As the year comes to an end, did you experience the change you hoped for? What is the current reading on your hope, joy, and peace meter? Are you continually experiencing peace like a river within? Do you need a recharge? Do you need a supernatural gift this season that takes you into the new year with anticipation? Really consider it, do you need some deep rest in heart, mind, and soul? Close your eyes and ask yourself that question.
In the beginning God created... In the beginning, God's power was executed through His spoken Word and the Holy Spirit. He hasn't changed. The Word and the Holy Spirit of Jesus are still His agents of change. The biggest question for us is, "Do we want that change?" Will we open ourselves up to linger in His presence for the supernatural newness He offers?
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.- James 1:17
Last Friday I did another "Lingering with the God of Hope" online session for a private group of leaders and their team. It was a group of 12 made up of men and women with ages that ranged from young adult to seasoned adult. We had a chance to debrief together at the end of the session. The things they shared, and the breakthroughs they experienced, were the same as in every other group. They received personal revelation and love relevant to their deepest needs within. Without disclosing too much, the bottom line is they heard from the heart of a good Father who affirmed them, comforted them, gently revealed truth, drew near to them, and deposited supernatural hope. The majority shed tears. Not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy and relief at the loving and supernatural touch of God! God was not dramatic with them. He didn't force himself on anyone or expose anyone. He led them like a Good Shepherd leads his sheep to lie down and rest, leading them beside quiet waters. The God of hope deposited joy and peace for an overflow of hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Experiencing this type of rest and quiet under the protective presence of God is a good and perfect gift sent from above. It is experienced by lingering in His presence, a discipline that needs to be practiced. It does require that we choose to schedule that kind of time. But it's not easy on our own to linger for a long time in prayer and meditation. Most people really struggle for spending some extended quiet, reflective time with God. That is why Into the Waters is offering these online sessions! We want to help you flow through the time, prompting you along in simple prayer and meditation exercises. God's Word and His Spirit do what He did in the beginning, hovers over our deep, sheds light and brings new life! In the hustle and bustle of your life, in the flurry of your unending thoughts, do you need those types of gifts this season?
If so you have an opportunity to join us on December 15th at 8pm EST. See button below to sign up! We are praying that you say yes. If you need more encouragement to do so, consider even more outcomes...
Over the last couple of weeks I have been meeting with a few of the folks who attended the November 2nd online session. I have already posted the survey results which can be found by clicking this link- NOV 2nd SURVEY RESULTS. However, there are more detailed accounts with powerful testimonies of real strongholds that were broken in attendees. A few shared those stories with me in detail. It so touched me that I have asked a couple to share their testimonies in a more public way. They agreed. So in the coming couple of months, we are finding a way to record those testimonies to be shared for the encouragement of others. Stay tuned!
Until then, ask yourself if you need a good and perfect gift from above this season. God makes it simple for us. His is a simple invitation, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest." Say "Yes!" His Word and His Spirit will be present to do the rest! This season, be filled to overflow with HOPE!
Curious about what happened at last Saturday's online prayer and meditation session? Listen to the video to hear the highlights or read below for a deeper dive into the participants' survey answers!
Click the link to register for Sunday December 15th at 8pm EST! Click here- Lingering with the God of Hope
"Setting time apart and waiting in anticipation to hear from God was exciting. Allowing my heart to receive from, as well as being still in his praise, healed deep brokenness".
Similar sentiment to the quote above came to me awhile ago from someone who has attended multiple events. Her name is Marty and I adore her heart in pursuit of God. She has continued to invest in pursuing time alone with God through these sessions. She is serious about earnestly seeking the healing and renewal God promises. She said to me after one session, that attending the event was like getting a massage. She meant it in the most complimentary way, likening it to how relaxed she felt after, experiencing a release of tension, and wanting to be quiet for the rest of the day so she could get all the benefit from the experience.
Just like after getting a massage, "I so needed that!" is a common response from attendees. This is the reason Into the Waters exists. We believe people SO VERY MUCH need extended time in God's presence for rest, renewal, and relieving their hearts and minds of tension.
And that is what survey after survey proves with November 2nd's online session being no different. It was our first online session, where people could engage in the prayer and meditation exercises from the comfort of their own home. The session lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes. You might be like, "Whoa, that is a long time to spend in prayer!" And I would agree with you that yes, if you attempt that on your own, it may be quite a challenge. But the beauty of Into the Waters' sessions is that you aren't attempting it on your own. The session is moderated in such a way that you are gently led through a series of biblically grounded exercises so you are not thinking of "what do I say or do next?" Instruction is clear. Exercises are easy. God helps you. Most people think the time flies by. So with that being said, here are the full results of the survey that almost 90% of last Saturday's participants took.
Highlighted at the beginning of the blog is a parting comment in the survey by one participant that perfectly summarizes the reason for investing in this time with God. She wrote, "Setting time apart and waiting in anticipation to hear from God was exciting. Allowing my heart to receive from, as well as being still in his praise, healed deep brokenness". Yes! The God of supernatural hope showed up! Thank you Lord!
