Tag Archives: Prayer

Fast and Pray

A friend of mine wrote a beautiful FB post on the benefits of fasting prayer. It is linked below, but not sure it will open. I, too, have practiced fasting prayer many times for many reasons, and have experienced what Becky speaks of here. In fact, I have been doing some short fasts and praying, even Jerichoing our city as I pray for the desperate needs of family and friends. 

I fasted a day last week for these things, plus for God to strengthen my resolve to eat right and do what is needful to take care of me in this season with my husband’s health and other family issues. 
I am a stress eater by habit and have been so out of control, it is hurting me. My husband had me promise that I would take care of me and not let all this get me down physically from the lack of self care. Failing at that, I took a day to seek the Lord’s strength and resolve: and I believe I will keep doing so at least weekly through this season. It’s the only way I see of keeping my promise, by seeking Him who is my First, Most Vital, Need and Necessity. Without God, I can do nothing. 

Since starting this routine in praying for family and friends, and now for myself, my strength and good appetite is returning, and I see the signs of God moving on behalf of family and friends. In fact, a “son” returned to his family the other day. Now for him to return to his God. 

Keep praying! And as the Spirit leads, do fast before the Lord and be strengthened.

Becky’s post

Heads Up!

Today is a day of prayer for Texas, and indeed for the USA. With everything going on in the world today, it’s a good day to pray and to praise the Lord for the good He has done and will do. May He lead us through all the turmoil and trouble in paths of righteousness for His names sake. 

Thankfully, our joy does not depend on things going on around us. Despite the day’s news of trouble, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9

“You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.” Psalms‬ ‭92:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Smoke

“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke” ~ Joel 2:30.

Smoke: Cloud. The steam rising above one of our local fuel or fertilizer plants; the plume from some distant fire; the trail left by some long gone jet: it all draws my attention and begs the taking of a picture for posterity. God, getting my attention?

It happens most when I am praying around the city, seeking His hand of healing for family, friends, church, and nation. Does God want me to discern something about smoke? These questions have hit my heart several times, thus I pause to see how smoke might link with God in scripture. My findings?

First, smoke in the following passages and many more like them are a symbol of God’s presence, His touch (work) among us, His glory all around us. Smoke represents the revelation of God who is with us: it signifies who He is, what He does, His praiseworthiness.

“Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently” ~ Exodus 19:18.

“He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke” ~ Psalm 104:32.

“… I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” ~ Isaiah 6:1-4.

Please permit me a little side note here, before pressing on to the second important reason for God’s revealed Presence in smoke and cloud. This is important for us to realize as we seek Him.

Note all that is going on in the Presence of God’s glory. The Seraphim are in the positions of God’s choosing, standing, for God is able to make His servants stand, doing all that they are called to do in this scene. They are gifted with six wings that give a picture I believe to be a vital message for all who stand in the Smoke or Cloud of God’s Presence.

First we are told that, with two wings they covered their faces. I believe this is because we cannot look upon the Lord to see His face and live. This is the reason that God put Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand until He passed by, to protect Moses’ life (Exodus 33). Such reverence for God is a weapon of warfare that protects our lives.

Next we are told that two wings covered their feet. I believe this is a picture of humility, because where God is, that place is HOLY GROUND. Realizing that, apart from Christ, we are unholy and unworthy to enter into the Presence of God is a vital weapon of warfare, for apart from Him we can do nothing. Only those covered by Jesus can enter through the veil removed by Him, granting us full access to the very Presence of the Holy One: Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.

Also note in the picture presented us, that, as the angels stood before God in humble reverence and awe, worshiping His Holiness, the temple filled with Smoke. We are the temple of God in the earth today, and His Spirit fills us with His glory. Wherever we are is Holy Ground, because where we are, He is. Behaving accordingly is vital to our victory.

Finally, with two wings, they flew. Why? I believe it signifies the fact that reverence for and awe of God produces movements that glorify Him as God: we do what He calls us to, fulfilling our good purpose, because we reverence God and hold Him in awe as Holy and worthy of full and complete commitment to Him. In this way we surrender ourselves to Him as sanctified vessels, set apart for service.

“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME” ~ Revelation 4:8.

On with the Smoke or Cloud of God we go…

The second thing noted is that smoke represents God’s judgment: God’s hand in the wrath to come against the sons of disobedience. All who refuse to bow to His Lordship will meet the smoke of His wrath as death (eternal separation from God) swallows up the sons of disobedience.

“He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit” ~ Revelation 9:2.

Note also that the smoke of His judgment includes those times when His people cry out for Him to rescue us from the accusations and attack of enemy forces that come to condemn us or stop our successful following after the Lord. He judges between us and our accusers, and He rescues us.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears. Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, Fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. And He rode on a cherub and flew; And He appeared on the wings of the wind. And He made darkness canopies around Him, A mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky. From the brightness before Him Coals of fire were kindled. The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice. And He sent out arrows, and scattered them, Lightning, and routed them” ~ Psalm 18:7-15

Before leaving this thought, I am struck by the fact in the previous passage, that as God comes against those who come against us, “coals are kindled!” Coals, believers that have gone cold because of hearts melted within them; or because of discouragement due to over-worked lives that have grown weary. God will kindle and set aflame the discouraged people around us, as they see the work of the Lord on our behalf, and are encouraged that God is still with us and for us.

Who can stand against us?

Third, smoke is seen in warfare, especially as a city is overtaken and possessed by the people in victory.

“Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, ‘Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.’ But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven.” ~ Judges 20:38-40 (also Joshua 8:20-21).

In the Spirit, as we are praying over our city and making full use of every spiritual weapon at our disposal, the victory will reveal itself as smoke going up to the Lord. We will see God’s reality, His Presence made clear. We will see His glory assert itself, making His holiness evident in ways that humble us and press us on in the work at hand. The revelation of His Holiness will work to reveal sin, righteousness, and judgment in the earth, the work of the Spirit in our midst. We will see enemy strongholds crumble and the tongues of our accusers hushed, as the righteous judgment of the Lord becomes clear to all.

In closing:

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“For I have become like a bottle – a wineskin, blackened and shriveled in the smoke in which it hangs, yet do I not forget Your statutes.” ~ Psalm 119:83, AMPC.

Over and over, as I traveled the outskirts of our city, my eye was caught with awe at the strange beauty of the blackened carbon black plants, their smoke column wafting above. Now, as I read this verse, I understand why God is highlighting these plays as something that is beautiful. It is this picture of a wineskin, blackened and shriveled in the Smoke.

We are wineskins, made new in Christ and filled with the wine of His presence. And we are surrounded by Him at all times, experiencing the Smoke of His Presence with us.

Apparently, wineskins that hang constantly in the presence of smoke become blackened – covered with its soot, and they shrivel. What does this mean for us as wineskins that hold the Living Wine of God’s presence and power? Two things about this blacken and shrivel us:

The realization of His glory humbles and shrivels us to size as we learn to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought; surrendering fully to His Lordship.

The smoke of His judgments humble and shrivel us as we are transformed and made new by our surrender to His opinion of us: both bringing us to repentance in the areas of sin, and lifting us up in the areas of our confident hope.

img_2213Just as these pipes and brackets are blackened by their constant exposure to the billowing smoke of carbon black production, the blanket caused by standing in His presence covers us completely, our flesh-being, hidden from view, so that His holy eyes only see the sacrificial covering of Christ’s image in us.

Beloved, the “soot” of God’s smoke is His glory.  The nearer to Him we stay, He takes us from glory to ever greater depths of His glory. 

The Power of God is among us, prayer warriors. So keep seeking the Lord, standing in His presence fully clothed, bowed down in complete surrendered trust of Him, assured of His work in our midst that will reveal itself in smoke for many days to come.

“The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words: ‘He is good! His faithful love endures forever!’ At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.” ~ 2 Chronicles 5:13-14.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16.

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [Ps. 110:1.] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.” Colossians‬ ‭3:1-4‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

And It Will Move

I believe I was part of a miraculous event today. This is my testimony of one who believes Jesus, who said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Listen to the rain with me for just a bit, then receive my testimony.

Comforted by God

Have you ever heard a hummingbird bark? I didn’t even know they did such until our dear friend, Steve Cook, last visited us. He was a missionary in Jericho, West Bank (or Israel, dependent on who you ask). When he came home for a respite, he would stay with us as a home base. He told us his last visit here about the hummingbird’s bark.

Several weeks after he returned to Jericho, I went on a Christian Heart Quest retreat. The morning after our arrival to the retreat site, they put me through to a call from my husband, who let me know that Steve passed away from an aortic aneurism. He offered to drive down to get me, so I could tend to needful things, as I was Steve’s stateside office manager. Steve was so excited when I told him about the retreat, I knew he would want me to stay, so I did.

While our retreat leadership was setting things up for our week, we were tasked to go out into the countryside for a time of fasting and prayer. I was crippled by sciatica at that time, leaning heavily on a cane, so Johnny ordered me a scooter for that day. I didn’t go far, but was able to get out a ways.

Sitting under a group of trees, letting the Lord minister to my grieving heart as I prepared for a week of intense study of His Word and seeking His face, I hear what sounded like a huge bee, behind my hot pink hat on my head. I ignored it, keeping my thoughts Godward. Shortly I hear the same, rapid-wing noise above and to the left. Looking up, there is a beautiful hummingbird hovering over me. As I catch site of Him, he starts barking at me as if to say, “That’s a beautiful color on your head, but it’s not nice of you to trick me so.”

I laughed for joy over the sound of a barking hummingbird that came to me as a hug of comfort from my God.

Reading scripture:

I enjoy the study of the scriptures, but when life is stressful and my mind struggles to focus, digging in can be difficult at best. With this fight against cancer we are in, focus is especially difficult, so God laid it on my heart to simply read His Word. I’m not to worry about how long it takes me or how much I get done in a day. Nor am I to fret if my mind wonders as the word prompts thoughts and prayers over things in life. I’m simply to trust the Lord to commune with me through His word, bringing my heart to rest all with Him.

I’ve read through the scriptures many times in my years, so I excitedly began my journey in January of last year as our battle with cancer began. Numerous years ago, a Sunday school teacher recommended a 5:1 method of reading: 5X through the New, 1X end to end. It goes like this:

1. John through Revelation
2. Matthew, skip to Acts through Revelation
3. Mark, skip to Acts through Revelation
4. Luke, skip to Acts through Revelation
5. John through Revelation
6. Genesis through Revelation
Repeat 1-6.

I read 5 times through the New Testament last year. How peaceful I found just reading God’s word to be on my weary heart. In January of this year I started with Genesis.

Reading from end to end straight through can be difficult. Books like Numbers and the Chronicles of the kings, with long genealogy lists of hard to read names, and repetitive job/exploits descriptions are taxing on my brain. So rather than straight through, I’ll read a book in order, then I’ll read a minor prophet book or a NT letter, then back to the next book in line. Sometimes, like with 1 Chronicles, I have to read two books simultaneously, a little in 1 Chronicles then I read a little in Romans. I finished Romans, and now I am finishing up 1 Chronicles.

My goal is 3-4 books each month, which should have me finished by end of year. I divided the Psalms into thirds, each third counting as 1 book. And I read through Psalm 119 separately, reading through it numerous times, a segment each day, praying for God to open His Word to me and me to Him.

Though a lot of the OT hurts my heart for the people then and now, I still find great peace in the reading of God’s word. Reading God’s word with a heart open to align with Him brings God’s peace to rest on the sincere seeker, despite the storm tossed seas of life.

The Practice of Focus

MY sweet husband, in pain, says, “This is the worst day yet,” as he struggles to move. Then he begins thanking me for my care for him. That’s my husband: realize the struggle, but focus on the blessings in the midst of it.

The Apostle Paul of the Holy Bible encourages us to realize the importance of contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4). One of the greatest aids to contentment when trouble screams for our attention is the practice of focusing on the blessings all around us, being grateful for the good that trouble seeks to rob from us. Learning to see the beauty in life and taking time to smell the roses helps us walk a life of contentment in the midst of pain.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 4

We are covering Philippians 4:4-13, seeking God’s wisdom concerning things taught here that help us take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). As a quick review of verses 4-7, covered to date, we learned the importance of rejoicing in the Lord. With God as the source of our joy, we have strength to face life’s challenges, and resource to stand firm against stinking thinking that leads to a fall. We must refuse to let anything rob us of the joy we find in our relationship with God. Nothing can rob us of that true joy that rests by faith in Him, for He holds us secure in Christ (Romans 14:4).

With our rejoicing in Him, we discover that He equips us to respond to people and circumstances with gentleness that expresses itself through patient forbearance and long-suffering tolerance, dictated by right attitudes of mind seen in selflessness and temperance that knows Jesus is coming and that we are to represent His interests until He gets here. As people of God who know the Lord is near, we choose to be people of faith, trusting Him, not given over to anxiety that robs of peace, but people filled with God’s peace, having hearts and minds enveloped by His protective peace that is beyond our full comprehension. Continuing Philippians 4, in verses 8-9, Paul gives this wisdom from God as a watch-list for our thought-life:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Our next spiritual weapon is the practice of dwelling with God in our thought life. We are told in this passage to dwell on these things, the first being: truth ~ I believe that this is not just any truth, but God’s truth. God’s truth sees things as they really are, getting to the heart of the matter; and God’s truth always considers God’s supply: His presence with us, His resource for us.

