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A Superhero’s Strength (PART II)

A Superhero’s Strength

(PART II)

Continued from previous post, How to Become a Superhero (PART I)

What does working in God’s strength mean?

In 2006, God called me to write. At the time, I didn’t like writing. I didn’t think I could write. I had nightmares of writing from the months of writing my masters thesis in graduate school and a corresponding chapter for a scientific book. (sounds exciting, hey?) It was probably one of my least favorite activities. So the fact that I felt compelled to write, I knew it wasn’t my idea, but God’s – especially because I’d be writing about a relationship with Him. After a painstaking week of making the decision to leave the familiar waters of my career behind and plunge into unknown depths, I committed to it. The next day, I sat down, prayed and started writing and … the words flowed. Every morning as I sat down at the computer I prayed – God help me, I can’t do this alone. He always did. I was and still am totally dependent on Him to put words on a page for others to read.

Once committed, God gave me the desire. I enjoy writing. It’s fulfilling and challenging. It’s surprisingly rewarding. It’s been an incredible experience of acting in and depending on God’s strength.

However, though God has shown His faithfulness in this venture every day for five years, I still get a little anxious each time. I am still completely dependent on Him because it has always been about His strength and not mine. However, though it’s “uncomfortable” and I feel “out of control” it’s glorious at the same time as I see His working in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The Role of Prayer

One of the most powerful ways of embracing God’s strength is through prayer. When we are in God’s will, what we pray will be done. John 15:7 Prayer of a believer who is seeking God’s will is extremely powerful.

In prayer we are reminded God is in control. It’s His power and not ours that makes a difference. In prayer, we humble ourselves to His will. We shift our confidence from us to God. We sync up our lives with His will. We are asking God to do the best for all effected by a situation. We are aligning our minds with truth. We look to God’s strength not ours. We admit our need for help and call upon God to help. Prayer stirs things up. It changes the situation. When we are in line with God’s will, our prayers are powerful.

Dealing with Difficult People

An example I’m sure many can relate to of working in God’s strength where prayer has proven powerful is dealing with difficult family members. Ones who have treated us or those we love poorly. Who have taken advantage. Who have abused the privileges of being part of a family.

On one occasion, as I was seeking God’s counsel with a family member, He told me to establish healthy boundaries but to love that person. (The boundaries would help me to love.) On our own truly loving someone like this can be a difficult task. The resentment, pain or anger may be too much to get past. We can try to fake love and care, but it’s not only hypocritical but a waste of time because our true feeling come out.

However being God’s will that we love him/her, He will provide what we need to truly love. I’ve seen Him do it time and time again. Our part is to be willing to walk in God’s will and submit to it and pray. (It’s easy for our pride to interfere with a willing heart to be humble and love.) With a willing heart, we pray for a heart to love that difficult person. Before each interaction with him/her, we pray for God to give us the right heart and mind. We ask other believers to pray for us.

Summing Up

When we are operating in God’s strength, instead of trusting ourselves to accomplish a project, grow a business, repair a relationship, provide for our family, or protect our family, we can look to God to do those things through us. His strength gives us the ability to do what we do with resolve, persistence and passion. We can approach each day with the attitude of doing what is in front of us, leaving the outcome is in His hands. We are obedient to Him, and leave the results up to Him. Not only does this provide a tremendous peace, but what He’ll do through you will surprise you.

One warning … be prepared to only receive what you need today. God will provide what we need, when we need it. Philippians 4:19. The problem is we want strength not just for today but the rest of the year. We want to feel superhuman. However, God gives what we need today. That daily provision keeps us dependent on Him and not ourselves so that we don’t make an idol of ourselves, or anything else. It is for our own protection and freedom. Matthew 6:34.

2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:13

If God has put a passion or purpose on your heart don’t give up. Don’t trust in you or your strength, trust in His. Pray and move forward and see how He brings it to pass. You were never meant to accomplish anything alone. Purposes created by God whether our vocation or to truly love another can only be accomplished by the union of you and Him. Yes, it can be uncomfortable living beyond yourself and yet it’s glorious at the same time because you constantly see God at work in and through your life. It creates an intimacy with God that is rich because of the level of dependency and connection you have to have to live and work in His strength.

What will your life story tell? What do you want it to tell? Let it be a powerful story because you trusted in God’s strength that took you to places beyond yourself.


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Wilderness Tests – God’s Care

Wilderness Tests – God’s Care

 

The other morning after nine hours of sleep, I woke up emotionally spent. In my dream, I constantly yelled at everyone around me. They weren’t listening, and I was beyond frustrated. Despite how loud I yelled, they remained unfazed with my concerns and needs (probably because I was being very obnoxious).

When I woke up, I was exhausted from all that yelling. I rarely yell, so I’m not use to it. It’s draining! Does that happen to you – not the yelling part 🙂 – but waking up and feeling the residue of the emotions you had in your dream? I do. Every time it fascinates me how real our dreams are to our bodies.