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.- Psalm 130:5
Our sessions are FREE! It is a ministry by faith, so free-will donations thankfully accepted. Don't hesitate, invest in this time to linger longer with the God of Hope! Sign up for the December 15th session at 8pm EST. Here is the link again to register- Click here.
The quote of "I just can't take it anymore" is what I am hearing from people without hope, the other is a testimony full of renewed hope after an Into the Waters led meditation session done for a private group. As you read, evaluate if you lean more towards not being able to take it anymore or more towards, “This is the breakthrough I’ve needed for awhile.”
Regarding the first quote, a couple of days a week I talk with many, many people about what they are dealing with emotionally, mentally, and physically. It is a secular setting, not a ministry setting. I am not allowed to openly talk about God in this setting, which is very limiting and frustrating to me. There have been times however, where I broke protocol in gentle ways, out of intense burden. I simply share in some way, "I will be praying for you." It has always been well received. However for the 99.9% of distressing situations I hear about, I have to just do the best I can to offer words that comfort and acknowledge their pain. Would have to say of late, the words I offer are momentary, split seconds of kindness that don't take them beyond our call. Over the last 2 weeks have been deeply burdened by talking to a parent after their young child was raped, people whose sleeplessness is taking their sanity, anxiety and depression so severe people are going on disability, violent behaviors of family members seemingly possessed by "something" not of themselves, I am newly hearing and regularly hearing, "I just can't take it anymore." Their tone, their tears, their anger, their shaky voice says it all.
They need hope. And they are reaching out to medicine and doctors as they search.
What is hope exactly? Can it be trusted? In our dictionaries, hope is defined as "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen". If that is as far as it goes, in my opinion, hope in and of itself as a concept is pretty shaky. Feelings are fleeting. We can have a feeling of hope to live a long life; but die at an early age. We can have a feeling of hope for a relationship to be "the one"; but end in rejection. Same for a hope for a good marriage; yet to end in divorce. We can have a feeling of hope for our children to prosper; but see them make bad decision after bad decision. We can hope for peace of mind; yet have crippling anxiety. Hope, in order for it to be true and life saving MUST have a cord of attachment to a source capable of manifesting the thing hoped for. But we don't see this qualification in our secular dictionaries. Yet, this is in fact how God defines hope in biblical dictionaries. It is defined as a literal cord of attachment that brings expectancy.
HOPE- Strongs 8615 tiqvâh, tik-vaw'; from H6960; (compare H6961) literally a cord (as an attachment); figuratively, expectancy:—expectation(-ted), hope, live, thing that I long for.
The word hope (tikvah) comes from the word kavah which means to wait by binding together, gathering for strength. The more cords are bound together, the stronger a rope is. The more weight it can hold, the more tension it can endure. These are pictures behind the strength that comes in waiting in God’s presence, attaching your hope to Him, having expectancy. Practical questions to examine would be:
Reviewing our hope through these questions takes courage, but is worth it. It is very hard when our hopes do not come to pass. Some of you are in a lot of pain right now because hopes have been dashed. However, these can be opportunities to ground ourselves anew in hope that alone comes from God. He is the God of hope. And regarding hope, if we are willing to strengthen our cords to Him, He will resurrect hope within us. it is His divine design that we overflow with hope by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
NIV- Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
OVERFLOW OF HOPE>>>>>> Trusting God is key to being filled to joy and peace. Isn't that really the bottom-line request of all prayer... joy and peace? Your bank account can be overflowing; but if joy and peace elude you, what have you gained? You can be model skinny and have beauty that stops traffic; but if self scrutiny and continual dissatisfaction plague you, what have you gained? You can have a very successful career; but if loneliness and stress are your constant companions what is the point? We see the recent outcome of celebrities whose hope was in their children attending the best schools; but at what cost? The bottomline truth is that joy and peace come from the power of the Holy Spirit as you trust in God, not yourself or empty promises from the world.
So how is God-trust being developed in you? Are you experiencing an overflow of hope that comes from God? We all can be challenged by this question. It's a gentle reminder to invest in time before God's throne, to receive the joy and peace that He alone promises and delivers.
Here is a quote from someone who recently invested in lingering with God through an Into the Waters prayer and meditation session. See if you can see hope that came as a result.
"Thank you SO much for leading us on Thursday! It was a beautiful experience for me personally, and it was a breakthrough I have needed for awhile now. The revelation about (xxxxxx) was totally unexpected, but it continues to resonate so strongly with me. I have somehow put a limit on what God will do, and it definitely stems back to that season of my journey. I believe He will do those impossible, wonderful things for others, but not for me. I have dealt with this issue on so many levels and have felt peace along the way, but God not answering my prayers as I wanted at the time, has definitely affected how much I trust Him, I mean that deep, deep level of trust. Thank you for starting the process of tearing that false belief down in me and beginning another layer of healing."
