A Modern Woman's Perspective Of The Kingdom of God on Earth

March 21, 2019

Correctly Reading The Bible In Context

     On a recent trip across country, my husband and I listened to a podcast by Dr. Michael Heiser, who has a PhD in the Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages, and is the scholar-in-residence for Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software. So, to say that he is well-educated and immersed in the Bible is an understatement. I find his writings and interviews illuminating, although I don't always agree with his conclusions. But that's OK .... God conceals the revelation of His word in the hiding place of His glory. But the honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all that God says (Proverbs 25:2, The Passion Translation). And that truth applies to me, you, and Dr. Heiser.
     This particular podcast centered around a question he asked .... Are we willing to be serious about interpreting the Bible in context? And I would take it a step further .... are we willing to accept the context from which the New Testament writers wrote? Or are we only willing to shine a light on the set of beliefs that our churches have taught us (our doctrines), while ignoring the substance of material that informed the writers in what they wrote?

     I think, if we are going to be serious students of the Bible, it is important to understand the culture, issues, and historical background of the times in which the Bible was written; and it is important to try to understand the purpose behind why the author was writing.... in other words, the context. 
      It is important to recognize that the books of the New Testament, which is considered the authoritative canon (measuring stick) of the Bible were formed very late; scholars think around the 4th Century. But in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, there were already many Christian documents being written and circulated. So although the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are part of our Biblical canon, they were all written in the 1st Century, long before the New Testament canon was established. The same is true of Paul's writings, which were also written in the 1st Century, and were circulating in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, most likely as packets among the churches, but not yet as New Testament canon --- there was no New Testament at the time!
     It is important that we understand that during the time that the Apostles were writing in the 1st Century, there were other Christians writing prayers, poetry, and revelatory texts written by others who received information from Jesus as His disciples. It is not emphasized in the Church, but there were more than just the 12 Disciples that were true followers of Christ. History hasn't given us the exact number, but it is surmised that many thousands followed Him at the height of His ministry. How many were true disciples? We know that 120 true followers gathered in the Upper Room; that He appeared to at least 500 true believers after His resurrection; and that given the response on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, we can assume that the number of real disciples was in the thousands. We may not know the accurate number, but I think it also realistic to assume that many of them made their testimonies available in those years that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul were doing their own writing.
     And while those writings might not have been established as official Canon by the time the various church councils established the New Testament in the 4th-5th Centuries, they are amazing and valuable texts for teaching us about what early Christians believed. So that brings me back to the question by Dr. Heiser, Are we willing to be serious about interpreting the Bible in context? And, are we interested in looking at what those New Testament writers were reading in order to better understand the context from which they wrote? Or are we satisfied in imposing our own limited context [and our denominational doctrine and theology] on the Bible?
     Those are tough questions! After all, we are cautioned against being deceived! But can you just step back for a moment and consider this .... The New Testament writers had 400 years of Inter-Testamental writings that we don't have.  In other words, are we willing to read what they were reading to understand where they were coming from? Yes, the Bible is the inspired Word of God; He inspired those men to write from the revelations He gave them. But if the Book of Jasher, for instance, is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18 and also referenced in 2 Timothy 3:8, shouldn't we consider that God inspired those writers to mention Jasher; and might we benefit in knowing more about what those writers were reading? For instance, 2 Timothy 3:8 is a fascinating verse. It reference Moses and the history of the Exodus, but Jannes and Jambres are never mentioned by name in Exodus. It simply mentions the sorcerers who wanted to compete with Moses and his authority. These two names are, however, mentioned by Origen, one of the church fathers, who makes reference to the Book of Jannes and Jambres, but no complete copies of these books have ever been found. The honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all that God says...
     Another fascinating Book that helps us to understand the context of the Bible is the Book of Enoch. The first part of this ancient book describes the fall of the Watchers, the angels who fathered the Nephilim. The remainder of the book describes Enoch's visits to heaven in the form of travels, visions and dreams, and his revelations. Considering that Enoch was Noah's great-grandfather, it is interesting that this Book offers unique information regarding the origins of supernatural demons and giants, why some angels fell from heaven, details explaining why the Great Flood was morally necessary, and prophetic exposition of the thousand-year reign of the Messiah --- giving us historical relevance for the mysterious and difficult-to-interpret-and-understand passage in Genesis 6:1-4; which I have seen many a pastor skip because they don't want to take it literally.
     But if they believe the Bible is inspired by God, then God wanted us to know this and isn't it at least plausible that we should look at what was read and believed at the time? Furthermore, at least one of the authors of the New Testament was familiar with some of the content of the story. A short section of 1 Enoch (1:9) is cited in the New Testament, in Jude 1:14–15, and is attributed there to "Enoch the Seventh from Adam". Jude actually quotes from the Book of Enoch: “Look, the Lord came with myriads of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly deeds they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh and cruel things ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 

     I am willing to agree that the Book of Enoch may not have been accepted by the Nicene Council in the 3rd Century, but if God inspired Jude to quote from it, why would it not be important for us to consider it as part of the context in which the Bible was written? For me, it becomes a matter of either wanting to understand the Bible from the perspective of the author who composed it, and the audience he was writing to, and the reason he was writing it -- or I just want to limit the context of the Bible to fit my theology, which is 2000 years or more after the writers wrote what they did.
     A good example of this is the writings of Paul. I think we can all agree that Paul helped establish a number of churches across a broad area of the known world shortly after Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection. His mode of communication with all these churches included circular letters, a word by messenger, and an occasional visit when it was convenient. It is easy to read the Bible and think because it is the inspired Word of God that Paul served as God's authoritative voice to establish Biblical doctrines and practices that all future Christians should observe. 
     But when considering his writings from a historical and cultural perspective, can you reflect on the possibility that, as a mentor to those churches he established, Paul is addressing specific issues that arose in those particular congregations? For instance, he wrote to the Church in Ephesus, Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.  This does not mean he is advocating slavery, anymore than he is promoting the practice of all women in the church remaining silent in 1 Timothy. (For an interesting take on this topic, read my blog post on women in the church). He is addressing a particular situation in Ephesus that, frankly, we don't have a definitive idea as to what it's about. Paul is writing to a particular group of people, at a particular time in history, about a particular subject. Is it inspired that we might glean some 21st Century truth for our own walk of faith? I believe that answer is "Yes". But I think it is important to recognize the context in which it was written -- to 1st Century believers about particular issues. 
     It is a difficult thing to navigate the Bible. Some Books were in the original Canon of the Bible and removed in 1684, such as 1 and 2 Esdras, 1 and 2 Maccabees, the Book of Judith, Bel and the Dragon, the History of Susana, and seven more. And then there is the Book of Revelation which was rejected by many more orthodox-leaning Christians and is absent from early canon lists, but is now considered canonical in virtually all modern Christian denominations.
     To sum it all up, if we call ourselves Christians, the Bible is the only authoritative book we have on our faith. I believe it IS the inspired Word of God, but I also see that man, down through the centuries, has tried to shape the Bible (and its understanding) for his own purposes. But I believe that God can still speak to us in Truth from the Bible through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And if ancient sacred texts such as the Book of Enoch or the Book of Jasher are endorsed by Scripture, and can add to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and the original inspiration given to the writers, then I want to know what they say.
     And here's a final thought.... if we ignore the context of the Biblical writings and don't know what inspirational texts they were reading, then it's going to be easy for the modern writers of the History Channel's Ancient Alien series, and the writers of the Marvel Studio movies to control the narrative of these "last days" and distort the Truth of our returning King. Which do you think have more merit ... the writers of the 1st Century who understood the culture and the context of Jesus's message? Or the imaginations of 21st Century writers who have hundreds of years of distortion and falsified information to weave their tales? Something to think about.

