All We Can Do Is Pray?

Sorry for the long absence! All is well – thank God!

Please see the following article:

This is a great NY Times piece about how the government in a certain country is on a “cross destroying” mission. (I was tempted to say “crusade” but that would have been too cute!)

There are several key issues raised: symbols as competition for other forms of patriotism; what constitutes “foreign influence” via religious growth within a nation; how can believers in other nations support one another WITHOUT undermining local political infrastructure; how congregations react to the politically oriented destruction of church/community property; which is the most effective set of appropriate responses to such government actions?

In any case, the article sheds much light on the plight of Christian believers as they attempt to exercise their peaceful and harmless faith. However, the final sentence in the otherwise informative article regrettably concludes with the often repeated, spiritually bankrupt statement: “All we can do is pray”!

In several previous posts, I have repeatedly discussed the action of prayer/ intercession as a spiritual weapon! So, after reading the article, I believe we should reflect on the truth and power of several Scriptures, including Ephesians 3:12 where the Apostle describes our “direct access” to God! There is no way that this and many other Scriptures are describing a “last ditch” or “hope in the wind” sorry excuse for Christian wishing! This reminds me of 2 Timothy 3:5 where the Gospel is somehow acknowledged, but the spiritual “power” is conveniently denied!

Yours In The Risen Lord!

Spiritual Pruning

Pruning is one of those super basic concepts that Christians are familiar with.¬†It’s interesting to learn just how much we think it’s helpful for everyone but usūüėÉ!
When I bring up the subject, most believers are very quick to acknowledge the spiritual importance of pruning, like fasting or prayer as a peaceful weapon.

Well, I just finished pruning my very own grape vines! Just like previous years,¬†the “mechanics” of pruning help insure several beneficial aspects of the vine; all of which carry particularly cogent parallels to the Spirit! When you get right down to it, the meanings are all positive!

Typically, “pruning” can seem punitive. It can denote corrective action, depravation, even discipline. The common view of pruning is usually about training a plant to grow a certain way. Here’s a paradox of sorts: failure to prune stunts growth! Letting a vine grow “peacefully” without pruning will result in the less desirable growth of non fruiting branches! Sounds familiar?

The vine dresser (skillful pruner) goes about identifying which branches to trim back, and which ones to eliminate! It’s an intelligent, timely process. And Christ, of course, is the True Vine that we are all grafted onto/into (see the Gospel according to John Chapter 15).

Look at it this way: pruning is a way of intelligently investing in future production! It’s a prescription for health – NOT a punishment! True, unproductive runners are trimmed off, but this is to insure that the main vine supplies the maximum energy to fruit bearing branches!

And yes, you can do it in a very wrong way! Pruning vines needs to be done before the Spring blooming season, and early enough in the day so that the wounds will seal before sundown! Pruning also needs to be done when there is no rain in the forecast for the next several days so that fungus is discouraged from entering the cuts. AND, the pruning shears need to be sterilized prior to pruning each new vine to prevent the transfer of viruses!

All of these actions have spiritual counterparts in our lives! As in our “walk of faith” – you really have to know what you’re doing! Cooperation with the Holy Spirit is essential! The right tools: reading and searching the Scriptures are essential!

Hebrews 12:5-11 says that the Lord chastises those whom He loves to increase the yield! We all need correction. We all need spiritual “vine dressing” to bear the maximum fruit for the Kingdom! Submit to the process, and the Lord will provide the increase!

Peace and Maranatha

The Rapture

It may surprise many, but the idea of a “Rapture” or catching away of the Church is a relatively new doctrine, as far as doctrines go! Prior to that “teaching” Christians eagerly awaited the return of Jesus Christ in accordance with the Gospels and prophecy and imagery of the Apocalypse (Revelation to the Apostle John on the island of Patmos).

So, get ready for a real deep Bible study? No. Just a friendly conversation!

It’s a historical fact that Christians never believed in a “pre-trib” or “mid-trib”¬†rapture for the great majority of our history. Why now? Well, wouldn’t it be logical for the devil to cause confusion, doubt, and strife? Now, add to that a completely fear based, false hope core! That’s terrible AND terribly effective!

Come on. Who wants to suffer and or be persecuted? Who looks forward to that? Then, the “perfect” doctrine comes along to address those fears with an “holy escape”! Look at all the suffering during world wars, famine, and plagues. Now add all the suffering during totalitarian regimes who were/are always anti – Christian. Next, add to that denominational slaughtering AND Islamic persecutions! Wow, that’s a lot of persecution that hardly anybody escaped!

So, are we to believe that only “end-times” believers will have a happy exit?
If so, then why are we promised the armor of God in Ephesians 6:13? Why are we PROMISED persecution of believers by Jesus in John 15:20; and the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:11 and2 Corinthians 12:10? Why are we guaranteed the comfort of the Holy Spirit with truth love and Holy Spirit power? What’s going on in the Church?