God will tear down our false beliefs in order to bring another layer of healing and hope founded in His faithfulness, love, mercy, goodness, provision, etc. The power of the Holy Spirit deposits His life in those who trust! We are strengthened after waiting in His presence. Hope is renewed as our cord of attachment to God flows with new life from Him!
Do you need a fresh deposit of supernatural joy and peace, to overflow with hope from the Holy Spirit? In the Fall, Into the Waters will be holding some online group sessions on HOPE. These will be small groups of up to 10 at a time. Stay tuned for more announcements and sign up opportunities!
But for now meditate on the truth from Romans 15:13! Seed it into your heart by reading it in many translations. Reading it in many translations will do a couple of things.
NIV- Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
NLT- I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
ESV- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Berean Study Bible- Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
KJV- Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
GNT- May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25:5 NIV
Vlog with personal testimony, importance of Holy Spirit, and Pentecost explanation. Plus, interactive prayer exercise.
Today’s blog I guess is really a Vlog, a video blog. Contains an encouragement to linger longer with God through a testimony I share. It was during a difficult time in my life. At this time, the Lord was developing in me a spiritual discipline of spending extended time with Him for healing. My sharing is meant to encourage you to linger with Him and to be open to the Holy Spirit for supernatural comfort, help, and truth that sets you free! And a brief mention is made of tomorrow being Pentecost. Learn what it is and how relevant it is for believers 2k+ years later. Reflect and ask for the promise given on Pentecost. The video ends with me praying for you!
Also, below is an interactive prayer session to inspire you to linger longer. Pray through part of Psalm 116 and wait in the presence of God for renewal! Blessings! (Note-Two videos on this post caused a delay in play, so the video exercise has been moved. It will be uploaded as a separate video on 6/9/19. Thank you.)
Yesterday, I asked a question on a public forum, "What is a tormenting thought you want God to take away?" I've gotten two answers that are heaven and earth apart. Both answers are from men. This was the first one I got-
Man #1- "Here is one of the damages wrought by religion. A life long dependence upon a placebo parent phantasm. Atheists, they put their grown up pants on every day, and sort out their own issues. Atheism, it requires strength and maturity. It may not be for you."
Here is the 2nd answer-
Man #2 -" I used to be tormented by the thought of going through life alone. I prayed and asked God to take this away from me. Instead, He sent me my wife. Turns out God knew what was best for me better than I did, and the years I spent single and celibate were setting me up to meet my wife and to love her... Now when I have difficulties in life, I ask God to help me see the purpose behind them. God is not a cosmological vending machine to pop a 25-cent prayer into and get whatever you want out of it. He's a real, living, thinking, feeling being with unlimited power, resources, and knowledge and a real, vested interest in our well-being..."
The 2nd half of his answer was giving an example of he and his wife taking their son to get his first shots. He recalls their little boy knowing they were holding him down so a strange man could poke a needle in him. His point is that their little boy did not understand what was happening to him, but as his daddy, he did. And that it is the same with God. He went on to say, "God's knowledge and wisdom far surpasses our own." And then he quoted the apostle Paul and affirmed his trust in God's knowledge. "The foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom. So I put my trust in His purpose and plan for me, even and perhaps especially when it causes me pain, because though it hurts me now, I know that this is nothing compared to the joy that is coming (such as meeting my wife)..."
Pretty radical in terms of the chasm separating the perspective of each man isn't it?
Before I got that first answer, I was meditating and praying through some verses in Psalm 32. And I see the radical difference of each man in those verses. Psalm 32 talks about a man who talks openly with God which it appears man #2 does. He admitted loneliness and trusts in God. It sounds like he knows Jesus pretty well based upon his references of Christ's foolishness referenced in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. So my bet is that he also openly talks to God about big issues referenced like transgression, sin, and iniquity. Big and often intimidating words, but good news for those unafraid of God. The author of Psalm 32 uses those 3 words repeatedly in Psalm 32, the New King James Version. What are the differences? Let's explore them, the blessing that comes through them, and do a prayer exercise at the end.
According to biblical concordances, transgression is rooted in rebellion, sin is a crime or offense, and iniquity is a bent or warped nature (perverse, depraved). So to describe it to another, it would be in context to say, that each is born rebellious, so each commits offenses/crimes that are perverse and depraved. How in the world does God bless us as a result of these?
Wildly, the psalmist claims there is blessing for those! It's conditional of course. But radical none-the-less! So think of man #1 above. There is blessing awaiting him. Radical blessing! IF man #1 would see God as good, not as a fantasy made up in imagination. Please stop and pray for him to intersect with the love of God, to go in the way of blessing.
What kind of blessing? Blessing in biblical Hebrew terms has a literal picture of one kneeling down to offer an undeserved gift that brings joy, that satisfies the receiver. I have blogged about blessing God in this way a couple of times prior. But, in God's highest terms, blessing is His supernatural offering. He reaches down. He bends down and offers undeserved gifts that wholly satisfy in ways no other gift can. Man #2 wanted strength to endure loneliness and celibacy. Yet God knew better and sent him a gift of help in a wife, Genesis 2:18-25.
