Know Which Path to Take — God Leads the Way

Know Which Path to Take — God Leads the Way

Are you sensing a change in direction or feeling uncertain which path to take in business, ministry, or your personal life? There is no better way to begin our search for direction than by seeking God and allowing Him to lead the way. As we do, He frees us to make those decisions with greater confidence and peace of heart and mind.

God has promised to lead us, to teach us His way, and to guide us in the right path to take. Today, let’s look at a few Bible verses to encourage each other in this season of change and transition.

Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

In the familiarity of this verse, we might easily loose the significance of the beautiful promise contained within. God calls us to purposefully reposition our hearts and minds to trust in Him rather than our own “understanding.” Human perception limits the possibilities of what can or will be.

How valuable to seek His will in everything! As we do, God promises — yes promises — to show us “which path to take” in every area of our lives. Only He knows the possibilities available to us!

Surrender

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

I often wonder how many times I miss the leading of God because of my stubborn resistance to His voice. Perhaps, it happens more times than I would admit.

Though He promises to “instruct and teach” us, any refusal to listen will lead us down paths in direct opposition to His perfect plan for us. After this promise, God warns us not to be like a horse or mule, needing a bit to control their direction.

Do I consistently surrender my heart and mind to God’s direction even when it doesn’t make sense or feels frightening? God has been prompting me in this area. Though I am willing, He desires my willingness without conditions.

Pay Attention

This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is best for you,
    who directs you in the way you should go.”

Isaiah 48:17

The following verses remind all who will listen to “pay attention.” What signals of change should we give our attention?

  • Are doors opening that used to be closed? Or closed that were once open?
  • Where is God’s favor resting on our talents, abilities, skills, or expertise?
  • Do you feel God’s peace about a specific direction?

Allow yourself time to reflect and ask God to reveal the answers to these and other questions. The answers may reveal which path God desires you to take. He constantly speaks, teaching and directing us “in the way” we should go.

Prayer

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.”

Psalm 25:4-5

Without God’s help we may swing from over-confidence to insecurity while making decisions. Prayer turns our hearts and minds in tune with His heart and desires for us. Whatever decision we may be facing He promises to teach us which path to take.

The Path to Take

In the place of prayer God gives “flashes” of vision which our natural minds could never conjure. These God directed insights often ignite excitement and passion. At other times, prayer prepares us. The path He leads us toward may be difficult, requiring wisdom and strength beyond our present ability.

In whatever direction He leads, we know that He is with us, guiding us with His loving eye. We need never fear! It is only when we deliberately step away from His path that we should be concerned and make course adjustments back toward Him.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;”

Psalm 37:23

“Father, we come seeking not only direction for the decisions ahead, but Your Presence above everything else. Hide us under the shelter of Your wings, near to Your heart. May we sense the fullness of the good things You have awaiting us — whether we are three- or ninety-three-years-old.
We wait for your direction. Search our hearts and examine our motives. Reveal the secret things which may attempt to lead us outside your will.
May we rest in the knowledge and security of Your promise to lead, teach, direct, and establish us in Your ways. We know and are assured that You will establish us in Your perfect path, now and always. So, we rest in the goodness of Your grace and the protection or Your love.
Amen.

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Procrastination — The Great Destroyer

Procrastination — The Great Destroyer

The effects of procrastination plague like rusting relics — visible and invisible evidence of the presence of the great destroyer. Why does procrastination invade so many of our lives, paralyzing us from making decisive decisions and confident actions.

As many as one quarter of people struggle under the weight of procrastination. Often the issue is linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or an inability to focus. Perhaps, it results from a combination of many factors. Whatever the reasons, we are all affected by it in some way.

This lack of confidence in making decisions and moving into action impact us all in so many ways. God knows the root lies deep and He says much on the subject. But one of the most sobering is this:

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
James 4:17

Whatever holds us back from doing the right thing or making the right choice, God counts as sin. That alone should be enough reason to take procrastination seriously and recognize it as a great destroyer of God-given potential.

Mental Health

Just as we seek help to overcome physical health issues, we cannot afford to ignore the crippling impact of poor mental health. I’ve struggled enough in this area to realize change isn’t a simple one-two step and your done. Recovery requires time and often professional assistance. But the first step in any recovery begins with acknowledgment.

Procrastinators habitually put off for later the things that should and could be done now. Later may mean an hour, a day, a year, or a lifetime. The resulting consequences of the delay could prove to be small or devastating. To procrastinators, it all feels overwhelming.

In the wait, life falls apart around them — a fence, a house, a business, a marriage, or an entire life. The pressure of making a decision and acting upon it proves far more risky than any consequence.

“One day I passed by the field of a lazy man, and I noticed the vineyards of a slacker. I observed nothing but thorns, weeds, and broken-down walls. So I considered their lack of wisdom, and I pondered the lessons I could learn from this: Professional work habits prevent poverty from becoming your permanent business partner. And: If you put off until tomorrow the work you could do today, tomorrow never seems to come.”
Proverbs 24:30-34 TPT

Limited

Most often the areas of procrastination show up where a person feels the most vulnerable and insecure. Those times when a person feels at the greatest risk of failure or making a mistake. But it is also a sign of passive aggressive behavior — a deliberate avoidance of what needs to be done.

Little by little the walls begin to crumble. Finally, one more missed project turns into a missed grade. One more failure to step up at work turns into dismissal. One more refusal to be responsible results in a breakdown in relationship.

Several times this past week, I have heard the tell-tale comment of the great destroyer, “May I have an extension. I thought I had more time.”

