God Speaks

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Not long ago I read something to the effect of God speaking only through his written word and implying that God does not talk to people on behalf of others or for the masses but that when He speaks to someone it is for that person only. This left me feeling very unsettled and because I am an internal processor it has taken me awhile to reconcile why I was feeling this way.

I believe, without any doubt, God speaks to us mainly through his word. That is why reading and studying his word is so vital to our spiritual health. But, I also believe God speaks to us in different ways; through dreams, visions, pictures and prayer. I also believe God gives us messages of encouragement and prophetic messages to be given away to others. He has done this through me many times and I always suggest to the one who is receiving a word from God through me that they take this spoken word to God and ask God what part of it is from him and what part of it can be tossed out, because many times my human-ness and my impressions can be mixed in with the message from God.

It is the hearer’s responsibility to be alone with God and pray about what was given. Oughtn’t we be doing this on a regular basis to begin with? Most of us attend church on Sunday or Bible study during the week, simply because one has been anointed by God to preach or teach does not mean we will ever get it right one hundred percent of the time, again, it is the hearer’s responsibility to go God and ask God for his discernment on what was preached or taught.

Paul gave these words of wisdom about worship in 1 Corinthians 14:26b.

When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 1 Corinthians 14:26b.

When we always imply that what God speaks to one person should be only for that person we negate the truth of God’s word. All of these things including prophecy, further in the passage Paul addresses prophecy, are meant to strengthen the Bride of Christ! Have they and are they currently misused? Yes, BUT it is each believers responsibility to go to God and ask for his wisdom, his discernment on what was spoken or taught. Let’s give each other the freedom in Christ and encouragement to seek the spiritual gifts Holy Spirit wants to lavish on us; gifts that are meant for the greater good of the entire Church.

Precious One, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21.

Shalom!

 

Bountiful Eyesight

Autumn decorationFood is a staple of life. We need food to give us energy, we ought to eat to live not live to eat. Well, in my case, sometimes I do live to eat! I’m full blooded Italian and I love food! However, I know what my body requires and I try to stick to six smaller meals a day while at the same time attempting healthier food choices. Sometimes I fail at this and that’s okay, I give myself grace to choose healthier at the next meal.

Our spiritual health needs food as well. Our soul longs for and craves the truth of God’s word to fill it to overflowing. To satisfy that deep hunger to know Jesus deeply and intimately. To be consumed by his overwhelming love, to be lost in all of Who he Is.

God’s Word isn’t simply words written on pages. It is alive and if we choose and allow it, it will wrap itself around us like an old familiar coat and take up residence inside our heart. Knowing the truth of God’s word helps increase our faith and gives us the strength to stand and fight in prayer.

That is why Paul prayed over the Ephesians these words.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19.

He wanted the Ephesians and us to understand our supernatural knowledge, which is part of every believer in Christ’s inheritance. To know and rejoice in the love of the Lover of our soul.

Likewise, it is for the same reason that Elisha prayed for his servant, who when he awoke early and saw the army of the king of Aram surrounding the nation of Israel with horses and chariots asked, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15c). Elisha replied, “Don’t be afraid.” (2Kings 6:16a).

Then Elisha prayed these words.

 “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. 2 Kings 6:17.

Elisha wanted his servant to see his inheritance in Christ; God’s mighty power and protection. I don’t know about you but I want to see God’s horses and chariots of fire, especially during a spiritual battle, instead of the physical reality of a situation. I want to be able to say, “Oh, I see what is coming and it is Greater and Mighty than what stands in front of me.” That, my Beloved, belongs to me and to you as believers in Christ.

Precious One open your eyes your chariot awaits.

Shalom!

Be Like Daniel

Long exposure black and white landscape of moving clouds over withered treeThis morning I came to the book of Daniel looking for something else and instead Holy Spirit led me here.

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your command and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Daniel 9:4-6.

