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

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 tortue 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 lifeskills.

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 disciples 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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The Middle of the Camp — What Centers My Life?

What centers my life? What anchors me through different seasons? We all center daily tasks and assignments around priorities. What are mine?

As I read Numbers chapter 2, God reminded me how He specifically ordained the order of how the tribes of Israel were to camp. Whether they stayed for a night or for an entire year, a consistent pattern was established for setting up camp.

“The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”
Numbers 2:2

I envision their family tents positioned with their doors opening towards the epicenter of the camp. Every morning when they began a new day, the first thing they saw was the Tabernacle where God’s Presence rested among them.

There God stayed at the core of all activities, social functions, and worship. What a beautiful image!

The Center

The word center often refers to a noun — a person, place, or thing. What person, place or thing occupies the core of my activities? I desire it to be God, but is He?

I understand the mutual struggles we face. The pressures of parenting and providing for our families demands immediate attention and time. Probably, the most tangible way to honor God comes through faithfully caring for the practical needs of those close to us.

But even within the Israelite camp, grouped by families, every face turned towards God’s tabernacle.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Deuteronomy 5:6-7

When God alone is the center, the Person we worship, the place we look to, and the main component in our lives, everything else will move in synchronized harmony.

Is it God who centers our lives?

The Central Point

Our hearts fill the central position of our physical bodies — protected by skeletal structure and muscles. From this central point the whole body is nourished and sustained. When the heart functions well, the entire body benefits. The same holds true for our spiritual well being.

I find it a constant battle to keep God as my central point. External demands constantly pull and pressure me to relinguish this prime location to lesser things.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
Psalm 28:7

God helps us form practical ways to bring Him to the center.

  • Daily routine of Bible reading and prayer, seeking God’s wisdom and direction. (For me, the best time is first thing in the morning, before the rush hits!)
  • Accountability! When my time is under a lot of pressure, I ask others to pray for and check in on me. They hold me accountable to keep God first when time is stretched thin or when disappointments and discouragements drain me.
  • Mentorship has been one of the key things to help keep me on track. Whether I am mentoring others or being mentored, mutual benefits produce the desired consistency.
  • The example of other more recent giants in the faith also inspire me to pursue a centered lifestyle.

Keeping God as the central point requires intentional effort — an effort that pays spiritual dividends. But I ask again, “What centers my life?”

Centered

Whether used as a noun, adjective, or verb, God fulfills each application of the word center. Even as the camp moved from one place to another, they centered themselves around God.

“Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place . . . ”
Numbers 2:17

God never sits stagnantly by! He goes with us. Or more accurately, we go with Him.

From the center He directed the camp with a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day.

Are our homes centered around God? Do we pray together. Do we read, watch, and listen to God-honoring entertainment? Are our homes open and available for God to use for the encouraging of His body, the building of His church, and the advancing of His Kingdom?

Is my business or occupation centered around God? Do I ask God for His strategies and ideas to build and expand my business? How well do I live my faith in the marketplace with honesty and integrity? Am I committed to praying for those I work with and for? Do I consistently tithe from the returns?

Do I welcome God as part of recreation and relaxation, or do I confine Him to church and formal worship?

The Question

When I honestly answer these questions and more, I discover what centers my life? Then I can lift God to His rightful place. Adjustments might be necessary. Realignment may be needed in one or more areas.

God speaks to us today as clearly as He spoke to His displaced people wandering through that harsh wilderness environment. He invites us to include Him in every aspect of our lives, repositioning Him to become central to everything we are and do.

God will never abandon us. He fills us with His Presence, instructs us through His Word, and guides us with His loving hand. When we center Him over our lives, boldness and confidence mark our steps. He comes along side, helping us and giving us the capacity to live well in community and to thrive wherever He plants us.

What about you? What effective ways have you discovered to live a God-centered life?

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The Power of Networking With People

The Power of Networking

Although connection and community have always been important, the power of networking with people is becoming increasingly significant.

We all seem to arrive upon the life’s landscape with an independent chromozone. Every parent has heard their little one unequivocally announce, “I do it myself!” Every parent has also watched the ensuing struggle to learn — often through scraped knees and bruised shins.

Hopefully, we all eventually realize life was never meant to be a solo journey. We overcome as we form strategic partnerships. We need others!

My natural introverted nature resists reaching out and developing the communities that God knows I need to successfully press beyond personal incapabilities.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
Ecclesiates 4:9-10

Networking in the Workplace

As an author and communicator without formal training, I lean heavily upon pioneers who have paved the way. Old in years never guarantees wisdom or maturity. Those much younger may carry a wealth of knowledge and creative insight all would benefit from.

