your fear and anxieties with Him. As the Good Shepherd, He alone has the power to still and quiet you. He made a way for you to have access to Him, honor His sacrifice and respond to His invitation. "Come all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!" (This meditation is silent and is clearly timed for you to know transitions. Pause anywhere if more time is needed. Find a quiet place without interruption. Blessings!)
(This blog details a bit about intercession, its blessing and power as a divine weapon of warfare to advance God’s will in the world, for ourselves, our loved ones, and the Body of Christ. Also at the end of this week’s blog are 2 ways to receive blessing from intercession through Into the Waters.)
Intercession opens up the door to meeting with the God who never changes. Yet with intercession, our God is willing to and will change his mind. He will destroy works of darkness through your intercession. He will be merciful to those who do not deserve mercy because you cry out.
To intercede is to encounter, meet, reach, entreat, fall upon with force, strike, attack. There is EARNEST persistence in intercession; there is proper application of God’s power and authority in the requests. See Ephesians 1:19-23 as just one example referencing the greatness of power available to Christians because Christ is seated above all other authority.
Christian, you are seated next to Christ, Ephesians 2:6. How do you put to use the authority you’ve been given, 1 Peter 2:9? Are you confident in your prayers? Do you speak in Christ’s authority? Many people sound unsure of themselves and unsure of God when they pray, not truly understanding the authority they’ve been given, unsure of God’s heart in a matter, or how to put their authority into divine play for victory.
Intercession is very powerful. Prayer is a divine weapon of warfare that destroys strongholds and abolishes thoughts contrary to Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
Yet few, very few, seem willing to press in at length, fall upon God with force, calling Heaven down. It is a shame really because a world of adventure and intimate fellowship with God awaits!
Off topic slightly, regarding a world of adventure, I would either want to be a spy given special access to overhear wicked plots so I could help expose and defeat their dastardly plans; or, I would want to be an NFL referee. Both are fanciful and ridiculous requests because as a human spy, I would most certainly be found out immediately. And as a referee, its inevitable I would run the wrong way and be flattened like a pancake, knocked unconscious probably on the first play.
Now back on topic… In the sweetness of God knowing my heart for this type of adventure, He “sort of” makes a way… without all the danger for capture, torture, and possible concussions and girlie screams. How? Intercession! Might sound ridiculous; but to the childlike willing to believe, it is true! Intercession can be a world of adventure!
When the LORD first started teaching me about the power of intercession, He revealed some things to myself and a few others like we were spies on assignment. It was 2003; and the Iraqi war was beginning. A man from my church felt like God was asking him to gather people to intercede once a week at 6am for God’s intervention in the war. God wanted sacrificial commitment, hence meeting at 6am. There were 5 of us who joined him. Within the first month of the war, a deck of cards was released by US armed forces that had names and faces of terrorists assigned to each suit and card rank. Saddam Hussein was the “Ace of Spades”. God highlighted Saddam’s card to me; and I remember telling our group God wanted to capture the “Ace of Spades”. So we prayed for it. I remember specifically praying that he be found in a hole. Just 9 months later, he was found cowering in a hole! It was with this announcement that the rush of intercession as adventure became reality for me! God was allowing me to be a spiritual spy!
Since then, the assignments have continued; but focused within the Body of Christ. In similar fashion, He’s made me aware of threats and dangers and has had me praying protection and blessing and sanctification over certain leaders.
Did you know that Billy Graham had an intercessor named Pearle Goode who followed him to as many of his locations as possible and interceded while he preached? Why do you think Anna is mentioned at the birth of Christ? Why was she allowed to hold him, proclaim him, and recognize him immediately? She was a prophetic intercessor in place for his coming, Luke 2:36-38.
When you pursue God given call, you will face spiritual opposition. Read Exodus 17:8-16. It details spiritual war with the divine weapons of worship and intercession in play. Notice verse 16. The LORD will be at war with the Amalekites from generation to generation. It’s continual. God is at war against evil, until all Christ’s enemies become a footstool underneath his feet, Hebrews 1:13.
In Exodus 17 Moses, Aaron, and Hur lifted up hands to God so Joshua and the Israelite army could win. So too we are to hold up hands for those on the battle field. Divine weapons must be in play for victory. Challenge yourself to offer up a prayer when you are listening to Sunday sermons, insist that dead bones would come alive, that in the name of Jesus sleepy Christians would wake up!
Earnest intercession is effective and powerful. I’ve been able to stand back and observe in many instances what God has done in response to praying according to His will for certain leaders. He has revealed plots against them. He has removed threats. He has brought discipline. He has brought messages of encouragement and hope. He has strengthened and sustained them in seasons of trial and weariness. If you are an intercessor, you have these tales to tell (but will keep the details to yourself).
