Learning, Growing, Teaching, Repeat

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

Learning

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

Growing

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.

Teaching

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

Repeat

“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.

Bless you!

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Fresh Air! A Fresh Wind Is Blowing

What memory or image most clearly represents “fresh air” to you? Is it mountains, forests, or laying in a hammock beside a lake? Developers and marketers attempt to package and advertise their latest scent to entice you into buying everything from laundry detergent to shoes. Why? Our nose knows!

When I close my eyes asking God for alert spiritual senses, I “smell” a shifting aroma that excites my spirit. I smell a fresh wind blowing, swooping across the nations of the world. It is starting almost imperceptibly, building strength, riding the prayers of God’s people of all nationalities, disrespecting political boundaries or earthly terrain. Like a powerful stallion sent from heaven, it comes — unbridled and free.

Long ago, in another land, a wind blew.

“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 2:2-4

“Suddenly” they ALL heard and saw things they had neither seen nor heard before. Perhaps, God again is repositioning us for new things previously unseen and unheard — times of refreshing, times of revival, times of awakening.

Hope

I invite you today to close your eyes for a moment and turn your heart heavenward toward the One upon His eternal throne. May you commune heart to heart with Him who loves you, knows you intimately, and sees your situation.

Neither distant nor distracted, He waits, listening for your voice. Like a loving Father, arms outstretched, welcoming you to come.

You are not abandoned! You are not forsaken! God has not forgotten your name.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
Ephesians 1:18

Oh, that we each may “know the hope to which (God) has called” us! Renewed hope breathes fresh air upon us. Do you smell it?

Courage

The fresh breeze blowing rides upon the wings of courage.

“But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 14:27

We take courage, grabbing hold of it. We all possess the potential to choose courage. Courage shines strongest in the face of fierce circumstances. Courage disarms fear, exposing its faulty system.

It may be -30 degrees celsius outside, but today I unlocked the door and stepped onto my balcony with slippered feet. I shouted long and loud, laughing (literally) at fear. This simple gesture created a powerful inward move, refusing to entertain fear. The fresh air made me cough, pause, then breathe a glorious deep breath.

I smelled again the scent of newness, of God invading this earthly realm in ways my heart yearned to see.

Faith

Have you ever smelled the humusy aroma of fresh turned earth after a long winter’s rest? It is one of my favorite things, reminding me the old is gone and a new season has come. Faith smells just like that! Faith dares to turn over the moldy remnants of growth long dead, preparing for the planting of new seeds.

We enjoy the fruit of whatever we willingly sow, both in the natural and the spiritual.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-contol. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

Sow the seeds! Reap the fruit! Breathe in the aroma of the fresh air of God’s Spirit rising.

In prayer, I saw an eagle, rising, circling upon a fresh wind. It rose higher and higher until I could no longer see it, but I knew it was there — powerful, strong and free. Suddenly, the eagle swooped taking captive what needed to be taken captive. Then flaming arrows came from heaven, lighting fires all over my nation of Canada. Not destroying fire, but fire that lights and warms — inviting fires, needed fires, holy fires.

The fresh air of Holy Spirit ignites flames of passionate worship, surrendered hearts, and yielded wills. I smell it, though I don’t yet see it.

Prayer

Yes, Lord! Bring in the fresh air of Your Presence. Blow across this and all nations with hope, courage and faith. Release over the earth the wind of Your doing. May Your church be ready! May she be waiting and watching — anticipating the newness of this day and hour. Turn over and overturn all that is dead and dying. Prepare the soil for Your harvest.
May Your people unite in perfect unity and harmony, declaring Your unfailing Word, without shame, throughout the streets and roadways, to neighbors, family, friends, and strangers.
May the winds of revival and restoration come! Remove what must be removed. Ignite holy fires. Shoot Your powerful arrows restoring Your purposes and plans. Light the path for those who have wandered far to find their way safely home.
This is a season of renewed hope! A time of great courage! Unwavering faith stirs among Your church — young and old, male and female. She is beautiful and strong. She will not be diminished! Through the burning fire of oppression she comes — radiant and unashamed.
She is learning to love as You love. She carries with her the fruit of Your Spirit, scattering it abroad. Lavishly generous, she freely receives and gives with open hands.
Awaken us, Lord! Awaken our senses to know the tremendous season upon us. It smells like fresh air, turning us toward You.
Amen.”

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The Beauty of God’s Fire – A Prophetic Word

The Beauty of God's Fire

Flames, rising and falling, swirling and twirling, perform a mesmerizing dance, but the beauty of God’s fire surpasses all others. Spiritual fire performs divine purpose. Holy fire consumes, leaving no trace of the former content, while in other ways increases, fortifies, strengthens, revives, and restores.

