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Archive for the tag “Prayer changes things”

Tokens or Devotion?

There have been a few times when something has lain heavily upon my chest. For the last few months, I have had trouble writing. The words come in starts and spurts. And a dark cloud seemed to stay between me and the Lord. I would get a word but before I could sit down with my thoughts, it was gone. I still may not be able to articulate it properly, but something is marinating in my head and in my heart.

It seems the world is spinning out of control and upside down. We know these times are spoken of in the Bible. It’s considered one of the “end of times” signs. You might say, people have talked about the end of times for generations. But nothing has pointed to the end events as we are experiencing today. You might decide to quit reading about now. But this stirring of my heart isn’t really about the end of times. It’s about the people of the early church, what they experienced with Jesus and my desire to see it again in my lifetime.

I must confess a couple of things to you. One thing is I am a bit jealous of those who walked with Jesus. They saw miraculous things. They heard Jesus speak with such authority that it caused quite a stir with the religious folks. But the true kicker that made everything come alive for them was the resurrection of Jesus. Everything changed for the disciples with that event.

I know. We have it so much better today because we have the Spirit of Jesus living in us if we are truly saved. The ancient ones would be jealous of us if they had known the Spirit of the Living God could dwell in them like we have it today. They would want to experience these things first hand. Some had the Spirit for such a time, but it was not like what we have today.

However, the Spirit of Jesus seemed to do more in the early church than what is experienced today. Why is that? If it’s the same Spirit (and it is), shouldn’t the Spirit still be working through the Church today? I would say yes. But I fail to see Him work these days like He once did in biblical times. I read about the wonders that happened with the early church through Peter and Paul and the other disciples. People came to know Jesus by the thousands by the words of the Spirit spoken by these disciples.

One thing that has come up for me is the word devoted. The early church was devoted to meeting together, reading God’s word and taking the Lord’s communion. They were devoted to prayer and fasting. The work of the Spirit was powerful in that day because of the devotion of the early church.

My second confession is this: maybe the reason I see nothing happening with the Spirit is because I am not devoted to the things that pleases God. I think the second thing that is brewing in my heart is the need for fervent prayer. We should all be devoted to prayer – not these light weight prayers but ones that shake the heavens because of the mighty forces we stir in Jesus’ name.

In Francis Chan’s new book Letters to the Church, he wrote about his daughter’s birthday. He asked his daughter if they threw a party and just offered cake would anyone show up to celebrate her birthday. She said a couple would. Francis asked if he provided unlimited tokens, food and prizes at a local kids place; how many would show up? She said the whole school would be there.

Church in this day and age is more on the “unlimited tokens and cake” page than the “devotion to things that please God” page. How many would show up if our gatherings were like the early church, just reading the word of God and prayer? Prayer has become more of an opener or a closer to the worship experience instead of a fervency to bring heaven to earth.

If we want to experience change in our culture, in our communities and in our families; it’s going to take fervent prayer. Another confession, it’s been a real long time since I’ve prayed fervently. I haven’t experienced a Holy Spirit filled moment in church or in my quiet time in years. I have drifted away from the devoted things in this last season of my life. It’s been a tough season. Maybe it’s because of my lack of devotion to the things that please God. Maybe it’s time to change my focus again. Maybe it’s time to learn how to pray effectively with fervency once again.

If we are truly at the end of times, then we don’t have time to lose. If there are prayers that need to move heaven and earth, it has to come from us – the church body. There is no one else that can do it and we can’t do it alone. We need each other to be united in focus – to the things that please God. No more tokens for me. I want the real deal. I want the Holy Spirit to move like never before. How about you?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

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Trying Message for a Trying Time

Seven years ago when I started writing on this blog site, the world seemed less chaotic. I thought I would help encourage the Body of Christ along their journey by the things I learn along mine. It started out that way. But over the last year, things have spiraled into a downward trend in the world around me which has taken me off course. I have been more reflective on the things I see and hear than what God is doing in me or through me.

I have been fascinated by the events happening around the world which correspond to prophetic times written about in God’s Holy Word. I believe we are watching God at work setting things up for the end. I know. I have written about this often in the past year or so. It just amazes me more and more.

Two things come to mind that happened this past week. Two messages I heard from two speakers who spoke of different topics; but were connected in a way which I think need to be addressed as we consider the times we’re in.

The first speaker was Francis Chan who spoke at Liberty University Convocation this past week. He spoke about the Holy Spirit in the American Body of the Church. His message was on the Holy Spirit and the Church Body. His message was very convicting to me and here are a few points I took away from this message.

