11/29/2019 The Importance of Gratitude

Why is gratitude important? Scripture tells us that those who do not glorify God or give thanks become vain in their thinking, and their hearts are darkened, which according to Rom. 1:21, is the first step in a downward spiral of sin. So thankfulness of heart, counting our blessings, is an essential part of our walk with God.

The Greek word used for thanks in this Scripture and many others is eucharisteo. Sound familiar? It’s the same word we use for communion or partaking of the Lord’s table. Gratitude for Christ’s work on the cross is paramount. Indeed, a study of Christ’s own life will show that He was continually giving thanks, which generally led to a breaking of bread and sharing a cup. In other words, a sharing of Himself (Matt. 15:36, Mark 8:6, Luke 22;17-19, John 6:11).

 

This leads us to the question of how we define gratitude. In a society that has relegated thankfulness to a mere phrase, “Thank you,” we would do well to reexamine our lives and the example of our Lord. While vocalizing our thanks has value, true thanksgiving is reflected in our brokenness – consciously choosing to share our lives and sustenance with others. Take, for instance, Christ’s Parable of the Forgiven Servant. This servant was forgiven much and expressed gratitude in worship to His Lord, but when it came down to his relationships with others, he failed miserably, and for this, he was imprisoned until he paid every cent (Matt. 18:23-35).

As we once again enter this season of holy days, may we reflect on what is essential. Are we grateful in word only, or do our deeds follow our confession? Are we glorifying God and giving thanks His way or our own? Christ’s love for His Father was expressed continuously through giving of thanks and pouring Himself out for others, and if we are to be like Him, our love will be accompanied by a lifestyle of thanksgiving, resulting in our brokenness and being poured.

Thanksgiving is an offering of remembrance of Christ’s love. It’s a tangible expression of our desire to follow in His footsteps, thereby bringing glory to God, and preventing sin from having a foothold in our lives. Yes, we must pass through its gates to access His presence. Ps. 100:4-5 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” NKJV

11/22/2019 Transformation

Rom. 12:2 tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NKJV). Many times we have spoken of this transformation as similar to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Indeed, it is the same word in Greek. But what is the process of this transformation? For the monarch butterfly, it finds an isolated place, sheds its skin into what becomes the chrysalis, hangs upside down a while as its insides turn to goop, and its cells are rearranged to form a butterfly. Once this transformation takes place, there is a fight against the skin of the old self (its chrysalis) to emerge, and only after this takes place can it fly (and yes, I am simplifying a very complex process.)  SIGH!

Many who have prayed for transformation, discontent with the status quo of “church as usual,” are currently finding themselves in a place where they feel isolated and alone, turned inside out, and quite frankly, stuck. Your heart is weary within you, and you feel like a huge pile of nothing who doesn’t have the energy to fight. I know exactly how you feel! Here’s the good news: you’re in the perfect place for transformation! You may not know it yet, but it has already begun! No, it doesn’t feel like anything good or beautiful can come of where you are at this moment. No, it doesn’t feel natural to be stripped of the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to have His perfect work in you. The truth be told, it feels rather crummy. After all, you feel as though your world has been turned upside down (and quite frankly it has), and you’re just left hanging. However, you must choose to allow the Holy Spirit to have His way by embracing this work and determining within yourself that you will let Him complete it. After all, no caterpillar has ever flown, and no butterfly does so with one wing. You can’t remain in the flesh and fly with the Spirit, and you can’t partially transform. It’s impossible to live in both worlds.

The purpose of isolation is not only to hide away from enemies that would seek to destroy what the Lord is doing in you but also protect you from those well-meaning people who would interrupt the process in their anxiousness to see what you will become in Christ. You are alone because no one can do it for you. Moses sat in the desert for decades, Paul remained blind for days, and we – we must be willing to hang upside down, refusing our impulse to control the process by attempting to “right” our world. We must hang, and in due season, when the Holy Spirit has done His work, there will be a holy unsettling take place within us. We will once again experience the urge to fight. We will begin to be stirred within and battle against the skin of flesh that has encased us, and eventually, break free to soar to greater heights and distances than could ever have been reached in the flesh.