Jesus tells us concerning the “end-times” in the Gospel according to Luke 21:28 “Now when these things begin to happen, LOOK UP and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” By definition, Jesus is the Lord who is our help/deliverer! He is the Good Shepherd who protects the flock by personally guarding the door in John 10:3 & 7 and He IS the door! HALLELUIA !

Are you afraid? See 2 Timothy 1:7 for direction. Jesus will take care of His own!
If you are one of His – FEAR NOT, for the Lord is with you! Amen!

Peace and Maranatha

Why Pray? Why Intercede?

James 4:3 (paraphrased)
You don’t receive what you’ve asked for in prayer because you have asked wrongly.

Why do so many Christians belong to a church or identify themselves as Christian when they are not walking according to the Word/Spirit, without
evidence to support their “belief”?

Am I being too critical? Am I condemning my brother?

Having “beliefs” customs, traditions etc. seems fine, however, where’s the fruit
of supernatural/supranatural power? Does that Christian strike you as someone who has been truly set free (John 8:31)? Do they truly serve others with Holy Spirit power (Matthew 10:8)?

Here’s an honest question for professing Christians: Why do you continue
your “religious” life when you have no real evidence that sets you apart from ordinary, law abiding, “nice” people?

Do the promises of Jesus Christ just apply to pastors/priests? Perhaps those people feel that the promises of Jesus were for the disciples/Apostles only?

So, my question is: Why would someone “follow” that line of thinking, especially
when there’s little or no power or victory over their obstacles?

(I’m NOT saying “believe what I believe, the way I believe it”!)
Why not?
Because there is ample evidence that within the body of Christian believers, there’s lots of room for diversity – NOT for contradiction! If we pray in faith, and that prayer is not answered, we need to immediately examine ourselves. My main point is that to continue without evaluation would be really pretty foolish.

Of course, we have to be watchful against doubt or “over analysis” because we are also dealing within “kairos” the Lord’s timetable. We also have to be aware that our prayers are sometimes answered even before we utter them! There are also many other warnings against powerless prayer given in Scripture for our benefit.

In any case, Jesus Himself commands that what we ask for, we ask praying in full knowledge and confidence that that thing is ALREADY DELIVERED or ALREADY ON THE WAY (original Greek – paraphrased Mark 11:24)! That’s amazing grace, power, and authority granted to us by grace to fulfill His will when we are guided by the Holy Spirit!

We are all priests entering into the throne room of God with boldness ( See 1 Peter 2:9 & Hebrews 10:19). Do we actually see ourselves that way? Do we behave in that respect?

When we get results, we continue to press forward. To do otherwise is the definition of insanity ūüėÉ.

Peace & Maranatha

Choices

Paraphrased:
1) You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free! John 8:32
2) My Father and Mother have forsaken me. But the Lord will take me up. Psalm 27:10
3) Whoevever has left Father and Mother for My sake will . . . inherit eternal life! Matthew 19:29

I just started reading the book “Son of Hamas” and it is a real quest of truth and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ! Then, after the “journey” is the reconciliation. AND restoration which continues on!

I encourage you to investigate this testimony at:
http://www.sonofhamas.com

Peace & Maranatha

Perception vs Reality

When people have an NDE (near death experience), one thing that TOTALLY changes is their perception, their point of view! That changes everything!

When we intercede for others, we usually have no idea of the impact,
especially when we’re unable to “see” the results or impact! (See Hebrews 11:1)

Since in Greek, “faith” is a verb, something one must exercise, not a possession, we have to proceed on that foundation of confidence AND hope¬†that our intercessions are making the difference (Mark 11:24)!

To do otherwise is to lower our prayer action to: begging, wishing, or just having good intentions! Therefore, following that line, we end up with¬†James 4:3 and related shortcomings that just don’t work!

No results do NOT equal “God’s fault”!

Recently, someone very mature, very experienced in Christian ministry, asked me, “tested me” with the question: “Does God ALWAYS heal?” I was a little shocked. This person has been very faithful in his walk with Christ. You also know that the key to most questions is usually found in the question itself.

In order to prevent ongoing controversy, or disruptive disputes, I decided not to insist on my beliefs (1 Corinthians 13:4. . . ) I was aiming more for consensus as a group member than starting a doctrinal sword fight! The brother felt at ease. Probably because he understood that I was not challenging his faith. However, the Lord chastises me and challenges me daily Рfor my own good!

As I reflect on that question, a few assumptions jump up immediately: Did Jesus always heal? Did the Apostles refuse healing from those who requested it? Does God always love? Does God always judge? Does God always minister to us?
If we obey, trust, and exercise true faith, does God always save us? When baptized, is the “new man” always born, and the old man always put to death?

Does our Father in heaven give us our daily bread, forgive us as we forgive, and lead us away from evil? I believe so. I experience it. I read that in His holy Scriptures.

I think that question is really asking what is God’s will. There are many things on His agenda! At the same time we are living in a spiritual war zone. People are being injured, suffering, and being killed everyday. Whose fault is that? Not the Lord’s! ! !