  1. We fail to realize the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life.
  2. We fail to recognize Almighty God in awe and reverence as the Body used to do.
  3. We have a lack of power in our prayers because we don’t come to God in reverence of our Holy and Awesome God.

We should be in awe that this Creator God – with one breath created everything – would have anything to do with us. We should be in awe that we could have a relationship with Him and we could come to Him in prayer.

So often, I come to God with a casualness that lacks respect. I start out with thanksgiving, but then jump into my list of needs or desires without fully devoting time to worship this awesome God. I forget that the words I say are being poured out on His altar. I envision the altar burning with fire. These few words poured out on the altar are burned up because they are frivolous and have no eternal worth. The smoke of the fire is supposed to be pleasing to Him. The incense of those prayers should fill the throne room.

The second message was from Jack Hibbs from Calvary Church at Chino Hills, California. Pastor Jack message was taken from 1 Peter 4: 1-6. Pastor Jack spoke about sin – in the Church. It too was convicting. Again, the messages were not the same, but they are related.

Our sin keeps us from the right relationship with God our Father. Yes, we have been forgiven for our sins – past, present and future. However, when we still sin, we have a broken fellowship with Him. We are supposed to confess our sins when we come to Him – first and foremost. He cannot look upon sin as it stands – it has to be confessed in order to have our fellowship restored.

When we sin, the Holy Spirit is grieved in us. He cannot work in us and through us when the relationship is broken. Sin keeps the Church from being effective. Too many pastors are succumbing to sins of the flesh. I heard from one speaker in a different interview about the Jezebel spirit taken root in this time. The Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) had a problem with the Jezebel spirit which they did not expel from their midst. They tolerated her instead of casting her out. God admonished the Church at Thyatira with these words (Rev 2:21-23)

I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

The American Church Body has to find that spirit and cast it out. It is ruining our effectiveness. We have tolerated it too long. And we will suffer the consequences of our tolerance.

With all that being said, we live in a very trying time. The Church has much to consider in response to cultures actions. It’s not a time to draw back but a time to move forward into the fray and fight the good fight. This is our time. Yes, we will be hated by the world – Jesus was too. However, we are to be seen as loving and caring for our own as well as for those outside the Family – just like Jesus.

It’s a fine line to walk, but walk it we must. There’s no going back to the way it used to be. The Church of Acts shows us the way the Church is supposed to be. The Churches in Revelation are the Church as it has come to be throughout history. The times will grow darker still, but we have the light of life in us. We are His reflection. Let’s act like we know who God is and what He’s capable of through us.

First, we have to get right before God. Confess. Worship. Praise. Thanksgiving. And remember others before ourselves. That’s the focus of our prayer life. It’s not too late to turn the Church into the force God intended it to be – for the good of the world and to bring the Good News to a dark time.

Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. 1 John 3:7-10 (NLT)

Unsettled Times

Last Saturday I had an encounter with someone at the gym that I have not seen in a few years. We have emailed a few times since I last saw her but our interactions have been minimal. She had emailed just a few days before our encounter to tell me she was leaving the area. She sold her house and would be traveling the country to share her views on the political front as well as tell others about Jesus along the way. God had given her peace to do this mission.

The encounter left me unsettled. I don’t like talking politics. I don’t like conflict and avoid it if possible. So when I ran into this lady at the gym, I wished her well on her travels and hope she succeeded in whatever way God was leading her. If God has led her in this way, He has a plan for her to accomplish and I ask for His guidance for her.

However, one comment she made during our encounter left me a bit perplexed. She said “You can’t love Jesus and support Trump.” She’s very passionate about her views. So for the next two years, she will be advocating for another change. I think we all want change. But my change might be different from what someone else would want. We all have a different perspective as to what we want to see happen for the future.

I have written and told others I believe God put Trump in office. I told her the same. She did too. She believes God put him there to “wake us up.” I believe the nation did wake up. I think this past election stirred the atmosphere in an unprecedented way. Something was unleashed. I wrote about it last week. There is just something different happening which we have not ever seen before – at least in my lifetime.

I lived through the Vietnam War era. Someone had written recently about the turbulence in the McCarthy era. Yes, those were unsettled times. I believe this time is something completely different. There is no more middle ground. Obama wanted change. Trump advocated change to make America great again. Change is occurring radically throughout this world. It’s happening faster than we ever seen. But I don’t know what this change means for America. I don’t know God’s time or plan for America.