My dreams often unveil the depths of my subconscious. In them, I face fears, un-dealt with emotions, and desires.

This dream revealed a question deep in my soul, which on a conscious level I didn’t question because I knew the answer – does God truly care for me? In the past, I’ve struggled with this issue because of experiences in my childhood, and often we transfer our childhood experiences with others to God. . .

In my younger years, I often felt that others didn’t care about me; that my concerns and needs didn’t matter. Looking back, I recognize the experiences in childhood that lead to this ill-belief. It’s a very painful thought to own, even some of the time. The reality was people did care, but at certain times my reality was they didn’t. Therefore, sometimes when situations aren’t going as expected, the enemy plays on my past and I question if God really cares for me . . . am I worth caring for?

Sometime ago when those old emotions started to arise, God said very clearly, I care. At His words, a smile danced across my face and my soul was at peace. At that moment, I knew God cared very deeply for me. It was a powerful moment I’ll never forget. Now, I know I only question His care when the raw unfiltered emotions of a child, who wasn’t processing reality correctly, are being triggered. It’s wise to understand why we feel what we do, because most of the negativity comes from past experiences where we didn’t process our emotions correctly.

But because of my past – this “caring” issue is tender in my soul. . .

The reason this dream came up is because of where I’m at right now. I’m going through a wilderness trial. The trial’s purpose is to test my trust in God in the areas that are the hardest for me, and to test how firmly I will stand on His truth when it’s challenged. In these trials, there is a combination of giants (seemingly tough situations) and lies. In the trial, because it’s challenging by nature, we can get weak and vulnerable and that is when our internal enemy strikes with lies.

The only real weapon this enemy has is lies. They aren’t very powerful unless we believe the lies as truth, then they become incredibly powerful. We are attacked in our thoughts in those areas that are vulnerable, for example, God’s care for us. Yet, if we reject the lies, hold onto the truth, then we can stand unwavering. When we truly trust God, then that is ultimate freedom. In this freedom is where He wants to be, thus the testing. God wants us to know without a doubt who He is and who He is to us and that is why we have these tests.

These tests aren’t for God to know my heart because He already knows it, but for me to know. I feel I’m going through this trial at this time because God has taught me so much and is preparing me for His plans that lay ahead. I need to know where I stand. I need to know that my trust is truly in Him and nothing else. It’s like in school where you are given exams to test what you’ve learned before you move onto the next level. These wilderness tests often include being presented with giants as well as lies that reflect issues close to our hearts. Our response to them is everything, because our beliefs reflected in our response are everything.

We can know God’s truth in our head. But do we know it in our heats – where it matters? When characteristics of God are related to a painful past, it can make deeply believing in His promises more difficult. For example, as a child if we are neglected, abused, or abandoned, then it can be difficult to trust that God will always be there, He’ll never leave, and He truly loves and cares.

I thought I knew that He cared for me. But going through this wilderness trial, I sometimes feel Jesus is asleep in the boat while I’m in the middle of the storm. Why is He sleeping, doesn’t He care? In part that is the nature of the trial – in the silence of His voice or actions do we still believe in His promises? Deep down I started to question – doesn’t He care? Why don’t I see His deliverance? If He cared wouldn’t He deliver me now? My internal enemy was trying to plant seeds exploiting issues of the past. Believing God cares is essential, because then we can truly trust Him. I needed to know He always deeply cares therefore it’s put to the test. . . was I going to give into the lies or stand firm on His truth?

I chose to stand on His promises and silence the pounding lies.

A thought, a lie, comes into our minds, and if we are equipped with the truth and connected to God, then we can kill it. If we don’t have the truth and aren’t connected, our minds will feed that lie, it will grow, we’ll act on it, and create havoc in our emotions and lives. In the wilderness, Jesus quickly dispelled the lies presented to Him. Jesus KNEW the truth. It was His truth, so He stood firm.

In preparation for this wilderness trial, God told me 1. to keep my focus on Him 2. Hold onto the truth 3. Be ready for certain lies that pertain to areas close to my heart. He forewarned me that I would be challenged in what I’ve learned. If we are listening, God will warn us – yet even with the warning it still can be a challenge because it hits our most vulnerable spots – that is why it’s a test.

If we do hold onto the truth, our trust and faith grow immensely. The truth is our shield, we are to cling to it and not give lies a foothold in our thoughts. Yet, even if we do start to fall, His mercy is more than enough to carry us through.

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The Spirit Language: “Tongues”

The Spirit Language: “Tongues”

Recently I’ve been reading several articles/posts on the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. And not long ago I was at a retreat and the discussion of tongues kept coming up. Crazy so much fuss over a little gift. But, this is a very important topic for people to understand because it can and is leading many astray. Here are some of my thoughts.

Speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift. When spoken in private, it edifies the speaker. 1 Corin 14:2 When spoken in public, it’s a sign to unbelievers because upon hearing it they would understand their own language like those in Acts 2. 1 Corin 14:22 This gift was necessary particularly in the days of Apostle Paul as the gospel was going out to all people, not just the Jews. Knowledge of different languages was required to communicate the message of truth.

