In the last blog I mentioned I had participated in a Christian mindfulness presentation that included some interactive exercises. It was being sponsored and hosted by a well-known national denomination. This gave it some credibility in my mind, so I signed up. I was interested in how it would be approached by the Christian PHD (doctor of philosophy) who taught it. I was hopeful I could learn something and find similarities in what God has called me to do through Into the Waters. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. But God showed up in it, and gave me a message I understood. This is a long post; but an important one. I’ll share some of what I experienced in the session; but first briefly touch on mindfulness as a current cultural trend.
Mindfulness is a buzz word right now, but it is not new. It has deep spiritual roots going back thousands of years. Some roots are from Christianity, others are not. It has gained traction in our current culture because it has been presented as non-religious, useful for all people regardless of spiritual beliefs. Various forms of mindfulness are being encouraged, taught, and implemented in school systems, corporate training programs, healthcare systems, sports training, consulting practices, armed forces drills, etc. This article states it is the fastest growing health trend in America.
Mindfulness practices are intriguing to people because “statistics show” it lowers stress, improves productivity, increases mental focus, betters physical health, strengthens relationships, stokes creativity, lowers employee turnover, etc. Some are even claiming it has the power to obliterate fear! Pretty impressive!
Should I believe the hype? What is mindfulness exactly and as a Christian, how is it to be practiced, if at all? What are its implications? Does it square with Christianity?
According to Oxford dictionary, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you, used as a technique to help you relax.”
Oxford dictionary also credits mindfulness as a concept from Zen Buddhism. Mindfulness practices typically include exercises of breathing, visualizing, noticing feeling and thoughts within present moment in order to make better choices to respond in calm and self-controlled ways. Those practices are very commonly considered mindfulness meditation techniques.
Prepare to be confused….
In contrast, a mindfulness organization states it is NOT about achieving a state of calm. They state, “it is just about noticing whatever experience we're having, including all the thoughts, feelings or physical sensations that are a part of it… we learn the skill of becoming aware of our thoughts, without necessarily doing anything with them. By just noticing thoughts, we learn how to unhook ourselves from our identification with them. This is different from pushing thoughts away. It’s how we relate to our thoughts, not the absence of them.” So are you confused by that? I am. (If interested, click here to read their entire document. )
It is a frustrating prospect to me that I am to notice my thoughts and feelings and not necessarily do anything with them, except "unhook" myself from them, whatever that means. And if I am to rely on my own power to make better choices in moments, again, losing prospect for me personally. I don't have that power. God has shown me my desperate, urgent every day need for mind renewal on His terms, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
But let’s not throw mindfulness aside yet, because mindfulness is actually God's concept and here is his definition- Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Going further, mindfulness as God intends, involves the biblical practice of meditation.
We can see the importance God places on meditation in Joshua 1:8 when He tells His people that, if done His way, meditation guarantees prosperity and success. If He is taken out of that equation, it is a worldly concept and smoke and mirrors.
Now let me give you a practical example to sort through. Let's go back to the event I mentioned in the beginning… It was marketed as Christian Mindfulness and Spirituality, so I figured it would be presented in a biblical way that aligned with God's definition of mindfulness and meditation. Instead, it was a dangerous mix of truth and lies.
The presenter shared in the first segment that Christian mindfulness practices go back thousands of years to early monastic and nomadic communities. These early Christian believers practiced “constant prayer” in quiet settings in order to contemplate God and His Word and experience His presence. So far so good, until… great emphasis was placed on present moment awareness and how to respond. The presenter referenced John 10:10 to emphasize Jesus’ promise to give life and life in abundance. A great promise! But the scripture was used as backdrop to support present moment awareness. She stated we are to focus on what can be seen in order to recognize the ordinary abundance all around us in order to fill us.
Do you see what is wrong with the presenter’s interpretation?
Focusing on what can be seen to be filled is NOT the context of what Jesus meant at all. He did not mean that we are to focus on life all around us to fill us. He meant that the promised life of abundance came through His life that He would give us. We are to be filled by Him, Romans 15:13. Since she was incorrectly interpreting the meaning of John 10:10, this was where I began to get uncomfortable in the presentation.
