What then?

Esther's Petition

A friend came up to me after church one Sunday morning and said, “You know, Jesus could come back any day now, isn’t that exciting?”

I said, “Yes, and what then? What do you think will happen next?”

She said, “Well, we’ll….” and paused. She couldn’t think exactly what would happen next. I reminded her that there will be a thousand years of Jesus reigning on the earth after that. But just before he returns, there will be the battle of Armageddon.

“Oh yes, that’s right,” she replied. For a moment I think she had imagined as soon as Jesus returned some heavenly resort would cover the earth and there would be nothing for us to do for a thousand years except party. Praise and worship and party.

How many Christians wishing Jesus would return today have the same idea, that during the millennium there will be nothing but peace…

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Different attacks, different weapons

Esther's Petition

PurseGunA .22 caliber revolver shared space in my purse with wallet and checkbook in the 1970’s. (In those days I didn’t need a permit to carry it.)

I’d been a crack shot with pistol, rifle and shotgun since my early teens, having been taught by my hunter grandfather Da and uncle Mike.

The lightweight .410 shotgun I used had originally belonged to my grandmother Mimi. Since she seldom fired it, as long as Da gave me proper instruction she was happy to relinquish it to her oldest grandchild, me.

(I must admit, however, I had cried after killing that first bird and refused to go hunting with Da again. See this post about granddaddy and me. https://scfamilymemories.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/spending-time-with-granddaddy/)

In the 70’s we lived way out in the middle of the county. It was thirteen miles from the nearest city limits, I worked ten miles further on than that, and having…

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Jesus wears street clothes

God showed up in street clothes when he came to visit Abraham and Sarah.

Three travelers in the plains of Mamre approached a tent in the heat of the day, the time when people rested from their usual work.

Abraham was sitting in the tent door and when he looked up, there they were — three men, travelers. Tourists? Tradesmen? What did they look like?

Apparently they looked like ordinary travelers, perhaps a little dusty from walking along the road. They all wore the normal street clothes of the day for that part of the world.

But they weren’t ordinary travelers, of course. One of them was Jehovah, God himself. The other two were angels on assignment to destroy Sodom. (Genesis 18:1 – 19:1)

What do you imagine when you think about God’s appearance, or the appearance of angels? Probably not men in street clothes.

It didn’t take much, though, for Abraham to realize that he was talking to the Lord God. He had seen him before. He had heard his voice before (Genesis 12 ff). But he couldn’t have told that by the physical appearance this day.

Jesus showed up in street clothes when he lingered near the tomb to talk to Mary Magdalene. She’d already seen two angels, and she recognized them as angels because of their appearance. This man looked ordinary, a gardener perhaps, Mary thought.

“Why are you crying?” he asked her. She explained as best she could, still not realizing who he was. But he wasn’t an ordinary gardener, of course. It took one more word, “Mary,” from Jesus’s voice for her to recognize the Lord, Jesus resurrected from the dead. (John 20:15)

Jesus showed up in street clothes when he caught up to Cleopas and his friend. Ttraveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, “It was great while it lasted,” they must have thought as they commiserated.

They’d had high hopes that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, they explained sadly to the inquisitive stranger. Quite a conversation took place on the remaining walk into town. This well educated stranger really knew the prophecies! And he had a knack for opening the scriptures.

They didn’t realize who he was, this ordinary looking fellow. It took Jesus breaking bread and blessing it for them to recognize him. (Luke 24:30-31)

Jesus showed up in street clothes a few hours later, when he suddenly stood in the middle of the 11 apostles, terrifying them by his appearance. They supposed he was a spirit! I wonder what they imagined a spirit to look like…

Why didn’t they immediately recognize the Lord? Mary Magdalene? Cleopas and his friend? The 11 apostles? Their master, their teacher, the one they had followed and worshiped for so long?

Think about the last time they had seen him. Dirty, bloody, ragged, naked. Broken. Dead. This man was none of those things. He was clean and healthy. Any scars he had were totally healed – he kept those for evidence, I think.

