Monday, August 30, 2010

Growing in God Exercises

The Lord has been giving me a couple exercises to help me grow in intimacy with Him as well as growing in love.  The first exercise is to grow in discernment of His voice.  Hearing God's voice is something that must be practiced regularly.  If the concept seems foreign to you, I highly recommend How to Hear God's Voice by Mark Virkler.  His book accustoms you to one method of hearing God (He speaks to us in a plethora of ways).  The exercise I have been doing is as I wait upon the Lord, I journal everything He says to me.  I ask open ended questions about my life/circumstances and note His responses as they light upon my spirit.  Then after I've written down the conversation, I ask the Lord to confirm it through His word.  This practice has actually changed the way I study the Word, it is a much more dynamic relationship since the Lord continues a conversation with me through the Scriptures.  Sometimes I'll ask Him where I should study, but most of the time I wade through the various bookmarked chapters I am going through (I usually read several chapters and have bookmarks in the Torah, the Prophets, SoS, Psalms, a Gospel, an epistle, and Revelations).  If I heard His voice correctly, He always confirms it with His Word!  Doing this validates what we hear and gives us confidence in what we hear Him say.

The next exercise is one the Lord suggested to me this morning, but I have yet to practice.  He said, "This is my 5 step plan: go to a public place and every 5 steps talk to a stranger."  Before I proceed, a major part of my calling is to publicly minister in power and love (I believe this is the calling of every Christian, but some have more of an aptitude for it than others).  Myself and a few others will regularly go to malls, hospitals, supermarkets, flea markets, etc. to find the sick and pray for them or just give prophetic words to strangers.  The Lord's 5 step plan is a new challenge for me, since I have historically waited until I had a complete revelation & interpretation from the Lord before approaching an individual.  Alternatively, I would approach people with visible illness/injuries.  This exercise will propel me out of that comfort zone, away from relying on the gifts, and into moving more in love.  Not everyone needs healed.  Not everyone will receive a prophetic word.  Everyone needs Jesus and the love of Christ is what we have that others do not, if we don't share it... the salt is losing it's saltiness. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Divine Family p1

The Lord spoke to me recently when I asked Him about what season He has me in.  He is often working things in my character that I have to be conscious of, in order to receive the full benefit of His work.  In other words, if I'm aware that He is developing the fruit of patience in me I lean on Him to respond to circumstances with patience. If I'm unaware of that intention, I'm likely to be found rebuking the situation, pleading the blood, asking for angelic help, etc.  One of those two is walking by the Spirit, the other is immaturely applying spiritual principles to a carnal mindset.

The Lord said He was raising me as a spiritual father.  Before I proceed, let me state that I am not claiming to be one yet, but only growing in the knowledge of Him (Eph 4:13).  He has been granting me revelation on His very nature, and how our relationship with God (the Trinity) is so uniquely knit into the family unit.  The obvious arenas of such understanding are: the bridal paradigm (spouse), the Father (as I relate to my son and the "grafted branch", my nephew), the comforter (as I relate to my mother-in-law).  We are spiritually made in His image (Gen 1:27) and God Himself dwells in us (Eph 1:17-19), so we can often receive revelation from the Lord through our relationships. 

The most recent revelatory interactions the Lord has given me are with my son and nephew.  My son and I were out at the Indoor Safari and as I watched him play on the jungle gym and trains, my heart began to swell with affections for him.  He wasn't doing anything in particular to stir these emotions, I just looked at him and knew that all of my heart loved him (I've had similar encounters with my wife as well).  In that moment, the Lord said "that's how I feel about you, but even more" and the tears started.  Knowing in our heads that God loves us is something we can confide in and trust in, but how much greater the depth of that sentiment when we can legitimately feel those affections!  That moment is one where I lived Ephesians 3:19 "to know the love that surpasses knowledge".  It isn't the knowledge of a fact, it's the knowledge of experience.  Just because I've read all the books on riding a bicycle, seen the wiki on it, and watched a few youtube "how to" videos doesn't mean I can ride a bicycle.  The person that can explain it best is not necessarily the best at it.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Key to Inheriting the Promises

Heb 6:11-12 "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (NASB).

