Sunday, August 30, 2009
Restoring Our Spirits and Souls in Difficult Days
by Janice VanCronkhite www.jvcartworks.com
Joyce and I have been blessed to spend time at the pond below with Janice and her husband David. They are family to us. What Janice is saying is simple, and yet profound, and necessary. It comes down to perpectives that are in agreement with who we really are, and more importantly who He really is in us, and through us. Father speaks through Janice and her art, I recommmend going to her website and taking a look at Fathers reflections through His daughter Janice... www.jvcartworks.com ........ Robert R.
It's been said that we need not search new landscapes, but merely attain new eyes. Recently I spent several days with my easel perched on a hill above a quiet pond in North Carolina. I saw colors and reflections of light as never before. His presence was so thick it embraced me as I splashed the paint on the canvas.
The sun slowly descended behind the mountain and I seemed to be entrenched in a heavenly portal of refreshing. He was leading me beside quiet waters. He was restoring my soul.
Even in our most difficult times, God is everywhere and continually speaking to us. He has not forsaken us. If we take the time to look with new eyes and tune our ears to His sounds, we will see and hear Him. It may be only a glimmer or a whisper. But our eyes and ears, and ultimately our hearts, will be open like never before, especially in days of difficulty.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Learning to Say No
by Graham Cooke www.GrahamCooke.com
The most difficult part of resting in the Lord is learning to say one simple two-letter word: “No.” I have had to learn how to say no. For every ministry invitation I accept, I turn down ten or eleven. I have to say no, because I know what I am called to be and do. If an event doesn’t fit with God’s vision for my life—no matter how attractive the event is—I have to turn it down. God has told me to work in a number of specific countries right now: if I receive an invitation from a different nation, I have to say no. I just can’t go. I know God’s parameters for me.
Rushing and productivity have no connection. The issue for us is what we lose when we rush, not what we gain. I could go on a mad dash and spend 350 days a year on the road ministering, but it isn’t right. Hurrying exhausts us, decreases our efficiency, and produces a lack of quality in what we do.
By saying no, I have had the opportunity to rest and reflect on what God wants to do next. Revival—contrary to our belief that it is an event that happens where people get saved—is actually about having an extended peace so the work of the Gospel can go on unhindered. When we bring peace to our churches and neighborhoods, the work of the enemy decreases.
A few years ago, the Lord told me that I should spend a year only doing three kinds of events. These events were ones I had plenty of material for; I didn’t need to study for them. Instead, the Lord had me spend that year meditating, studying, and writing about what He wanted to do next. When invitations came in that didn’t fit the three types of events He wanted me to do, I turned them down. My job that year was to study who God is and who He wants to be for me. Rushing or saying yes to things would have robbed me of that revelation. My relationship with Him was upgraded wonderfully that year—so much so I wish I could have that every year!
Saying no is just one way to increase rest. How many of us take time for ourselves? Silence and stillness must be practiced—we all need times of solitary confinement with God to practice our peace.
Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and reflect on our journey with God. Where have we come from? What have we walked through? Where are we going? To do this, we need to slow down. We have to let other people get in line ahead of us. We need to eat slowly. We need to leave our watch at home. We must think before we speak and learn to listen without formulating a reply. It is vital that we learn how to step back into God and enjoy our Prince of Peace.
Patience is a virtue we need to develop, especially when we are about to birth something new spiritually. It takes time to grow; we have to sort through all of the things that are thrown at us and discover what exactly God is calling us to. We have to wade through everything and wait. My suggestion for people in a season of birth or upgrade is to write out a prayer for patience and pray it every day. In the midst of crisis, it is difficult to pray spontaneously because our requests of God shift with the pressure we feel in the heat of the moment. But if we have written out a prayer that asks God for a specific thing—patience—we can be faithful to what God wants to do.
In my greatest seasons of birth, I have written out a patience prayer, laminated it, and put it in my wallet so I could access it anytime, anywhere. I would pray that prayer fifteen times a day and found myself becoming more patient every time I did it. The Holy Spirit calls patience up in us when we ask for it.
When I am waiting on God, I run through exercises to grow my spiritual life. Choosing three friends I can bless. What country can I pray for? What are six things I love about my life right now? What are my greatest dreams for my children? What can I pray to bless the person who just passed me in the fast lane? I am a person who wants to wait in a positive way.