The procrastinator assumes they will be granted more time, more opportunity, more grace, more tolerance, more of whatever is needed to continue dancing with the great destroyer.

Time is short! Today’s opportunity to do what is right and good will never come again! When the sun sets, today is over — never to return.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Ephesians 5:15-17

Occupy

Jesus used the parable of the talents to illustrate the importance of fully using opportunities. When He handed His servants their gifts, He commanded them to “work until I come back” (Luke 19:13). Another version says “occupy until I come.” This implies immediate and consistent action.

Those who used their time and resources wisely were delegated greater authority and received a greater reward. The one who was slothful and procrastinated, delaying action and decisions on how to use the talents, ended up losing everything he had been given. How tragic! But how common!

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! …”
Matthew 25:26

God doesn’t take the abuse or misuse of our time lightly! Both are a precious gifts from Him. He holds us accountable for both. If God takes it seriously, we would be wise to do the same.

Healing

We might consider God’s assessment a bit harsh, but the first step toward better emotional health and healing begins with confession and prayer. God knows procrastination is self-protection, an escape from the responsibility whenever possible. But there is good news.

“If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9

Forgiveness is the beginning step. To overcome the great destroyer, we must redeem the time! God can and will turn things around, when we work with Him through the healing journey. He has not left us to fight any battle alone.

  • Choose to no longer put mental health on hold.
  • Seek Christian counsellors and mentors.
  • In a healing environment, confess faults to one another so we will be healed (James 5:16).
  • Identify the specific areas when we tend to procrastinate and ask others to hold us accountable in that area.
  • Don’t expect a quick rescue! Work through the healing process.

Well Done

Everyone wants to hear Jesus say, “Well done.” God cares far more about who we are than about what we accomplish for Him. He wants us free from the control of the great destroyer.

We dare not expect more time, when we are not fully using the time God has already given to us. He has given us time to receive His grace, time to share our faith, and time to love others.

God is not obligated to guarantee any of us more time or opportunity.

“For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

“The right time is now.” Let’s make today the day for change. Let’s not let procrastination remain as the great destroyer in our lives.

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Avoid Burnout and Overextending Yourself

Avoid Burnout and Overextending Yourself

Have you experienced the symptoms of burnout from overextending yourself? In a culture that applauds achievement, you aren’t alone. The more accomplished and successful one becomes, the greater the risk of overextending oneself and entering the devastating realm of burnout.

I’m dancing on such a verge right now. A little commitment here added to another, then another, and you guessed it … overextension. As my head begins to ache and stomach muscles tighten, I stare at the ceiling when I should be sleeping. Yep! It’s time to heed the warning signs and make adjustments.

At the end of August, I felt God invite me to write something I have avoided for months and even years. He also welcomed me to paint a picture a day. He knew the first would be difficult, while the later would be therapy. I agreed to a one month commitment to accomplish the tasks. If I didn’t finish by then, I would feel released from my commitment. (Pathetic, I know! But it honestly reflects the way God and I talk!)

Only October is teaching month when I have umpteen assignments to correct. It is also the month when the layout and design must be completed for FellowScript, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship quarterly magazine.

And just like that I’m looking for a life raft in the ocean of overextension!

The Greats

Don’t worry if you can relate. We are in the school of learning that some of biblical history greats have passed through. Moses also found himself in a place of serious threat of burnout, at a level I cannot comprehend.

Based on the count of fighting men listed in Numbers 11:21, scholars estimate about 2.2 million people made the Exodus from Egypt. I have trouble leading myself let alone such a massive crowd. Moses assumed the position of judge for every dispute and problem among them.

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.
Exodus 18:13

Moses adopted this “normal” pattern of function. It took someone from the outside to see what devastating results this way of operating would lead to. Someone who cared enough and was bold enough to confront him! Though burnout appears to sneak up slowly, it will suddenly stomp us out of commission.

Accountability

Just in time, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro came to visit. He took one look at what Moses was doing and basically said, “You’re crazy! Stop, before it’s too late!”

Oh, that God would send Jethros into each of our lives. Someone who lives outside our crazy swirls of activity, who says, “Whoa! Wait a second! Why are doing this?”

Moses was convinced he was doing God’s work in God’s way. After all, he was God’s man of the hour — the leader! Right?

Sometimes pride can lead us to overextend. We begin to think we are the best, or only, one suited for a task. Perhaps, we just don’t know any other way.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?‘”
Exodus 18:14

An accountability partner provides a safe zone to challenge our present conduct and point us to a better future. Jethro did both.

Warning

Jethro saw the warning signs of burnout and overextension. Do you hear the innocence in Moses’ response?

Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.'” Exodus 18:15-16

Moses spoke to God face-to-face. God instructed Moses. So, who else was equipped to instruct the people?

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.'”
Exodus 18:17-19

Wait! There is a better way?

Delegate

When stretched to maximum capacity, the art of delegation allows us to achieve exponentially more together than all of us could accomplish individually.

Jethro wisely instructed Moses to choose a better way — a way avoiding burnout.

Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
Exodus 18:20-23

Jethro presented Moses with a win-win. It would ensure the responsibility was fulfilled through the help of many. Those who could help more, would be given greater authority. But even those who were only able to maintain a light load could assist.

Lessons

We may glean practical application from Jethro’s advice.