She continued by inviting us to have an attitude of curiosity. This meant to practice noticing ordinary abundance and to be present in a moment. She instructed us to close our eyes and imagine ourselves as an alien visiting the earth for the first time. Then, as an alien, we were to reach out our hand and pick something up from earth. Since we were visiting earth, it would be something we had never seen before. We were to look at it, feel it, observe it, engage all of our senses, and manipulate it if possible. We were told this was an exercise to train our brains to be more mindful by focusing intently on a present moment. As she presented this exercise, I suddenly became very mindful of something rising up in me. My feelings and thoughts were't pleasant, nor was I feeling very calm suddenly. Maybe this was to be the point I "unhooked" myself, LOL.
Would you have participated in this exercise?
I did not do the exercise. I was shocked. Jesus’ beautiful promise to give life in abundance was twisted. There was no suggestion to pick up something God designed, like a beautiful rose for example. We could have closed our eyes and noticed the intricacies of God’s handiwork and how it awakened all of our senses, causing us to wonder at the glory of God. Instead, I was to be an alien and pick up “something” I had never seen before. Given the fact that there was no encouragement at all to give God glory for whatever the created thing was, she lost me as a participant at this exercise.
However, I didn’t disconnect from the presentation. I still hoped it would get better, but truly was more curious as to how much worse it could get.
Shortly after the alien exercise, she mentioned Matthew 11:28 which is Jesus’ invitation to all who are weary and burdened to come to Him for rest. She used it to illustrate a mindfulness point that when we are weary and burdened, we can train ourselves to choose our response. Red flag. Her translation was way outside of the boundary of what Jesus was saying. He wants us to come to Him with our weakness and learn from him so he can restore us. He never encourages us to train ourselves to choose our response in our own power.
At this point in the online presentation, something fell to the ground which startled the presenter, causing her to swing around in her chair and grab the item on the ground very quickly. When she came back into view, she looked a bit shocked. But then she quickly closed her eyes and breathed deeply to take a mindfulness moment. She then explained to all of us, that a candle had fallen to the ground suddenly. Since it was lit, she needed to get it immediately, stating she was fearful it would cause a fire. But, she noted she was immediately relieved, because the candle had gone out upon hitting the ground.
At this, I smiled and was mindful of sudden relief. I took it as God’s little wink to me that He was connecting with my upset. This was not a Spirit-filled Christian mindfulness session. It was a session where the light was snuffed out. Bad sign.
The crescendo was a poem she shared from a well-known writer who has recently passed away, and who, by the way, was an atheist. Yes of course, perfect ending, inspire me with an atheist's words of not knowing how to pray. Yes, the poem she shared emphasized not knowing how to pray, but knowing how to fall down into the grass and pay attention. I was seriously in a state of shock.
Could it get any worse? I stuck around to the very end hoping the host or participants might reveal their dismay. But the host praised her. Only 2 participants made comments; and they were also praises! Ugh.
I know this is a long post, but it is so important. Some might think I am overly critical or harsh. But I politely disagree. So many are being led as sheep to the slaughter by the enemy who delights in twisting and perverting God's ways. We should be hyper-vigilant in these times to honor God and meditate on His Word in context. We must be rooted and grounded in God’s word to discern between good and evil, Hebrews 5:13-14. God calls us to exercise our spiritual senses through constant use in order to discern. Are you exercising your spiritual senses?
Into the Waters offers resources to train yourself to exercise your spiritual senses through prayer and meditation in context of His truth. Our classes and online resources emphasize the critical nature of lingering with God, inviting the Holy Spirit, meditating on His Word, talking openly and vulnerably with Him, waiting in His presence, giving Him glory, and surrendering to His leading. Practice those type of exercises with us!
We are holding a session Sunday March 15th at 8pm EST called the Word of God. We will ponder 4 different ways the enemy of our soul attacks us. There is also challenge to ask God to do something new and supernatural. There are exercises to quiet yourself and renew in His presence. Join us! Sign up here. And stay tuned because I will also be announcing an April session related to new life, just prior to Easter. I hope you join one or both! And if you are looking for even more, try this biblically based mindfulness challenge that I posted recently on our Facebook and Instagram page. Try it with a friend! Click on the picture below for instructions.
Since Fall of last year, Into the Waters' prayer and meditation sessions have been held in an online format. They have been going very well, with every survey revealing 100% would recommend the session to others! It is precious time with God.