This gift is something given and directed by the Holy Spirit. It isn’t at our will, but His. (very important point) 1 Corinthians 12:10-11 As the other gifts, it is to be used purposefully. AND, like the other gifts it takes GREAT DISCERNMENT to know if it truly is of the Holy Spirit or a spirit of deception. And with tongues, it takes even GREATER discernment, because if someone speaks a language unknown to those around him, who is to say he isn’t truly speaking in tongues? This is one reason I believe Paul said to have an interpreter; so there wouldn’t be any confusion. With the other gifts it’s easier to discern what is true and what isn’t from the outside. Because of this difference with tongues, it can be used very easily to manipulate and mislead and I think this happens a lot. It leads many astray to believing they are in God’s will when they aren’t. And as proof that someone is in the spirit, when in fact it may be another spirit altogether and not a good one. It’s a serious problem.

It leads people astray not only because of it’s nature, but also because it seems “mystical”. But it only appears mystical because of the improper use and mimicking of the true gift. When sharing the gospel to another nation and being able to share in their language isn’t so mystical and I think this was its main purpose and demonstrated in Acts 2. This misuse is why there is so much discussion and division about this gift and not the other gifts. When it is abused, then the Spirit in true believers reacts.

Manipulation and Deception with Signs and Wonders

I want to meantion two types of misuse of this gift we need to be able to discern. The first is when it isn’t of the Holy Spirit, but of our imagination. Many people LOVE signs and wonders and when acts like speaking in tongues (as it is improperly done today) occur people get hyped and discernment often flies out the window. That is incredibly dangerous, yet it is happening all around us. Revelation 13:14

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

People are attracted to tongues because of the mystical appeal that has been created. This is why his greatest tools of deception will be of signs and wonders in the name of Jesus – but another Jesus, a false image. 2 Corin 11:4 “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted–you may well put up with it!”

Consider the girl in who Paul casted out the unclean spirit. She was speaking things that had elements of truth as any deception does, but it was not of a honest spirit in her. Acts 16:16-18 We need to be seeking and asking for discernment, and abiding in the Word of God to be able to discern what is of God and what isn’t. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Spirit of Conformity

The second misuse of this gift is from a spirit of conformity. How often I’ve heard of instances where people have been prodded over and over by others to ask for the gift of tongues, so they can “have all God has for them”. These prodders put tongues in a separate group from all the other gifts to be one we all should have as proof of the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us. They get this from Acts 2, which in my opinion is a stretch. The Spirit gives what, when, where and to whom as He wills for a reason. There isn’t a formula to the gifts. When we make it as such we are playing God. It is no longer about being spirit-led but man-led. It is to be His will, not ours.

The power of suggestion is tremendous, (side note: look at the power of hypnosis, which is all about suggestion). If you tell someone, especially repeatedly, they need to speak in tongues, how spiritual it is, etc. they are going to feel less than spiritual if they don’t. Their emotional response will kick in because you are touching upon two of humankind’s greatest needs the need to be accepted and to feel valued. Our minds are very powerful. They cause our bodies to conform to our thoughts. Even for those who are “strong”, given enough prodding they will start to question, which leads to conformity. Because when they do speak in tongues then everyone treats them as spiritual and special.

For those in this group, it is an emotional release leading to babbling, not speaking in tongues. Though, they truly believe they are speaking in tongues, but it is in their head. We are great deceivers to ourselves. Most are babbling out of social acceptance, to feel “spiritual”, to be like those around them, etc. Never underestimate someone’s need to be accepted or to feel spiritual – even those we admire. The gift of tongues as it is often done today, can EASILY be mimicked, so that even those who are doing it are deceived. We can speak garbled language and with the powerful desire to conform, be part of a group, and seen as spiritual we easily convince ourselves and truly believe it was of the spirit.

Rules of Engagement

For these two reasons and among others, Paul tells us about how it is to be used so this confusion and misuse won’t happen! And so the body of believers can more easily discern the spirits. When someone does speak in public they need an interpreter and that interpretation needs to be in accordance with God’s truth – if not they need to keep silent. So if we have this gift; we should ask ahead of time if someone has the gift of interpretation to interpret if not we are to keep silent. If the spirit is calling us to speak, then He will provide and interpreter other than ourselves.

With this and every other gift we need DISCERNMENT. We need to be in God’s truth with a LOVE for the truth to be able to discern between the holy and the profane.

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The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer

Sophie: During the Sneezing Days

The event I describe below occurred at the beginning of last year. This experience radically altered my perspective of my prayer life. Since then, my belief continues to increase in the power of prayer. Prayer is indeed one of the most powerful things we can do.

