A Great Awakening . . . 12/23/13
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life - Proverbs 13:12.
Even the smallest answered prayer brings excitement to the one who has prayed. We find ourselves encouraged to continue petitioning God for change. To some of us, the manifestation of answered prayer brings the beginning of a great awakening. We see that God really does respond to us:
When we ask God to convict someone of their sin, He begins right away, in His own precise and loving way. Only God can do this successfully, without causing further injury to a wounded soul.
When we ask God to speak to someone—maybe in their dreams—He does just that. If God puts something on our mind to ask, then why would He not do it?
When we ask God to give someone His Spirit of wisdom and revelation, He delights in answering this request. “Enlightenment” is one of His specialties.
Whenever we bind the evil spirits that make life miserable for those in our domain, they must obey our command and cease all activity (Matthew 16:19). Jesus’ blood has made this possible. Our prayer simply enforces it day by day.
When we petition God for healing, guidance, provision or any other human need, then His response meets us individually and uniquely.
Even seasoned warriors need the awakening that comes with a visibly answered prayer. When decades of tears and intercession are finally answered, their view of God is enlarged. Their "desire" has come, and "it is a tree of life."
We don’t usually see or feel the answers to our prayers right away. Hope, faith and “the peace of God that passes understanding” are needed to get from point A to point B in our rigorous journeys of prayer. The Spirit assures us that we will see the results of our righteous warfare—the answer to every single prayer—whether this happens in twenty minutes or twenty years (Matthew 7:8).
Sadly, there is often a veil that darkens our understanding. Some of us don't trust that God listens, cares and acts when we pray. Some have grown numb to this exciting reality. If any of this pertains you, please stop right now and take a minute to pray. Please ask God to remove the veil so you can clearly see His desire to act on your behalf.
Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord – Psalm 27:14, AMP.
Needless to say, God doesn’t answer prayers that are incorrect. His holiness does not allow this. Our own hearts must be sanctified and in sync with the heart of the Lord before we're effectively led in prayer by His Spirit. When this happens, our requests will be just what He’s been waiting to hear.
Oh, what a privilege it is to collaborate with our Creator—causing someone's destiny to take on a shape that is both beautiful and holy!
Dear Lord, we thank You for attending to our prayer. We thank You that any veil obstructing our vision of You can be removed. (Please do this now.) Thank You for inviting us to assist in bringing Your Kingdom to Earth. This great honor keeps us on our knees. We are blessed beyond measure by our involvement with Your plans and by Your presence at our side.
When Hope Arrives . . . 11/17/13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit – Romans 15:13.
If God has a middle name, I believe it might be “Hope.” The Greek word for hope is “Elpis.” Pronounced “el-peace',” this means “to anticipate and welcome properly.” It is “the expectation of what is certain” (Strong’s 1680).
Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you – Zechariah 9:12.
Let us always be prisoners of Hope. Let’s pursue God and His glory until we prevail!
A few days ago, something dear to me was under attack, and I felt overwhelmed. I found myself sinking into a thick mire of oppression, so I called out to God for help. I told Him I was weak, wounded, and desperately in need of His strength. "If I'm to go on, I must have more of You, Lord,” is what I repeatedly said. Within 24 hours of this prayer, the powerful presence of Hope arrived. It came on the wings of revelation, and it quickly pulled me from the bog of my despair.
This remarkable rescue from the torment of enemy lies has me praising the attribute of God called Hope. I want to share some thoughts that are rising up within me:
Because Hope literally carries the power of God, it breathes life into “dying” situations. The strength it imparts is very real, and its impact is eternal.
The essence of Hope is often tangible. In my experience, it feels like cool, refreshing mist that permeates the air around me. Hope is a lot like springtime.
Reaching directly from the heart of the Lord, Hope will wipe away our tears, heal our wounded hearts, restore our fading sight, and remove the coating of dust from our future.
Hope arrives bearing gifts. Among them are lightness, peace, joy, courage and strength. (Macy’s and Dillard’s cannot compete with this.)
Only the Spirit and the Word can build the lofty framework of a Hope that endures through trials.
Hope summons the rainbow as a "banner of promise" over our troubles. This banner reaches into the past to transform our "ashes" to something of beauty and value (Isaiah 61:3). It stretches into the future and beckons us forward to vibrant life that has no end.
Hope is a very close friend of “Revelation” and the beloved brother of “Faith.” These mighty warriors march with us into battle and onward to our place of triumph.
Thank You, Lord, for being our “Hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Because of You, the enemy can never quench the flame of expection that burns within our hearts. Because of You, our lives are bright with vision.
Superheroes . . . 11/10/13
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good – Romans 12:21.
When we see or experience the destruction caused by evil, we must recognize that an alarm has sounded. A call to action reverberates through our domain. A time has come for us to shine―in our spiritual armor, that is. Christians are called to be vigilant superheroes who subdue the forces of darkness.
First of all, whenever we witness evil, we must stop to ask: “Yes, the situation looks awful, but what does God say about it?” Just because something sounds bad, smells bad, looks bad, and makes us feel bad, doesn’t mean it will end that way. If we walk away, it may never change. But if we hang around to pray and fight, the enemy will have to flee. Sometimes God tells us to fight from a distance, but even so, we’re still hanging around in the spiritual realm to enforce our Father's will.