Waiting is a wonderful gift, if we choose to embrace it.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
No Good Thing
by Chip Brogden
“I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18a).
It is a great day for the Lord when a disciple of Jesus learns this most basic lesson: that in “me”, in myself, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. This is a very difficult thing for people to learn. Jesus says that without Him we can do nothing. This verse is very well-known. Even so, Christians still attempt to do many things apart from the Lord. We feel like we simply must do something, anything. And even though the Bible says there is nothing good in our flesh, and the flesh profits nothing, we spend a lot of time doing fleshly things apart from the Spirit of Jesus, thinking they are good and profitable. It is impossible to say for sure just how many of the things we “feel led” to do and say are actually just things we feel like doing and saying. A lot of the time the Lord has very little to do with it.
This problem is part of our Adamic nature and it is at work in us long before we are born-again. Before a person becomes a Christian they sometimes believe that they are intrinsically good or moral. At least, they say, there are not as bad as others. But those who know God know that in order for a person to enter the Kingdom they must first see that their righteousness is as filthy rags, that all have fallen short of the glory of God, and that none are righteous in His sight. We protest that we are not so bad, but God says the imagination of man’s heart is only toward evil from his youth (cf. Genesis 8:21). To be saved, a person must stop claiming any righteousness of their own and accept God’s verdict of them. No matter how good they may think they are compared to the rest of mankind, they are, nevertheless, sinners in need of a Savior. They cannot be born-again until and unless they recognize and acknowledge what the Lord says about them and their condition.
We who have received the Lord as Savior have come to this knowledge of ourselves at least once in our lives. There came a day when we despaired of saving ourselves, and instead of clinging to our righteousness, we confessed our sins and admitted our need for a Savior. At that moment, Christ accepted us as His disciples. Confessing our sinfulness did not hinder us from entering the Kingdom; on the contrary, it opened the door for us to go in. The self-righteous, on the other hand, are disqualified by their own good works. How differently the Lord judges things.
KNOWING CHRIST, KNOWING SELF
When we are new disciples we have truly entered the Narrow Gate but there is still much we do not know and there is still much we need to learn. We know very little about Jesus, and we know very little about ourselves. And so, the Lord begins to lead us along the Narrow Path. He primarily wants to show us two things: who we are, and Who He is. These go hand-in-hand. Self-knowledge is just as important as Christ-knowledge. The revelation of Christ begins when God opens our eyes to know Jesus. The revelation of Self begins when God opens our eyes to know ourselves. When we see the insufficiency of Self and the sufficiency of Christ we will naturally despair of ourselves and look away to Jesus. On the other hand, if we do not see ourselves correctly, we will invariably imagine ourselves to be quite a bit better than we really are. We will mistake fleshly strength for spiritual strength. We will confess with our mouth that we cannot do anything apart from Jesus, but in actual practice we will take it upon ourselves to perform many works. In time all of these works become nothing. We will fail hundreds or thousands of times until we learn the lesson – if it comes from me, if it comes from my flesh, it is no good.
Before he saw the Lord, Paul was self-confident and dangerous. Those who trust in themselves have neither seen themselves nor seen the Lord. I am afraid that many people have the idea that Jesus came only to lend them a hand and help them feel more successful and fulfilled. Today the most popular Christian books tell us how to have a better life, how to prosper, how to be a “winner”, how to improve our circumstances, and how to think nice, positive, encouraging thoughts about ourselves. The focus appears to be on making life here on earth more enjoyable and making believers more self-reliant and self-confident. This may not be the stated intention but it is the inevitable result – and if a few Scriptures can be used in the process, so much the better. It would be a mistake to equate holiness with misery and drudgery; but it is an even greater mistake to tell someone how wonderful they are until they have first despaired of themselves and learned the lesson that Paul learned: “In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing.”
Positive thinking is appropriate so long as I am living according to the Truth, but if I am unsurrendered to Jesus and living life according to my terms then I am in no position to think about myself in a positive light: I am positively deceived. We do not need Self-Esteem, we need Christ-Esteem. The more we see of Jesus the less we will trust in ourselves. That is why, once Paul learned his lesson, he wrote, “We have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3b). He then goes on to list quite a number of things that seem important in terms of religion, status, social order, education, and good works – all the things that tend to make one self-confident and self-righteous. With one grand stroke, Paul says, “Yet, I count them all as dung, that I may win Christ.” He simply discards what some people spend a lifetime trying to achieve. Here is a man who knows the sufficiency of God as well as the insufficiency of himself.