God is always wanting to send undeserved help. But far too often, we are like man #1. Maybe not in the same degree, but like him none-the-less. Maybe we are stubborn like the horse or mule referenced in Psalm 32. Maybe we steel ourselves, and talk to ourselves saying something along the lines of, "Today is another day, man up, be strong, you can do this." Or, "Don't be such a baby. Grow up. God has bigger issues and doesn't care about all your little problems. You screw up anyways, so why should He bother with you?" Or we ignore God's assist. We prefer to ignore the whispers. Assess yourself. What is your self-talk telling you? Is it your voice or God's? If it has any form of condemnation it is not from God. Is it a voice from your past? A disapproving parent? Yourself as a rebellious teenager? Pay attention to your self-talk. Does it push you to rely on self or God? We are not to carry burden alone. That takes us totally off the path of blessing.
The most radical blessing God can offer is forgiveness. Each time we talk to God we have opportunity to acknowledge our rebellion, our crimes of offense in thought and deed, and openly share our perverse and imperfect nature to God. All without rebuke, to receive mercy in our time of deep need! Psalm 32 promises that approaching God this way, without deceit, confessing our offenses brings supernatural assist in big ways. Great flood waters that destroy do not come near! There is a perpetual hiding place that preserves from trouble! There is a supernatural surrounding of song, songs of deliverance! He promises to instruct and teach the way to go, to guide you with his loving eye you! As you trust in God and not rebel against His guidance, mercy surrounds you! You are glad and rejoice! This is the blessing of those receiving undeserved forgiveness. You shout for joy, for you know that when God looks upon you, despite yourself, you are upright in heart because of Jesus!
Forgiveness is the center of all blessing from God. Forgiveness is lifting up, carrying away, taking the burden, bearing the cost. The only one who is strong enough to take away the twisted nature of the heart is Jesus. Contrary to man #1 who thinks he has to put on his grown up pants on and be strong and mature. Man #2 gets it, the foolishness of God is wiser than any man's wisdom. He has received the undeserved gift and approaches God not as a vending machine, but as a Holy and Sovereign good God who knows better than he does and trusts Him.
Who do you have more in common with today, man #1 or man #2? Take some time with God and unburden.
Below is a prayer of confession for followers of Christ. It will help you put to memory and pray through the differences of transgression, sin, and iniquity. It expounds on each word as it appears in verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 32 NKJV. Getting the definitions clear inside your heart and mind, will help you be able to talk about human nature to another. It will also help you work with God as you pray and confess, to position to receive the multitude of blessings and healing He promises! Blessings!
PRAYER EXERCISE (expound on definition): Read through Psalm 32 first.
The ministry is on Instagram. A feed has been added to the right. Click on any picture to reach that post. Consider following to receive prayer inspiration! For an idea of content, below is today’s Instagram post, including all its emoji splendor. 😊
Answers to prayer come when we admit in prayer that our ways are not God’s ways, our thoughts are not His thoughts. He himself tells us this in Isaiah 55:8-9. Believing it, I recently received a very quick answer to prayer 🛐. I began by admitting to God 💞 that my ways weren’t his ways, my thoughts weren’t his thoughts. I needed His wisdom ✨ on something. (Do you need wisdom?) In my situation, I was hearing heightened emotions, strong opinions, upsetting conclusions made by people about something, people I like. I was influenced by some of these opinions and was becoming upset. (Are people around you, are you yourself making upsetting conclusions?) I had a choice; you have a choice. We can let ourselves be drawn into emotional whirlwinds that lead us to make bad decisions which fuels chaos, or we can take it to God. God was very quick to answer my prayer, transforming 💫 my thoughts into His thoughts and leading me to take a series of steps according to His ways! By his Spirit, he sent wisdom to me as promised in Isaiah 55:10-11. This resulted in me going out in joy 😁 and being led forth in peace 🤩, the promise given in Isaiah 55:12. As a result so far, I strengthened 💪 some relationships, helped settle upset in a few others, and got to put Isaiah 55:8-12 to memory 🧐 and into prayer practice with others. Try it. See if God deposits new thoughts into your mind 👤. See if His way is more powerful than your ways. See if He leads you in peace and joy👏. See if chaos subsides in your mind and heart. Give your upset 😠 to Him, ask to be awakened to ways and thoughts that are not of Him for transformation. You will grow in wisdom and you will be transformed! ✨
... #bibleverse #isaiah55 #wisdom #testimony #helpme #faithingod #godanswersprayers #humbleyourself #anxietyhelp #talktogod #meditatedaily #christian #prayers
Last Saturday was another time of precious time in God’s presence and supernatural touch by our good God. The theme of the time was Psalm 16:2, “apart from you Lord, I have no good thing”.