God’s Word says that YOU (Christian) can be just like Elijah, James 5:17-18. If you want it, it is yours to pursue and claim. You must be earnest as Elijah was. Revisit the spiritual exploits and victories of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 to 1 Kings 21 and 2 Kings 1 and 2. God wants more intercessors! Your family needs intercession! Your neighbor needs intercession! Your church leaders need intercession! Your city needs intercession! The upcoming presidential elections need intercession!
Not only is intercession a divine weapon against evil, it is often a cry for God to be merciful. Our God will change his mind and relent on a decision. God changed his mind with King Hezekiah, extending his life by 15 years and upending His own laws of nature (sending the sun backwards in time) as a sign to Hezekiah that he would be healed (2 Kings 20:1-11). Our heartfelt cries for mercy are simple acts bringing divine intervention and healing, 2 Kings 20:5. God even had mercy on King Ahab, notable as the most evil king of Israel. Ahab cried out for mercy, 1 Kings 21:25-29.
What other nation (God’s people) is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him, Deuteronomy 4:7? Intercede for your nation, 2 Chronicles 7:13-16, Psalm 85.
Finally, regarding intercession, do you want to experience the blessing? Here are 2 ways to be blessed by God’s gift, for greater intimacy and Spirit-empowered life:
Last week I mentioned some ways the Spirit speaks and encourages. Prophetic encouragement is a divine weapon of warfare. It speaks life to spirit, not flesh. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14- The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Spiritual weapons are mentioned in scripture. They DESTROY strongholds, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. We have our arguments, we have pretensions that are directly opposite of the spirit filled life and thoughts of God. His thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways, Isaiah 55:8. Engaging with the promised spiritual weapons is a NECESSITY for the very real battle in our minds and to have minds renewed to his will, Romans 12:2.
People can wrongly assume the armor mentioned in Ephesians 6 are the list of divine weapons. My case would be yes and no. No, because there is a much deeper dive to take within that armor to make it practical. There is ACTION to put it on. Ephesians 6:13 that says "after you have done all"... What is the act of doing all? Those weapons of warfare need to be engaged. I see one clearly offensive weapon (versus defensive fitting) listed in the armor; and it is sword of the Spirit, the WORD of GOD.
How many weapons are dug up from the WORD of GOD? I made a list awhile ago and came up with 42 divine weapons of warfare. Each have clear steps that point to "doing something".
A couple of very powerful ones are singing, fasting, and praying. On Monday night, whoever is willing, even if it is just one person, I will stand with you engaging these weapons. I briefly mentioned it last week and have not done much to announce it otherwise. Please come! See the calendar page! (If you register, I will send you a fasting page, and will fast with you by Sunday, for use if you want to fast the day of the session.)
When the LORD saved me at 28 years old, it was a dramatic experience. But the miracle of that whole situation was not what has sustained me. There is something the Spirit said to me immediately in my point of conversion, something I've seen God continue to transact in me. What He said was, "Yes I still heal, and I will heal you." Notice the "will heal" part. Let me tell you I am NOT even close to who I was and praise God for that! I was not well emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or physically at that time. He has had to put me in my right mind. He has to put you in your right mind. He has had to re-parent me from Heaven. He has to re-parent you. He offers a spirit filled life and mind that you were not born with, nobody is (Romans 8:9-11). And...
Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
During a time in Southern California when He was really pushing me outside of my comfort zone, I remember a friend telling me during prayer something God put on his heart for me. He said something along the lines of, "Worship, sing, and as you sing, what God has for you will be released." That was 13 years ago. If I thought ill of God, I would have given up by now because let me tell you there has been a ton of testing in those years with things stolen and destroyed. Also God has brought many difficult tests and I have to choose, approval of man or God. He has insisted my flesh be crucified. This for Spirit release and promise. It is the same for all. But if we do not give up, our time of release and promise comes! Keep praising! You will experience one obvious outcome. You will have greater intimacy of relationship with God and experience His presence and sustaining life of Christ's Spirit within you. There is nothing better.
Join me on Monday, be encouraged to press in! What was said to me about singing and worshiping also applies to you. It is a spiritual truth and promise He manifests to His people all throughout scripture. Claim that promise! As you worship the King of all and sing at the expense of every other desire, He will release more of Himself to you and lead you on a path you never would have seen. He still opens up the Red Sea when your back is against the wall with the enemy intent on destroying you. He still takes those who believe into promised lands! He still supernaturally delivers! Believe!