In his book The Apostolic Ministry, Rick Joyner states "... if it takes 'faith and patience' to inherit the promises, why do we have this huge 'faith movement,' but no one has even heard of a 'patience movement?'" I would even suggest that along with self-control, patience is the least sought after fruit of the Spirit. I digress for a moment to suggest that while "fruit happens" is a nice cliche and generally applicable, I think that we could all agree that "fruit happens from a life of pursuing Him" which includes the attributes of His nature that we lack. Anyway, I have been praying for patience frequently lately (in dealing with people as well as work scenarios) and the Lord spoke to me about it and said "Patience must be learned... slowly."

Dismissing our need for patience and not pursuing what we know is in His nature, is inherently sinful (we are created to be in His image, if we pursue another image it cannot be a holy one). So why pursue patience? It is the key to His promises. God is always faithful. It is not, however, a pleasant gift to grow in. The "growing pains" of our instantaneous satisfaction based lives in the 21st century have given us a bent towards believing that if something doesn't happen immediately it must not be His intentions. I actually believe that this one key is the reason people fail to see healing or have their prayers answered: they give up. Luke 18 tells the parable of the unjust judge and the widow who continues to come to him. Christ than equates faith with persistently asking. As long as we continue to believe and stand in faith, while we are in agreement with His will, He will show faithful.

Likewise in Matthew 17:20 Jesus says, "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (NASB). The significance of the mustard seed is not only that it is a small seed, but it has exponential growth over time. If the seed of faith is sown in fertile soil in your heart (Mt 13) and is watered with the living water within you (Jn 4:14) it will grow exceedingly! But guess what? You can't throw out the seed if you don't see a plant in 30 minutes. His promises of healing, provision, deliverance, etc. all regularly rely on our choosing to believe in what He says, acting on it, and not giving up. Just acknowledging the possibility isn't enough, we must be proactively pursuing this patient endurance with faith in His promises in order to see them realized.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mall Miracles

Saturday I took out our Power Evangelism team to the mall. Prior to our departure we waited on the Lord for revelation on where to go and who to minister to. Some of the words were: mall, right hand in a cast, a group of hispanic youth, someone smoking that would be delivered as we prayed for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a woman that looked like Sarah Palin, and a few others. So we went to the mall and the fun began!

Before I continue recounting the supernatural things the Lord did in just an everyday mall, I want to emphasize what made this outing different than my usual outings. Most of the time, when I am ministering publicly in the power of the Spirit, I have a tendency to practice the gift I am most comfortable with (healing). That usually entails finding visible injuries/illnesses and asking to pray for only those individuals (wheelchairs, splints, canes, etc.). Even on the occasions when I was practicing the prophetic, I would generally be asking the Lord for words of knowledge to identify people with physical conditions that may not be visible. On this excursion, I made no delineation between what way Holy Spirit chose to manifest and who He chose to minster to. The objective was simply love.

When we minister from a place of love, we will never fail (1 Cor 13:8). There were an unusual amount of refusals to receive prayer for physical healing at first, so we started asking the Lord for prophetic words for the people working in the kiosks. The first one was for a woman at a jewelry kiosk, my two cohorts approached her with the word that she was like a spiritual mother and although she was not a mother in the natural, she was talking care of her two nephews. So quick confirmation number 1. While they delivered that word I was inquiring about Rosetta Stone and asked the Lord for a word for the guy working at that kiosk. I felt like the Lord said that he was a goal oriented person and that he was a writer. When I asked him if he was a writer, his reply was "Yes. How did you know that? Do I just look like a writer?" The smart-alic in me wanted to ask what a writer looks like. Anyway, I shared that the Lord had revealed it to me and he continued to confirm the word by telling me how he and his wife prayed for God to reveal His will for them every night before they went to sleep! I felt like the Lord was encouraging him that the desire to write was from Him. So we prayed for revelation and inspiration on what to write about.