By faith and with great authority, we can torment any evil spirit with God’s word. We won’t get to see the fear in its eyes or comprehend the depths of terror in its heart, but when we know God and how to use the sword of His Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), then we can envision the enemy as burnt toast when blasted with flames of truth.
Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated - 2 Chronicles 20:22.
God once told me that the sound of praise repels the enemy. It also scares and confuses demonic minds, making them ineffective. Consequently, we can loose this potent spiritual weapon and think of it as “demon repellant.” On the other hand, the Lord draws near to the sound of praise. With one move, we can drive away the enemy and also invite the presence of our loving God.
. . . be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might – Ephesians 6:10.
When Christians put on the armor that's spoken of in Ephesians, chapter 6, we are actually “putting on God.” Whenever we “gird our waist with truth,” we are wrapping the Lord around us. The “breastplate of righteousness” is ours because of Jesus living within our hearts. In other words, when we abide in Christ, we are wearing His presence as armor―both without and within. Friendship with the Most High God makes each one of us a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Thank You, Lord, for being our Strong Armor―for being an invisible force field of awesome holy power. You surround us with favor as a shield (Psalm 5:12), and we love You dearly for that. You have blessed us with purpose and significance. Thank You for letting us join You in the fierce battle for souls.
God's Word Shall Not Return Void . . . 10/20/13
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it – Isaiah 55:10-11.
The Word is guaranteed to accomplish its goal!
God tells us that His word shall prosper in the thing for which it is sent. No one else could possibly make this promise and keep it! These words in the book of Isaiah make our hearts beat faster as they impart their strong, unwavering hope. Because God is faithful, we declare His word out loud and know it will take effect. This informs the demonic realm of what we believe and where we stand. They're made aware that we have Truth and also the faith to release its power. Our boldness proves that we believe: The word of the Lord "shall not return void"!
Any time the Spirit gives us fresh revelation from His word, our job is to apply the insight just as He directs. We must pray and act without delay because this particular truth is alive with today's purpose. If handled correctly, this word will change someone's life, or maybe our own. (Of course, all scripture has great power, but it is subject to God’s timing.)
Precepts and promises from the Lord are heavily embedded with destiny. To those who hear His voice, the Spirit whispers unique applications of scripture throughout the day. I believe “the word that goes forth from (God's) mouth” also includes His personal words of love and direction to each of us―those words not found in scripture but perfectly agreeing with it.
When we pray scripture and "personal words" over a lost soul or a struggling Christian, we give them a precious gift that keeps on giving—often into eternity. We can pray the words a hundred times or only once, depending on how the Spirit leads. As soon as our spoken words are “out there,” the Lord will begin to move. I envision Him with tears of joy on His face as He steps out to protect and enlighten one of those for whom He died. (We tend to forget that God loves these people far more than we do.)
A passage I often use when praying for a loved one is found in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. I replace the word "you" with the name of the person I'm praying for:
I also . . . do not cease to give thanks for _____, making mention of _____ in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to _____ the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of _____ understanding being enlightened; that _____ may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe . . . - Ephesians 1:15-19.
Here is a Psalm I like to use, replacing "me" with the name of the person I'm praying for:
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead _____; Let them bring _____ to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle - Psalm 43:3.
The Bible almost explodes with words for Christians to pray over people in need. God even tells us to remind Him of His words and to not be quiet until He responds (Isaiah 62:6-7 AMP).
Thank You, Lord, for the beautiful destiny held within Your words. Thank You for this arsenal of mighty weapons against the enemy―these tools that bring about change. Thank You for letting us sanctify the future, simply by proclaiming Your truth.
The Breath of God . . . 9/28/13
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being – Genesis 2:6,7.
At the beginning of creation, after God had sculpted Adam, His powerful breath caused this man to live. Today, this same breath keeps each of us alive. And if we choose, it will keep us in the center of God's will.
And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit..." - John 20:22.
Much comes forth when God exhales, in both His speaking and His quietness. When we draw near to the Lord (through worship, prayer, and the Word), His breath surrounds, engulfs and permeates our being—keeping darkness at a distance and creating the perfect environment for all that is good.
In my quiet time with the Lord, when I am keenly aware of His nearness and also of His “breathing,” my spirit swells with a peaceful excitement. I know that all is well and that divine purpose is being fulfilled. I’m certain that everything I have struggled with and prayed over is being held in God’s loving hands, enveloped in His truth.
The breath of the Lord is surely felt in many ways. So far in my experience, I find it to be quiet, cool and sweet. The touch of it calms, heals and transforms me, while the clean scent of it inspires me. As God exhales and I inhale, I'm filled with a vibrant, glorious hope.
Be still, and know that I am God . . . – Psalm 46:10.
It's important that believers take time to “be still” and seek more intimacy with God. By faith, we will always find His wondrous Presence within us. This Life in our innermost being is the source of all that we're destined to be. Every time we draw near to Him, our holy God imparts an increased measure of Himself to us—more love, more vision, more peace and more power.
