Tag Archives: Prayer

They Know Not What They Do

“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:3 NASB)

Do you ever wonder what’s going on in a world gone crazy, amazed at how people are behaving? Jesus reminds that such things are done by those who do not truly know the Father or His Son.

Why are we so shocked to see people of a lost world acting worldly? Scripture teaches that evil in the world will continue to increase, being at its worst as we draw near to the Day of Christ’s return. Things are crazy and people out of control because we draw ever nearer to that day. The enemy of God gains ever-increasing control as people refuse God, and as hearts grow cold and unable to truly love.

What should we do?

– Keep our lamps lit through the continual filling of God’s Spirit and stand ready.

– Draw ever closer to God.

– Be ready to bear witness of His grace and to speak wisdom, truth, righteousness, love, and peace wherever we can.

– Don’t waste breath on those who will not hear, nor cast the pearls of God’s Word before swine.

– Keep your heart from hate and your steps from foolishness.

– Remember that bad company corrupts good morals.

– Live the Light of God in all you do.

– And remember the true battle, while involving humans possessed and deceived, is a spiritual one against an evil enemy army. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)

– Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.

That Great Day is dawning, Beloved. Stand ready!

Clothed and Ready: Part 2

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT)

Yesterday we began looking at the clothing we are to wear, so we are protected, never having to feel exposed and ashamed. We started with the dawning of the cloak of Christ: compassion, kindness, love, peace, gratitude; these being just a few of the colors found in that garment as defined in Colossians 3. Today, in part 2, we look at the armor of God, which is vital in protecting us from the head hung in shame.

In looking at the Armor of God, making sure we have it firmly in place, let us break down to its parts, Ephesians 6:10-18, which outlines this God-provided Armor:

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].”

The cloak of Christ is a picture that reveals our union with God in Christ. We must be fully clothed in that grace, which is the provision of His strength poured into our lives. God’s grace is the power for our lives of victory. Reliance on God’s all sufficient grace is vital for a life of victory.

“PUT ON GOD’S WHOLE ARMOR [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”

Remember who our true enemy is and, standing firm against that evil, take your stance on truth, righteousness , and the still more excellent way of love. In any discord, there’s an evil force out to bring division and fell the heart, mind, and soul of those who call on God.

Remember when Jesus told The parable of the seed. He makes clear that the enemy of God tries to steal the seed or stop its growth. He brings many down through temptation, and the troubles and worries of this life. We truly need to realize where the true battle lies and then arm ourselves for victory.

“Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins”

Recognizing truth is the belt that holds all in proper position. The belt in the armor of a warrior is used to hold the scabbard for easy access to weapons of defense, and it is used to tuck any lose tails of clothing out of the way so the warrior is not tripped up. God’s Truth does likewise for the warrior of God, empowering our righteous use of our sword and keeping articles of stumbling out of our path.

“and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,”

The breastplate of God’s Armor on us is righteousness, defined in our AMPC version as integrity, moral rectitude, and right standing with God.

Integrity is deeper than honesty. Where honesty may point out or admit to a wrong, integrity refuses any partnership with any evil thing that dishonors God and His Holy Name. It always does right out of honor and loyalty to God.

“And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.”

As I consider the shodding of the feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, I am reminded of the encouragement given that, when taken before the courts, it is opportunity to trust God to reveal Himself through a testimony given in due season. We are always to remember Whose we are and the main purpose of our life in Christ.

This is what Jesus did as He trusted God when His life was threatened before it was His time. He walked out of harms way, unscathed. The Spirit can inspire us as to our times, giving us courage to speak the truth of the gospel, even in the midst of opposition.

“Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].”

The name and sacrifice of Jesus covers us. No true or lasting harm can come to those who faithfully persevere in this Holy Abode. Our eternal lives cannot be stolen away by God’s enemy, as we are shielded by His saving grace. Thus, Jesus and His disciples behind Him walked fearlessly and blamelessly to their appointed times.

“And take the helmet of salvation”

The enemy of God loves to attack us through our thought life. Remembering Whose we are puts God’s helmet over our heads for our protection against his assaults, shielding our minds from the fiery darts of our accuser.

“and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.”

Knowledge that believes God and trusts His fulfillment of every stroke and letter of His Word is the double edged sword we wield. Arm yourself all throughout your day through reading, studying, and meditation on His Word at every opportunity.

