Hunger is the signal telling us we are running out of essential fuel! In the natural, it starts when our stomach is empty but quickly messages the brain to activation. I may be able to ignore my stomach, but it is much more difficult to ignore my thoughts. Do I as acutely sense spiritual hunger? How do I respond when I’m hungry?
Hunger is the feeling of weakness or discomfort caused by lack of food. It triggers the desire to eat or crave food. Am I hungry for more of God? Do I choose to satisfy my spiritual desire through Him or other sources.
At times after finishing a pleasant meal and feeling fullysatisfied, if I catch a glimpse of some sweet delicacy impulsively I want more. How about you?
This is actually normal! God made us to always be on the lookout for more; He has designed us to never be empty.
The Hungry are Fed
Heidi Baker, missionary to Mozambique, often affirms “The hungry are always fed.” The hungry, in desperation, push to the front of the line. They will not be refused!
“The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him –
may your hearts live forever.” Psalm 22:26
God has allowed us to recognize natural hunger through the discomfort of painful hunger pangs. If we ignore our bodies long enough hunger actually subsides. The same is true spiritually. He has also built within us an awareness of spiritual longing and hunger.
Hunger ignored has a price tag; vital organs can be irreparably damaged. We cannot safely ignore spiritual hunger either.
The Spirit within us is constantly inviting us to enter the Lord’s Presence and feast in His abundant provision. There are no shortcuts to resting, waiting, worshiping, or meditating on the bible. Junk food goes beyond chips, coke or a bit of chocolate. Time can never be regained! How we spend our minutes forms life patterns shaping our identity.
The unceasing demands of our physical bodies and fleeting attractions can be the greatest hindrance to wholesome feeding of the Spirit.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
They are in conflict with each other…” Galatians 5:16-17
We will either reach for what is good and truly satisfies, or what temporarily tastes and feels good. Daily we choose!
Jesus The Example
Let’s contemplate this verse?
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…” Matthew 4:1
There can be unrealistic expectation that faith will be a pleasant journey of “always full”. Not so! The Spirit purposefully led Jesus to a wilderness of prolonged hunger. In the place of hunger, what Adam lost in the fall Jesus began to reclaim.
After forty days of hunger the Tempter comes! His timing is usually the same for us as well. When hungry, angry, lonely and tired, halt! This is a place of vulnerability.
[bctt tweet=”When hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it is time to HALT!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]
Jesus, the Living Word, stood His ground against every assault of the evil one.
“Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
Bread will never satisfy our deepest hunger! Neither will lust, money, power or position! Our relentless deepest hunger is satisfied in God alone.
“The key to Christian living
is a thirst and hunger for God.” John Piper
When we go to God for every need to be met, we too will experience supernatural provision. One of the names for God is Jehovah Jireh. It means “the LORD will provide”, or “the LORD our Provider.” Provider is who He is!
In the Lord alone is provision for all we need! Our hunger is meant to draw us to The One who provides.
In Christ Alone
In the Beatitudes, Jesus states,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6
Jesus gives us a life-giving promise. Not only is He the Lord our Provider, he is the Lord our Righteousness! Ultimate filling is complete in Him.
Our personal wilderness journeys are ultimately meant to accentuate our hunger. The hot dusty road heightens and stresses our hunger and thirst for more of Him. It is a good thing!
Without hunger pangs, we would not survive. Are you hungry?
I hear it all around me! I see it among the young and the old! People of every nationality, demographic and generation, crying, “More, Jesus! More of You!” The hunger is increasing, and it is good.
People are turning their hearts and eyes from temporary satisfaction to ultimate fulfillment. It is beautiful! Prayer rooms are filling up!
“I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10
God journeys with us in the wilderness, bringing us through to the other side. He invites us to “open wide our mouths”. Don’t expect a crumb from our generous God! Open wide your mouth! May faith arise in each of us for more. God is anxious to satisfy our hunger; “I will fill it!”
There is no need to look elsewhere. “I will fill it!”
The Sound of Hunger
The birds outside my window rouse me at three in the morning. Long before the sun breaks the darkness of night, pangs of hunger stir little nests with cries for more. One hungry little chick has an ability to awaken an entire nest. The feathered chatter shifts from nest to nest until the whole community is alive with the sound of awakening.
Let us take a lesson from these little feathered ones, we can never be too greedy for more of God; “open wide (your) mouth”.
These last few months have been a sometimes-up-sometimes-down battle to overcome spiritual fatigue. It’s a battle I’m winning! Sensing the pressures, first emotionally and then physically, I realized too slowly the true intensity of the battles I was facing.
God desires that we minster out of the overflow of the Spirit, rather than a dry well of exhaustion. Recently, I knew I was due for a personal inventory check. It was time for me to lean into God’s promise through Isaiah.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29
At times, we all become weary and weak. However, when fatigue lingers, becoming constant and limiting, we are wise to take heed and evaluate the cause.
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14
Dust is the humbling, present reality of these bodies we occupy.
My first step to overcome spiritual fatigue began with this basic inventory check:
It sounds far too practical, but these daily consistencies are critical for overall health and vitality. Any lack in these areas seriously affects my ability to function and reach my potential. Unhealthy cravings, irritability or lethargy often trace back to imbalance in one of these three elements.
Jesus set such a wonderful example in caring for His disciples. When they were hungry, He provided food. He often drew them away from the demanding crowds for much needed rest.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ “ Mark 6:31
A healthy diet goes far beyond food. What am I filling my mind with? Am I pacifying, or medicating, an important need with a cheap substitute?
What about rest? Am I getting adequate sleep and guarding a “Sabbath” rest? (This has honestly been a struggle for me!) Exodus 31:17 tells us that God, who never runs low on energy, “rested and was refreshed” on the Sabbath. How much more important for us? Recreation gives God time to re-create and re-fresh us. Having fun is seriously important for stress packed lives.
Sometimes, to overcome spiritual fatigue, we must begin by taking care of physical and emotional needs.
Because much of the work I do involves people in critically disturbing situations, it often drains my energy reserve and leaves me feeling fatigued. Some of what I witness is extremely dehumanizing. Ultimately, behind the scenes of each one of these lives lurks spiritual entities, attempting to “steal, kill and destroy” people whom Jesus loves deeply.
Regardless of the situations which are making withdrawals from our inner reserve, God’s promise remains,
” ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ ” Matthew 11:28-30
Just reading these words offers insight and breathing space. Whenever I’m feeling “weary and burdened” and the “yoke” weighs heavy, I know I’m carrying something God willingly offers to relieve me of. Only He possesses the strength and power to carry the weight of human oppression, injustice and indignity.
“Come to me,” Jesus invites.
Don’t discard God’s solution as overly practical. “Come!”
Do you know Jesus Christ? Are you living in personal relationship with Him? Great!
“. . . He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
The renewal by the Holy Spirit is ours. Not just a onetime, special, salvation offer, but a continual opportunity to come to Him for a redo!
The solution to overcome spiritual fatigue also appears simple and practical. In coming, we:
spend time with Him daily in prayer, Bible reading and meditating on His Word
pursue a heart attitude of worship, quietly or expressively
adopt praise, being thankful to God in the midst of all situations and struggles
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31
When you’re feeling more than a little fatigued and stumble, don’t panic. For those who “hope in the Lord,” it is a temporary condition.
Sit at Jesus’ feet, receiving and being filled anew with His Spirit, He will renew your strength. Just like exhaustion came gradually, often restoring takes process as well. Come! Drink deep from His reserve — drink again and again.
Overcome Spiritual Fatigue
To overcome spiritual fatigue might require one more step — identify unnecessary hindrances.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith . . .” Hebrews 12:1-2
I’ve been asking God to examine my heart to expose any unresolved issues of unforgiveness, bitterness, critical judgements, selfishness or pride. Yours may be different, but these are often my tangle points. God clearly says the responsibility to “throw off” these weights belongs to us.
After this last step, the flow into our lives through Holy Spirit runs pure and strong. As we identify the problems and develop solutions to overcome spiritual fatigue, the overflow comes clear and constant.
How much better and more fulfilling to minister out of the overflow of Holy Spirit, rather than from the stagnant sludge of spiritual fatigue. Through these practical steps, God’s renewing and revitalizing pours through us and from us to others.
I hope my brief progress report on how to overcome spiritual fatigue encourages you. My dad would say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Whether we’re needing prevention or a cure, an ounce or a pound, God is able. Come!
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God says, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” But what does He mean and how inclusive is this guarantee? These are the questions I asked my friend when she reminded me of God’s promise to supply. Though I already knew the verse, our conversation sent me on a quest to find out more.