Thank You, Lord, for choosing to live in the depths of every Christian. Your breath and Your heartbeat give us hope and endless joy. Because of You, we are truly alive and have valuable gifts to offer the world. Our most passionate love is not focused on worldly, fleshly targets, but on the glorious wonders of You.
Having Done All, Stand . . . 9/15/13
Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place] – Ephesians 6:13 AMP.
Having done all, standing firmly in our place, we then must persevere. We can’t loosen our belts or lay down our shields. In full armor, we must stay ready and alert (Ephesians 6:14-18). This sounds like hard work, and it is. But our strength comes from knowing that God is moving powerfully on our behalf, behind the enemy lines, in loving response to our fervent prayer (James 5:16).
Just as “in the beginning,” at the creation of our world, the Spirit of God still hovers over the conditions of Earth. Like a mother hen that is incubating her eggs, God tenderly broods over every one of our prayers—inspiring them, perfecting them and finally loosing their answers into His fertile purpose.
God’s creative presence is roused by our obedience and inspired by our humility. When the Father sees His Son in us, He will not hide His pleasure. Our barren places become His canvas, where desolation is changed to glory and wasteland converted to gardens. Our faith selects the colors in God's living works of art.
In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all – 1 Chronicles 29:12.
If you have not “done all” and are battling without the full armor of God, then now is the time to ask for help from the One with "power and might." The Lord will always respond if you truly know your need for Him. He will always speak to those who yearn to hear His voice. Along with correction and guidance, He will strengthen you with loving, encouraging words.
Just last week, the Lord gave me an inspiring, uplifting message in the form of a vision. (I closed my eyes while He spoke through mental images.) Then a few days later, He repeated the same message with words impressed on my mind. If God speaks to me, I know He will speak to you too, in whatever way He chooses. Revelation about the days ahead can be exciting and empowering. Vision stirs up our faith and anoints our prayer. Communication with our Commander-in-Chief enables us to stand.
Whether we are in the midst of battle or in the midst of rest, Your Presence, Lord, is our most precious possession. When we “possess You” (if that is even possible), we are filled with the hope of Your glory and covered with the strength of Your might. Thank You for all that You are for us.
Whatever Things are Pure . . . 9/7/13
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things – Philippians 4:8.
The Lord cares very much about our thoughts because of their intrinsic power. What we choose to think about will lead us (and others around us) toward an end that is either good or evil.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he – Proverbs 23:7.
Yes, we actually take on the character of our thoughts. Too much negative thinking will infuse our hearts with the particular form of evil that we dwell on. Instead of just thinking critical thoughts, we will become a critical person (or an angry or selfish or fearful person). This is how enemy strongholds are built—brick by brick, one sinful thought at a time.
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s – 1 Corinthians 6:20.
Just as our bodies belong to the Lord, so do our hearts and minds. By choosing to think on pure, virtuous, noble, praiseworthy things, we become a pleasing abode for the Spirit of Christ.
Jesus lives within us, and He hears our every thought. Some of them surely make Him cringe, but others bring Him pleasure. When our hearts align with the heart of the Lord, we'll then be in close communion with Him. Our thoughts and feelings can intermingle with His because they're now compatible. Our “abiding in Christ” will stop being religious theory and instead be a solid reality. We can dwell in this special secret place with God for as long as we choose.
The “secret place” (Psalm 91:1-2) is where purity comes to rest. (Perfection is not required—just a strong desire for the presence of God.) Here we find not only safety, but open communication with the Lord. In fact, much of our well-being depends upon hearing His voice. In the secret place, our hope and faith are nurtured by God, Himself. His personal words will help us and thrill us more than any human can.
In the realm of purity, we learn the desires of God's heart. We hear about who and what is dear to Him, and exactly what is needed. Thus, by praying in agreement with our Lord, we can joyfully bring in this harvest for Him. It all begins with choosing to think of "whatever things are pure."
Dear Lord, we are awed by the fact that we can bring you pleasure. We are glad of this proof of Your love for us. Please help us to "bring every thought into captivity" through our obedience to You (2 Corinthians 10:5). Help us to bless You often through our thoughts and prayers.
Feed on His Faithfulness . . . 8/10/13
Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass - Psalm 37: 3-5.
God has a way of making promises that only He can keep. He “hooks us” with His whispers of miraculous change. He tells us to prepare for new things ahead and also to patiently wait for His perfect timing. With very high hopes, we wait. And we wait. And we wait.
When “tested by waiting,” we sooner or later find ourselves wondering if God will do what we think we heard Him say. When this happens, it’s very important to stir up our faith. As we move through our day, “dwelling in the land,” we must stay close to the Lord and “feed on His faithfulness.” This attribute of God has amazing powers of renewal.
In my own life, the Lord has always been faithful to answer my prayers for direction. His personal words, whether fleeting impressions or loud and clear guidance, are more precious than silver and gold. They are a map to His purpose and to His heart. Whenever I feel faint or lost, I pull out my journal and find my bearings in the midst of God’s many words to me. And if I fear that I haven't heard Him correctly after many confirmations, the Lord reminds me that I'm His sheep who knows His voice. As my Shepherd, He is faithful to speak in the language I know, keeping me safe and on the right track.