“That is fine for new believers,” someone will say. “But I have been a Christian for many years now. I have a good relationship with God, I have had many spiritual experiences and have made great progress. This message is good for younger, less mature believers, but it does not apply to me.” On the contrary, to lose all confidence in myself is the mark of spiritual maturity. Real spiritual growth is evidence by increased confidence in Christ and a decreased confidence in myself. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). You never outgrow these spiritual laws. Anyone who thinks they do not need to hear it again did not really hear it the first time.
THE EXAMPLE OF JOSEPH
We have a fine example of this in the life of Joseph. When Joseph was younger he realized that God had appointed him for a special purpose. God confirmed this special calling by giving Joseph prophetic dreams about his future. Joseph should have treasured these things in his heart and quietly waited for God to bring about His Will. But being young and full of self-confidence, Joseph could not resist sharing these dreams with his father and brothers. As a result, his brothers became jealous and almost killed him. Joseph was sold into slavery and spent many years in prison. It appeared as though his dreams would not come true. Yet God was using all these circumstances to teach Joseph to have no confidence in the flesh.
After many seasons of God’s dealings, Joseph was brought to the palace to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Here was an opportunity for Joseph to finally lift himself out of a terrible situation. Someone had finally recognized him for his gift and they had the power to reward him handsomely for it. But the younger, self-confident Joseph is gone. He has finally learned the basic lesson of “not I, but Christ.” “Can you interpret my dream?” Pharaoh asked. “It is not in me,” Joseph replied. “But God will give you an answer” (cf. Genesis 41:16). And so He did, because now Joseph, emptied of himself, could be trusted. Joseph demonstrated even more wisdom and maturity in dealing with his brothers, freely demonstrating supernatural grace and love towards the ones who meant him evil.
All of our circumstances, tests, and trials are designed to get us to the place that we can say along with Joseph, “It is not in me.” God permits many things to come our way that we could otherwise avoid if we were not so cocky and self-confident. God has to work long and hard to get through to us, but what a wonderful day it is when we finally learn the lesson, bow our head, and surrender everything over to Him. Then He can really use us; but even if He does not use us, we are His nonetheless. Submitted to Him, we are equally content to be where He has placed us, whether we are sitting in the dungeon or sitting on the throne.
THE EXAMPLE OF PETER
Peter is another good example of how every true disciple eventually learns that there is nothing good in his flesh. Peter began his walk with Jesus just as we did, acknowledging his sinfulness by saying, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Some will protest their own righteousness and feel as though they are doing God a huge favor by becoming a Christian. But Peter made a splendid beginning by frankly acknowledging himself as a sinner, and so the Lord took him just as he was and began to disciple him.
After making some progress, however, Peter started to lose touch with himself. He had followed Jesus for three years and enjoyed close fellowship with Him. He had both seen and performed miracles in Jesus’ Name. To all outward appearances he was no longer a “sinful man”, he was a “spiritual man”. Before, Peter considered himself unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus. In just a short period of time you find this “sinful man” arguing along with the other disciples about which one of them will be the greatest! This ought to show us that there is a deeper death for us to die, and the more “spiritual” we become, the more easily we are deceived by our own spirituality.
If a dentist offers to remove one of your good teeth you will probably refuse. But if that tooth develops a cavity it is only a matter of time before you seek out the dentist and have it removed. The greater the pain, the quicker you seek relief. Similarly, when the Lord first speaks of taking up the Cross, we are apt to respond as did Peter: “Not so, Lord! This will never happen to you!” We see no need for death because Self has not yet become painful enough to us. When we are tired of the pain that comes from living in the flesh then we will gladly ask God to decrease us so that He can be increased. Until then no amount of teaching, argument, or doctrine is enough to convince a person.
Peter held out until the very end. He was a very difficult case, but the Lord was patient. When Jesus said that all would forsake Him, Peter protested and announced that even if all the other disciples fled, he would never forsake Jesus. Outwardly he acted and spoke as a deeply committed believer and disciple. But when temptation came he could not even stay awake long enough to pray. Perhaps he did not feel prayer was necessary; he was strong enough to resist without praying! Then, when Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, Peter tried to defend Him with a sword. All these examples demonstrate how very little Peter knew about himself.