One of the things that God always does is touch certain people in ways that releases emotion that has been compartmentalized and inaccessible. One of the attendees shared that she has not been able to mourn over a deeply painful situation, but finally accessed it in the session. God’s Spirit is gentle and draws us in a such a way that we rest and let go. He penetrates that which we cannot touch, things so overwhelming and painful that we cannot feel anything but numbness, but He sees it and unearths what is buried. But He does it in such a way that releases supernatural balm into those deep wounds. The emotional release people experience is due to relief and experiencing His supernatural love and healing presence. It is a work of the Spirit beyond our conception!
“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:9-11 NIV
In God’s presence, his thoughts become our thoughts. The picture at the top shows baskets filled with a prayer requests from each. These represent good thoughts, good requests, formed in them through God’s spirit work in them! Our time ended by redistributing these prayer requests anonymously and taking a time to pray for another. We took our eyes and focus off ourselves for a moment, and carried a burden for another. By doing this, we are an instrument of God’s promise to heal another.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
James 5:16 KJV
These are the collective cries...
... healing and unity and wholeness in marriage, God centered selfless love, forgiveness of self and others, restoration where God sees fit, clear direction, becoming trustworthy of others, to experience supernatural peace in financial and relational situations, to be filled with peace even when situations are confusing, for God’s guidance through current struggles, for help to direct energy to serve God, for God’s reassuring presence, for help to meet demands and challenges, for light and truth to guide themselves and family, for healing of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, to feel and know God’s hovering and protective presence, to increase in trust of God, for a place to live, willingness to allow God to enter weaknesses and trust He will sustain and grow them, find balance, for scattered pieces to be put back together, to trust the Lord more and not lean on their own understanding...
What beautiful language of children seeking God! God heard their cries for mercy and will answer because He gives good and perfect gifts from Heaven, James 1:17.
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”
Psalm 116:1 NIV
May you pray for those requests above and be a part of another’s healing. May you find language that inspires your prayers and cry out for mercy. May you invite God’s spirit to search your deepest places and believe in His good hand to reach and heal what you cannot reach on your own power. Blessings!
“The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.”
Proverbs 20:27 NIV
You should not expect to receive anything from the LORD…- from James 1:5-8
Who should not expect to receive anything?
The one who doubts…
God is challenging me to remember some times of breakthrough. Times that he broke down walls hindering His Spirit. It came to mind this week in my bible study group. A scripture came up that took me back in time to a good memory. It was from John 7. In it, Jesus spoke loudly to a large crowd and said,
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Jesus was at a “Living Water” festival when he said this, which in Jewish culture is a holy festival known as the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a time of year they are to celebrate for 8 days the harvest that God provided that season. Part of their celebration ended up including thanking God for sending living water from Heaven to water the crops and sustain their lives. Jesus used this opportunity to boldly declare that He was the living water sent from Heaven. He wanted people to know that He was the drink that would not only satisfy all physical need; but would produce a continual flow of living water to renew hearts within. Radical.
I remember being so intrigued by this scripture about living water flowing within. At that time I was a Christian for maybe 3 years, too young of a believer to hold too firmly to any limiting belief. I had just rededicated my life to God after repenting of treating Him like a genie in a bottle and of major disobedience. He gave me a new start filled with grace by promoting me in my job (when I should have been fired instead), moving me to a beautiful ocean setting in San Clemente, and establishing me in a strong bible believing church (Calvary Chapel Capo Beach). His forgiveness towards me was such a relief and lead me to surrender to His promptings. I felt that He was emphasizing that I was to learn how to study the Bible and be in fellowship groups. So for the first time I was beginning to really look at scripture in context, to consider what it was saying, apply it, and to pay attention to how the Spirit revealed Himself in believers around me.
At that time, if you asked me, I could say that I felt His presence here and there; but I could not say I felt a “flow” within. At this time I was attending 3 Sunday morning services, a mid week service, and a Sunday evening service. You would think I would have been quite familiar with a flow of His Spirit within from all that church time; but I was not! Church hours do not add up to more spirit. It can quite easily add up to more lifeless religion.
God wants relationship, authentic and surrendered, in order to "flow" within us. And I had just come off a season of major disobedience. So while He was being very good to me; He was also going slow with me. We do not realize that God is much like Joseph in the way he tested his brothers before there was freedom of fellowship again. see Genesis chapters 42-45. God can go slow with us, keeping us in a place to test our motive and cause us to yearn for more. It worked with me. I was very thirsty within and needed strong, satisfying drink. I wanted more of anything more to receive. I wanted any promise Jesus spoke of and this one for living water flowing within intrigued me. I believed God could produce that flow of His life giving spirit within me in greater measure. I didn't limit myself with belief that I was already filled and there was no more. I did not put up hands that said "no", I put up hands which freed me to be filled up to receive new life... again.
Now some are probably already arguing in their head how unscriptural this statement is. And to those I say “phooeeeeey on youeeeeey”. I’m very aware of the biblical position of believers being filled with the Spirit at the point of belief; and the argument that the flow Jesus is talking about references the Holy Spirit entering believers who have faith in Christ. Yes I believe that; and experienced that filling at the point of belief. But then my flesh and will disobeyed the leading of the spirit and I spent 3 years experiencing a quenching of the Holy Spirit’s presence. I never questioned my salvation; but I desperately longed for more of God and the promise of more.