God's written Word also revives a Christian’s hope. Because “the Word is God” (John 1:1), it will never fail us. The Word resounds with wonderful stories of “great and mighty things” (Jeremiah 33:3), conceived by love in the depths of God’s faithful heart. The stories, precepts and revelation all reflect what God intends to do again—for those who will believe.
Our personal experience with God is another source of encouragement. Taking time to remember our past deliverance and how it happened is always a good idea. We can recall how time after time we've been saved from Satan’s lies. We can ponder the glory of being transformed by God's prevailing truth. Thinking of how we used to be and how far the Lord has brought us will quickly revive our confidence in Him.
Yes, let us delight ourselves in the Lord—in His faithfulness and all that He is! Let us abide in His love and rest in the power of His might. Here we’ll find the purest joy, the brightest hope, and the answer to every need.
Dear Lord, please forgive us for ever doubting Your faithfulness. You are the bread of life, always ready to feed us with Your presence (John 6:35). Thank You for the revival that comes when we meditate on Your goodness. Help us to hear Your beautiful songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7) as they resonate through every test and trial.
He Shall Strengthen Your Heart . . . 7/20/13
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! – Psalm 27:13, 14.
Many of us would surely “lose heart” if we didn’t know the Lord and expect to see His goodness, right here on Earth in “the land of the living.” Our relationship with God provides us with a solid foundation for the glory that lies ahead. This foundation includes the following:
Our past experience with God.
Our current relationship with God.
Our willingness to continue being transformed to the likeness of the Son by suffering through necessary trials.
Seeing God's beauty and goodness is an Earthly reward of walking with the Him, listening for His voice, and submitting to His direction. But let’s not pretend that waiting is easy or that courage comes cheaply. God leads us down paths that we would never choose on our own, where only His presence enables us to stand, and only His words keep us moving forward.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not – Galatians 6:9, KJV.
While waiting on God, we're moved ever closer to the fulfillment of His promises—to His openly manifest glory. But as we near these appointed times, our training and testing will necessarily be more difficult. God wants to promote us, but not until we’re ready.
Our hearts will grow weary from the rigorous testing of adversity. When this happens, we need to pray for ourselves. We must reach out to God who eagerly waits to renew us. We must ask for His strength because without it, we will certainly fail. Only those who partake of the Lord in this way will pass the test and advance to the next level of destiny.
And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive - Matthew 21:22.
Dear Lord, we humbly come to You, asking to hear Your voice and to feel Your touch. Please fill us with Your holy strength, letting it course through our bodies, minds and spirits. This generous gift will prepare us to change our world.
Training . . . 6/23/13
Is something not right in your life? Whatever that may be, please do not put up with it—not for another minute! Now is the time to pull out every spiritual weapon and overthrow the powers of darkness. Yes! Go on the offensive. You can become the enemy’s worst nightmare.
Because the fields are white and ready for harvest (John 4:35), God wants us to be fiercely involved in the warfare of His kingdom. Beginning in centuries past, and certainly into the present, the Lord has permitted many “boot camp” situations so His people can learn to fight:
These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience) . . . - Judges 3:1-2 NIV.
I have to smile, knowing that much of our enemy is only allowed to exist so we can have practice with blowing it away. (We fight against evil spirits, not people – Ephesians 6:12.) This really is an encouraging truth. God is simply waiting for us to rise up in faith and claim the victory that is ours.
God’s desire for us to learn spiritual warfare is so strong that He lets us remain in miserable situations until we reach our boiling point. Even then, if we fight in the flesh, using human effort, we will not prevail. We absolutely must fight in the Spirit, according to the Spirit’s leading. When fighting under His command, the giants of the land can be eaten for breakfast:
. . . and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” – Numbers 14:7-9.
Dear Lord, thank You for urging us to never settle for less than Your best. Thank You for teaching us the powerful skills of spiritual warfare. Battlefields can be frightening, but You always prepare us well, telling us what we need to know and preserving us to fight another battle. With each victory, our courage grows, and the enemy's fear increases. You are a mighty Captain! You lead us into victory! Nothing is impossible with You (Luke 1:37).
Pray For Yourself . . . 6/2/13
Some situations we pray for have great strategic value in the Kingdom of God. And certain people we pray for have major roles to play in the end-time harvest. Though every person is important to God, some have destinies that are weighty. Of course, the enemy doesn’t have names and details, but after centuries of observation, demonic rulers must have noticed patterns. These powers of darkness also have a limited understanding of God's written word. They know what He has promised, and their hope is to stop it all.
The enemy gets very upset when we dare to pray forth God's will. Consequently, when our prayer begins to shake up the status quo, a target is painted on our back. Because the stakes are high, the imminent tempest will be fierce. Where the demons of distraction, discouragement and fatigue used to creep in almost undetected, they now knock boldly on our front doors. Where the fault-finding spirit used to merely pick at us, it now attacks with raging, slanderous fury. Where the spirit of fear would whisper to us once a day, now this demon rages with ongoing words of despair.
When we sail on these treacherous seas with our precious cargo of truth and intercession, we must not let our ships capsize. To keep afloat, we have to protect ourselves with prayer—intervening for our own safety and for strength to finish the course. We must use our authority over all the power of the enemy to make those demons turn and run.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you – Luke 10:19.