  • Seek out a mentor for a place to be vulnerable and accountable. Give them permission to ask us the tough questions and point out places we might stumble. Live transparently and honestly before them.
  • Seek counsel from others. Counselors help us overcome internal hurdles of pride, selfish ambition, perfectionism, or any of the other vises that often lead to burnout.
  • Delegate authority. Allow other the liberty and the growth opportunity to assume responsibility.
  • Train others and assume a team mentality! Harness the power of synergy — working within teams of like-spirited and like-minded people.
  • Focus on areas only we can do. Acknowledge personal points of excellence where we bring the greatest benefit for the good of all. Then, humbly carry that area of responsibility.

God promises us,

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Jeremiah 31:25

Hope

No matter what the source, whether we are in the thick of burnout, or heading toward the precipice, Paul writes this sound advice:

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times, pray all the harder...”
Romans 12:11-12 MSG

God won’t put anything too heavy on us. But He draws close as we cry out to Him for help, giving us a new perspective and creative solutions going forward.

As we seek Him, He will keep us fueled and on fire, so that we can live alert and cheerful as we faithfully to the work.

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Miracles and Gifts of Healing

Miracles and Gifts of Healing

Far too many people dismiss the concept or miracles and gifts of healing as something that occurred centuries ago but not today. Unfortunately, many others seek those same miracles and healing power through crystals, Eastern medicine practices, psychics, ceremonies, and various other means. However, the evidence rests indisputable. God continues to perform miracles and gives gifts of healing.

Our small church occupies a space in a shopping mall. Yesterday after church, I stood outside visiting with people I hadn’t seen for awhile. A lady and her friend approached, asking if I would pray for her ears. She had already received prayer after the service and had experienced some improvement. Happy to oblige, I prayed with her on the sidewalk while shoppers milled in and out of stores. She immediately felt a greater release in one ear and a subtle change in the other.

I resumed the conversation with friends. Suddenly, a stranger hopped out of a car passing along the street. She, too, sought prayer for healing. Shopping for groceries would wait. Her more urgent need was prayer. Of course, I prayed! This beautiful lady was deeply touched by God’s love and a sense of His Presence.

Sometimes when we pray, instantaneous healing occurs. Other times, we don’t see evidence of immediate miracles and gifts of healing. Either way, we know for certain that God hears and answers our prayer.

“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:8

Gift Not Ability

Doctors only claim to practice medicine, but God calls Himself by the name Jehovah Rapha — the God who Heals. God purposes to do His work through fractured, imperfect people who are willing to do His will. That sounds far too risky to me. But as the Healer, He gives gifts of healing and miraculous powers to people, partnering with them as they pray.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them … There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work … for the common good … to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers …”
1 Corinthians 12:4-10

He gives gifts for the “common good.” As we operate in those gifts, we bring Him glory.

Immediate

We all desire and seek immediate healing and results to prayer. The Bible gives us so many instances of immediate healing:

  • The centurion’s servant who was sick and about to die is instantly healed (Luke 7:1-10).
  • Peter’s mother-in-law healed (Mark 1:29-31).
  • Bleeding stops for the woman hemorrhaging (Matthew 9:20-22).
  • Two blind men receive their sight (Matthew 9:27-31).
  • Man with dropsy healed (Luke 14:1-4).
  • Jesus restored the ear of the High Priest’s servant (Luke 22:49-51).

Immediate healings occur through the gift of miraculous powers. God performs wonderful events and occurrences beyond human capability through miracles which manifest His supernatural power to heal and fulfill His purpose.

Some people receive healing simply by believing the Bible concerning God and His ability to perform miracles. Others are healed while listening to a God-inspired message. God’s ability to heal and restore is limitless.

A Process

The Bible also includes many examples of people who were healed through a process:

  • The paralyzed man was first forgiven of sin (Mark 2:1-12).
  • Man with the shriveled hand stretched it out and then was healed (Matthew 12:9-13).
  • Mute man was delivered from a demon to be healed (Matthew 12:22-23).
  • Jesus put His fingers in the man’s ears and then spit on His finger and put it on the man’s tongue for healing to come (Mark 7:31-37).
  • The ten lepers were healed when they believed the words of Jesus and acted on them (Luke 17:11-19).
  • Blind man was healed after he washed in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-7).

Sometimes the healing came after an action Jesus did. Other times, there was an action that the sick person needed to do before they received their healing.

The Greek word for gifts of healing is iaomai which means a process of healing, cure, or remedy. Gifts of healing often require an action or movement — usually something that was previously impossible for the person to do.

I’ve experienced such healings in my own life and witnessed them in others. Healing may come through prayer and obedience, prayer and lifestyle changes, prayer and repentance, or prayer and inner healing. Often unforgiveness holds people in disease, but forgiveness releases the healing. Sometimes a spirit of abandonment or rejection ties people to illness, but through encountering God’s love and acceptance healing flows into physical bodies, minds, and emotions. Habitual sin may also keep people from being healed.

To Bring God Glory

Every miraculous touch must bring glory to God.

Peter and John encountered a crippled man begging for alms outside the temple. They gave him far more than a few coins to help him through the day.

 “When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
Acts 3:9-10

A crowd immediately gathered as a result of witnessing the healing. Peter seized the opportunity and preached a message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Five thousand people believed and came to faith!

Ask, Seek, and Knock

If you need a healing today, ask God, seek His direction, and knock on Heaven’s door through prayer.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

When you receive your healing, remember to thank God for His goodness. Then, let other people know about what He has done for you. Give Him the full weight of the glory due His Name.