I want you to know that you are not alone. Within the church, many are hanging around just waiting through the process. In our flesh we may feel a bit anxious because in isolation we cannot see all that God is doing, but within, our spirits are joined together in crying out to the Father for change, understanding that something great is on the horizon. Be encouraged. He is transforming us. He is making us more like Him. Our transformation will enable us to see with greater vision and perspective than ever before, and we can begin our great migration to the place God has prepared for us. A warning, though: you can refuse this process, never transform into what God desires you to be, and be left behind as God’s church becomes what He intended. I, for one, am determined to undergo this process, knowing that what God has planned is far greater than what I, in my momentary discomfort, can see. Romans 8:18, “I don’t think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future. The creation waits eagerly for the sons of God to be revealed.” CJB

11/21/2019 Hope

Hopelessness should not permeate the hearts of My children. Instead, let hope take root within you as faith arises. Is anything too hard for Me? As hope fills your hearts, so too, will peace. Don’t let your hearts be troubled, but encouraged, knowing your life is held in Mine. Trust Me, I am still at work.  Let expectation fill you and step forward with joy into all I have prepared for you. Rom. 15:13, “May God, the source of hope, fill you completely with joy and shalom [peace] as you continue trusting, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may overflow with hope.” CJB

11/14/2019 Pick Up Your Sword

As I was praying this morning, I saw warriors crouched to the ground, hiding behind their shields as fiery darts rained down around them, consuming everything. These soldiers were arrayed for battle, but their swords were lying on the ground next to them. The Lord told me that many Christians are in this position, professing faith yet remaining on the defense instead of progressing. The Lord, the Commander of the Hosts, is moving forward. Let us take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and advance. You were not meant to hide in defense mode, but to move onward into victory. Stand, don’t hide; advance, don’t retreat. Quench the darts of the wicked one and move into a place of triumph with peace! 2 Cor. 2:14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” NKJV Eph. 6:14-18a, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” NKJV

11/12/2019 Apply the Blood

Diligently apply My blood to the doorway of your life, for it has the power to take captive all that would bring death. Do not render ineffective the work I did on the cross by failing to recognize the power that is in My blood to free you from the enemy’s agenda to steal, kill, and destroy. My blood was poured out so that you may be justified before the Father, righteous before Him, free of guilt and condemnation, and a victorious child of God. My blood enables you to walk boldly into the presence of God. Why then do so many who call upon My Name walk in defeat when My blood allows you to overcome? Nothing has been lost over time; indeed, it was shed once for all, that you may be free from sin and death and walk righteously into life everlasting. Eph. 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” NKJV Heb. 10:19-23, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” NKJV Rom. 3:21-26, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” NKJV Rev. 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” NKJV

11/7/2019 A Stripping Away

I am stripping away the veneers and façades that have marred the face of My people – restoring My church to its place and purpose. The stripping process is not pleasant, and it is for you to decide whether this is completed in you. However, it is for your benefit that you cooperate and endure.  As I reveal the beauty of your identity in Me, I will position you in your prophetic destiny. This positioning is not to escape spiritual warfare but a strategic placement of you for My Kingdom’s glory. Do not be afraid, for in surrendering your will to Mine, I will complete and perfect that which concerns you. What was a façade will be replaced by authenticity and honesty as you learn to walk in the identity of who I created you to be from the foundations of the earth. It is the identity of an overcomer who knows their God, discerning all things, understanding the times, walking by My Spirit in the place I have positioned you – a place of victory! 2 Tim. 2:19-21, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’ But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” NKJV Col. 2:6-10, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” NKJV Eph. 2:4-10, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” NKJV

11/6/2019 Walk with a Limp

It is better to walk with a limp in humility before God than to stand whole and proud before man.