I have presented a picture that may be frightening, so let's take a look at the bright side of this Christian adventure called “prayer.” Speaking from my personal experience, I know that God is always “at His best” during the difficult times of spiritual combat. Whenever I seek Him during a season of warfare, I find the following to be true:
The Lord draws near to me and is my closest, dearest friend.
He speaks to me both day and night with words of wisdom and revelation, enabling me to pray specifically and effectively.
He guides me to scripture that is important to proclaim.
He assures me that the hornets’ nests stirred up by my prayer are according to His plan. He reminds me that “a hornet I can see is a hornet I can disarm.”
As a mighty shield, God surrounds me with His favor—in matters both large and small.
When my weary eyes can see no hope, God paints a vivid work of art. He is a Master at giving me vision for the future.
He shows me when previous prayers have been answered, so I can expect the same support and victory in my current campaign.
My awareness of God's love for me is always growing, but especially during seasons of prayer.
It is God who reminds me to pray for myself.
Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle—my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me – Psalm 144:1-2.
With salvation comes the assurance that we are valuable to God. His love provides a strong foundation for growing faith and the confidence to petition on our own behalf.
When You are for us, who can be against us? . . . We know that nothing can separate us from Your love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from Your love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord - Romans 8:31, 38-39.
Dear God, we come to you today with worship in our hearts. You have given us the amazing honor of participating in prayer—for ourselves as well as for others. You teach us that praying for ourselves is not a selfish thing, but is actually very important. You guide us from the hopeful beginning of every petition, to its sweet, victorious end. Thank You for guiding us in all matters of life, but especially in prayer.
The Heart of God . . . 5/26/13
If we’re going to make a difference in this world, we need to begin at our own front door.
Our private, personal behavior needs to be holy. This includes our thoughts.
Our homes must be spiritually clean. If “parental guidance” is needed, then why not throw it out?
Our relationships should be healthy and moving toward wholeness. Agape love should reign.
We must know God’s will and strive to follow it daily. Faithfully reading the Word (not guided by a plan but by the Spirit) will keep us in the loop and empowered to succeed.
We must know the heart of God. This privilege requires time alone with Him.
An occasional stumble is allowed, as long as we truly desire to please the Lord. But if our plan is to merely follow the rules (either God's or our own) so we can think of ourselves as being "good,” then we have missed the boat altogether.
Remember: The Pharisees kept the letter of God’s law. They followed all of His rules, and they taught others to do the same. Then they nailed God to a cross.
Merely "following the rules" set the Pharisees on a road that led to hell. Obviously, we must do better. Following the rules is fine as long as it’s done in pursuit of God Himself. We must humbly seek the heart of God that lies within His rules.
If we're sincere, we can always find God’s heart in His Word and during our times of personal prayer and worship. But a less popular way to meet the holy heart of God is through times of conflict. Spiritual battlegrounds are places of crisis, requiring a Christian to be decisive. If we cry out to God for His heart in the matter, then He will surely answer.
Finding God's heart enables us to respond with love, in whatever form it may take.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
Finding God’s heart and exploring its depths will bring us the greatest and sweetest satisfaction to be found on Earth. We may not always be popular because God is hated by many. But the beat of His heart will put timely wisdom on our lips, intercession in our hearts, healing in our hands, and beautiful life-changing love in our every action.
Thank You, Lord, for leading us to Your amazing and mighty heart. Because it beats with forgiveness, mercy and grace, now also do our own.
Spiritual Power . . . 5/5/13
Just as a tree cannot fend off the physical power of a lightning bolt, an unsaved person can't escape the spiritual power that is loosed through the voice of Christian prayer and warfare. Both physical and spiritual power are mighty forces from the Lord, and both will hit their mark.
To those Christians who fight and pray: Never stop! Never doubt the power of prayer and holy warfare. This invisible force is fueled by faith to loose God's will and His purpose here on Earth. Enemy strongholds will crumble and fall. Waters will part. Illness will dissolve and fade away. Families will be restored to wholeness. Wounded hearts will be mended. Needs will be lovingly met, according to the Father's riches in glory.
It was spiritual power that flowed from God to create this beautiful world and all the heavens
above. It is spiritual power that keeps His creation on course. This same Power abides in
God's people and flows through us when we're rightly aligned with Him.
So let's get serious! Let's pursue the presence of God. Let's seek His will and fully submit to His requirement for holiness. Let's voice our love for Him daily through ongoing worship. Let's put on His armor and lift up His sword.
As we step forward in purity and faith, we will also step forward in power.
O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people - Psalm 68:35.
Thank You, Lord, for going with us into battle. Thank You for wisdom, strategy and spiritual power. Help us understand the supremacy of this power over the enemy's sticks and stones. Please strengthen us with new revelation each day regarding this matter of power. You have given us weapons, authority and the promise of victory. You are an awesome God! You are powerful and holy! We will worship You forever!
Destiny Has a Voice . . . 4/21/13
Destiny pulls on us from the future, pushes us from the past and hems us in on the left and the right. Destiny has a voice: “I am the will of God. I am found in the heart of God. Pursue Me every day."
. . . I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me – Philippians 3:12.