One example that comes to mind is one I find myself having to remember these days. With the health issues my husband and I are dealing with, I find myself to be very tired most days, and often find rolling around in my head the thought that “I can’t”! When opportunity to meet a need arises, the feeling of being tired and the words “I can’t” move in on me so fast that I have to be careful to not just run with that evaluation. Capturing that thought requires me to do two things: 1) look at the truth of the situation to see the reality of the need; and 2) remember God’s word to Paul that I believe true for us as well, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Matthew 17:20; Philippians 3). Our thought life can hinder our participation in things God desires for us if we fail to seek Him for a right evaluation and to trust His supply for our need in accomplishing His purpose.

Paul instructs us to “dwell on (think on, meditate on)” the true, the honorable, the right, pure, and lovely things of good repute and excellence, focusing on the praise worthy things. The truly praiseworthy flows from a heart focused to honor God and please Him first and foremost. Paul’s instruction given is with the purpose that our minds may be set on the works and words worth putting into practice: “Practice these things,” Paul instructs.

Our thoughts should inspire words and actions that prove us as God’s true servants, practicing the honorable, righteous, pure, and lovely ways of God in truth, doing His will as people worthy of good repute, producing excellence worthy of praise that glorifies God as God, pleasing Him in all things. Take every thought captive, beloved, by inviting God to inspire right thinking, dwelling with God in your every thought, allowing His Spirit and Word to inspire right and true understanding leading to accomplishing His good will in His glorious way to fulfill His eternal purpose.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 3

In our consideration of the truths found in Philippians 4:4-13, we find instruction to help us take every thought captive to obey God in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

Rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstance strengthens us for a life that honors God as God, even when the road before us is rough. Finding our joy in God protects our way of viewing the situations we face, thus protecting our way of thinking about life’s challenges. Our thoughts then flow from this joy in God that trusts in Him, bringing us to respond in gentle ways that bear up under the pressure with patients, realizing the Lord’s nearness and trusting Him to guide us as He works in our lives.

Knowing that the Lord is near strengthens us when difficulty threatens our faith. God’s word reveals two ways we are to know His nearness. One is realizing that the Lord is returning and we must be ready for Him as His servants by following His will and way in our day. This understanding empowers us to keep moving forward, having minds set on our eternal relationship with Him, destined to live with Him forever. The second way we know His nearness is in trusting that He has given us His Spirit to be with us, instruct us, and empower / equip us for each challenge faced. This faith in God’s provision helps us to obey as His representatives, fulfilling His purpose, seeing challenge as opportunity to please Him. We patiently endure every difficulty as we take up the next spiritual weapon against stinking thinking that brings a fall:

“…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. …” ~ Vs. 6-7.

Besides robbing us of our joy, leading us to respond in self-protective and hurtful ways, bringing us to forget the nearness of our God, the enemy of God loves when he can tickle our minds with anxious thoughts that raise up doubt toward God and fear of the things we see in front of us. In today’s scripture, God’s Word gives instruction regarding ways of dealing with anxiety.

First, the word “be” implies that we have a choice. We do not have to be anxious people. We can choose to be people who trust in God, thus overcoming the anxious thoughts through faith. That trust reveals itself as we seek His answers regarding the path ahead through prayer. God’s word teaches us to seek Him in faith, believing He will answer (James 1:5-8, 5:13-18; Hebrews 11:1, 6).

Trust also reveals itself in our ability to choose to be thankful people. We may not feel thankful for the situation we are in, but we can be thankful for God and all we know of Him that will have an effect on our outcome. We can be thankful for His presence and supply that will be there for us as we walk the path ahead of us. We can be thankful for the words of wisdom He gives our hearts that overcome the anxiety threatening our ability to face the day. And we can be thankful for all we will learn about Him through our journey of faith, and all He will do in growing us to be strong as people of God.

As we choose in this way to be people of faith, not given over to anxiety, God’s word promises that He will respond with an outpouring of His peace. He gives more than just a little peace. He pours it out to and through us in ways that surpass our comprehension. That peace envelops our hearts and minds, protecting us from the anxiety and fear that seeks to defeat us by making us feel weak and worthless. Choosing to push anxiety and fear away with trust in God that seeks Him and rejoices in Him empowers us to have right thoughts within, leading to right actions, flowing out of the strength of God’s sure supply.

Pray For Those Who Hurt You

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” ~ Luke 6:27-28, NLT.

God speaks this passage as reminder to me today, especially the command to “Pray FOR those who hurt you. Check how you are praying, Darlene.”

People hurt people. There are many causes that lead people to hurt one another, some malicious, some incidental and unintended. Some hurt comes with the best of intentions. We all struggle in various ways that can lead us to carry our feelings as on our shoulders, where the actions and words of others easily knock us around: fear of rejection and other such insecurities. Some carry their “feelings” on their shoulders because they are walking in an ungodly lifestyle, they know it, and they don’t want anyone telling them about it. People who struggle in any of the above tend to hurt those around them out of their own struggle and insecurities. Those trapped in the common sins of our day tend to hurt those around them in the very practice of their lifestyles: drug addicts steal from those they love most; adulterers destroy their own families; etc. We hurt each other, and praying properly for those who hurt us is often a challenge.

What does it mean to pray for those who hurt us? Too often, in praying for someone who hurt me, I find myself truly praying for me: praying selfishly.

“Lord, they falsely accused me. Make them know the truth and apologize.”

“Lord, they stole from me. Make them repent and pay it back.”

Problem is that their heart intent may be nowhere near my comprehension of the truth of their heart. I may have misunderstood their words. I may be reading between the lines and comprehending an accusation they never meant. I may receive insult from actions that truly were not aimed at me as I stepped between them and their target. Praying for others out of our hurt can lead to selfish requests that God cannot answer. Our best, most effective praying seeks the heart of God for His truth regarding the need of the one whose actions / reactions hurt our feelings or did harm to our life, reputation, or sense of security.

We can learn a lot from how Jesus prayed FOR those hurting Him. He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Praying for others realizes truth: Jesus proclaiming “they know not what they do”. Praying for others refuses to give preference for one’s own desire, right, or recompense. Praying for others seeks God and His desire for them. Praying for others focuses on their deepest, truest needs. We all need God’s grace sufficient for us. We all need truth that sets us free from any lie. We all need repentant hearts that seek wholeheartedly after God.

Until we can pray for others, our own heart toward them will fall short of truly loving and caring for their need. Until we can pray for God to forgive them, just as Jesus did, and mean it, our own ability to forgive will fall short. Until we can pray for them to know His love, our ability to love those who hurt us truly will suffer loss. Until we can pray for eyes that see as God sees, compassion will fail us, transforming-truth will escape us, and love will find no roost for new growth.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good…” ~ Romans 12:9-13 (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a; Romans 13:7-14).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 5

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Answering the question, what do we do about a person that we love when a factious mindset threatens the relationship? How can we reject a contentious, divisive fellowship without leaving the relationship? To answer that, I think of the things God taught me over many years of dealing with my sweet daddy.

In his later years, my daddy suffered depression and paranoia common to aging. He was hard of hearing and often misheard or misinterpreted things. That fed his paranoia, leading to discord with family members. His actions and attitudes became factious, as he freely shared his beliefs about “what people are doing to me”, based on his misunderstanding of truth. There was no consoling him, and no changing his mind about the things he believed. It was very difficult some days to be around him. But I love my daddy, who is now with the Lord, and through that time of dealing with him, God taught me another way to reject the factious fellowship.

  1. First, realize the truth of the person’s mental, physical, and emotional state. What is going on in their life that is wearing them down? What is going on that may have them constantly meditating on the false information, further feeding the falsehood? Put yourself in their shoes and get a little compassion flowing toward them.
  2. Try to speak truth to the situation if you know it, in an effort to console, impart wisdom, and give peace, with hope of correcting the misunderstanding. Point to God’s ability to reveal truth and heal the situation.
  3. If they will not be consoled, try to change the subject.
  4. If they keep returning to their complaint and you cannot get them off the subject, excuse yourself with promise to return another day.
  5. Do not participate in a lie that is feeding discord. We tend to want to let one sharing their contentions have their way and pretend to agree with them hoping they will go on to some other topic of discussion: I.e., saying, “Yeah, that was horrible for them to do that,” when we know the other person did not do the stated deed. That just gives fuel for a factious spirit to use in breeding more discord.

Dealing with people in my dad’s situation, where they truly do not realize what they are doing and the harm it is bringing to relationships can be difficult. Those who do not have a mental issue causing them to behave factiously can be even harder to cope with; but if you want to maintain relationship without taking part in the divisive misinformation, knowing when to leave the conversation and change the subject is crucial.

So is watching oneself to be sure you are not inadvertently adding to the problem by talking with others about the situation with your loved one, inadvertently participating in the battle with a factious spirit of your own. In another situation where a person would not believe I did not do the thing accused of, they shut me out of their life. In my own hurt, when people would ask me how that person was doing, I would respond, “I don’t know.” Dependent on who it was, I would tell why I did not know, “They believe I did something I did not do and have shut me out of their life.” Then one day God inspired my heart to quit telling people about the other person’s insult to my heart or talking about the problem. He instructed that in doing so, I was hurting their reputation and relationship with others, and the reliving of the account was keeping the scab ripped off my own wounds. Following God’s instruction freed me to work toward loving that person anyway.

In another situation, I thought the other party was hearing me incorrectly. Then I realized that I said just what they said I did. With that revelation, it was time for a very sincere and heart-felt apology, first to God, and then to them. God reveals the truth. When He does, we must be ready to deal with it appropriately so that healing and restoration can begin.

Beloved, in whatever situation you find yourself, seek the wisdom of the Lord in dealing with it. Find truth as God sees it. Realize people’s life situation and their tendency to return to old coping mechanisms when wounded. Give yourself that same courtesy, realizing that we learn coping mechanisms over time, and may be walking in old ways that fail to glorify God. Find the truth as God reveals it and walk in the fellowship of His light, learning new ways of coping and dealing with such trouble. Be a peacemaker where you can, shining the light on God and His word, coming into agreement with Him. And most importantly, remember, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” ~ 1 Peter 4:8, AMP.

“The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! He knows the truth, and may (God’s people) know it, too! …” Joshua 22:22, NLT (author’s translation).

The King is Coming! ~ A Vision

Yesterday morning, I had a vision that I believe to be from God. Lying in bed, hoping to go back to sleep, eyes closed, in that darkness I clearly see our bedroom filling with white smoke. Immediately following my asking the Lord, “What’s going on?” two angels step into the smoke and lift holy hands to God. I cannot hear what they are saying, but I sense worship in the air and step forward, joining the angel’s song. As I do, the image changes. I see many scenes of people all over the world, running in a panic from something. I get the strong sense that whatever is causing the fear and panic is allowed or sent by God. My heart of worship continues and the vision ends.

Last night, thinking on the vision from yesterday morning, I sought God for greater revelation. As I considered the scene of the Angel’s song, God pointed my heart to the position from and to which all occurred. Noting the position of things, I recognized the smoke, coming from the west, is the sacrifice of praise and worship coming from God’s people. The Angels came up into that worship from the southeast and turned to face due east. All the hosts of God’s creation who believe in and seek Him, were watching for and working to be ready for the King’s arrival.

I said above that I stepped forward to join the Angel’s song. I did not see myself do that. I was not seen in the vision, I was part of it, physically joining in the worship going on. It was a heart movement as I mentally and emotionally turned my focus to the East and began to worship God with full control of my very alert faculties.

As soon as I did that, the scene literally swiped away from the southeast where the Angels came from, to the northwest, being replaced as if seeing the screen of a video swiping up to replace the view of those worshiping God, changing to many scenes in a collage of views from everywhere on the earth.

The first, most evident scene was a woman, climbing a big hill or mountain covered with huge boulders, panic stricken, moving north. The next was a couple in a well-groomed, middle class neighborhood, running in a panic, the man looking over his shoulder to the west where the worship was coming from, dragging behind a woman with a panicked expression. Another had city skyscrapers surrounding many people on the run, with all I can recall seeing looking back as if to escape some approaching enemy, having facial expressions of panic. I vaguely remember scenes including a Japanese style building (a pagoda and huts), forest or wooded areas, and there was more my mind could not focus on before the vision quit.

God told me yesterday that the meaning of the vision would be found in my next portion of scripture reading. I finally got to focus on my reading last night, which was 2 Thessalonians. There, in chapter 1, verses 3-10, God reveals it.

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, AWAY FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND FROM THE GLORY OF HIS POWER, WHEN HE COMES TO BE GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS ON THAT DAY, AND TO BE MARVELED AT AMONG ALL WHO HAVE BELIEVED—FOR OUR TESTIMONY TO YOU WAS BELIEVED” ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10.

Those who believe God run to Him in every avenue of life, their very being expressive of the true worship of God. Those who do not believe God run from any evidence of His presence and fight against the knowledge of God that makes Him evident.

I believe God is calling all who truly seek Him with a whole heart, desiring and recognizing His presence, to be more overt in our worship of Him in every way that the Scriptures reveal to be the true and evident heart of worship (1). Every part of our being must seek to possess and remain in the presence of the Lord through a holy life that truly and sincerely worships and honors Him as Lord. Those who do not want to know His presence will flee from us because they recognize and do not want the presence of the Lord. We are not to turn from worshipping God, as man pleasers, but as God-seekers, our focus is to be on the presence and power of our soon returning King.