Pride might be the greatest inhibitor to developing strong workplace networks. Humility elevates and promotes each other for mutual benefit.

I have reaped the rewards from these workplace networks:

  • Enroll in courses and training modules.
  • Seek the critique of others.
  • Create support groups for mutual development and encouragement.
  • Openly and freely share knowledge.
  • Strive for team excellency.

Though it might seem counter cultural, our greatest success comes by advancing others. Let us develop a culture of promoting and applauding those around us.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27

Jesus’ workplace revolved around ministry — ministry He could have easily accomplished alone. Yet, he chose to train and advance others, launching them into similar areas of ministry. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, could easily be viewed as a manual for elevating and promoting others in the workplace. In everything He did, Jesus demonstrated the power of networking with people, even messed up people.

I would be amiss to not mention the faithful group of women who sacrifically promoted Jesus’ work. They supported Him financially and practically.

Networking in Community

Jesus maintained several layers of community, refusing to function in isolation. His circles included:

  • His three closest friends and collegues (Mark 9:2)
  • A slightly larger group of twelve shared ministry and life — eating and travelling together, even seeing Jesus exhausted, hungry, and pressured (Luke 6:12-16)
  • Seventy-two sat under His teaching and entered into ministry (Luke 10:1)
  • Finally, the crowds who followed were released from demonic possession, healed of diseases, and restored to relationships (Luke 14:25)

What are your community circles? Do you have a small group of close friends who walk beside you through ups and downs? Do you have a larger network of comfort and support among your family or church? Are you connected where you live, impacting the lives of others for the advancement of the Kingdom of God?

I recently read that the greatest human need is for connection. Without personal networks, we feel deprived and empty. Only in and through interconnected relationships will we achieve all God desires for us. The power of networking with people comes alive in integrated healthy community circles.

” . . . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21

Networking presents risks. As much as we need these networks, we have all been wounded or taken advantage of by communities that meant to assist and support. Within the context off community healing also effectively flows.

Networking in Prayer

I have vividly seen the value of many network communities. However, the greatest aspect of united agreement flows out of joint networking within prayer circles. Here again, we look to Jesus and those who followed Him.

  • Jesus took His eleven disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32)
  • Eight stayed prayed from distance (Mark 14:32)
  • Three followed closer, overhearing His prayers and seeing His travail (Mark 14:33)
  • About one hundred and twenty of His followers waited in the upper room, continuously in prayer after his ascension (Acts 1:12-15)
  • The early church devoted themselves to corporate prayer (Acts 4:42)

Prayer networks require committment. I have learned to purposefully create prayer teams of support for the projects I work on. I also commit to network in prayer with women who mentor me as I mentor others. Our foundation is prayer. Christian churches and organizes also maintain local, national, and international prayer initiatives.

These prayer circles support while being supported. Nothing significant for God ever occurs apart from the power of networking in prayer.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Never too Busy to Network

One of the biggest excuses standing in the way of healthy networking is over-activity. To receive the full benefits of the power of networking, adjustments and prioritizing our schedules becomes essential.

The second hindrance to strong community networks might possibly be personal insecuity. One of the reasons I hesitated so long to begin a women’s group was the feelings of intimidation and insecurity. Gulp!!! By pushing aside our fears, past failures, and pride we will reap the benefits of amazing networks waiting for us.

Finally, everything Jesus taught ran countercultural. Networking is a prime example.

As application points, let’s look honestly (and without condemnation) at how we are personally interacting within networks.

  • Do I carry wounds from network communities that I need healing from?
  • What networks should I prioritize in work, community, and prayer?
  • Do I need to relinquish independence or insecurity to move into healthy communities?

“Lord Jesus, I ask You to knit us together into vibrant, healthy, thriving communities. Move us forward together so we all reach our ultimate potential and efficacy. I ask You to clearly demonstrate the power of networking Your way. Amen.”

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He is Risen!

Download Now! 1. Infographic 2. Easter Maze 3. Wordsearch 4. Coloring Page #1 5. Coloring Page #2

Happy Easter everyone! He is Risen! To celebrate, I have prepared a small Easter bundle just for you and your family. As I look out my window today, the snow is swirling and the wind is blowing. I know elsewhere the flowers are blooming and the grass is green. Wherever you are may your focus be on tremendous blessing that is our through Jesus Christ.

In this month’s resource package, I have included a prayer as well as other fun activities.

Infographic

To get you started, this infographic contains keys thoughts and verses emphasizing the power of the Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Easter Infographic

There are lots more activities right here!

Sincere blessings to each of 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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Let Us Pray!

February 14, 2022! No better day than today to unite in prayer for love, life, and liberty. Bless you all. Today, the Prime Minister of Government of Canada invoked the Emergencies Act, against middle-class Canadians peacefully protesting the loss of their constitutional freedoms.