This week I had the privilege of doing a small group meditation for a bible fellowship group. We met in the leader's home, doing the prayer session in her living room. It was a great experience doing it in this home setting because it was not rushed; and, since the group already has relationships with one another, they were more open to asking me questions after. Their comments and questions revealed deep levels of internal processing regarding God and prayer.
I created a meditation for them on Psalm 84, which represents a spiritual pilgrimage through valleys of weeping, a cry and longing for more of God. Psalm 84 reveals a longing soul stilled through resting in God's presence, continuing with Him in the journey, and trusting in His divine help.
Before starting the meditation, I set up the context of the scripture and showed them some pictures of what the "court of the Lord", referenced in Psalm 84, may have looked like (either tabernacle or temple). I also brought pictures of the Israeli desert sparrow and of the swallow who attaches her nest to buildings or structures, verse 3. I showed pictures of the Desert Balsam tree that "weeps" sap and grows in the Valley of Baka referenced in verse 6, known as the "valley of weeping". All of these images are doorways into deeper meanings. They are living creatures and places meant to help us express our heart to our living God, verse 2. They put meaning behind longing and a fainting thirst for God, verse 2 . The song writer yearned and fainted for God, knowing God as the only hope for continued strength on a difficult spiritual journey, verses 5-7. There is more that was included; but this gives you a few ideas of the deep richness meant not only to be read; but to be experienced through our imaginations and referenced through personal experience.
By engaging not just our minds; but our 5 senses, God's concrete language comes alive and our hearts are set free to engage easier. God desires this for you in prayer.
When I showed a couple examples of the traveling tabernacle and the temple, I asked if anyone had any comments. One person was surprised by the pictures and always visualized the "court of the Lord" as a place for judgment hearing a serious atmosphere. Yet the Psalm paints a picture where nervous animals like birds are building their nests and laying their eggs close to God's altar. This is not an atmosphere filled with God's angry presence, it is an atmosphere even birds can rest quietly on their eggs and take care of their babies without fear of rebuke. This is God's court we are to see and hear, available through Christ.
At the end one person asked what it meant to ask for prayer in a church setting and what to do. It may seem like people should easily know what to do; but there is a spiritual war happening in sanctuary settings when the Word of God is being preached. We do not always respond to clear instruction and reason because of this very real spiritual war. What is simple becomes clouded and confusing. This person had been wondering about asking for prayer for a long time, but never giving in to the internal prompts to go for prayer. It came out in the discussion and a commitment made to go for prayer. It also allowed everyone to hear why it was very important to follow the internal prompts and get prayer.
Another person shared what she felt the Lord was showing her during services. She needed encouragement and a positive filter to interpret what was burdening her heart. By expressing it and talking it through she felt affirmed and encouraged that the Holy Spirit was talking to her and it was a call to intercede for God's work in the sanctuary.
There was opportunity to pray with a sick family member. I would not have gotten that if I had not been ministering in this home setting. Someone not part of the group needed encouragement and prayer and they got it. God sees and sends tender mercies to those suffering.
Another person shared her connection with the visualization exercises of resting in the nest of the LORD. Recently she discovered a nest in her backyard tree, only able to see the mother bird head popping up from the nest, evidence she was quietly sitting on her eggs, still and abiding. Through her experience she was able to recall the sights, sounds, and memory that the bird was just resting and she needed to do that too! This scripture visualization exercise helped her connect and simply rest in His presence.
Resting, i.e. dwelling (verse 4), in God's court is the call of Psalm 84. To dwell means to abide, sit still, rest, stay, linger. It is a safe haven, a place to be undisturbed and refreshed with living water, verse 6.
God says "ask, seek, knock". I am doing that right now, looking for more opportunities to minister in small group settings. Please click on the buttons above and read more about "Inviting Me In" to your small group setting. I'd be honored to encourage you to linger with God in prayer and to fellowship with you! Take a risk with God, linger longer with him in prayer, draw nearer and know Christ!
Regret. It can be very crippling to spirit and body. It’s a horrible stronghold capable of paralyzing life and spirit. Regret ruthlessly consumes our “now” thoughts, holding us captive. We give regret space in our head. Some give it a “continuous play” mode. Regret deflates spirit, tramples hope, condemnation cursing within. If you are a child of God, regret with soul condemnation is to have no head or heart space.
Heavy burdens creating anxiety are weighing down the Lord’s people. If there is a common thread in prayer need right now, I am seeing this is it. Anxieties are not just weighing down; they are crippling, stealing breath and sleep and livelihood. As God’s people, we know this should not be so and that adds an even greater weight to it all.