The above verses are the beginning of a beautiful prayer by Daniel for his homeland. Did you catch how Daniel begins his prayer? He begins with praising God for Who he is. All too often, I believe, we many times step into a sweet and beautiful time of prayer with God and immediately begin with our requests. Prayer means to intervene or intercede, but it is so much more than our requests, whether for ourselves or on behalf of others, it is part of the deep and intimate relationship with God that we ought to reach for on a daily basis. The second part of Daniel’s prayer is confession. Daily I thank God for the gifts of confession and repentance and His faithfulness to show me the sin in my life so I can enjoy uninterrupted fellowship with him. (1 John 1:6-9).

The body of Daniels’ prayer is for his country Israel. Not only was Daniel pleading with God to restore Israel, he did so in fasting, in sackcloth and in ashes. Fasting was sometimes done to show grief, distress or repentance. The wearing of sackcloth and ashes were also signs of repentance. Daniel was serious about his prayers for Israel, which has me thinking, am I, are you, serious about the way you pray for your homeland, your family, yourself and others?

I chuckle as I write this because yesterday I began asking God what I was missing in my prayers about a current situation. What came to mind was the angel that was sent to Daniel but was delayed by the prince of Persia and one of the chief angels, Michael, was sent to help. (Daniel 10). When I sat down to write this morning I was sure it would be about praying for our homelands and the current affairs of the world, yet, here I am, learning more about prayer from an ancient prophet and reading God’s answer to my question.

Precious One, whether today finds you praying for yourself, your family, for others, for your homeland or for all of these things, may we both follow Daniel’s lead with heart’s of sincerity and seriousness for the task at hand.

May we cry out as Daniel did;

O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name. Daniel 9:19.

Shalom!

Deacon Bill and the Children

happy children group in school

Many, many years ago I had the opportunity to serve under a wonderful man by the name of Deacon Bill. Some of you may be more familiar with his counterpart and equally wonderful man, Deacon Dave. In fact, many of you make the trek over the hill we call Vasco Road to go witness the spectacular light display that is Deacon Dave’s home, each year during the Christmas Season. What you may not know is that Deacon Bill and Deacon Dave compete with one another every year for the best display. And, every year they both claim to “have won”! Deacon Bill also treats his volunteer staff to a Christmas party at his house. If you think Deacon Dave’s is something to, “Ooo and ahh” about, you ought to see the inside of Deacon Bill’s home. A winter wonderland is an understatement and yet it is done so beautifully one doesn’t know where to look first!

At the time I served under Deacon Bill he was the one who oversaw all the youth ministries at St. Michael’s Church. I was the coordinator of the children’s Sunday preschool program ministering to three, four and five year olds. Every Sunday Deacon Bill would come in to see how things were going but mainly to see the children. He loved the children and they loved him! They would run up to him and he would lay his hand on their forehead and bless them. One particular Sunday one of our youngsters was catching a cold and she asked Deacon Bill to pray for her and bless her. He immediately obliged and laid his hand on her forehead and specifically asked Jesus to heal her. It has been over 16 years since this took place and I can still see the picture in my mind as if it happened yesterday and I am still in awe of what took place. Here was a child who trusts Jesus so much she asked for prayer for healing for a cold! And, here was an adult modeling to this child what practicing Biblical truth looks like!

Lately, James 5:14 keeps coming to mind.

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

There are some interesting things to point out about this verse. First, I believe we ought to take God at his word. If we are sick we should call the elders and ask them to pray over and anoint us with oil. I say we should take God at his word because I think a lot of times we might not look at God’s word as black and white meaning if God’s word says we ought to do something then we ought to do what He says in his word and not let his commands become convoluted with theology and doctrine.

The word pray in James 5:14 in its original context means to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes or ideas with God’s wishes as He communicates his divine persuasion, which is faith. The picture I see is God laying his heart over our heart and we begin to pray in tandem with the Holy Spirit for God’s will.

The word oil in James 5:14 in its original context is the word elaion (el’-ah-yon) and symbolizes the Holy Spirit and means the empowering of the Holy Spirit within each believer in Christ. I am struck by the similarity of elaion and one of the name’s of God-El Elyon (el-yone’), which means the Supreme, Most High God.