Romans 15:4     For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.


March 18, 2019

Do You Have A Proper Fear Of God?

     In light of the last post's examination of the Fear of Man, it only seems logical that we consider the Fear of God and what effect the understanding of it has on our life. Interestingly enough, as I began studying what the Bible reveals about the Fear of God, I found it intertwined with the proper understanding of Grace. Just like my post on Grace, I found that a juxtaposition of the Fear of God in the Old Testament with its understanding in the New Testament was in order.
     We begin this comparison by taking a look at what Scripture in the Old Testament tells us about this enigmatic phrase "Fear of God". There are three Hebrew words used the most when describing what "fear" means as it pertains to God. The first is yir'ah, which is translated as our English word fear [to be afraid], and that's what it means, for example, in Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. We also see that meaning [to be afraid] applied in Psalm 2:11, Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling; and in Psalm 34:11, Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
     The second word translated as our English "fear" in the Old Testament is pachad, and it means "dread". We see this exemplified in Job 23:15, Therefore I am terrified at His presence; when I consider, I am in dread of Him.
      The last word I want to look at in the Old Testament [regarding Fear of God] is the Hebrew word yare', meaning "terror". This understanding is implied in Jeremiah 5:22, Do you not fear me [experience terror]? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? This is in the context of the entire Chapter 5 of Jeremiah in which the Lord proclaims judgment against Israel for forsaking Him and serving foreign gods (verse 18). And God asks just a few verses later, Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?”
     I think it's pretty clear from the Hebrew meanings in these passages that Fear of God in the Old Testament had a direct correlation to the feelings of "fear", "terror" and "dread". Yet we find many of our teachings in the modern Church transposing a New Testament significance to those Old Testament translations of the word "fear" and implying that it means "respect", "reverence" or "honor", as in the Passion Translation of Jeremiah 5:22, which reads ‘Do you not tremble [in awe] in My presence'? and in the Amplified Translation of Psalm 2:11, Worship the Lord and serve Him with reverence [with awe-inspired fear and submissive wonder]; Rejoice [yet do so] with trembling. When completing an exhaustive study of the true word origins, we realize that the Bible is really telling us that in these Old Testament verses, "fear" means "terror" and "to be afraid", respectively. Yet, the translators have attached New Testament meanings to the word "fear".
    Once we understand that the real meaning of the Fear of God in the Old Testament came from knowing the ways of God and how He felt about obedience to His commandments and experiencing His justice when He was defied. The good news is that that kind of fear of God "is only the beginning of understanding".  We have to keep reading! In the New Testament we find that the Love of God reflected through Jesus Christ in the Scriptures has the power to cast out this kind of  fear and set us free! When that happens we have a healthy fear that is reflected in our "awe" and "reverence".
     We can see this concept best exemplified in 1 John 4:18, There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. Here, we actually see both the Old and New Testament view of the Fear of God. In fact, there is such a big picture presented here, that I'm not sure we Christians take our time to fully comprehend it. 
     You see, we are right to be afraid of God in the sense that He sits in judgment of our sins. Jesus, Himself, said "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). But God loves us so much that He sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins -- Jesus accepted the punishment that our sins [rightfully] deserved. The punishment didn't go away; but it came wrapped up in God's love. As the All About God website explained it, "How can we comprehend the utterly Great News of Jesus Christ if we don’t first appreciate the fear of God? Without total awe, wonder, terror, dread, reverence, and respect for a perfectly holy, righteous, and just Creator, can we truly appreciate what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did for us on Calvary’s cross?" 
     After all, there will come a day when we will be held accountable and subject to God's judgment, but as Romans 6:23 tells us, the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God [that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
     Because He is a Righteous and Just God we deserve eternal death, but it is because of His love, and by His Grace, that we are spared that punishment. And remember, Grace is not only unmerited favor, but it is the power of God in us to do the things we cannot do on our own; namely, avoid sin. But His grace is His power in us to carry out His purpose in sanctifying us to Him and growing us into the image of the sinless Christ.  After all, He who is in me is greater that he who is in the world [enticing men to sin].
     Ultimately, it comes down to perspective and position. The Fear [terror, dread, fright] of God is justifiably real -- He is a Holy and Law-abiding God. In Revelation 14:7, an angel from Heaven declares, ""Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come".  He set the rules and He hasn't changed. But He provided a way for you and me to avoid the just punishment we deserve. So when we come to faith in Jesus, our fear of God is eradicated when we enter into His love [through Jesus]. Once we look at the entire picture, we can appreciate both views of God as His Truth.... He is a Righteous God to be feared when we do not abide in Him; but we are the recipients of His amazing, life-giving love. 
     I believe, as Christians, it is healthy to fear God whose nature and characteristic as a Righteous Judge has never changed.  But that terror and dread turns into awe and reverence when we step into His love, and our verdict of "guilty" is stamped "paid".  The Word recognizes that the Fear of God is both His right to judge and the demonstration of His love. Not even poor translations can erase those truths.

Psalm 147:11     "The Lord shows favor to those who fear Him,
to His godly lovers who wait for His tender embrace."

March 15, 2019

Do You Suffer From The Fear Of Man?

     I find as I talk to my fellow Christians, and engage with the people that come to our ministry, that there are many concepts in the Bible that we take for granted. In other words, we assume that we are all on the same page and that we all have a common understanding. But what I've found is that, oftentimes, there is actually a misconception about what the Word actually is speaking to us. The concepts of "Fear of Man" and "Fear of the Lord" are two such concepts.
     Let me begin by discussing the Fear of Man. Many of us have different fears ... fear of public speaking; the fear of heights; the fear of spiders, etc. But I believe that, at least in some small portion, we all have a fear of man.
     The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:25, The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe. So, if the fear of man can become a trap, we better understand what it is. And here is how I would explain it: the fear of man is an unhealthy concern about what other people may think about you, say about you, or do to you. All of that is another way of saying that the root of the fear of man is insecurity. And insecure people will seek their self-worth from the approval of others. So, it could be said that the fear of man comes from looking to the world for your sense of safety, happiness and confidence. 