*****

On a cool evening, one family circled a campfire on a sandy beach overlooking a small lake. They cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows over the open flames. With laughter, they sang songs, shared stories, and fortified generational bonds. There they lingered long after the moon rose and stars cloistered against the darkened skies. Before retreating to their warm cabin beds, they carefully covering the fire’s last golden embers with sand.

The next morning, another family arrived on the beach. All four doors simultaneously swung open as a rush of shoeless children raced excitedly toward the water. Their towels flapped cheerfully behind them in the warm summer breeze. Time halted with the ear-piercing screams of the youngest, as we all watched, horrified. She froze mid-stride. Then instinctively, she dropped her hands to the ground while trying to lift her feet. My father knew immediately what had happened. He grabbed her writhing body, dipping her burnt hands and feet in the cool lake before rushing her to the nearest hospital a half-hour away.

Campfire

The same fire that brought delight to one family, meant weeks of torturous burn treatments for ours.

Fire! Both beautiful and painful! Simultaneously taking and giving!

And so it is in the beauty of God’s fire through painful trials — this union of removing what no longer belongs to secure what must eternally remain.

A Prophetic Word

I feel stirring in my heart a prophetic word — an unction of the Holy Spirit. I see with spiritual eyes both a flame burning and a newness rising. For those willing to endure the flame of God’s purging fire, there is coming victorious freedom and release.

The invitation to surrender completely to His flames extends to every one of us. However, I feel it will be men, both young and old, who will respond and rise with strength during this season. There is a generation of flaming ones, unstoppable in the Spirit, who are coming through the flames of adversity and trials. They believed they were being utterly destroyed, but God has been purging and purifying them for greatness and triumph.

These flaming ones will see and do awesome things through the power of God — divinely prepared, ignited with passion, and released into this generation.

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”
Isaiah 48:10-11

Former generations have robbed God of the glory due His name. In pride, they set themselves on false pedestals and built crumbling edifices of their own doing.

No more!” God says. “I will not yield my glory to another.”

Torch

Through the beauty of God’s fire, He is shifting leadership from positions of authority. We see faint shadows of it already, but God is bringing forth a divine rearranging. Only those who willingly surrender to the flames of refining will rise, bringing God glory and reflecting His face.

“This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”
Zechariah 13:9

The Refining

Silver and gold are “tested” in the refiner’s fire.

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1: 2-4

A refiner heats the metal until the impurities, or dross, rise to the surface. Then he skims it off. Over and over, he repeats the process — heating and removing. Each time, he “tests” the purity of the molten metal by looking into the surface. Only when he clearly sees his own reflection in the metal does he know it is pure.

Refine Metal

Throughout Scripture, God uses the illustration of a refiner’s fire to explain His process in removing the contaminates from our lives. He refuses to quit until He clearly sees His own reflection in us.

Everyone goes through trials and adversity. Will we not only allow but welcome them, yielding to the beauty of God’s fire, working out His greater good, bringing us to maturity, and purifying our faith? Or will we resist refusing to suffer pain, while pacifying ourselves with the soothing ointments of pleasure and self-gratification?

” . . . I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.”
Isaiah 1:25

The Invitation

The prophetic word invites us all to become His flaming ones — those who find a place of rest in the beauty of God’s fire. Not once! Not twice! But continually choosing to live within the flame of His Presence.

May God never speak a similar warning to us as He did to the Laodicean Church.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:15-16

Heart on Fire

Paul encouraged both Gentile and Jewish believers in Rome with these words:

“Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.”
Romans 12:11 AMP

Flaming ones, those aglow and burning with the Spirit, best reflect His image. When tested, those filled with zeal and eagerly serving the Lord prove faithful and pure.

As much as I cringe at the thought of being purged by fire, I long for the flame of His Holy Presence to remove everything that mars Christ from clearly being seen in and through my life.

The Worship

God commanded the priests of the Old Testament to never allow the fire on the altar to go out (Leviticus 6:13). God still commands us, His New Testament priests, to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, in true worship.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sister, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
Romans 12:1

The embodiment of worship extends beyond singing congregational songs on Sunday mornings or any other day of the week. Worship means giving ourselves daily to Him, sacrificially for Him, and holy unto Him. In true worship, we step willingly and knowingly into the beauty of God’s fire, becoming living torches of His Presence.

Light Candle

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.'”
Hebrews 12:28-29

Isaiah referred to Jesus, saying,

“The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame . . .”
Isaiah 10:17

Within this image, God places us!