Every act of our worship reaches out to Him as the savory aroma of the sacrifice of praise. Glorify the Lord with every breath, for the day of His return is nigh (very near to us, quickly approaching).

A few passages that instruct in the true worship seen in the saints of God: Isaiah 58; John 4:22-24; Romans 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25; Philippians 3 (esp. AMPCL).

Difficult Things 2-C ~ A Faith That Moves Mountains: Personal Testimony (Long)

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord” ~ Lamentations 3:21-26.

My journey of learning to walk by faith, knowing I can trust God for every need, began with a very small issue that was mountainous to me. A wart on my hand refused to heal, despite every effort.

On the day I was considering the need to go to our medical doctor and let him take care of it, I walked into our living room where a TV program was talking about a little booklet, just out at that time, titled, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” They were talking about the “room” of our heart where faith resides. Struck by the discourse, I went back to the kitchen I was in the process of cleaning, praying along the way for God to grow my faith. The person sharing the booklet suggested asking God to point to a particular need that He would use to enliven our journey to increased faith that fully trusts in Him. Doing so, as I reached into the sink for the next dish, I bumped the wart.

Memory of my mother telling me of a time when I had several warts on my hand came instantly to mind. She said they could not afford to do anything medically for it at that time, so she prayed for God’s healing, and He took care of it: within a week, they were gone. There it was! Revelation of the conduit for my beginning on the journey to grow in faith that fully trusts and looks to God. Praying for God’s healing to increase my faith to trust Him more, I went on with life. Not many days later, again doing dishes, I saw it, my perfectly healed hand. I forgot about the wart after giving it to the Lord and paid no attention until reaching into the water again reminded me. Ever since then, just the inkling of a wart meets with prayers of faith that trusts God. I have not had one wart since. In fact, one threatened to rise up just last week, and it is gone because God is faithful.

My journey of growth to greater levels of faith continues today. Our God is so very great; He is beyond any ability we have to fully comprehend His glory and power this side of eternity. I am convinced that, no matter how strong we grow in our knowledge of and understanding of Him, when we meet Him in eternity, amazement will be ours as we meet a Father much greater than we can ever comprehended in this life. Every situation we face presents us with opportunity to grow in faith as we come to better understand our God. Acts 17 tells us:

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist…” ~ vs. 24-28.

God’s desire is that we grow in our knowledge of Him, and the purpose of every experience under the sun is that we reach for His hand expecting to find it. This is the journey of ever-growing faith.

My husband and I are in new territory for us even now that is giving ample opportunity to seek and find the hand of God in ways never before experienced by us. My beloved husband of over 40 years received a diagnosis of stage 4 prostate cancer just a few weeks ago. He had no common symptoms of prostate issues, thus the advanced state (Men, it is vital you have a physical every year that includes a prostate exam and PSA lab work). The symptoms he does have pointed to a myriad of possibilities. Addressing the most likely cause first, his presenting symptom went on for 10 months before another symptom finally led to looking more closely at what was going on. So here we are, on a journey that, short of God’s work in my husband’s body, has us facing the reality that his life may end sooner than desired by us.

Seeking God as the shock of the diagnoses of earthly medicine hit, Father made it clear that He is in control. This thing is not outside the scope of His plan nor beyond the reach of His hand. He has purpose in this season and will accomplish it. This is a journey set by God to increase faith in us as we seek the Lord’s direction for each and every step. God’s purpose in this health issues is to give us opportunity to seek Him so we may grow in our knowledge of Him. As we do, we take every opportunity to share the journey in ways that help the faith and growth of those walking with us. You are now part of that group.

In our journey, we are discovering as never before the greatest of faith that cries out as Jesus did, “Yet not my will, but Your will be done.” We seek God, having our desire in the outcome, but we know God’s will is of greatest importance and must prevail, for His purpose will see its fulfillment. The soil for the seed of faith is always and only in the calling and equipping of God available to us in the things that challenge our faith. If we are not in the center of God’s will, reaching for His Hand in any given situation, His power and supply for our ability will not be there to help us. Faith either fails to sprout forth to accomplish any good thing because of immaturity, or because of lack of obedience that fails to receive the nutrients available to us in the soil of life-challenges. Growing and productive seeds for abundant life root out by faith in God, revealed as such through trusting obedience to Him, bearing the fruit of righteousness.

Faith seeks God first, finds His will and way for the path ahead, and walks that path with assurance that He is in control, leading to the outcome of His choosing. Faith trusts that the One who sees and knows all things, from beginning of time to end of days, is working a plan that establishes and accomplishes our divinely appointed role in this life.

All the good we seek to do can only come to fulfill His will and purpose as we grope for Him, finding His hand to lead us to it. Fighting death as if it is the mountain is a waste of energy apart from God’s leading in the fight. Short of the Rapture coming to take us, death is a promise to all human flesh. Death is the natural course of life in this shell we call “body”, and God is the one who sets in place the time and method of our death. Unless raptured, we will all one-day die.

God’s word tells us that He plans the number of our days while there is yet one of them. Before we are born, He knows our hour of death, because He set the course of our life and planned how each breath fits His eternal purpose. Our walk of faith is to grasp for His hand with every step, trusting Him to direct our paths to fulfill the purpose He planned before we were born. Continue in attempts to do what we see as good without waiting on God to direct, equip, and establish our path, and we deplete the soil of the heart, using up resources meant for other things, and missing the mark of fulfilling His purpose.

Depleted soil cannot bear good fruit. That is when our everyday ministry begins to falter as we deplete resources given for it while trying to do more than God calls us to do. Johnny has strength to keep working because God set His feet on the path and Johnny trusts God for each step. He is not fretting over things He cannot control. Though he is putting up the fight against cancer as God leads us to, He knows God is the only one who can bring the victory. God’s will for Johnny’s life will be done.

My husband’s health issue is a huge mountainous challenge in our lives, but it is not the only mountain, nor even the main one. Death being part of life, the mountain to cast away is anything in us that hinders our facing it with faith, hope, and trust in God, knowing He will not allow our death one instant before He fulfills His plan in us. The mountain God reveals to me is most important to Him is the things in us that hinder our faith and rob of strength needed for us to walk this journey well, in ways that glorify Him. Oh how sad it would be to come to the end of our days and fail to finish strong in faith filled obedience to God, being too busy fighting death to live the life He gives us!

One of the biggest challenges revealed so far on our journey is the mountain of my need to control things. My routines are messed up, and my calendar is no longer my own. I know. It never truly was, not if I truly follow God; but all sense of time ever belonging to me to control is falling to the wayside, as we must do what is necessary to travel the path God has us walking. We often get calls to remind of appointments one of his doctors set up without consulting us. The reminder for the appointment becomes the first we knew of it, reminding us that our calendar is not our own: it must rest in God’s capable hands (Psalm 37:23; 40:2; Proverbs 16:9). Household duties and my husband’s work duties pile up as we spend time normally put to those things, running to appointments and tending to health needs.

As we seek God in every challenge Johnny’s health journey brings, God directs us step by step. He is pouring strength to my husband, thus far protecting him from the side effects of chemo and symptoms common to his illness, empowering him to keep working and to get the work done as he gets to it. Hubby’s patience has always amazed me, and his ability to let God be God in this hour is strengthening my own.

As for me, God told me shortly after this journey began to fret not over things that can wait, but pick my battles with His priorities at heart, reserving the energy I need to be the wife Johnny needs in this season. That wisdom and the faith to let God have control, knowing God will provide the energy and ability for each thing in its time, brought down a huge mountain in me as I surrendered my times to God’s care, trusting my days to Him.

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness. Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You…” ~ Psalm 31:14-17a.

When faced with an issue that looks like a mountain to overcome, the first step is to go to the Father and ask if we are the one to tackle it. The voice of persecution from God’s enemy often comes as a sense of urgency to jump on tasks that are truly unimportant in that moment, only serving to rob of needed strength for things we do need to take care of. We must seek His revelation to know if that thing in front of our eyes is a mountain He wants us to face, and whether it is one to cast aside or whether it is His provision of a place of fertile soil for our spiritual growth and service. His answer fertilizes our faith, making it ready for germination. Planting that seed by trusting Him for each step, following in obedient faith, grows in us the fruit bearing trees that glorify Him.

Knowing our calling and equipping, and having God’s focus, requires a vital and growing relationship with the Father. That begins and ends in prayer: communication with God that earnestly seeks Him with seeds of faith ready for His provision for growth. Seeking Him must be in faith that trusts Him to give the right answer, with commitment to follow the wisdom He supplies without wavering (James 1:1-8).

The question that comes to my attention next is, how do we know that our faith is planted in the fertile soil of God’s making so that mountains fall and good springs forth? Next post we address another difficult thing about God’s word and way that is necessary to understand if we are to see His good worked out into our circumstances. Hoping to see you back here next week as our life circumstances allow me time to write subsequent posts.

Difficult Things 2-B ~ A Faith That Moves Mountains

“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not drive it out?’ And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you’” ~ Matthew 17:19-20.

Last post we discovered that the “littleness” of faith Jesus warned of was not a lack of enough faith, as Jesus says that it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. The “littleness” Jesus speaks of in this analogy is faith that is immature, being unable to sprout forth and grow. It does not matter how much faith we have if that faith is immature: incapable of growth producing the fruit of the Seed. Faith, inadequately mature for growth, is useless, even though we possess enough of it to pile it up to mountainous heights. However, the smallest amount of faith, made ready to grow, is powerful, to the removing of mountains. That is the teaching of Christ I see.

No doubt, we each have many seeds of faith within us, each in various stages of maturation, some already grown into large, mature trees. Trees sprout forth in fruitful glory when, having experienced God enough in some areas of life, we no longer question His ability and willingness. Instead, we readily and easily trust Him in areas kin to our experience. In those areas, we bear much fruit to the glory of God, for we know from whom our help comes.

Facing new needs requiring faith, finding just that tiny seed available for the new situation standing before us, our past-experience of God helps prepare the new seeds of faith, making them ready to germinate at the unction of God’s Spirit. Just a little time with God’s Presence, receiving instruction regarding the path ahead of us, assuring our hearts of His faithfulness, and roots spring forth to produce a harvest. In the process, mountainous issues fall away into nothingness as we grow to know how great God is.

The problem the disciples had hindering their faith was that Jesus, the one who instructed them in the heart of God and His purpose, was unavailable for consultation. The Presence of God they knew was nowhere to be found in that moment of need.

Last post, covering this understanding that the seed Jesus sights as having “littleness” is immature, we ended with the thought that we must realize the mountain God has set His sights on removing. Knowing the mountain set by God for removal with hope set on Him who powers it is vital to victory.

Beloved, we will never, this side of eternity, have sufficient understanding of God and His ways so as to never have need to plant new seeds of faith. There is always new growth and fruitfulness to possess in our knowledge and understanding of God. The thing I am learning is that the mountain we think we see in front of us is most often potting soil, set in our path by God as the soil required for our faith-seed to grow.

We see the difficulty standing in the middle of our road; the hardship that we cannot get past. That thing standing in front of us, causing such frustration and doubt as it refuses to move, becomes enormous in our eyes as we fight the challenge we deem an obstacle. Wanting not to have the difficulty that challenge presents us, we decide it must be a mountain to cast off. Failing to recognize the soil made ready for seeds of faith’s growth, discontented in the place God plants us, we find ourselves fighting against God, thinking we are working with Him to move the mountain in our eye’s sight.

The truth I find is that the bigger mountain God is always after is those things in us that hinder our knowledge of Him and His ways, destroying our trust to believe Him and take Him at His Word. Let us look at our disciples again to glean from that example and see that, though they failed to heal the boy, a mountain did come down.

Before their mission trip, Jesus gave the disciples an assignment (Mark 6:7-14). They listened to the Creator of all things, The Living Word sent from the Father. He prepped the seeds of faith they would plant for fruit bearing as they faced each challenge set before them. That seed fertilized by God through Jesus’ words, commanded what they were going on mission to do, giving them authority to do it. The mountain was not the challenges lying ahead of them, but the things within that would stop up the growth of their faith to believe the command of Christ who gave them their authority. Believing Jesus, they overcame the challenges as they went forth in victory to fulfill Jesus’ Word to them. Their seed, impregnated by His instruction, grew to a fruit-bearing tree as they came to each challenge to their faith. They learned that they too could follow the instruction of God in the power of His supply and accomplish the great things of God’s choosing by trusting Jesus.

Now back home, the disciples faced a similar situation as that successfully met on their mission journey. Unable to perform the work they easily faced before, what happened to their faith? Why were they unable to heal this one brought before them now?  I believe God was working on a new seed of faith they needed to germinate in preparing for the ministry ahead of them, but they had their eye on the wrong mountain. They saw the potting soil set before them in this one needing healing, and failed to see the mountain found in the lack of their knowledge of God that made for their littleness of faith. The healing of the boy was God’s will. Healing Him was within God power to accomplish. The demonized boy was soil prepared by God for a growth encounter that would remove a mountain of doubt standing in the way of the effective ministry He had for these disciples to possess.