The first image that came to my mind as she spoke was of a nest of hungry birds desperately chirping and cheeping upon their parent’s approached with a thick juicy worm — each tiny featherless upstart demanding more. Yes, that’s me! The one right in the middle insisting to be filled!
But as with all promises in the Bible, fulfillment is contingent on our response to God. He is more than willing and able to come through for us, but are we positioning ourselves to receive the fullness of His promise?
Psalm 81 can be divided into three distinct sections, the first of which calls us to worship God for who He is.
“Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre. Sound the ram’s horn . . .”
Loosen up your voices, tune up the instruments, get ready for a noisy, all-out shindig! This is God we are celebrating, not some here-today-gone-tomorrow celebrity. No instrument is too large or too small; it isn’t too soon to start. “Begin the music!” the psalmist announces, “Let’s get this praise rolling!”
This isn’t a new admonition. As a matter of fact, it’s been in existence since God brought His people out of Egypt. That was a LONG time ago. Surely you remember! Well, maybe it wasn’t literal Egypt for each of us, but we’ve all known our share of sins cruel chains of oppression. Those who have claimed the Name of Jesus have experienced the freedom of His deliverance.
But then we catch the first startling glimpse of trouble.
What? Did I read that right? The God who once set us free is now “unknown?” How could they, and for that matter I, forget? Oh, but it’s our human nature to easily forget the greatness and goodness of our God.
“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”
Since God has done so much for each of us, you would think we would always remember his goodness. Surely, after all the grace and mercy He has shown, we would remain grateful. Even though the call to remember resounds throughout the Bible, we too forget. We forget not just His deeds but the sound of His voice — His voice that reveals His unchanging character and love.
The title for the second segment to this psalm could easily be, “My Forgetful Children.” As a mother of many, all too often I felt the exasperation of not being listened to and my wise counsel left unheeded. (Of course, what sounded wise to a mother didn’t always ring true to fledgling children — then or now!)
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10
“Open Wide Your Mouth”
Little birds open wide their mouths because their very lives depend on it. My problem isn’t forgetting to open my mouth or making my need known, but rather how I attempt to satisfy that need. As another friend once told me, “There are many non-gods we can go to.”
She is right. If I forget who God is and lose awareness of His voice, I will seek fulfillment in many other places. As horrifying as it sounds, it’s true. And I’m not alone! We live in fleshly bodies that refuse to be satisfied, filling our proverbial mouths with lust, greed, and gluttony of various kinds. Humanity reeks. We are too often like self-made garburators of the vile and disgraceful.
Our electronic devices buzz with incessant pollution to minds and souls, drawing us ever deeper into a new, yet all to familiar, bondage God once delivered us from. Oh, but God’s heart cries to us still,
“Hear me, my people, and I will warn you —
if you would only listen to me . . .
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the LORDyour God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
In spite of our failure to hear and to heed, God calls with open arms, “Come back to me and I will satisfy your hunger.”
“But my People”
The third segment of this psalm might be called, “They Would Not!” This is only my opinion, but I think the greatest crisis of mankind is forgetting that we are people made in the image of God, with purpose and destiny. When we fail to remember our God, we quickly fail to remember who we are as well.
“But my people would not listen to me . . . If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!”
Do I close my mouth long enough to listen, refusing to self-gratify, self-satisfy or self-proclaim? Do I open wide my mouth to acknowledge my God with singing and shouting His praise? Maybe not with cymbals and ram’s horns, but noisy acclamation of His greatness? Will I remember that I am His and follow Him?
If I will, and that is the BIG “if,” the promise is mine! When I open wide my mouth, no matter what the need, God will fill it.
“You Will Be Fed”
God brings us back to the promise. If only they will lay aside all their “would nots” the promise still stands.
“. . . you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Psalm 81:16
“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Whatever the root of our hunger, whatever the need or longing, God is good enough, strong enough, and loving enough to fill it. But He is waiting to hear our voices sing and shout, for the ram’s horn to blast His praise; He’swaiting for us to turn our ears intently toward His voice; He is waiting for us to remember all He has done for us; He’s waiting for us to catch the passion of His heart, to turn from lesser things. When we do, He’s prepared to swoop low, satisfying every deep craving within.
Our God is enough! No other god will do! “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it!”
Moses knew God like no other man. Yet, he still asked God, “Show me Your glory!” The intimate encounters Moses had in God’s presence only increased his desire to know God.
Time spent with those we love, whether family or friends, is sweet and refreshing. We constantly want to know what they are doing, how they are feeling, what is new in their lives, the struggles and successes they are experiencing. Time passes quickly in their presence. Often before one meeting has ended, we’re anticipating and planning our next get together.
Moses felt this way about God. God’s attributes, nature and character are beyond finding out. Though Moses glimpsed who He was, he wanted to know God fully and completely.
“Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
The desire to know God will always lead to asking, “Show us more of You.”
A Meeting Place
My husband enjoys meeting with other men at a coffee shop, sipping on steaming cups of hot coffee and savoring humongous fresh backed cinnamon buns. I like meeting in homes — ours or someone else’s. Weekly worship services and prayer gatherings connect us to our church family.
The place we meet isn’t as important as being intentional about meeting.
“Now Moses used to take a tent
and pitch it outside the camp some distance away,
calling it the “tent of meeting.”” Exodus 33:7
Moses’ meeting with God wasn’t happenstance. He established a place and time to meet with God. When Moses was purposeful to meet with God, God met him.
“As Moses went into the tent,
the pillar of cloud would come down
and stay at the entrance,
while the LORD spoke with Moses…
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face,
as one speaks to a friend.” Exodus 33:9,11
Face to face! Friend to friend! What stirs within you as you think about meeting God face to face, Friend with friend? Wonder, curiosity, anticipation, longing, or maybe even fear?
Wanting to know originates with God.
“I will give them a heart to know me,
that I am the LORD.
They will be my people,
and I will be their God,
for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7
God gives us a heart “to know” Him. Then He meets us fulfilling that longing, which only causes us to hunger and know Him more. If earthly friendships are sweet, how much more precious our time with God, the Greatest most Faithful Friend?
I envy Moses’ encounters with God. I also envy young Joshua’s position of being able to eavesdrop in on those conversations. As Moses’ assistant, Joshua was able to enter the Tent of Meeting, even lingering long after Moses went to other duties.
If we think God shows Himself only to His mighty men, we are mistaken. God welcomes anyone and everyone who comes humbleand hungry. No matter how many times Moses and Joshua entered the tent, no matter how long they stayed, it was never quite long enough. The desire to know God always increased.
Hunger and Thirst
No amount of “knowing” is enough!
“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you
and continue to find favor with you…” Exodus 33:13
Moses declares, “Thank you God for your presence, but I want to know you more!” God affirms their friendship — no arm twisting needed! He responds immediately,
“And the LORD said to Moses,
“I will do the very thing you have asked
because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
There are over 100 names for God in the bible. Each name reveals something about His character and identity. Moses knew God by Yahweh or Jehovah. Pharaoh’s daughter gave Moses his name. In Egyptian, “Moses” comes from the word for “son”, but in Hebrew it has the meaning to “deliver” or “drew out” because the Egyptian princess, “drew” Moses out of the Nile. His name reflected his destiny. God chose Moses to partner with Him to draw the people of Israel out of Egypt.
Names are significant. Calling someone by name shows them respect and value. Moses had a desire to know God even beyond His Name.
Moses pushes the relationship to new levels and immediately asks God for more.
“Then Moses said, “now show me your glory.”
If you were confident of asking God for anything He could offer, what one thing would it be? When, like Moses, you already know God’s unlimited power and unending capacity, what would you ask for?
“Show me!” Moses asked, “Show me more of You.”
Moses wasn’t enticed by power or position. He once lived in the house of the richest most powerful man in the world. What man possesses, another man can take away. But what God has, who He is, and what He gives can never be removed. “More of You,” Moses asks.
“Wherever your treasure is,
there the desires of your heart will be.” Matthew 6:21
How intentional I am about creating a meeting place with God, will prove how hungry I am for His Presence. It will also reveal where my desire is.
Desire to Know God
Moses wasn’t alone!
To paraphrase David, he said, “There is only one thing I ask God. I want to live where You live. There is no one else I want to be with, look at, or hear from.” (Psalm 27:4) The Sons of Korah echoed David’s desire to know God more.
“My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:2
They knew there was no place better! No other place held the indescribable joy of God’s presence praising Him.