From the future, Destiny* beckons, “Come to Me. I have an excellent plan for your life. I have holy purpose that calls for your participation.”
From our past, Destiny urges, “You go on ahead. Don’t look back at your mistakes. Keep moving forward into the many good works that I've prepared for you.”
From the left, Destiny warns, “I know it looks like fun over here, but it’s only an illusion that leads to sorrow. Just keep moving forward on My straight and narrow path where peace, joy and all types of prosperity will surely be found."
From the right, Destiny cautions, “Yes, there is plenty to do over here, but it's "works of the flesh" and not what I have planned for you. Turning this way will waste your precious time.
Destiny calls to us loudly from the Word—inspiring, directing and transforming every Christian. Destiny woos us and captures us, while never violating our free will:
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent - Isaiah 55:10-11.
Destiny requires that we have confidence in God's Word—to use it as a mighty sword against every enemy we encounter, and to shape the future with bold decrees when the Spirit of God inspires us. Destiny is pleased when God's voice becomes our voice, showing that our hearts are in agreement:
And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God - Ephesians 6:17.
Destiny appeals to our hearts and minds through vision. Nighttime dreams, waking visions, inspired ideas and other types of enlightenment come by the Spirit of God. This Godly vision gives us the focus we need while traveling rocky roads ahead:
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay – Habakkuk 2:3 NASB.
Destiny insists that we're born again and abiding in Christ—the only way to achieve success:
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing - John 15:5.
Dear Lord God, Thank You for being our Destiny. No person, place or thing can measure up to the wonders of who You are. Nothing even comes close. Thank You for the purpose we find when abiding in You. Your voice imparts strategy, hope and power. You adorn us with relevance and significance. Our future is rich and bright because YOU are rich and bright.
* Our destiny is in God, so I take artistic license and use this word as a name.
Claiming God's Reality . . . 4/7/13
God has placed an amazing amount of power in the hands of His people. We are blessed and honored every day with opportunities to implement change and restoration. But too often we're intimidated by what we see and hear, so we limp away in defeat.
Let’s not forget that we’re at war, and battles can be rough. But the more Christ-like we become, the more of a threat we pose to the enemy. Whenever we experience an attack that isn't the result of sin on our part, then we must count it all joy and ask the Lord for wisdom (James 1:2-5). God's response will be exactly what we need to profit from the trial. This recently happened to me, and I was blessed with some "hidden treasure" of strategic truth.
When the enemy actually comes out of hiding to rear its ugly head, this means the demon involved is nervous. We really have become a threat. Yes, it's true! When we draw near to the Lord in truth, worship and holiness, the enemy gets upset. We should expect an increase of warfare to come with this closer proximity to God because we are now "dangerous." We should also expect great victory.
During every battle, the negative circumstances, or "what we see," will be an illusion the enemy wants us to settle for. If we do "settle" due to lack of wisdom or faith, then this negative ground will become our bleak reality (Matthew 13:58). But God has something much better for us:
"What God says about the matter" represents Kingdom reality that is waiting for us to claim it. The Lord Himself waits expectantly for us to grasp His powerful Word and declare it by faith, bringing His will into being (Hebrews 11:1).
We don't have to be physically present to fight. Our sincere and careful handling of the Word through praise, prayer and all types of warfare will accomplish much (James 5:16).
The Shepherd loves (and died for) every one of His sheep. If we believe and pray, He will contend with the demons who contend with us, and He will save our children (Isaiah 49:25).
When we "flee from Babylon" (flee from sin), God will punish the enemy, making him spit out everything that has been stolen and swallowed (Jeremiah 51:44).
We must always thank God for circumstances that motivate us to pray (Ephesians 5:20). Good will always follow.
I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him . . . Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces - Exodus 15:1-2, 7.
Our hope is in You, Lord, our most high and powerful God! As You surely know, many of us are "between a rock and a hard place" regarding our families, our finances, or other important issues. For Christians, this is a blessed place to be. This is where we experience Your hand of salvation and deliverance, from circumstances and enemies. This is where our desperation leads us further into Your glorious Presence. Thank You, Lord, for the "exceedingly abundant" answers that You hold for us while awaiting our prayers—answers that meet Your needs as well as ours because our hearts are becoming one. Thank You for Your amazing love that flows throughout the Earth.
What is This in Our Hearts? . . . 3/10/13
Have you ever been suddenly aware that God had just worked a wonder on your behalf? Or do you recall when you were more excited than usual about one of His glorious attributes? When these things happened, do you remember how gratitude and adoration rose up in your heart for the Lord, to the degree that you had to speak it out loud to Him or convey it in some clear way?
These feelings, along with our expression of them, are called "worship."
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness - Psalm 29:2.
Worship flows from the Christian heart as we grow in nearness to God. The more we obey and experience the Lord—the more we truly know Him—the more we'll find ourselves wanting to express our love to Him.
God planned it this way. We need His love, and He needs our love. Yes, God does need our love. We are made in His image, so our need to be loved is a reflection of His need to be loved. The yearning heart of our Father reached out and loved us first, even sending Jesus to the cross, knowing that the seed of His love would grow and be returned.