The calling and equipping of my ministry through Ponderings is set to aid in your readiness in the fight. We seek to teach, encourage, and strengthen the soldier in the army of God through the sharing of His Word and through our most vital weapon and resource avenue: prayer.

“Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).”

Heart Check: Hope Rightly Focused

“But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalms 146:5 NLT)

Take a minute for a heart check, Beloved. Where is your Hope? If we are not careful, our hope can slip away from God and onto our own ability to have faith. People unrighteously accuse, “Well, it hasn’t happened because your faith is not strong enough.” Jesus said, “with a mustard seed of faith, you can move a mountain.” The smallest seed of a faith planted in the right soil where it is capable of growth is all it takes. That soil is totally rested on God trusting Him.

Hope can slip to land on our idea of what the best outcome should look like. More still is that hope can truly be settled on our own strengths and abilities; or on that of someone or something else we see as hope’s solution.

True hope in God rests on Him with understanding of His care. It trusts His sovereignty. Trust’s hope does not put God in a box made up of our expectations and ability to dream.

God’s Word says that He, by His power that is at work within us, “is able to carry out His purpose and do SUPERABUNDANTLY, FAR OVER and ABOVE ALL that we dare ask or think, INFINITELY BEYOND our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams” (Ephesians 3:20 AMPC).

We cannot even begin to think of the great things of God. When we limit our hope to our expectations, we can miss what God is doing. Because our eyes are set to see what we think will be, we can fail to follow God to the abundance He truly has for us. We essentially box Him into our finite thought, and when we refuse the path of His leading as a result, we put a lid on the glory to be seen.

So, where is your hope, Beloved. Because of God’s grace, “Rethink Possible” (ATnT commercial).

Soul-Dance

“Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (Psalms 86:4 NASB)

Soul: our mind with it’s thought-life, beliefs, and comprehensive understanding; our wills, going after what we want in disciplined fervor; and our emotions, too often dictated by our raging hormones and the rush of our bodily chemistry. God desires us to love Him, live for Him and serve Him with ALL OF OUR SOULS. Yet, sadly, many people frown and put down those who let the surge of emotions soar free for the Lord.

God gave us emotions so we can “feel” His Presence and worship Him with exuberance: meeting with Him in the truth of all that we are, overflowing with eager enjoyment or approval. We see it in David, when his joy over the ark of God’s Presence caused him to dance the streets in worship, dressed only in a loin cloth. It took hold of Miriam, who took timbrel in hand and led the women in the excited dance of worship to the Lord, for He delivered them from Pharaoh’s grasp.

God wants our all involved in worshiping Him. He is not ashamed of our dance when done in wholehearted sincerity and in trueness to who we are as an individual. A quiet person, in their quiet, private self, worshipping in silence with whole heart is precious to the Father, Who meets them in the quiet. An emotionally, exuberant person is just as precious to the Lord, and He meets them in the dance flowing from the true of heart.

Beloved, true fellowship with the Father, flowing freely out of sincerity to the true inner person He created us to be is a must in worship. Fearlessly giving our all in love to God is a biblical mandate (Mark 12:29-30 NASB).

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalms 86:11 NASB)

Here David asks the Lord to teach him truly, asking Him to unite his heart in fear’s reverence toward Him. In verse 4, the word in original Hebrew that is translated “soul” is lebab. It means: inner man, the mind, the will, and the heart (the essence of the person that includes one’s emotions). The word used in verse 11, translated “heart” is nephesh. It means “a soul, living being, person, with all their desires, passions, appetites, and emotions.”

The soul. It is the sum of what makes us who we are, and God wants us to use all of it to His glory, even – and I believe especially- our “feelings” – emotions. Like David and Miriam, we’re not to fear getting excitedly emotional over the joy of the Lord and His work in our midst. God loves our exuberance for Him.

So, Beloved, if you are emotionally exuberant in your worship, FROM A TRUE HEART, let no judgmentalism from mankind shame you into silence. And if you, being just as emotional in your quiet way, worship God with your all, let no one make you ashamed of your quietness. However, and here comes the warning for us who are exuberant, be careful that you rule your emotional outbursts.

David marched in the procession, worshipping God WITH OTHERS. Miriam led the PROCESSION of worshiping dancers, with song, everyone joining in with her. These were all worshiping together in timely fashion. There is an appropriate time for exuberance, dancing, and loud merrymaking.