So, what’s your perception? Do you have a “healing ministry”? Do you have an¬†“intercessory ministry”? Do you have a “prophetic ministry”? Are you a watchman who is sounding the alarm on behalf of the people? Do you freely share the Gospel since it was freely shared with you? Do you do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

Is your body the temple of the Holy Spirit which is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, Who put all things under His feet? If so, you have received the exact same Spirit that¬†that bears ALL the spiritual gifts according to His will to do His will! If we see that, we’ll start to do that with truth, love, compassion, and Holy Spirit power!

Peace & Maranatha

Revival – Gifts of the Spirit?

I think I’ve written about this before. I most certainly believe what the Scripture says about the spiritual gifts! They were real then, and they are real now! There really isn’t anything written about God withdrawing His gifts, as in the doctrine of dispensationalism.

It’s a scared cow. Both sides are lined up against each other, and the devil gets more than a good laugh from this infighting. How sad.

I was at a meeting recently when someone used one of those spiritual buzzwords: revival. I’ve never liked the word. It’s also NOT in the Bible. But neither are other words we use like vacation, or birthday – but we still use them.

The issue I’ve always had with the “R” word is that it strictly implies re-animation, or even resurrection. Specifically, something was “dead” and now is brought back to life!

Can we agree that the Lord God is ever present? Jesus does say that the Spirit comes and goes, and no man can control it (John 3:8). However, we are PROMISED the Comforter (John 15:26). And are we not temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)? Does that Spirit simply come and go? I can see that the “intensity” raises and falls, but we are NEVER “empty” especially because Jesus says that He will be with us ALWAYS (Matthew 28:20)!

Who or what is then dead? 2 Corinthians 5:14 answers this without a doubt! When our mind is renewed (Ephesians 4:23), is it saying that the new creation will periodically die and need to be revived? Or, does the Apostle guarantee that the Spirit will increase in us when we are obedient and exercise faith?

Why is the word “revival” such a powerful word among many Christians?¬†I think the answer is twofold. First, the “R” word is VERY emotionally charged!¬†It cuts right to where most Christians are vulnerable – their very status as Spirit filled believers! Second, it seems very clear that the word is used as a tool¬†to guide/motivate/manipulate people into accepting the whole church process of the “gatekeepers” authority/control¬†to experience God! Think about that for a moment.

God is ever present. Our spiritual results, our fruits are based upon: being born-again( baptism of water AND Spirit), repentance, obedience, trust, love, faith, walking within God’s holy Scripture, doing His will, and probably a few other things! These things are certainly not separate, but quite beautifully interrelated – praise God!

Did we receive the Holy Spirit, only to be in need of a “refill”? Does He leave us hanging, only to return in times of crisis? Does He “show up” because we have lots of people expecting it?

Whatever spiritual gifts are manifested in us, we have the same Spirit!
That Spirit bears fruit according to several conditions. Most times, the spiritual¬†gifts are limited by us. We tend to use those gifts most familiar to us and those which seem most evident. That’s very practical, very understandable, but quite the opposite of actual faith! Don’t assume that you are my target. Hey, I’m speaking to me tooūüėÉ!

Whenever, whatever we were gifted with, we can be confident that those gifts are ever present with the Holy Spirit! How do we know? See 2 Timothy 1:6 for the answer! ! ! Our job is to do the will of God with those gifts for His Glory!

Peace & Maranatha!

 

Supernatural – Supranatural?

Fear is a huge problem, and for many a stumbling block. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. However, that was BEFORE the blessed promise and arrival of the grace of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Not a contradiction, just context. We are now inspired, motivated, and powered by the love of Jesus AND by His love! OK. So, where does the “wrong” type of fear enter in?

Generally, fear, per se, is a satanic tool, technique, strategy for control! Many Christians out there in the world are, with wonderful intentions, living under their own power, so to speak. This usually results in poor or mixed results, and sooner or later, frustration.

2 Timothy 1:7 gives the key to understanding this:
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER, and love, and a sound mind. . . ”

If we are spectators, we sit back and watch prophecy unfold revealing the end of the world. If we are active participants through Grace, we are cooperative, synergistic participants – “doers” vs hearers.

Therefore, a life that shares or enters into the victory of Jesus Christ is one marked by spiritual fruit, the greatest of which is love.

The source of our power is the fullness of the Holy Spirit. DYNAMIS: the Greek root for dynamite in English, is a Supranatural power that comes from renewing the mind of our new creation via a diet rich in the Word of God!

Since Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; that Holy Spirit power is exactly what we need to do ANYTHING according to His will, for His glory. All else is “natural” human will power/effort that falls flat. Be encouraged!

Peace & Maranatha

Prison Ministry

Matthew 25:34-40
Hebrews 13:13

There are so many needs and so few to help!
However, what makes our service to the Lord so special? We can’t be spread too thin, or do everything in a mediocre way! Whatever we do must be according to His will. It must be done in love. And our actions must be sincere, based on gratitude for God’s grace towards us! Each is a special calling.¬†With all that said, let me introduce you:
http://www.mercyandgrace.org/home.html

Angelic Help!

What happens to people who don’t have a relationship with God, but find themselves in an emergency? This is a few years old, but still worth the watch!