Now 22 years in to my relationship with God, I see how boring the Christian life becomes when we stop believing for more. And I’m feeling challenged to not surrender to belief that limits God. I feel very strongly about stoking childlike faith in prayer that produces maturity. That may seem contradictory; but it is not. Remaining childlike keeps you in a place of awe and wonder. It also produces greater trust in God and strengthens a life that is founded on the radical truth of Scripture. And it keeps life in the Spirit dynamic to produce a supernatural wisdom that is necessary for the intensifying spiritual battle of our times. Don't look down on little children; God vanquishes the enemy through their cries, Psalm 8:2. Plus, God answers childlike requests and promises to those who delight in Him, He shall give them the desires of their heart.
“Most Christians have lost the life of their heart and with it, their romance with God.”
― John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God
What happened to my prayer for living water flowing within? Well He answered of course! I started feeling His presence like water within! And I saw that He tied it to my delighting in Him and surrendering. He was lifting me out of a deep depression in this season and healing deep places of brokenness. I kept clinging to Him, praising Him, longing for more, and letting Him wipe every tear. I remember telling one of my pastors that I was beginning to feel the flow within. I remember how happy and joyful that new reality felt! I remember how thankful I was that the life of Jesus was flowing within me in a palpable way! I remember realizing it was something no one could steal from me; but was indeed SOMEONE I could quench and grieve within, 1 Thessalonians 5:19 and Ephesians 4:30. The contrast was a critical lesson for me to get.
Do not quench the Spirit- 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
What quenches the Spirit? Well there are lots of flesh based things to list, some ideas found in both scripture sections just referenced. But my conviction for today is about delighting in God and being responsive to God revealing His truth to you. And realize God is outside of our box of neatly packed convictions.
I can share another example of God upending spirit limiting theology which teaches that believers are only filled once. Around 2006, I was now in New York, and was leading a prayer ministry at my church. One of my team members became insistent on me being “filled with the Spirit”. In her terms it meant that I needed to speak in tongues in order for this to be true. I knew this was not biblical; but did I argue with her and dismiss her? I was very tempted; but I felt God softening me to go along with what she wanted to do. I caution that at this point, I was pretty grounded in biblical truth and felt like He had readied me to love her through her strong conviction and be open to whatever God did. I knew she loved God and was being sincere. So I positioned myself in childlike belief and longed for more.
We arranged that she would come over to my apartment for the “speaking in tongues” to happen. Note, that 8 years prior I became a Christian in a church that encouraged speaking in tongues. I had already prayed for it several times with no obvious manifestation of the gift of tongues. I had studied 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14 regarding gifts of the Spirit and had come to the conclusion it wasn't a gift the Holy Spirit was giving me. But either way, I decided not to be held to that as a conviction and submitted to praying what she wanted me to pray; and longed for whatever God would deposit. I followed all her instructions. I waited. Nothing happened.
However, in the middle of the night I woke up with a phrase that I was speaking on my lips. I quickly got a piece of paper and wrote down phonetically what I was repeating; because I had no idea what it was, if anything at all. I asked for interpretation, 1 Corinthians 14:27. It took awhile to decipher and find correct spellings; but God helped me. It sounded Hebrew so I searched each word one by one and discovered it was indeed Hebrew language! Here is the phrase:
“El Yah shabbach ni ach.”
This may not be in correct grammatical order for Hebrew. I have no idea. It doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that God was answering my openness for more, honoring kindness I expressed towards my friend, and joyfully giving me one of His promises. This phrase translates as:
“My God is Jehovah who soothes, stills, and calms wailing, mourning brethren.”
These Hebrew words are found in Strong’s Concordance as H452, H7623, H5204, and H0251.
Powerful! I was awe struck and humbled from of measure of unbelief regarding tongues. It still makes me tear up (in a good way) when I read what it means. The God of Heaven filled me with more of His heart in order to more deeply root me in truth. He is ALMIGHTY and He is a God who heals emotions and soothes the souls of his people! That message is meant for you because the Spirit is distributed for the building up of the body of Christ, i.e YOU!
How sweet is that? How romantic? How beautiful? Fall in love with God! Long for more!
Are you one of His children? If not, may you have urgency to call on His name to be supernaturally adopted as one of His own. Do you know the flow of His life within? If not, may you consider what is quenching or grieving the Spirit. Have you lost hope? Is your faith lukewarm, stagnant water? Do you limit your belief in your head and hold stubbornly to theological positions that stifle the Spirit? Have you lost childlike wonder? Would you say you ever had it? How much unbelief is hidden within your scripture positions? Is God neatly packed in your box? He escaped your box a long time ago when He rose from the grave. Nothing contains Him. Unbelief is something to meditate on and confess to God. Unbelief quenches the Spirit.