However, we are not to be controlled by our emotions. We must control our emotions, knowing when to express them and when to control the expression. Running around, whooping and hollering while the pastor is trying to preach WILL be used of the enemy to distract the heart of man for the purpose of keeping some from hearing and receiving the Word.

Fear not, Beloved, the expression of true and sincere worship. But do fear getting in God’s way through uncontrolled, emotional outbursts. Tongues is an excellent example. God’s Word says, in the absence of an interpreter, keep the tongue between you and Him (1 Corinthians 14). From my understanding, those who believe they have no control over their audible prayer-tongue are mistaken. It is not to be a constant, loud raucous that can be used by the enemy of God to rob Seed from the heart of others who are deafened by the distraction.

God frees us to be who we are, but He also blesses us with the fruit of self-control. Use your freedom liberally in the controlling power and wisdom of the Spirit of God, and bear much good fruit to His the glory of His awesome, praiseworthy Name.

Soul Cleansing

The following is a teaching done by my friend, Sara. It is powerful and freeing. You will need about an hour for it, so bookmark the page where you can find it when time permits. You will not feel the hour a loss. BLESSings, Beloved.

Soul Cleansing

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 7

Beloved, there is a True Faith in the One True God that taps into His True Power, and that relationship is necessary for the Liberating Transformation we desire. Without this Power at work in us, we cannot progress to a true transformation that lasts.

Think of the butterfly. It starts as larva, having the mere potential of life. In the natural, before the larva becomes a butterfly, it crawls the earth in a worm state. It’s course leads it to cocoon. The cocoon state is where the worm meets True Power that works transformation, turning the caterpillar into the beauty of the butterfly.

Beloved, the cry we lift to Father now and in tomorrow’s day of focused prayer is a call to cocoon with God for the experience of His True Power to work amazing change in us.

Read the following passage carefully, Beloved, and, seeking truth of your own heart in Christ, realize that if you fall into any of these things spoken of by Paul’s warning to Timothy, they warn of reliance on a false faith in a false idea of who God is and how He works. It is a signal of a cause for sin that can only be addressed in sincere faith in the True God by the True Power He provides. If you find yourself or those you pray for in these verses, transformation begins now, on knees of repentance with a heart ready to do business with The One True God.

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.”

2 Timothy 3:1-9 NASB

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 2

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you….” 2 Timothy 1:5 NASB

Today God calls us to be mindful of our SINCERE faith. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11), but do we realize the need of sincerity of faith?

Beloved, we can’t just say, “I believe” and that be good enough when there is no truth to it or when belief is aimed at the wrong target. God desires truth with Him, and that requires truth with self, for without truth with self, their can be no true repentance.

Jesus honored the one who said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). The man realized he had a degree of sincere faith to believe, but it was shaky and insufficient with the doubt that floated around inside, hindering full trust to believe. Like him, it is better for us to be honest with God and open to His transforming help, than to lie to self trying to make ourselves believe when true trust in Him is missing. Note here that faith, belief, and trust are intertwined. True, sincere faith, believes God and trusts His will.

Consider the areas of your own life that desperately need the transforming power of God to work there. Consider your faith in God for that area of concern. Is your faith sincere, being focused on His ability to do what is needed, or is your faith focused on the need of faith in getting God to do what you want? Is your faith merely a mustard seed that hasn’t been planted yet, much less sprout to grow? A small amount of faith that trusts God’s faithfulness and knows He can is better than great faith in ones need of faith.

I pray what I’m trying to say makes sense to you, Beloved, because this is important. Faith focuses fully on God. It believes God can and trusts His will for us, knowing He will do what is best for all concerned. Small faith of this kind is a seed that can grow, and God loves growing it. Being truthful with self and God opens us up for His work to empower our faith, increasing faith to us, while cleansing us of any doubt.

Faith that is misplaced or that is falsely motivated, focusing on self’s ability to have faith instead of on God’s faithfulness, is NO FAITH AT ALL. Test your faith, Beloved, and pray for self and for the faith of those for whom you seek God’s transforming power.

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 1

Reading through 2 Timothy, I keep sensing there is something there for me to see and understand. Today I finally get it.