Everyone’s situations are different. God’s people have children who are astray; children recklessly risking their lives in various ways, family with long-standing health issues that are paralyzing and overwhelming loved ones. God’s people are weighed down with personal anxieties too. Faith walks are crippled, tossing back and forth due to unbelief. Some are trapped in a debilitating cycle of sin and self, boxed in a stronghold of self-destructive behavior. Some are stuck in mourning feeling blinded by sorrow, loneliness with hopelessness selfishly hoarding all of their thoughts. Some are under intense spiritual attack, the enemy very intent on killing your faith. For God’s people, staying stuck in muck and mire, paralyzed in a state of dread reveals a deep spiritual need not being met. We are not to live in a slimy pit; there is ALWAYS promise God will rescue.
Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Waiting patiently implies expectation of God’s intervention. How do we wait? (Click here to read about waiting.) If your definition of waiting does not include extended times in His presence, you probably have a deep spiritual need not being met and anxiety is getting the better of you.
When I was around 6 years old, my parents took us camping somewhere along Lake Ontario. My brother and I and some cousins were in a shallow part of the lake, maybe waist deep. Suddenly we noticed our feet sank with each step. Someone said it was quick sand; and we had to get out or we would drown. I remember the panic I felt believing this were true; and how suddenly my feet felt cemented in the water, my breath escaping me as I desperately made my way towards tree roots jetting out from the shoreline. Those roots seemed to be my only hope to hold on and not die.
There was no quick sand. But just like envisioning drowning in quick sand, often our reactions are based upon our own skewed perception. And then sometimes our reactions are based upon ugly realities. The diagnosis that comes. The debt that looms. We then project a terrible outcome and our prayer language reflects it. God hears our drama instead of hearing prayers based on His ability to intervene.
In my studies I’ve learned that the Hebrews defined the future as behind and the past as in front. Why? Because what is in front can be seen, it is in plain view. The future cannot be seen; therefore it is hidden behind, unseen. If God is part of our past, His former faithfulness is in front of us. Looking to the past is clear vision towards the unseen future. We are called to see His former help and anticipate His intervention for now circumstances. He has been faithful, merciful, and powerful to rescue. He does not change. Our future is always dependent on the One who does not change. He alone is the place for anxieties to be stilled.
Beyond remembering former acts of God's faithfulness to you, assess your current state of faith and the soil in your heart. The parable of the sower in Matthew 13 is a good place to do so.
It mentions a wide range of circumstances. Off path. Seeds of faith devoured. Rock ground. A tender plant scorched. Withered. Choked by thorns. Troubles. Persecutions. Worries. Deceitfulness of riches. Calloused hearts. Ears not listening. Eyes closed.
Jesus says to his disciples (not everyone) in this parable, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” He goes on to explain that good ground will produce hearts that not only perceive; but understand, to bring forth an inexplicable multiplication of fruit and harvest.
“But I can’t see and I am having trouble hearing!”
How did we get in the place that we stand? What choices have led us to where we are? Some have gotten where they are by faith. Now there is realization that we can’t save ourselves or others. If this is you, you are in good company. You are a disciple. Christ leads his disciples to places that illicit high anxiety simply because they followed Christ. He doesn't leave you there though.
Is it a coincidence that the miracles in Matthew 14 are placed after the parable of the sower in Matthew 13? If you have followed God out into the wilderness and can’t feed yourself or others, if you are standing on water by faith, Jesus is right there with you. Yes, he is challenging and stretching you. But it is His power alone that miraculously multiplies supply, it is His power alone that heals the wound that won't stop bleeding.
Gospel accounts are resolved quickly and this frustrates our prayer life. In Matthew 14, Christ prays over scraps and within hours thousands are miraculously fed. Peter cries out and Jesus quickly reaches out his hand to save him. Momentary cry, immediate rescue. Yet our cries echo in our head, circumstances drag on, situations worsen. “Where is the immediate rescue?” we question. This is the battle of flesh against spirit.
If I only focused on negative, my anxieties would be crippling me right now. I MUST walk on higher ground of God’s promises. All throughout scripture, God always presented supernatural intervention as possible outcome. Supernatural outcome DID NOT happen where flesh choice rejected spirit walk.
Where we cannot see in the physical, He says we can see in the supernatural. He says blessings come in seeing and hearing Him. This supernatural promise is either true or false. My seed and yours doesn’t need to be devoured, scorched, or choked. It can be miraculously multiplied. Do we believe or not? Will we venture forth with eyes of faith and hear promise of rescue?
NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. – Hebrews 11:1
The conviction of their reality… faith perceived as real fact. I love the Amplified version of Hebrews 11:1! I can see if I trust God! You can see outcome too! Quick resolution in the Gospels was allowed for merely a few when Christ walked the earth. They were evidence of His authority and power.
Now He is in Heaven and in all his fullness is in us who believe, His Spirit daily wrestling our flesh, which will win? Flesh or spirit?
He is not a father who holds out arms only to step aside at the last minute, letting us fall, laughing as we struggle in waters too deep for us. He is the father that rescues and delivers. Your current struggle could be about learning to trust in Him alone. He’s called you to this trial of faith, now position by faith. Anticipate His intervention. Daily watch and persist with Him. Anticipate Him entering with a strong hand to deliver and rescue. Waiting is the hardest part; but we must wait so He can get the glory.
Your current struggle could be about spiritual warfare. Are you fitted with armor? What is penetrating your heart, mind, and soul? Stand firm fitted with spiritual armor and persist in prayer (Ephesians 6:10-20). Battle. Linger longer with God and boldly claim promises.
To those whose anxiety weighs down due to poor choices, God is merciful. Return to Him. A humbling and confession is necessary, as is a high-tailed sprint into the Father’s arms. He is looking for you, running towards you at the slightest indication you are turning back to him, Luke 15:20. He will clean you up, celebrate, and provide abundantly in ways you do not deserve.
Claim, "The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing." Psalm 23 is filled with visuals, sounds, promises and supernatural outcomes based on faith. Draw nearer! Come to the meditation tomorrow morning at 9am at Webster Recreation, room 302. Sign up on the calendar page. It’s a unique time with God to perceive His Shepherd heart and rest in His supernatural care. Don't be fooled. Without staying close to our Shepherd, following His voice, the world and all its attacks and cares will destroy us. Our flesh will create our outcomes. Instead may you claim Jesus’ blessing… “Blessed are your eyes for they see; and your ears for they hear!”
Who is your enemy? Do you believe you have enemies? If you do, do you believe you are just supposed to love them more, love them better, that love will win them over? Do you believe that, like Jesus did, you should hand yourself over to the ones seeking your demise? Do you believe you must aggressively defend yourself?
A lot of us get very confused and rattled in spirit because we don’t know what to do with enemies. Our efforts to love them seem to fail. People’s hate can really damage and disillusion our faith walk, harden our hearts. Many walk in fear in their careers because of it. Many leave their fellowship and service in ministry because of offense, because of hurt, because of continuous attack that wears down and wearies the spirit. When attack comes, it is easy to do one or more of the following: stop trusting, cut people off, make inaccurate conclusion about God’s character, vilify our accusers, panic, become depressed, give up.
Added confusion or frustration can come when we share our pain with others. Often Christians can be too quick to say to the one hurting, “We don’t battle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers…” In other words, Christians can be too quick to tell others their enemy is not really another person; their enemy is spiritual only, i.e. the devil and his forces at work. I’ve been guilty of giving this input right off. I need to stop doing it. Why? One, its empty comfort, and two, I’ve realized it is not how God counsels and comforts me. Why then would I counsel someone else differently? I need to model the way He comforts me so I can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
So first, know that going around quoting Ephesians 6:12 and 1 Peter 5:8 is not the best first approach when you are listening to someone under strain from the wicked words and vicious actions of others. Also, know for yourself if you are being wrongly accused, insidiously attacked, if there is a vicious plot in play against you, God will first and repeatedly acknowledge the injustice and validate your feelings to draw you into His arms for comfort, counsel, and wisdom. Spend time there in his arms, a good amount of time.
If you aren’t used to someone acknowledging your pain or validating your feelings, knowing that God will do this with you is surprising. And I personally believe that knowing him this way is critical to hearing God accurately. When you are suffering wrongdoing, before He tells you how to respond, He is first very willing to validate your pain. He will acknowledge the wicked schemes of others set against you. He does not say, “Buck up, get over it, don’t cry, stop being weak.” He will console you by giving you perspective and helping you rest in your innocence and in His ultimate response. Psalm 3, Psalm 5, Psalm 7, Psalm 11, and Psalm 17 are examples that support what I just said.
Think about it. When a good father finds out his child is being bullied, picked on, attacked, betrayed, harassed, what is his response? He consoles his child. He wipes tears. He holds in extended embrace. Then he acts. He counsels his child. He defends. He protects. He uses his influence and authority to seek justice. He makes his upset known. In this way an earthly father will let his child see through his actions that they are loved.
