Do you know The Truth? During the tribunal, Pilate asked Jesus a probing question, a question posed untold times since, “What is truth?” Pilate, like so many of us, found it difficult to acknowledge the Truth, even when he came face to face with it.
Jesus had just made a remarkable statement,
” ‘ . . . In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’ “ John 18:37
The Bible not only contains truth, but is the word of truth. Only two types of people inhabit earth, those who choose to listen to the Word and those who don’t, won’t or can’t. We all live and work in a world futile in its attempt to avoid, deny or run from truth. John also wrote,
“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” 1John 4:5-6
John divides people into “we” and “they,” depending on the strongest influence — “the Spirit of truth” or “the spirit of falsehood” and error. I only have to look within myself to recognize these two realms warring against each other. They battle for my thoughts, influence my talk, and determine my actions.
Know The Truth
Far more than a conceptual notion, truth is a Person! John records a series of astonishing statements Jesus made,
” . . . I am the way and the truth and the life . . .” John 14:6
“I AM!” Jesus said, “I AM truth — the truth, ultimate truth, absolute truth!” The world of the first century matches our own, with political powers forcing domination, religious cultures fighting for their platform of voice, ordinary people wondering who to believe. Daily, we scratch our heads, trying to discern truth for deception.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
Jesus Christ is the capital “I AM” of truth, and the Holy Spirit the capital “Spirit” of truth. For anyone wondering what truth looks, sounds, and feels like, we need look to only One Person! Just as Jesus told Pilate that He came to “testify to the truth,” the Holy Spirit, within us, bears witness to that truth.
Not only is it possible to know the Truth, the Truth, through the Spirit dwells within us — testifying about and guiding us into real truth. How reassuring! Swirls of uncertainty and confusion never overtake us.
” When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father — the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father — he will testify about me . . . But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth . . .” John 15:26-27: 16:13
We live free from fear, without doubting our ability to discern wisely. Through the Holy Spirit, truth becomes a living reality.
Grace and Truth
Deception and lies masquerade as truth. The spirit of error twists and disguises lies to make them look appealing and favorable.
Rather than welcome it, we often fear exposure by truth. But truth partners with grace — grace piled upon grace! Fear originates with the law. Grace flows through truth.
“Out of (Jesus’) fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16,17
Jesus came to us “full of grace and truth.” Deception imprisons those who follow its taunts. Truth unlocks the gates!
” . . . If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32
To know the Truth, is to know Jesus — the One who speaks and imparts liberating truth, setting us free from every lying accusation of the enemy. Truth always sets us free!
I’ve witnessed this reality time and time again, as one captive after another experienced the freedom from chains of addictions, death prisons of defeat and bars of self-harm. Only God holds the keys of such liberating truth.
No wonder our adversary wants to keep us from knowing Jesus. Oh, the power we gain when we know the Truth.
James declares we are born through “the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (1:18). John says, the Truth sanctifies, purifies, consecrates and separates us unto Him (17:17). Paul tells the Ephesian church that truth multiplies truth, along with an abundance of goodness and righteousness (5:9).
If that was all, it would be enough for me, but it isn’t! The benefits of knowing truth exceed all expectations.
In writing to Timothy, Paul identifies the church as a “buttress of truth!” A buttress forms a supporting defense, strengthening and reinforcing a building. God declares us, His kids, as pillars and buttresses of truth. What a high calling and divine purpose!
Truth leads us into God’s Presence (Psalm 43:3 ESV), opening the ear of God to our prayers and petitions.
“The LORD is near to all who call on him to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
Truth becomes a belt, securing and protecting every core aspect of a believer (Ephesians 6:14). A warrior’s belt held weapons readily accessible for battle, freeing one’s hands for combat.
Truth also activates our worship, because
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and truth.” John 4:24
What blessing is ours when we know the Truth.