One thing I do know is God’s plan for Israel. I believe Trump is in office because of Israel. Whatever needs to be set in motion for the final days is God’s agenda. America is not in the Bible unless it’s hidden in terms I don’t understand. Israel is though. The things going on today is falling into place for the end time prophecies. Israel and Jerusalem are the stumbling blocks for all nations. And we see this happening before our eyes. America could be the blame for this. We have advocated for Jerusalem and for Israel since Trump came to office. The world is not too happy with us or with Israel.

In the end we are told from Scripture there will be a one world system. If this is the case, then everything we know in America has to be removed. The constitution could not stand in this new world order. Our freedoms will end. Our economy and our dollar will crash in order for the New World Government to rise. Everything that makes America, America – home of the free, home of the brave – will come to an end.

We are at a tipping point. The mid-term elections will be significant for our future. It is a hinge moment. I think this is one of those moments we need to plead for God to intervene once again. As followers of Jesus, we are the ones who can bring the change. We can ask the One on High to change hearts and minds to think and act more like Jesus. We can ask for a miracle to bring unity in this great nation. We can go boldly before Him and ask. And we know He listens to His people and responds when we pray in His will.

Maybe by His grace, we’ll be given more time to continue to be a great nation who advocates for the welfare of His people in Israel and to win more souls for the Kingdom. As Peter and John prayed in the beginning of the church age, let us do our part and stir the heavens for God’s glory. Let it be said of us we didn’t shrink back in these days but came with boldness to proclaim the Good News!

So now, Lord, listen to their threats to harm us. Empower us, as your servants, to speak the word of God freely and courageously. Stretch out your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the name of your holy Son, Jesus!”

At that moment the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble. Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness. Acts 4:29-31 (TPT)

Keep it Hot!

What better message to send on a hot summer day than to fan the flames to make us even hotter. What? Okay, this morning I read the passage about the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3. That passage always checks my spirit. The church was considered to be lukewarm – neither cold nor hot. Laodicea was known for their lukewarm waters – it was disgusting and people would spit it out. Jesus said He wanted to do the same with their attitude toward God.

My spirit does a check to see if my attitude has shifted into indifference or stagnation – being lukewarm toward God. I don’t want it to go there, but oftentimes, I find myself easing back into patterns that allow this unholy attitude toward God. It doesn’t take much for my eyes to shift away from Jesus into worldly patterns. I spend less time with Him in the mornings because I want just a few more minutes of sleep. Or watch television at night taking me away from more godly pursuits.

I have heard it said the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Indifference can stop any movement of God. I have found myself in those indifference moments because a social problem doesn’t concern me. However, our attitude toward social issues can become extreme. Tony Evans made the remark in a recent message “we are more concerned about what’s going on in the White House than what’s going on in God’s house.” That was a jolt to my spirit. We’re fanning the flames in the wrong place.

As Christians, our involvement in political things should be for the right reason. As Christians, we need to make sure we elect people who have godly values so that the government will be kept in check. However, as Christians are priority is saving lives – spreading the message of hope and restoration. We are to reflect Jesus to those around us. Many times though, we go through these seasons of dryness where nothing is happening in our spiritual lives to keep us on fire for the Lord. Our faith seems to have diminished and our hope seems to have fizzled when more and more of the world’s problems creep into our spirits.

It’s hard not to let those issues turn our heads into wrong actions and wrong words when our spirits have not been thoroughly cleansed by the presence of Jesus. My heart hurts when I hear words spewing out of person’s mouth that do not glorify God and these things are said by a supposed Christian. I also have to check my spirit when I want to judge that person. I don’t know what’s going on in that person’s heart to cause words to flow that are not edifying anyone. I am not to judge but to love. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

I want to see God move again. It’s time for the spirit to be checked. A lack of faith or an attitude of indifference can keep God from moving. Maybe we’re not in a good place to hear or see God. Maybe we’re in a place where there is only lukewarm water flowing. Maybe we need to move to where the living water is flowing sweet and clear. Maybe we have lost our first love.

When the first church began, it was through the Holy Spirit’s tongues of fire resting on the people. The people had gathered together in prayer and worship before the Holy Spirit came down. They fasted as well. They were anticipating something to happen – Jesus told them to wait for it. They prepared for it; and when it happened, lives were changed dramatically.