Across the globe, Russia builds military might over Ukraine — a true pending invasion.

I discarded a well-drafted blog in favor of raw prayer. Let us join together, praying for our nation of Canada, and the nations around the world facing serious infringement of rights and liberties. Let us pray for Christians imprisoned for their confession in the Name of Jesus. Let us pray for God to intervene nationally and globally, no matter your nationality or origin.

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“Father, in Heaven, we come . . .
We come humbly and earnestly, seeking your will and your way.
The enemies that rise against Your people are too strong for us.
LORD of Angel Armies come to the rescue of Your children.
Throw the enemy forces into confusion.

Create wide divisions in the ranks of those who oppose You and Your ways.
May waves of repentance and revival sweep across the nations.

A global turning of hearts to You, Lord.
O God, our eyes are turned, not to the hand of man to save us,
but to You alone.

Remove the spirit of fear that has woven its dark net over the peoples.
Break the power of manipulation, intimidation, and control.
Fill Your people with courage and peace.
May Your flame of love be ignited within us —
Love for You. Love for Your ways.
Love for Your Word of Truth.
May the hope that has been birthed grow strong.
May faith too long diminished bloom in the night.

Unite Your church as one voice, one people, under One God.

Lord of the Harvest, send out laborers into Your harvest field.
May hunger and thirst for the things of God take root
in every nation, province, territory, tribe, and people.

Establish what You want to establish.
Tear down what You want to tear down.
Demolish what You want to demolish.
We ask for righteous and justice to come forth.
Continue to expose hidden and perverse agendas.

“Be still! Be still! God is upon His throne.”

Silence the voice of the accusers, Lord.
In a day, in a single day, turn nations back to You.
In a day, in a single day, glorify Your Holy Name.

May the things that enemy contrived for evil
be turned for good.
Grant the godly in leadership divine wisdom,
discernment, knowledge, and understanding.

God with ask for your great grace and mercy to cover
the persecuted church around the world.
Give them courage to stand strong in the faith.
Supernaturally supply for their families.
May the trial of their faith not be in vain.
Give them bold voice and witness of Your goodness.
Hide Your children in plain sight.
May they walk with freedom even in the midst
of their persecutors.

Mend the deep erosion of faith caused by complacency
and indifference.
Forgive us, O Lord!
Come, Lord, and heal our land!

Turn us back to You, our God.
May we not be ashamed of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Righteousness exalts a nation,
So God, may we stand strong and unwavering.
Raise up righteous leaders, courageous followers of Christ.

We thrust a stake of faith into the ground and declare,
“Thus far has the Lord helped us.
We declare the Lord God, to be God of the nations.

We declare Your grace and mercy over the peoples.
. . . ”

May this little prayer be only the beginning. May you be mobilized to pray for your nations and the nations around the world. Eternity hangs in the balance for so many.

God’s Names: God’s Nature: Why Study God’s Names

God’s names reveal God’s nature. When God reveals a new name in the Bible, He uncovers previously hidden attributes of His character. The more we know His Name, the more we know our God.

We understand names carry great significance. Businesses invest time and money in deliberation, strategically choosing and designing catchy names, brands, and logos. Parents mull over baby names for hours, carefully deciding on the perfect name their child will carry.

Recently, a young companion illustrated to me the importance of a name. She chattered non-stop as we headed toward the barnyard. Upon arrival, she proudly held fuzzy balls of purring fluff for me to see. Each meowed and purred at her attention.

“I call this one Calli, because she is a calico kitten.”

Good choice, I thought.

“Here comes Greg,” she said, as a dusty grey kitten squirmed into her lap.

“And this one?” I asked as I held up another.

“Oh! I named him Tucker, because of his tortoise shell markings.”

Pretty smart, for one so small, I thought again.

I studied the litter of kittens more carefully. Their names revealed characteristics I previously ignored. As she continued to point out details of each one, I held another soft bundle of fur, gazing closely into its bright green eyes as whiskers twitched and wet paws stretched.

At that moment, I realized again the importance of studying and valuing the things that matter to us. There in the barnyard, I remembered God’s many names and the significance of them. Over time, I have grown to know Him more clearly, love Him more deeply, and appreciate Him more fully by studying His names.

Written below you will find a few benefits from studying the names of God. God’s names really do reveal His nature.

Security and Identity

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ” Genesis 1:27

In the first chapter of the Bible, God introduces Himself as Elohim — Creator God who spoke all things into existence. All except for mankind! Humanity He created in His own image, forming every detail personally with His hands. Then in the ultimate expression of love and intimacy, He bent low, placing His mouth upon clay-formed lips and breathed.