     But do you see how absurd that is for a Christian? Why would anyone look for their self-worth or security in human beings who will fail you, or worldly systems that can be taken away? The only secure refuge in this life on earth is found in the Lord Jesus! That verse in Proverbs tells us seeking our security from people and the world is a trap, and it is the one who receives his self-confidence [and worth] from trusting the Lord alone that is the one who is truly safe and exalted! If we are looking to our fellow Christians or the world to tell us how wonderful we are, then our focus is on the wrong person and we are sure to be disappointed. It is the unchanging Word of the Bible that tells us God's faithfulness endures forever.
     So if you find that you have a constant need of approval or acceptance; a need of recognition or honor; you crave the favor, friendship and applause of people; or you have a dread of being ridiculed or persecuted, then you might find yourself caught in some of the following snares:
     1. The Snare of Deceit.  Anyone who is under the spell of the fear of man is double-minded—forever changing directions to suit the circumstance, because he has no confidence in his own worth. Remember when Abraham lied to Abimelech about Sarah being his wife? True, Sarah was his half-sister, but she was also his wife, and when he told the Egyptian king that she was not, it was a total lie. And then we see that same deceit/lie repeating itself in Abraham's son, Isaac, when he lies to the men of Gerar about Rebekah being his wife. Lying becomes contagious and a generational problem when families have a fear of man.
     2. The Snare of Compromise.  Remember when Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments? The Israelites became impatient and were willing to settle for a substitute god made in the image of a golden calf. Aaron chose to respond to the demands of the culture around him, rather than remain steadfast in his faith of an uncompromising God. Today, too many of our American churches are accommodating a god of our own imagination instead of the GOD that really exists.
     3. The Snare of Disobedience. God gives King Saul clear instructions to destroy all the Amalekites and their possessions. Instead Saul chooses to disobey those instructions and spare the king and the best of his cattle. It was too easy for him to make excuses for his insubordination. Listen to his actual words, which clearly show his fear of man ... I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD… because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice”(1 Samuel 15:24). When the approval and acceptance of people becomes our motivation, instead of following God's lead, and being content with His opinion, then we are in bondage to the fear of man.
     4. The Snare of Denying Christ.  The Disciples all abandoned Christ in His hour of need. They all fled in fear, and none more so than, Peter, who denied Him three times. I have heard it declared that no sin has sent more people to hell than the fear of man, and no sin has robbed Christians of the opportunity to witness of Christ than the fear of man. Peter's denial was spoken out loud, but have you denied Christ by your silence? Chosen to remain silent when you had the opportunity to declare yourself a follower of Jesus, because you feared rejection or shunning by others? If so, then you got caught in the snare of fear of man.
     These are just a few of the snares that are lying in wait for us when we tolerate the fear of man. 
We are called to love people, not need them! If you spend your life trying to satisfy and please people, there will always be someone you can't please. And that will become your obsession. So, how do we demolish the fear of man from our lives? The first thing we do is recognize it in ourselves. Be honest, and take your fears to God. Then begin rebuilding your faith through the Word and what the Bible tells you about fearing God, instead of man. 
     We begin by esteeming and valuing God's opinion above that of man. We need to be obedient despite our fears. We need to trust God to give us the power to go through whatever our fear situation is. We begin building new habits of faith -- step-by-step -- refusing to give into fear of criticism or humiliation or rejection. Obviously, Peter overcame his fear of man because he chose to die as a martyr rather than ever deny the Lord again. 
     I am not so naive to think that no one is immune to the fear of man in this life. We all have our flaws and weaknesses. I know I do! But the reason, as a culture, that we have so much fear of man is because we have so little fear of God. And that is another subject that I believe has been misunderstood in the Christian culture, and one that I will be exploring in the next post. Until then, let's pray that we can turn from seeking honor and approval from people to experiencing a life serving the living God.

Psalm 56:11   What harm could man do to me? With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes. My heart overflows with praise to God and for His promises. I will always trust in Him.

March 12, 2019

Do You Know How To Pray?

     I do not ask this question to be facetious or flippant. Praying is an essential part of our Christian life. But I know, for a fact, that there are people who are uncomfortable praying in public because they think they might be doing it wrong. My first thought is, "according to whose standards"? Prayer, at its simplest level, is merely communicating [or talking] to God. If you make a habit of doing that in sincerity, then I'm pretty sure that our Father is pleased with your efforts.
     But I ask this question because it came up in a discussion I recently had with my sister. We were raised in a non-church family, with a Believing mother, and a father who did not profess faith or encourage church attendance. I hesitate to say he did not believe in Jesus because during the last days of his life, while in a nursing home and beginning to suffer from dementia, I tried one last time to approach him about Jesus, who had become my Savior. I knew a complicated theological discussion was not possible, so I simply told him I wanted him to ask Jesus to come into his heart. He patted his heart and mumbled, "I do have Him in my heart"! That's as close as I got to any indication that my father might have opened the door to Jesus's knock.
     My mother, on the other hand, grew up in church, and encouraged us kids to go to Vacation Bible School and Sunday School, and as we got older she began taking us to church. When she became ill during the last years of her life, I flew home to see her in the hospital. As a new Christian, I sensed her spiritual suffering and asked her if she wanted me to pray for her. When she said, yes, I suddenly felt inadequate. As I told my sister, "I didn't even know how to pray"! How was I supposed to talk to God? What were the right words to say? [Determined to develop a prayer life, I no longer struggle with "the right way", and now come to the Lord easily and securely]. But my sister confessed she still feels that she doesn't know how to pray. So, I thought maybe we should take a look at all the aspects of prayer, and seek the Father's heart on the matter.
     To begin with, Jesus taught in Mark 11 that we are to have faith in God, which is supported by the faith of God. When He says, "Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him", He is telling us that words filled with faith act like "bulldozers" to get things done in the spirit realms. If you struggle with thinking your words sound "faithful",  just declare verses of Scripture out loud! When you believe what you are declaring, those words will be received by the Father as a prayer by faith!
     Here's another aspect of how to think of your prayer life ... Jesus not only rose from the dead, but He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, far above "all rule and authority and power and dominion", where He continually intercedes for us. So from that position of authority, He prays for us. But here's the good part .... He invites us to be seated with Him there, in the heavenly places. So, when we pray, our spirits can pray with Jesus, [interceding for others], and with spiritual authority, [being seated with Him in His authority]. 
     Then here's an aspect of prayer that is always comforting to me: when we don't know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us "with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26). I have come to rely on the Holy Spirit to search my heart and express to the Father all that I am incapable of putting into a comprehensible petition. Praying by the Spirit can be some of the most spiritually satisfying times of communion with the Lord. When I am feeling the weight of spiritual oppression, I am sometimes unable to have clear thoughts of what to pray for, but I know I can rely on the Holy Spirit to present my heart-prayer better than I can.
     I will admit that I am moved by forceful and energetic prayer. I know we are capable of praying as forcefully as Elijah, who stopped the rain, or the community of believers in Acts who prayed so hard for Peter to be released from jail that God sent an angel to rescue him from prison. We have the power to do the same kind of things with our bold prayers that seek the Father's will, and not just our own will and what we want. Those kinds of prayers will change the world!
     And of course, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He instructed them to pray for the Father's will to be done, but also for His Kingdom to come. So, I have been trying to become more intentional in my prayer life to incorporate God's plan for instituting His Kingdom here on earth with my personal prayers. Furthermore, I want to be involved with the establishment of His Kingdom by praying for business, cultural, and educational leaders, as well as the leaders in the Body of Christ. This is all part of joining Christ in intercessory prayer until the Kingdom Plan has been completed at the end of the Age. 
     And I believe that one of the most powerful ways to pray is in agreement with others. When prayers of faith are prayed with others whose hearts are in agreement, the power of that prayer can multiply ten-fold, a hundred-fold, and beyond! I have seen this move the heart of God and a child be cured of cancer. I have seen a young mother recover from a devastating diagnosis after a car accident and be restored to perfect health. And I believe we can change the course of our nation when we pray in agreement with God's will. One of the most important prayer partnerships is that of husband and wife. Their prayer time together can affect generations to come.
     And I would be remiss if I did not mention how powerful it is to pray in tongues.  Your particular religious tradition may not incorporate this aspect of prayer, but it can be an amazingly effective tool in our spiritual arsenal. Praying in our own prayer language allows for intercessory prayer beyond our limited understanding and our ability to express words. We can join with Jesus in interceding for others as the Holy Spirit empowers our prayer language to new heights of effectiveness. When I can't seem to find the right words that express the urgency of my heart, I know I can pray in my own personal prayer language and the Holy Spirit will interpret the longings of my heart with more power and meaning.
     Finally, it is important to understand that prayer is an important aspect of our spiritual warfare. And since the Enemy seeks to divide and conquer God's people. we should always seek to be united in prayer and love. Jesus showed us a picture of that "oneness in prayer" through His relationship with the Father. We need to be praying for unity in the Body of Christ! Sadly, I see too much division, and if we aren't praying for unity, then maybe we're unwittingly partnering with the Enemy to weaken the Body. It's time that we pray to come into alignment with each other and with Jesus, our Lord and Savior; the Messiah of the world. When we pray in His Holy Name, we are not just adding a religious formula at the end of our prayer ("in the Name of Jesus). Instead, we are declaring to the spiritual realms and the powers and authorities of the dark side that we stand as His personal representatives on the earth, and as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God!
     As you can see, prayer is vitally important to our relationship with God and Jesus. And it is an essential part of our relationship with the Holy Spirit. It may seem daunting and overwhelming. You might be thinking how can I do all that? How do I even start? I'm going to tell you that the key is to just begin.... just begin having conversations with the Father and Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you know what to pray and how to pray. Study Scripture and discern which verses make your heart leap with longing for an intimate relationship with God, and then say them to Him out loud. That's praying! And He will respond! Then begin discerning which verses speak of your power and authority and declare those in prayers when you need to fight back against spiritual darkness. And don't forget to talk to Him about the joy and thankfulness you feel over what He is doing in your life. There are wonderful Bible verses for that, too. 
     Just begin.... and before you know it, the words of the Bible will bring energy and depth to your prayer life, and you will be able to comfortably and intimately converse with God about everything. I honestly think that no one is born knowing how to pray. It is a learned behavior that comes from a heart that is seeking God. If you are conscious that your prayer life is lacking, then start by being thankful that the Holy Spirit has brought it to your attention --- then do something about it! We all have to start somewhere, and there is no better time than now and no better place to start than in the Word.