It was not until Peter actually did deny the Lord three times that he came to learn the same lesson that Paul learned: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing.” After he denied the Lord he went out and wept bitterly. Finally he was broken. He hated himself for what he had done. At last he had seen something of himself, and he was ashamed. If he was capable of denying the Lord Jesus then he was capable of anything. Strangely enough, the more unworthy Peter believed himself to be, the more the Lord sought to restore and encourage him! The Lord does not break the bruised reed. When Peter was strong and arrogant, the Lord weakened him with a rebuke. When Peter was sufficiently weak and humble, the Lord strengthened him with encouragement. What a glorious Lord we have, Who meets us exactly where we are and ministers to us accordingly!
FAILURE SERVES GOD’S PURPOSE
Jesus was not surprised or disappointed when Peter failed. In like manner, He is not surprised or disappointed when you fail. Rather, He is waiting for you to fail so you will be reduced to Him. He has no illusions about you and He knows you through and through. He knows however much your spirit may be willing, your flesh is weak. Our weakness is not the trouble - the trouble is our unwillingness to acknowledge the weakness. Paul has no confidence in the flesh, so he can say, “I rejoice in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:9b). But we do not rejoice in our weakness the way Paul does. We either refuse to admit it, or we hide it, or we try to improve upon it, or we try to make up for it by overcompensating in some other area. People will fight and argue with me on this point because they desperately want to salvage something for themselves. They have a fragile self-esteem and this kind of news is too painful too bear.
But I bring you good tidings of great joy, dear Christian friend! This failure of Self is the very key to living the Christian life. As painful as it is, the bitter tears of failure provide the water for nurturing the Precious Seed that is planted in your heart of hearts and making it grow. To despair of ourselves is the very key that opens the door to all the power, the victory, and fruitfulness in Christ that we seek. “I KNOW that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing.” I KNOW IT, Paul says. No good thing. I know that in me, in my flesh, in my Self, there is nothing. Apart from Him I am nothing. He is Everything. CHRIST IN ME is my only Hope. In one part of me, my flesh, dwells no good thing. In the other part of me Christ lives.
Why do you lack power? Why are you unable to walk in continual victory? Why do you not see fruitfulness? Because power, victory, and fruitfulness only comes to a person who is standing on resurrection ground. God’s holy anointing oil was not to be poured out upon the flesh. God does not grant these things to people who are still living for themselves. Resurrection life is for those who have died already – how could it be otherwise? Unless a man has passed through death he cannot know anything about resurrection. If a person will not consent to the Cross then they will not die, and if they will not die then they cannot be resurrected. If they are not resurrected they cannot ascend with Christ and be seated with Him in the heavenlies, for “flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 15:50).
If you have a Bible Promise Book one of your favorites is probably Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Keep in mind, however, that the same man who said this also said, “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me, but this Strength is only perfected in my weakness (cf. II Corinthians 12:9). Also remember that “Apart from Me, You can do nothing” is a golden promise as well. Because I promise you that anything you do apart from Jesus will amount to nothing!
HOW TO ENTER IN
Why is it so difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God? Because wealth creates the illusion of control and this breeds self-confidence. Money is like a drug that makes one feel invincible. Once the money is gone the illusion is destroyed and there is a natural humility that follows. Those who are rich in spiritual experiences find it equally difficult to enter in. Often when a person considers himself to be “apostolic” or “prophetic” or “spiritual” or “called to the ministry” they present a formidable challenge. It is most difficult to teach them anything or even discuss something with them because they are not poor in spirit, they are rich in spirit. They like to argue, fuss, debate, and find fault with others. Like the younger Joseph they always have a dream, vision, or word to speak, but they lack wisdom and maturity. They are the type of people who will walk halfway around the world to preach a message but will not drive across the street to listen to one. They want to be seen and heard, but they cannot bear to see or hear others.