Rejoice in Truth
Can you feel it? As you hear these verses again, with the implications of truth becoming increasingly real, do you sense an attitude of rejoicing rising within you? I do! God’s Word doesn’t just recite truth, it is truth (Psalm 119:160) We chorus the voice of the psalmist,
“Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth.” Psalm 86:11
Then we will boldly, and with great grace, speak God’s truth in love. In fact, without truth, love becomes impotent (1John3:18). When we know the Truth, it infiltrates our hearts, infusing our words and conduct, penetrating our thoughts (Philippians 4:8).
“Love . . . rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:6
Every perversity and wickedness aims its weapons at truth, suppressing and denying it. The church of Jesus Christ amplifies it by representing the beauty, dignity and power of truth to a confused world.
Let’s get excited!
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1John 5:20
What is truth? Truth is our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. May we not be like Pilate, staring intently into His face and yet missing the opportunity to know Him.
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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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Do you rent your home or own it? Are you a tenant or landlord? Though there are benefits of both, the difference between the two becomes increasingly obvious.
Searching for great tenants is a skill developed over time. Try as we might, we don’t always acquire tenants that value our property as much as we hope. We’ve repaired fixtures, removed left-behind garbage and paid bills accumulated by others,
Fortunately, many people consider tenancy a privilege. They view it with respect, thoughtfully taking care of everything. These folks are the gems we usually come to view as friends.
Tenant or Landlord
Paul reminded the Christians in Corinth of this important principle. He admonishes them to consider carefully their position as tenants, because a new Landlord had taken possession of their lives.
“Have you forgotten that your body is the sacred temple of the Spirit of holiness, who lives in you. You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary? You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Another version asks, “Do you not know?” Good question! Do I fully comprehend this truth? The word “know” includes “to perceive, be aware of, understand, remember and appreciate.”
Reading these verses again, I gained a new appreciation and understanding of their meaning.
Rights of Ownership
People often declare, “It’s my body! I’ll do what I want with it!”
Such statements verify that we’ve forgotten, failing to appreciate and recognize the complete ownership God has over us — not just the spiritual us, but ALL of us?
“Have you forgotten that your body is the sacred temple of the Spirit of holiness, who lives in you.“ 1 Corinthians 6:19
Honestly, I’m no different from the Corinthians believers. I quickly forget that every part of who I am belongs to God. Too often, I stubbornly push for rights of ownership even after I have relinquished the deeds.
Attitude and actions reveal whether I live like a tenant or landlord in God’s house.
God has been challenging me over the last several months to value this body, His temple. Only by grace am I allowed to live in it. God desires that I value it as much as I want tenants to appreciate the home we lease to them.
For me, this boils down to daily struggles, like taking exercise breaks between writing spurts or ensuring I get adequate rest while juggling a busy schedule and shift work. When the temple of our bodies wear out or break down, God doesn’t provide a substitute. This is it, folks!
I don’t battle addictions or major issues, but God has led me to recognize my sweet cravings and to fast from sugars. I’ve gained increasing awareness of healthy eating choices. Though I might forget, He remembers I am spirit, soul, and body — one complete unit.
You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary?“ 1 Corinthians 6:19
When the truth of this verse becomes my living reality, what lifestyle changes will I make? Living with eternity in mind influences my perspective, recognizing that even the “little” things matter.
I hope to be here for the long haul. There is so much more I would like to accomplish for God. Every day of this life is a gift from Him — precious and valuable.
Time and Talents
God always invest wisely! He didn’t consider any of us “junk!” He paid the highest price, an unbelievably enormous price, to purchase us for Himself.
“You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
We could never pay Him back for all He has done. Yet, when I experientially “know” and remember His ownership of every aspect of my life, I am able, if in a limited way, to “bring glory to” Him.
Our bodies are His! Treating His body with respect becomes a privilege. Remembering He is in charge helps us pursue His glory and praise with excellence.
The things I consume, invest in, absorb or spend time on suddenly contain new purpose. When I know, really know, my Landlord, life holds increased potential and greater fulfillment.