Jeremiah 29:12     Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you.

March 9, 2019

The Momo Challenge: Real, Spiritual, Or A Hoax?

     I don't know if you have heard of the "Momo Challenge", but since it has affected my family, I feel compelled to address the subject. I have done a fair amount of research on this latest social media phenomenon, and here is what I've been able to determine ... ‘Momo’ is a social media account on popular children's platforms that uses an image of a doll with monstrous features, large eyes and a wide mouth to induce curiosity among children. The artwork called Mother Bird by Link Factory is inspired by the work of a Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who has no association with the challenge, according to officials.
     Here's how the "Momo Challenge" works ... In the middle of a popular children's website or game, an image will pop up of this gruesome figure, meant to entice children to click on it, with messages like "I wanna play with you". Once the child makes that connection they are subjected to gruesome and horrifying images; sometimes messages to commit suicide; and threats that their parents will be killed if they do not comply. Apparently Whatsapp is a common app vehicle for this viral hack, and platforms such as the You Tube Kids app, various Disney apps, and even the popular Peppa Pig app have fallen prey to this hack.
     As with every internet story that spreads like wildfire, you will find those who are quick to dismiss it as a hoax. For instance, Wikipedia posted this: "The "Momo Challenge" is a hoax and urban legend about a nonexistent social media challenge that was spread on Facebook and other media outlets. It was reported that children and adolescents were being enticed by a user named Momo to perform a series of dangerous tasks including violent attacks and suicide." Wikipedia goes on to substantiate so-called "web security experts" (who are never named) that state it is more "likely a case of moral panic; a hoax fueled by parents’ fears in wanting to know what their kids are up to. There’s an inherent fear in what young people are doing with technology."  Yet, other experts willingly admit that 75 to 80 percent of these free apps offer no security and are subject to hacks.
     Of course this smacks of normalcy bias to me among parents and "experts" who don't want to believe it.  It's simpler to explain it away as a fake news story targeting parents who feel guilty about letting technology babysit their kids. But I'm hear to tell you that it should not be so easily ignored.  My brother's 6-year-old granddaughter was suffering from nightmares and panic attacks for over a week, before they were able to track down this unusual pattern in her behavior. She finally cried to her grandmother that "Momo scared me". Further investigation revealed that her Candy Crush app had been hacked with the "Momo Challenge". And her 12-year-old sister was well aware of the hack, had seen it, but wasn't susceptible to it's sick influence.
     And I will say this .... yes, the image existed before the app hack, and it comes from a real sculpture by a real artist. But that doesn't negate the possibility that the challenge exists, or that it is a hoax or a fake. What kind of perverted mind thinks of creating a "challenge" that is so traumatizing and emotionally disturbing to young children? Whether the "challenge" is real or a fake, the result is the same ... it is devastatingly real to children and spiritually damaging. I can't tell you how effective a spirit of Fear can become in a person's life, when instilled at such a young age. 
     In our ministry, my husband and I often encounter a spirit of Fear that entered a person during their childhood and as a result of a nightmare. Our sleep is meant to be sweet and free from fear. The Bible says "You will sleep like a baby, safe and sound—your rest will be sweet and secure" (Proverbs 3:24).  Yet children are not exempt from demonic attacks in their sleep, and it is important to make sure that spiritual doors have not been opened or permission given to a spirit to operate. Something like this image of a Japanese sculpture, which has been demonized and delivered with an evil message, can suddenly appear, unprompted, on your child's tablet. And unless addressed immediately with a renunciation and assertion of Jesus's saving blood and protection, it can become a foothold for the Enemy in a child's life.
      I know that those who find their security in the secular world, and for whom the internet is a benign realm, will scoff at my warning. But, in our ministry, I have multiple testimonies of adults who bear witness to demonic appearances in their dreams as children; and these evil intruders progressed from footholds to strongholds, resulting in adults still in bondage to the spirit of Fear. So, please take this post seriously. Speak to your children and grandchildren, encouraging them to come to you should they ever encounter this devilish character in the middle of Candy Crush or Peppa Pig. Counter the Enemy's attacks on our children with the loving message of Christ as their Protector. Teach them how to put on their spiritual armor and wash away that evil image with Living Water. Technology and the internet are a breeding ground for the spiritually dark. But we have the Spirit of the Lord resting on us. Let's take advantage of His characteristics ... wisdom and understanding; counsel and power; knowledge and the fear of the Lord ... and let's protect our children.

Psalm 101:2b-3      I will walk in my house in integrity and with a blameless heart. I will set no worthless or wicked thing before my eyes. I hate the practice of those who fall away [from the right path]; It will not grasp hold of me.  