Friends, it may be difficult to enter in, but it is not impossible. It IS impossible with man, this is true; but with God, all things are possible. The quicker we accept man’s impossibility the quicker we can accept God’s possibility. The way we enter in is right here: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). God’s solution to our problem is to nail us to the cross with Jesus. If we will accept this sentence of death all our problems will die right along with us. The problems will not die until we are thoroughly dead ourselves. But the day we cease striving and meekly accept the Cross we will find everything is settled. We can protest our innocence and die slowly like the two thieves, or we can quietly commit ourselves into God’s hand and give up the ghost.
What shall we do to enter in? The first thing to do is to stop doing. Then, let us learn to breathe words along these lines: Today, Lord, I give up. I am finished. I surrender. I know now that in my flesh dwells no good thing. Apart from You I am nothing, and apart from You I can do nothing. I do not even know how to pray. I accept the sentence of death, and I trust you to raise me from the dead. As I am decreased, may You be increased. I have learned that I cannot; therefore, I will not. Into Your hands I commit my spirit. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and I will wait for you to raise me from the dead. I will not raise myself. Let Your Strength be perfected in my weakness.
When this is a practical reality for a person, and not just a theory, it will sound like this: I used to be quite confident in myself and very sure, but today I have no confidence in myself. I used to be very active, but today I am content to be still. If God should rise within me, I will certainly obey Him; but if He does not move, I dare not step out ahead of Him. I will work, but I will not work according to the flesh. Instead, I will work according to His Power that works in me mightily, this power that strengthens me to do all things, this power that is perfected in my weakness. I no longer hide my weaknesses, I rejoice in them, and I look for Christ in me to overcome them all. I have surrendered myself over to Him as a bondservant, as a prisoner of the Lord. If I live, I am the Lord’s. If I die, I am the Lord’s. So in life and in death, I belong to Him.
Friends, Jesus did NOT say, “I am the Crucifixion and the Death.” He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Meditate upon the difference! Resurrection and Life is on the other side of this Cross that Jesus requires us to take up. The Cross is the Gate of Life that leads us into the Promised Land of Resurrection. Let us embrace the Cross and glory in the Cross, for it is the power of God for our salvation. Amen.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Success Is Not a Random Act of God
By Don Nori Sr. www.destinyimage.com
Contrary to popular belief, success is not a product of chance. It is not the result of random selection or of a pre-determined function of fate. Success is written into the spiritual DNA by God for all mankind, no matter who they are, what financial or social environment they were born into, or what an individual may believe about himself. God has hardwired us to be successful. Failure does not exist in the plan of our Lord. Just as there is no failure in the hopes and dreams of parents toward their children, God has made us for success.
There are a few simple things we must understand in order for success to be a real part of our lives, but make no mistake, success is more attainable than most of realize.
Success is simply a series of right decisions. It is a progression of carefully researched, fully prayed over, and completely thought through decisions. Right decisions are made one at a time, with a clear goal in mind. No wonder the Scripture says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov 29:18 KJV).
You will never know how to make a right decision until you know where you want to end up. For students, success is a good job, so the short-term goal is good grades. Therefore, the student will make a series of right decisions: Go to class, study hard, get plenty of sleep and prepare well for tests. Medical students decide to put in the time, work hard and sacrifice many personal desires because they have set the goal and now are making the decisions needed to attain that goal.
Olympians, professional athletes, and all of us who work a regular day job have a goal in sight. We make the decisions necessary to bring about the fulfillment of those goals.
A spiritual calling is an incredible reason to want to make right choices, but sometimes our calling is sidelined or stalled because the decisions we make hinder what God wants to do in us, for us and most assuredly, through us.
But the good news is simple. Jesus says that His burden is easy, the load we carry through life should be light. Communicating with the Lord through the Spirit will most certainly bring this promise to pass in this life.
A dedicated of devotion to Him keeps our heart soft and our spirits open to the path He wants us to take. Personally, I love to wait on the Lord while praying in the Spirit, in tongues. This is an incredible source of power and connection to our Lord Jesus that is overlooked far too often in the decision-making process.
No matter who you are, what stage of life you’re in, what church you attend or what trouble you have faced, you can pray in tongues. You can experience this promise of God in your everyday life, giving you confidence, strength and the wisdom you need to either get on the right path or stay on the right course. Our Lord Jesus did not leave us alone. He gave us the Holy Spirit, along with all the Holy Spirit is. He will lead us to one right decision after another, until we find ourselves in the center of His will, the center of His dream for us. You will have achieved success.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"Recovering YOU from the Enemy!"