Matthew 13:57-58- And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Be very careful not to dishonor the miraculous Savior. Be not offended at his all surpassing power. Honor the Father who talks to His children and tells His children to ask for more.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” - Luke 11:11-13
There is no reason to fear the Spirit. God is a God of order, 1 Corinthians 14:40. He knows our frame. He is not a God who wreaks havoc within. He is tender, gentle, and wants to soothe, calm, and still you within. This is done by His Spirit. Invite more. Long for more. Believe Him for more. Sit with Him; learn how to spend time with Him. Meditate on His Word. You are invited to a Sabbath Day’s walk with Him on Saturday June 16th to do just that. Visit the calendar page for more information and to sign up! Believe for more! Set aside strong head argument and confess hardened heart in order to soften to awe and wonder, see how it affects how He flows within!
This week's blog is slightly out of the box to give a brief update of how the year has progressed thus far. Unexpectedly, quite a bit of time has been invested in 2 extended senior family members. Major health problems, home care needs, multiple hospital stays, nursing home transitions, hospice, emotional/spiritual support, and a funeral have been where God positioned me to serve these first many months of 2018. As each calendar month turned, I’ve gotten more and more entrenched. Therefore, I struggled with it; feeling often that it was taking me off course. The sacrifice was costing me in some significant ways. I often resorted to human reasoning through lack, which only produced fretting... more than I care to admit.
Often I’ve gotten silence from God in my fretting. Every once and awhile a reminder from the Spirit penetrates to remind me that He has called me to His service, so “end of argument”. But I have argued still; the clay quarreling with the potter. Useless and all in vain. He remained unmoved by my moments of distress. Instead He quieted me; and kept me on the course he has laid out for me. In it all, His goal is to form more of Christ in me.
Christ is comfortable with the lonely, the sick, people in pain, the broken, the oppressed. Me? Not so much. I like to control how much time those moments last. My natural reaction is to say when I am done and wriggle my way out. So, it has taken me out of my comfort zone to be in various medical facilities for family for the majority of day hours or nights, multiple times per week. This on top of speaking to over 120 patients a week in a part-time position and “hearing” them the way God wants me to hear the broken. And then ministering to a few people a week in prayer sessions. Add intercession for my monthly ministry partners and serving at my church and I’m tapped. Baptism by fire! This is all for me to follow the way of love, 1 Corinthians 14:1. He created the 7 day a week intensity so that I tune intently to the lonely, the anxious, the confused, the distressed, the abandoned, the lost, the dying.
He has intentionally been breaking my heart! Yes He does that! Pure oil is pressed out of the olive as fuel for God's fire. A seed falls to the ground and dies to produce many seeds.
The pressing is not fun. Tears have been flowing, to the point I’ve struggled with some depression and loneliness as the year has begun, all from carrying a small portion of the burden Christ carries fully for each one, i.e. all.
A couple times I’ve told God I just can’t take it, “I go from one depressing setting to another 7 days a week.” He whispers; “You’re stronger”. And while I don’t feel it in those moments, I have to admit He is right. His grace is sufficient; His power is made perfect in my weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9. I’m sitting longer, caring more, feeling more, reaching more, listening more, praying for more, giving more, loving more. I take absolutely no credit. Remember, I've complained. Its Him doing the “more”. His more produces my “more” as His love reaches beyond my limited capacity and flows to others through me. Christ pouring out through an ordinary earthen vessel with His all surpassing power, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. I just have had to keep saying “yes” to where He leads.
And I’ve been blessed! Some of my most satisfying moments so far this year have indeed been in the victory of Christ’s power! I’m thankful God let me help a family member find relief in a final distressing moment. I've only gotten to really know this family member in the last couple of years. For most of March, I was disturbed that he was suffering and confused. He kept fighting to get up and “go home”. He itched all over, hated lying on his back constantly, being immobile, always thirsty, feeling lonely in each medical setting which ended in a nursing home. Dementia combined with his learning disability made it difficult for him to understand why he had to stay where he was. He was unbelievably restless; and no one could calm him in final weeks. But in my last moment with him, God gave me a breakthrough. He let me be one of the last who comforted him. I was able to get him up off his back and help him sit with his feet touching on the floor. For the first time in a long time, he breathed a clear sigh of relief. He rested his head on my shoulder and kept it there for a nice long time. I just sat there quietly and held him. I felt privileged to hold him. It was a sacred gift given. He was finally peaceful. After awhile I was able to lie him back down, prop him on his side and see him totally at rest. Two days later he was gone.
In these beginning months of the year, instead of staying tuned to God, I’ve gone "off path" worrying about a loss of a supplemental income source that typically brings in a couple hundred dollars a month. I’ve been worried about a large tax bill due this week.
The tax bill has been paid in full, on time by a generous, unexpected gift! Plus some to make up for lost income! I don’t deserve it!
This is my prayer... "Why do I fret Lord? Why do I rail against you? Lord forgive me! You see and you know every need! Thank you for your goodness and mercy!"
All who call him their God can confidently say, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I lack nothing!" Psalm 23:1.