March 6, 2019

Prayers of Financial Freedom: From Breaking Curses to Celebration

     As I stated in the last post, there are many Christians who are not free from the bondage of fear over finances. As Dr. Mark Virkler pointed out, many of our ideas about money [and the lack of it] come from misquotations of the Bible, as well as wrong attitudes about wealth in our family lines. For myself, it was my father's upbringing during the Depression that led to a life-long worry about money and falling into debt. As the oldest, it was easy for me to adopt those same fears, and it wasn't until I was 40 years old that I realized my deep-seated worry about having enough money to pay my bills came from my dad. I was determined to let go of those fears and begin trusting in the Lord for His provision. I will tell you, it has been a battle to keep from returning to that bondage.
     As the previous Prayer for Repentance [in regards to Financial Freedom] shows us, we must turn away from the sins of our ancestors and their ungodly beliefs about money. We must believe that it is God's desire to give us all we need to prosper, and then we must trust in Him to provide.
     But Dr. Virkler has outlined several other areas in which we must free ourselves from financial bondage, and I'd like to share that information with you, and then summarize with a prayer that defeats all our financial fears. The first thing I learned is that we can actually have curses spoken over us and our bloodlines. These can come in the form of word curses, hexes, incantations and witchcraft prayers from those who are aligned with the Dark Side. And they can result in financial lack and poverty. Within some of the oaths taken by Secret Societies [such as Freemasonry], you will find curses against prosperity and finances. But we can pray the truth that God wishes to bless us, and we can break agreement with any of these curses and cancel their ability to keep us in lack.
     It is important that we also break any ungodly thought patterns, images, attitudes or ideas that we have allowed to keep us in bondage. We can even erase our cellular memory, cleansing it from the emotions of fear, lack, and poverty. Remember, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind [able to resist the wiles of the devil]. We must ask for forgiveness for doubting the word of God which tells us He knows the plans He has for us; plans to prosper us and not harm us; plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
     We can even do some inner healing ourselves, by communing with the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any negative pictures from our past that need to be healed, and then journaling what is revealed. Remember, in the spirit realm, there is no time, so God can heal in the past, present, and the future. As you begin to flow in the spirit, more events and images will appear, and you will see the Lord ministering grace to your ancestors, resulting in new freedom flowing down through your family line, ultimately touching you and your descendants. What a time of joy and excitement to see that freedom raining down!
     Next, we can ask the Lord to reveal the gifts and talents He has created in us that anoint us for financial success. We have been uniquely made for service and to glorify Him through the applications of these talents and passions. And we trust the Lord to guide us each step of the way as we stay tuned in to the flow of the Holy Spirit within us. We can pray for revelations of Spirit-given goals for our lives, believing that we will be successful!
     Finally, we should pray prayers of celebration as we discern our faith rising in response to our financial freedom. We will know that it is God's compassion and grace that sustain us and remove all our fear and doubt about finances. We will continue to praise the Lord for His faithfulness in our finances, knowing that such praise silences the voice of the Accuser. And with our promised prosperity comes renewed minds, revived spirits, and increased fruitfulness.
     It is not easy to overcome financial fears, especially when it becomes a familiar spirit in family bloodlines. But when we submit to the Word of God and declare the Truth about how God wants to bless us in all the areas of our lives -- including our finances -- then it is possible to be Overcomers in this spiritual battle. So, please join me in reciting this prayer [out loud] as we declare our Financial Freedom:

     [Lay your hands on your heart, seeing Christ's hands overlaying yours].... Father God, I break all word curses spoken over me by myself or others concerning money. I bind and rebuke all evil spirits that are connected with these curses and have gained a foothold in my life. Poverty has no place within me. Demonic forces, be gone now in Jesus's Name! I declare that the lack the Enemy envisions for me will not prevail over the ability of Almighty God to bless and prosper me.
     Father, I ask that you forgive me for ever believing the lies of the devil regarding money, for Christ's blood has made me clean from the spirit of fear, and I stand clothed in His righteousness, received by faith in His finished work on the Cross. 
     Lord, I embrace what You have spoken, that money is a blessing and a fruit of following Your voice. I put on the mantle of abundance in Jesus's Name. I receive God's anointing, for it is He who has given me the power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to our fathers.
     I break all ungodly mental strongholds of fear and lack and worry, which say I will never have enough. These are lies of the Enemy! You, God, have promised me more than enough. And I speak to my cellular memory, my RNA and my DNA. Emotions of fear, lack, and poverty, be cleansed and erased from my cellular memories. Images, thoughts, attitudes and ideas that I will never have enough, be swept out in Jesus's Name! [Breathe out deeply a couple of times, seeing Jesus sweeping your cells clean. Feel the release]. Thank You, Jesus!
    Now, Lord, I ask if there are any negative events in my family line concerning money that You want to heal. I forgive everyone involved, including myself, others, God, circumstances, and governments. I choose to honor and release them and bless them, in Jesus's Name. Thank You for Your healing, Jesus!
     And, Lord, I know that Your Spirit releases creativity and faith, encouraging me to step forward and succeed financially. Lord, I know that You have anointed me with gifts, passions, and talents which equip me to serve humanity in a special and unique way. So, what paths do You want me to explore? What doors do You want me to knock on? I step forward into new paths, seeing You at my side. I choose to embrace this process of change and growth with a heart-passion full of love, anticipation and thankfulness that You are leading me to victory. By Your grace, I press on to success!
     So, Father, with a big smile on my face, I celebrate my lifestyle of divine creativity, divine connections, divine anointing, and divine prosperity. I celebrate the new skills and talents I am mastering. They carry me to new places, new victories, new relationships, new abundance. Along with my finances, my service to humanity has expanded, and many will be blessed by my life. I enjoy and celebrate this gift of life which You have given me. Thank You, Lord, for hearing my prayer and for delivering me from this fear of finances. I rejoice in my freedom and my fruitfulness! Amen!

Thanks to Dr. Mark Virkler, who is the author of more than 50 books in the areas of hearing God's voice and spiritual growth. He is the founder of Communion with God Ministries and Christian Leadership University. He has taught on developing intimacy with God and spiritual healing for over 30 years on six continents.

Proverbs 10:22    The blessing of the Lord brings [true] riches,
And He adds no sorrow to it [for it comes as a blessing from God].


March 3, 2019

Prayers Of Financial Freedom: Prayer Of Repentance

     I'm going to confess that throughout my life, the devil has tried to keep me in bondage to the fear of financial lack. Perhaps you are like me and grew up with parents who struggled financially in their childhood, and that carried over to an unhealthy attitude towards money and a fear of the lack of it.
     I recently read an article in Charisma Magazine by Dr. Mark Virkler and it profoundly touched my heart and I want to share some of his observations. He begins by stating that "Finances are one of the greatest sources of fear for people today". I agree with that! It has certainly been the case in my family and I hear that sentiment echoed often by people I come in contact with.
      So how can believers overcome fears and worries about their finances? Some of you may even feel that money is somehow wrong and against God's will. The Scripture 1 Timothy 6:10 is often misquoted as "Money is the root of all evil". In truth, the Scripture reads "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil". We know that Sin is the root of all evil, and it is the love of money, not money itself, that leads to trouble. In fact, in Deuteronomy 8:18, God reminds the Israelites, "You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth...". Wealth is not a bad thing. We just need to remember who it comes from.