By Undrai & Bridget Fizer www.fizer.org
The only thing that was ever "stolen" from you was YOU. The enemy never took a thing from you. He didn't take your family. He didn't take your car. He didn't steal your job. If you never knew YOU "you never owned a thing." And if you never truly knew God, "you never truly knew YOU!"
Any material that is given to a "unknown or unidentified identity" is a loss waiting to happen. This biggest challenge of the soul is to rightly identify ones self. Many live in this generation "unknown, unborn, unfulfilled, and unrealized!" Whenever there is an existence without the knowledge of God and His Kingdom, "you have not yet arrived!"
The Kingdom will create an Awakening that will compel the heart to seek for God, which therefore will seek for itself also. Finding God "will also find YOU!" Jesus is the Way to God "which is also the way to YOU!" When you discover YOU, and recover YOU, then YOU will finally be able to worship the Lord. The greatest form of worship is not mere singing or the raising of the hands. The greatest form of worship "is imitation!" When you discover who YOU are, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO IMITATE your Father. Ephesians 5:1
Imitating the Father will also release the fullness of His Mind, Thoughts, and Ways, within you. You will find yourself imitating God in a world that is full of "reconciled, yet un-recovered individuals!" You will find yourself "living BORN" in a world of "unborn" men.
The enemy HAD no need for your material possessions. He had need of the BORN. He wanted to take away your Divine Life, Divine Identity, and Divine Mastery by way of holding you captive to ignorance, fear, and a severe esteem issue, all of which we call SIN. When you find it impossible to believe in YOU, you will also find it impossible to believe in God. When you find it impossible to believe God, you will naturally fear in believing YOU. YOU do matter. YOU are not insignificant. God never created you to be...
When you discover the Kingdom, after seeking the Kingdom, YOU will find yourself "and everything that is necessary to assist YOU in your Divine Life, will naturally be ADDED to YOU!" Wisdom will be added to you. Greatness and Influence will be added to YOU. Unlimitedness will be added to YOU. Fearlessness will be added to YOU. Anything that has overwhelmed death and limitation will be added to YOU. There is no need to seek things "that can die" to be added to you. Temporary additions "is not adding to anything." Things that refuse to die "is a true addition!"
Prepare yourself for things that can't be shaken, things that can't die, and things that will increase a Generation. Prepare your accounts for that addition!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Trust In My Life
by Chip Brogden
I am learning more and more the necessity of letting God have His Way with me. That is not to say I allow Him to live through me at all times as I should. Would that I would so yield, at all times, and without fail. But in the instances where I have allowed Him to respond through me the results have been startling. It is by this that I know He is alive. I am able to watch Him work through me, almost as though I were standing apart from myself observing it.
In order to bring my experience down to earth in terms of practicality, let me take an ordinary incident and demonstrate how His Life responds for us, and in our stead, when we allow it. I am not a patient person by nature, and I am prone towards laziness and irritability. At times I can be most difficult to live with, as my wife will certainly testify. On one occasion I was particularly angry and was on the verge of reacting as I always do, from Adam”s nature instead of Christ”s nature. But in order to test the sufficiency of Christ”s Life in me, I inwardly turned to the Lord and frankly confessed my inability to control my anger, or my tongue. I did not ask for help to do so, nor did I ask for strength, or for patience. I simply cast it all upon the Lord, saying, “Since I cannot, therefore you must. It is beyond me, therefore I depend on You to do what I cannot. If You will not, then I cannot.” This was not done in an arrogant way, but in a matter-of-fact tone that was simply relaying the facts of the situation. As long as we think WE can, or even if we think God will enable us to do it, we are still striving. We must cease to do, and allow Him to do. I already knew how it would turn out if I tried to handle this on my own.
After uttering this simple prayer I never gave it another thought, but waited to see what the Lord would do in me. Each time my mind would try to take the matter up again the still small voice would say, “Trust in My Life.” Over and over again in recent weeks this gentle prompting has guided me through impossible situations and carried me well beyond any short-term victory I had ever been able to procure by way of self-effort. We know that Christ was tempted in all areas like as we are, yet without sin. He is over all things, and there”s not a single temptation, situation, problem, or circumstance that He has not already mastered. We do not worry that Christ may stumble, or sin, or be taken advantage of by the enemy. Why? We trust in His Life; we know the Man; we believe He is sufficient, nay, more than sufficient, to answer any and every test, trial, and temptation. Since He lives in me, and I am a vessel which contains His Life, why can I not trust in His Life working through me as much as I would trust Christ on earth? Is it not the same Spirit? Decidedly so!