Father in the mighty Name of Jesus, I ask on behalf of those needing Your healing power today. I ask that You restore health and wholeness to bodies, souls, and minds. I ask that You deliver people from the bondages of past hurt, offense, and abuse. Deliver them from the consequences of other people’s sinful actions. May You move with supernatural signs and wonders, performing miracles on their behalf. If there are actions needed, may they have the courage and perseverance to walk in full obedience to Your promptings. May they have faith to continually press into Your Presence, finding mercy and grace to help them in their time of need. Be glorified, my Lord and my God! Be glorified in and through these wounded ones calling out to You today. Pour out such a blessing that they will know beyond all doubt that You alone have brought them deliverance and healing.
Amen.

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Code of Conduct Determines the Outcome

Code of Conduct Determines the Outcome

In every aspect of life, we encounter a code of conduct. Our greatest satisfaction and highest achievement exist within those guidelines. Ignore them and life becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

I’ve spent my fair share of watching and coaching little league sports. Initially, the equipment used and the playing field dimensions are the strongest indications of what sport is involved. The more rules become understood and applied, the more exciting the game also becomes.

Many say, “Rules are meant to be broken!” Broken rules lead to penalties of one kind or another, adversely affecting the individual’s performance and the entire team’s outcome.

What holds true in sports certainly holds true in our daily lives.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Philippians 1:27

Why do we value rules and codes of behavior in sports and the workplace, but so easily reject them as Christians? The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, amplifies the importance of God’s code of conduct.

Wisdom and Insight

“Oh how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.”

Psalm 119:97-104

The wisdom and insight we wish to possess comes from understanding and following God’s commands and rules. Just as a game of sports quickly becomes chaos and confusion when rules are thrown to the wind, so our lives reflect the same.

Full Potential

Whether a team sport or an individual endeavor, we only reach our full potential by adhering to a code of conduct. The scriptural term sanctification primarily means “holiness, to sanctify, or make holy.” But another meaning is “the state of proper functioning.”

To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. Through Christ’s atonement, we are set apart unto service for God A pen is “sanctified” when used to write. Eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A person is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose 1.

God ultimately designed within each of us a unique and fulfilling purpose. The only avenue to achieve His full purposes for us comes through adhering to His code of conduct.

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Romans 6:19

Throw away the code of conduct and our world, including us, becomes a free-for-all! Learn from God’s perfect laws and everyone thrives. One leads to “lawlessness” the other to “sanctification” — the fulfilling of God’s intended purposes for our lives.

Grace

But alas! Rules are difficult, even impossible, to consistently follow.

So by God’s great grace, He gave us Jesus Christ. By living in and through Him, He enables us to overcome the draw of lawlessness and walk in the freedom of becoming. Freedom comes as we are motivated by love, respect, and grace. These three form the true motivation behind God’s code of conduct.

He desires everyone to reach their full potential and intended use. So, He gave us the freedom and the power through the Holy Spirit to go that direction.

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

The word “offer” signifies a once-and-for-all surrender of ourselves to God, like a gift of gratitude.

Practical Steps

We recognize following God’s code of conduct cannot be done in and of ourselves. But as we surrender, first in our hearts and minds, once-and-for-all to Him, we begin the process. Then, we learn to daily walk it out.

Here is how:

  • Read the Bible to discover who God is and His design for us.
  • Pray. Prayer, honest communication with God, forms the bedrock of our relationship with Him.
  • Repent of attitudes and actions misaligned with His code of conduct.
  • Consecrate ourselves, committing everything to Him — our hands for His service, our hearts for His molding, our minds to His instruction, our feet to His direction, our motives to His desires.
  • Dedicate. We also choose to dedicate all we are (or ever will be), and all we possess to His service. We are nothing and receive nothing apart from Him. Each day, we have the privilege of committing it all back to Him.

“But now, O LORD, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

Prayer

Lord, teach me Your ways — Your code of conduct. Instruct me and show me how to reach the full potential You have designed for my life. I confess that I have attempted to live by self-made rules. Thank You for redirecting me back to You. Holy Spirit fill me with the power and desire to walk according to God’s ways. Because life is not a game to be casually played, I recommit myself to You, Lord. May I experience the joy and freedom of living a life set apart for You, fulfilling You purpose and calling. Amen.

1. Walter A. Elwell, Ed., Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Entry for Sanctification, (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House Company, 1996)

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The Unexpected Way to Hope

The Unexpected Way to Hope

We all hold expectations of who we hope to become and how we plan to get there. Often, however, we discover an unexpected way to hope.

Several years ago, on a trip to the west coast, we decided to be a bit adventurous and try a different road which was clearly marked on our map. The wide paved highway gave way to a narrower paved road, which led to a gravel road and finally a logging trail through the mountains. We crossed embedded grated gateways through cattle pastures and discovered herds of wildlife. Eventually, the road led us to our destination but in an unexpected way.

Often life resembles our mountain trail adventure. We never quite knew what was over the next ridge or around the next corner. Would we have to turn around? Would we reach a dead end? We had never travelled this way before. At times, it was terrifying. We simply had to keep going trusting the maker of the map.

“…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 5:3-4

Sufferings? Perseverance? Character development? None of these even places in my list of favorite experiences. But all are necessary. They lead us along the unexpected way to hope.

Suffering

As I counsel people of all ages, I hear far too many stories of unthinkable suffering, pain, and loss. I have wept with those who weep and mourned with those who mourn, feeling the depth of their pain. Suffering lashes against the deep roots of faith with a tenacious fierceness.

Often, the rawness of suffering thrusts us into the cavern of disappointment with God. Why didn’t He heal, save, or deliver? Where was He when we needed Him most? Questions swirl relentless and unanswered.

In Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?, those who have confronted their circumstances, bypassing disappointment with God, advise:

“God allows us to go through things to strengthen our faith and relationship with Him. Sometimes that thing is a desert; sometimes it is suffering.” (Lowell)

“The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.”
Psalm 34:18 TPT

Perseverance

“Everyone needs to know God answers prayer, and that He is unquestionably good and faithful. Sometimes for reasons we don’t understand, however, we don’t see the answers we hope and believe for. When we fail to teach others about both God’s goodness and faithfulness along with the knowledge that He works beyond our understanding, we may hinder people’s faith … Circumstantial faith lacks the deep roots of knowing God’s goodness and faithfulness even if circumstances never change … Is our practice of prayer based on answers to prayer, or based on the character of God?” (Allison)

Along the unexpected path to hope, we discover God’s unchanging character — His love and absolute faithfulness in, through, and despite circumstances. He strengthens us in our weakness as we develop the perseverance necessary to walk through difficult seasons.

“In the hard places, He shows Himself as our everything.” (Emily)

When we least feel His presence, He draws near.

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
Psalm 145:18

“One of the first things I heard God say to me was, ‘This was never the life I had for you. I have cried so many tears for you.’ That shook me!” (Shelly)

Hope

Out of perseverance, our character becomes strong and more like His. Then in the most unexpected way hope rises, like the fresh growth of spring after a long, cold winter.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

I’m not sure where each of you are along the journey of faith toward hope, but I would like to assist you in any way I can. God desires for each of us to “overflow with hope.” Though it may feel impossible today, God holds a better tomorrow for you.

Please forgive me for not following my “normal” blog format. As I prayed not only for these simple writings, but for each of you who would read them, I sensed an urgency in my spirit on your behalf.

First, let’s pray:

“God, You seem silent and distant. My emotions feel raw, and my heart torn open. I ask You to circle me with Your love. Open the eyes of my heart to sense Your Presence again and the ears of my spirit to hear the words You are speaking as I grope along the unexpected way to hope. I give You the brokenness of all I am. May I become increasingly sensitive to Your nearness. I declare my love for You. Show me how to rest waiting for Your love to cocoon me in this season, drawing me toward hope.”

Help On the Way

Second, I would like to offer you one or both of my books on prayer at half price

Enter the code “2023PRAYER” to receive the 50% discount. Then click the “Apply Coupon” button beside it.

Third, if you know someone who may also appreciate these books, please pass on the details. Too many around us have been suffering for too long without hope. Perhaps, this unexpected way will bring fresh and living hope to others.

Blessings!

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Mark 11:24 — Believing Prayer: Pray With Faith

Mark 11:24 — Believing Prayer: Pray With Faith

Believing prayer forms a rock-solid foundation for every vibrant Christian. Jesus has already made provision for everything we need. We pray with faith, not in the power of our words, but rather faith in what Jesus already made available to us.

With the approaching Christmas season, I have been considering again the significance of Jesus’ coming. He fulfilled every requirement of the law and the Old Covenant, implementing the New Covenant. Jesus made a way for all those who believe in Him to come to the Father without sacrifice or religious ceremony.

What does this mean regarding believing prayer? Everything!

Let’s look at an incredible promise Jesus gave to each of us.

” ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Mark 11:22-24

Say It!

Although faith makes room for silent prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to “say,” or speak, their prayers out loud. He emphasized disdain for anyone who used loud, long-winded, public prayer, attempting to inflate egos or elevate religious status. God knows our hearts, but we inform the enemy through our words.

In verse 23, Jesus uses two different Greek words for “say”:

  • The first comes from the Greek word epo, which means “to speak with authority, to command or order as a king or general.”
  • The next word “say” comes from the Greek word lego, meaning “to speak by linking together or expressing the heart and mind with words.”

A king doesn’t need to raise his voice to issue a command. Our humble voices carry the authority of Jesus Christ to bring God’s will into effect around us.

Jesus emphasized to His disciples that a person’s confident faith combined with God’s power could produce amazing results. When the request is in harmony with God’s will, God is fully capable of doing that which man regards as impossible.

“Jesus responded, ‘What appears humanly impossible is more than possible with God. For God can do what man cannot.”
Luke 18:27

So, we pray spoken, authoritative words, with a united heart and mind.

Does Not Doubt

Jesus calls us to combine authoritative voice with an undivided heart. The Aramaic word for “doubt” means “to be divided or undecided in your heart.”

Let’s reject the whispers of condemnation regarding why some prayers appear to go unanswered. Prayer will always contain an element of mystery. Through believing prayer, we bring our requests to the Father and allow our hearts to leave the results to His ways and wisdom. Sometimes the healing comes; sometimes it doesn’t. Often, provision unfolds, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Nevertheless, may all of our prayers be void of doubt! May believing prayer, birthed and immersed in faith, flow from a united heart of mind.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
James 1:6

James calls anyone who doubts “double-minded,” or literally having “two souls” — one of faith and one without.

Believe You Have Received It

Do I drench my prayers in the faith that God has already answered? Sometimes yes, but sadly not always.

Here rests the heart of Jesus’ promise to us.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Mark 11:24

“You have received it!” Jesus declares! What? When? How? Everything we could every ask from God has already been provided through Jesus Christ. Everything!

Let’s take a quick look at the example of prayer Jesus gave His disciples and us.

“…Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.”
Matthew 6:9-13

Every aspect of this model prayer, we have already received! We approach God not as some distant cruel tyrant, but as our loving Father. Through the authority of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, heaven already invades earth’s corrupt domain. We already feast on daily manna, the Living Word. Every sin (past, present, and future) Jesus already dealt with through His shed blood. Jesus already broke all the enemy’s authority over our lives. We already live under the protection and provision of our King of kings and Lord of lords.