Jesus, the one they communicated with to know the Father’s heart, was off doing something else. He was not there, readily available to instruct and prep the soil of their hearts by speaking to them the truth of God’s authority given to prepare their seed of faith to see the boy healed. They apparently did not realize fully that they could speak with and know the Father’s will for themselves, receiving His instruction and authority with power. Prayerlessly skipping the communication phase of their journey, doing what they had done before without clear direction for the “now” situation, they tackled the challenge with immature faith that could not sprout. Chopping at what they saw as a mountain to defeat, they failed to plant the seed of faith there and watch for what God would do. They tried to heal the boy with no root of authority and power established for that particular work. Good as the work they wanted to do was, they were working off depleted resources, using seeds of faith that Jesus called “littleness”.

In this account of the disciples little faith, I see that the disciples needed to grow to know that when Jesus was gone, the Father was with them to help them. They lacked faith to understand that the Father hears and responds to them personally. All they needed was to call to Him and seek His face with earnest expectation and hope of receiving His response. That is the mountain I believe God was after, their lack of reliance on Him as Father, and understanding to know that He was with them even when Jesus was gone. The next verses in the Mark account of this faith encounter, shows Jesus, beginning to prepare them for His soon departure. Jesus being about to leave the earth, we can see that it was vital they grow to know and seek the Father for themselves.

What mountainous challenge are you facing, Beloved? Are your sights truly set on the one to be cast away, or is that challenge in your sight truly God’s field of fertile soil made ready for your seeds of faith to germinate as you discover and overcome the true mountain God is after? If a situation stands, immovable, perhaps it is time to ask God to reveal the true mountain He is working cast away as He uses the experience to mature seeds of faith in you. Seek the Father with faith that knows He is faithful to respond in due season. He will show you what you need to know on the journey to cast out every mountainous obstacle to your mature and effective faith.

Difficult Things 2-A ~ Faith That Moves Mountains

In the first “Difficult Things” post, speaking of truly trusting God, we mentioned that the disciples were unable to heal the demon-possessed boy brought to them by the man who came with a small seed of hope that Jesus “can” heal. We talked about what Jesus said to the man, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”

Jesus spoke straight to the point, both to the man seeking healing, and to the disciples, standing by, wondering why they could not perform the healing. The man’s “if” revealed how small his faith, but the man was not the only one struggling with faith…

…and “small faith” was not the true problem. …

We see this fact in the response Jesus gives the disciples when they seek answers.

In Matthew 17:14-21, we see the same story told by Mark in the Mark 9 passage covered two posts back. Here Matthew tells us that the disciples come to Jesus afterward and ask, “Why could we not drive it out?” Jesus replied, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’ …And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer (Mark 9:29).’”

Difficult thing 2: How much faith does it take before we see a mountainous issue thrown aside?

Jesus said the disciples problem of faith was in its “littleness”.  Was He talking amount or size of faith? I don’t believe so, because Jesus then says it only takes a mustard seed sized faith to move mountains. The mustard tree seed is one of the smallest seeds there is: reportedly, the smallest of seeds known by man at the time Jesus spoke this analogy. Use of the word “littleness” was not talking about size.

I believe the “littleness” Jesus speaks of implies the seeds maturity. There is a point in the life of a seed when it is not of sufficient maturity to germinate, therefore it is incapable of producing fruit. Jesus is not talking about having great faith, but a faith that is capable of growth: a faith that makes us fruit bearing trees in God’s eternal purpose.

In the analogy used by Jesus, we see that faith does not have to be big to grow, but it does have to be capable of resting in God and receiving the nutrients He gives that springs forth life in Christlikeness, producing the fruit of that Good Tree. Where do I get the need to rest the seed in God from Jesus’ analogy? From His remark that told them they were not prayed up enough.

What is it that resources our spiritual growth of faith? Where does that seed have to be in order to grow? That seed must fully and completely rest in hearts that fully and completely rely on God: trusting His resources as we cooperate in His work, seeking His instruction, and watching for the great things He can do in response to our faith. The disciples had faith, but the One they looked to for instruction and equipping was not with them when the man came with his “if you can” hope. Jesus, out doing a work of God’s choosing, unavailable to help them, they apparently did not think to go to the Father for themselves and plant the seed in the soil of hearts relying on Him. All it takes is a mustard seed of faith, the smallest inkling of trust to believe God, seeking Him to meet our need, but in order to get that, we have to seek Him.

There lies the key: He meets our need, whatever it is, however great or small, once we seek Him with a faith ready for growth. He grows our faith from glory to glory, here a little, and there a little more. The “can you?” of a hope filled seeker, and “I know You can, if You are willing,” sprout from the smallest of seed, mature enough to search for Him and find Him.

No matter how small our faith, if it has maturity for growth, it will find God ready to nourish it, growing our faith with ever-deeper roots into the One who moves mountains. But realize too that our eyes may be sighted on the wrong mountain. What do I mean? See you in our next posting for the answer.

 

Difficult Things 1 ~ To Truly Trust: Side 2

Last post we began looking at the difficulty of truly trusting in God. We saw the seed of faith that leads us to seek the Father with trust that He who can, if willing, sees no impossible task and is able to respond to our need.

The problem is that we too often put God in a box of our making. We see a need, and, from our limited understanding, we see a potential solution. Working out of our finite mind, we too readily demand that God work in the way we perceive is best. We often fail to understand that God has the greater plan in heart, the eternal good of all concerned.

God always responds with the purpose of fulfilling the ultimate good. That understanding leads us to the flip side of our trust coin, and our greatest picture of this trust is found in Christ as He poured out His heart to God that last night in the garden He loved.

“And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done’” ~ Luke 22:41-42.

“Yet not my will, but Yours be done” is the flip side of the trust coin that we too easily miss out on. Jesus, in this day of His life, sought the Father knowing that if willingness to do so was there, the Father had power to remove the cup He was about to drink.

God’s ability was not in question. Truly, even His willingness was not the issue, for Jesus later tells Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? HOW THEN WILL THE SCRIPTURES BE FULFILLED, WHICH SAY THAT IT MUST HAPPEN THIS WAY?” (see Matthew 26, especially verses 46-54).

Jesus knew that God had a greater purpose in the cup sitting before Him and this was the plan from the beginning. Yes, in the stress of facing the pain and suffering that cup meant for Him, He asked for the cup to be removed, and He asked in faith, knowing God could do what He asked if willing. However, in that faith and belief, He asked with a willingness to drink the cup for the sake of fulfilling the eternal purpose of God. True trust in God overcomes the stress hormones of our flesh and the desire of our limited understanding to desire God’s will above our own.

Jesus knew that Father God is the perfect Father, having the perfect plan for the perfecting work of humankind and the completion of His eternal Kingdom. He knew this God is all-powerful and can do anything He has a mind to do. That included the power to equip this Son of His to face the pain of 40 lashes and the nail scarred hands and feet of one placed on a cross. He knew the suffering He walked toward included the moment in time when the whole of the sin of humankind would go on His crucified shoulders and the Father He loved would turn His back on the Lamb bearing the sin. He knew, as hard as it was to face that pain and the separation it would bring for that brief moment of His life, the Father is trustworthy. He trusted God to do all He promised by the best means, working the greatest glory, and He trusted Him even in death.

This trust in God on the flip side is the meaning of the second, seemingly repeated trust found in our Jeremiah passage:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord” ~ Jeremiah 17:7.

What if Jesus failed to trust God to be God? What if He let fear and dread of the pain cause Him to be unwilling for God’s will? What if He ran from that cross, refusing to bear it; where would we be? This passage, more than any other, helps me to understand that the body’s natural response to such, with hormones surging and leading us to question the sanity of such a time as this, is not sin. The sin is in giving ourselves to it and letting it destroy our willingness for God’s will.

When we only want what God can do without trusting that He knows and does what is best for the situation so that it works His purpose, we place ourselves in a position to fall away from true faith if His greater purpose refuses us our desire. Trust in what God can do must ultimately flow from trust in who God is and the understanding that He who sees all will most assuredly see more than we can fathom. He, knowing more than we do about any given situation, always does what is best for our here and now, for that of those we entrust to Him, and for the eternal destiny before us.

Back to my husband’s situation. Do I believe my God can heal Him? You better believe I do, and I am praying with faith for that outcome. Not only do I believe God can heal him, I believe He is willing. The question is, what does God’s idea of healing look like for my husband? Do I trust God enough to surrender my husband to God, trusting His best for all concerned, even if that means his healing is for God to take this mate I love to his eternity? Yes, I do. Do I know that God will be my help to face the days without this man I have spent over 2/3s of my life with, when I cannot fathom life apart from him? I know I can trust my God.

Beloved, we put those we love and all we want in danger if we cannot truly and earnestly say, “Yet not my will, but Thy will be done.” To fail full trust in God, surrendering this one to Him, is to hold my husband as an idol, desiring him above my God. I will not put my husband in that dangerous place, for God says, “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another” ~ Isaiah 48:11.

That said, my prayer becomes, Father, I know You can heal my husband. I know You can help us through these days we face. I long to face these days with Your strength that brings You glory. I believe You are willing to heal my husband and my hope is for more time together here, this is my prayer and desire. But I also know that You know what is best for all concerned. So let Your will be done, on earth and in us, as it is in heaven. I receive every word of hope You highlight for me in this hour, and I stand on You who speak Your will into existence according to Your way and for Your glory. In Jesus, amen.

Oh! Yeah. What about the disciples in the healing they could not perform? I believe there were two problems that hindered their ability: 1) the desire of their affection; and 2) the authority in their desire. See you next post for Difficult Things 2, when I will endeavor to explain.

Listening Prayer (Part 5) ~ The Purpose

Listening prayer is a lifestyle of ceaseless communication with God; making every step and every breath an act of obedience flowing from a living and active relationship with Him as our Lord, our very breath of life. This lifestyle is vital to our function in this age in which we live and to our ability to overcome the challenges of a world that is daily moving farther from Him. In closing out this focus today, I am reminded of the purpose and goal of such a vital, God-breathed lifestyle of prayer.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6.

The goal and purpose of listening prayer is to make all our being and all we do and think acknowledge God as Lord, knowing that He is our first and most vital need. He is our Treasure: our eternal Inheritance. To be still within, lifting every breath to Him, the One in whom we place our trust, acknowledges His right as God over us, and our need of Him in all our ways. Here in Proverbs, God promises that, as we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will make our paths straight.

As I read this proverbs passage today, I found myself praying for God to reveal anything at the heart of my life that fails to acknowledge Him as Lord; anything hindering my seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Shortly after that prayer, a book I am reading led me to Deuteronomy:

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” ~ Deuteronomy 30:6.

Circumcising the heart is the removal of all that separates us from complete allegiance to and relationship with God. God reveals the things we lean on or want more than we do Him, and He begins the work of removing from our lives all that hinders our relationship with Him. Some things God graciously removes with hardly any notice of it or work on our part. We just suddenly lose all desire for that thing that interfered with our communion with our Beloved. However, there are some things where God will reveal the interfering offender and then tell us, “Circumcise your heart” (Deuteronomy 10:12-21 *vs. 16). Some things God requires us to do the work; He wants us to choose Him as much as He chooses us.

God holds us as the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). He loves us so much that He made a way for us to have relationship with Him by sacrificing His Son on our behalf (John 3:16). God’s desire is for us, not wanting ANY to perish, but ALL to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Repentance means to let go of one’s own way, aligning self with God and His ways, so that we walk beside Him in unity of mind and heart, fulfilling His purpose and plan. That requires us to love and desire Him as He does us.

The question is, do we hold Him as the apple of our eye – the center, most prominent treasure we seek to obtain and hold dearest to our heart when possessed? Do we desire relationship with Him so much that we willingly deny ourselves, and, taking up our cross of self-sacrifice daily, determine to follow Him at all cost (Luke 9:23, see AMPC)? Do we truly see God in all His triune essence as our first, most vital need and necessity, so that we choose Him above all else?

The goal and purpose of this call of God for us is that we may grow to love Him and desire Him above all else, fully possessing the eternal relationship He purchased for us. The love He calls us to grow in our possession of as we practice a living, life-giving, listening-prayer life that fully relates with and works alongside Him is best expressed in these words of Paul:

“Grace (God’s undeserved favor) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and INCORRUPTIBLE LOVE” ~ Ephesians 6:24, AMPC.

Loving God with a love so strong and sure, eternally binds us to Him. Nothing can draw us away from relationship with Him, corrupting our walk, when we come fully into this living, breathing walk of love with Him.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-C) ~ The Way of It

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

As we covered yesterday, we quench the Spirit in many ways: fear, doubt, disobedience, and more. Along with God’s instruction to not quench the work of the Spirit in us, here Paul gives a specific way we tend to quench the Spirit of God: through despising prophetic utterances.

What is prophetic utterance?

One work of the prophet is to make God’s word clear and evident as a source of truth and wisdom that applies to our lives today. As the pastor, a teacher, or a friend seeks to encourage us in the truth of God and its application to current life situations: that is prophetic utterance. To ignore that instruction and fail to apply it to some situation the Spirit points our hearts to as we learn of His truth is to despise prophetic utterance. To tell ourselves, as our fleshly soul is prone to do, “Oh, it won’t hurt just this once,” going against the nudge of the Spirit who reminds us of the truths of God and its application to some course we are considering is to despise prophetic utterance.