Flip a few pages in the bible to the New Testament and we find Anna in the temple day and nightworshiping, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:37) Without a husband or family, her time was exclusively devoted to God. Mary sat at Jesus feet intently listening, watching and learning more. (Luke 10:39)
Paul’s desire to know God came in monstrous proportions.
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you exceptJesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
His knowing Jesus went beyond the ooey-gooey, make me feel good kind of knowing someone.
“I want to know Christ — yes,
to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:10
To Know More Fully
The more these men and women knew God, the more they longed to know Him. The desire to know God out-measured the need for personal comfort, gain, or reputation. In the knowing, an unquenchable hunger for knowing more fully was awakened.
For each of these people, time devoted in His presence (speaking and listening, waiting and pressing in) nurtured the hunger for more. There were no shortcuts.
“Lord fill us with a hunger for more of You.
May we “pitch our tents,” setting aside a specific place to meet You.
Help us draw away from demands and responsibilities
to wait in Your presence,
even if that means stepping “some distance away.”
May we choose to reach for You,
to seek Your face,
to long more deeply for your presence.”.
Pentecost and the outpouring of Holy Spirit, that occurred during the Feast of the Harvest, is a subject I am continually seeking to understand. God’s Word holds a rich reservoir of significance and truth worth searching out and discovering.
Jesus “gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” (Acts 1:3)
“… he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time…” 1 Corinthians 15:5-6
Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus visited His disciples for the last time. He instructed them to wait for“the gift” from the Father.
“… Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4,5
I’ve never been good at waiting, especially when I know something good is about to happen. Waiting creates room for God.
The disciples waited. They returned to Jerusalem together, “to the room where they were staying.” (Acts 1:13) “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Anticipation grew as they waited together in unity.
Ten days later, they continued to press in together in prayer waiting for the promise— the outpouring of Holy Spirit.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4
The Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Harvest, was rooted in Moses’receiving the Law. Many similarities mark the Presence of God both here in Jerusalem and on Mt. Sinai.
God’s appeared with fire, smoke and thunder on Mt. Sinai. Wind, fire and the loud noise of speaking in other tongues confirmed God’s presence at Pentecost.
The Law taught the people how to live. Holy Spirit now became the Teacher and Counselor.
While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the people were worshipping the golden calf. As a result, 3,000 people died. At Pentecost 3,000 people received new life by believing in Jesus.
God’s presence covered Mt. Sinai. His presence filled the Tabernacle of Moses, and then later Solomon’s temple. With the outpouring of Holy Spirit, God came to dwell “in” His people with power.
At Pentecost, people were “amazed and perplexed” to hear their own language spoken by foreigners. They were convinced something significant was occurring. Others laughed and mocked, calling them drunk!
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, … old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” Acts 2:17-18
Every Jew recognized these words as a small portion of a much larger text. The preceding verses in Joel speak of abundant harvest — relevant to both the Feast of Harvest and Pentecost.
“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains of righteousness. He sends you abundant showers both autumn and spring rains, as before.” Joel 2:23
“The autumn rains in righteousness“ can also be translated “teacher of righteousness.” The religious sect of Qumran, which produced most of the Dead Sea Scrolls, claimed that its most revered teacher of the law … the “Teacher of Righteousness” was the fulfillment of this prophecy.”
Jesus Christ, Teacher of Righteousness, fulfilled all He promised, including the outpouring of Holy Spirit.
As important as timely rains are, one shower never produces a bumper crop. Joel declares the evidence of the outpouring of Holy Spirit is overflowing harvest,
“The threshing floor will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.” Joel 2:24
Joel’s prophesy included both physical and spiritual overflow. Worship and praise of the Lord accompanied the feasting of the harvest. Joyouscelebration and thanksgiving accompanied the festivities.
Twice Joel repeats,
“never again will my people be shamed.” Joel 2:26,27
Peter, who once bore the shame of denying Jesus, stood strong, now filled with Holy Spirit. “Never again” would shame make his life! “Never again” would lack fill his soul. The harvest would “never again” fail. From this moment on, the new wine and oil of Holy Spirit poured through his life in overflowing measure.
Christ may have left, but the outpouring of Holy Spirit had come!
Peter used the historical record of Israel to prove Christ’s validity. Without mincing words, he boldly talked about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to explain this visible work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit evidenced among them.
“Exalted to the right hand of God, he (Jesus) has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” Acts 2:33
Joel spoke of God dwelling in the midst of His people.
“Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.” Joel 2:27
That little phrase “I am in”means “in the midst, present in the center or middle.” Though Joel may not have comprehended the meaning of his words, the imagery of the outpouring of Holy Spirit living “in the center”of believers is clear.
God, not wine, made the people stagger with His Presence. He came to live “in the center” of their beings. “Never again” would shame (disappointment, delay, or the pale of death) oppress them.
Peter challenged his listeners to respond to the outpouring of Holy Spirit,
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
The only prerequisite to receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is repentance. Repenting means confessing and turning from sin, accepting Jesus’ death as the all-sufficient sacrifice as payment before God. Then believing Jesus destroyed death through His resurrection and confessing Him as Lord.
Peter calls them to publicly demonstrate their death to sin and life in Christ through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41
What joy in the harvest of souls!
The outpouring of Holy Spirit began at Pentecost, but it didn’t end there. A few days later, we see it continued.
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31
Paul told believers to “not get drunk on wine…instead be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18) He encourages them to “keep being filled, to cram in more, to level up the supply.”
God intends the outpouring of Holy Spirit to be a continuous action in every Christian.
Just like an oil lamp needs a constant supply of oil to produce light, believers require constant filling of Holy Spirit to bring light to the world. Pentecost was the initiation into an unending supply available to all!
Joel said, “In the last days“, making it clear he wasn’t referring to a single one-time activity. In Acts, they “all” received. Even now, Holy Spirit continues to be poured out on those hungry and ready to welcome Him.
Perhaps, today will be the beginning of your personal Pentecost, as you receive Holy Spirit.
Though many of us feel incapable of teaching, life is a perpetual cycle of learning, growing, and teaching, repeated through generations. We see the pattern played out in virtually every aspect of our lives. In our homes, workplaces, educational centres, and sports arenas to name a few. In fact, every facet of understanding demands, at various levels, a willingness to learn, grow, and teach.
Most of us tend to shy away from formal teaching roles. However, we all have developed skills and obtained knowledge that others could greatly benefit from.
The sponge-like capacity for learning dominates the behavior of all children. Somehow as we grow older, we lose the inquisitiveness of childhood. If we become complacent, our knowledge base actually diminishes.
Recently someone said, “If you say you know when you don’t know, you will never know.” The statement exposes the unwillingness to learn will keep us from knowing what we desperately need to understand. Learning is the first step in all developmental processes.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8
The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice. Brian Herbert
Because God is the Creator of all things, He knows how everything works and functions. Wisdom leads us to look to Him to guide and direct our learning process. I’m not just talking about spiritual things. One God idea proves of more worth than all human wisdom.
A few months ago, I began to hold business meeting with God. I can’t tell you how many “God ideas” He has inspired! Though previously I constantly prayed and surrendered the aspects of my business, welcoming Him into these weekly meetings has transformed it in indispensible ways.
“Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4
I believe God waits in anticipation for us to turn to Him with a hunger to learn. He desires to teach us how to parent our children, how to create artistic designs, how to produce or repair mechanical things, how to overcome obstacles in relationships or workplaces, and how to establish healthy life patterns.
Nothing is “hard” for God! He has the answer for the most difficult problems we face. Whatever we are attempting to learn, God already possesses the knowledge and understanding for us. The choice to learn, He leaves with us.
“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11
Every expert started as a novice.
Often, learning includes a multitude of skills and abilities stacked, like building blocks, one upon the other. The process often takes many years of experience, including successes and failures.
I chalk up far more mistakes than successes. I have also learned a great deal from my mistakes. Failing at something is often as helpful as succeeding!
A significant portion of training assists others bypass our mistakes. It builds bridges so others don’t have to fall into the same river we almost drowned in.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9
This verse clearly illustrates the learning process: learning, receiving, hearing, and putting into practice. When we willingly stay humble and teachable, we open the doors to learn, receive, hear, and watch others to grow and develop even in areas which are personal weaknesses or deficiencies.
Nothing substitutes for practice. Practice! Then practice! And practice again! Anything we desire to develop our skill in will require practice. Growth will spring from our practice ground.
Let’s not stop here! One more step completes the cycle — teaching.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
Oh course, God refers directly to teaching biblical truths. However, these principles apply to every aspect of life.
Only a smidgen of teaching is performed by “experts.” Everyone possesses knowledge and skill in any one of a number of areas. We have responsibility, before God and others, to share that knowledge.