Do I treat God like a tenant or Landlord within me? The answer to that question affects everything!
Set Apart for God
Earlier, Paul wrote,
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
We may falsely believe we get away with mistreating these jars of clay behind the priming and pampering, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He calls our bodies “sacred” — set apart for Him alone. We are exclusively His.
There is comfort in being “exclusively His.” The landlord, not the tenant, pays the highest price for mortgage, taxes, upkeep, and improvements. The tenant enjoys the benefit of the landlord’s investment, living securely within.
If my tenants destroy the building they lease, I have to send them a hefty bill to cover the costs. Why would I think God would do any less with what He values highly?
The choice is mine! Will I consider God a tenant or landlord, recognizing the blessing of relinquished ownership?
It is All His
Rather than being harsh, Paul invites us to discover the peace of resting and knowing that everything belongs to God. If I follow Paul’s example and willingly surrender the keys to God, the worry vanishes. Joy replaces struggle.
“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100 1-5
Take heart! We have a wonderful Landlord.
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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.
Are you in pursuit of God, desiring to know Him in ever-increasing ways? The little I know doesn’t satisfy my desire for more. The more I see and know, the more I realize I don’t really see or know much!
Have you ever tried a “What is it?” quiz? That’s where you look at a close-up image of something and guess what it is. Sometimes pursuing God resembles the opposite. Through an encounter with a distant shadow, we try to figure out what He is fully like.
A.W. Tozer said, “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to that pursuit.”
God wants to be found; He desires to be discovered by us. That knowledge offers great comfort and hope.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
The Old Testament gives us bold expressions of God’s identity through His many names: God, LORD, Healer, Creator, Shepherd, Redeemer, and many more. The list is long, the images unique to another facet of who our God is.
The vast God-shaped palette fills with colorful texture as our knowledge of Him fills and finds depth. When we look, seeking with our whole heart, we find His image revealed, yet concealed.
In the pages of the New Testament, we quickly see that most people, Jewish and otherwise, believed they had Him figured out. The portrait they painted was Scripture perfect. Or so they thought! They believed in the diligent pursuit of God.
John quotes Jesus as saying,
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39
John’s generation, as well as preceding and following generations, studied God’s Word with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude, rather than a pursuit-of-God intention. As a result, they missed God, even when He stood among them.
Honestly, that’s me too! John himself probably fit into the same category. As a Jewish boy, he would have studied the Torah, knew the names of God, and memorized key passages about Him.
If someone asked if he knew God, John undoubtedly would have responded in the affirmative. His incomplete perception of God blew apart when Jesus came along.
Jesus, the God-Man, didn’t look like, sound like or act like the God John thought he knew. Yet Paul would write,
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15
Another disciple, Philip, was in pursuit of God. He felt he needed more. Being with Jesus, hearing his authoritative teaching and witnessing miracles left him lacking.
“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” John 14:8
In no uncertain terms, Jesus responds,
“. . . Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. . .” John 14:9
This, too, I find strangely reassuring. Even the disciples who lived with Jesus intensely pursued more of God!
John’s entire perception of God changed in the face of Jesus. He discovered Him to be more loving, merciful and gracious than John ever imagined. Was it this new understanding that transformed a “Son of Thunder” into “the Beloved?” Talk about a radical life transformation!
As our view of God changes, so will we.
God made Himself visible, reachable, touchable, understood and seen in Jesus. So much more remains to be seen, known and discovered.
Jesus led Peter, James and John high up a mountain one day. The rest of his close followers stayed below.
“There be was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Matthew 17:2
Just when they thought they had God figured out He blows their tidy little box apart. Jesus shows Himself in a way they have never seen Him before. They flounder for words, stumble over preconceived notions, stunned by the majesty of God.
In Peter’s last letter to the church, he wrote about the experience.
“. . . we were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . . when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well please.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18
The God they thought they knew proved beyond majesty and perfection — holy and awesome. The pursuit of God led them into deeper and deeper revelations of His glory.