However, prophetic utterance takes another form in the power of God’s Presence that too many fear acknowledging as true and right in our day. Many in our day do not believe that the Spirit of the prophet works any more as it did in the days of the Old Testament. Though prophesy is a gift listed in the New Testament teachings we live by today, people deny this work of the Spirit. Though Jesus and His apostles taught that God will increase the number of His people who dream dreams and see visions as the day of Christ draws near – methods used by God in making prophesy known, many refuse to believe this gifting still works in our day. They deny themselves the benefit of this communication method sent by God to help us in these days.

I am talking here about those sent by God to warn us of things coming in our day so we can prepare ourselves to face those things, yes; but often times the Spirit of prophesy is a work that is much more personal and close to home than that. Let us look at two examples of such occurrences:

When one of my daughters was a teenager, she was obviously struggling with something, growing more withdrawn and depressed with each passing day, but was not opening up to me about it. Seeking God for Him to reveal and heal the problem, I heard in the “voice” I have long experienced as God communicating with my heart, “There is a demon in your house and he is raping your daughter.” Wow! Too weird for words, I shook my head as if to shake off the ridiculous, but I know that voice, so I did not ignore it. Instead, I prayed, “Lord, that thought is too strange to me, but that is the voice I know as You, so I do not want to just ignore it if that is You. What I am going to do is lay that at Your feet, rest it with You, and ask that, if it is truth from You, You reveal the truth of it and prepare us to deal rightly with it.”

A few days later, my daughter finally came to me, “Mom, I have to talk to you.” She shared with me about horrible, too real to fathom, nightmares she kept having of ghostly, demonic beings raping her in the night.” Now if God had not warned me, I might have shook it off as something other than a battle to be fought on the eternal frontlines.

We covered together all the possibilities: a real life rape forgotten or denied; someone bothering her and causing a fear of potential harm, etc. Anything thought of as a possibility, we discussed and dealt with, but nothing was clear to us at that time. We began fighting on the spiritual frontlines and called on believing friends to help us, praying protection over her and seeking the revelation of any contributing factors. Eventually God did reveal that our daughter saw something as a child that was perfectly innocent, but that was beyond her understanding. It caused a fear in her that revealed itself through this demonic attack against her, along with other troubling dreams. The battle was long and we saw God move in ways that are awesome to my understanding, all of which we would have missed experiencing if I failed to trust that God speaks to us today in such ways.

Then there is the more recent experience of a person in my life who awoke one morning to God telling her, “You need to check your husband’s computer. He has thousands of pornographic pictures.” Again, the message came to her in the “voice” of God, as she knows it.

Her husband struggled for many years with pornography when he was young. When they married, he assured her that God delivered him from that issue. Later she discovered he was again delving into that evil. It led them to separate, but they were trying to work through it and get their marriage back on solid ground. She asked him frequently how he was doing in that area, holding him accountable, and, every time, he told her that it was not a problem. Then there came this word of God’s warning to her.

When opportunity presented itself, knowing the prophetic proves to be from God with revelation of the truth of it, she got on his computer to check things out. Sure enough, there were thousands of images on his computer just as the Spirit said, along with numerous thumb drives full of the stuff. The truly disturbing thing she found is that he had one folder full of pictures of her teenage daughter that he saved from the daughter’s Instagram account. She could find no other family pictures anywhere, not of herself, or of his blood-born son from his previous marriage, only that one folder of her teenage daughter’s pictures, innocent headshots of her, saved among all that porn.

This was not the first time her family’s life was touched by perversion. There were things going on that had many praying for the revealing of truth concerning her current husband, as warning signs kept rising up to cause us to question what was going on with him. The prophetic warning from God received in answer to many prayers for the truth of his heart intentions, a marriage is in shambles, but a child is safe from harm’s way. I shudder to think what might happen if this woman of God despised the prophetic voice of God within, thus, failing to check it out for herself and find the truth.

God gave prophets to the people of Israel because the people were afraid to hear from God for themselves (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). God sent Jesus to restore us to full relationship with Him, bringing this work of the Spirit as a resource to help us. Do not let fear and doubt keep you from trusting God’s voice in you and having the full experience of Him that He desires for you. Trust the Lord who promises to make His word to us known as from Him through His faithfulness that brings all to pass just as He says it will.

Know the voice of God. Cooperate with the work of the Spirit within you. Do not despise and deny the prophetic word sent by God for your good. Instead, examine everything carefully, looking for the truth revealed. Hold fast to that which is good, following the lead of God into righteousness. Abstain from every form of evil, being quick to flee harm’s way when God lovingly reveals an area of danger. God promises that if He is the author of the word sent, we will see the truth of it. Trust Him, and only believe.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-B) ~ The Way of It

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

This is long because it is extremely important to understand. I thought about dividing it into two pieces, but I don’t want to lose the flow and possibly miss the full impact.

Communion with God, discerning the voice of God’s Spirit, is vital to our ability to pray in agreement with His will and way in life. It is necessary for our ability to fully, and truly follow Him in fulfilling His purpose in us, just as Jesus did. That said, we all tend to wax and wane in our ability to hear and follow God. We tend to quench the Spirit of God for many reasons: doubt, uncertainty, fear, and probably the most frequent reason, falling to old habits of our flesh: just to name a few.

Scripture tells us that, upon receiving Christ and the Helper Spirit He gives as a seal, the old person we were dies. We become a new creation. In an instant, the old becomes new; but how is that, and why this wavering in our possession and living of the new person we are?

Yesterday, our Associate Pastor brought a wonderful message on this cooperation with the transforming work of the Spirit. I believe it will help us to understand more clearly the importance of our relationship with the Spirit: not quenching Him, but working in unity with Him through radical faith. We must understand our need to discern this mind of Christ in us, so that we may follow His lead.

By way of review, remember, in James 1 we see where James advises that seeking God for wisdom and receiving it only to doubt the wisdom given us, is a result of our being double-minded. The struggle of double-mindedness in the believer who has the Spirit of God, who gives us the mind of Christ to help us, comes from our fleshly mind arguing against the mind of Christ in us. Yesterday, as Pastor Tim taught on this subject, I found myself reminded of things important to realize at this point in this series.

When God created humans, Scripture says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). This passage reveals that God created in mankind a body (formed of dust), a spirit (given the breath of life that comes from relationship to God), and a soul. He made our soul in likeness to His own, granting us a mind with which to think and understand our surroundings, a personal will by which we may choose our paths for life, and emotions that allow depth of comprehension and expression.

  • Our body allows us to relate with our surroundings through our five senses: hearing, sight, smell, and the sensations of touch and of taste. These allow full experience of our world and the people and things in it.
  • The spirit God breathed into human flesh is eternal. The intent and specific purpose of the spirit God breathed into humans was to equip them to relate with God. It was the place where people could experience true understanding of God and relationship with Him. (Stay with me.)
  • The soul (our mind, will, and emotions) relates with both God and all of creation. Anything that touches our lives, stirs our souls. These experiences lead to the expression of that which makes up our personalities and way of being ~ we learn from those things that touch our soul and become who we are as a person. The soul evaluates and stores the understanding found in the experiences of the body and the spirit. Without our God-breathed spirit to equip our understanding of God, our soul easily distorts the experience of God. This distortion takes place because our finite mind cannot fathom God without the aid of God-breathed spirit; our desire for our own will and way in life leads away from God; and the emotional highs and lows that color our understanding distort clear vision. I.e., Failure to see God work the way we think He should (mind), coupled with failure to recognize His reality in ways that stir us (emotions), and inability to understand our reality in light of the way we think things should be (will), is often distorted to mean that God does not exist or that He doesn’t care.

So now, why the past tense on the description of the God-breathed spirit given humanity at creation and its intended work in our ability to understand and relate with God?

When Adam and Eve sinned by refusing God’s way for them, the ability of the spirit of humankind to commune with God so-as-to know Him in truth, died. Everyone born to man from then on was born with a spirit that has no capacity to relate with the truth of who God is and how He functions. All that remained within us to help our struggle to realize and know God is the soul, which is fickle and based on personal opinion apart from the guidance of the spirit-connection. Our soul is prone to make God into our image, seeing Him with our finite understanding, the same as we view all other things. The soul is unable to truly comprehend that which is beyond our understanding. With our connection of spirit shut off, we cannot truly know how great and awesome God is. We cannot comprehend His voice or understand His ways because they are higher than our souls can fathom.

Then came Jesus. Upon believing in ways that truly receive Christ as God’s redemption for us, Jesus gives us the very Spirit of God, restoring our ability to see and know God as He truly is. His Spirit grants us the ability to understand the Infinite. In that instant, the being we were who could not comprehend God dies. Made new by the Spirit of God, Jesus restores our relationship with the Father.

This is the mind of Christ: the ability to see, hear, know and perceive truly all that God is and desires, and to communicate with Him. By the work of the Spirit in us, we understand all that He is doing as He reveals Himself to us, as well as how we fit into His plan and purpose. Walking through life, dictated by this mind of Christ is true and righteous innocence with God. Such innocence allows us to draw near to God, where He hears and knows us fully, and we hear and know Him.

Problem?

The problem all of us face to varying degrees is this: We are still flesh beings with a soul that has a mind of its own. Our mind wars against the mind of Christ and we too easily return to the old ways of the familiar, quenching the work of the Spirit of God in us. We fail to realize and fully acknowledge the right of rule that belongs to this mind of Christ in us. We quench the work of the Spirit because it is strange to our experience, or because we keep resurrecting the flesh-man so that we may go our own way.

Walking in relationship with God so we have His heart for life and for prayer requires innocence. Possessing it means we actively seek to discern and surrender to the mind of Christ within us, the Spirit of His Presence. The stronger we grow in this eternal practice, the better, as the consistent practice of being Spirit led and fed deadens the rule of a selfish soul that seeks its own way over God’s way.

We cannot truly communicate with God through living, life-giving communication without this bond made by the God-breathed Spirit found in Christ. We cannot be the true person God intended us to be without this connection with Him. Beware those things, beloved, that cause you to quench the work of the Spirit in you.

~*~For consideration~*~

“If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds and keep them set on what is above, the higher things, not on the things that are on the earth. For as far as this world is concerned you have died, and your new, real life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in the splendor of His glory. SO KILL, DEADEN, AND DEPRIVE OF POWER THE EVIL DESIRE LURKING IN YOUR MEMBERS, those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin. …for you have stripped off the old, unregenerate self with its evil practices, and have clothed yourselves with the new, spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him Who created it” ~ Colossians 3:1-10, AMPC/Amplified Classic.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world (which is separated eternally from God and cannot truly know Him), but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (only having His Spirit living in us equips us to truly and fully understand and believe). But he who is spiritual appraises (understands) all things, yet he himself is appraised (understood) by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (so that we may know Him and receive His instruction with understanding, comprehension)” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, NASB (author’s understanding).

“Since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose, patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God. For whoever has suffered in the flesh, having the mind of Christ, is done with intentional sin, has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God, so that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by his human appetites and desires, but he lives for what God wills” ~ 1 Peter 4:1-2, AMPC.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-A) ~ The Way of It

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Recall from previous posts in this series that listening prayer is two-way communication.

We speak: God hears and responds. When He responds with words in the Spirit, whether through scripture, the encouragement of other believers, or that gentle inner voice, the work of the Spirit is to grant us understanding of the voice of the Lord. Our work is to hear with the listening ears of a disciple possessing a heart to obey. When God speaks to us in the work of His Spirit in us to encourage our wait for His action, we know the word is from the Lord as it happens in the earth.

He speaks: by faith, we listen and hear with understanding ears open to the Spirit of God who brings knowledge and remembrance of things we need to know so that we can follow through to accomplish the will of God in every situation. The Spirit gives wisdom with understanding comprehension. Listen! And give Him glory.

In today’s focal passage, we see that the will of God for us is that, in every situation of life, we rejoice in Him, praying without ceasing, possessing a grateful heart that expresses itself in us.

Note the “pray without ceasing”: How do we possess a ceaseless prayer life? We accomplish this as we realize that listening prayer begins with communion – friends, walking together in the partnership of life, and it culminates in action. We seek the Lord. He instructs us. We follow His instruction, doing what He equips us to accomplish. Meanwhile, we watch to see Him do what only He can do through our situations and in response to our obedience. We praise the Lord for His work in and through us all along the way. The topper? He rejoices over us who walk so closely with Him.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” ~ Zephaniah 3:17.

Now, what of the “Rejoice ALWAYS…in EVERYTHING give thanks”? That appears easiest to do when things are good—or is it? However, things are not always good. When things are bad, it is definitely difficult to always rejoice and give thanks in everything—isn’t it? Difficulty being part of our always and everything, how do we continue to rejoice and be thankful?

It should be easiest to rejoice in the Lord with grateful heart when things are good; however, that is too often not the case. When God brings us out of a season of difficult and delivers us into the good land, we rejoice in recognizing His work on our behalf. However, when we neglect to realize God moved on our behalf, or when we are long in the good land, we too easily take for granted that goodness and neglect to rejoice and give Him thanks as we should.

Listening prayer maintains constant communion with God, being always aware of the good He does for us, and being faithful to this call in our rejoicing over Him with thankfulness. The stronger we grow in this practice of prayer, the more ceaseless our walk in this will of God for us. Be alert in the good days that you fulfill the will of God in listening communion with Him, laying claim to no good thing as if of your own making, taking nothing for granted.