I believe we can have that again. I believe God wants hearts turned toward Him again like it was in the beginning. He is waiting. Jesus is standing at the door waiting for the door to open to Him. There is no handle on His side of the door – the door has to be opened by us. Are we preparing and anticipating His knock? It could mean a world of difference – not only for us as God’s people, but the world is looking to us for the answers.

Our attitudes have to change. God is waiting on us to fan the flames into a holy fire. Indifference – no. Passion for Jesus – yes, please. Faith – white-hot. Jesus could do nothing when there is a lack of faith. I believe Jesus is waiting on us to remove the indifferent attitude toward Him and toward others. God is ready to move mightily among us. I’m ready for it. Are you? Fling open the door and say yes, Lord Jesus, come.

I know all that you do, and I know that you are neither frozen in apathy nor fervent with passion. How I wish you were either one or the other! But because you are neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm, I am about to spit you from my mouth. For you claim, “I’m rich and getting richer—I don’t need a thing.” Yet you are clueless that you’re miserable, poor, blind, barren, and naked! So I counsel you to purchase gold perfected by fire, so that you can be truly rich. Purchase a white garment to cover and clothe your shameful Adam-nakedness. Purchase eye salve to be placed over your eyes so that you can truly see. All those I dearly love I unmask and train. So repent and be eager to pursue what is right. Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me. Revelation 3:15-20 (TPT)

Pressing In

Several years ago, I realized I needed to make a move before I was in the age of unemployable; but I didn’t make the move. Like the times before when I have made a move, I stayed in the job until I became dissatisfied and restless. When the restlessness settled in, I jumped into something new. I didn’t know how I was going to make it on my own, but I felt that God was with me in it. And He was, just not the way I envisioned it.

It’s been seven years ago this month since I made the move to try this new thing. The new thing is no longer new or deemed feasible for my long-term progress. So here I am in this age of unemployable where I didn’t want to be. Is God doing something in this season? Yes, but it’s going to be different from what I envision – it’s just His way.

Over the last few weeks, I have been pressing more into God. I am learning how to pray more effectively or at least pressing into the desperation more and praying for God to move. At times, the lack of faith is evident with a certain downcast spirit. A feeling of defeat settles on me, which is not from God.

The feeling of defeat is none other than the enemy trying to devouring me. The enemy looks for those types of opportunities when the faith is weak and the opportunity to trust God is great. It’s the perfect set up for God, but also the perfect set up for the enemy to cast us into worry.

Speaking of worry, Dr. Tony Evans had a message on how to reverse anxiety. He said that worry is a sin. Worry means we are “torn into” – it shows we are torn between two masters and we cannot serve both. Worry actually shows our lack of faith in our great God. The passage in Matthew 6:25-34 gives us Jesus’ take on worry. The “worry” teaching comes right after the “money” teaching. Jesus told His disciples that life is more than food and clothes. He said to look at nature and see that nature doesn’t worry about the things we wring our hands over. The birds always get the worms. They always find twigs for nests. The lilies of the field receive sunshine and rain. God gives them exactly what they need to survive.

Why do we worry? God knows what we need. If He provides in nature, why don’t we think He will provide for us, who He loves more than the birds and the flowers? Jesus said to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.

Dr. Evans said that trouble in our lives is our opportunity for God to show up. This is the season to press harder into God’s loving embrace. Dr. Evans said that God doesn’t give us tomorrow’s mercy today. There are new mercies every day. God is faithful in today. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. So for today, this is the day to remember God’s faithfulness. He has been faithful in the past, so why would He change today? He doesn’t. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is never late. Nothing is a surprise either. I may have not seen this season coming, but He did.

I usually do not worry. I usually have more faith. Sometimes though, worry creeps in until I can get a hold of God’s promises. Once I get with God, He will reassure me and I find peace once again. This season will be a defining season for me – it will be a faith building exercise. It’s not the end of my story. God’s pen is still poised to write a greater testimony for me. I can’t wait to see how He will show up and show off. I can’t wait to sit down and write what He is doing. Right now, I am praising Him for the opportunity and for the provision for today. I am rejoicing that God is still on His throne and He still has His eyes on me.

Dr. Evans stated: God is in His rightful place; He is not reacting to us, but we need to react to Him. If God is moving, then we need to move with Him. We need to see the opportunities as they come. It means we keep our faith in Him but also do our part. God has me in the right place to learn a new lesson and I will write the testimony of God’s greatness. However, I wouldn’t mind if the prayer warriors reading this would help me pray about these matters.

In Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle 40 day prayer challenge he wrote that we need to share our testimonies of how God moves in our lives during our rough spots. We need to share it because others need to hear it. Mark wrote that if God did it for them, He might just do it for me. So testimonies are fuel for our faith. Let’s spark some fire in our souls; watch God work through us and give Him a shout of praise! Amen!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

Let Us Pray

Father, Almighty God, Sovereign King of Heaven and Earth, Creator God,

In You we do trust and believe. Forgive us for the sins that breaks our fellowship with you. For the plight of the poor that we have ignored; for the ones who are enslaved and have done nothing to free them; for the lives we have taken in our ignorance that You have fearfully and wonderfully made them in their mother’s womb; for the blood we have shed because of our hatred of those different from ourselves. There are so many sins against us that they are too numerous to mention; however, You know every one of them. You know our hearts, Lord. We do what’s evil in Your sight. Forgive us Lord God; help us, heal us, change us. Remove these sins from our hearts by the power of the blood of Jesus.

I read just this week of Jim Cymbala’s vision for his church – a church known for its prayer meetings. In his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, he made note of Charles Spurgeon’s declaration about the church. “The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings… If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer.”

Father, let that not be true today of Your people who gather before You. Let us remember that we are to be a praying church. Nothing will change unless we bring it before You. Let us get right before You and stand on Your promises that You hear us when we pray. Let us once again be humbled in Your presence. Remind us of Your greatness. Let us remember once again that You have all the answers if we would just seek You with all our hearts.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3 we have been rooted and established in love and need to grasp the depth, the width, the height of Your love for us. Not because of us, because we are not worthy; but because of You – there is no being greater; no love stronger or more secure. It’s who You are.

Father, help us to grasp it and internalize it individually. We can only love because of You. You first loved us. You first called to us and drew us near. This love did not originate with us first. We love only ourselves. But by Your grace and mercy, You called out to us. Some of us responded, some of us need more convincing. Father, don’t let up – keep calling us to the fullest relationship we can have with You here on earth.

Change our hearts and change our minds, Lord Jesus. You know what is eating at us and how worried we are. Let us remember You are Sovereign over all. Nothing is impossible for You. Our biggest worry is nothing in Your sight; but because it worries us, You care to intervene on our behalf. Thank you, Lord. We bring that worry to You right now. We ask that You take it from us as we release it to You. Let Your will be done on earth as it’s done in heaven. It’s in Your perfect time and help us to wait patiently for the answer. Let us wait like it’s said in Isaiah 40:31 with hope and renewed strength. Let us soar like the eagles.

It has been said of eagles that they go to the high peaks and wait for the change in the wind; once the wind changes, the eagles take a leap of faith off the edge and soar to greater heights with the wind beneath their wings. We are told in Scripture that the Holy Spirit is like the wind. Our waiting should be like that eagle waiting on the edge – waiting to take the leap of faith, for the Holy Spirit to lift us up to greater heights. Again, this is not because of us; but because we are called for a purpose far greater than we can imagine.

Lord Jesus, we gather together at Your feet; waiting on Your instructions for this time and place. We are here because You have placed us here. But once we hear, please help us do what You ask when You ask it. Let us be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives. Let us not miss the opportunities to reach our communities for the love of Jesus. Let us not miss what You are doing around us. Let us be sensitive again to the Holy Spirit’s quietness. Jesus, we need You desperately to intervene in our lives – not only for our sake, but also for those around us. Let our testimony of all that You have done be made known so that You may receive all the glory.

Come Lord Jesus, come. Shake us awake. Fill us again. Give us a hunger and thirst for Your Word and for You personally to be made known to us again. Lord Jesus, hear these prayers and bring the greatness of Your name to this earth again. Thank You for all You are going to do once again in us and through us – for Your glory.

For all this we pray, in Your precious and holy name – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:14b-15

One Thing is Needed

Do you remember that simple prayer that you were taught as a young child? Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray to God my soul to take. Seems rather odd today, doesn’t it? But back in the day, children would die in sleep. Epidemics, malnutrition, etc would not allow for a long life. You just didn’t know if you would wake up in the morning regardless of the age of the one praying.

Back in the day, women would die during childbirth. Back in the day, life was short with no guarantees of tomorrow. I think we have forgotten how risky life really is. Medicine is keeping us alive longer. We say someone who has died in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or 70’s how young they were – taken in their prime. However, not too long ago, it was the norm. Prosperity has brought a new perspective. We believe we’ll live forever. At least, that’s my perception of today’s thinking. But we just don’t know how long we have on this earth. God teaches us through His Word to number our days; to make each day count.