Let us each consider for moment:
what skill am I developing
how could I share that skill with others
who might appreciate knowing this skill
Like music flowing from the heart, sharing our knowledge can and will become a joyous activity — Spirit-led songs flowing into the hearts of others
“The best learning I had came from teaching.” Corrie Ten Boom
Corrie Ten Boom recognized that as we pour ourselves out into the lives of others, we learn even more. We receive encouragement and inspiration to delve in deeper, improving our skills at a greater level.
The ultimate goal in everything we do is to draw others into a deeper relationship with God. The greatest learning, growing, and teaching comes from walking with others in their life journey. This side-by-side cycle of growth and development, both personal and corporate, offers ample opportunity to share faith.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
As the Holy Spirit teaches us, we teach others. Others will automatically learn from us as we learn from God. This incredible cycle of learning, growing, and teaching imparts a life-giving community of mutual benefit for everyone.
Let’s applaud where we are already successfully sharing skills. May we also seek God for knew ways to build bridges of understanding. May our greatest joy be in partnering with the Holy Spirit, leading people through ever-increasing circles of learning, growing, and teaching.
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As a teenager, I failed to see the beauty of boundaries, repeatedly pushing against any restriction my parents or teachers established. I bear the scars to prove it!
Every outstanding leader honors and recognizes the indisputable importance of parameters on their leadership and with those they lead. Loving parents establish appropriate lines of protection around their children. These fences — sometimes visible, often invisible — keep what is harmful at bay while provided the greatest liberty.
Jesus trained world-changing leaders to follow behind Him. We witness His boundary-establishing techniques at the beginning of their ministry experiences.
“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Matthew 10:1
I may have been born in the wrong generation, on the wrong continent, of the wrong gender to take part in the exploits of this group, but my heart cries, “My too!” I long to see a day when hospital wards completely empty, with every disease and sickness brought down. I’m not alone in praying for God to remove the deceptive and deadly claws of the enemy from those we deeply love and care.
The Greek word exesti, translated here as authority, means “privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery, or delegated influence.” We consider authority to mean the power to give orders, make decisions, or enforce obedience in others. Biblical authority contains a broader meaning within the beauty of boundaries — boundaries, Jesus clearly articulated.
Do Not Go
“These twelve Jesussent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.” Matthew 10:5
Do you see it? Immediately, Jesus set the parameter of their movement. Jesus never conferred authority upon His disciples as a blank cheque to be executed wherever or however they desired.
Power and authority, like intoxicating wine, changes people. Usually to their detriment! But with proper boundaries, that same power and authority becomes mighty in the hands of ordinary men and women.
Multitudes in need awaited the disciples throughout the vast territory before them. The magnitude of the mission, without the beauty of boundaries Jesus established, might otherwise have overwhelmed them. If they or we over-extend ourselves, the immensity of the task incapacitates us, rendering us ineffective.
Jesus scaled back their focus to one people group in one specific area. Within that parameter, they possessed the authority of Christ to function liberally, bringing healing and freedom to those they encountered.
When they clearly understood the “Don’t go!” Jesus then released them to “Go!”
“Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” Matthew 10:6
Galilee embodied as much multiculturalism as any nation today. God loves each one completely and uniquely.
As a former farmer/rancher, I understand only a fragment of the heart of the Good Shepherd here. If I noticed an animal from a neighbor’s herd in need, I quickly contacted the neighbor and offered help. But if one of my own animals fell into danger, became ill, or went missing, I immediately amped all efforts. The care and concern for my herd far exceeded that for my neighbor’s.
Jesus, the Great Shepherd, desired to minister first to His sheep, “the lost sheep of Israel.” Lost sheep encounter many deadly dangers. Time is of the essence!
As You Go
Jesus gave not only a “do not go” and a “go” instruction, but He also added important details to an “as you do” directive.
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:7-8
First, He called them to present the message and purpose of their authority clearly! God desires that everything we say and do points others to the “kingdom of heaven.” Jesus gave the disciples authority to point the lost sheep homeward to the waiting arms of the loving Father.
Second, supernatural signs and wonders emphasized and validated the message. God had been calling His sheep home for decades. They had grown deaf to His voice. Jesus knew meeting human need through miracles would have dramatic effect, awakening them to their deeper spiritual needs.
Beauty of Boundaries
When we stop resisting the fences of protection and provision God establishes, we discover the true beauty of boundaries. It has taken me far too long, but I’m realizing that the more I respect and honor the boundaries God has placed around my life, the more empowered I become to declare His grace.
God’s impartation of authority continues through all generations. God still moves with divine power, healing the sick, casting out demons, and even raising the dead through the submitted hearts and hands of those who intentionally walk within His boundaries.
Freely, they live among us, declaring God’s love and grace. Liberally, they move with supernatural power and authority. Those who hunger and thirst for the things of God are being filled, empowered, and sent out.
Weekly, I hear people witness to God’s healing and deliverance in their lives.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6
“Lord, forgive us for resisting your parameters of influence. Turn our hearts in surrender to your ways. Release in and through your faithful followers divine authority and power to speak and move within the beauty of boundaries, as Your instruments of healing, redemption, and deliverance. Let it be! Amen.”
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Leading up to Pentecost, many people fast and pray, seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why such earnest hunger for God’s gift? May I present one possible answer? We are a broken people. We leak and run dry. (Or at least, I do.) People of all ages and creeds desire a refreshing experience of God both within and upon them, bringing wisdom, revelation, and power.
In the desiring comes a waiting — a waiting in His Presence for more of His Presence.
Something significant occurs while waiting, both for the disciples and for us. These men and women pressed through three years of personal sacrifice and transition, public expectation and humiliation, and finally Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus knew they needed rest in their waiting. By comparison, the past days and years paled to what loomed ahead.
“On one occasion, while (Jesus) was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” Acts 1:4
I love giving gifts! Often the smallest gift brings the greatest joy. Someone else goes through the effort and pays the price for gifts given. Someone else considers carefully the most appropriate gift.
As much as I appreciate gifts, I often find it difficult to receive gifts well. Perhaps these strong-minded disciples shared my handicap. There in the upper room, they gathered in preparation to receive. Others assembled with them.
“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14
Years ago, I painted a landscape picture for someone I deeply cared for. It was my first attempt at oil painting, created with love. Initially, the recipient gladly welcomed my gift, but later returned it. They found something newer and better, which probably wasn’t difficult. My gift, now shunned and rejected, stayed hidden in a closet.
Have you given something, perhaps a piece of yourself, only to have it rejected? At some time, we all share the experience. When Jesus offered the gift of the Holy Spirit to these men and women, He ultimately offered the gift of Himself. No gift compares to the valuable treasure of the Holy Spirit. Yet like my painting, it too often becomes pushed aside, shunned and rejected.
In order to receive the Holy Spirit well, we must understand what makes this Gift the best, most appropriate, and needed gift.
A Powerful Gift
For over three years, Jesus cared for and supplied everything His followers needed. But now they struggled to adapt without Him. Jesus knew they needed something, or rather Someone, more.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
For the duration of time they were with Jesus, they operated under His mantle of authority and power. God performed amazing miracles through them. They travelled into the surrounding towns and villages sharing the good news, casting out demons, and healing all kinds of diseases.
That was yesterday! Today called for a difference only the Holy Spirit could make. The most beneficial gifts match the season we live in.
Too easily, the disciples might have dashed into the world ill prepared for the new season ahead. Too easily, self-effort and self-sufficiency may have dominated their strategies. Old season thinking needed to give way to new season momentum.
The gift of the Holy Spirit comes with power — power to share Jesus at home and abroad and power for a few men and women to face a world against impossible odds. Sometimes people move out in ministry before the Gift. Then later, they joyfully experience what a difference the Gift of the Holy Spirit makes in missionary endeavors.
A Needed Gift
Paul traveled to Ephesus. His first recorded question reveals much about his priorities in ministry.
“. . . There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?'” Acts 19:1,2
When Paul learned they hadn’t even heard about the Holy Spirit, he immediately baptized them and prayed. “The Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:5,6). With that, the needed gift of the Holy Spirit arrived in Ephesus. Yet years later, Paul continued to pray for this mature, thriving church to experience the Holy Spirit in ever-increasing ways. Why?
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Ephesians 1:17
The Holy Spirit enables us to know Godbetter — to know Him more deeply, intimately, and fully. To begin to comprehend the vastness of “the glorious Father” requires Holy Spirit’s help, “wisdom, and revelation.”
May the hunger and desire to “know Him better” be the propelling force, preparing us to receive the Gift available to all who will receive.