“Trust in My Life,” that Spirit urges. Cease striving, trust Me, watch what happens. In so doing, I can report that in this particular case my temper was non-existent; my words were soft; my manner meek; in essence, the Living Christ was expressing Himself through me, and my part was only to yield and watch in amazement as His Nature began to engulf my personality. Who else could display such patience? Such love? Such peace? It cannot be conjured up, nor can it be duplicated by asking “what would Jesus do?” and setting out to copy His example. Trying to imitate Christ is the path of frustration and despair. Let me say undeniably that you will never meet a Man like Jesus. Try for a million years and you can never duplicate His personality! Your best attempt to “be more like Jesus” is as feeble as trying to grow a plant out of a concrete rock. Only a proud, ignorant person thinks they can even come close to being like Jesus.
No, the answer is, “It is no longer I that liveth, but Christ that liveth in me, and the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” I live, yet not I but Christ. It is not Jesus reproduced in me, it is Jesus instead of me. It is not my life, my work, my effort at holiness. It is Christ my Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption.
As I learn to trust His Life for the small things, I am finding the larger things to be less large. It is all a question of leverage. When you have a large load you desire to lift with a lever, the closer you move the fulcrum to the load the less force you have to exert to lift it. Consequently, trusting His Life effectively positions the fulcrum in such a way that you exert very little force, while the Lever (Christ) does all the work . Of course we eventually arrive to the place of total rest and exert no self-effort at all. Simply “ask, and it shall be given unto you.”
A better analogy is one Christ made Himself: “take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me…and you shall find rest unto your souls”. A yoke is made for two oxen. It was common practice to yoke a weak animal with a stronger one and thus strengthen the weaker. In our situation we cannot get stronger; we must be made weaker. Our whole problem is we are too strong in ourselves. So we are never told to improve our flesh, for God has judged it unworthy of being saved and nailed it to the cross. But the illustration of the yoke shows us that Christ is doing all the work for us while we reap the benefit of His labor. He is not pushing us from behind, exacting impossible demands upon us like a slave-driver. He is beside us, laboring on our behalf. If I take His yoke upon me I am carried along with Him. We may rest since He carries all the weight. His Life is unrestricted and limitless. The weight of the world is not too heavy for Him to bear. We must therefore cast our burden upon Him, because He cares for us and He is well able to handle it. It is His privilege to do so.
Paul thought himself a strong individual until God weakened him. Now Paul rejoices in his weaknesses, boasts of his inadequacies, and revels in his sufferings. Why? “When I am weak, then I am strong.” How so? He is at last cognizant that “apart from Me, you can do nothing”; that human strength and self-effort only delays the inevitable and eventual defeat; that true strength is manifest through the denial of self and trusting in His Life. For His Life, that is, His Being, Nature, and Essence, is Christ Himself. Today there is a need of strength; He is my Strength. Tomorrow the need may be patience; He is my Patience. Next week the call may be for more self-control; He is my Self-Control. Each new revelation of weakness and need provides us with fresh opportunity to trust in His Life and observe a living Christ expressing Himself through us.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Renewing Our Strength
By Homer Owen www.samaritanfoundation.org
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28-31
A friend sent me an article recently describing Molting Eagles. I have read similar articles over the years but this one came during my own molting season. An eagle can live up to 70 years; but in order to reach such a high age, somewhere between the age of 30 to 40, the eagle must go through a painful and often life-threatening renewal. Not all eagles survive. When molting eagles get into the last state of transformation, often times they will peck at each other, occasionally killing a weaker eagle.
The renewal takes 150 days. During this time it is difficult to fend or defend himself. The eagle has to remove his calcified beak by repeatedly knocking it against a rock. After the new beak is formed, he has to remove his old talons before new ones can grow. Then he has to pluck out the old matted feathers before he can grow new feathers. Mature eagles who have gone through their own transformation can hear the unique screams of molting eagles. This alerts them to drop fresh meat onto their perches.