What about the difficult days, how do we rejoice and give thanks when we see nothing to rejoice over and definitely are not thankful for what is going on? The answer is in our focus during such times, and in our understanding of what this passage teaches us.

Rejoice always: in what? Certainly not in our situations: good or bad. Rejoicing in our situations or in the provision God makes for our life circumstances and possessions He provides for us makes these an idol in our eyes. Rejoicing is always to be in our God – who He is in all seasons, His faithfulness, His help toward us, His presence, etc.

Scripture tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of Your heart.” When our greatest desire is God, we will find Him in every situation, good or bad, and we will be satiated, strengthened, and helped. The scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. Growing strong in our ability to find joy in the Presence of our Lord, whatever is going on in life, is what brings us strength to be able to face all that comes to our day. (Psalm 37:3-6; Nehemiah 8:10)

Focus in rejoicing is always in the Lord. When our lives focus on delighting in Him, thankfulness comes easy as we note His work and provision more readily, seeing Him move in to help us, in good days, and in difficult ones.

~*~

“Rejoice in the Lord always – delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know, perceive and recognize your unselfishness, your considerateness, your forbearing spirit. The Lord is near…” ~ Philippians 4:4-5, AMPC.

Listening Prayer (Part 3) ~ The Trustworthy Mind of Christ

“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.

Here, Paul tells the reader that we have the very mind of Christ within us, available as a resource, to instruct us and help us have right thoughts and understanding within us. The Holy Spirit is God, living and active within the believer.

Have you ever had sudden comprehension of how to pray for a situation or how to respond with the wisdom or instruction needed by a friend. This is the thought of God coming to us through the Mind of Christ in the power and leading of the Spirit. It is not our own, but His.

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak…” ~ John 16:13.

The Spirit speaks to us and instructs our hearts with the very will and thought of God. The Spirit hears the thoughts of God from the mind of God and brings those thoughts to us. This power and work of the Spirit was in Jesus while He walked the earth in flesh form. He was not double-minded, but He always worked out of the Mind of the Lord, in the leading of the Spirit who gives discernment for a single-minded life. This same resource from God living in us is why Paul says that we have the very mind of Christ in us.

This mind of Christ within us equips us to know the voice of God when He speaks. It helps us to remember the instruction hidden in our hearts by the work of His Spirit. This mind is the provision of God that helps us to discern when thoughts are foreign to His will, way, plan, and purpose, so we have adequate supply to take every thought captive. We see this mindset in several testimonials from Christ, revealing His own obedience in following the will of God out of the mind of God.

“…‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ …‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” ~ John 4:32-34.

“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. …Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. … I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. … But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me” ~ John 5:17, 19, 30, 36.

Oh, to do the works of God with such confidence; oh, Mind_Christ03to come to the Father in prayer knowing we are on the same page with His heart. It is possible for us, because we have the mind of Christ in the work of the Spirit.

Then there are Jesus’ words to Peter when He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:23). The mind of Christ helps us to live, walk, speak, and pray the very interests of God. We must learn from Peter’s experience to follow the teaching of Paul in 2 Corinthians:

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Some translations of scripture word the above passage to read that we take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. That is true, but I find greater depth of understanding in those that tell us to take our thoughts “captive to the OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST.”

The wording “obedience of Christ” says to me that we take thoughts captive, surrendering to the mind of Christ so that we may obey God as Jesus obeyed God. Christ, our example, gives us the Spirit of God so we can have the thoughts of God from the mind of God, in order that we may obey as Jesus obeyed.

I am sure you have read before the teaching of James on seeking God’s wisdom. Note here the instruction given in that oft quoted and preached passage:

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” ~ James 1:5-8.

As I sought God on, getting His heart for writing this piece, my desire was and is to take us to the place of realizing, believing, trusting, and functioning by faith in the fact that we have the very mind of Christ. Once we have and function out of this faith, we can live, breath and pray, trusting that we have His thoughts available to us. As I prayed and pondered these things, God led me to this James passage. Looking at in light of our focus, these words took on deeper meaning, “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, BEING A DOUBLE-MINDED MAN, unstable in all his ways.”

Double-minded: we are double-minded when we fail to believe, trust, live, walk, obey, and pray as one directed and dictated by the mind of Christ. Our own thoughts getting in the way, bringing doubt that destroys faith to believe and trust the understanding the Spirit gives us as He hears the Father and Son on our behalf, and speaks that to us, makes us double-minded. We must grow into the single-mindedness exemplified by Jesus.

It is vital that we learn to discern the mind of Christ working within us: our every thought, our every action, our every decision, our every prayer dictated by that one mind. It is vital that we trust Him at all cost, refusing to be swayed by competing opinions brought to us by the flesh, this world, and the demonic.

Listening Prayer (Part 2-C) ~ The Work of The Helper

Reviewing the work of the Spirit covered in our previous post, we saw that once we receive the Spirit of God through believing faith and repentant heart willing for change, the Spirit moves in, transforming us immediately in our eternal being, covering us with Christ so that God can relate with us. Holy Spirit then begins a work of transformation in our physical being, bearing forth from our lives the fruit of the Spirit, which is the nature of God flowing through us as His image bearers (Galatians 5:22-23). This work of the Spirit in us proves our relationship with God through His saving, grace. We cannot possess godly goodness on our own. That is why works are not part of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). Only as the Spirit enables true goodness in us can we truly obey God’s ways. Thus, works are a proof of salvation, proof of true and eternal relationship with God, not the way to it (James 2:18).

God’s Spirit resides in us as teacher, comforter, advocate, and much more, granting us the ability to discern truth about God, His word, His will, His ways, and His reality. Holy Presence grants us the ability to discern sin, righteousness, and judgment, not only in our way of living that requires His transforming work in us, but also equipping us to make choices that are good, prosperous, and blessed. Today we continue with a look at the rest of John 16:7-15.

“…I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Jesus told the disciples that He would disclose Himself to those who love and obey Him – God (John 14:21). That means He will make Himself better known to those who meet the criteria of loves obedience: obedience that flows out of relationship.

This walk with Jesus in the Spirit is like walking with a friend. The longer we walk together, the better acquainted we become. As we walk closely with friends, they influence our way of living and being; and we, theirs. This is the reason that scripture warns the believer seeking to grow in relationship with God to watch who they associate with, for bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Through the power of the Spirit, we still have available to us this relationship with Jesus, who discloses Himself to those who love and obey God. Jesus the Son and Father God reside within us in the person of the Spirit, Who discloses them to us as we walk more closely with Him.

I know that God never changes, for He is perfect in all His ways having no need of change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Believing the truth of this fact, two Old Testament passages come to heart to help us understand this work of disclosure accomplished by the Spirit – this communion that is vital to effective prayer.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” ~ Jeremiah 33:3.

The Spirit of God as teacher answers our questions and responds to our seeking Him and His ways, in personal and clear ways of communication with us. This includes His vital work of equipping us to understand the Word of God found in Holy Writ, yes. However, there is more: Much more. For example, the Spirit helps us to understand things like why we are the way we are.

I shared many times here my struggle with a root of rejection. A book I was reading, encouraging steps toward healing such things in life, advised to pray for God’s Spirit to remind us of our earliest memory of an unsettled hurt and to help us settle it once and for all. The Spirit immediately brought my thoughts to recall a memory of something I thought was a dream. I said, “Lord, You know I’ve struggled to know if that is a memory or a dream. If it is memory, I need You to lead me to discern the truth of it.”

In this thing that I thought was a dream, I see my daddy and me setting on a couch beside which my mother was packing a big box of my clothes. She said, “You take Darlene and I will take Debbie.” My sis is over four years younger than me. The girl I believed was me in my “dream” was only about three, so that dream like remembrance never made sense that it could be real. Plus, the house setup and furniture was all wrong for where we were when I was three.

A day or two after praying for discernment, going about my day’s home care duties, humming some worship song, my mind was nowhere near thinking about that memory. Suddenly, the Spirit spoke very clearly to my understanding, “Darlene, what if that little girl is not you?” Immediately I realized the little girl was Debbie. My “dream” suddenly flashed with truth of remembrance. I was sitting across from them, that is why in my thought of that occurrence I always saw the little girl I thought was me clearly, setting beside daddy.

Once I realized the truth of my memory and what I saw, I knew that I was about seven or eight years old at the time. The scene then flashed with familiarity and everything fit the period for that setting. My mom and dad were fighting, and mom was packing me up to leave. Debbie sat beside daddy and I watched from across the room as momma prepared to send me away with daddy while she wanted Debbie. Root uncovered! Understanding the root, that my spirit of rejection came from that experience, true healing blossomed forth from there. The Spirit answers us, telling us things we do not know. I shudder to think of the struggle that would still have hold on me had I failed to trust and believe the Spirit speaking to me.

The second passage that comes to heart promises:

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” ~ Isaiah 30:21.

The Spirit of God helps us to understand the will and way of God, granting us wisdom for those crossroad decisions. He helps us to have the thoughts of God to counter our negative or false understanding. He helps us to have God’s answer for those who approach us for instruction, encouragement, or understanding of truth. He does all of this as He imparts to us another vital resource we possess for true understanding through listening prayer: we have the mind of Christ. See you here on our next post.

Listening Prayer (Part 2-B) ~ The Work of The Helper

“But when the Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes from the Father, He, Himself will testify regarding Me” ~ John 15:26, AB Classic.

Yesterday we covered the provision of God found in His Spirit, that His Spirit is the teacher, equipping us to know and understand the truth of God and His word. He empowers us to discern God’s will and way so we can pray in agreement with God’s opinion. Now, John 15:26 in the classic Amplified Version of scripture adds to our understanding of the work of the Spirt.

God’s Spirit is in us, living in us on behalf of Father and Son, being for us the Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Strengthener, and the Stand-by-you Presence of God Himself with us. God, in His Spirit, comforts us in our sorrows and counsels us on our path, which implies a form of clear communication. He helps us through equipping, strengthening, and providing our every true need; and walks with us, always near at hand as we travel through this life, which implies some ability to realize His reality. I have experienced all of these works of God’s Spirit in life, but most recently, the work of God’s Presence as Advocate. It was amazing as I prayed what to do about the situation, the Spirit advised, “Be still. I’ve got this.” Very quickly I heard back from the person expressing their realization of truth. Problem solved, and I did not have to say a word.

There are two ways the Advocate helps us in this life. One: when our flesh, this world, and the demonic seek to knock us down, destroy our sense of worth, or knock us off path, it is the Spirit who helps us recognize ungodly thoughts, desires, and ideas. He corrects us with the truth stored in us through His Presence and gets us back up and going in the right direction again.

When I was an immature Christian, I got involved with a religious group that I since then learned is a cult. Now I was not raised in Church, but an aunt took me when she could, and I read scripture off and on from the day I prayed to receive Christ. I did not know much, but when a friend headed back further into the church building after service, and I asked where she was going, the Spirit used what little I knew to get me out of that group. My friend, responding to my query, said she was going to a bible study. I said, “Oh, really! I love bible study. What are you studying?” Her reply surprised me, “I am studying to take the test so that I may be saved.”

I did not know much, but I knew that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life required for coming to God; the only door to salvation (John 14:6; John 10:9). I knew that belief in who Jesus is and what He did for us coupled with a repentant heart that recognizes our need of His work on our behalf, and a willingness to be transformed by Him through the baptism – indwelling of His Holy Spirit is the path of salvation. It is between the individual and God, not to be determined by some test given by mankind. The Spirit bringing what I knew to contrast what I was hearing led me to leave that place and not return. The Advocate protected me from a path leading to destruction by His work as the revealer of truth. This communication as we seek God and He responds through the work of the Spirit in us is prayer in all its glory.

Two: when a person falsely accuses us because of misunderstanding our words or intent, it is the Spirit of God who moves on our behalf to lead them to a true understanding. Sometimes He speaks through us and gives them ears to hear. Sometimes, when they won’t hear us, He simply leads them to discern truth by some other means.

The main work of the Spirit is to testify to our hearts the truth regarding the Christ. When God draws us to know Him and have ever-deepening relationship with Him, it is the Spirit of God who equips us to hear, see, know, and understand the call of God to relationship. He unites with us, enabling us through a Spirit of willing obedience to respond to Jesus calling, “Come, follow me.”

John 16:7-15, in the breakdown of scripture below, further instructs in the work of the Spirit to help us to an ever-deepening relationship with Father and Son.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. …”

The Spirit of God is necessary for us to understand conviction concerning sin. Convict means to make aware of one’s sinfulness or guilt. Sin separates from God. Sin reveals that we disbelieve that God is all that He says He is and that He does all He says He will do. We cannot experience the fullness of unity with God when walking in habitual, rebellious sin.

God’s Spirit reveals to us the sin in our life, not all at once, but little by little. As we possess greater righteousness, He takes us deeper in our discernment of our sin issues. He teaches us the righteous ways of God, how we are to be and look like Him, and He empowers us to walk free of our sin. Holy Spirit makes us to understand the judgment already set for those who refuse to unite with Him and walk the path He walks, so we can avoid that outcome and learn gratitude for His deliverance.