The Gift that Gives
Paul’s second prayer for the Ephesian church reveals another reason.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
Paul packs punch into his prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to root and establish his listeners in God’s love. He desires the Holy Spirit to help them “grasp how wide and long and high and deep” the love of Christ is. Who can deny that God’s overwhelming love “surpasses” human knowledge and yet the Gift provides the way? Paul longed for the second generation of Christians to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” It’s a longing straight from the Father’s heart.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t stop there. In the rooting, establishing, and grasping of God’s love, the Holy Spirit gives the ability to offer the same love to others. Isn’t this the greatest expression and evidence of the Holy Spirit’s Presence among us? The remainder of Paul’s letter speaks of loving and living through the Gift of the Spirit.
When I first encountered Jesus Christ, my prayer was, “Lord, teach me to love.” Over four decades later, my heart’s cry remains. To love as the Father loves is beyond personal ability. Only the Holy Spirit enables and empowers such love — even in the smallest form.
The Holy Spirit in You
I apologize as I struggle for words to articulate in a few paragraphs the expanse of the Holy Spirit within us. The Gift turned red-necked fishermen into fishers of men and transformed the uneducated into teachers of the learned. Their lives, and the lives of multitudes since, speak louder than letters and words formed into sentences.
Peter spoke far better than I,
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him as you yourselves know.” Acts 2:22
Peter saw and knew Jesus as a man sent by God. We might easily forget He came to earth fully human. Yet this one Man, Jesus, through the Spirit, performed miracles, wonders, and signs. Let Peter’s words sink in. “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs.”
Any limitations rest not in our humanity. We are no more or less human than Jesus was. Limitations originate in our responsiveness (or lack thereof) to the Holy Spirit. That’s good news! What God gave to the disciples on the first Pentecost, He fully and freely offers to us. His Presence overcomes any and all human weakness, bringing hope for everyone.
We don’t need to wait for a certain day of the year like Pentecost Sunday to receive this gift. Every day, the Father extends His Gift to us. May faith reach to ask and trust welcome to receive the Holy Spirit in you.
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In a world gone off course, I’m thankful for the God of miracles. He remains on the throne — unchanging, powerful and good. Though great kingdoms rule the earth and dangers invade from every side, God sits upon the throne above earth’s domain.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me, like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.” Revelation 4:1-3
Today, lets all take a break from the stresses for some good news. News that God still hears the cries of His people and actively involves Himself in their lives.
“Prayer does not equip us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” – Author Unknown
The prayer principles within this book are tangible and potent only because they are based on the inerrant Word of God. Everything about prayer originates from and rests securely upon the foundation of God—His divine character and faithfulness: God drawing us to Himself in a personal relationship; God turning His ear toward our faint cries and warring shouts; God empowering us to move with His power and through His authority.
The Bible describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1 KJV). The evidence of God moving through His miraculous power in answer to prayer could not be expounded in a few simple writings. However, this closing chapter includes mini-testimonies of prayer rooted in faith, becoming substance.
Miracles of Healing and Provision
Joy-Lyn could write her own book on the miracles she has witnessed God do in answer to prayer, but here are just a few:
“I was in the chemistry laboratory completing an experiment when I received a word of knowledge for the girl sitting across from me in the lab. I felt she was having a problem with the right side of her neck or shoulder, perhaps from a sports injury or gymnastics.
“When we were finished our work, I asked her about it. She did have an injury, but it was from softball. She was experiencing tension and pain on the side of her neck, running down into her shoulder. We prayed right there in the chemistry lab at the university. God touched her. She almost started crying and said, ‘That made my day!’
“A couple of years ago, my mom and I went to a garage sale in a little church across the street from our house. I thought I had a word of knowledge for one lady about her knee. ‘No,’ she said, ‘but my shoulder is in a lot of pain.’
“I asked if I could pray for her. ‘Sure,’ she said, ‘but I’m going to keep shopping.’ After praying, I asked her to test it out. Before prayer, she could only raise her arm parallel to the floor, but now she could raise it a little higher, although it still hurt.
“I asked if I could pray again, ‘Okay,’ she said, ‘I’m shopping, but go for it.’ I prayed again and asked her to check it a second time. She lifted her arm all the way up and gasped, ‘Who . . . are . . . you?’ as she backed up.
“ ‘It’s Jesus! It is all Jesus!’ I said.
“She turned around and quickly left. I walked away laughing and thought, ‘We’re in a church. I don’t know what you expected.’ It goes to show that healing isn’t as normal as it should be.
“After my first year of university, I needed a job and applied to several places but didn’t receive any response. I started praying about it.
“I already knew that tithing was not an option but an important biblical principle. I had tithed before but wasn’t diligently keeping track of every source of income. Up until then, I hadn’t made tithing a priority in my spiritual walk.
“After I prayed for a job, the Lord quickly and clearly said, ‘You start tithing and I’ll give you a job.’
“That was on a Tuesday. Immediately, I took the time to figure out, as far back as I could remember, what I hadn’t tithed from and tithed on that income. By Friday, I was offered a job.
“I received a random phone call for an employment opportunity that I hadn’t even applied for stating, ‘We think you would be good for this position.’ That was probably the quickest answer to prayer I’ve ever received.
“As soon as I obeyed, God provided!
“At work, I was picking up a couple of kids from visiting their mother. When she helped put the kids into the car, I asked if she experienced headaches. After confirming it, we prayed together. Immediately, she felt a lot better. The Muslim girl I was working with that day got to hear the prayer and see this woman’s healing. Then I invited the woman to come to church with me.
“ ‘Sure,’ she said, ‘I’d like that.’
“ ‘Great! I’ll pick you up tonight.’
“That evening I went to the women’s shelter to pick her up and waited for twenty minutes but she never came to meet me. I was about to leave when another lady walked in with crutches. We started talking and I felt led to pray for her. She was in a lot of pain and had been on crutches for ten years because of a failed surgery. After I prayed, she tested it out. It was somewhat better but not completely, so we prayed again.
“She ended up walking pain-free without her crutches and then gave her heart to Jesus. Another lady, who had come into the lobby, heard the prayer, saw the miracle and began thanking God.”
It is really cool when God shows up at work! Even though Joy-Lyn wasn’t completely accurate with the words of knowledge, when she stepped out in faith, trusting God, He graciously healed those around her.
A Family Prays Together
“I haven’t always felt comfortable praying for others but as I learned to trust the Holy Spirit, I became more willing to pray.
“I have seen several significant answers to prayer. My whole family started praying for my uncle when the doctors believed he had a tumor in his neck. Surgery was performed, but they found it was actually a lymph node, not cancer, and it was resolved. Praise the Lord! That was my earliest loud answer to prayer.
“For several years, I was struggling with knee pain and had to go down the stairs one at a time. When a young girl prayed for me at a youth retreat, I felt something hot in my knee. That ongoing knee pain hasn’t returned. Now, I can walk down the stairs normally.
“Our child is one hundred percent a miracle and an answer to prayer. My husband and I were told we would never be able to have children on our own. We both felt no urgency to look into in vitro fertilization or adoption. God gave us a great deal of peace to continue praying and waiting on Him. We became pregnant by the hand of God within three months. Our child is nothing short of a miracle!
“I realize that not everyone’s prayers get answered like that even though they are far more faithful than we are. God hears every prayer. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without God seeing and knowing (Mt 10:29). Sometimes our desires are fulfilled before our eyes, at other times ‘no’ or ‘wait’ is an answer.
We say with confidence that our prayers are answered because we know who we are praying to.
“We have a God who cares deeply for us. Sometimes the tangible answer we experience is God’s peace during imperfect circumstances. We may never understand how God chooses to answer our prayers.”
Leaning on Others
Emmanuel actively pursues spiritual gifts. The list of miracles he has witnessed in his young life spans far.
“I keep pressing in to see God move miraculously in the lives of others. I don’t create doctrines based on my lack of understanding, however.
“For years I prayed for people with one leg shorter than the other to be healed without seeing results. Nothing! Even though I was frustrated, I knew that God wasn’t the issue, but I was. Then I asked a friend who often sees healing in this area to pray for me. The very first person I prayed for after that was healed. Now at least ninety percent of those I pray for with that condition are healed.
“If the door hasn’t been opened to me, I knock again. Then, I keep on knocking (Mt 7:7-8). For me, to pray without ceasing means to not give up (1Thes 5:17).