One thing has been made clear to me over these first weeks of this year; prayer is foundation for a successful year. We might not know what this year will bring, but prayer puts us in the right place to hear from God to make this year successful in His sight. We don’t know how many of these years we have left, but we do know that God has a work designed just for you and for me. The only way to succeed at this thing is to be on the same page as Him. He designed the page, He holds the pen. He has a story to write through us, but do we know it unless we sit with Him in prayer?

I struggle with this thing called prayer. It’s not that I don’t pray. I do – every day and often throughout the day. What I struggle with is not the mechanics of prayer but the heart of prayer – being sensitive to the Holy Spirit as I pray. The Holy Spirit is our guide. He is our intercessor between us and God. God speaks to us through that still, quiet voice which is the Holy Spirit whispering the words of God into our spirit. The trouble is the quietness of prayer – being still in His presence in order to hear Him.

This week, I listened to Jim Cymbala’s teaching on My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer. This teaching reminded me how devoted he and his church are to prayer. The Tuesday night prayer meetings are legendary. In his teaching, he noted a response from a Korean about the state of the church in Korea. The Korean was asked why the church is growing so rapidly in that place and the Korean noted that the American church relies on programs; the Koreans rely on prayer. That’s significant.

In the original gathering of the disciples in the upper room after Jesus ascended, prayer was the underpinning of the movement. It all started as the Holy Spirit fell upon that room when the disciples were praying. The only way to bring revival in this land is to lay the foundation of prayer to bring the movement into this season. Churches have fallen away from “prayer meetings” as it was called back in the day. Very few feel the need to attend such gatherings, but how much more is it needed today?

I am inclined to believe there are certain things that are done only by way of prayer. God isn’t going to move big in our lives unless we ask for Him to do so – that we devote our time to persistent prayer for God to do big things – not because we’re so great, but because He is and He will get the glory for it.

A.W. Tozer said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” When we have a small view of God, we have small prayers. When we believe in a big God who is bigger than the biggest hurdle we face, God can do greater things in us and through us.

We have heard that prayer changes things. It can shake the heavens. It can rock the earth and cause prison doors to fly open and chains to be broken. It can heal the sick and cause the blind to see. All these things will bring glory to God when we bring it before our Father in heaven. Jesus said that we have not because we ask not. We have to be before Him persistently until we hear the answer – yes, no, or not yet. Don’t give up on that prayer that you’re offering today. Continue to circle it until God sends the “rain.” If you believe in one prayer is the will of the Father, then be sure to pray it with passion that will move God to act on your behalf.

These are the things I am learning – it may take a lifetime to learn, but God knows the length of my days. God is faithful to fulfill everything He has started in me. Let’s not waste another day without going before the Father to bring His will to earth.

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9b-12

In the Valley

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the
Lord
forever.
Psalm 23

When King David walked through the valley, he said it all. He knew tragedy. He knew loss. He also knew the strength from His God. We can know the strength that comes from the Lord. It’s available to all.

I have avoided writing about the devastation over the last six weeks (is that as long it has been?). We have seen three major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, fires on the west coast, Mexico has had two large earthquakes, and now the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the music festival (did I miss anything?). What in the world is going on?

Jesus said that the labor pains would get more frequent as time grows closer to His coming back. Evil will continue to have rule of the day until He returns. We are to press through it with our eyes focused on Jesus. His love pursues us. He comforts us when tragedy strikes. But we have to turn to Him. He can pursue us all day long, but until we turn to Him we will never find Him as long as we keep going as we have been going.

The slogan “Make America Great Again” is not possible. It never has been great – I’m not dissin’ America. I love it. This is my home. My family has been here since the 1700/1800’s. I’ve checked. Our greatness came from God for His purpose. However, we have chosen to remove God from about everything that is public. Prayer is a thing of the past when it comes to certain venues. The Ten Commandments are gone from the courtrooms. If people would have it, Scripture would be erased from the governmental buildings throughout this land. The engravings would be removed.

If America wants to remove God, He will let us. And I am not saying all these tragedies are God’s judgment; but we have removed Him from our public lives, so He will remove His hand of protection from us. He will allow tragedies to happen so that we will once again come back to Him. We saw it with 9/11 and the turning back to God that happened for the next couple of weeks (maybe month), but it didn’t last. Things will continue to happen.