Malcolm and Sophie are two of my cherished treasures. God uses these Ragdoll felines to teach me many lessons, but . . . I have to seek those lessons. About a month and a half after they moved in, Sophie started sneezing. When it continued to progress to mucus flying out her nose, I took her to the vet and discovered it was an upper respiratory infection. On antibiotics, she immediately started getting better. After being off them for a couple of days, it came back and continued to get worse. We went through another around of antibiotics. Again, she got better, but after a couple of days it returned. Poor thing! I hated putting all these antibiotics in her because I was sure it would have long term affects on her little immune system. Once more, back to the vet. He took some cultures so in a couple of days we would know exactly what bacteria was the culprit. The next day she was sneezing up a storm, which was common because getting the cultures irritated her little nose. But at that point I had enough! I’d been praying for God to heal her, but it dawned on me I hadn’t sought for the lesson in all this. God, what are you trying to teach me? Obviously it wasn’t a lesson for Sophie, it must be for me.

Thankfully, God quickly replied. It had to do with the power of prayer for others. Here’s what I learned. I love Sophie more than you would think a human could love a cat. God loves me and all that concerns me is His concern. He cares for Sophie but also because of my love for her. When we care deeply about someone, God not only desires to help that person for her sake but also because of His care for us. His concern is heightened because of our concern – that is the nature of love. Heart-felt prayer spoken in faith shows we believe in God’s love for us. It’s critical that we believe God loves us because it affects our prayers. This is another reason we need to understand our value, last week’s blog. We need to have a sense of value of ourselves to be able to accept and believe God’s love for us so we can pray with the conviction that our prayers matter.

God needed me to understand this truth so I would pray for those He laid on my heart with the confidence that my prayers made an impact. I needed to believe that my prayers influenced Him because of His love for me, which then could affect the lives of others. Otherwise, my lack of belief drained the power of my prayers. See, my belief in the power of prayer had started to wane. I had started to think my prayers didn’t have THAT much impact. This mindset crept in as I was seeking to understand His sovereignty. He is in control and His will prevails so how much impact do my prayers really have? Not much was my thought until this situation. I didn’t realize how strongly I was holding this false belief until this lesson. I knew prayer was important, but I didn’t understand how much of an impact it had, especially mine. Now I know that my concern and love enhances His concern because that is love. This is the power of prayer of God’s children in numbers. If you had one child concerned about a pet – how much that would affect your heart. What if you had five children concerned – how much more would that affect your heart?

But it isn’t just about numbers, but about the state of the heart. There is power manifested when we intercede for another out of love. This is why our love needs to be with sincerity. Love is an extremely powerful force in our lives. It changes others. It moves the heart of God. This is why it is important to seek the love of God to replace our corrupted version of it so that we can truly love others because if affects our prayers for them. If we are just saying the words and our hearts are distant, then the power of prayer is sapped. That’s why vain repetitions are a waste of time. Matthew 6:7 But if we pray with conviction because we truly care it has a considerable impact. This is why sometimes God “lays” someone on our heart. We have a strong pull to pray for them, because the heart matters.

When I realized this insight about the power of prayer wrapped in love and sincerity, Sophie stopped sneezing that night. The cultures came back revealing a certain bacterium, but she was better. Isn’t God good? Glad I asked. She was going through what she did to teach me. I never would have stopped and sought if she wasn’t sick. And my seeking brought me to a very important lesson about the significance of heart-felt prayer.

God loves His children beyond what we can imagine. His heart for us is mighty and what concerns us concerns Him. Prayer is to teach us many things and one is how much He loves us. Even if He doesn’t seem to be healing a child or delivering them from an unhealthy lifestyle or friendship – know that He cares more so for that child because He cares for their life and that is amplified because of your care for them and His care for you. We can’t see the big picture. We don’t know what they may need to go through to learn what they need to learn. But God is listening if you are rightly related to Him through Christ. Proverbs 15:29 We have certain expectations about how things should play out, but God holds everything in His hands. If I hadn’t gone through the tough times I did as a kid, ones I’m sure my mom wished I avoided, then perhaps I wouldn’t have drawn near to God like I have. From those experiences, I learned my need for Him and the extent of His love for me. In the end, her prayers were answered, but it wasn’t a path she expected, but that path I needed to travel. We need to be careful of our expectations and make sure they are in God. If we are God’s and praying with the right heart and motive about a matter, we need to trust that God is working things out as they should be. We have expectations about what the best path or answer to that prayer would be, but we haven’t a clue. We need to trust in His divine wisdom to work it out to everyone’s best.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

Needless to say, my prayer life totally changed. Our faith is everything. Our belief affects the power our prayer holds. John 14:12-13 I needed and am thankful for this lesson to increase my faith in the power of prayer. And I’m very glad Sophie is no longer sneezing!!

Sophie: Today

Other blog on Prayer Mountain Moving Prayer

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A Gift Often Left Unopened: the Holy Spirit

A Gift Often Left Unopened:

the Holy Spirit

Thanksgiving always begs the question, what are we thankful for? One gift our Father gives us is the Holy Spirit to teach, help, guide and counsel each one of us. John 14:15-17, 1 John 2:27

For years, I felt like God forgot me on this account. There were several reasons for this, but a couple were I really didn’t ask (Luke 11:13) and I wasn’t making an effort to listen. The Spirit is given to help us, but if we aren’t seeking and listening we’ll believe He isn’t there at all.