With the help of God personally and then encouraging mature eagles, Homer will soar again and soar even higher than before. 2 Corinthians 3:18. I appreciate the love, patience and encouragement of every mature eagle. Not a single day goes by without both the Lord and mature eagles dropping fresh manna into my heart to feast on. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing with me during this molting time.
Here is a typical feast that came my way last week from a friend in East Texas. This was a decree in the form of a prayer. “Straighten up now, vertebrae, upon vertebrae … muscles, tendons, disks, nerves come into perfect order and line upon the sacrum … In Jesus’ strong name.” Thank you Rachel. Amazing, I went to the doctor a couple days after this and they x-rayed my back. You can clearly see in the x-ray that the two broken vertebrae are in the process of becoming straight. Glory! God and Rachel are so good.
I want to encourage every molting eagle to simply wait on the Lord. He has promised to renew your strength. Look forward to new wings and the supernatural ability to not get tired or weary. Better days or on the way. Remember this all happens one day at a time. Don’t let the enemy steal your healing and restoration by telling you that it just ain’t gonna happen. Learn to rejoice in today and know that tomorrow will even be better.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Foundational Prayer Before Crisis or Blessing
By Robert Ricciardelli www.vision2advance.com
Living by the Spirit of the Lord is something we all pursue in our every day life. How we do this, can be a challenge for sure. Jesus lived a life of prayer, and when He needed dedicated prayer time, He would even send crowds and most likely potential resources away, so that He could be with the Father. As a result, He would not move, speak, or do anything that the Father did not ask Him to do.
As I think of prayer and how often we come to the Father during a crisis, I am thankful that our Loving Father responds to hearing our cry. I am also reminded that prayer is really for us to connect with Him, His nature, and a conduit for His peace and joy to flow through us. His Spirit never leaves us, but we must participate and engage relationally with Him in order for His presence to manifest through our lives in power. This happens most often through prayer and spending time with Him.
I also want to make a distinction between prayer and talking or listening to God. Prayer is a focused time, and talking and listening to the Father should be a continuum or seamless activity. When we are in conversation with anyone we should ask the Lord “Father what do you want me to hear, and Father how would you desire me to respond.” When we are consciously doing this, the Lord will do amazing things, and you will find that you are now giving God glory in many more conversations, and releasing His love more abundantly to others.
When prayer is foundational and we allow His will to supersede our will, every day activities take on a new light. I begin to see as He sees, I begin to hear His voice more clearly, and I begin to respond to life’s successes and challenges to the glory of God, our Father. I have also found that prayer times for me, is tuning everything elase out so I can hear from Him. I make my petitions known before God, but more importantly I listen for His petitions to become reality for me and for others, according to His will, and His plans. Below our some quotes that will encourage you to pursue prayer in an increased fashion, and watch the Father do, what only He can do.
Richard Sibbes said, "God can pick sense out of a confused prayer."
Thomas Watson said, "The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel."
Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God.”
Andrew Murray said, “Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God's voice is its most essential part. Listening to God's voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.”
Abraham Lincoln said, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day."
This one's from John Bunyan, the imprisoned pastor who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress: “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
Robert Murray McCheyne said, "What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more."
E. Stanley Jones said, "Prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boat-hook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God."
And now the story, from the life of George Mueller:
Things looked bleak for the children of George Mueller's orphanage at Ashley Downs in England. It was time for breakfast, and there was no food. A small girl whose father was a close friend of Mueller was visiting in the home. Mueller took her hand and said, "Come and see what our Father will do." In the dining room, long tables were set with empty plates and empty mugs. Not only was there no food in the kitchen, but there was no money in the home's account.
Mueller prayed, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it, there stood the local baker. "Mr. Mueller," he said, "I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at 2 o'clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is." Mueller thanked him and gave praise to God. Soon, a second knock was heard. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. He said that before the milk spoiled, he would like to give it to the children.
Looking at George Mueller’s ability to know that Father would provide, makes it very clear that prayer preceded the miracle that was about to happen. Through prayer, and revelation, George knew that His Father would provide, and activated the faith in others, while preparing the table for the miracle.
“Prayer is not pulling God to our will, but the aligning of our will to the will of God." May we all pray like never before, in the midst of crisis or blessings, and begin to prepare the table for His miracles to appear in our lives, and the lives of others, in Jesus name.