The Pursuit of God
If any one of us would have witnessed such things, would that satisfy? Would that one blinding glimpse of His majestic beauty, the thunderous sound of His voice, the heart-pounding Presence of the divine, be enough?
I hope not!
Here was King David’s heart’s cry,
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
I know this desire echoed constantly within John. How can I be so certain? In the last words we receive from him, he remains constant in his pursuit of God. John discovers Him to be more than he ever thought possible.
More to See
Banished to the Island of Patmos for his bold declarations of faith, John waits with the only One who matters.
“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet . . . I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw . . . someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest . . . ” Revelation 1:10-16
There is always more of God to see. To turn around? Sometimes to know Him more requires a turning on our part — turning away from something and turning toward Someone. Only then will we see Who we are looking for.
When He speaks, when His voice nudges me, do I turn around to look? Or am I too busy? Or too fixed in the knowledge of Him I already possess?
As a Christian, two dangerous attitudes hinder me from knowing God.
The first is believing I know enough. Then, I allow the shadowy figure of past understanding to create a mirage, a distorted outline, of who God is. In so doing, I twist and press the grandness of Scripture into my Pharisaical belief system, denying the majesty and greatness of Him to form before my eyes. In it, I deny the revelation of His unfolding fullness.
Second, I can read the Word of God intent on discovering what He will do for me. Rather than an earnest desire to know Him more, I search for His promises with me-centered fixation. He walks by, whispering my name, nudging me to intimacy of relationship. I fail to notice until perhaps it is too late!
Like David, Peter, John and generations of others, may we never cease our pursuit of God. Throughout the stages of life, may we be held in awe of His Presence, in wonder of His majesty, and in reverence of His holy divinity. May our pursuit of God captivate us, viewing Him intently close and from afar.
I hope you enjoy a sneak peek at the first chapter of Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer? — the first conceived but second born of a group of books on prayer.
In many ways, I feel like a new mother hoping everyone will think her baby as beautiful as she does, yet knowing that none could or would as much as her. So it’s time to pull back the blanket, hold my breath and wait with excitement and anticipation.
Unmasking Myths looks at prayer on the basis of relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the testimony of dozens of Christians, Unmasking Myths unanimously declares God’s goodness, mercy and grace in responding to our petitions. It includes many miraculous interventions of God, as a result of people praying.
Even though over half the world’s population acknowledges that they pray, many don’t know who they are praying to, or feel their prayers are effective. Most Christians feel impotent and unsure about their prayers being heard or answered by God.
Unmasking Myths attempts to expose misconceptions about prayer, answering common questions and creating a solid biblical foundation to pray.
Other chapters explore topics like:
Hearing God’s Voice
The Discipline of Praying
Praying in the Marketplace
and much more
Is This Prayer?
Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer? attempts to turn questions into answers, replace hesitancy with confidence, and conquer fear with faith. The real treasure found within the pages comes from the combined wisdom and experience of dozens of people, aged from nine to ninety years old. It is their voices, rather than the author’s, that create a fertile bed from which prayer can take root and rise strong.
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless and because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” C.S. Lewis
God bless each of you! May you begin to pray with power as you approach God with confidence and humility.
” . . . tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!” James 5:16 TPT
Why would Paul include righteousness, peace and joy as the key ingredients in the kingdom of God? What sets these three qualities above all others? Why are these components indispensable?
“For the kingdom of God
is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
because anyone who serves Christ in this way
is pleasing to God and receives human approval.”
I confess to having more questions than answers. However, one thing appears certain, righteousness, peace and joy create the fertile soil from which they each thrive, co-existing for their mutual benefit.
Recently, I’ve had more than one conversation surrounding the frustration we can feel regarding righteousness. (Or perhaps the lack of it.) Why does it seem to be too easy to do the things we would or should not do, while at the same time difficult to do the things we truly want to do? Oops! That’s another question!