Here is one comment from a participant in the January 25th session-
"I liked the ability to do this online in my own space. Great job in guiding us through the exercises."
It was an early morning start at 8am EST, with the majority connecting from the East Coast, a couple others connecting from CST, and a couple more from the PST (a 5am start!) This the very cool thing of gathering for a session online. You connect from the comfort of your own space and time zone! God will bless those early birds!
I started the session by sharing a few personal examples of difficult moments of mental battle, confusion, and burden that have happened since the start of the year. For the most part I started the year pretty positive; but it didn't take long until battle ensued. I've learned God leads me in a process, taking me through lessons that are not just for me; but for others. As I share, I see that my experience comforts and encourages others, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. We are in this together! God wants us to know we are not alone in our trials. You will experience that if you participate in a session.
Related to the lessons God took me through, I was able to share how God led me to victory in 3 different ways; the lesson being there is no formula with God. We need to hone our skill set in spiritual terms and tune to the leading of the Spirit. Do you know how to do that? He wants us to be aware of the variety of weapons at our disposal to gain victory in our troubles. Do you know what some spiritual weapons might be?
Most Christians are very limited in knowing how to battle through. So as I got closer to the session, I realized that the WORD of GOD session was to partly be about how we overcome. I shared 4 ways the enemy of our souls attacks us. Participants were led through prayerful reflection time with God to meditate and ponder how the enemy might be tempting them. 50% of participants noted they received revelation from God on an area that needed healing. PRAISE GOD!
"My joy of the Lord was restored in realizing I was allowing it to be stolen." - Jan 25th participant
Also the sessions always include a good portion of time to still ourselves before Him and invite His presence. 70% of participants particularly enjoyed being able to still and quiet themselves in His presence. In the hustle and bustle of our attention deprived lives, it is more critical than ever to make hard stops, to be vigilant in protecting quiet time with the LORD. Many of us need to be hyper-vigilant in an aggressive way, especially if we are exhausted, depleted, burdened, complaining, and anxious. We say we don't have time, but Jesus was very clear with Martha telling her that only one thing was truly necessary. He stood in defense of her sister Mary who chose time at the Lord's feet. He made it clear IT WOULD NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER, Luke 10:42. God's defense of your time with Him is already there, are you letting Him defend your time with Him?
"I really sense a need to be more mindful of listening better this year. I tend to want to do all the talking. This process was very helpful to me in practicing that." - January 25th participant
That feedback makes me so happy and thankful! It's testimony of one who is being self-reflective and wanting to "practice"! We can talk, talk, talk to God; but do we stop and listen? Each session always includes time to ask God for things, for vision of the unseen, and then wait on what is impressed, to make note of what comes to mind as we meditate on His truths. In the last session, we asked God to do something new! Something supernatural and of the Spirit! ASK.
"God insists that we ask, not because He needs to know our situation, but because we need the spiritual discipline of asking."- Catherine Marshall, author (1914-1983)
To close this post out, I want to point out the word "mindful" that was used in the participant's quote above. It has become a real buzzword in our culture. And Christians are being led astray related to it. I want to share more about mindfulness; but won't be sharing about it in this blog. I will in the next. It will be about a session I attended recently that was hosted by a national Christian denomination. I signed up hopeful to learn from the PHD who lead it. Unfortunately, I came away very disappointed and concerned. It didn't calm me or benefit my spirit. Will share more next week.
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Often when praying with and for people, scripture is central to the language of my prayers. And anytime I hear anyone pray scripture, it strikes my heart! When spoken by a humble heart, they are powerful! I hear God's authority present. God's Words are the way to Spirit filled prayers. God's Word tells us to pray in the Spirit at all times, Ephesians 6:18. Memorizing scripture is a way to pray His Word. It is a form of meditating on it. Praying in the Spirit is a natural outcome!
The group gathering on Saturday 1/25 for the "WORD OF GOD" session will be praying in the Spirit this way! It's a good size group at this point, so hope you can join the next session! Until then, practice memorizing! Consider the following, and then try the exercise below:
Also, scripture with repeating language can be an easy way to start with the 6 steps. Here is Matthew 7:24–27 as an example. It repeats many phrases. Follow step 1-6 above. Hints on observing the details, step #3, are listed below. Give it a try! Let me know if it works for you!
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!
If you ____________, then you will be prosperous and successful...