Us in Christ and He in us — together burning! As a perpetual act of worship, we combine our small flames with THE consuming fire and THE fiery flame. Little flames within His great flame and small fires amidst His glorious fire, creating ever-increasing, globally impacting intensity!

The Baptism

John the Baptist preceded Jesus, baptizing with water — a baptism of repentance. He spoke of another baptism and another Baptizer,

“John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Luke 3:16

This Holy Spirit baptism of fire is available to everyone, of all nationalities and creeds, who desires it. God is faithful! He offers great joy, freedom, and power to those who will abandon themselves to His purposes.

But will I surrender and submit to God’s plan and become a flaming one? Will you?

Flame Candles

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The Importance of Kindness

The Importance of Kindness

A couple of recent messages, one positive and one negative, caused me to reconsider the importance of kindness at a personal level.

A few weeks ago, a friend messaged me about a dream she had about me. In the dream, I was being publicly congratulated for my many acts of kindness. Her message caused more than a little puzzlement. I honestly searched my memory bank for what the dream could be referring to. Had God’s supernatural seeds of kindness actually begun to grow in my life? I wasn’t convinced! Another option seemed more plausible. Perhaps the dream came to cause me to reconsider my ways and spur me toward a greater awareness of the importance of kindness.

More recently, someone else sent a message to confront the lack of kindness she sensed in me. No surprises there! Why? The qualities of gentleness, generosity, and consideration toward others which blend to form kindness seldom flow naturally from my life.

I have sometimes half heartedly joked about my absence when God handed out the gifts of mercy and compassion. While I see them so clearly in others, I struggle to see them here at ground zero — in me!

A small picture assumes a prominent place in my kitchen. It is a treasured gift from yet another friend. Engraved upon the face of the image is Aesop’s familiar phrase, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Unfortunately, the image often goes unnoticed.

Kindness Gives What is Needed

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Colossians 3:12-13

God purposefully centres kindness between the distinguished garments of compassion and humility.

The root of the Greek word for kindness bears the essence of “usefulness.” It often occurs alongside the concept of forgiveness or with another Greek word which we commonly translate philanthropy. The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament adds, “It is the grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be seen as harsh and austere . . . having the harmlessness of a dove . . . It is the opposite of severity or cutting something short . . . The word is descriptive of one’s disposition.”

I stop and muse over that word — mellowing! Yes, mellowing would certainly be beneficial in me, to me, and through me to others.

Paul includes kindness among other attitudes of the heart, which we should intentionally “clothe” ourselves with — never to be found naked without them.

Kindness offers to others the reflection of God’s heart in the way they need it most.

The Kindness of God

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32

God lovingly placed many kind souls in my path who clearly demonstrated His kindness through their attitudes, words, and actions. In spite of my unrefined, far-from-mellowed, overly jagged, and repulsively crude ways, they generously offered me those most useful and needed commodities of forgiveness, gentleness, goodness, and grace.

In fact, the kindness of God, displayed so lavishly in others, helped to lead me to Jesus. Their kindness caused me to turn my broken life over to Him. Paul explained the importance of kindness so well:

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
Romans 2:4

One must never underestimate the importance of kindness. One finds the evidence of God’s kindness in every transformed life. Every soul that repents and turns their face humbly toward Him experiences it. Long-time enemies of God become His beloved children!

Jesus said,

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:35-36

A promised reward awaits everyone who emulates God’s kindness shown even to the ungrateful and wicked.

The Reward of Kindness

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”
Proverbs 21:21

Kindness implies a refining and purifying that matures into moral excellence — something that just keeps getting better with age. It’s like that “mellowing” we talked about, but better.

We look inward, knowing we have far to go to reach the moral excellence of kindness. God looks at us, however, and sees His continuing work in progress. In the centre of the list of the Holy Spirit’s fruit, we find kindness:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23

If we quickly skim over these familiar verses, we easily miss a key element. The Holy Spirit supernaturally produces kindness, along with all the other fruit, in our lives. Yes, we play an important role by cooperating with what God is doing. Ultimately, however, He receives the credit for His development of His fruit in each of us.

Kindness is Spirit led! It begins with Him and comes only through His deep working in our lives. We reap the rewards only by His grace.

Activate Kindness

What if, like in my friend’s dream, God anxiously waits to commend us for kindness? What if failing to reflect His kind heart, as my second friend challenged, carries far more serious consequences than we think?

Understanding the importance of kindness forms the foundation. Activating kindness builds on that understanding. But how?