Before the initial sin, humanity could freely choose to obey God and maintain close relationship with Him without feeling pulled and tugged in other directions. Since that time however, our propensity bends continually toward disobedience and rebellion. For every son and daughter since Adam and Eve, we now need to make a deliberate choice for righteousness — to walk in innocence and freedom. Without this focused attention, we automatically default to sin and error.
Just a few verses earlier Paul despaired of the same frustration I experience, “Who can possible help us?” he asks. Then immediately he gives the answer,
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me
through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25
There’s hope! Righteousness means to be faultless, innocent, and guiltless or observing divine laws. Only God fits this description. In light of His holiness, we all end up far short.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
God solved the problem in Jesus. Through covenant relationship with Him, God counts us as righteous. Because of Jesus, righteousness now becomes the hallmark of all other relationships as well.
Through the liberty of Jesus Christ, we are no longer forced to continue in negative patterns. He came to deliver us from the stronghold of sin. With righteousness in place, we can start growing upward and onward. Maturity and development in any area isn’t always easy, but possible through Christ.
“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.” Isaiah 32:17
The apple tree in my yard doesn’t have to work at producing apples; it simply bears what it is genetically designed to produce. The fruit of righteousness however does take work, or at least active involvement. “Fruit” here is an activity or byproduct of action taken.
Isaiah says with certainty, the byproduct of righteousness “will be” peace. Peace effects us inside and out, giving us a sense of undisturbed quietness, complete safety and absolute security.
When I’ve violated God’s standards, I’m immediately robbed of peace and void of internal quietness and confidence. In Christ, however, I am able to be restored again to right relationship with God, producing “fruit” naturally.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Peace works its way outward spreading to others with enough fruit to share!
It’s hard to believe that someone like me, whose life was marked by depression and anxiety for decades, could experience such complete joy. But it’s true! Perhaps more than any other quality, joy marks my life . Because of what Jesus Christ has done in me, I easily share the overflow of joy with others.
“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul,
produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ
in the word and in the world.”
– John Piper
When we begin to walk in right relationship with God, living at peace with ourselves and others, we possess an ability to see the world in a new light. God enables us to view His Word and the world around us from kingdom perspective.
In a sense, God gives us spiritual contact lens, that allow us to see those we encounter here on earth from His viewpoint. At the same time, we are able to maintain clear focus on Him. Righteousness, peace and joy retrains our minds to see with His vision.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Righteousness produces more and more. This time in the form of overflowing, bubbling over and abounding hope.
Kingdom of God
Listen to how the Message Bible phrases our original verses:
“God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone; pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.”
The kingdom of God isn’t so much about what we do, but what God does in us. He “sets it right, puts it together and completes it with joy.” He does it all! What we need to do is rest in the process, co-operating with the Holy Spirit, while He does the heavy lifting.
We have only one part to play — “single-minded” service. By keeping our eyes on God, all the pressure falls off of us. No matter how old we become, how mature in the faith, or how seasoned in the Scriptures, we constantly depend on Him to lead, equip and enable me.
Though we try our best to please God in every way, our own efforts matter little. Through righteousness, peace and joy we automatically become pleasing to God and valuable to others.
Righteousness, Peace and Joy
Righteousness, peace and joy are byproducts of living wholly for Christ. Through my vain efforts to try to do and be, I actually hinder the natural flow of God’s design.
God has planted us firmly. The Holy Spirit washes us continually with the Word, watering us deep to the roots. We rest in His finished work producing the fruit of the heavenly kingdom to which we belong.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Don’t ignore the last sentence. “Against such there is no law.” We no longer have to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or the law pointing out right and wrong, like our first ancestors did. Because of God’s grace, we eat freely and fully from the tree of life where righteousness, peace and joy thrive.
No wonder Paul declared these three ingredients as essential in the kingdom of God. This is how God sets our lives right, puts them together, and completes them with joy.
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.
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”.
Are you in need of refreshing? Perhaps you need an activity, or lack thereof, to renew personal strength and energy particularly after pouring out physically, emotionally or mentally. These moments usually don’t just happen! Taking time to refresh often takes planning.