In preparing us for the day of prayer coming up on the 24th, 2 Timothy has many truths we need to possess in preparation to pray for and to receive God’s liberating transformation in our personal areas of need. The first need is this:

“I thank God, whom I SERVE WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Beloved, our first need in ministry, including in the ministry of prayer for self and others, is for a clear conscience. This clear conscience is twofold:

First, a clear conscience surrenders all sin. We must seek the Father to reveal through His Spirit in us all areas of personal sin in need of repentance. Sin in us will hinder our prayers for self and others. It will hinder our own liberating transformation. So we must cleanse our own spiritual house and clear our conscience.

Second, a clear conscience is one that holds to the truth known. What we know of God; the things we know true of our relationship with Him and our service to Him; all we know true of His gifts in us and our fruit bearing in Christ: our full assurance of conscience in these things is vital for our journey forward.

So, today – and for as many days as it takes – confess and repent of sins; and confess, profess, and possess the truths you hold firm within you.

Trust God’s Promises

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalms‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I posted this beautiful promise of God to friends today. One expressed gratitude for the truth of Father’s faithfulness to direct our path and asked us to pray for Him to direct her path in a decision she is facing. I started to reply agreement when this question hit my heart, “Why do we ask God for what He promises to do?”

It hit me that the need is not for God to do what He does; it is for us to have ears to hear, eyes to see, a mind to know with understanding, a heart to trust His faithfulness, and a willing spirit of obedience that believes His timely provision.

I noted a Scripture the other day that tells us to remind God of His promises. I asked, “Why, Lord? It’s not like You forget.” It dawns on me that the practice of reminding Him, reciting to Him what we know of Him, is not for His sake, but our own: strengthening our faith, solidifying our belief, lifting the muscle building weights of comprehensive understanding.

Got a need? Recite God’s promises with grateful heart, Beloved, and request your need so you can hear, possess, and walk out His directives with faith’s hope.

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion Part 3

Exercise

Sometimes our “tired” is due to sitting too much. This happens to me. When I’m I’m stressed or depressed, and overly tired, I tend to sit too much, desiring to meet my need of rest. The thing is, sitting too much can actually hinder the body’s ability to rest well or to sleep well, and it increases depression. Thus, the encouragement of God’s Spirit to give focus to exercise is good wisdom.

Beginning with prayer and worship:

Prayer and the worship of the Triune God is a spiritual exercise that works wonders in a tired, body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul. Leaving issues at God’s feet lifts weight off of weighed down shoulders and stressed knees. Praise and worship strengthens the heart, lifts and eases the mind, and brings renewed vitality to life.

Work that body:

God made our bodies to move, lift, walk, bend, stoop, and work. When we fail to do that, a sundry of disease processes move in: inflammatory diseases, bone and joint maladies, heart, lung, and vascular disease, to name a few. Then we can add to that depression, appetite issues, insomnia, and more. And let’s not forget the excess weight, increased fat stores beyond the need of a healthy body, and decreased muscle mass and tone.

Exercise works our bodies, putting a good stress on it that strengthens function. A good work out and frequent movement increases endorphins that lifts mood, curbs hunger, and increases energy. Thus it makes sense that the Spirit of God would instruct me to get serious about this area of my health journey in this difficult season of life.

I cannot tell you the number of times hunger and out-of-control appetite has quieted or completely stilled with a good, brisk walk. Exercise actually increases energy levels and aids sleep. So, exhausted friend, let’s “Keep it moving!” (Deron Buboltz, Grow Young Fitness Motto)

13 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

Perseverance for the Long Night Seasons

As I seek the Father in continuing a daily thought for praying over those long night situations, He leads my heart to Paul’s letters to Timothy. Paul’s greeting in 1 Timothy begins our daily focus.

Beloved, our greatest need in long night issues is perseverance. To persevere in faith; in assurance of God’s love, care, and presence at work there; in determined purpose to remain faithful in focus, in living, in the practice of godliness, etc. These three works of God found in Paul’s greeting equip our success in perseverance.

– Grace – provides strength beyond our own in the wait, equipping and enabling our faithful perseverance .

– Mercy – covers us when we fail so that…

– Peace – that passages understanding prevails, protecting us from worry, fretting, anxiety, and the bad and desperate decisions such turmoil brings, leading us to unrest as we kick against goads and try to fix what God alone can fix.

Pray today for perseverance and for this resource of God that empowers our successful waiting-on-the-Lord.