Jacob discovered this, too, when he wrestled with God. In this passage of Scripture, Jacob and his family had to cross over the “ford of Jabbok.” Jabbok means “emptying; pouring forth.” I believe the Lord wants to take us all to a place where we make a choice to be emptied and poured out before him. There is no hope in going back – the past is the past. There is only the future, full of new confrontations, but also full of great blessings.

It is in the place of being emptied that Jacob, tired and alone, wrestles with God. Now, he doesn’t win against God, but instead he endures in the fight, overcoming to the end. (And isn’t that exactly who the promises of Christ in the book of Revelation are for – to those who overcome?) It is in the place of emptiness and wrestling that Jacob’s hip is touched, and he is never the same.

I know that many are in the process of being poured out, and you feel empty because you are wrestling with God. However, if you will endure the process, on the other side is the promise. Jacob became Israel in this place, and instead of moving forward in fear, he moved forward in faith with peace that God was for him. God will do the same for you and me. The question we must ask ourselves is, are we willing to persevere, enduring the fight of our lives to be emptied of self, and be the person the Lord declares an overcomer. It’s not something others can do for you – this is between you and God.

Our blessing is not in physical comforts, although God graciously provides them for us. Our blessing lies in having a new name, bestowed by the everlasting God. Even with a new name, Israel still left the place where he was emptied out before the Lord walking with a limp, and so will you. Being poured out comes with a price, but walking with a limp before the Lord is much better than standing whole before men because God tells us that in our weakness, His strength is made perfect, and we can overcome, moving forward, face towards God!

Gen. 32:22-31, “And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford at Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’ But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’ So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Jacob.’ And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked, saying, ‘Tell me Your name, I pray.’ And He said, ‘Why is it that you ask about My name?’ And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the name Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’ Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.” NKJV

11/1/2019 No Ordinary Deception

The past several days, after having dreamed a dream from the Lord, I have been praying against an occultic attack of deception over the people of this nation. The dream involved a giant spider hovering over a city and devouring its citizens while breeding throughout the city. Some of its people chose to nurture the offspring rather than exterminate the mother and her young.

I encourage you to read the entirety of Isaiah 59, but below are verses one through eight.

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;                           nor His ear heavy, that He cannot hear.                                                                         But your iniquities have separated you from your God;                                         and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.

For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity;            Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity.                       No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth.                                             They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.

They hatch vipers’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats their eggs dies,  And from that which is crushed a viper breaks out.              Their webs will not become garments, nor will they cover themselves with their works; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall not know peace.”

Scripture is clear. Iniquity (as in perversity, evil, and mischief) separates us as individuals and a nation from the Lord, resulting in dangerous deception that breeds death. There are three distinct areas in which the Lord has been leading me to pray:

  • Individually: There are those who in bitterness and anger have drawn the lies of the enemy to themselves, nursing it as a child, not realizing it is growing to the point of consuming them. Some have gone as far as to spread the lie, not only deceiving themselves but others.
  • Ecclesiastically: Many are deceived, thinking they can mix pure doctrine with eastern mysticism, “hyper-grace,” etc., believing that they need to make the Word “socially acceptable,” primarily to justify the lifestyle they desire to lead.
  • Nationally: In the political realm, many secrets exist that would change the trajectory of our nation if exposed to the light of truth.

Deception runs rampant, and if we, as Christians, do not remain vigilant and discerning, we, too, can get caught up in the web. It is not just a perversion of truth. It is an all-out effort to suppress it, perpetrated by the father of lies (John 8:44), to prevent us from walking a road of integrity and uprightness and bring chaos to our minds instead of peace. Some steps we can take as Christians to stand against this:

  • Examine ourselves, repent, and be people who walk in and embrace truth
  • Clothe ourselves in the armor of God continually and intercede on behalf of the people of this nation, that the Lord will open eyes and awaken hearts
  • Walk in unity. The church must proclaim the whole truth. We must choose to stand in our God-given authority and call out the lies of the enemy.

Though the enemy would have us believe we are weak, unable to make a difference, the truth is that God’s hand is not short! He is still mighty to save and hears the prayers of righteous people! Let’s be the house of prayer the Lord has called us to be, invading darkness with light!