     So, if you have a fear about financial lack, don't let the Enemy steal your peace or joy. It's okay to pray for a financial breakthrough, and to access the storehouses of heaven. Again in Deuteronomy 28, the Word says, The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your storehouses and in all that you undertake, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you (verse 8). Verses 10 and 12 tell us the Lord will give us great prosperity and will open His good treasure house for us. 
     We need to understand that God has stored things up for us according to our needs, desires, and requirements. In our spiritual life, it means that He wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in the love of God, overflowing with the joy of the Lord, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit as well as flowing in the gifts of the Spirit, demonstrating the power of God, radiating the life and nature of God.  In our families, it means that He has stockpiled everything we need for our generations to serve Him. In our bodies, we have access to health. And in our finances, He wants us to have an overflow of abundance; more than we could dare to ask or think... in other words, financial freedom -- enough to meet our needs plus extra to share with others. And it's okay to pray and ask Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides) to open up His storehouse for us. If we are fearing the lack of money or think it is sinful to need it, then we are listening to the lies of the devil. It is God's good pleasure to provide for us!
     Since this is an issue that has affected me and my family, and I'm sure many other families, I would like to take the next couple of blog posts to give you prayers [by Dr. Virkler] for helping you to overcome your fear of money and to step into the abundance the Father has stockpiled for you. This first prayer is a Prayer of Repentance. I suggest praying it our loud, slowly, incorporating any pictures or visions the Holy Spirit brings to mind; letting any emotions flow to make it a heart prayer and not simply a head prayer. And believe that your prayer will be heard and answered.

Prayer of Repentance
     Lord, I repent for my sins and the sins of my ancestors for harboring ungodly beliefs about money. I repent for believing it is wrong to have wealth when others are in poverty. The truth is that You have provided more than enough resources for everyone. Your watchful care, personal guidance, angelic intervention and creativity within each heart releases Your financial provision into our lives. You do this for me. You do this for others.
     I repent for believing that money is evil and thus is to be avoided. In reality, money simply magnifies what is in a person's heart. You said, 'Blessed are the pure in heart' (Matthew 5:8a). Thank You that Your Spirit has purified my heart, allowing me to see You and receive from You.
     I repent for believing that money will disrupt my spiritual life, for it is You and You alone whom I allow to influence my spirituality. I have chosen to receive Your wonderful counsel in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8, Isaiah 9:6) as I encounter You in my quiet time. You keep me on track and reveal dangerous attitudes and actions I am to avoid.
    You have given me unique gifts and a passion to multiply talents, mastering area after area. Every vocation and skill I have is part of my spiritual life, and taking time to master every area You place before me is part of my spirituality. In no way is it secular. So I will take the time to master each area, acknowledging these areas are part of Your kingdom.
     I repent for believing I am not gifted enough to be prosperous. The truth is, it is the hearing and obeying of Your voice that causes blessings to be released in my life (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).  Your wisdom and anointing overcome every natural limitation. You have placed within me a vision for my destiny (Genesis 12:1-3, Proverbs 29:18). You have instilled the passion and gifts to bring it forth (Romans 12:6). I honor and receive each of these and know that by following them, financial blessing will flow. Thank You, Lord.

   In the next post for Financial Freedom, we will consider a prayer for breaking off curses, and a prayer for forgiveness. And I would suggest that you repeat these prayers often to fully receive the blessings they afford. Thank you to Dr. Virkler for these encouraging and powerful prayers. May they grow your faith and understanding of all that God desires for your life.
Dr. Mark Virkler is the author of more than 50 books in the areas of hearing God's voice and spiritual growth. He is the founder of Communion with God Ministries and Christian Leadership University. He has taught on developing intimacy with God and spiritual healing for over 30 years on six continents.

Psalm 35:27    Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the prosperity of His servant!”     

February 28, 2019

A Look At Anointed Women

     If you are like me, you are deeply inspired by the stories in the Bible of men who have been anointed by the Lord to serve Him. They are charged with God's power to accomplish the Divine assignments He has appointed for their lives. Whose heart is not stirred by the anointing on Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt; or the anointing on Daniel, who taken captive as a teenager, influences some of the greatest kings in all of world history and is entrusted [by God] to receive revelation of the End Times.
     Do you ever imagine what Joshua must have felt when God anointed him to take the Israelites into the Promised Land and defeat the pagan nations before him? And what about the prophet Elijah who is anointed to stand against 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah? These mighty deeds are just a few of the accounts of God anointing men for His service. It's kind of daunting isn't it to think that we could be empowered with the same revelations and gifts of the Holy Spirit to carry out such important assignments for God and His Kingdom?
     Yet that is exactly what I am telling you. It is not only men who walk powerfully in the Spirit, but we women also have a calling and an anointing on our lives. And the Bible gives us examples of women who stand as inspiration for us.  Let's take a look at three women, each with a different calling and Divine purpose in her anointing. Perhaps you will recognize yourself in one of them, and see your possibilities for serving the Lord.
     Anna.  And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38).
     The Anna Anointing will be given to women in whom the offices of prophet, intercessor, and evangelist all converge. I'm not saying that these women will necessarily be prophets, but they will have a prophetic spirit. And through their night-and-day fasting and prayer, they will prophecy and testify of Jesus in their evangelistic efforts. Note that in the above Scripture, Anna does not actually give a prophetic word, but her actions are prophetic.
     And note that Anna doesn't fit the image of a likely candidate that God would choose to prophesy about His redemption. She is 84 years old, widowed at a young age, and living in the shadows of the Temple, probably unnoticed by most people. God is looking for those same unlikely candidates today.
     The Holy Spirit is raising up women in our time to pray effectively, fast consistently, and preach prophetically. I don't mean preach as in standing at a pulpit, but I believe the heart of the modern-day Anna will be given the grace (empowerment) to pray the promises of God as they are expressed in the Bible. I believe she will pray as an intercessor, inviting the Lord to reveal His love and empower the Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission, along with the signs and wonders that accompany it.
     Women with the Anna Anointing will develop a listening heart that synchronizes with the heart and mind of the Lord. Just as Anna in the Bible, these women will dedicate their lives to worship, persevering in the promises of the Lord. The modern-day Anna, like her Biblical counterpart, will live a life of holy commitment to the purposes of the Lord. The Biblical Anna prayed night and day, never abandoning the hope she had that God would fulfill His promise of a Messiah. The modern-day Anna is praying and watching for the return of the Messiah, who she knows brings both justice and peace. Her prayers will be heard in Heaven and her sacrifice honored as she sees the Kingdom of God coming more in focus.
     Esther.  Go, gather all the Jews that are present in Susa, and observe a fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids also will fast in the same way. Then I will go in to [see] the king [without being summoned], which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”  So Mordecai went away and did exactly as Esther had commanded him. 
     The story of Esther in the Bible is a fascinating one. She was born at a time when Israel was in captivity as a consequence to their disobedience to God. When Esther’s parents were killed, her cousin Mordecai adopted her as his daughter. Not only was Esther an ordinary woman living in a foreign land, but she was part of a minority race held in low esteem. But her beauty caught the eye of the Persian king and he took her as his wife. Mordecai advised her to keep secret her Jewish nationality because the King's advisor sought to destroy the Jewish people. But Esther trusts in God for her strength and finds the courage to destroy the conspiracy and save her people.
     The modern woman with the Esther anointing will find that she has been given the grace to influence the current culture for the purposes of the Kingdom of God. Like the Biblical Esther, she will act out of faith, courage and righteous boldness to exercise wisdom to confront injustice and deliver this generation from destruction.
     Although bold in their convictions, women with the Esther anointing will be patient, submitting to the processes and methods of the Lord. She will have a humble, grace-filled and teachable spirit; perhaps even being plucked out of obscurity (as the ancient Esther) to be placed in positions of authority. She will emerge from her comfort zone to speak new languages, learn new cultures, and overcome gender prejudices. She will not be intimidated at where the Lord is taking her, and she will have an anointing to gather people together for the purposes of the Lord; to call people to prayer and fasting to plead for life before the courts of Heaven and Earth. She will be willing to stand before ungodly civil authorities to see that the nation's policies, rules, regulations and laws be changed for the advantage of the Kingdom. Through her humble obedience, God will use the modern-day Esther to rescue individuals, change circumstances, and deliver nations.
     Deborah.  The villagers ceased to be; they ceased in Israel until I, Deborah, arose; until I arose, a mother in Israel (Judges 5:7).
     Deborah was a leader, a judge, and a prophetess in Israel – one to whom God could reveal His secrets. God used her to communicate His will to the people of Israel. When Deborah received instruction from God to go to battle against the Canaanite army, she moved to act on it. She didn’t sit weighing the pros and cons, thinking of all the things that could go wrong, or doubting her ability to do what He said. If God said it needed to be done, that was enough for her. Her faith in Him gave her the power to act. Everything that was necessary to accomplish His will she would receive from Him.
     Just like the Biblical Deborah, women of today with the Deborah anointing will be blessed with the gift of leadership. They will be women who have developed the character and ability to inspire and disciple the next generation to walk in the fullness of their own calling. They will lead others to stand for God's righteousness in the midst of a wicked and perverse culture. 
     Women with the Deborah anointing will have a mother's heart to nurture; through mentoring, discipling and training, they will nurture a generation to maturity in seeking the Lord's will. They will be capable of strategizing with the Lord to see His battle plan come to fruition. They will not be afraid to stir up or excite public discussion with the goal of producing change in the Body of Christ.
     The woman with the Deborah anointing will not be afraid of controversy, and will not hinder the counsel of the Holy Spirit. She will break away from traditions and conventional customs -- not out of rebellion, but in obedience to God to set people free. She will be bold, yet acting and speaking in love. She will be able to balance the roles of wife and leader, and be able to discern the times and seasons of the Lord -- knowing when it is time to bless, when to deliver, and when to go to war. And above all else, the Deborah anointing sees a woman develop a lifestyle of praise and worship, where she receives the strength and help to carry out the Lord's commands.
     So, these are just three women whom God anointed for important and specific assignments. Just as in Biblical times, God is calling the women of today to a purpose greater than themselves. God is awakening women and positioning them with opportunities to influence their families, their communities, their churches, and their nation for His Kingdom. Any of these stories could be yours. Or God might have a unique plan for your life to accomplish His goals. All it takes is a willing heart and spirit to be His vessel. If you let Him, God can use you for His glory! 