In an even more powerful way, God as Heavenly Father, wants His children to know he sees unjust suffering. He reads the intents of hearts. He wants his people to know that to the pure, he will show himself to be pure, but to the devious, He will show himself shrewd (Psalm 18:26). If you know Him this way, your soul is stilled much more quickly, you rest easier in His love; you wait for His response to your enemies instead of taking action yourself (Romans 12:19). You are able to say as King David said, “I have kept myself from the ways of the violent”- Psalm 17:4. You are increasingly able to be silent under duress (Matthew 27:12, 14), to bless and not curse, to do good and not evil, Romans 12:14.
God the Father was very open with Jesus about the wicked plots, evil schemes, insidious thoughts, and back-stabbing betrayals of others set against him. Jesus was very aware of what was happening to him and why. Not only was He aware, he proclaimed it in the midst of his enemies (John 7:19, John 8:37, John 8:40). Jesus also shared with his closest friends that He (the Son of Man- Daniel 7:13-14) would be crucified (Mark 9:31, Matthew 26:1-2).
As I write this, a prayer request came in from a good friend who is under insidious attack in a high level position. Just this morning he was given an impossible deadline from people intent on seeking his job and livelihood. People are serious about seeing him suffer and getting him fired. It’s an attack that hasn’t just been thrust upon him today; it’s been going on for awhile now. His wife recently received Psalm 7 and Psalm 17 to give to him as a response from the Father’s heart to him. Notice God affirming mortal enemies. Read those Psalms. Who sees his innocence? Who rescues? Who saves? Who vindicates? Who displays his wrath? Notice the one who falls into the pit isn’t the one being attacked; it’s the one who was pregnant with evil intent. Letting these truths transform us is a path towards peace that surpasses understanding with our hearts and minds guarded in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Jesus knew we’d need acknowledgment that attacks are real. So he told us to expect attack, and be wise as serpents, gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:2).
If you struggle believing God’s defense of you, your first prayer should be for healing regarding the Father’s heart for you. Ask the LORD to help you process your hurt, your pain, and your confusion with him. Ask for ears to understand his perception of the situation.
Evaluate whether you first take your pain to others and flush it out mainly there. Notice if you tend to suffer in silence, thinking God won’t help. Ask yourself, do I believe God is a good and loving father? (Do make sure you haven't contributed to the chaos, if so, just go to God for mercy. He lovingly forgives and will help you go to people you've hurt.)
For those who through relationship have come to know and experience that God is good, we find rest in His presence. We believe He will act, we proclaim to others that what our enemy meant for evil, God will transform for good. Our path straightens and fills with light and divine power. We can pray for our enemies. Now we respond in God’s power and are not used as an instrument of the evil one. Now we can do good to those who hate us.
Jesus knew his Father loved him, Mark 1:11. He knew God would not abandon him to the grave, Psalm 16:10. He knew who He was and what his purpose was, Luke 10:21-22. He stood strong in the face of opposition. His final words on the cross were of victory, “It is finished.”
Follow Christ on his path, draw nearer to his suffering and look closely at the Lamb of God. As you do so, your suffering can find meaning and purpose. Your heart can become more receptive to the Father’s heart for you. The way to the Father’s heart is through Christ (John 8:19).
Attend the meditation this coming Wednesday, March 23 at either 4pm or 7pm. Go to the calendar page and sign up! Extended time in His presence brings healing! If you want some perspective from past attendees, click here.
This Super bowl weekend, there will be a lot of people who will be loudly raving and wildly celebrating. Boasting about plays, players, strategy, pretty cheerleaders, their favorite commercial, the awesome dip they are eating, etc. All the activity is good fun and a form of connecting.
Boasting brings us together. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are fueled by the profitability boasting produces. We freely post selfies, family achievements, personal milestones and our own revelatory thoughts. Boasting is often central to our interpersonal discussions and how we affirm and connect with one another.
In this world, we are conditioned to boast. “Why should I hire you?” “Why should I buy your product?” “Why should I marry you?” “How would your associates describe you?” “What have you done for me lately?” “Why should I listen to you?” “Why are you worthy of hanging out with us?” “What are you bringing to the table?” “How do you react under pressure?” “Tell me your past achievements.” “What designers do you wear?” “How big is your bank account?” “Do you know so-and-so?” “What college did you attend?” “How is your son/daughter doing?” In their various forms, these questions are ultimately all questions with power to exploit the most vulnerable places within us. If we don’t have good answers or solutions, we can feel exposed, left feeling less than. We try hard to have good answers. Then we feel well positioned, more confident in the future. But it’s a faulty system.