This gift we have been given is tremendous. If you’ve never stopped to listen to His counsel you may wonder – what is it like? Here is a quote I pulled off a fellow blogger’s site, RunHoly, from a woman and her experience of this gift;

“I know when the Lord is speaking to me because literally the air around me changes. There is a stillness that settles all my raging emotions and questions and simply bids me to be silent, listen, and consider what I hear. And then it’s almost as if it comes from the center of my being–the answer, the revelation, the instruction, and it is sealed in this definite place inside of me that I can’t describe. I only know that I must do what I’ve been prompted to do. If I resist, I can’t breathe, but when I say yes and obey, the most incredible sense of knowing and peace overtakes me, and the matter is settled once and for all.” –Michelle Mckinney Hammond

To learn to listen to the Spirit’s leading in our lives is an art especially these days with all the noise around us and in our heads. Cultivating this habit of being still and hearing the Spirit’s counsel is critical for several reasons:

The Spirit’s counsel:

• Is contrary to man’s wisdom
• Brings God’s power into our actions
• Has fruitful outcomes
• Is different from man’s wisdom

The Bible is loaded with examples of these points but here are two that I recently read. In Luke 5:5, fishermen had been casting their nets all day and catching nothing. Jesus told them to cast the nets out one more time. But what would another cast do when all the previous ones turned up empty? According to the wisdom of the world, it would be stupid to waste time and energy doing exactly what you had done before and what you proved doesn’t work, right? But at Jesus’ word, they cast their nets one more time and caught so much fish that their boat started to sink. The Spirit’s counsel is contrary to the world’s and at His counsel things happen. When He tells us to do something it’s for a reason and when we act according to His instruction, we are acting in a power beyond ourselves. We accomplish what we could never do on our own.

If the Spirit tells us to do something and we don’t or we aren’t listening, we will miss out on the blessing. What if those fishermen just ignored Him? What if they listened but said – you’re crazy there aren’t any fish I’m tired and going home? Often, when we do hear His instruction, we don’t realize it was His instruction and/or we talk ourselves out of following it because it doesn’t resonate with the wisdom we know and miss out on the blessings. God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts and that is why it’s so important to develop the art of listening to the Spirit. God wants to do so much in our lives, but many aren’t listening. And we have to listen to Him because His counsel is different from most counsel we receive. Many are praying and crying out to God, but are they listening to the instruction that will be an answer to their prayer?

Another great example is Joshua who sought and listened to God’s counsel and the accomplishments in his life showed it. The time he didn’t seek God’s counsel in Joshua 9:14 and acted on his own judgment he was defeated. But when he sought God’s counsel and obeyed it, God prospered all his efforts. It was tremendous the nations he conquered and the battles he won. But look at the crazy instructions God gave him, Jericho being a great example. Walking around a city blowing trumpets in order to conquer it? Doesn’t seem like a very effective strategy by the world’s definitions of logic. However, it brought the walls down and the Israelites took over the city. What unique counsel; not something man’s wisdom would suggest. But the oddity of God’s guidance brought glory to whom glory and praise are due – God. There was no doubt it was God’s doing. Listening to His instruction is for our good and His glory. Joshua 23:10, Judges 7:2

A main point of these two scenarios in Luke and Joshua and MANY others in the Bible where we see the uniqueness, contrary nature, power and outcomes of God’s counsel is that we should seek His counsel and not our own. We need to learn to listen to the one He gave us to counsel us, the Holy Spirit. He uses different strategies and if we aren’t listening we won’t know what they are and we’ll act in our own judgment and we will live the consequences of it.

What does it mean to be lead by the Spirit? To listen to the Spirit? To seek His counsel? It means abiding in the entire Word of God to become personally aquainted with His voice to be able to discern it in our lives. It means cultivating the habit of being still in His presence, seeking His counsel, understanding confirmation and acting on it. I’m finding this practice has MANY rewards as I’m learning to listen. When we are listening to His counsel for our lives and walking in it then we are doing His will and not our own of what we think we should do. We are walking in the spirit – literally walking according to His words.

God gave the Spirit to reside with us always to teach, counsel and guide. But if we never stop and listen, what’s the point of this incredible gift? It is like having a present that you never open and use. He has given us the Spirit for our good, to help us and lead us where we need to go, and to fill our lives with actions done in God’s power not ours.

This holiday season take time to consider this awesome gift and show true gratitude by cultivating the art of seeking and listening to His counsel. You never know what will happen – perhaps your nets will break or you’ll conquer those seemingly impossible giants. Whatever it is you’ll be acting in His power that is bound to blow your socks off.