Jesus had taken every punishment I deserved, every sickness or disease I could be afflicted with, every fear and anxiety, every sin and guilt, for me and every other human being on planet earth. Whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, he accepted them all as his own.

Then he overcame them. Defeated them. Destroyed their power. The creator of the universe had recreated everything about his own personal appearance, in a moment of time.

Now he looked like, and was, a healthy, confident and knowledgeable adult male. No wonder they didn’t know who he was.

Many artists have painted depictions of Jesus over the centuries. Did you notice — they always seem to paint him in the past tense? Wearing street clothes of ancient Israel?

That’s not how I see him.

I imagine him dressed in ordinary street clothes, a workman’s uniform maybe, or a business suit, or jeans and a t-shirt. Whatever would be appropriate for the place and time, and perhaps the occasion, that’s how I visualize him.

Would you recognize Jesus if he showed up physically at your house, dressed in modern-day street clothes?

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2 NASB)

If MY people, God said

I have spent more time than usual meditating and praying for the last couple of weeks, praying in tongues more than usual, and just listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit as to what or who to pray for. Or command, declare or decree about. It’s like listening or waiting for the “other shoe to fall,” if you know what I mean. I sense something unsettling going on in the spirit world.

Again I am receiving “positive” blog posts and “happy” emails from prophetic believers who predict another Great Awakening in the almost immediate future. I don’t sense that, however. The church has gone through that sort of prophesying before, in recent years. A lot of happy people were praising the Lord for those wonderful predictive words, looking expectantly for it to happen in America, any day now, any day now!

But it was more like wishful thinking, than actual prophecy. Situations in this country didn’t get better immediately, as so many expected — they got worse.

And I have a distinct feeling that the worst hasn’t happened yet. The enemy hears those exciting prophecies and makes his plans, causing chaos and havoc, stirring up hate and murder, destroying people and property, and the church at large didn’t seem to see it coming.

It’s past time for the militant church to take authority over the enemy, to truly discern the motives and behavior patterns of the enemy and take action. Some preachers are doing that, preaching and teaching how to do that, but there aren’t enough who are. Yet. That’s another one of my ongoing prayers.

“If MY people,” says that scripture – not those other people, not the pagan people, not the unbelieving people – God’s own people have to heed his words:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

All that’s not to say there isn’t another Great Awakening ahead. I believe there is. Many hundreds of people are being born again in various nations of the world.

But here in America, the enemy is having too much success in creating disasters, inspiring and instigating more and more evil behavior in ordinary people – many who were law-abiding people just a few months ago, joining the lawless crowd already at work.

God is building a wall

God’s wall is going up faster and faster these days.

Esther's Petition

Late Friday night March 15, 2019 I was sleepily praying about many things including politics, the President’s southern border wall proposal and the opposition to it, when the Lord interrupted my prayers.

Quite clearly, he said, I’M building a wall.”

Okay Lord, YOU’RE building a wall, I answered, visualizing the wall of a house.

“No, bigger than that,” he said. So I imagined a much taller wall, although still part of a house. A bigger house, maybe two-story.

“It’s a wall that divides,” he added. “I’m not through with America yet. Now is the time for people to choose; to put themselves on the right side of my wall.”

Oh, wow. Wow. As I considered that, the image expanded, becoming more like the Great Wall of China.

“It will become a tower.”

I recalled towers I’d read about in scripture, such as those built in the center of…

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Flashpoint . Critical mass . Paradigm Shift . 2019

Late in 2018 I read many opinions and prophecies from around the world about the year ahead, from both secular and spiritual sources. The majority were optimistic and encouraging, although some did contain warnings about continued opposition from certain areas.

“Overall things will improve,” they said, “socially, politically, and spiritually, eventually. There may be a bit of conflict beforehand — but 2019 will be a good year, even a great year.”

That was thought-provoking to me, considering these messages came from all corners of the world, from varied spheres of interest. Spiritual leaders encouraged continued prayer. And so I prayed about it.

“What should we expect in 2019, really?” I asked the Lord. Here’s what he told me:

“Confusion and uncertainty will affect many in the body of Christ. ