Jesus said it in Matthew Chapter 7. “You can't grow grapes from thorn bushes.” This applies to every area of our lives from running a marathon to raising your children. And it especially applies to writing which is the fruit of your soul. I remember reading something Baxter Black wrote on how he began writing poetry. He told about writing a poem with a religious theme for an English class in college. He got the paperback with the words writ large and in red across the top of the page, “WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW!” Who does not agree with this principle? You must write what you think. You write about what you care about. And yes, you write who you are. Your own character is the foundation of all your writing.
I recently read a quote by Danielle Steel, a secular writer, in a secular book on writing.
“Where do the ideas come from? I don't really know. I've always had a deeply religious feeling about my writing. I feel very unimportant in the scheme of it all. I pray a lot before I start a book and as I work through it. And the less important I feel the better the book goes.”
Let me deal briefly here with four aspects of prayer that are essential to writing.
We spend time in prayer to develop intimacy with God. The more time you spend in direct fellowship with God the more He shapes your character.
Character development is painful. We need to allow God to make changes in our lives. And we have to come to Him with a tender heart repenting of attitudes and actions that do not please Him.
To get the most nourishment we need to pray the word of God. We take prayer to the level of meditation by memorizing a scripture and then thinking about it over time, maybe several days.
Many years ago I pastored church in a rural community in Texas. I am convinced that during the five years I served there a man who died shortly before I came continued to have the most Godly influence of anyone in that community. His wife told me every morning as he began his day he would fix a Bible verse in his mind. Then he would repeat that verse over and over all day long. And God developed his character and multiplyied the fruit of his life.
Praise is sometimes a neglected element of our prayer life. And yet nothing that I know of develops faith, courage, hope, joy, or peace as thoroughly as praising God for who He is and what He does.
Do you spend time talking to God about His mission for your life? Sense of mission it is essential to the attractiveness and benefit of your writing. This is of course true in writing Christian non-fiction. But it is also an underlying foundation for all writing, fiction or nonfiction.
I have tremendous respect for David Platt. I pray nearly every day for God to continue to use him mightily. I recommend listening to his sermons. You can find many of them on YouTube. David has shocked people by preaching against telling people to pray a sinner's prayer. He rightly notes that we have been guilty of communicating to people that they can be right with God by praying those words as a sort of ritual without becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I agree with David. But I also believe a person cannot become a disciple without a direct connection with the Lord. That is prayer. We respond to God's embrace in prayer. If we look at the words we use as a conversion prayer, we see this intent.
We encourage people to pray a prayer of the conviction of sin.
“Lord I know I am a sinner.”
We also include repentance.
“I want to turn from my sins to you.”
If we are going to lead people to invite Christ into their life, we should warn them that they are doing business with Almighty God. They need to be fearful of praying such words without meaning them.
And inherent is the gospel is the fact that we cannot even repent without God's help. People do not come to God by their sincerity. We must come receiving His forgiveness.
“I know You died for me. I accept your forgiveness, and Your gift of eternal life. I trust myself to You.”
One of the problems with using the “sinner's prayer” for evangelism is that it is so easy. It is tempting for us because we don't have to enter into a life-long relationship with the person praying. Just get them to pray these words.
It is also too easy for the person coming to Christ. Someone can pray those words without even thinking. I also believe a person can come to Christ and truly be born again without saying the right words. We might suggest that a person think about the decision she is making over night before she prays such a prayer. Of course, we will need to be sensitive to the person and to the Holy Spirit in the situation. But You can trust Him to bring to completion the work He has begun in a person who has heard the gospel.
In Matthew 4:17 we are told that after His temptation in the wilderness and the arrest of John the Baptist Jesus began His preaching ministry with the call for repentance. "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Interestingly enough, the word the Lord uses here in Greek, the language of the New Testament, demands that the action of repentance be continual. When we come to Christ we enter into life-long repentance. Of course, this means a permanent change of thinking. But in our daily lives it also means we must continue to turn our hearts away from sins that inevitably creep in. Let me suggest three necessary aspects of continuing repentance.
1. A Sensitive Heart
How do you respond when someone accuses you of wrong? Do you put all your energy into defending yourself? Do you automatically attack? Or do you pray? You can ask God, "Father, is this an opportunity to repent?" Since our ultimate accuser is Satan, you may well discover that the accusation is not completely true. But even in this situation you may have an opportunity to bring your heart and your thinking more in line with your Heavenly Father's. If your heart is sensitive, what the enemy intends for evil will only make you more Christlike.
2. A Thoughtful Heart
The freedom to examine your heart comes to from saturating your mind in the truth of the gospel. Have you memorized verses that give you God's assurance? Do you think daily about their wonderful truth? You don't have to defend yourself. Jesus is actively defending you before the throne of God. (1 John 2:1) You are not condemned. (Romans 8:1) God sees you washed in His blood. (Revelation 1:5) There are hundreds more!
3. A Comforted Heart.
To react in repentance rather than defensiveness you need to be immersed in the love of God that His Spirit desires to lavish upon you. Do you regularly Give thanks for the love of Christ? Do you tremble in wonder at God's amazing grace? Only in such assurance will you be free to continually examine your heart and allow God's Spirit to bring it nearer to His own.
Where are you going? You are going somewhere. In recent Thinking in The Spirit blog entries I wrote on repentance. And I keyed off of Psalm 139:23-24. It reads,
"Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
In the previous entries I focused on the dependence and devotion of your heart. But notice the wording of this passage. David does not ask God to search his heart for wicked thoughts, although that has to be included. He does not ask the Lord to search his life for any wicked deed. He says, "See if there is any grievous way in me." This is the primary emphasis of repentance. A line in my poem Continuing In My Word reads,
"Then you will come to know and understand all that you longed for but you couldn't be."
We who belong to Christ are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Repentance needs to be seen as our participation in that process. Suppose my temper gets out of control and I curse or harm someone. The devil accuses me. "Look what a terrible person You are." We sometimes think of those thoughts as repentance. They are not. God wants me to see where I am headed. I need God to help me change something in my heart so I will respond better the next time I am tested. Have you ever realized that you missed an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. The devil will tell you that you have blown it and God will never trust you again. That is a lie. God is telling you to be ready for the next opportunity just around the corner.
Psalm 139 concludes with the words, "Lead me in the way everlasting." God longs to get us off our dead end roads and get us moving in His eternal direction.
This first post in my new blog THINKING IN THE SPIRIT. Most of the posts in this new blog will not be good to post here on Pray Network. But this post could well have been entered in WATCHING IN PRAYER, which I plan to continue to post every other week. However, I am approaching even this similar entry from a different perspective and intent.
And as I finished writing this entry, I decided that because the segments were so short my readers would be tempted to skip over them too quickly. These are profound truths even though they can be written briefly and are not difficult to understand. So, I will divide them into three shorter blog posts on this subject.
The first of Martin Luther's 95 Theses read, "All of life is repentance."
We may tend to dread repentance and avoid it at all cost. But that is a wrong view of repentance. Repentance is a relief in the light of the gospel. And it leads to a life of freedom and satisfaction.
Look at this powerful prayer of David in Psalm 139.
"Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Searching the Dependence of Your Heart
One of the primary reasons we need God to help us search our hearts is that we fall away from depending on Him for righteousness, meaning and fulfillment. I can avoid examining my heart because I don’t want to admit my weakness and failings. This ignores the source of my righteousness.
The Hebrew word for thoughts here refers to anxious thoughts. If I am depending on my own goodness to be sufficient, I will be stressed to my limit. But we depend on the sacrifice of Jesus for our righteousness. We come to God in the purifying power of His blood. And we depend upon Him for our purpose, dignity and fulfillment in our lives.
It is a wonderful relief to repent of finding our righteousness and fulfillment in ourselves. Repentance does not just turn from lying, but from the motivation that thinks I need to bolster my position, hide my weaknesses or gain respect.
What are you depending on that needs the relief of repentance?
Happy Fourth of July!
This week as we celebrate our independence, God is also calling us to re-examine our foundations. It's easy to see that our nation's foundations are crumbling, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision and the slippery political and economic slopes we are traveling. Is there hope for America as we know it?
I had a dream several nights ago about the Fourth of July. On this day, as a parade marched by waving our flag, I saw military and police officers assembling on the tops of several tall buildings in Boston. One military man in dress uniform was shooting down into the streets, attempting to rout out a terrorist who planned an attack on our city. I saw all this from a vantage point inside my church, where I was sitting. Suddenly, from the basement below me (the foundation of the building), a bomb went off. The explosion threw me into the air and across the room, and our church began evacuation with the help of both natural and angelic authorities.
Two days after having this dream, I learned that the military had indeed thwarted an attack on police in the city of Boston - just days earlier. Scary? Yes. Wake-up call? Definitely.
What does it all mean?
It is no accident that the foundation of the church was shaken. (Note that it was not destroyed!) Aside from its immediate relevance, I believe the dream holds a prophetic picture of what the enemy is trying to do in this hour. We know the devil is busy trying to overthrow the foundations of our nation. Yet the enemy desires to overthrow our spiritual foundations as well.
It's true that the gates of hell CANNOT prevail against the Kingdom of God. However, that does not mean the church can sit back and relax while the world crumbles. While we are here on earth, there are still human lives at stake, both inside and outside the church, and we have a job to do.
I believe there is hope for America, but only if the church rises up in prayer and proclamation. What should we proclaim? That homosexuality is sin? That our leaders have led us astray? These things may be true, but they are not the declarations God has asked His disciples to focus on.
Instead, we are to both pray for and proclaim the key attributes of our lasting, spiritual foundations: repentance, faith, and the words of the gospel. (Hebrews 6:1). The prophets of old did this, John the Baptist did this, and Jesus did this.
2 Timothy 2:19 tells us that God's foundation stands firm, sealed with a two-dimensional inscription: "The Lord knows those who are His," and "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." As one commentary notes, the foundation of our faith includes not only God's election, but also man's holiness. The definitive test of our foundation's integrity is whether we are IN HIM and departing from evil ourselves.
A Word for our Times: Psalm 11
The Lord brought me to Psalm 11, which asks, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3). Far from being a cry of resignation, the psalm goes on to focus on the Lord, who is still in His holy temple in heaven, still on the throne. He sees the wicked and tests the righteous. He is righteous, He loves righteousness, and he beholds those who are righteous (11:7). When our nation's foundations are destroyed, we need to do the same.
This week, it is clear to me that what we MUST do now is repent of any unrighteousness within ourselves, and make sure that our lives are tightly intertwined with Jesus, our righteousness. Apart from Him, our lives are full of dead works.
Please join me this holiday in praying more fervently for the protection of our police and our military, who devote their lives to defending us, even from secret threats we never see. Pray for repentance and faith to re-emerge in a crumbling society and a sleepy church. Cherish and pray for your loved ones as you get together, asking God to give you His love for them. I will be praying, too.
The definitive test of the integrity of your foundation is whether or not you are abiding IN HIM.
The work of Wheatland Ministries involves research in learning how to best pray and be involved in intercessory prayer.
I am currently reading the book the Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. In it he identifies 3 spirits affecting our nation, which are the spirits of Defiance, Pride, and Arrogance. I mention them, because we seen many saying we need to repent--and that is in scripture--but there is a question--do we know what we are repenting of?--especially as a nation.
Research is one way we can identify how to pray. What we pray for should be in agreement with scripture. These three spirits listed above are related to pride, and there is much scripture about pride, and the problems of pride. A heart full of pride does not seek the Lord.
This week (week of July 4, 2014) there has been a call to prayer by the National Day of Prayer Task Force-I encourage you to consider what is shared in this blog, and to search for even other things we as a nation need to repent of.
Some may not understand why repentance is so-o-o-o important.There is a verse found in II Chronicles 7:14: If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.
Recently my wife and I started watching the Fringe TV series on Netflix. The fictional show deals with unexplained supernatural and technological occurrences investigated by the FBI’s “fringe science” division. It turns out that many of the grisly events have been caused by a collision of parallel universes and alternate timelines.
Having watched several seasons of Fringe, I can’t help but think of a pivotal but rarely discussed passage in Job 26:14: “Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; and how faint a word we hear of Him!”
After years of feeling the smug satisfaction of knowing he was an exceptionally upright and virtuous man, Job finally understood an awful truth: Although he had been doing all the right “religious” things, he was only on the outer edges of God’s plan for his life. Instead of having an intimate daily relationship with the Lord, he was only hearing God’s voice faintly and sporadically.
During the climactic final scene of Job’s story, he admits to the Lord, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
People always wonder why Job had to go through such horrendous trials. Part of the answer is simply this: God wouldn’t allow Job to remain on the fringes.
The Lord wanted to bless Job in new ways, beyond his wildest dreams. Yet none of that was possible if Job was content to stay on the fringes. He already had been blessed with great wealth, but God had a far greater dimension of abundance in mind for Job.
There have been many times in my Christian life when I languished on the fringes of God’s ways. Perhaps you have too. Often when we’re on the fringes, we don’t even know it.
Until the heat was on, Job didn’t have a clue about his true condition or what he was missing. He had fallen into the common trap of comparing himself to those around him, instead of comparing himself to God’s holiness. He was content to be “the greatest of all the people of the East” instead of great in God’s kingdom (Job 1:1-3).
Just as in the Fringe series, Job’s ordeal stemmed from a collision of universes or kingdoms. God versus Satan. Good versus evil. Relationship versus religion. The judgmental assumptions of his friends versus God’s ultimate plan to bless him.
But amid this horrific collision, God was working all things together for Job’s good (Romans 8:28). If it hadn’t been for his trials, Job might have never discovered he was living on the fringe.
However, there’s a major difference between Fringe and the Bible. In the TV series, exciting “paranormal” events happen on the “fringe” of human experience. In contrast, when believers are content to stay on the fringe in their relationship with God, the exact opposite is true—life is boring and there’s little, if any, experience of the supernatural. A life on the fringe is a bland, powerless, and unfulfilling existence.
Aren’t you tired of living on the fringes of God’s purposes? I am.
It’s time to dive in and go deeper in your relationship with the Lord. Yes, you may experience turbulent and disturbing collisions between parallel kingdoms at times, but that’s where the fun is. It’s in the center of God’s will that you will find peace, satisfaction, and fruitfulness.
As you probably know, the capital of Syria is Damascus—the same place Saul was headed in Acts 9 when he had a life-changing encounter with the risen Jesus. And in case you haven’t been watching any news lately, Syria is the place President Obama is apparently headed too.
Saul was on his way to Damascus to kill or persecute Christians. In contrast, President Obama seems poised to send cruise missiles into Syria as “a shot across the bow” to punish Syria’s president for allegedly using chemical weapons.
Saul’s story took an unexpected turn: “When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?’” (vs. 3-4 MSG)
After setting out on his mission full of pride and his own self-importance, Saul was knocked to the ground and struck blind by the intense searchlight of heaven. Someone had to take him by the hand and lead him the rest of way.
We’ll soon see whether America is on a similar collision course. The good news is that Saul’s story had a happy ending. God not only restored his sight, but Saul—the self-righteous Pharisee and persecutor—was transformed into Paul, the apostle of grace.
I love our country. But could it be that we, like Saul, are in need of a Damascus Road experience? Could it be that we’re on the wrong path, desperately in need of an encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Time will tell whether the current events in Syria have any major prophetic significance. But 2 Chronicles 7:14 is true regardless: It’s always time for God’s people to humble ourselves and pray…to seek His face to turn from our wicked ways. If we do this, He has promised to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.
And who could doubt that our land needs to be healed today?
“They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying,
‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 6:14
A family member, who would like to remain anonymous, recently got the flu. Her head and throat ached, she was badly congested, and her cough was horrific. So she asked me to get her some cough drops among the other medications she needed to relieve her distress.
I virtually cleaned out the local CVS store, trying to find anything that might help, and I didn’t forget the cough drops. After researching the ingredients on the labels of several different brands, I found the highest-potency cough drops I could find.
When I returned with my bag of over-the-counter remedies, she was grateful for my efforts. But the cough drops weren’t the kind she had really wanted. Luden’s Wild Cherry Cough Drops were the ones she had in mind.
Of course, I was quite familiar with Luden’s Cough Drops. As a kid, they were my first choice whenever I got a cold or sore throat. And they tasted so good that I sometimes bought them simply as candy.
So I returned to CVS to buy the specified cough drops, and I noticed that their name has changed over the years. They’re no longer even called “cough drops,” but Luden’s now refers to them as “Great Tasting THROAT Drops.” Instead of ingredients to kill germs or open nasal passages, the only active ingredient in this classic product is pectin, the same component used to thicken jams and jellies. And, of course, the “great tasting” part comes from being mostly comprised of sugar and corn syrup.
My encounter with Luden’s Throat Drops is a great picture of why America’s fiscal and moral problems seem to never improve. You see, our tendency is to choose Luden’s Throat Drops—something that tastes good for a moment—over any kind of real cures. And we’re terribly prone to select national and local leaders who will give us candy instead of substantive solutions.
When our nation’s problems don’t get better, we express surprise that the Luden’s Throat Drops didn’t work. It turned out that they weren’t truly medicine at all. But at least they tasted good.
How bad will our national “flu” have to become before we’re ready for true solutions, no matter how unpleasant they may be? When will we cry out to God in national repentance and desperation, asking Him to apply the healing balm of the Gospel instead of the candy-coated solutions of the politicians?
Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the LORD’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you, and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob. Ps 24.3-6 NLT
In my prayer time a few days ago, I felt God asking me to take these words seriously. What would it look like in my life if I made sure that I was walking and living with clean hands, and a pure heart? How would I spend my time? How would I spend my money, and the other resources that God has entrusted into my care?
What would it look like if I made sure that in every relationship, I was completely honest, and didn't treat someone as if I had to lift myself up, and come across as though I'm better than another? Are there any idols in my life, things that I give my time, talent and attention to more than I devote my energies to my Father? I know that I'm forgiven, and saved by the grace of God, so these questions aren't about earning his love or favor. But that's not the question that David is asking. David is asking who is the person that will walk with God, that will live with God showing Himself active, present and powerful in his life.
Jesus challenged his followers with the same high expectations regarding our relationship with Him and others. He connected the dots between the quality of our relationships with others, and the temperature of our relationship with Him. In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God." Matt 5,23-24
I'm not trying to be legalistic, or tell our pastors what to teach on a Sunday, but what would it look like if at the beginning of a weekend service, before the worship started, your pastor said something like this:
If you have a dispute with a friend, if you have a broken relationship with a family member, co-worker, etc. it's time to go and make it right. We're not going to have service today. Go, take care of the relationship issues in your life. I'll see you again next week.
And that was it. No songs, announcements, teaching or prayers. The worship ministry left the platform, and the lights came up. What would that be like?
Maybe a more exciting question is this – What do you think the service the following weekend would be like? Coming into God's presence with a clear conscious, with the weight of damaged relationships lifted from our hearts and hands. What kind of blessing would we then receive from God? David writes, and promised that blessings from come from the Lord, and we would enter into his righteous, powerful, healing presence.
Prayer is more than asking God to do stuff . . . to take care of this, that and the other thing. Prayer starts with God moving in our lives, to change who we are, how we treat others, and how we interact with the world. When you pray, you can expect God to challenge you, to work on changing your heart. Then in the future God is free to move through you, and answer your prayers for others through what He can do through you.
On a couple of occasions recently I've been called to lead a time of corporate prayer for ministries I'm involved in that face some real challenges. Of course I asked God how He wanted the prayer times to be led—and He gave me a picture. In my mind's eye, I saw Jesus, similar to how He is described in Revelation 1, walking among these ministries. He was talking to us, sometimes smiling, putting a hand warmly on a shoulder, sometimes looking serious and concerned.
Continuing my reflection, I turned to Revelation and meditated on the first three chapters. With what I read there along with the picture God gave me, I sensed how He wanted the prayer times to be led. The format was very simple. It went like this:
Start with worship. In Revelation 1, John has a vision of Jesus that literally causes him to fall on his face. Although John was probably Jesus' closest friend on earth--intimate enough that he rested his head on Jesus' bosom--this is the glorified Jesus John is seeing now, and his response is holy fear, awe and worship. Worship is an excellent way to start a time of prayer for your church or ministry. Whatever challenges it faces, a vision of Jesus in His glory puts things into perspective. During one of our prayer times we started the worship part by singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" and then offered short prayers of praise and worship.
Thank God for the good. When our churches or ministries are going through hard times, it's easy to lose sight of what's going well. In our recent Revelation-based prayer times, we recalled that as He walked through each of the seven churches in Chapters 2 and 3, Jesus commended the good He saw there. He noticed how different churches had exhibited hard work, perseverance, faithfulness, and so on. So we asked Him to help us see the things in our fellowships that bring Him pleasure. We listened quietly for a while, then thanked Him for what the Holy Spirit brought to mind. There were some surprises--joys we'd nearly lost sight of in the midst of the more recent challenges. Being reminded of and expressing gratitude for those goodnesses gave us courage and hope.
Repent of personal sin. However, Jesus did not only commend the good. He also had things "against" the churches. When He looks at our fellowships, I'm sure He also notices where we're falling short. Often it's easy for us--okay, for me--to think the "problem" is everybody else. But guess what, I'm part of the body, and I make my contribution to its dis-ease. So in our prayer times, we allowed everyone a chance to invite the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and then confess what He revealed. Many of us confessed sins in our reactions to the problems our ministries are facing. Reactions of bitterness, detachment, discouragement, pride, anger, frustration, fear-of-man, arrogance, futility, and so on. It was really good to receive God's forgiveness for these. Doing so put is a much more humble and understanding place to move on to the next part.
Intercede for what is not going well. In each case, those of us who gathered for prayer had ideas of what we each thought was out of line. But as we prayed with this Revelation format, asking Jesu to show us what He saw, some of those ideas were adjusted, others dropped, new ones added. How Jesus saw us was not exactly how we had seen ourselves. He revealed heart attitudes, spiritual warfare, seemingly trivial actions--things we hadn't seen or considered--and led us to confess them on behalf of the body and intercede for repentance.
Close with confidence. At the end of Revelation 3, in a verse familiar to most of us, Jesus says that He is knocking at our "doors." If we will hear Him and invite Him in, He will share a meal with us--He will fellowship with us. Knowing this gives me great confidence. Whatever challenges and distress our ministires find ourselves in, Jesus is still knocking, not giving up, wanting to come in and be with us and lead us into life. So we closed our prayer times with declarations of our confidence in Him--His love, guidance, truth, help, rescue, healing, and so forth.
It's too soon to know the big-picture outcomes of our prayer times. But I do know that all of us who participated went away knowing we'd connected with Jesus, and that inspite of our struggles, He was still with us and for us and and working among us to make things right and whole. If you lead prayer for a ministry that is facing tough situations, perhaps you'd want to try leading a prayer time with the Revelation format. Let me know how it goes.
If you don’t believe we are in need of a spiritual awakening in our nation, you are not obsessed the news networks like I am! Seriously, you cannot live in this nation without some awareness that a movement of God is desperately needed.
Historically, this nation has experienced some powerful spiritual awakenings that have dramatically changed the spiritual climate of society. However, we are perhaps 150 years overdue for another nationwide, saturating awakening.
But there are hopeful signs! Before every great spiritual awakening, there were some common indicators that we’re beginning to see emerge once again. Billy Wilson of Awakening America Alliance shared some encouraging observations with me in an interview.
One of the first signs is an increase in the use of revival and spiritual awakening language. In the past few years, great movements of prayer have been rising up, including alliances of Christian ministries devoted to prayer for revival. Eighteen years ago I wrote my first article on revival. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I was aware that there had to be something more to faith in Christ than what I was seeing displayed in the Church. Now the call for revival is becoming commonplace in prayer circles.
Another sign is an increase in the fervency of prayer among the “remnant.” These are the pastors and intercessors who have prayed faithfully and sought God for a greater move of His power in our midst. More and more prayer warriors are joining the ranks of those praying fervently for revival. This is one of the most encouraging and hopeful signs, as almost all revivals have started with less than 12 people praying. God loves to work through a remnant!
As we close in on a desperately needed move of God in our nation, there are two more indicators that will increase just prior to revival breaking out:
- There will be an increase in united, extraordinary prayer. This prayer is passionate, fervent, and repentant in nature—and this is increasing exponentially!
- There will be a restoration of integrity to the pulpit. You will begin to hear greater boldness in messages based on the truth of the gospel, and it will include the message of repentance. Not only will the messengers of the gospel proclaim the integrity of the gospel more clearly, they will also experience their own repentance and transformation. This is something we should all long for our own lives.
Keep your eyes on the horizon. Revival fires are not far away. Keep praying; keep repenting. As we humble ourselves in brokenness, God will draw closer and closer to us. Come, Lord Jesus!
Have you ever been in a place and felt God was speaking everywhere you turned? A place where revelation was so tangible, it was like dew saturating the air? It was during a recent trip to Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, that God gave me a greater revelation regarding the benefits of Kingdom citizenship.
“We the people in order to form a more perfect union…” is how the preamble to the U.S. Constitution begins. The constitution was formed to bring 13 individual city-states together and create 1 governmental structure wherein the power resides with the people. This document was created to give a voice to the people; a document that outlined the benefits of being a citizen in this newly formed United States.
Benefits guarantee the citizenry certain freedoms and privileges.
- The freedom to practice religion
- The freedom of speech
- The freedom of life, liberty and to pursue happiness
So how does relate to being a citizen of the Kingdom of God? What privileges come with being a citizen of this eternal Kingdom?
- We have been adopted into a family, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
- We are accepted for who we are, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:6-7
- We have an inheritance, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17
- We are overcomers, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Romans 8:37
- We are always on the mind of God, “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I'd never forget you—never. Look, I've written your names on
the backs of my hands.” Isaiah 49:15-16a
How to become a Kingdom Citizen
- Admit we are sinners and need to be redeemed from sin, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 “For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is
eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
- Believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, “But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.”Romans 5:8; “Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.”2 Corinthians 5:21
- Confess that because we are born into sin we need a savior, “Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth)
that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Welcome package, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
What is forgiveness? Is it forgetting an event happened? Or is it surpressing the emotions the occurred surrounding the event. Is forgiveness simply saying "I forgive you" because we are required to forgive according to Matthew 18:22? Are we more eager to forgive when we have minimal contact with the person we need to forgive? If we see the person do we hide or shun them? Or are we happy and excited to see the person who offended us?
During this second semester of Elijah House the topic of "Accomplishing Forgiveness" was discussed. True Forgiveness is a supernatural act that requires God's grace. I realized I had NOT truly forgiven, I just merely mechanically forgave the person. I went through the motions of forgiveness but never investigated the emotions associated with the hurt. What hurts worse disappointments based on unspoken expectations, physical wounds or emotional wounds? They all hurt and they all need to be forgiven.
True forgiveness required me to allow Holy Spirit to me walk through that experience and identify with that other person. We were introduced to the power of the Gethesmane prayer. This was were Jesus bore our hurts, sins and pains. Where He identified with our emotions and cried out with agony to the Father, confident that he would comfort him and help him walk through true forgiveness.
So you maybe wondering where am I in the forgiveness process?
Step #1, talking to God telling him how I feel. How the hurt has affected me. How I need him to help me forgive Him, others and myself.
I am a work in progress.
Continue to pray!
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