What ways have you developed to refresh yourself? A good book, a movie night, a vacation, a relaxing bath, a game of golf, a walk in the woods, a lounge on the couch, or time at the gym? For each of us it might look quite different.
I just spent a few days with others who are involved in ministry at a lakeside retreat. Those few days away with others of like mind was refreshing, enabling me to return home encouraged and with renewed vision.
It wasn’t without struggle though!
To refresh means to reinvigorate, or give new strength or energy. I must admit I set out on this little adventure feeling tired. My mind and body were in need of some down time!
Those present were in full time ministry and have been most of their lives. Honestly, I felt like the odd man out or the ugly duckling – the one that just didn’t fit!
I can easily identify with farmers and labourers. It is a culture I know. Such has been my life’s work. The full time ministry environment is relatively new and feels a bit uncomfortable. like wearing a new pair of shoes.
After the first evening’s activities, I snuggled into my sleeping bag to read again from Romans.
“I urge you, brothers and sister, by our Lord Jesus Christ
and by the love of the Spirit,
to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Romans 15:30
Now Paul’s struggle was serious! There were those seeking to take his life! He goes on to say…
“so that I may come to you with joy,
by God’s will,
and in your company be refreshed.” Romans 15: 32
Sometimes God has to speak clearly! This was one of those nights! My struggle was a serious struggle of identity and belonging.
Here I was in the company of amazing men and women. God gently whispered His confirmation to this little servant that yes, it was His will, that I be here at a “Refresh” conference to, in fact, be refreshed!
I almost laughed at the simplicity of God’s affirming word. I began to recognize I am in His perfect spot at the right time to be reinvigorated, strengthened and energized.
To Stimulate Memory
Is it just me who knows, but forgets?
My bible is an important tool to refresh my mind. The words within at times feel like a gentle reminder of truth, and at others like a baseball bat to the shin!
When I am weary and in need of refreshing, I can easily forget who I am in Christ.
“…with an anxious mind,
eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.
You will live in constant suspense,
filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life.” Deuteronomy 28: 67-68
I am being painful honest. When I am feeling drained emotionally, physically, mentally or relationaly, I fit this description!
Back up a few verses! You will find this is not a condition associated with the blessing God promises, but rather the result of opposing God. There is no victory on this side!
Even though these verses describe my feelings, they sure don’t describe my true position! Go back a few more verses and we taste of the real truth as a son or daughter of God:
“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
The fruit of your womb will be blessed,
and the crops of your land
and young of your livestock …
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in
and blessed when you go out.” Deuteronomy 28:3-4
No room for anxiousness, weariness or despair here! My circumstances may be a long way from lining up, but there is nothing to keep my mind and heart from agreeing with God’s truth about me and my family!
It is time to remember what I know!
To Refill a Container
The third main meaning of refresh is to refill, recharge, or replenish like a drink in a container.
I leak! That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but sometimes I forget that too!
I need to take time to refill, recharge and replenish those areas where I have been pouring into the lives of others. God is a never ending Source; I am not!
The only way to truly fill up is in the Presence of God. There are no “drive-through windows” or “fast-track” to refuel. It requires time with God, waiting on the Holy Spirit, and lavishly worshiping Jesus. To refill our emptiness we must wait in the stillness of quietly knowing and resting in Him. It is the beautiful being “with” God.
Holy Spirit is ready to “keep on filling constantly and continually” our leaky containers. It is like being thirsty on a hot day, a sip of water is never enough! In the same way, only Holy Spirit satisfies are deepest thirst!
We come into His Presence one way and leave changed. Then when we “leak”, we leak Him! We leak His love and goodness! We leak His grace and truth!
In so doing, our refreshing, becomes the refreshing others can taste and see for themselves. I think leaky buckets is an apt description of God’s intention for us. God refreshes us for the purpose of leaking enough to refresh others. I like that!