How amazing! God intimately filled mankind with the essence of Himself. I wonder if at the core of our insecurity and at the root of lost identity, we might find a lack of knowledge of the nature of God’s commitment to us and His loving care.

Elohim, the first name we discover, presents God as one who will not rest until He brings confusion into order, darkness into light, and dust into life! In Him we may trust and in the power of His Name we rest. We discover true security and core identity only in the knowledge of His Name.

Salvation

When Peter speaks before the Sanhedrin, he draws from the Psalmist’s words, “Then I called on the name of the LORD: O LORD, save me!” Peter boldly declared,

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

What Name bears such significance? What Name, unlike any other name, rescues and saves? There is only One! Only one of God’s names reveals such excellence — the Name of Jesus!

The beautiful Name of the Lord Jesus Christ — each portion carrying deep significance — should be the first Name we learn. Lord represents the Father; Jesus identifies the Son; Christ (the Anointed One) signifies the Holy Spirit. In His Name we find salvation and the fullness of the Trinity.

Confidence in Prayer

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, and I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16

Whether in desperate situations or the monotony of everyday life, as we acknowledge and declare His Name in prayer, God releases power and authority through our humble words. He hears. He moves and responds. By proclaiming His Name over situations, circumstances shift. Confessing the greatness, the goodness, and the glory of His Name releases His Spirit into unseen realms, transforming the seen ones.

At times uttering His Name takes on a warrior tone, another Name spoken in hushed reverence, still another sung with joy. What assurance comes as we pray, not to a deaf and distant god, but to our Lord — our Healer, Provider, Shepherd, and Peace.

Puts All Things Into Perspective

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘LORD, save me!'”
Psalm 116:1-4

Just as the small moon, at times, blocks the sun’s light from reaching earth, present reality, at times, eclipses the larger truth of who God is and the greatness of His Name. The more we study God’s names and His attributes, the clearer we see the fleeting nature of this present life and difficulty.

Limits constrain everything earthly. But nothing constrains God! He defines Himself in limitless terms: omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, without beginning or end.

Deeper Awe and Worship

“Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.”
Psalm 113:1-3

For some people, finding a reason to praise God may initially appear difficult. Yet as we practice the adoration of His Name, worship bursts forth. God remains forever worthy of exultation. He commands worship, not because He is a self-seeking egotist, but rather because worship strengthens us! As we pour out unrestrained worship to Him, we become complete and fully satisfied.

For me, the abandonment of worship flows easily. When asked why, I give no other reason than He is worthy!

Every morning when I awake, I ask, “Today, is He worthy?”

Every morning, I come to no other conclusion but, “Yes! Yes! Today, and every day, He is worthy! Today, and every day, my God is worthy of ALL praise.”

Strength under Trial

“We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 124:7-8

Allow these words to comfort, strengthen, and seep over you.

“The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Proverbs 18:10

When everything feels like it is closing in, when there seems no way out or around a difficulty, “our help is in the name of the LORD.” God’s Name is always enough. In sickness, the whisper of that Name brings healing. In defeat, the mention of His Name secures victory. Where depression and anxiety paralyze thoughts and actions, the uttering of His Name enables release.

Power in Spiritual Battle

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Psalm 9:9,10

To “know” God’s names means to know both intellectually and experientially. It means to personally “know.” As a child, I knew I could run to my earthly father in times of trouble. Why? Because he was strong enough, loving enough, and wise enough to deal with any struggle I faced.

How much more my Heavenly Father!

“The people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Daniel 11:32

When we “know” His Name, He gives us authority to release the characteristics and qualities of His Name into situations we are contending for.

David came against Goliath, “in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). As we face our own battles “in the name of the LORD Almighty,” He fills us with courage, boldness, audacity, tenacity, and anything else we might need to overcome.

Increased Faith

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.”
Isaiah 50:10

We face our personal faults, fractures, and failures daily. However, the more we gaze into His magnificence and perfection, the more we will realize success and living life well depends not on us, but on God. Every mighty man or woman of God comes to the same conclusion. Though weak, they become strong in Him. Though fearful, they grow bold in Him.

One only needs to turn to Hebrews 11 to read the exploits of faith-filled ones, those who knew God well. The more we know God through His names, the more we too become “fully persuaded that God (has) power to do what he (has) promised” (Romans 4:21) and faith builds, rising to dominate our words and actions.

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The more time my little companion spent with her kittens, the more she knew them, not just by color, but by their character. She knew which ones would play inquisitively and which ones would withdraw to solitary corners and watch.

The more we spend time with our God, studying His names, the more we will know Him and His ways. God’s names reveal His nature, attributes, and character.

The intentional study of God’s names results in eternal dividends.

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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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