Suddenly a job is cut, the profits turn, our intelligent solution fails, the marriage ends, the child rebels, the beauty fades, the prized relationship fizzles, the government shuts down, you make a critical moral mistake. Our boasts are often momentary. We do not have control.
However, boasting as God intended, gives you true strength and releases His divine intervention. It’s a powerful prayer position. Consider what God told Paul in a prayer time as he cried out for God to take away a painful situation…
2 Corinthians 12:9a- But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
From this Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” Read Paul’s life account in the book of Acts. Did he gladly boast in God? Did God’s power then rest on him? The man was like a cat with 9 lives… resurrection power on full display.
Consider what God also says in Jeremiah 9. “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 9:23-24
The Hebrew meaning behind the word boast is tied to acts of raving, celebrating, shining forth light, commending, praising, making a show of something worthy of praise. Think again of fans in a stadium. Have you ever been in a championship game setting, joining others celebrating loudly? When you are in church (beyond the eyes of the world) are you willing to celebrate God just as loudly as you cheer on your team? What feelings rise up in you if you were challenged to publicly commend God in a social setting this weekend? What feelings rise up in you if were to asked to shine forth light on your weaknesses to your work team next week?
His ways are not our ways. Revealing weakness makes many feel uncomfortable. Value is tied to acceptance, and we self protect. But we need to break on this point. If we live for the commendations of others, we are ineffectual as a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). We have no influence without His power accompanying us. Boasting in Him is a no-fail strategy for his power to rest on you. He exalts the humble. If He is your strength and wisdom and creative expression in your job, the sacrificial love you express in difficult relationships, don’t be silent about the power source; give Him the glory. If He has helped you love and forgive difficult people, tell them God intervened for them in your heart on their behalf. Confess your weakness, boast of His work in you.
Consider the King of all kings, who endured physical torture, people spitting in His face, striking his head, pulling out his beard, stripping him and berating Him. Did God’s power rest on His Son? Was an angel sent to strengthen him after He cried out in prayer for hours in the garden? Consider the end state of our Savior hanging on the cross, beaten beyond human recognition, abandoned by all. Did the Father's roar from Heaven, break the rocks, shake the earth, rend the temple curtain, snuff out the sun, raise holy people from their graves? (see Matthew 27:45-53). Yes. Have thousands of years served to silence God’s continued divine work to proclaim His Son? Will thousands more? No. Is He calling you to the same martyrdom? Probably not. But He IS calling you to be a LIVING sacrifice that confesses His Name.
Try boasting in prayer. This is the prayer exercise for everyone who reads this post this week. Boast of your weaknesses! Get in your car and boast loudly, praise God loudly. See how long you go before you have no idea what to say to Him. Evaluate your heart in this area and ask for help if you need to know Him better. Take risks in your public worship settings and be more open to joyfully celebrate Him in the midst of the saints. His power will rest on you. His joy and Father heart will become clearer to you. If you want to grow in your prayer relationship, boast in God.
Final challenge, stretch yourself in a guided prayer session. On Friday February 19th, I will be leading a Psalm 23 meditation. He anoints your head with oil for your cup to run over. Do you long for more? Sign up here. He blesses those who earnestly seek Him. Come expectant!
Most people are very vulnerable to verbal attacks. They can be sudden and relentless, directed at us like a sword to pierce our hearts. They can be insidiously subtle, veiled in back-handed comment, delivered with a smile. They can contain truth; but when said without any hint of grace, they do damage. Often attacks begin in our own head. We can spend much time and energy trying to silence internal whispers that accuse! It’s an epidemic crippling many.
Consider this account I found recently of a non-Christian man who detailed his self-accusing voice.
“As a young boy, I remember distinctly the sensation of “feeling like I should be having a feeling.” I was seven when my father divorced my mother. He then went to work overseas. My father was the source of emotional warmth in our family. When he left, I spent years grieving his loss. Then, at some point, those emotions fell silent, creating a blank numb space. And below that? Something very bad was hiding. I call that place the basement.
Whatever emotions I was feeling, I was left to process in isolation. The end result was, I simply could not identify any of the emotions I was feeling; with the possible exception of a consistent baseline of self loathing.