What did you fill in the blank with? January 25th at 8am EST is our next prayer and meditation session. We will be meditating on the WORD of God with some reflection in our heart and mind on what God is saying to us through His Word. Jesus as the WORD of God encompasses all of God’s promises! He tells us to keep his words on our lips, to meditate upon them day and night, Joshua 1:8. The outcome is that we shall be prosperous and successful! There is the fill in the blank answer!
He tells us we do not live on bread alone; but on every word that proceeds from His mouth, Matthew 4:4. Christ himself modeled responding with the Word of God when tempted and attacked by evil, Matthew 4: 4,7, 10). Is His Word readily on your lips, hidden in our heart so that we do not sin against him? Are we looking up with eyes that see the unseen, or focusing more on what we can see? Are we low and surrendered or striving and exhausted? Do you want to start 2020 with practicing hiding his Word within, looking up, and positioning low? He will lift you up!
If yes, join the WORD of God event on January 25th at 8am EST! He will lead your soul to prosper! He will grant you success as you invest in His WORD! Click the button below to register for the session!
So 2020 has begun! A new year, a new decade! There is something about a new year that does stir one to dream and feel motivated for change! We long for God to do a new thing! Has He quickened your spirit in that way? If so, I have some resources for you today that are meant to be easy to incorporate, yet produce meaningful change with renewal and rest.
I started out New Years in a day with the LORD. I haven't had an organized journal of scripture notes for years! Horrified to say so because I have gotten so used to electronic devices! But I miss paper and writing and the slowed pace of it for deeper reflection and critical thinking. So went out the day before and purchased 4 soft cover journals to start fresh! It felt so good!
In my time with God, I did what a lot of people are doing this year, thinking about and asking for a WORD to be a theme. I felt God impress the word "ascend" on my mind and heart. Believe it is not just for myself; but a message to all of those who would accept the challenge to "go up and meet with God". So if you are one who is longing to start the year with a renewed mind under the merciful covering of God, I have created a simple 10 day prayer guide that includes 2 days (day 4 and day 10) of beginning fasting exercises. The prayer exercises last 5 minutes or less; and the fasting exercises offer a lot of flexibility with suggestions. This 10 day challenge is excellent for helping you develop some new prayer language through scripture inspiration. All of the days focus on some meaning of the word "ASCEND" which is also laid out in the 2 page guide. This guide can be done alone; and it is an excellent precursor to the January meditation session scheduled for January 25th at 8am EST. Praying you participate in both!
If you are already signed up to receive our emails, you received the prayer guide that way. But if you are not signed up to receive our emails, just sign up here and I will send you the guide for FREE!
Here are some other scriptures the LORD put on my heart for those of us who would commit to time with Him:
DOUBLE!--- The context of this scripture promise is to those who are in a "waterless" pit. This means that there is a very distressing circumstance or situation that is draining, holding you captive, and possibly due to keeping God at a distance. Here is what God says to you- "Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you." -Zechariah 9:12.
EYES OF FAITH TO SEE THE UNSEEN! -- So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone; but the things we cannot see will last forever. - 2 Corinthians 4:8.
She rose above.
She shot forth.
She sprung up.
She took herself away.
She exalted God.
She roused God.
She was caused to go up.
She was exalted by God.
How cool is that?! So much packed into that one little word! The definition is in the 10 day handout. Maybe you will be inspired to write you own list! Make sure to sign up for our ministry email to get the handout! And don't forget to sign up for January 25th using the button above! Tell a friend!
Psalm 63:1- O God, you are my God; early will I see you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is not water.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope that you had a memorable time of worship and fellowship with God and others over this holiday! We are just a couple of days beyond Christmas so giving you a post birth scripture account to meditate upon. Maybe you are just finding time to wind down after the hustle and bustle of the season. Hoping you take a few moments to sit quietly with God and consider Simeon's joy! His joy is to be our joy as well!
Luke 2: 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the LORD's Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign LORD, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."
Verse 25 uses a phrase "the consolation of Israel". Simeon was a man who had a life mission to see it. Consolation is a calling near for comfort, solace, encouragement, refreshment. Clearly Simeon was a good man who was burdened for God to draw near His people as One who comforts. He did not want to die before seeing that promised Messiah, and God was good to share His secret with Simeon! He sent the Holy Spirit to tell Simeon that indeed he would see the promised Messiah!