First, let’s pray, asking Holy Spirit for His supernatural movement, planting and watering kindness seeds within us, removing any remnants of the old crusty nature, and replacing it with tenderness and compassion.

Second, let’s focus on what others need? What would be the most “useful” thing we could offer? Do they need a helping hand or financial support? Perhaps, forgiveness stands as their greatest need. Maybe helping them develop a skill would prove most beneficial. Would a word or note of encouragement help carry them through a tough season? The greatest need any of us possess is the need for Jesus in our lives. Sharing our faith will always be the most useful and profitable thing we offer anyone.

Third, thank God for the mellowing with age and the building of moral excellence evident in you. Whether dramatic or subtle, recognize and thank Him for the supernatural shaping and movement toward kindness.

And fourth, remember

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,”
Aesop

What God said first, Aesop reminded us of. Kindness affects others after it first affects us. May we never question the importance of kindness. May it flow from our continually transformed lives by the tender loving heart of God.

“Love is patient, love is kind . . .”
1 Corinthians 13:8

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Does God Hear and Answer Prayer

Hear and Answer Prayer

One question we may ask is, “Does God hear and answer prayer?” We might know He responds to the prayers of others, but what about mine? Can I pray with confidence, believing He turns His ear toward my petitions and that His hand opens to my needs?

For many people, this is the point of wavering faith. Does He listen me? Will He respond to my voice?

When I turn the hot water tap on in my house, the water initially runs cold. By leaving it running, I confidently know that the hot water will flow through the pipes eventually getting from the heating tank to me. Prayer is like that hot water tap. I don’t always experience an instant response, but if I keep the “prayer pipe” open, the desired results will come.

But what do we do when answers don’t flow like water? When faith fades? Or hope hides?

I relate to the words of the psalmist David,

“I’m hurting, Lord — will you forget me forever? How much longer, Lord? Will you look the other way when I’m in need? How much longer must I cling to this constant grief? I’ve endured this shaking of my soul. So how much longer will my enemy have the upper hand?”
Psalm 13:1-2

Hot Water Tap

I appreciate David’s honest bearing of his soul. “How much longer,” forms a familiar refrain for many of us. As we read further, however, we discover God heard his cry. The answer to David’s longing came. Later, he penned psalms of thanksgiving and praise for the answers sent his way.

“For (God’s) anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5

But will God hear and answer my prayer? Will He turn my weeping into joy, my struggle into success, or my darkness into the brightness of day?

Take Courage

I take hope from a short passage in Exodus. After generations of immersion in a wicked and foreign country, not to mention cruel slavery, God’s chosen people finally cried out for help. They should have known God as their Deliverer, but they didn’t. God’s faithfulness seemed distant, His promises forgotten. So in misery they cried!

” . . . The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.” Exodus 2:23

They didn’t remember to look to God or ask Him for help. Yet, their pain-filled cries reached Heaven’s gates and God’s throne. God heard. He answered by sending Moses to lead them to freedom from their oppressors.

Watering Can

Many of my prayers resonate with cries and groans. I, too, sometimes forget to look to God for the answer. As a compassionate Father, He responds. The answer may come in unexpected ways and unpredictable timing, however.

“Lord, how much longer?”

Never Too Late

Unlike the Israelites in Egypt, the priest, Zechariah, and his wife, Elizabeth, stayed close to God. At first, their prayers overflowed with faith and anticipation. Years passed. Decades slipped away. God’s deafening silence prevailed.

I wonder when they stopped praying for a child. When did they resolve themselves to barrenness, childlessness, hopelessness . . . When did their groaning and crying cease? Now too old to hope for their miracle, they gave themselves to intercede for others. They loved and served God with unflinching devotion, without expectation of personal gain.

Did the ache ever leave? That longing for a child of their own. Did they sometimes wonder how different life might have been with children and grandchildren, or even great grandchildren?

Does God hear and answer prayer? Yes!

Water Spout

” . . . ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.”
Luke 1:13-14

God sent His angel to announce the good news. He heard! He answered! His perfect timing arrived. Those faith-filled prayers, long silenced on Earth, echoed in Heaven. God hadn’t forgotten, even when it seemed He had.

Keep Praying

A Roman Centurion named Cornelius also devoted himself to prayer.

“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing, he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” Acts 10:2

One would expect such consistent praying from Jewish believers, not a Gentile — one considered outside the realm of God’s care and concern. Cornelius dared to keep the prayer tap open, believing God, in grace, would hear and answer. He was right!

Because Cornelius prayed, the entire direction of the early church shifted. God shook Peter from religious mindsets and false paradigms. He proved His availability and accessibility to everyone, Jews and Gentiles.