Worshipping our creator brings us into a unique oneness with Him. Initially, we enjoy our moments of spontaneous worship. We delight in the fact that we feel love for God. Then as time goes by, His Spirit will draw us to a deeper place—to desperation for His presence—to a place of expectancy, where we covet the times of worshipful interaction.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God - Psalm 42:1,2.
Being drawn into the presence of God sounds wonderful, and it is. But one of the hard truths of Christianity is that humility must always precede true worship. When God's ordained circumstances are bringing us to our knees, it helps to know that He is pulling us ever more close to our destiny of knowing and loving Him. As we submit to the demands of humility and become more able to worship, we discover an incredible truth: Being loved by God and loving Him in return feels very, very good.
From this day forward, when we feel worship rising up in our spirits, let's take time to express it fully. Let's enjoy it, value it, and anticipate doing more of it.
"For who is this who pledged his heart to approach Me?" says the LORD. "You shall be My people, and I will be your God” - Jeremiah 30:21-22.
Dear Lord, we thank You for needing and pursuing our love. This thought is almost beyond comprehension, so please help us to understand. Today, we "pledge our hearts to approach You" with thanksgiving, praise and worship. Let our worship be pleasing to You—not only as an expression of our feelings, but as a gift to meet Your holy desire.
Proper Focus . . . 2/24/13
First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye - Luke 6:42.
Please...let's keep our eyes on our own sin, not focused on the iniquity of those around us. I know this is easier said than done, but it is critical to do so. When we're surrounded by dysfunction and angered by its effects, we must beware of alignment with critical spirits. If Christians are caught in this subtle trap, we might even take pride in our indignation over sin. But the truth is, choosing to criticize will neutralize our power.
We must maneuver the turbulent seas of transgression with discernment, compassion, forgiveness, and prayer. This active love of God is the mightiest force at our disposal. We are privileged to use it.
And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you" - Joshua 3:5.
Beginning with our thoughts, we must sanctify ourselves if we want to see the wonders of God among us. When we humbly admit to the Lord our need of cleansing, then He will meet us during our time in the Word, in our personal "quiet time" with Him, and whenever else He chooses. Meeting with God brings the same result as tossing dirty clothes into a washing machine. The Holy Spirit will set His dial on "heavy wash," so we will come away smelling fresh and looking bright.
Please don't be deceived: Our sin will hinder both our relationship with God and the effectiveness of our prayer. Because of this, the enemy works overtime to keep our focus on someone else's sin.
The Lord doesn’t expose us to the sin of another so that we'll pray for the sinner’s discipline or plead to have distance from them. Instead, we're given a close look at another person's flaws so we can intercede for them, asking for mercy, grace, enlightenment and salvation. But if we foolishly cling to our grievances, we'll be wounded soldiers, unable to fight the next battle for needed change and unable to rescue those in danger of hell.
If we truly want to know God—seeking and finding His face, delighting ourselves in Him, and receiving His promises (the sanctified desires of our heart)—then we must embrace the pursuit of His holiness. This quest for God's character must be first for ourselves, and later for others as we are able to pray and act with purity and love.
Dear Lord, we come to You asking for mercy. Please forgive us for being self-righteous and critical of others. Please cleanse us of our sin. We want to serve You in the beauty of holiness. We want You to see a reflection of Yourself when You look into our eyes. Please forgive our complaints about discomfort. Give us discernment to see Your purposes and to fully engage in them. Please draw us deeper into Your wondrous Word and into Your glorious, holy Presence.
Delight Yourself in the Lord . . . 2/2/13
Are you weary from spiritual battle? Are you wounded and fearful of taking another step forward, lest you fall? Does the thought of mustering up your faith for another confrontation with evil make you want to be in bed with blankets over your head? If so, then it's time to draw near to the Lord so He can apply His healing, restoring balm. And while you're close, you will surely enjoy His presence.
Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass - Psalm 37:4-5.
During your next quiet time with God, try to imagine that you are resting in a mountain forest, just like David would do after fierce encounters with King Saul's persuing army. Envision yourself reclining in the shelter of a cave. Now let your mind focus on the goodness of the Lord and all He has done for you up to this point. (Don't let the enemy draw your thoughts into an upcoming battle. Beware of the sinful abyss of worry.)
As you recline in your "cave," looking out upon the beauty of God's creation, let Him minister to you with every caressing breeze that rustles through the leaves. Be encouraged by the joyful song of His tiny birds. When night falls, be comforted by the scent of pine wafting in from His woodland heights. Allow the Lord to touch your face with His loving hand. Let Him wipe away every tear and every fear. Then, in the morning, accept His warm gift of sunrays that reach into your cool abode.
At times just like this, the heart of David filled with praise. His delight in the Lord overflowed into the centuries ahead. Such was the impact of his time alone with God.
While David rested and enjoyed the presence of the Lord, the desires of His heart were being met, both inside the cave and in the realm where he had been fighting. While David "delighted," God moved. Eventually, this fugitive cave dweller was crowned as King over "all Israel and Judah" (2 Samuel 5:5).
Delighting in the Lord was an important key to David's victory, and so it is with ours. As we go forth in prayer and spiritual warfare, we must always take time for renewal and joy in His presence. Only God can restore us and move us back to the front line where victory awaits.