Putting this altogether in regards to James 5:14, when the elders pray and anoint someone for healing they are praying in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit to the Supreme, Most High God for his healing. I believe praying in faith for healing is a gift God gives to the elders of our faith families and a gift that may be under utilized in the modern day Church. While any believer can anoint and pray for the sick I believe there is something, by its very nature, special when the local Body of Christ operates in its gifts for the good of one or many of its own.

Precious One is any one of you sick? Like the sweet little one and Deacon Bill, call the elders of the church to pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord.

Shalom!

The Watches Of The Night

Digital Visualization of a Moonset

Our Women’s Bible study is doing a topical study on discipleship. In addition to the study homework, reading through the book of Acts is another level of deeper involvement in the study. I have been reading through a chapter a day and am fascinated by what Holy Spirit is showing me that I haven’t paid attention to before.

I am particularly fascinated by the praying that takes place in chapters 9 and 10. In Acts 9:10 we find the Lord calling to Ananias in a vision. It is most likely that Ananias was praying because visions and prayer were often associated with each other in the books of Luke and Acts. Further along we find Ananias praying over Saul so that he may see again and be filled with Holy Spirit.

In Chapter 10; Cornelius, a Roman centurion, from the Italian Regiment ( now, that has never stood out at me!), and who was, along with his family, devout and God-fearing, was praying one day at three in the afternoon. Guess what happened? He had a vision! The next day at noon Peter was praying and…he had a vision!

All of this had me thinking about the watches of the night. The night watches were designated times that soldiers or guards would stand watch for any threat by an enemy. In the OT the watches were broken down into 3 times; sunset to 10:00pm, 10:00pm to 2:00am and 2:00am to sunrise. In the NT a fourth watch was added. The first watch ends at 9:00pm, then 9:00pm to 12:00am, 12:00am to 3:00am and 3:00am to 6:00am.

Recently I had the opportunity to teach on Matthew 28:19,20 and I discovered that the word obey in the v.20 is actually the word observe in the original Greek and it means to spiritually guard. When I think of spiritually guard it reminds me of the armor of God in Ephesians, which is a depiction of a Roman soldier dressed and fitted for battle.

We, as believers in Christ, are like the picture of the Roman soldier ready for battle. We are clothed and equipped with several items, among them the helmet of salvation, which protects our mind, the breastplate of righteousness, which protects our heart and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which is Jesus himself and protects our soul!

Think about the times you have been awakened during the night for what may have seemed no reason at all. Has it been during the watches of the night or fairly close? I am often awakened at 3:00am sometimes I go back to sleep and sometimes I will pray. A few mornings ago, at 3:00am, I woke up and asked God what he wanted me to pray about. I heard Holy Spirit whisper, “I am calling the Body of Christ around the world to stand the watches of the night.” “Pray that they will listen and accept the call.”

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8.

Can you imagine what it would look like if every believer in Christ accepted the call to their designated watch of the night?! There wouldn’t be anything for the enemy to devour!

And should you think you would be too tired to go on with your day if you stood your watch.

He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Isaiah 40:29.

Precious One, will you go to bed tonight clothed in the full armor of God and answer his call to stand your watch of the night? I will join you.

Shalom!

Vineyards, Prayer and Authority

Good morning Friends! Greetings and blessings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just a quick nugget this morning. Holy Spirit gave me a great word for a friend and I wanted to share with all of you to encourage and give you hope!

My friend’s daughter is having trouble sleeping and what came immediately to mind are these verses in Isaiah:

 In that day—

“Sing about a fruitful vineyard:
     I, the Lord, watch over it;
    I water it continually.
I guard it day and night
    so that no one may harm it. Isaiah 27:2-3

I explained to my friend that I pray this as a prayer of protection over my children. I thank God that my kids are a fruitful vineyard and that God watches over them and waters them and guards them so that no one will harm them.

I further explained to my friend that as the mother of her children she has spiritual authority over them just as her husband has spiritual authority over her and their children and our pastor has spiritual authority over us, as the sheep God has given our pastor in God’s flock to protect, all under the authority of Christ!

 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18.

Such a good word from Holy Spirit this morning and one that I needed to hear and be reminded of myself! God indeed does work all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

May you bask in his love today and be ever mindful of your authority in Him.

Shalom!