Besides showing where we are living in sin and delivering us from it, this same work of conviction helps us to evaluate the crossroads of life. He inspires us to recognize a path leading away from God, walking in separation from Him (sin) and the one that keeps us side by side with Him, accomplishing His purpose (righteousness). The Spirit inspires understanding of the consequences of the choices set before us (the judgment of good or evil, prosperity or adversity, blessing or curse). Holy Spirit empowers us once we have this information to make the choice that is God’s will for us.

Beloved, the Spirit of God unites us with the Father and our Savior, empowering us to walk closely with Him so that our lives transform, influenced in positive ways by this relationship, making us as He is in image and practice. The communion we have through this work of the Spirit is the greatest form of prayer available to us.

We will pause here to keep this from getting way longer, and finish up on the work of God’s Spirit tomorrow. BLESSings, Beloved!

Listening Prayer (Part 2-A) ~ The Work of The Helper

“For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, NLT.

God calls and equips us to listen as His disciples, having His provision for our ears to hear and our mind to understand and our heart to stand in agreement so-as-to fulfill His plan and purpose for our being in this time in history. There are two main things God supplies us to equip us for success in our journey as His disciples: The Spirit of God and the mind of Christ. For these two resources to have full sway in accomplishing God’s will in us, we must understand their work in us, and BELIEVE! Today we look at the work of The Spirit of God in the lives of His children.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. …These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” ~ John 14:16-17, 25-26.

Jesus tells us a lot about the work of the Spirit in Scripture. Here we see the PROMISE from Jesus that He sends His Spirit to help us. The promise is that we will receive the Spirit and KNOW Him. We can and must as God’s children discern when the Spirit is speaking to us, doing His work as Helper. What is that work?

The Helper empowers us to understand the truth of God and His word.

We cannot fully comprehend the truth of God and His word to us without this work of the Spirit, so when understanding comes, that is not ours to brag about. All credit for our ability to understand the Holy Writ belongs to Spirit-God.

By the same right, when we set under the teaching of our church leadership, they must share with us what the Spirit taught them. The Spirit uses their teaching to take us into deeper understanding, and it is the Spirit of God that raises an “amen” in our Spirit when we hear His truth.

The Spirit is our Teacher and our Brain of Remembrance.

Think about what it takes to teach. There must be clear communication between teacher and student / disciple. The Spirit of God instructs our hearts and enables us to understand the teaching so-as-to apply it to our daily lives. When we forget some instruction, the Spirit is the one who brings it to our remembrance.

Though it may seem to us that our thoughts are our own, that is not always true. The Spirit is God’s response to the prayer of Jesus that we be one with them as they are with each other. Every good and true thought that leads us to the good God desires is from Him in the power of His Spirit that unites us as one with the Father. We cannot take credit for any good that comes to our understanding and actions.

The scriptures tell us two things about God that lead me to this assertion. One, God alone is good, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him (Mark 10:18; James 1:17). Two, when we ask for wisdom, believing and trusting Him to give it, He answers (James 1:5-8).

There is a true and good wisdom available for our possession in the power and equipping of Spirit-God. That wisdom is a gift from God in the power of His Spirit. It is not our own. We can take no credit for it. (James 3:13-18)

I believe this truth is why Proverbs describes Wisdom as if speaking of a person (i.e.: Proverbs 1:20-33). The Spirit of God is true and good Wisdom.

Often people will hear me proclaim, “God said to me” or “God told me”. These truths that I believe are why I do that. Every true and good understanding of truth that comes to me from Him is His speaking to me the instruction needed for life more abundant and full. Giving Him credit for it keeps me mindful that such good is not my own, but His.

I believe He speaks clearly to my heart because I have heard Him. He, many times has told me what is about to come; He gives understanding of what is going on, and truth I need to remember. It comes as a clear thought rising up as my own, but clearly not from my physical mind. Such thoughts always prove to be truly from Him and they lead my feet surly to the path of His choosing (Jeremiah 28:9; Ezekiel 33:33; Isaiah 30:21). I dare not take credit for it.

There is much taught concerning the work of the Spirit in scripture. We continue our journey tomorrow.

Listening Prayer (Part 1) ~ Requires Circumcised Ears

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]” (Isaiah 50:4, AMP).

Dialogue - one person is speaking and one listening
Dialogue – one person is speaking and one listening

I love this verse in the Amplified Bible version. God often highlights it as a truth for my life, a life-goal to walk out into my reality.

As the saying goes, “God gives us two ears and only one mouth for a purpose; so that we will listen twice as much as we talk.” Listening is a skill God calls and equips us to develop. As Isaiah says, the tongue of a disciple speaks a word in season to those in need of it because that child of God first listens to hear the words of God as His disciple.

God not only gives us physical ears, but He wakens our spiritual ears, circumcising our ears and our hearts so that we hear Him in the power of His Spirit and understand what He is telling us.

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit…” ~ Acts 7:51 (See also Revelation 2:7; Luke 8:8; Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 6:10; John 8:43; Romans 11:8).

Have you dealt with instructing children any? How do we know a child fully understood and received an instruction we gave them? We know when they do what we told them.

The title, Listening Prayer, comes from a book on prayer I read many years ago, bearing that title. In all my years of studying prayer, that book included, my understanding and practice is this: Prayer begins with seeking God on any subject or need; it progresses through hearing and receiving His opinion and instruction; and it ends in our obedience to do as He instructs. Prayer goes from faith filled seeking after God, to belief-fed obedience in action.

Listening prayer flows from a heart that is completely dependent upon God. We humans have a tendency to see our need and pray as if we know what the solution is, failing to realize that, without the Spirit of God’s help, we see dimly, as through a glass.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV.

See self through God's eyes.

 

Have you ever looked at things through a glass? Glass greatly distorts an image. Some versions translate the word “glass” used here to “mirror.” Even our modern mirrors can greatly distort our understanding of reality. Plus, when we look in a mirror, the focus is on what we see of self and our surroundings. It is not on God and His purposes.

Only God sees all things clearly. He knows our hearts better than we know our own. He knows the hearts of those for whom we pray. He knows how our little thread in the tapestry of eternity fits best into His great plan. Understanding these truths makes it vital that we learn to first seek the Spirit’s instruction even in how we should pray. Once we have his heart on how to pray, it is finished. Once God says, “Here is my opinion,” ‘nough said! Standing in agreement with God says all that needs saying. This is one reason I believe we are to listen more than we speak.

Thus, we begin our journey to understand and practice listening prayer with understanding of our need to seek the Father first in every situation: seeking Him for His circumcision. We need Him to remove our fleshly focus and give us spiritually astute eyes that see as He sees, spiritually astute ears that hear His thoughts on the matter, and a spiritually astute heart that understands fully as He gives discernment in the leading power of His Spirit.

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NOTE: My plan is to do this series of blogs quickly, getting them out each day to its conclusion. However, we have a family health situation that may take precedence over my time for writing. I will do my best to maintain the flow by getting the next posts out quickly. See you next post for part two.

Always Pray and Never Give Up

“Now He (Jesus) was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” ~ Luke 18:1, NASB.

Holy Habitation with God is a relationship that stands the test of time. A growing, vibrant, functional relationship requires communication of some sort. Prayer is the line of communication God makes available to us in Jesus name and the power of His Spirit. The most effective prayer is a two-way communication with more listening than speaking.

We speak praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God more than request, but request is a necessity. Looking at Jesus’ model prayer, most of the outline is praise, worship, and thanksgiving. That heart attitude permeates affective prayer. Requesting our daily need, repentance, and crying out for a heart of forgiveness and grace flow to God with greatest power when the heart is filled with the glory of God first and foremost. It is through requesting God to act on our behalf that we express with deepest realization of our need of Him, our trust in His provision and care. As we are faithful to make our requests, it is vital to realize with thanksgiving and praise the answers that come, recognizing from Whom they come. This is the teaching of Christ in Matthew 6:9-15.

Father speaks to us through His Word, other believers, and by His Spirit. In John 10, Jesus teaches us the importance of growing to know the voice of God. He promises that those who are His hear His voice and follow Him. Prayer as a two-way communication is vital to our ability to live with power in these days, and we desperately need this Holy Habitation with God.

However, what of times when God seems quiet and His hand moves at a pace that seems slow to our finite mind and heart? What then?

In our focal passage of Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells us, do 103not grow weary. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking with faith and hope in God until His answer comes. In scripture, we learn many things that may stay the hand of God or leave us in want of His voice. Daniel sought God for two weeks, waiting for God’s response, only to learn that it was demonic forces hindering the angel, Gabriel, from arriving with the answer. The enemy never changes. The tactics he used then, he still tries today. Angelic warriors stand against the enemy of God on our behalf.

Sometimes God waits for the right time. Sometimes He waits for our obedience in what He instructed us to do before His hand will move in to help. Sometimes He is busy making us ready for His response, growing our understanding of Him, teaching us the skills and wisdom and knowledge required for it. Sometimes God is working in those around us, making them ready to cooperate. Whatever the reason, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

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“And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He {delay long over them}, defer them and delay help on their behalf? I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth?” ~ Luke 18:7-8, AMP Classic {NASB}.

Standing on the Promises

“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT.

The promises of God my King, Savior, Champion, Companion. We are in a season that has me leaning heavily on God and His faithfulness.

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post. In that time, we busy ourselves with life as we go through the beginning of what may bring us to a long medical challenge in my sweet hubby’s life. He has a biopsy coming up to determine if his issue is cancerous, so we stand, waiting, to see what the Lord will do. (Prayers appreciated)

That said, I am so grateful that, though this life has its twists and turns that can throw us for a loop, we stand fixed and stable because of God’s faithfulness. Here in our focal passage, the author instructs us that we can share the divine nature of God as His image bearers and escape the world’s corruption caused by fleshly desires, by standing, firm in faith, on the promises of God.

God’s promises come to us by His grace alone, but most all we enter into by way of some act of obedience. Jesus promised us His Spirit to guide and equip us for life abundant and full in Him, but that Spirit comes only as we choose to believe the truth of Christ and His life, work, and sacrificial death. Most promises have something we must do to take our stance on that Rock.

This week, as I contemplate what life holds for us in these days of 102facing whatever we may face with Hubby’s health issues, God speaks to me through 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Through this passage, God reminds me that His promise to reveal Himself through me comes to pass as I go about my daily life, keeping my hands busy with the tasks at hand. Through this season of unknown challenges ahead of us, standing firm on God means doing what comes next with hope in Him to accomplish His will through even the most mundane of tasks.

God promises strength in our weakest hours as we make Him our greatest joy and song (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 13:4; 1 Corinthians 1:27; Hebrews 12:13; Nehemiah 8:10). Knowing God’s promises, receiving His instruction, we take our stance on the Rock of our salvation, fully trusting that God will reveal Himself to and through us in this season we enter in to possess for His glory.

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“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-8, NASB.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” ~ Hebrews 10:23, NASB.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 7

“… You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people” ~ Exodus 33:12-14, AMP.

Looking at the passage covered in yesterday’s devotional thought, I notice that those who abide in God, remaining with Him in Holy Habitation, can still have their lives touched by the consequences of the sins of others.

God told Moses that He knows him by name and that He finds favor in him, yet still, Moses, along with Joshua and others who did not follow the sin of the people, were to go into Canaan without God’s presence with them, just as those who sinned.

I know you have seen this truth for yourself, as I have. We can suffer hardship because of the sins of those near us. This fact is part of our participation in the suffering of Christ that God’s word warns us we will bear in this life (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29-30; Colossians 1:24; see also 2 Peter 2:4-10). Jesus’ entire journey to the cross was because of sin not His own.

As people in Holy Habitation with God, it is vital when hardship comes that we get God’s perspective regarding its source and cause. If we find conviction of sin from Him, repent so-as-to remain with Him in righteousness. If it is not our sin revealed as the cause, hunker under His wings for His protective cover in that area of life. Also, realize that there is another truth seen in this discourse between God and Moses that we are to practice when a storm is not of our own making:

Those in Holy Habitation with God receive the consequences of a righteous life that is blessed by God, and that blessing can reach beyond us as grace toward those struggling in sin.

When God threatened to destroy the nation of Israel for their sin and begin anew with Moses, Moses jumped into the breech, begging for God’s mercy to save the people (Exodus 32:7-14). Now, as God threatens to remove His presence from their journey, Moses again steps into the breech to pray for mercy. God’s response to Moses translated into His doing good toward those who fell in sin, though they deserved the consequences of His holy discipline.

Holy habitation with God owns one’s own sin and seeks quickly the restoration of relationship with God. Holy habitation with God also realizes the effect our ability to commune with Him can have for the benefit of those we love. Realize, beloved, the heart of God toward you that longs to meet your every need, for yourself and for those you love and desire to see in Holy Habitation with Him.

“And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” ~ vs. 14.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 1

“Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence]” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11, AMP.

PrayingWelling up in my heart is desire for the presence of God. Today begins that journey and this scripture describes the first step: Seek His face, longing for His presence.

Our journey begins bowed down at God’s Holy Feet, crying out with longing for Him that demands fulfillment: a respectful requirement based on the authority of God that promises response. What authority?

The “You said” prayer!

God promises, “You will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me as a vital necessity and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity…” ~ Jeremiah 29:13-14, AMP.

I want that, don’t you? The commandments of God give us His authority to do as He requires. His promises grant us right to expect His response on the authority of His word.