“There was a fellow in serious condition in the hospital. I don’t think I have fought for someone’s life so much in prayer. I kept in touch with his mother and knew he was getting worse instead of better. The doctors gave him no hope of recovery. He was in a coma and given twenty-four to forty-eight hours to live. I, and many others, kept pushing through in prayer. Not only did he recover, but he gave his life to the Lord. He’s alive and well today.
“That is a recent example of praying for someone without immediate results. It doesn’t mean we pray 24-7, but we pray without giving up. Although we should all make intentional time for prayer, that should not be the only time we pray.
God is a Good Father. He doesn’t inflict pain to teach us a lesson. That would be abusive! God is so gracious and wonderful.
“Even though I have seen many others healed, I have rarely been healed of anything. My theology is that God always desires to heal. He takes ugly situations and transforms them into something beautiful.
“We need to be deeply grounded in the Word of God; otherwise, we will lower God to meet our pain. If we anchor ourselves in the Word, we won’t diminish God in any way. I’m okay with not understanding why God sometimes heals and doesn’t at other times. Even though I don’t understand, I keep pressing in to see and know Him more.”
“Prayer is a two-way conversation involving both talking to God and listening for Him to speak. Even in insignificant things, I ask God for help.
“Not that long ago, I lost my wallet. After coming home from a restaurant, I couldn’t find it anywhere. After looking everywhere to no avail, I prayed, asking God to put it in a place where I could see it. A little while later, I noticed it on the living room couch, clearly visible.
“When I was in Grade 12 my marks weren’t amazing. I wanted to find a job so I could buy a car. I didn’t plead or demand, but simply prayed only once, ‘Jesus, if You want me to have a car You’re going to have to give me one.’ I didn’t tell anyone that I prayed. Shortly after, a former pastor called and offered me a car. Was that a coincidence? I don’t think so. When we allow the Holy Spirit into our lives and conversations, we will see things happen.”
The Miracle of Sensing God’s Voice
Sometimes, just hearing God’s voice is the greatest miracle, as Karen discovered.
“A little while ago, God unusually demonstrated His love to me, thereby increasing my faith.
“My husband and I were driving to the city on a beautiful, sunny fall day. All was quiet and the view picturesque. With my husband behind the wheel, I silently enjoyed the ride, gazing blissfully out the window of the car at the splendid fall colors. Amongst the other trees, a smaller brightly colored red tree seemed to stand out, catching my attention and filling me with awe.
“ ‘Wow!’ I said to myself, ‘Do I ever like that tree! It’s gorgeous!’
“ ‘Thank you,’ I heard, ‘I like that one too. It’s one of my favorites.’ The voice came so quickly and unexpectedly, I was surprised. Did I hear right? Yet, I knew beyond a doubt that it was not my own thoughts.
“For days I marveled at what had happened. It made me feel oddly special—like a secret shared between two people who love each other. I wanted to share it with others, but I knew that it wouldn’t mean the same to them as it did to me.
“Since then I’ve wondered why He would speak to me about something so insignificant. How many times had I begged and longed for a word from God, without hearing anything? Now, out of the blue, when I wasn’t even praying, He spoke so clearly to me.”
Miracles Through the Prayers of Others
Jewell experienced healing of an arm injury.
“I had a bad accident and received a “dinner fork” fracture to my wrist. I was in a cast for a long time and had also gone through many painful procedures trying to get it to release. Nothing helped. Because it hadn’t healed properly, I had limited use of my hand.
“While working at a summer camp, all the counselors gathered around me to pray after their morning meeting. Most of them knew I had received a spinal injury and broken ribs from a serious accident. Because they loved me, they wept as they prayed over me. Everyone, except for one fellow, prayed for my spine and the pain I was enduring. He prayed for my wrist and arm.
“I had been seated on a chair encircled by all these young people. When they finished praying, there was a complete circle of tears shining on the floor around me. They asked if I felt any different. Though I was encouraged by their prayers and felt so blessed by their love, I didn’t feel any change physically.
“I continued the day, performing my duties as best I could. Later in the evening, since there was usually someone who needed a nurse’s attention after the games time, I was sitting by the medical cabinet waiting. While I was waiting, I went to flex my arm to stretch it.
“I was shocked! For the first time in a year, my wrist had full flexibility in both directions. I suddenly realized my wrist was completely healed. It hasn’t bothered me since.
In God’s perfect time, it only took a minute.
“That year, there were several other healings that occurred at camp including a girl who had experienced multiple concussions. It was an exciting time for the campers to witness God perform physical healings.”
Beyond All Expectations
Christie shared a miracle of provision.
“I had applied to enroll in a university program but was reluctant to take out any student loans. I said to God, ‘I’m not spending money on this program. If I’m going back to school it has to be paid for.’
“I was informed that I would need to retake an exam to qualify for the program. Because of my schedule, I didn’t have time to study. I asked several people to pray for me as I rewrote the exam and for the finances for the program.
“The way things worked out, the administrators didn’t care about my grade score on the exam. They also decided that they would cover the cost of the program, plus my rent and utilities. School is very expensive, so it was a big deal to have all my expenses covered. I saw the provision of the Lord as He gave me everything I needed.”
Obedience Before the Miracle
Visions, both her own and others, have impacted Yogeswari’s life resulting in miracles.
“When my husband lost his job, our daughter was six years old. We decided not to have any more children because, in India, there are no child benefits. Parents have to pay for everything including all medical and educational expenses from kindergarten through university. Without my husband working, we couldn’t afford another child.
“My pastor’s wife had a vision. ‘God is trying to give you something and you’re abandoning it. That’s why your husband has lost his job.’
“ ‘What? How could my husband’s losing his job be related to me not planning on having any more children?’
“She said, ‘Don’t ask questions. Tell God that you will let your son be conceived and that you will have this child. Then there won’t be any further problems with him finding a job. Please promise God that you will receive the child He wants to give to you.’
“That’s what I did. Our son is a promise. Not that we didn’t face problems, but my husband immediately found a very good job. When our first child was born, we had to pay for everything. With our son, my husband’s employer paid for everything including a cesarean section. God gave us a son and paid every expense.
“When I was pregnant, I prayed, ‘The son of David is going to come to me. I want Solomon’s wisdom for this child.’
“A while later, a pastor prophesied over our son, ‘You are a son of promise. You are having David’s promise in you.’ That pastor confirmed it, even though it was something only my husband and I knew. I know my son will be a person of praise and prayer, just like David was. Our son knows he is a child of promise.”
Many Prayers Later
God answered Kristina’s lifelong prayer in several ways.
“My maternal grandmother was Ukrainian Catholic. Maybe she knew the Lord, but I didn’t know for sure. As a little girl, I always tried to share the Lord with her. In her late eighties, when I was in Bible college, she was in a nursing home and started having heart problems.
“I was concerned. I tried to share the Lord so many times with her. She was either hard of hearing or had selective hearing. I’m not sure which! One day after visiting her in the nursing home, I walked back to our house and was almost home when the Lord said, ‘Go back and tell her about Me.’
“I was so mad, ‘I have told her so many times about You.’
“I tromped back to the nursing home, went into my grandmother’s room and sat on her bed. It wasn’t even close to a heartfelt explanation of the Gospel. ‘Grandma, you are a sinner. We’re all sinners. Jesus died on the cross for you. He rose again. You need to ask Him into your heart. Do you want to do that?’
“I tromped back to the nursing home, went into my grandmother’s room and sat on her bed. It wasn’t even close to a heartfelt explanation of the Gospel. ‘Grandma, you are a sinner. We’re all sinners. Jesus died on the cross for you. He rose again. You need to ask Him into your heart. Do you want to do that?’
“She said, ‘Yes.’
“I was kind of dumbfounded and hardly knew what to do but led her through the sinner’s prayer and left.
“My grandmother had struggled with anxiety throughout her lifetime. Because of the heart problems she was having, I prayed, ‘Okay God, she has received You. Please don’t let her struggle with fear and depression right now. Please, can we see some tangible results of You in her life.’
“The first of three answers to my prayers was that she came to know Jesus.
“Second, my grandmother’s new-found passion was playing bingo. She loved playing bingo and would give the quarters she had won to the visiting grandchild of the moment. My Mom called me up one day when I was back in Bible school to tell me that my grandmother passed away. To me, an answer to prayer is that my grandmother, who wrestled with fear, died doing the thing she loved—playing bingo. Furthermore, she had just won her second game; they put the money in her hand; she smiled, hung her head and went home to be with the Lord. There was no pain or fear in this new Christian lady.
“The third answer was that the Catholic priest from grandmother’s town was too busy to do her prayers and we were able to have our little Baptist church pastor who knew and visited her in the nursing home, come to do the prayers. All of my mom’s siblings, nieces and nephews came. At my grandmother’s prayers, my family, who didn’t know the Lord, heard the Gospel being shared by our Baptist pastor.