If you would like to explore more about these specific women and their anointings from God, I recommend a series of books by Michelle McClain-Walters in which she explores how we can all be inspired to receive the Anna Anointing, the Esther Anointing, and the Deborah Anointing. 

Esther 4:14    "And who knows whether you have not come to the Kingdom for such a time as this?”

February 25, 2019

What Is The Anointing On Your Life?

     That word anointing can be a scary word in a Christian's life. It carries such weight because we know Jesus, our Lord and Savior, as "the Anointed One". Therefore to consider that we might carry an anointing, when it is so strongly associated with Him, can be an intimidating prospect. Yet, I am convinced that to be anointed unto the Lord is available in every Believer's life.
     Historically speaking, anointing the body or head with oil was a common practice among Jews and people in the Middle East, signifying honor and respect. It was the official rite of inauguration into the three principal offices of Jewish leadership: Prophet, Priest and King. The Bible tells us that Saul was anointed as the first King of Israel, and it was a custom passed down to King David and all the Kings of Israel. We read of Samuel's anointing as Prophet, and Aaron's anointing as Priest.  We also see leaders throughout the history of Israel and Judah being anointed to carry out the Lord's plan: Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Gideon, and Daniel, among many others.
     And because God is sovereign in choosing whom He anoints, He used a pagan Persian King Cyrus to enable the Jewish exiles to return home after their Babylonian exile. “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus … ‘For the sake of My servant Jacob, and Israel My chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know Me” (Isaiah 45:1-4).
     But an anointing by the Lord is no guarantee that one will fulfill their sanctified calling. Saul fell from favor with God, as did many of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And there is the most famous "fall" of all, Lucifer, who guarded the throne of God: "You were in Eden, the garden of God ... You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones" (Ezekiel 28:13-14).
     But lest you think that God's anointing belongs only to those whose names are recorded in the Bible, let me assure you that that there is an anointing on your life as well. In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, the Bible makes it clear that God has established us in relationship with Christ and anointed us, [empowering us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit]. He has certified us as belonging to Him with the seal of the Holy Spirit on our hearts, and ordained our assignments in the Kingdom for His glory. 
     So, I have an important question for you ... As a child of God, anointed by Him, with the Holy Spirit abiding in you ... Are you actively asking for the revelation of your anointing? As I understand it, to be anointed by God is to walk out our royal priesthood as declared in 1 Peter 2:9. Yes, I believe that Peter is specifically talking to Israel and the Jews as God's "chosen race; a people of His own possession (Deuteronomy 32:9); a spiritual nation set apart as God's devoted ones", but we are grafted into that "spiritual nation", and therefore the anointing is ours, too. 
     So, again, I ask you ... are you seeking God and your anointing; your calling; your assignment to demonstrate God's love and power to a hurting and corrupted world? I believe the key to receive our anointing is to love God and desire to serve Him more than we love ourselves or our lives. And as Jesus commanded, we must love others as we love ourselves. To be willing to put God first, your neighbor second, and yourself last will open hearts to allow God's anointing to flow through us. And I'm going to say something that may be hard to hear, but I think this is one of the hardest things for modern Christians to do. 
     The culture of our society -- and yes, even the Church -- does not promote dying to self in order to serve God or others. Our "what's in it for me"  or "look at me" attitudes have us focused on our own reputations, and what others think of us, more than what God is wanting to do through us. Too many people -- both Unbelievers and Christians alike -- are seeking validation from people, rather than a Divine anointing for the purpose of glorifying God. Positions and titles often supersede our service.
     One of the most illuminating descriptions of God's anointing comes from God.net: "God’s anointing flows to those who are hungry for a touch from His Holy Spirit. The anointing has less to do with the person that it flows through than it does with the person who receives it, and the One who sent it, God Almighty." 
     So, it is my desire to be touched by the Holy Spirit and to serve my God, regardless of status, personal benefit, reputation, or recognition. I just want to be an obedient servant of the Lord and faithful to the anointing He has placed on my life. And I want to pray that each of you will be blessed with receiving your anointing; that you believe you are worthy and qualified. I invite you to pray this prayer with me:
     Father, I know that I have an anointing on my life and I pray that I will always remember that it is for the benefit of another and for Your glory.  And I ask You to humble my heart should I ever think it's about me! I ask You, Father, to give me favor and influence to be put before people who need to receive what my anointing offers. 
     Let Your anointing on my life be light in the midst of their darkness, and sight to the blind. Let me be patient, waiting for Your timing, yet always being available to share what You have called me to.
     Let me be ever mindful that the anointing by Your Holy Spirit is a gift from You -- I have done nothing to deserve it. And I give You praise and thanksgiving for trusting me with this gift. 
     Father, let Your anointing be the River of Life that flows from Your throne through my heart and floods the world around me, penetrating the hearts of all who will receive it. And let me walk in the joy of my anointing, giving and receiving, as Your will dictates. I acknowledge that the anointing that comes from You is a sacred appointment and I do not take it for granted. Give me the grace and humility to walk out my anointing all the days of my life. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen. 