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Mountain Top Reflections

Mountain Top Reflections

 

We live in a hilly area of California. The other day I took a walk up to a high point in our neighborhood that overlooks the valley below. It provided a respite from the busyness of life; a place to be still and quiet in God’s presence, and to hear His voice.

As I looked over the mountains, the beauty and complexity of God’s creation amazed me. I thought, what a peaceful and revitalizing time it must have been for Jesus to escape from the multitudes to a mountain to be alone with God, to be still in His Father’s presence, to pray, to reflect. Did He just sit there and feel the gentle breeze across His skin as I am now?

As I looked over the expanse, I reflected upon God’s creation and all He has given us to enjoy, and the perfection of how everything works in harmony. But then a sharp pain pierced my soul as I thought about how many people never consider God and what He has done – how for so many years I didn’t. As my eyes fell upon the houses built into the mountainside, I thought about how people look to their own strength, provision and protection, something I’ve often done. They think they provide and protect when in a moment the God they forget could make those mountains crumble – those mountains they feel so secure upon in their houses – houses full of their precious treasures like their spouse, children, and pets.

Who are we to think we protect or provide? How quickly we could be crushed? Haven’t we learned from floods, earthquakes, fires, and hurricanes that we aren’t in control? That we are dependent on God’s mercy? What arrogance to think we are the providers, protectors, sustainers of life . . . that we are in control. How arrogant to forget our God when His beauty, complexity and order are all around us are screaming about His power, might and love. Without His mercy, we would all perish.

When Jesus was on the mountain – did He think a similar thing? Did He think about all He has done for us and all He was about to do and yet now we continue to turn our back on Him, reject Him, think we know better, don’t heed His Words, don’t spend time with Him, and don’t trust Him?

How sad it must make Him even now, when He has done so much for us, and we continue to reject His true lordship and kingdom in our lives. He has created a world that reveals His wisdom, perfection and love. Yet, we don’t exalt Him but we exalt ourselves. Even though we continue to deny Him and go our own way, He continues to preserve us. Even for those who do intimately know Him, how often we slip into thinking we are in control. We get consumed with worry, when He has done so much for us. God forgive us.

This mountain top experience was very humbling. And yet, it was full of powerful moments of praise for all that God has done, does do and will do. God’s love and patience overwhelms me.

May we daily have mountain top reflections that puts our perspective in the right place and reminds of us who we are, who our God is, and how much He loves us and pours His mercy upon us and that it is His work and not ours to be exalted.

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Irrational Worry

Irrational Worry

Worry, a child of fear, is a rancid thief to life. It robs us of the abundant life God desires to give us because we are focusing on a fearful future and missing out on all that what we have right now. Most all of us get caught in worry’s snare. But when you stop to consider it, worry is completely irrational for a child of God.

Our lives change moment to moment. What happens in this moment affects the next. This week I got a cold. Needless to say many of my plans got cancelled yet on the other hand other things like rest, which is always needed, filled my week. Before I got a cold, I was a bit concerned (nice phrasing for worry) about getting all done that I needed to. That worry was a waste of time, because my cold changed everything – and of course it all worked out and I learned some good lessons along the way. These moment to moment changes happen all day long. So how can we worry about a future that we have no idea what will be because we don’t know what each moment will bring?

Because God is in control of our lives and loves us more than we can fathom and wants the very best for us, worry is a waste of time for a child of God. When I lay out my heavy concerns before God, the answer never comes as I expect. Sometimes, it seems I am moving further from it being answered or not moving at all. However, when look back on what I have laid at His feet; He started answering that prayer the day I asked. But the string of events to the answer was not only ones I never had predicated but also they brought a complete and perfect answer. His answer was what I truly wanted and much more. We forget that God loves us and truly wants our best so we get concern, anxious, and worrisome. Yet, every time, He gives me much more than I even knew to ask for. In addition, each step that He lead me through to the answer served a significant role – like teaching me things I needed to learn and bringing me closer to Him.

Each moment puts us in a different place. Everything that happens changes the future and leads us to where God wants us to be and where we truly want to be. He may be putting challenges or issues in our lives because those are the very things take us where we truly desire.

Because what happens in the next moment changes the next and so on, worrying about the future that we in no way can predict because we aren’t in control and we don’t know what each moment will bring is irrational. We have to put our expectations aside and be in the moments listening and trusting His guidance in our lives. Not trying to predict our future, which we can’t.

But not worrying isn’t easy, because fear is one of our greatest enemies. How do we not to worry? Remember it is irrational. But more importantly, trust that God is attending to each concern. Trust God to work in the moments to lead us where we want to be, because that is what He is doing. Trust His path and not what we think it should be. Trust that He truly loves us and wants our best like He says He does. Trust Him that He won’t let us screw things up.

How do you get this ability to trust? From abiding in His Word and cultivating an intimate relationship with Him. Yes, this trust takes time. But instead of giving precious moments of our lives to worry, give those moments to Him by drawing close, to know and trust Him.