Surrounded

A Day of Prayer in April post

PRAISE THE LORD, BELOVED! We are coming against the strongholds of long night stressors that challenge our faith, working with the intent of preventing us knowing, trusting, and following our God as a people at rest in His hands, even in the darkest, most fierce storms.

This song, “Surrounded,” by Michael W. Smith, is the perfect starting place for our battle against the long night in our lives and the lives of those we love. The prayer thoughts for this song include:

⁃ the importance of praise.

Praising Father God, our Triune Deity, is our first, most vital weapon in any battle. God is enthroned upon the praises of His people. Praise expresses understanding of His sovereignty, His might, His greatness, and our recognition of our dire need of Him: our love for and reliance on Him. We are more apt to rest the need in His capable hands – surrendering all to Him, from a position of worship.

⁃ the importance of trusting His Presence.

Remembering God’s faithfulness to His promises that tell us He is always with us, fighting for us, and He will never – NO NEVER – leave nor forsake us, this is our second, most vital weapon in the long night season. Our strength, courage, and perseverance flow out of this trust.

⁃ the importance of realizing where He is standing.

We acknowledge that, though we feel the pressure of the enemy around us, we are first and foremost surrounded by God, even though we may not see Him. He promises to be beside us, grabbing us by the hand to protect and empower us. But also, like Elisha’s servant, we need eyes to see the army of God that surrounds the enemy surrounding us (2 Kings 6).

Think about this position, Beloved, us being in the center with God, Who is also surrounding us with His hedge of protection, as well as Him standing with His army to surround the enemy attacking us. That enemy is trapped between our faith in God and His faithfulness to us. An enemy cannot escape their loss that comes from this glorious combination: faith in God’s faithfulness. I believe that’s the reason Elisha prayed his servant’s eyes open: to strengthen his faith in the battle, that the barricade of faith not be weakened by unbelief and fear.

Thus we begin…

Surrounded: Michael W. Smith

Join our event on FB at Day of Prayer in April.

Day of Prayer for the Night Seasons

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The next Day of Prayer Event is posted on Facebook at Darlene’s Ponderings, Prayers, and Praises Day of Prayer in April. I hope you will join me there on April 26, wherever you are. We are praying for those in overwhelming situations that just seem unending, called Night Seasons. Those in a Long Night need prayers for perseverance, wisdom, hope’s assurance, and God’s response. Who just came to your mind? Come join us and let’s cover them in prayer together.

“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses. …” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:6, 13, 19, 28‬ ‭NASB‬

Below you will find a pdf file for a flyer and participation info you can share to invite others to participate. Hope you will join us wherever you are.

002 04-26-18

Thankful for Freedom

Good morning! Today I rejoice in knowing Jesus, Who lived, died, and lives again to set us free-indeed. It is an awesome truth, worthy of daily attention from grateful hearts.

My heart also rejoices today in the knowledge that we are so greatly BLESSed here in The USA to live in a nation that cares about our lives and our freedom. Our leaders fight to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. Our nation’s armed forces fight, and sometimes die, first gaining our freedom to be an independent nation so many years ago, and from then to our now, they keep us free and safe.

Then there is our internal security and emergency response forces. Our emergency response crews in our drought dried area put their lives on the line just yesterday to protect us from wild fires that are made worse and more challenging to fight in the high winds moving them forward at breakneck speeds.

Praise God today for the freedom He so graciously supplied through those willing to give life and limb for us, and for those who protect our lives and do all they can to save our properties.

Have a BLESSed Saturday enjoying the freedom we have, and pray for those less fortunate, living under regimes that take the lives of their own people at the drop of a hat. Sometimes we don’t realize how good we have it. Because of that lack of recognition, we too readily fail to appreciate God’s gracious provision to us who are privileged to live safe and free in these United States.

Pray protection over our unity today, Beloved. A house divided quickly falls. On that day, the freedom and safety we too readily take for granted will be lost. So rejoice in our freedoms today, beginning with the free-indeed found in Jesus. And let us come together anew as ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Free Indeed

For some reason, Lord, as I read this verse in Psalm 147, I think of repentance. How greatly we need You if we are truly to repent.

You, Father, see and know the heart to greater depths of understanding than we can even begin to fully fathom. Only You can help us know the true issue of heart that keeps us snared in habits of sin.