So as we pray, we do so with complete confidence.

One Condition

Both Matthew and Mark speak about one condition — our willingness to forgive others.

“That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive — only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”
Mark 11:24-26 MSG

Several months ago, God challenged me to refuse to entertain any negative thoughts toward anyone. Too easily, we allow critical thinking or judgments to swirl in our hearts and minds. Jesus makes it clear that it is impossible to have a pure heart in prayer while holding a polluted heart toward others. By freely and willingly forgiving every hurtful thing against us, we align our hearts with His.

May nothing stand in the way of us receiving His full promise. May believing prayer rise from knowing that we “have received” whatever we ask for according to God’s will. Through the prayer of faith, we reach into the treasure trove of God’s storehouse of provision already waiting for us.

Today, may we each grasp a greater awareness of all that God has made available.

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Overcome Prayerlessness — The Struggle to Pray

Overcome Prayerlessness — The Struggle to Pray

Before we develop strategies to overcome prayerlessness, we must first understand why we face such a struggle to pray. Why does prayer sometimes seem so difficult? For many Christians, the struggle to develop a consistent prayer routine feels insurmountable. Why does prayer appear easy for some and difficult for others?

Perhaps you’ve noticed how new Christians blubber and flounder through prayer and yet often see immediate and incredible answers? Yet, mature faith-filled Christians may labor in prayer intensely without seeing such immediate results. Why?

The foundation of all prayer is based upon relationship — our relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we talk to God, we call it prayer. It embodies worship and thanksgiving, petition and request, soul sharing and questioning, or even stillness. For each of us, prayer will look slightly different, because we are uniquely made.

My relationship with God will not duplicate yours. God loves us uniquely and perfectly, but never forces Himself upon us. He patiently waits for us to communicate with Him.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Ephesians 6:18

An Enemy

Satan knows all to well how powerful prayer is against him and his demonic agendas. He makes stopping our prayers one of his primary focuses. When he keeps us from prayer, he keeps us from one of the main avenues of relational growth between God and us. Prayerlessness keeps our primary weapon sheathed and unused against him.

Without prayer we become weak and ineffective. We remain powerless in and of ourselves. Everything worthwhile flows from God. Jesus used the illustration of a vine connected to the main branch to demonstrate the point.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

But even after knowing this truth, we struggle to pray. Why?

Perceived Failure

I believe one of the greatest reasons we hesitate to pray is because of perceived failure. We look around at other Christians who tell of incredible results through prayer — healing, financial provision, relationships restored, and more. Our own prayers seem meager in comparison.

This discouragement is called Learned Helplessness. When we face a difficulty and experience continued pain in spite of our efforts, Learned Helplessness takes over. We often refer to the condition as resulting from abuse or neglect, where the victim stops trying. But I believe we can develop a type of Learned Helplessness in prayer.

Perhaps we tried prayer. God appeared silent. When we tried to pray again, the answers remained illusive. So, we ask others to pray for us. We call the pastor or priest, the prayer line — anyone we believe might have a direct connection to God. This prayer helplessness blinds us to the reality that we all have a direct prayer connection.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.”
1 John 5:14-15

That one word, confidence, unlocks the door to prayer. Learned Helplessness robs us of all confidence.

Overcome

God offers solutions to anyone who identifies with this common struggle to pray.

  • Return to the basics of our love relationship with God. Notice how Jesus taught His disciples to pray within relationship to the Father,

“Jesus told them, “When you pray, say, ‘Father….'”
Luke 11:2

  • Punt any guilt or shame to the curb. Ask a close friend to hold you accountable to daily times of prayer. It may feel like a struggle at first, but celebrate every success.
  • Focus on personal improvement not on answers to prayer. If five minutes is a struggle, then press through for five minutes. As you gain confidence, stretch it to ten minutes, increasing gradually.
  • Include worship and gratitude in prayer. God doesn’t need to hear how great He is, but we need to remember.

By starting simple and keeping our focus on relationship with God, prayer will become more joyous. It takes forty days to create a habit. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t immediately achieve success.

Other Reasons

Perhaps you don’t identify with Learned Helplessness in prayer. Maybe one or more of these other obstacles relate more to your situation. These are common ones for me.

  • Busyness and distraction:
    • Do I place work and other obligations before God?
    • Do I take prayer for granted because it is always available?
  • Santa List:
    • Do I value what God does for me more than I value who God is?
    • Have I begun to focus on results rather than relationship?
  • Impatience:
    • When God doesn’t respond when or how I desire, do I become impatient?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

Prayer Power

We all face seasons when either prayer becomes a struggle or flows as easy as water from a cup. You are in good company either way. God keeps the doorway to prayer wide open for each of us, but He waits for us to take the initiative to walk through the doorway into His Presence. Indescribable power awaits those who come to Him.

I encourage each of us to take a few moments to discover ways to improve and grow in the discipline of prayer. God desires prayer to be a joy rather than a losing battle for us.

To step into a greater level of prayer power:

  • First, let’s ask God to help us discover any prayer blocks hindering us.
  • Then, let’s verbally renounce or reject any hindrance Holy Spirit reveals.
  • Next, ask God for one step to overcome the obstacle He has shown us.
  • Finally, let’s move step by step into prayer action from inaction.

Congratulations! If you have followed these four steps you have already begun your victorious prayer walk from Learned Helplessness to prayer power. Celebrate your first win!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

God alone knows the great harvest that awaits each of us when we overcome the struggle to pray!