Isaiah (55:6) said it best:  Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. One day, He will no longer be found. One day, all hell is literally going to be released, and He will not stop it. Matter of fact, Scripture says in that time, people will curse God. It’s going to happen like we have never experienced it before.

We might not like to hear this, because we believe God is good and loving; and He would never allow it to happen. But we fail to realize that God is a righteous judge, and He will not let sin continue as it does. Read the Scripture. There was always a point when God would send judgment on Israel for her sins. Over and over again. They would sin, time would pass and then judgment would come. Again, I am not saying God is judging us – He could be – but I am not saying this is judgment. But it is His pattern of warnings then judgment to get people to turn to Him. He always warns before the judgment – and He will tell us when its judgment – there will be “writing on the wall” to let us know this is it. It will be obvious.

I know, this isn’t a “feel good” blog posting. I believe we need to examine our hearts. I think the church should examine the Body. We need some movement to get this Body going again. We are in desperate times and the people of the times need a strong Body. The Holy Spirit needs to breathe life into us again. There are things that need to be cleaned up and cleaned out so that the Body will thrive again. The Body of Christ needs fire in the belly. The Holy Spirit has been absent too long. The breath of God has to be in the Body to bring fire back into the church.

Dr. Tony Evans spoke a couple of weeks ago on giving the Holy Spirit free reign to worship. We need the Holy Spirit to be unleashed. We need the “awe” back in our worship, to focus solely on God. When the people in the Book of Acts came together, Jesus was their focus. When the disciples of Jesus focused on Him, it drew the crowds. There was something different about these people. They were committed to following Jesus in such a way that it could not be mistaken. We need that again. This is my prayer for us in this time.

We need the Holy Spirit back in our lives in such a way that it would draw others to Jesus. We have to point others to Jesus. He is our only hope. Pray with me for His Spirit to make a difference in the church; pray for the people who have been affected by these tragedies. Pray for their hope and salvation to be found in Him, and they will be comforted by His loving embrace. Pray that God would return to our public lives before it’s too late and hearts will be turned to Him again like never before. Let His Spirit be poured out!

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

United in Prayer

The other day, I heard a Christian lady say that she was just waiting for the President of our nation to be impeached. It wasn’t the first time that I have heard a Christian talk about the President in a negative way. I hear it quite often. I heard another lady on Christian Talk Radio ask the host why Christians were for Trump. I am saddened by these comments, not because I am a fan of Trump’s. I am saddened because these Christians are not seeing the bigger picture.

I truly believe Trump is in office by the hand of God. How else can we explain it? His rise to the highest office was nothing but a miracle! I believe God put Trump in office for a purpose that will only be explained after the fact. God is in control of all things including who runs this nation. The best thing the President has done at this point is put godly men and women in his cabinet. They will get wise counsel from above and hopefully the President will listen to them. He may never get a wall built or change the health care system; but he was put a conservative on the Supreme Court with the possibility of another one or two during his term. And I also believe that he is in office for a reason that has to do with Israel. In God’s perspective, everything centers on Israel. If this is the reason for the miracle, then all eyes need to be on Israel.

There was a prophecy that came true concerning the Prime Minister of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu was told that he would be removed from office if he did a certain thing (I don’t remember the exact prophecy). He did that thing he was told not to do and sure enough, he lost his position. The same man who gave that prophecy had another one for Netanyahu a few years later. The prophecy was that Netanyahu would be returned to that position, and it was done just as it was foretold. There was a reason that was given with the prophecy, and it had to do with the third temple. Since these prophecies have come true, Netanyahu knows the temple will be on his watch. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds. God has to do some major work in that area before that foundation can ever be laid.

With all the imperfections of Trump, the one good thing that we can point to as Christians is his friendship with Israel. Since the beginning of Israel’s modern history (since 1948) this is the first president that is totally pro-Israel. There have been other presidents that have taken a stand for Israel, but I don’t think they have stood up quite like Trump has at this point in time. There is definitely something going on here. God has stacked the deck in the first office and the legislative branch for a reason. Let’s keep the faith and believe God is still in control of this mess.

On this national day of prayer, let’s be united in prayer for our nation, for our leaders, for God to do His work through them for His glory. There is a lot at stake for us as a nation and for us as Christians in this nation. We have work to do to bring this divided nation back to unity. The government isn’t going to do it for us. The church has to build the bridge. We have to stand up and fight for our communities. We need to be on our knees before God asking for His healing power to heal this nation. This is our battle that can only be won on our knees together.