Next up was the "smoker in the mall", it was the guy working at the electric cigarette kiosk! He was a believer and had been suffering with PTSD since being in Iraq. Nightmares were common for this young man. He had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but when we prayed for him, he got a second dose! His eyes watered and he received noticeable emotional healing. The Lord obviously wanted to get a hold of this guy, and you could see that he had an aptitude for communicating with strangers and the light of Christ was all over him. The Lord started to set him free from the bondage of his past!

We did see three people with casts or splints on their right wrists. Two of them allowed us to pray. The most encouraging was a middle aged hispanic gentleman and his wife, his right wrist was wrapped in bandages and he had an arm sling. When we prayed all four of us (the three of us ministering and the man receiving prayer) felt heat. He said he felt heat and energy shooting into his hand! He was able to turn his wrist and said it felt a whole lot better. He also said he was going to check with the doctor to confirm the healing. When we prayed for him, the man started swaying under the power of the Spirit (I thought we might need a catcher) and after we stopped his eyes were filled with tears as God touched him!

There were many more interactions like this in just a couple hours (several other accurate prophetic words, witnessing about what Jesus did, and more). This is the Christian life. This is how Jesus and the disciples ministered, through public displays of His affection through the power of the Spirit. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance and His miracles are a wonderful kindness. Jesus didn't evangelize like we do: creating friendships with ulterior motives of sharing the Gospel, He loved people where they were at. His love is all it takes to lead someone to salvation. He never said to someone "believe in Me or you won't be healed" nor did He say "if you don't believe in Me you will go to hell" (regardless of whether it's true). He just healed them and loved people. By receiving His love, we receive Him. You don't have to know certain facts to get into heaven (i.e. - the Four spiritual laws), just know Christ and believe in Him. I'm not suggesting that knowing those things aren't good and as we grow in the Lord our knowledge of Him should absolutely include those things. But Jesus didn't make them requirements to enter Heaven... who are we to make it more difficult for others to enter in? It is through simply turning from our lives of sin to Him and trusting Him to do what He said that we enter in. It's all about posture of the heart and His love changes our posture.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Enter In

In my hometown portion of the "Bible belt" Christian terminology is fairly common among believers and unbelievers alike. I was witnessing to a woman the other day that had obviously been raised in a religious household without actually knowing Christ personally and when I was talking to the Lord afterward, He spoke to me about what had been bothering me.

Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." The revelation of Christ as Lord is insufficient for eternal salvation. In our Americanized Christianity we have tried to dilute the Gospel to being as palatable to a potential believer as possible; this happens by reducing the entrance into heaven down to an utterance of a few simple phrases as we site Romans 10:9 as evidence of a eternal assurance. Romans 10:9 "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;" Paul goes on to explain in verse 10, "for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Without righteousness there is no salvation. Accepting Christ is more than just saying the words, it is a posture of the heart... this is why repentance is a requisite to salvation. Repenting is turning away from sin and towards God (which is the meaning of believing "in your heart"). Regret is not repentance. Inmates on death row have felt remorse for their sinfulness, that does not mean they are forgiven. To repent is to no longer pursue the sinfulness, and pursue the One who freely forgives for it. That's the message that Christ preached Himself (Mt 4:17).

Belief in Christ is not a passive mental acknowledgment of His existence, but the kind that changes your life. James 2:19 "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. " Just because you know the terminology, can recite the Lord's prayer, and know in your head that Jesus is Lord doesn't mean that you are saved. He must be YOUR Lord for salvation. It isn't until an individual submits to His will that he/she is saved, because that is the precise moment when THE Lord becomes Their Lord.