Psalm 20


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Power of Thanksgiving

Power of Thanksgiving

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

My prayer journal is divided into three parts; praise, prayer and insights. And praise being first is essential.

Each morning, I start with praise – thanking God for all that He has done, for all the ways He has revealed Himself to me, for dwelling in His presence and all it entails. It is overwhelming. When I get to my requests my doubts and wavering have subsided, and I present them with conviction, power and faith that every care is His concern and He will provide in the perfect way and time.

This wasn’t always the case. I used to just start pouring out my heart, but my prayers lack the same confidence and faith. Putting praise first I believe made a significant difference in the impact of my prayers because it altered my mind from a state of lack and need to one of power and faith.

I think this resolve is why we are to make our requests know to God with thanksgiving. When we acknowledge all that He has done and who He is to us then it puts our requests in the right perspective – in the hands of a mighty God who loves us more than we can imagine and who is faithful to the end.

Giving thanks fuels our faith so that when we pray we do so with conviction because we focus our minds on the power and love of God at work in our lives. Faith pleases God because it is acting on our beliefs in God’s wisdom and truth, not this world’s. Faith, our beliefs in motion, is the foundation to everything we do. Faith is the power of our lives. It changes the world around us. When we meditate on what He has done it strengthens our beliefs in Him and the power of our beliefs affect our circumstances. If our faith is weak His power will be weak in our lives, if it is strong He will be strong. Matthew 13:58 Faith is everything. Thanksgiving ignites our faith in our prayers.

As I reflected back on this year, all that God has done my jaw drops. I can’t imagine going through this life without God as so many do. Why would anyone what to? Out from under the lies and control of religion . . . what God desires for us is what we all desire deep in our souls.

Without Him this year I would have missed out on; abiding in His presence on a daily basis, experiencing true, unconditional, and pure love to know and to give, witnessing His work in the lives around me, hearing His voice of counsel, guidance, and comfort, enjoying a stronger marriage, healing in several of my relationships, blessed with new meaningful friendships, being set free from fears, healing inside and out, provision during a trying financial year, protection on many levels, peace through a questionable economy, experiencing an underling rest each day, comfort in my soul in the midst of trials, insights into the truth about me and others, understanding about this world, and on and on.

Reflecting back gives me great anticipation as I welcome each new day, how will I see His perfect love played out today? From a gal who once struggled with depression and questioned why live, meeting the day with excitement and anticipation is amazing.

When our lives our infused with Him, He is glorified.


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When First Things are First, then All Else Follows

When First Things are First

Then All Else Follows

Like many books on Christian growth and discipleship, Dallas Willard in The Great Omission, mentions various spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, worship, scripture memorization, and proper fellowship. And if we do these, then they will aid us in being true disciples of Christ and conforming to His image.

As I thought about these disciplines, what came to mind were two things 1.) the verses that state the Word needs to be our foundation to each one of these acts and 2.) my own experience.

1 Corinthians 14:15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Proverbs 28:9 One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith (acting on His Word) it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Luke 4:4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'” (during a 40 day fast)

The Word is to be our foundation to all we do because it is the originator of our understanding, trust, faith, and beliefs. Without it spiritual disciplines aren’t worth much, but with it they powerful beyond measure.

I have found this true in my own life. Despite my diligence in doing various spiritual disciplines, I was empty, in bondage, spiritually starving, powerless and wanting more. Frustrated, overwhelmed and tired, several years ago I put everything aside and did the one thing my Lord commands in Matthew 6:33. With His Word in first place, my spiritual life started to prosper. All else followed. Everything changed. Abiding in His Word is the key to everything else because then truth and faith in Him is infused into the depths of our soul.

When we put first things first, then everything else flows with purpose, depth and power. If we don’t, the rest is forced and ineffective, weak, and shallow.

Therefore, personally abiding in the Word is the cornerstone to our spiritual lives. We can’t own His truth by listening to someone else’s rendition of it. We have to engage, abide, and swim in it and look to the Spirit to write it in our minds and hearts. Why can’t we just listen to the preacher? Our abiding fosters intimacy with our Husband, His will for us. A personal engagement with the Word requires us to trust Him to teach and guide us through the intricacies of His words. That trust leads to the relationship He desires with us. When we come to God in His Word like we would our spouse; intimate, alone, consistent, and with a heart to know Him and be united to Him, then His truth will become ours. This is God’s design. Our beliefs will move in line with His truth and will, and everything will start to flow from that foundation.

Yet how often is abiding in His Word the last thing we do or have time for? Everything else comes first. Many churches overtly or covertly support that abiding is no big deal. Stop listening to them. Listen to God’s truth. He says His Word is the cornerstone of our lives. It is the cornerstone because our beliefs affect everything else.