I recall sitting in the pew at my grandmother’s funeral, witnessing myself attempting to cry. As if I was standing next to my own loss, detached, two steps removed. What should I feel? How should I feel it? Why can’t I feel anything? I stood there watching myself doing a vague performance of grief, feeling nothing. But there was something there. Just out of my line of sight. A place I had worked so hard not to see that I couldn’t look towards it now if I wanted to. A place of loss and loneliness that I simply walled off, reducing it to a dull ache. For decades I simply didn’t look. To this day, I still don’t want to look. The result? Ten years of binge drinking as a young adult; struggling to figure out how to present myself in relationships. Ten more years after that of lurching through emotional chaos, struggling day by day to make my way back up into some kind of emotional self awareness. Decades more of seeking a foothold and then beginning to sort out my past. To this day, its terrifying to “go down to the basement.” There’s a seven year old down there in the dark and he’s not happy. He’s full of rage and despair and he holds me responsible. “Why didn’t you do something?,” he screams at me. “Why didn’t you fight?” “Why didn’t you fight them back, hurt them back?”
I commend this man’s honesty. Though it’s a sad account because he admits he hasn’t found resolution. He admits decades lost, choosing self-destructive activities to drown out the accusations. (note: Pray for this man. If any man reading this post might feel led to reach out to him, please contact me. I have his email and could reach out; but prefer a Christian man to do so).
Now for the believer, the voice of the accuser is also active, yet the setting changes. In Zechariah 3, we see God is present and responsive when his servant is under attack. I love this account. There are deep revelations detailed.
Think about this, Zechariah is allowed to see how a fellow servant of God is being attacked while in God’s presence. Zechariah was head of a priestly family and Joshua was the high priest in the temple at the time. Zechariah is given spiritual vision to see Joshua standing in front of the Angel of the LORD, with Satan at his right hand accusing him.
Satan’s accusations are not detailed; but the LORD’s response is. The LORD rebukes Satan not once, but TWICE. The rest of the time, the LORD speaks only to Joshua and others present. Who are the others? They seem to be fellow associates of Joshua (Joshua 3:8).
I wonder if Zechariah wrestled with what God said in the vision. God did not use a vision that described an animal sacrifice to cleanse Joshua (which would have made sense to him under the sacrificial system of worship in place). Instead, God cleansed Joshua on the basis of His Word and authority only. It’s powerful. “Take off his filthy clothes.” God says. He directs this command to associates of Joshua. Then he turns to Joshua and says, “See, I have taken away your sin; and I will put fine garments on you.” God makes a new way… God in his mercy personally takes away sin and cleanses his servant, clothing him with righteousness. AWESOME!
Despite this truth, too frequently, when believers hear satan's influence whispering lies, we keep the accusatory voice to ourselves and struggle alone. I believe Zechariah 3 contains a great encouragement. We are to ask God to see what Zechariah saw. Do we see our fellow “Joshua’s” silenced by a voice of condemnation and shame?
To the "Joshua's" in our midst, OPEN UP. Ask God to bring you into safe fellowship with whom you can share. Those fellow believers are meant to surround you with prayer and proclaim over you that God has snatched you from eternal fire, washed you clean by the blood of Christ, clothing you with His righteousness. You cannot be snatched out of his hand. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Good Shepherd states it twice for emphasis, see John 10 verses 28 and 29. No one has power to snatch you out of His hand!
Note, there is no longer a human priest system for atonement. Joshua was high priest in Zechariah 3; but now Christ is THE High priest, inferring upon all believers spiritual kingship and priestly authority. We’ve now been raised with Him to the right hand of God. We now sit with Him in the Heavenly realms. We have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ, allowed to boldly approach his throne to entreat him for mercy, grace, and help in our times of need. As far as East is from West, so far He has removed your sin from his sight. He has disarmed satanic rule, triumphing over wicked rule by the cross! See Colossians 2:9-15, Revelation 1:5-6, Ephesians 1:19-23, Ephesians 1:3, Hebrews 4:14-16, Psalm 103:11-13.
Next time you hear an accusing voice, envision the Heavenly scene. Get it out of your head and take it into God’s presence. You are now Joshua in that scene. Ask God to open your spirit up to envision and hear Him rebuking satan on your behalf. Ask others to affirm in prayer that you have been snatched away by Christ’s loving mercy when the voice of the accuser is attacking. Confess to others. It brings a promise of healing (James 5:16-20). Ask for strength and obedience to follow the Good Shepherd and abide in his ways and life.
In the meditation session on February 19th, you will be seeing yourself as one of God’s sheep. He has many good reasons for paralleling our human nature to this animal. Certain situations need to be created by the Shepherd for his sheep to be able to rest, renew, thrive, and follow His voice. You will be guided through those situations. Expect the Holy Spirit to reveal areas you need his help and healing. Expect Him to transform places inside you that need his life and power. Come into His presence; it is the only true place of REST and RENEWED LIFE! Sign up on the Calendar page.
(Note: If you sign up as a member, you will receive a prayer exercise that goes with this blog post. If you've already signed up, there is no need to sign up again. Blessings!)
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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!"