It's such a tender, awe inspiring moment, which I think Ron DiCianni's artwork of "Simeon's Moment" above captures. There is inexpressible elation in his face! There are tears of joy and clearly some sound of holy praise coming from a place deep within. He held the Holy Promise in his arms! There was no doubt in Simeon. He recognized the promise as foretold by the Holy Spirit. He was led by the Holy Spirit to enter the temple at the exact right time! And Mary and Joseph were also led straight to him to perform the circumcision, cleanse Mary, and accept their offerings.
Have you ever imagined holding the Son of God in your arms? Do you have a heart response similar to Simeon? God's greatest and highest call is for us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind. Love deepens the more we realize how desperately we need God's forgiveness, the reason the holy child was sent.
Luke 7:47- Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus knows the depth of your love and whether it is surface based or if you are one to unashamedly bow at his feet like the wise men did. Do you read that as a guilt message or an opportunity to more deeply experience the goodness of God? The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy, Psalm 103:8. He is right there waiting and longing for more time with you. Are you satisfied with where you are with God or do you long for more? He promises to openly reward those who go into their prayer closets and talk with Him, Matthew 6:6!
Meditate upon whether or not you are moved to emotion when you worship God. Can you connect with inexpressible joy because of God's love and sacrifice for your sins? Are you free in your time with God to unashamedly pour out your thanksgiving and marvel at His holiness? Do you have goals and longings related to experiencing God at a deeper level in the coming year?
Into the Waters will continue holding online sessions to give you an opportunity to linger in God's presence and deepen your relationship with Him. The sessions help you sit with the LORD, talk to Him, and get to know Him better. He is openly rewarding those who have been attending! A January session will be announced next week! May you join!
Until then, meditate on God as consolation, as comforter. Close your eyes; and do what Simeon did. Hold the Son of God as a newborn, born to die for you. Have you held a baby with a thought, "This child was born to die for me?" It's ludicrous to even think it, except if you are talking about Christ the Messiah. Note during your meditation that Simeon told Mary some very profound truths about who the child was, one who would pierce souls, including her own. See Luke 2:35. If any thoughts of fear or condemnation come up, remember again He is CONSOLATION (COMFORTER). Evaluate your emotional attachment to God. Review areas where you need more joy, where you need a new level of intimacy that brings freedom with God as your Comforter. Ask God to wake you up if you have no passion or desire to press in for more of God. Time is so short! May you invest now in deep fellowship with the heart of God! It is where your life can be made new by God's tender mercies every morning. Great is God's faithfulness, Lamentations 3:23!
Isaiah 9:6- For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
If these blogs have been a blessing to you, please consider an end of year donation! Thank you for your consideration! See our donate page to make a tax deductible offering!
Why does Matthew bother with tying the genealogy of Jesus to Joseph who was NOT the paternal seed of Jesus? Why trace back the line of Joseph’s ancestry if he was not at all responsible for the birth of Jesus? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. Something to meditate on. Will you quickly “google” it, or will you challenge yourself to meditate with the help of the Holy Spirit?
Most people would say reading through the beginning of Matthew is tedious and a bit confusing. It is one of two genealogies of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. Both the book of Matthew and the book of Luke trace the beginnings of Jesus’ messianic lineage. Luke gives great detail about the birth of Jesus as a miracle in Chapter 1; as seen in the image above. And in chapter 3 Luke details an ancestry believed to be the lineage of Mary which makes sense because her DNA was in him. But Matthew takes 16 verses listing ancestral ties that link Joseph to Jesus. He starts out referencing King David and Abraham seemingly to tie covenant promises to the genealogy he is about to pen. Since Matthew’s audience was mainly Jewish, readers would have recognized he was immediately wanting to emphasize Jesus was the promised Messiah through his father.
What were some of those promises that started off with Abraham? Many Christians know that God told Abraham that ALL peoples on earth would be blessed through him, Genesis 12:3. God told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, Genesis 15:5. He told him that he would not only give him an everlasting possession of a promised land; but would also give it to his descendants, Genesis 17:8. He promised Abraham that through his descendants all nations on earth will be blessed; because he obeyed God, Genesis 22:18.