1 Peter 2:9     But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience His marvelous light, and now He claims you as His very own. He did this so that you would broadcast His glorious wonders throughout the world. 

February 22, 2019

God Is Moving In The Hearts of Men and Women In The Kingdom!

     Even as I am writing this, the Holy Spirit is informing me of the Father's will in the matter of obedience to the calling upon the lives of men and women in the Body of Christ. And I want to be careful to present this revelation in His truth; not mine, nor the world's perception.
     For awhile now, I have been fortunate to be in the company of mighty women of God; women who have answered the call of God to seek Him more deeply and to walk unconventional paths as they share the Kingdom message. We women have not hesitated to step out boldly and confidently to declare Kingdom living to an oftentimes skeptical Christian audience.
     As I review my own path, I see that the Lord inspired and called me to know more of Him before He did my husband. That is not saying that I was more important to the will of God, or that I was called to have more influence in presenting the Gospel of the Kingdom. But rather, I think that perhaps women are more sensitive to hearing from God. Why? Scientifically speaking, the 2008 Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that two-thirds of all women surveyed pray daily, while less than half of all men surveyed prayed as often.  One of the reasons women pray more could be that they are more comfortable with using their imaginations to perceive God. After all, the Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 that by testing and renewing our minds, we can discern the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  And men, on the other hand, tend to be more concrete thinkers and God has to reach them in different ways.
     My husband's path to seek the voice of God may have been slower than mine, but in no way, has his path resulted in less impact for the Kingdom. As I began to walk out the leading of the Lord and teach in our Home Church, Mark was comfortable in supporting me and encouraging that position. When we both learned of the authority and power our Lord gave us to continue His work in defeating the works of the devil, he was just as interested in attending conferences to learn more about it. He arranged for me to attend a training session with a noted Deliverance Minister, while he cheered from the sidelines, so to speak. We agreed on the importance of teaching and training and ministering, and he supported my involvement with opportunities to seek more. I appeared to be leading the charge. But all that is changing...
     And I will tell you that this is a pattern I see happening in many other couples whom I see the Lord calling and using -- the wife answers the knock at the door first, with the husband seemingly in the background in a supportive role. I can think, right off the bat, of six other wives whom I consider mighty women of God, whose histories with the Lord (and their husbands) resembles mine. They each stepped out in obedience to the call of God, and boldly followed where He led.  The six corresponding husbands began in various stages of knowledge and relationship with the Lord, but I see all of them now turning to walk in the path and purpose God has on their lives. And I am going to say something that might be construed as controversial among liberal theologians, but .... I believe the Lord is showing me that each of these men will surpass the leadership position of their wives and step into their anointing from God.
     I see it happening in my own life. Mark is now becoming the focal point upon which our ministry and teaching is based. He leads the discussions more often; he is beginning to do more teaching; and he takes the lead in determining our ministry path. I see it happening in the other couples' lives, too. Husbands are stepping into uncharted waters, trusting the Lord to train them up and point the way. They are joining us in retreats, leading worship, partnering in ministries, and daring to walk the distinctive and personal path God has designed specifically for them. It's as if they have cut the bonds that tie them to this earthly system of religion and identity. They are hearing from God and no longer fear men or the traditions that have defined a limited role in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. They now have the freedom to do as the Bible commands ... act like men; be strong and courageous; to keep the charge of the Lord on their lives... to step into their anointing with integrity, dignity, and boldness.
     But here is the strong word I am getting from the Lord: we wives must be willing to step aside, if need be, to let them step into that new identity. The Holy Spirit is showing me that the transformation in our lives [and the roles we have played in presenting the Gospel message] served a dual purpose. Our hearts and spirits were charged with obeying the Lord to present the concept of Kingdom living. But we were also charged with plowing the field for the harvest of our husband's anointing and purpose. This in no way diminishes our own harvest for the Kingdom, but I am seeing that perhaps God is initiating a new season in our lives. It will be a season where the Lord will accomplish much in our husbands' walks of faith, and their testimonies will be at the forefront.
     I truly believe this is the meaning of Scripture that tells us wives to "submit" to our husbands. It is not a command to be "submissive", or meekly obedient and passive. But, rather, it is a command to share in a mission with our husbands -- that our roles as wives is a sub-mission to the mission of representing Christ. I also believe that the world in which we live is so confining to men. There is such pressure to perform, and to succeed; yet our culture denounces men who are seen as too powerful and oppressive. The Enemy has done a good job of reducing the role of men in society, while building a sound barrier between our men and the voice of God.
     So, maybe ... just maybe ... God has to use us to reach them. When we are obedient to the call of God on our lives, and we will not be deterred, then it is applying pressure to the Enemy's agenda to keep the men in our lives behind that sound barrier.  Our obedience causes a shift in what our husband's hear ... there is a change as we outrun all the pressure and sound waves in front of the devil's agenda, and it is heard in our husband's heart as an explosion, or sonic boom. It may take years, but eventually, that barrier is broken and they can hear the Lord calling them, loud and clear!
     Now, I have a question for each of you women reading this blog. Are you praying for your husbands to hear the voice of God and to receive their calling and purpose for the Kingdom? If you are currently the "leader" in your family dynamic, are you willing to let the Lord bring your husband into His purpose, even if it means you take a back seat in the world [and in the Body of Christ]? Do you have a spirit of Pride that supersedes the will of God? To you men -- are you confident enough in your manhood to take a look at what your wife is sowing? Are you open to hearing from God, or do you think you're doing your part by supporting the family while she hears from God? And, finally, are you courageous enough to answer that knock at the door and let Jesus in, no matter the cost?
     We all were designed, by God, with His purpose in mind. I do not believe that He thinks leadership is the sole domain of men. Women were important in the ministry of Christ on earth, and women held important leadership positions in the Early Church. But the devil has been playing havoc with the roles of men and women in our society for decades now. It is time we stopped looking in the Culture Mirror and saw ourselves in the Kingdom Mirror. Quit listening to what and who the world tells you you should be, and begin to break down the devil's sound barriers. Then open the door to Jesus. Walk in the path and the role He sets before you. Don't judge either [your path or your role] by the world's standards. Be equally yoked and watch how the God of the Universe uses you both!

1 John 2:27     But the wonderful anointing you have received from God now lives in you. There’s no need for anyone to keep teaching you. His anointing teaches you all that you need to know, for it will lead you into truth, not a counterfeit. So just as the anointing has taught you, remain in Him.