“My grandmother appeared to be hard of hearing, but this pastor said at my grandmother’s little service, ‘I visited Mary many times and shared the Lord with her. Recently, I asked her, “Do you want to receive the Lord?” ’
“She said, ‘Kristina and I already dealt with that.’
“Somehow through my obligatory actions, ‘Okay God, I’ll go share with my grandmother,’ she got it. Through whatever hearing matters were happening, she understood. God answered my very special lifelong prayer in several ways.”
The Simplest Prayer
Prayer wasn’t a daily practice when Keith prayed for his wife.
“My wife experienced hip pain constantly. It was uncertain the direct cause but no doubt a heavy physical workload was a contributing factor—handling hundred-pound grain bags, flipping and rolling out hay bales by hand, gardening and a multitude of other strenuous tasks.
“Her father had undergone both shoulder and hip replacement surgery. The enemy taunted her, that she would soon end up the same way. Each night she would crawl into bed struggling to find a comfortable position to sleep.
“We can’t remember whose idea it was, mine or hers, but someone decided it was time for prayer. I laid my hand on her hip not knowing how to even pray. Before I could say a word, I felt an intense heat flowing through my hand. She felt nothing but peacefully went to sleep.
“The next morning, she woke up completely healed. She never experienced any pain or discomfort in her hip again. God did it. He answered my silent prayer and it only took a minute.”
The Love Bus is an inner-city ministry bringing food and necessities to prostitutes and gang members. I don’t join this dedicated group of volunteers often, but each time I do, I learn as much from the street people as from the workers.
“I arrived early to help prepare the sandwiches and fruit that we would be taking along with us. We had a brief time of prayer and received final instructions before heading out for the night. We were told not to let the neighborhood children, who would be the first to bombard the bus, take all the food before we reached the streets.
“Sure enough, while we were loading the bus, children started clambering up the steps looking for food to take home with them. It wasn’t long before I began to resent their demands. We gave each child a drink of hot chocolate and a supply of food before escorting them back off the bus.
“I honestly had to go and sit at the back of the bus for a few minutes just to repent of my nasty attitude. It was obvious these children didn’t have much to call their own; critical judgment had no place in God’s work.
“Soon the bus was rolling through the core area of our city, stopping to welcome anyone onto the bus for a warm cup of coffee, hot chocolate or something to eat. The Love Bus offers protection, safety, love and dignity to everyone.
“Several hours later, a man and woman entered. Age is hard to determine on the streets; it isn’t measured by years, but rather by experience. The trauma of inner-city life distorts and molds people leaving little room for normalcy. Before leaving the bus, they both received prayer, hugs as warm as the coffee, and love enough to carry them through the night. They stood outside chatting with the driver for a while.
“Soon the driver re-entered asking if we could change our route and head outside the normal area to give this couple a ride. We all agreed. Back on the bus, they came.
“I slipped over beside the woman, beginning a conversation. She had been in the hospital because she had shot up with a deadly cocktail of substances. Within hours, they quickly released her to fend for herself. Her legs were still grossly swollen from the effect of the self-inflicted potion.
“ ‘They feel like shattered fiberglass hockey sticks—each splinter tearing at me with terrible pain.’ she explained.
“At that moment, I forgot that she was a drug addict, heading to get another fix. My heart reached out before my hand touched her leg, as I asked, ‘May I pray for you?’
“Together we prayed for the swelling to dissipate and the pain to be removed from her body. I asked her to test her legs and see if there was any change. She stood on them for a moment before sitting back down, ‘Yes, they’re a little better.’
“I explained that God is so big and loving that He doesn’t want to make things just a little better but bring complete healing. She agreed to allow me to pray again, before testing her legs a second time. Now they were almost completely better and the swelling had gone down considerably. One more time we prayed.
“This time when she checked her legs, they were completely pain-free. For the first time that night, a giant smile spread across her face, deepening the wrinkles on her cheeks and exposing blackened teeth. Joy and unbelief mingled with gratitude, ‘God did it! He took my pain!’
God showed up on the most dangerous streets in the most dangerous city in our nation. How awesome is that!
“Soon we were at their desired destination. Again, I moved to the back of the bus for a time of solitude. Tears of gratitude oozed from my heart down my cheeks. Never before had I witnessed God’s love so tangibly as on the night He healed a little prostitute and drug addict. The greatness of His love and goodness stretched beyond my ugly attitudes and her destructive habits, exposing itself to a world gone mad.”
Miracles in Spite of Ourselves
Fortunately, God’s desire to intervene in people’s lives is far greater than our handicaps and hang-ups. Prayer’s effectiveness is never dependent on our ability, but rather on God’s availability to move. Helen shares her personal experience.
“We get to be co-laborers with Christ. How exciting is that? He shows me something and I get to pray with Him. We may think we should pray for someone, but real prayer is God moving on us to pray. I need to be hearing what Holy Spirit is saying so I can be more effective.
“Having said that, I remember being at a training on prayer but was sicker than a dog that night. I was paired up with a girl who had a bad foot. Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about her foot. I just wanted to go home. I felt as dry as toast, prayed for her foot and she was healed.
“I thought, ‘God, You are good.’ I didn’t care less. She was ecstatic!
“Someone said to me later, ‘You must have felt elated?’
“I said, ‘No! I was shocked.’
“I really didn’t want to be there and didn’t want to be praying. The answers don’t depend on us. God is so anxious to answer prayer He will use anybody He can find. We are not always in the right mood. Sometimes we don’t feel like we’re connected to God at all. We don’t have to sense Him or feel Him. He is the One who does it!
“I would like more faith in prayer to ask bigger and not limit God. He is beyond what we could think or imagine.”
Miracles While Shopping
I’ve had my own dry as toast experiences.
“A couple of years ago, I had been to a discipleship class and was hurrying to pick up groceries before the store closed. I was overtired and anxious to start the hour trek home. Even though the class should have given me a more godly attitude, I think I forgot the Christian part of me behind when I left the building.
“The icy Arctic wind swept across the parking lot, blasting its cold onslaught against anyone brave enough to be outside. As I reached the door of the grocery store, a woman and small child approached, asking for money. Because panhandlers often frequent this spot, I had grown suspicious of their stories and motives.
“Annoyed I invited them inside the doorway, selfishly wanting to escape the chill myself. She explained how they traveled across the country when her husband was offered a job here. However, by the time they arrived, the position had already been filled.
“The whole family—father, mother and five children—were now living in their van. They had no food or money to provide for the essentials. Her story neither impressed nor convinced me. I sized them both up—a desperate woman and her young daughter, perhaps five years old.
“Welcoming her to pick up a couple of baskets to fill with groceries, I told her that I didn’t have money, but would buy them enough food for a meal. We went through the fresh produce picking up groceries. She cautiously began filling her basket, asking for permission for each item she chose.
“Halfway through the produce aisle, she talked about having a bad headache. My attitude was so crappy, I thought, ‘If you are taking advantage of me, the least you can do is let me pray for you.’ Thankfully my words didn’t match my thoughts that night, so I expressed it more like, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ and I have seen Him heal many times. May I pray for you?’
“The woman was dressed in Middle Eastern garments, so I’m not sure what her religious beliefs were. She was so desperate, however, that she agreed to let me pray.
“Honestly, the prayer was probably no more than ten words, ‘Lord Jesus, heal this headache and take away all pain.’ I asked her how she felt.
“She rubbed the back of her neck and twisted her head from side to side. A huge smile erupted on her face as she exclaimed, ‘It’s better! The headache is completely gone!’
“You would think that having God do a miracle in the supermarket would jolt me out of my “ugly mode,” but alas, it didn’t. That is until I saw her little girl jump up and down like a pogo stick with excitement, chanting and singing, ‘Mama is better! Mama is better!’ Then I began to comprehend the stress and pain this woman had been experiencing.
“This little one skipped and danced through the store as she joyously helped fill the baskets with vegetables, fruit, cheese, meat, bread, milk, cereal, and healthy snacks for later. With the baskets filled and my list complete, we headed for the checkout. After paying for all the groceries, I left the store first.
“From my car, I waited and watched for them to come out. Soon they appeared and walked across the parking lot toward a large white van. Before they reached their destination, the van door slid open as a clatter of youthful activity spilled out into the snow. Now several children bounced up and down with excitement reaching into the overflowing bags.
“Finally, as I saw the unhindered joy and gratitude of the entire family, my heart melted. I was the least likely candidate, the worst example of servitude, the poorest display of God’s goodness, the stingiest prospect of generosity, the grumpiest host for His Presence and yet, “God still used me to bring healing to a woman and provide for a family. I can never claim the credit for anything God does through me.
“Even on my best days, when I think I have it all together, I fall far short of what God desires. Why He chooses to use the frailness of humanity to display His presence is beyond understanding, but He does. He just needs someone, anyone, who is willing to be used.”
Miracles at Work
I sat at the reception desk of a thriving manufacturing company. This Tuesday started like any normal morning. All the employees except for me were in a weekly safety meeting. No sooner had the meeting begun when two young salespeople entered, one male and one female.
Explaining to them that the manager would be busy for a while, I welcomed them to be seated until the meeting was over.
“It wasn’t difficult to overhear their conversation. The young man had been in an accident twelve years ago. Ever since that time, chronic pain and restricted mobility had hindered him from doing many of the things he once enjoyed. They chatted for some time about the injury and his prognosis.
“I had witnessed God heal back injuries and knew that He could do it again. Listening to the young man’s discouragement prompted me to speak. ‘God doesn’t heal every time I pray for people, but I have seen Him heal enough to know that He can and will. May I pray for you?’ I asked.
“The salesman appeared more than a little shocked by my forthrightness, but hesitantly agreed. I said the shortest prayer asking God to heal every part of his spine and remove all pain. Then I asked him to test it out. He looked at me like I was bordering insanity, but stood up and cautiously tried a few movements. The surprised look on his face proved there was a change. He now had more mobility and less pain than just a few minutes before.
“Spurred on by the evidence of God’s touch, I asked if I could pray again for him.
“With reluctance, He agreed. I briefly thanked God for what He had already done and offered another quick prayer. I was concerned workers would soon be rushing through the reception area and bring an end to what God was doing for this young man.
“When I asked him to test it again, he was obviously annoyed but rose to his feet muttering something to the effect that I was being pushy. If pushy was what it took to release a man from twelve years of pain, then pushy I would be. This time the pain was completely gone and he was able to bend down and touch his toes—something he wasn’t able to do previously. For a full minute, he twisted his torso back and forth, and from side to side. He reached and stretched. Even though he was now pain-free and able to move unhindered, he remained almost unphased by the whole encounter.
“However, the young woman with him was ecstatic. Her eyes grew bigger with each prayer initiative. She knew she was witnessing a miracle. She had been his partner for long enough to know the extent of his injury and the limiting effects it had had on him. His restricted movements and the draining nature of chronic pain had previously hindered his ability to function normally.
“Though the young man never gave God credit for touching his back that day, the young woman left with her faith elevated.”
One cannot separate the miraculous from the Word of God and maintain the integrity of the Bible. From the first words in Genesis to the closing chapter of Revelation, God is evidenced by His supernatural workings and power.
Jesus, the express image of the Invisible God, (Heb 1:3) “was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him . . .” (Acts 2:22). Don’t miss the reality of this profound statement. As a man, not God, Jesus relied upon His Father to work through Him. But unlike us, He was a man fully yielded and obedient to God.
Jesus sent out His disciples, giving them authority and power to teach as He taught and do the works He had been doing. Astonishingly, He said they would do even greater works than His (Jn 14:12).
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well . . . Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them, and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Mark 16:15-20
Signs, wonders and miracles marked not just the lives of these apostles, but also many other faithful servants and followers of Christ. The writer of Hebrews affirms,
“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Hebrews 2:3-4
“The miraculous element in Christianity and the fact that God can act in this world of ours is essential to the vitality of Christianity. Without this aspect, prayer becomes meaningless . . .” 1
God has not and will not change (Heb 13:8; Jas 1:17). In our day, in this generation, God is moving in an increasing measure through the same signs, wonders and miracles we read about within the pages of the Bible. He is calling ordinary women and men, boys and girls, young and old together, anointing them through the Holy Spirit to turn hearts to Himself. God has not suddenly become powerless and silent; signs and wonders continue to follow those who believe. The miraculous is the abundant fruit resulting from the seeds of prayer.
Despondency and neglect of faith followed those who “refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles (God) performed among them” (Neh 9:17). Continuously as I interviewed people of all ages, they joyfully remembered and shared God’s grace and goodness witnessed through answered prayer, often in ways they least expected. Remembering reignites the flames of our first love, realigns us with the faithfulness of God, redirects our focus to the Source of life, rekindles the passion of His Presence, restores the deep reservoir of faith, re-energizes our desire to pray and to keep on praying. Remembering is critical to all vibrant faith.
We cannot and will not be silent about the good things God has done. He still sovereignly moves among us by His Spirit.
It’s harvest time on the prairies — an entire season of hard work and great financial investment threshed and stored for future use. Farmers and laborers feel the pressure during this brief window of opportunity.
Globally our province sits small in proportion, but giant in production. Vast acres of spring, durum and winter wheat, canola, peas, lentils, mustard and flax gulped into massive equipment, and scurried to storage facilities. It’s an amazing achievement!
The farmer chosehis seed well, fertilized and cared for the crop during the ensuing months, protecting against disease and pests. However, you can be sure of one thing — every field will have a mixture of good crop and weeds. What! How?
Weeds just are! Whether in my small garden plot, or fields stretching across the horizon, weeds are a perpetual problem. They sap the soil of vital nutrients and moisture.
No one labors for weeds! Yet, they are everywhere — sometimes sitting dormant in the soil for decades. Persistent, invasive, and despised!
Wheat and Tares
“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowedgood seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy, came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” Matthew 13:24-26
Every farmer and gardener can relate. The farmer doesn’t refuse to harvest the field because weeds are present. The gardener doesn’t reject the produce because weeds also grew in the garden.
Every farmer, including this farmer in the parable, fights weeds to protect the valued crop until harvest time.
The servants came to the landowner prepared to take immediate action,
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.’ “ Matthew 13:28-29
Wisdom knows the right thing to do in the right way. The unknowing servants, though desiring to do good, wanted to do the right thing but in the wrong way — or at least at the wrong time.
Oh, how often I’ve been like these servants, rushing in to do what I can without forethought.
I think of another old expression, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” In other words, in the haste to discard something undesirable, avoid throwing away something else worth holding on to.
In North America, we too quickly throw away the good. We see evidence of imperfections and cast the whole lot aside. Whether possessions, ministries, or people, whatever no longer serves our purpose or makes us look and feel good, we dispose of.
“Let both grow together until the harvest. . .” Matthew 13:30
Farmers learn how to harvest their crops in such a way that the least amount of weeds stays with the good grain. By setting the sieves, the chaff, weed seeds, and shrivelled kernels (or dockage) falls to the ground. Yet, try as he might a perfect sample often seems impossible to attain.
God has been speaking to me about the weeds in my life — the dockage He desires to remove. As much as I attempt to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, I’m exasperated by the blatant evidence of pride, selfishness and unbelief that remains in my “life sample.” God pours His grace into me, lovingly caring for every detail, yet I’m blemished, unproductive, and often disappointed with myself.
“But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” Matthew 13:27
This side of heaven we have an enemy, sowing the bad among the good God starts. I want it pulled out NOW, so that only good can flow from my life. Sometimes the tension feels intense!
At the root of everything ungodly live these three potent weeds: pride, selfishness and unbelief. All present themselves subtlely. I need gutsy people to challenge me when they see them sprouting up and taking root. Faithful mentors question the motivations behind my words and actions.
Through this parable of the wheat and tares, Jesus offered insight into the end of all things when God Himself will separate the good from the evil. Until then, our world, both external and internal, will contain both.
It’s interesting that the enemy worked while “everyone was sleeping.” That challenges me to alertness.
Just as the faithful farmer knows his crops and fields, I cannot afford to be ignorant of my personal weaknesses and tendencies.
God points me to another principle, however. What about those around me? Do I cast them aside, pulling them out by their roots, like the foolish servants wanted to do, while they are still developing in their faith? How do I treat others when evidence of weeds hang in heaps from them?
Do I water the “good seed” God is nurturing in them, allowing His sovereign ways and time to deal with the “dockage?” Am I so focused on the messy parts of people’s lives I miss the good God wants me to focus on? Do I see His reflection in everyone I meet?
“At That Time”
The parable reads,
“At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Matthew 13:30
This requires patience and trust on my part. Goddetermines the time of the ultimate harvest. He instructs the harvesters in the process. He decides what will be preserved or destroyed.
“That time” is coming! The evidence of the natural harvest hangs thick in the autumn air. I pray I will as clearly sense the urgency of the spiritual harvest around me.