Sometimes when we “know” biblical details and hear them again, they can become dull and uninspiring. We have a reaction of “Oh yeah, heard that, know that.” But, oh what we lose when we don’t let what we already “know” take us deeper! There is so much more to revelation if we press in! Don’t you want a renewed sense of awe and wonder? He’s there if you are willing!
I admit I tend to quickly skim or skip right over long lists of names in the Bible. But I didn’t in reading Matthew’s list this time. Instead I was stopped really; and was struck in verses 2 and 3 by the miracles, power, and redemptive character of God that Matthew wants to reveal to his readers. I’ve missed it before! But this time I laughed when I saw it. God was so insistent on working through the impossible!
Romans 4:17b- He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed- the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
Abraham was old, like wayyyy old. Abraham knew his fertile seed was long dried up. Even further, Hebrews 11 says that he counted himself as good as dead! Maybe that means he thought he would keel over at any time. Add Sarah his wife to the impossible equation; and we know that not only was she also old, but her womb was dead, and further still she had always been barren! Yet God insists to Abraham during a few critical times (spanning 25 years!) that he and Sarah would indeed have a child from their old, dead reproductive systems! Ha! At the time designated by God, Isaac comes through the dead loins of Abraham and the dead womb of Sarah. Isaac the promised son, the one whose name means laughter! Who says that God is boring? Laugh with him! His promises bring joy! Nothing shall be impossible with God!
And then not to be over and done with miracles that start the Messianic line, God pairs Isaac with Rebekah, who is also barren.
Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.- Genesis 25:21
Divine promises, children from barren wombs, answered prayer. This is the lineage of our Savior!
So far in verse 2 we have Abraham and Sarah miraculously birthing Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah miraculously birthing Jacob. Who’s next? It’s Judah and he did not come about as a miracle. He came about from a wife that was unloved by her husband Jacob. The unloved one was named Leah, Genesis 29:31,35.
Choosing the one who is unloved. This is the heart of our God!
The next generation takes a wild and salacious turn! Judah has his own sons by marriage; but the Messiah doesn’t come from any of these sons by marriage. Instead the Messianic line continues through his act of sleeping with his daughter-in-law Tamar! She had deceived him into sleeping with her by dressing up as a shrine prostitute. She did this because Judah deceived her, denying her his youngest son to produce off-spring. So, if she wouldn’t be paired with the son who was left, she set her sights on daddy-o to secure her “rights”. If you aren’t familiar with the story, read Genesis chapter 38.
Choosing the ones who are calculating, scandalous, and self-preserving. This is the redemptive work of our Savior!
There would be so much more to say in the list of names presented by Matthew! More drama unfolds through Rahab, Ruth, King David and Bathsheba! But the death knell comes when a curse is placed on Jeconiah (aka Jehoiachin)! In Jeremiah 22:24-30, God declares that none of his offspring will sit on the throne of David. That is not explicitly said in Matthew. But that is where the digging into treasure comes! If you take that long list of “boring” names and trace them back to Old Testament accounts, you discover the hidden messages.
This is what the LORD says: "Record this man (see his name in verse 28) as if childless, a man
who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah."- Jeremiah 22:30
So we have to wonder what gives Matthew? Why keep going with names in the genealogy of Jesus if all hope was cut off at Jeconiah, Matthew 1:11?
And like the blog started off, why bother with it at all since this is a genealogy of Joseph who was NOT the paternal seed of Jesus? Why trace back the line of Joseph if he was not at all responsible for the birth of Jesus?
Why do you think Matthew did that? Meditate upon it. Commentaries don’t always have the full revelation. Challenge yourself to not immediately search out truth that way. Pray about it, look for the clues in scripture. Ask God to help you. The LORD gave us the Holy Spirit who he promised would teach us all things! Ask God to open your eyes to show you great and mighty things that you do not know, Jeremiah 33:3! See the hand of God in his divine plan! Experience joy as you dig for treasure with your Savior, meditating on the WORD that became flesh and dwelt here on earth among us! May His Word become flesh in you! May His Word come alive to you this season leading to an adventure with Him in 2020!
Tomorrow night 12/15 we are holding another HOPE session for this advent season. Will you stop and pray for those that will participate, that their investment in time with Jesus would return 100 fold?! May you be a part of the next session in 2020! A January session will be announced soon! May you be moved to worship the One wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger this season. May He overshadow you and produce the fullness of the Holy One through you! Blessings!
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.
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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!"