Resources

I have written two books on developing and increasing in prayer potential:

Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

Get it Here! Amazon.ca
Get it Here! Amazon.com

and

Unlocking Legacy: Taking Your God-Given Territory Through Prayer

Get it Here! Amazon.ca
Get it Here! Amazon.com

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Give Praise to the Lord

Give Praise to the Lord

Expectation begins to rise when we choose to give praise to the Lord. For every difficulty we face, we have even more reasons to praise God. Many people, including myself, have learned how to spiritually press through humanly insurmountable roadblocks. Some things we continue to contend for in prayer. At other times, we have witnessed doors open before us and bridges form under our feet. Where there previously had been no way through, God made a way.

This isn’t an unusual phenomenon known only by a choice few. Every Christian who consistently prays, seeks God’s direction, and waits for His answers experiences His hand at work in inexplainable ways. Some might mistake it for coincidence. People of faith know their God!

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah12:4

In this single verse, the writer encourages us toward action. After looking more closely, I notice the four calls to action: say, praise, proclaim, and make known. Each action rests upon “what he (God) has done.”

May we pause our busy lives for just a moment to consider what God has done within our families, communities, and faith centers.

You Will Say

Whatever we look for, we will find. If we look for good in someone or something, we will discover it. Our attitude either negatively or positively colors our world more than we might realize.

Yesterday, my husband and I shared a bit of what God has been doing in our lives. As we spoke of God’s goodness, those listening were encouraged. Soon others shared what they also see God doing recently. A few shared about things they continue to pray for with faith.

“The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful
than we will ever be able to comprehend.”
– A.W. Tozer

Through Holy Spirit direction, biblical authors encourage us to press beyond silent, heart-felt gratitude to verbalize our praise.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, His love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:1-3

When hearts overflow, praise naturally comes forward. “You will say,” Isaiah wrote. As we speak, thanksgiving and praise activates both within and around us.

Praise

Often the frequent use of a word causes us to overlook the significance of its meaning. “Praise,” or in Hebrew yadah, means to acknowledge, to praise, to give thanks, to confess, or to cast. It represents the act of acknowledging what is right about God through praise and thanksgiving. Yadah’s heavenward recognition is sometimes structured within corporate worship. Often, yadah flows as personal expression.

Someone once said, “Give praise where praise is due!” Good advice, I think.

We should publicly recognize the people and organizations among us who work hard. However, the grandest accolades belong to the LORD. He is worthy of all adoration, honor, glory, and praise.

Praising God doesn’t always come easily. Life’s pressures often weigh heavy on us. We worry. We fret. God knows, understands, and cares deeply for us in the midst of struggle. Perhaps, it is in these times more than any other, that the transformational power of praise really shines the brightest.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

Amidst severe oppression, the psalmist commanded himself to give God praise. He shows us that praise is a decision of the will. As we begin to praise, we welcome God into our circumstances allowing Him to shift spiritual atmospheres within and around us. The enemy quickly loses his position.

Proclaim

The word proclaim comes from the Hebrew, qara, meaning to proclaim an announcement. When we proclaim we make a verbal declaration about something. Proclaiming resembles a flashing message on a neon sign or a broadcast over a loudspeaker. Proclaiming commands everyone to pay attention.

The more we proclaim and declare His active participation in our lives, the more we see His hand at work.

Many and varied opportunities have opened for ministry over the summer — at a Bible camp, in churches, and during a city-wide gathering. In every occasion, I have witnessed God answer prayer at a level I have not seen for many years, if at all. People have powerfully experienced the presence of Holy Spirit moving through healing, deliverance, words of knowledge, and the prophetic.

Jesus quoted these words from Isaiah,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”
Luke 4:18

Jesus still proclaims good news to the poor. He still proclaims freedom for prisoners. He still gives sight to the blind and sets the oppressed free. Through willing human hands and voices, He moves and speaks.

A great hunger for God is rising in our nation and in the nations around the world. God is on the move! Give praise to the Lord! Proclaim His Name!

Make Known

Isaiah combines two words for “make known.” The first word, yada, means to know, learn, perceive, discern, experience, confess, and consider. It means to be skillful at making something or someone known. I, too, easily forget even the good things God does around me.

One of the practical ways, I stir up my memory is through journaling, or keeping a record, about how I’ve seen God move in my life and in the lives of others for whom I have been praying. I want to remember! Somehow, writing things down helps to solidify them in my memory and improves my recall of them in the future.

Isaiah calls us to skillfully “make known among the nations what he has done.” At no other time in the history of mankind has this been so easy to do. Whether in person or through the internet, we have opportunity to converse with people of all nationalities. The fluid movement of people from one nation to another creates a wellspring of opportunity to make Jesus known among the nations.

In the prayer tent during a praise gathering, we had the privilege of making God known to peoples from First Nations communities and many immigrant nations. What an honor! Give praise to the Lord for what He is doing. Today, people groups from virtually every nation are being reached with the Gospel.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
Hebrews 13:15

Fruit of our Lips

As we give praise to the Lord, it becomes the fruit of our lips. Sweet, nourishing, and enjoyable!

In every season, may we each “through Jesus . . . continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.”

Let’s take a few moments to acknowledge God’s goodness. Let the answers to prayers already received build anticipation for those yet to come. He hears our every cry and holds every prayer precious. He is not slow to come to our aid. His ways and timing are perfect.

Through prayer or songs may the atmosphere of our homes radiate with worship. May today be a “that day” moment when . . .

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah 12:4

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Overcome Obstacles and Adversity

Overcome Obstacles and Adversity

Both triumphs and trials teach us many spiritual lessons. With a teachable attitude, we can overcome the obstacles and adversity in our path. Whether it takes a lengthy process or it comes quickly, may we all grow stronger through the difficulties we face.