All we do comes down to the beliefs we hold. Belief is the work that Christ gave us to do (John 6:29). It is work to believe because the world inundates us with its lies. Faith, our beliefs in motion, comes from hearing the Word, not interpretations, stories and someone else’s opinions, but hearing the pure Word taught to us by the Spirit. (John 14:26) Without faith in Him and the right beliefs, then our prayers, worship, acts of service, fasting, fellowship and all else is without truth. We are following the god of our minds which we, society and others have created. Yes, straightening out our beliefs and faith in Him takes time, but who are we cultivating faith in?

If we want to honor God and have our lives infused with His then we have to do things His way. His will is for us to abide in Him, the vine, the truth, the light, Christ, the Word. When we do He promises that all else will follow and all we do will be done in truth, spirit and power.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth

How different Christendom would be if each one of us abided in God’s Word as He instructs us. The Word is to be the cornerstone of our lives. Without the cornerstone the temple falls apart as we are witnessing.

What is the main act you do for your faith? Church, prayer, service? Whatever it is that is your foundation. Spiritual disciplines are very important, but if they are not established on a personal engagement of the Word of God then those acts lack power because they are based on something else and honoring someone else. What was designed to be first can’t and won’t take second place. Let’s put first things first and abide in The Word.


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Mountain Moving Prayer

Mountain Moving Prayer

 

Without God’s incessant guidance mankind creates destruction because of its own wicked and selfish heart. We see man’s insufficiency in government oppression, mismanagement leading to poverty, abundant financial debt, hideous animal and child abuse, and the widespread lies leading to spiritual death. When self is in control – mankind suffers.

As believers with the power of God on our side and the ability to call upon Him, we can be an influential force in the world for God’s purposes. In the stillness of prayer, we galvanize the strength of God. If we trust our own strength we are fighting a losing battle. Good will only come if we call upon and trust in God’s power and not man’s. Ezra 9:12

Many pray then go off and fight the battle in their own strength in the name of God. We are never to fight in our own strength. The act of prayer, which we are to do unceasingly, means we are acknowledging God’s strength, surrendering to His power, and letting Him direct our steps and guide our actions – not us.

God wants us to call upon Him for this forsaken world and He wants to show the world His power and might through His people – that is you and me. God wants our faith to drive us with conviction to His feet and in response He will restore, mend, and heal according to His will.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Where we need to start in our fervent prayers is for our own people, the true Church. To be effective outwardly we have to be healthy inwardly. We have been beaten up and weakened by a religious mindset, mega churches, works mentality, deception, shortage of truth, lack of abiding in God’s Word, being taught by man instead of the Spirit, and neglecting the ubiquitous call to be one with Him. We have become too complacent with spiritual and physical decrepit lives for ourselves and our brethren, when those lives are supposed to be abundant and glorifying to God.

Understanding the impact of interceding on each other’s behalf is exemplified in Moses. God, completely frustrated with Israel, planned to destroy them, but Moses interceded and God saved them. Psalm 106:23 Moses’ prayer turn the tides for a nation headed for destruction.

But what made Moses’ prayer so successful, and what will make ours?

1. Intimacy with God – Moses’ effectiveness resulted from the intimacy he cultivated with God. Like our earthly relationships, we develop intimacy with God by spending time with Him one-on-one, listening to and abiding in His words and not man’s interpretations, growing in knowledge, and cultivating trust. Moses knew God face to face. For our prayers to have power we have to pray in spirit and truth and that means we intimately know our Lord and our spirits in Him are healthy and thriving. Praying without abiding in the Word is a self-center focus and a one-way relationship. To get our focus on Him and to develop true intimacy, we need to abide in His personal revelation to us, Jesus Christ, the Word. John 1:14

2. Understanding God’s will – Moses knew God’s will to be glorified through Israel. Exodus 32:10-14. God’s will is not the same for all people. Some people He wanted to completely destroy like the pagan nations as the Israelites moved into the promise land Deuteronomy 31:3. Some He wanted to save like Nineveh Jonah 3:10. We have to seek God’s will in every area of our lives and the lives of others because He is sovereign and all knowing and not follow our wills which are limited and deceived. Walking daily with God, Moses understood His heart. We come to understand His will by daily abiding in His truth. When we pray His will we honor Him, not us. If we don’t seek His will, we aren’t listening to Him but advocating our own agenda, however good we think it may be. In being taught by the Spirit, we find that these stories about destroying the pagan nations is about letting the truth of God destroy our internal enemies; pride, arrogance, selfishness, self-rigteousness, etc. As for others, we are called to love all and treat others as we want to be treated. Love is what heals and renews and what is needed.

3. Trust in God’s mercy. From their experiences together, Moses developed a steadfast faith in the mercy of God. He knew what God was capable of, what they deserved, but knew He was a God of mercy. He didn’t rely on his own goodness to save these people. His hope was in God’s compassion alone.

Moses made a profound difference from his conversation with God so can we when our prayers are based on a similar relationship with our Father. We have access to the power of God so we can be victorious as a nation of His people. As we continue to seek after God’s heart so we can pray in spirit and truth, His power will heal us and be manifested in us infusing His goodness into the world.

Proverbs 15:8b But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much