As with King David, the impact of our delight in the Lord will overflow and surge into eternity. Riding on this triumphant wave will be the desires of our heart—the dear ones we have prayed for, along with many more who are caught up in the holy flood.
Lord, we thank You for the warmth of Your presence and the calming effect of Your touch. (Even as I write, I sense the beating of Your heart. Thank You for coming so close.) We thank You, Lord, for Your precious words that come to lift us up. Please never leave us alone with our own plans and methods. Keep us ever dependent upon Your Presence and Your amazing grace. Let us always draw near to delight in You.
Thanking God Sufficiently . . . 1/26/13
I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving - Psalm 69:30.
Because the Lord has perfect integrity and always keeps His word, most of us are expectantly waiting for one or two big breakthroughs. We know that God has spoken to us personally, and we understand that these words to us are a pledge. God's promises come with a purpose, so we continue in diligent preparation. Our eyes are fixed on the goodness and glory that lies ahead.
When we wait on the Lord, it's pleasing to Him. Plus, it's a profitable time of testing and growth for us. But we must be careful. There is danger in getting so focused on our vision of the future that we miss the blessings of today. And that could be disastrous.
While we're waiting for our promises from the Lord to manifest, we might be so intent on their arrival that we don't notice all the little things He does each day. But if we look for these "little things" and discern their impact on the present day and beyond, we then become quite thankful. We begin to recognize each small touch of grace as having tremendous value.
Of course the enemy will expend much energy to keep us blinded to the blessings of today. Satan will urge us to look to the future, and then he will warn us that it's bleak because "we didn't really hear from God." We know that Satan is a liar, but he can be very convincing at times. He aims his fiery darts to cause maximum discouragement, and this can eventually lead to harm. Therefore, having a keen appreciation of God's current blessing is vital. We are protected and fortified by it.
We must never forget that God is good—all the time. We can expect goodness from Him right now and also in the future. Oh, yes! We can expect great things! Our blessings may not arrive in the form or fashion we anticipate, but they will certainly come. They will be in addition to the gifts like rainfall that are given to the just and unjust alike (Matthew 5:45). I'm speaking of gifts that are personal and meaningful. Some will be extravagant, and others will be practical. Often, a simple word from the Lord that indicates His support can be the best gift of all. I exhort you to look for uplifting, miraculous gifts from our loving God, each and every day.
Because the Lord is so generous, I think we should strive to be more grateful. We can ask the Holy Spirit to increase our thankfulness until it matches the level of God's benevolent grace. Thanking God sufficiently may take all of eternity to achieve, so let's get started. Will you join me in this happy task?
Lord, we thank You for the numerous gifts You send to us each day. We thank You for the warming sun, the cool silver moon, and all the twinkling stars. We are enthralled by the crashing ocean waves and the gentle scent of flowers. Thank You for beauty and the mystery that surrounds us.
Thank You also, Lord, for shining Your light of loving direction into our homes and our workplace situations. We thank You for timely interaction with those who minister love. Your quiet presence during the night and when we awaken each day brings a special kind of peace. The words You whisper in our ears are better than perfect poetry—more loving and wise than anything here on Earth. Your amazing indwelling Presence takes us from glory to glory. Thank You, Lord, for all that You are and all that we will be.
Ruling Through Prayer . . . 1/7/13
Have you ever wanted to be the one in charge? Have you imagined sitting on a throne, holding a scepter, and changing the world around you, just by the words of your mouth? If so, then I have exciting news: Putting you in charge has been God's plan all along.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom - Psalm 45:6 AMP.
Born-again Christians are covered in Jesus' blood and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. This close relationship confers the privilege of great authority on all who choose to walk uprightly. It gives believers tremendous power, and we get to carry a "scepter of righteousness."
Obviously, Christians aren't allowed to be spoiled rulers who indulge their every whim. We don't wear a robe and a crown. Not even a uniform and a badge. There's nothing showy or self-indulgent about our position. Our authority is truly extensive, but the work has eternal ramifications, so it must always agree with the heart of the Lord.
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” - Revelation 5:9-10.
I believe that every Christian is both a king and a priest. As kings, we rule our assigned domain with authority and a scepter of righteousness, exactly as the Spirit leads. (Don't be surprised when this calls for much humility and meekness, even as a king.) And when Christians act as priests, we intercede with authority as the Spirit leads, also with a powerful scepter of righteousness. To the unenlightened, a Christian life may often look boring, but that is certainly not the case:
Who understands that prayer is a high-level job of great responsibility, held by a priest who happens to also be a king?
Who sees spiritual warfare as the work of ruling over demons (even the really big ones)?
Who has explored the depths and avenues of creative prayer?
How many think of the prayer warrior as a mighty enforcer of God's will—as a real-life superhero?
When we begin to see prayer for what it actually is, then we'll rise up as royal kings and priests to use this supernatural power. We'll have a scepter in one hand and a lightning bolt in the other.
Dear Lord, we come to You with gratitude and awe. We're glad that Your abiding Presence enables us to rule with wisdom, mercy, and grace. Help us to always hear the beat of Your heart and know what is on Your mind. Keep us keenly aware of our position in Your kingdom. Please increase our wisdom and give us revelation where we are lacking.