I keep thinking of how weak willed I am, frustrated in areas of struggle I feel powerless to change. The thing I discern right now is my need to stop striving against what I see in my struggle and begin sincerely seeking Your revelation of the heart of my struggle. I need You, Lord.

So search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful or grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

What freedom we possess when we trust in You, Lord. Oh, my soul, take a breath and rest in God.

In Jesus and for Your glory I pray, amen.

“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NASB

In Need of a Miracle

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’ ….” John 2:1-11 NASB (http://bible.com/100/jhn.2.1-11.nasb)

I love reading this account often called “the first miracle of Christ”, however, I believe it is most likely the first RECORDED miracle. It’s just pretty obvious to me that His Momma knew from experience what her Son was capable of doing. She also knew that her Son would give her what she asked Him to give. I see, in this passage, three things that sound to me like good advice for us all.

Know what God can do. Learn of Him. God responds to faith. Faith comes by hearing; and hearing by the Word of God. When we have a need, we turn to what we know. Mary knew her Son, so she turned to Him for the need she perceived.

Ask of Him. Mary knew her Son and what He could do, so she asked Him for it, knowing He could and would supply. Later, Jesus, after training His disciples, told them, ““If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7 ). Like Mary, when we know God through Christ and believe what He can do, we gain confidence to ask with faith of receiving.

The third, vital lesson to seeking and receiving are in Mary’s words, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Like these servants, to experience and participate in God’s miracles, with ability to recognize what He does for us, we must also listen to Him and do what He says. Like with these, the instructions God gives may seem strange to us. Can you imagine: needing wine and hearing, “fill these pots with water and take it to the head waiter.”

My first, real experience of this happened many years ago. I had a headache that would not go away. For weeks on end, I could get it dulled, but not gone.

One day, after a particularly excellent quiet time with the Lord, praising and praying to him, that headache had a stronghold on me. Already having taken the med for it with no results, I told the Lord I was so tired of that headache. To my heart came clear instruction to lay down.

As I laid down flat on the sofa, I told the Lord, “This is weird to me, but I trust You.” The Spirit led me to relax, eyes closed and focused fully on God, beginning with my feet and working up. With His coaxing, I relaxed so deeply that I felt like I sank into the cushions.

When we reached my neck, a very small circle of light appeared in the darkness behind my eyes. Watching it, the circle grew bigger and brighter. Then the image of an angel appeared, flying up through the circle of light and out the top of my head, fist clenched in front of him and the biggest, laughing smile on his face. Followed by one after another in like fashion, those angels kept flying through my head until my entire skull was full of light so bright that I squinted trying to see. I laid there totally relaxed and in stunned awe for a bit, before sitting up, absent the headache.

That healing lasted for many weeks, not having any type of headache at all. And I’ve not had that particular headache again since then.

Scripture tells us God’s ways and thoughts are not like ours. When we seek Him to do a work only He can do, trusting Him when the clear instructions sent seem strange to us is vital to our experiencing His answer to our need.

Learn to know Him, Beloved. Be quick to seek Him in faith, believing. Then listen to His instruction, which can come through His Word, through the insights of those around us, or in that knowing place in us that houses His Presence with us. Once His instruction is clear, do what He says, and get ready to stand amazed.

The radical God-centeredness of the Lord’s Model Prayer

“The radical God-centeredness of the Lord’s Model Prayer teaches us that man’s pride has no place before the throne of God.” (Dr. Albert Mahler, The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down)

I have a decorative plate, given to me by my son, that misquotes the verse, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It says, “Give us this day THY daily bread.”

I’ve searched many translations, even looking through the oldest versions available to me, and none translate it that way, but I love the plate, not only because my son gave it to me, but because of the truth it reminds me to realize.

I, too often, fail to truly know what is best for me. I need the Father to instruct and form right desires and healthy appetites within me, leading me to seek after, recognize, and receive His best for me.

Pride hinders our ability to trust God for His best.

“”Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]” Matthew 6:9-13 NASB

Note: when struggling to pray, break down the outline of the Lord’s Model Prayer into its parts. Beginning with realizing that He is FATHER, who loves you and gave His all for you, let each part soak into your hurting soul to direct your heart in prayer for the trouble before you. Add to your praying the heart of Jesus that cried out in His time of agony, “Yet not my will, but THY will be done,” and you have a heart attitude God hears and responds to in amazing ways.

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:

img_2211

“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.