Every time I read this passage of Scripture, I seem to consider it carefully for several days.

“He (Jesus) saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
Mark 6:48

I meet people daily who feel they have been “straining at the oars” to the point of exhaustion. Although they believe that God strengthens and guides them, they also believe He stands aloof, oblivious to their struggle and disinterested in helping. The winds of physical illness, financial lack, personal attacks, and a multitude of other things blow against them.

Can you relate?

God desires that we uncover key concepts through this passage that will assist us.

Following Jesus

Christians sometimes hold a misconception that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior the rest of our lives will be heavenly bliss here, now, and forever. But the disciples of Jesus obeyed Him completely, yet the storm hit with fierce force.

“Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. ”
Mark 6:45

At first, I thought the disciples made a mistake by going “ahead” of Jesus. But out of full obedience, they followed and trusted His instruction.

“After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.”
Mark 6:46

As day turned to night and darkness settled over the landscape, Jesus prayed. The disciples leaned into the oars and rowed. All night long, Jesus prayed and the disciples strained. Miles from shore and through thick darkness Jesus “saw” them “straining at the oars.”

The word straining comes from the Greek word meaning “to examine as by torture or torment, buffet as of waves.” The darkness, the straining, and the wind presented a test — a means by which the character and convictions of the disciples would be examined.

Praying Jesus

Jesus didn’t cause the wind to blow against them. But while they were being tested, Jesus used the circumstances to reveal their hidden beliefs. So, He prayed.

During our obstacles and adversity, just like theirs, Jesus prays we will overcome. He intercedes with the Father on our behalf. He wants to see us rise to the challenge and learn strategic lessons to equip and prepare us. Our God never sleeps or slumbers.

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one, Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Romans 8:34

I remember watching my little children struggle as they learned how to feed and dress themselves. Often, the results were messy, and the effort led to frustration. Eventually, however, they developed the necessary life skills.

Jesus could have spoken a word, stilled the storm, and stopped the wind. Instead, He watched and prayed. All during the night, however, the disciples missed what we often miss. Jesus knew something they still did not yet understand.

Coming Jesus

“. . . Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified . . .”
Mark 6:48-50

Why would Jesus come to them, but be prepared to walk right past them? Has this passage perplexed you as much as it has me?

Yesterday, my husband and I had lunch with a physician and his beautiful wife. He shared how, as a physician, he cannot help anyone without their permission. God works the same way! He will not impose Himself upon us, even when it is for our good.

Although I perceived my children needed help, they, too, often refused my assistance. They stubbornly tried to overcome obstacles on their own. Sometimes with success, other times stopping in defeat.

How often Jesus comes to us with the very help we need. Yet because He comes in a way we don’t expect, we would rather shrink in fear than give Him permission to enter our tottering “boats.”

I AM

Then Jesus spoke surprising words into their frustration and fatigue.

“. . . Don’t yield to fear. Have courage. It is really me. I AM.”
Mark 6:50 TPT

The same words God spoke to fearful, exhausted Moses, He spoke to twelve fearful, exhausted disciples. “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”
Mark 6:51a

The wind tested the disciple’s ability to overcome not just this obstacle but every future adversity. They failed the test miserably,

“for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”
Mark 6:52

What does the miracle of the loaves have to do with wind, waves, and straining at the oars?

Jesus’ Miracle

Every miracle contains a message.

The miracle of the loaves and fish occurred only a few hours before the storm. Jesus blessed and broke the bread and fish. Then He divided it, giving portions to each of his disciples (Mark 6:41-44). The disciples then broke the bread and fish as they divided it, giving portions to 5,000 men plus women and children.

Jesus possessed power and authority over natural elements. He empowered and authorized His disciples to do the same. They contained within themselves the power and authority of Christ to influence outcomes.

The disciples completely missed the message of the miracle! They saw Jesus divide and multiple, but they quickly forgot how they also had divided and multiplied. Because their “hearts were hardened (Strongs 4456 — like a stone, petrify, stupid, calloused, unresponsive, harden),” they missed the significance of what happened by Jesus through themselves.

Every time we experience Jesus in our lives without it affecting our hearts, we become hardened toward Him. Every time we read the Word of God and our lives remain unchanged, we become petrified toward His voice.

The Passion Translation says, “their minds were dull, unwilling to learn.” Am I willing to learn from His message and His miracles?

Jesus’ Message

With grace, Jesus invited them, as He does us, “Stop fighting the wind! Stop straining at the oars! You speak to the wind! Allow courage rather than fear to motivate and control. Take hold of and release all that I have given you, and you will prevail. You possess the authority to overcome all obstacles and adversity. Soften your hearts to My voice, to My way, and to My will.”

Could it be that simple? Sometimes it is.

I have experienced futile, sleepless straining. Until prompted by Holy Spirit, I arose in Christ’s power and authority.

When we welcome Jesus into our “boats,” co-operating with Him, the wind either stills to a whisper, or God equips us to proceed unaffected by its raging.

Jesus knows every dark trial we face. He knows how we ache under the strain. He intercedes for us to lay hold of the same truth He gave His disciples.

“. . . All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

In times of struggle, they forgot that Jesus had already given them authority (Mark 3:15) over both the spiritual and the natural world (Luke 9:1). As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we possess that same authority. We are overcomers through Him. As long as we strain in our own strength, we won’t get far. But when we learn the message of the miracle, we will overcome all obstacles and adversity the enemy lays in our path.

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Mark 6:50

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