” Cornelius answered: ‘Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, “Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.”
Acts 10:30-31

Now that’s a rare occurrence! Angels seldom come to assure us that our prayers are being answered. Because this Gentile man faithfully prayed, trusting somehow, some way God would respond, he received the greatest of miracles.

Fountain

As Peter told Cornelius, his family, and friends about Jesus, they all received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter baptized them into the faith and later stayed to teach them more.

Does God hear and answer prayer? Yes, more often than we realize.

Not Now

The hardest responses for me to receive are the “not now” answers. Everyone loves the miraculous, supernatural responses to prayer. We gladly share our testimonies of when God came through in desperate times.

” . . . who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the word; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again . . . “
Hebrews 11:33-35

Ah! We watch movies and read books about such exciting exploits. We gladly sing praise to God for His great love and awesome power demonstrated in such amazing ways.

But . . .

Dripping Faucet

But there are times when and others who

” . . . were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Hebrews 11:39-40

Their faith rose to the challenge. The Bible says, “The world was not worthy of them!” (vs 38) Yet, miracles stayed distant. God answered, “Not now. I have something better for you, faithful one.”

Only a quiet trust in God’s better, higher, perfect ways holds us in such times.

The Word of God

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Romans 10:17

Though I would love to offer pat answers and fixed formulas, none exist. God is God. Though He chooses to hear and answer prayer, He owes us nothing. Nothing obligates Him to respond to our efforts to garner His attention.

Nonetheless, He is a good God who delights in responding to the call of those in relationship with HIm. Oh, what confidence we gain from this wonderful assurance,

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6

He exists! He rewards!

Faith builds as we read the Bible and the testimony of God’s faithfulness to multiple others. It grows in the shelter of God’s unfailing love and His steadfast devotion. Faith, not in prayer, but in the God who answers prayer, flourishes on the foundation of His unchanging Word.

No word from God will ever fail.”
Luke 1:37

Fountain

A daily time reading the Bible and praying keeps our spiritual taps open and the channel clear for God to hear and answer. There is no substitute or easy fixes. God’s Word saturates our hearts, fills our minds, and lifts our spirits to believe.

The roots of trust take root until we know that we know that we know, God will hear and answer. It may be soon, but it will never be late.

Patient Endurance

I can either be annoyed because the hot water takes so long to reach the sink, or be thankful when it arrives. Attitude determines altitude someone once said. An attitude of patient endurance as we wait for the full result of prayer to develop is essential.

Let’s not grow weary or give up, saints! The answer is on the way. May we rejoice even before it arrives, while we keep the tap open and expectation flowing.

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The Holy Spirit — God’s Gift at Pentecost

Holy Spirit in You

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

Prayer

The Gift

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.

Give gift

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.

Living gift

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 God better — 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

Love gift

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

Receive

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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What is Truth? Know The Truth: Speak What is True

Know Truth! Speak Truth!

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

Question Mark

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

Thinker

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.

Problem

“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.

The Benefits

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!

Solution

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

The Cross

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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Overcome Spiritual Fatigue: Minister Out of the Overflow

Overcome Spiritual Fatigue

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.

Fatigue

“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.

Taking Inventory

My first step to overcome spiritual fatigue began with this basic inventory check:

  • healthy diet
  • adequate sleep
  • routine exercise

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.

Lethargy

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.

The Problem

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.

Sleep

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.

The Solution

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!

Tired

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.

Resting

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.

Horse sleeping

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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Tenant or Landlord? Do You Know? Remember and Appreciate!

Beachfront Home

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.

Family Dwelling

“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

Country Cottage

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.

Practical

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

High-Rise Apartment

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.

Beach House

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.

Mountain Home

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.

Tenant or Landlord

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God of Miracles – Final Chapter of Unlocking Legacy

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.

The following is the final chapter of Unlocking Legacy: Taking your God-Given Territory Through Prayer. Unlocking Legacy is a compilation of personal testimonies from people of a variety of ages and nationalities. I pray you find this excerpt encouraging.

“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.

Healing in the Chemistry Lab

“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

BreAnn shared,

“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.”

God Provides

Caleb shared,

“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.

A Missing Wallet

There is no supernatural lifestyle without prayer.

“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.

First Aid Kit

“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?’

A Miracle for Grandma

“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.”

God’s Grace

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.

Inner City Mission

“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?’

Miracle in the Produce Aisle

“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.

The Bible

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.

***

Notes

  1. Bill Johnson and Randy Clark, The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick (Bloomington, Chosen Books, 2011), 88.