David, in his seeking after God, writes, “You have said, Seek My face – Praying-hands-with-bibleinquire for and require My presence as your vital need. My heart says to You, Your face / presence, Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require of necessity and on the authority of Your Word” (Psalm 27:8, AMP).

Seeking after God that demands fulfillment by His authority brings to mind an infant in need. A hungry infant screams, kicks, and squirms until they have their need. According to God’s word, He will respond to such wholehearted seeking.

“The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him, inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word” ~ Lamentations 3:25, AMP.

Controversial Matters

I never felt led to write on the controversial issues of things like the gifts of the Spirit in tongues and prophesy, until now. As I write today, I write not as one having all the answers, but, as Paul said, I write as one who believes I, too, have the Spirit of God and He has given me understanding that I believe true (1 Corinthians 7:40). The things I share today are based on the understanding I have as one who is taught.

A Christian for 50 years, in the word, digging and searching for God’s answers for over 40 of my adult years, I have studied the gifts of the Spirit many times in those years. I’ve studied these both under the instruction of strong Baptist leaders and on my own in the leading of God’s Spirit, who is THE TEACHER. Every time something happens to make me wonder if I know the truth on any subject, I dig it out again and refresh my memory, watching for deeper understanding. None have I dug out more than on the subject of the gifts of tongues and prophesy.

Some say that the gift of tongues no longer exists. That is not what I have heard any Baptist preacher or teacher proclaim in teaching the gifts of the Spirit. The church I am in now are Christian people of faith not affiliated with a religious persuasion, and their teaching on the subject is not far from all I have heard from those Baptists whose teaching I sat under. Truth is truth, and those seeking truth from God will land on the same Rock.

Those saying tongues no longer exist is like those who say that the cannon of Law no longer applies. Believing either of these requires we skip over a lot of scripture, as if insignificant to life today and no longer needed.

This blog states my understanding, all I have learned, both through the teaching and preaching of others and in my own study on the subject. The gift of tongues is real and it is seen in the earth today in three ways:

  1. The gift of tongues is seen in those gifted by God to learn languages with ease. These often become the interpreters and missionaries to foreign fields in our day.
  2. The gift of tongues is seen in the testimony of many who could suddenly / miraculously speak and understand a foreign language.

On a mission trip with a group of Baptist people, headed to a Hispanic country, a nurse I was sitting with shared of an experience she had on a previous trip. Heading to their next visit, their interpreter had business to tend to and was to meet them at their destination, so they were traveling without an interpreter. On the way, they came upon a bad auto accident. The nurse got out to see how she could help, but no one on the scene knew English, so she prayed for God to help her understand and be able to help the injured woman. Suddenly she found herself talking with the native woman in fluent Spanish. She tended her need and prayed with her in Spanish, fully understanding and understood, until medical personnel arrived and took the accident victim off to the hospital. As soon as they took the woman off in the ambulance, the nurse could no longer speak or understand Spanish.

  1. There is a gift of tongues, a language unknown to man, but only by God. To doubt that, I would have to deny the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians. There Paul tells us that God grants this gift to individuals for the purpose of their spiritual edification (1 Corinthians 12-14).

This is the tongue God was speaking about when He called my heart to attention, asking, “Darlene, what about the language of twins,” leading me to consider that just maybe Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have a language all their own.

There are several lists in scripture of giftedness given to individuals by God, as determined by the Spirit, meeting every need for the common good of the body of Christ as a whole (i.e.: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). “Various kinds of tongues” is on these lists and we find this gift active in the earth in the three ways previously mentioned. Within the 1 Corinthians teachings of chapter 12-14, Paul gives very clear guidelines for the use of tongues.

First Corinthians 13:1 warns, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” This reference to “tongues” again speaks of all three representations of this gifting. It also makes clear to me that some are gifted with the language of the angels. This is one reference used by some who say that the individual-edification-gift of tongues is the language of the angels. The individual-edification-tongue is the one people believe the devil cannot understand. As I stated in the previous devotional, demons being fallen angels know the language of the angels, so that belief never rang true for me.

Demons know the languages of humankind. We know this because every nation in every language struggles in their thought life. That struggle not only comes from our fleshly thinking and worldly viewpoints, but is often egged on by demonic whisperings in the ear of man (a fact I first learned under Baptist teaching and that I happen to agree is true). A proof text that comes to mind for this is found in the book of Acts, chapter 5, where Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?” We are left with the understanding that demons influenced the thinking, desire and decision of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. Therefore, it is vital that we watch our stinking thinking, realize its source, and find the truth of God to counter it.

Angels have a language, and according to what 1 Corinthians 13:1 implies, God gifts some with that tongue. As stated earlier, I believe that this language is not hidden from Satan. He speaks angel.

Then we come to 1 Corinthians 14, verses 1-5:

“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”

“For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for NO ONE UNDERSTANDS, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.” This verse clearly teaches that there is a tongue (language), gifted to individuals, that is between the individual and God alone. Only God understands it and only He can gift another to interpret it. As I understand it, this would have to be a language that is God’s alone, accessible only by His giving it to the recipient. To deny this is to call the scriptures a lie, and if one part is false, how can we believe any of it to be true?

I believe God, so I believe there is a tongue (language) gifted to those the Spirit decides should have it, and one way of that gifting is a tongue that is understood by God, alone.

Scripture warns in chapter 14, verses 39-40 to not forbid the use of tongues. As you have probably surmised, I grew up in Baptist churches. There are many Baptist groups, some more legalistic than others: not all Baptists believe the same. Many fear falling back into what was named the Charismatic era. Misuse of tongues was prevalent in that movement. It was a time in Christian history when people chased after the sign gifts and many fell to false sightings and experiences that fooled even the elect (those chosen by God as His own).

I know Baptist people who have the gift of tongues, but they dare not tell just anyone about it for fear of being ostracized. This is sad to me. Fear hinders the work of God more than any other, thus God warns of falling prey to fear more than He warns of any other sin of man. Fear denies all that stretches our belief in an attempt to keep oneself safe. Fear, based on lack of understanding, denies the work of God around us. Unfortunately, for every truth of God I can think of, there is a false representation that feeds fear, giving one cause to doubt.

  1. There are false tongues: Demons know all languages except the language that is God’s alone (if my recent revelation is correct – and I believe it is). This being true, if we seek a sign instead of God and His will done His way, the devil can respond to lead astray. A tongue unknown to the recipient can easily mimic the tongue of God to the one looking for a sign, and the recipient will be none the wiser. However, I have heard from people who received the false tongue, and there is one tell that signals it: the effectiveness of their ministry and witness suffered. As the demonic takes hold, ground belonging to God is overtaken by the stronghold of Satan, and the person finds the power of God for service and testimony diminished.
  2. There is a false prophesy. Demons whisper in the ear of man to feed them, and, as Jesus taught, if we fail to realize the voice of the stranger, we will follow them to false understanding (John 10). Many false prophets exist today. Know the voice of God and follow Him. We do not learn truth by studying falsehood. We learn truth by studying to find the truth. When we seek to know truth by studying what is false, we not only can be fooled as to what truth is, but that focus leads one to being overtaken by a judgmental, fearful spirit that sees the false everywhere they turn. Learn truth, watch for truth, and the false will not fool you.
  3. There are false interpretations of tongues and of dreams, and of messages. Like with the missionary friend of a trusted friend mentioned in my previous blog, if one does not know a foreign language and someone speaks it, that person speaking may be cursing God while claiming to be speaking in His name. Surrounded by others who do not know the language spoken by the one using a tongue, these may express agreement thinking they are praising God when in truth, they just agreed with blasphemy. We must take care that we heed the Spirit and walk in the light of God.

Scripture teaches that there is a proper way to use tongues. First Corinthians 14 lays out the order we are to follow with any tongue:

“What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God” ~ Vs. 26-28.

The church I currently serve with does not forbid tongues, but they do require the gifted follow this guideline. We have many in our body who have the gift of the individual-edification-tongue, but seldom do you hear any verbalize the tongue in the assembly. We have one, sweet older lady, that when the message or a worship song grabs her heart with conviction or praise, she may sound off a few words for a few seconds. Her Spirit grabs us and leads to many “Amen” agreements, bringing us to join her heart of repentance and praise. It is never disruptive and always unifying.

When I first joined this church, another woman used to come who was constantly “praying” loudly in her tongue. It was disruptive to the service, hindering the ability of others to hear the message, and it was grating to those hearing it. These unknowingly play the devil’s advocate, as he uses such disturbances to stop what God is doing. I many times prayed, “Father, let every tongue not of You be hushed.” She would cease immediately, and the Spirit brought peace again. Our elders went to the lady, giving her every opportunity to obey the teaching of God through Paul in verse 26-28. The woman replied, “I can’t help it. It is the Spirit causing it.” The very command in these verses proves the spirit that does such is not God’s Spirit, for the Spirit of God does not break the law of God. After a time, they asked her to go elsewhere.

Through the years, each time I have considered the teachings on tongues and dug it out again, I was drawn by a desire to have all of God that He has for me. I have many times prayed that if there is more of God to experience that requires a tongue, I want it. I do not want to miss out on any of my Father’s presence and power. Every time I do, including this time, He tells my heart, “Darlene, you do not need it.” I know His Presence and experience His power. Often I think perhaps He skips the “tongue” with me and goes straight to interpretation: which is required for one to prophesy.

The gift of prophesy is for the edification of those who hear. It warns of sin, instructs in the righteous paths of God, and makes application to current situations so the people know how to live life in any circumstance. Even in Old Testament prophesy, the prophets not only warned of what was coming, they told what the people did to bring it on, what, if anything, they could do to avert it, and how to live in the midst of it. We find all of these components in the messages of true prophets today. It always leads the listener, giving opportunity for repentance and instruction for a godly life. The prophet:

  1. Expounds on the word of God, bringing to light its application for today’s life situations.
  2. Receives revelation of deeper truths, found in scripture but sometimes hidden from those whose eyes are blinded, their minds darkened by sin or immaturity.
  3. And yes, I believe God still has prophets that receive warning from God of things to come. In my experiences, those messages always come with instruction for living godly lives, preparing all to weather the storms of life found in the days of trouble.

I cried with the Spirit of God, deep weeping within me, for two weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing, knowing something horrible was about to happen, calling all who would hear to prayer. On the day it happened, a friend called to ask, “Darlene, could this be what The Spirit has us praying over?” I had no idea why the Spirit wept so, but when I turned the TV on and saw the destruction, I knew this was it. I cried with the Spirit, that same weeping, for days, watching emergency personnel go through that rubble.

For over two years, God had me lead people to pray regarding what God described to my heart and had me write to those praying as “A destructive force that will hit the US, bringing devastation from New York City to Washington, D.C. It’s destructive force will affect the entire nation and, indeed, the whole world. Its damage will be likened to that of an earthquake.” He had me call others to pray with me, telling them what the Spirit told me, because we were heading into an election year, and “if God’s choice for a President is not in office, the response to the destruction will fall short of God’s will.” For two years we prayed, and when 911 happened, no one had to ask, “Is this it?” Several times I heard reporters say, “This looks like the destruction seen in a high intensity earthquake.”

God’s word says that the prophesy is known as coming from Him when it comes to pass. I’ve experienced it over and over again, in great ways and in small ways, so I know the gift is real and effective today. I have experienced tongues as well. Only once, I heard the language of God within me, so peaceful, rising up in praise. I asked, “Lord, that was beautiful! What did I say?” He replied, “You simply said, ‘Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Jesus.’” I have had Baptist friends call me. “Darlene, I keep hearing this word from the Lord, and He says you have the interpretation.” God would give it.

I have been in prayer sessions when someone used a tongue that disturbed my Spirit, which comes from the gift of discerning the spirits. A quick prayer for every voice not of God to shush, hushes it every time. I have also experienced a strong prayer in tongues of every sort that were of God. It always raises up an “Amen” with praise.

Tongues are for edification of the individual, and with correct interpretation, it edifies those hearing. Some tongues gifts are in known languages, so interpreters and missionaries can go to the people and teach them of God. The individual-edification-tongue I believe exists and is for those who need a sign of God’s presence with them: either they need it for their own ability to believe, they need it for a time of ministry, or it is needed so those around them believe.

God draws near to speak mysteries to the heart, edify the spirit, lifting the recipient to higher ground where increased faith resides. And when He desires to do so, God gifts some with interpretation of His language, so that the mind of the individual and those hearing may be edified.

Truth is what we need, beloved. I am so grateful that God taught me long ago to dig out His truths and believe in Him with trusting faith. How many fail to experience God for fear of the false, not knowing the truth? That is very sad to me.

Hear the teachings of others, but don’t take my word or any others as gospel until you get alone with God and ask the Spirit-Teacher to show you. Until He shows you, stand firm in the faith you have and do not let fear get hold on you.

In reverse, do not let fear keep you from studying God’s word to discover the truth. If you have a tongue and are afraid you may discover it to be a false tongue, fear falling away from the living God more than the loss of a tongue that makes you feel special while it sets up strongholds in your life.

Take care, beloved, not to call tongues “evil” when God’s word clearly teaches it is a gift from His Spirit for a purpose. Know the truth that sets free indeed. Then walk in the faith that you have while waiting for ever-growing understanding in the deep things of God.