On this national day of prayer, let’s lift up Israel. Let’s be united for God’s eternal city – the peace of Jerusalem. Israel has been prospering and thriving in their homeland, but there are many threatening to destroy them. Israel needs our prayers. Benjamin Netanyahu needs our prayers. Let’s stand united under the banner of Christendom; for we are a mighty nation under God, indivisible – not referencing the US, but as God’s people together – the church. We are a force that cannot be defeated because our leader – Jesus Christ – has already won the battle. We are already empowered to do the work that needs to be done in this day and time.

Let’s pray together for the hope of the world to be revealed in these last days. For Jesus Christ to be made known and bring peace to every heart. For the Holy Spirit to be poured out on the land of Israel, and all of the Middle East, to bring about a great awakening in our land as well. Let God hear our cries of desperation and bring salvation to many in this time of uncertainty. And let’s pray for one another to be courageous and bold like the first Christians in the book of Acts. Let’s raise up this offering that it may please God to hear and answer our cries of desperation. Let God’s glory fill the earth! Amen.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 1 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NLT)

Sovereign King

Over the last week, I have had dreams about people I used to work with. Several nights ago, the dream was about people I worked with twenty plus years ago. Last night was about people I worked with on the previous job. I don’t know why I am having these types of dreams. They have been very real and very unsettling. When I woke up on the morning of the first dream, I began to pray for those people who I hadn’t had contact with in many years. Maybe something is wrong with someone and needs prayers offered on their behalf. Maybe that’s why God puts people on our hearts at certain times.

I wouldn’t say I am a prayer warrior. Sometimes my prayer life is like a trickle of water that runs constant but has limited use. I pray often but I feel like the words never leave the room. There are other times when I know God hears my prayers. The first time that ever happened, it shocked me. I was pouring out my heart to Him when I was in a desperate place. I was driving to my parent’s house several hours away, so I had lots of alone time. I don’t remember the exact prayer, but I remember the answer.

I was in a desperate place because I was in the “far country” away from God. I lived my life as I wanted. I didn’t look to God for much. I said my nightly prayers but had little to do with Him and His purpose. The prayers offered at night were the standard prayer – asking for God’s protection over my family, thanking Him for the day and looking after me, etc. No substance to the prayers and no real action plan about what was going on in my life.

So in my desperate prayer to Him that day on the drive home, I wasn’t really expecting much of a response. However, it was pretty immediate through a song on the radio. As soon as I finished the prayer a song came on the secular radio station from a Christian artist who sang about “doing right.” And that began the journey back to a relationship with God. Soon after, I lost my job; and I moved back home in order to start over. I hit the reset button. It was a big adjustment to move back home into my parents house. But I truly needed that time with them. And God used that time to get me back on track.

I need a reset button now. Sometimes I feel like I have gotten off track. I left my job several years ago expecting this new path to unfold before me, and it hasn’t happened as expected. However, I believe I needed this time for God to work in me some things that were desperately needed in me. I had some things that needed to be surrendered, and it took years to get me to this point. My prayer continues for God to use me regardless of where I am. And He does. But sometimes I would love to have the answer come as dramatic as it did when I heard the song on the radio. I would love the immediate response with specific instructions. Wouldn’t we all?

Andy Stanley said a couple of weeks ago in one of his messages concerning King David, “We place our hope in what we depend on and who we depend on.” There was no question of where David’s hope was found. I am sure he had his moments as we all do, but David was completely surrendered to God’s will, God’s way and God’s timing. David had clarity of who was the real King, and it wasn’t him or Saul. David encouraged himself in the greatness of God. He reminded himself of the Sovereign God and His faithfulness.

We are told in Scripture that God is faithful to complete the work that He has started. I think our prayers get anemic when we fail to understand God’s will, God’s way and His timing. Our part is to remain faithful. Our part is to continue praying for those around us. Our part is to continue to be useful no matter where we are. And in time, God will reveal the next thing. God will finish His work in us and through us. When we feel off track, then maybe it’s time to hit reset and remember who God is and His faithfulness.

I don’t know why I am dreaming these days of previous jobs and the people I worked with. Maybe God is preparing me for the next project that will unfold in the near future. His will be done, like it’s done in heaven. His way is perfect and I will wait on His timing. I hope you will too.

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.
Psalm 25:4-7 (NLT)

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