May you choose the way of love; even at great personal cost. He will abundantly provide according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus! Come before Him now and ask Him to mold you and shape you in LOVE. He never fails!
(Final note- I write this partially for those of you asking about a next event. I haven’t planned one because I haven’t had the bandwidth to do so. But will be praying now about one. Also know the ministry received its official 501(c)3 designation which the IRS pre-dated to 2016. You now have the ability to write donations directly to “Into the Waters” and send to PO Box 67131, Rochester, NY 14617. Online donation option to our local credit union coming very soon! So, if you see the Spirit at work in what you read on this blog and feel led to support me as a local prayer missionary, donations are greatly appreciated!)
Spend some time in prayer picturing God holding you and carrying you.
Previous blog posts have included similar prayer exercise. Scripture contains images useful in prayer. Images that help internalize God's love and truth.
I use scripture not just for myself but for others as well, to envision individuals with God within the context of scripture. Sometimes God has given me images back.
The images that have come have been interesting. As example, for Deuteronomy 33:3, sometimes the image I've gotten is a person clinging to Jesus like in the image seen above, Sometimes a picture forms of one ashamed to come near. Sometimes one is too distracted by "life" to draw near. And sometimes one is walking hand in hand with Christ, or shoulder to shoulder. Sometimes Jesus has been dancing with the person, or carrying one like bride, offering a rose, listening joyfully and intently to the person who shares their heart in His presence. Those are just some examples. Basically there are various ways and thoughts God has towards his own that are personal, intimate, and meant to minister deeply to that one. Often I’ve shared those images with the people I prayed for and time-after-time, received response of how deeply it spoke to them and how it ministered. People can have a hard time seeing themselves in these ways with God. But He wants you to believe and receive it for comfort and soul revival.
God doesn't change. He still extends His love and truth down to His people. Just like a child needs comforting love and affirmation from their human father, children of God also deeply need comforting love and affirmation from their Heavenly Father. He’s willing to give it. Your need for it is especially critical if you never received it from a human father!
I am not the only one that can pray in scripture image. God's word is very visual and you can also use it to "see" yourself within the promises. And that is today's exercise. In prayer, you can practice envisioning God holding you in His hand. You can envision Him carrying you as described in Deuteronomy 1:29-31.
Why should you try it and how is it helpful? I will give you an example from this morning. I needed to envision God carrying me today because circumstances of late have intensified in unexpected areas, leaving me overburdened. I've been feeling depressed in some of the intense loneliness and brokenness I've had to witness in nursing home settings over the last couple of weeks. It's left me stupefied. When I feel this way, I can’t settle in prayer. So in my struggle this morning, I started repeatedly saying, “Gina, God is carrying you.” Then I switched to, “Jesus, you're carrying me.”
The truth of that was very comforting. I felt much calmer and started breathing more deeply. This helped me start “seeing” in my mind’s eye God carrying me. I focused on my feet being off the ground because it was comforting to think of Him carrying all of my weight and burdens. I like imagining being in His arms as He carries me and moves me forward. I got to the point where my mind imagined my head resting on his shoulder and my arms around his neck, just enjoying the assurance of His strong steps underneath me. This prayer time lasted about 5 minutes. Before I knew it, I was singing a worship song, then up and starting my day freely. No longer anxious and tied up internally the way I was just 30 minutes prior.
Before prayer this morning, I was truly struggling for about 60 minutes about “this” and “that”. I was fretting and totally confused about what was most important to do today. Yet all was transformed to peace with just 5 minutes of meditating and 5 minutes of praise.
How do you struggle? When you get pressured and feel stupefied, do you find prayer frustrating? Do you push yourself forward though not at peace? Maybe you cut yourself off from doing things that would reveal a greater trust in God’s provision and help? As a simple example, after time with God today, I gave myself permission to make a lentil soup from the chicken bone broth I made this week. That may sound silly; but when I feel "behind" I typically do not give myself permission to take time for enjoyable things. Instead, I push myself forward into the day. However after 5 minutes of God's affirming provision and care, I felt free to do it, super thankful of the peace and simple joy I got from making soup in my kitchen!
Take some time to think about how you “punish” or “push” yourself. Notice your own behaviors. Bring them to God and let him redirect. Ask for help to rest in His care.
Below are some simple steps to do what I did above in prayer. And here are 2 scriptures to help you “see” yourself within God’s promise to carry and comfort:
Deuteronomy 1:29-31- Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
John 6:37- All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
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Prayer is Gift!
Into the Waters Ministry is a 501(C)3 public charity. Our mission is to inspire you to linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. For those willing, it is a place of supernatural hope and healing. I know this first hand. My name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 20+ year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and receiving His life in greater measure! I've experienced radical healing in mind, body, and spirit and believe God for more! I long for others to position themselves for the same! Into the Waters' resources help you spend quality time with God to enter His rest and receive His divine provision. Let us help you experience more of God! Read the blogs, try the exercises, participate in online sessions! His promises for life and wholeness are offered to all! But you have to say "Yes!"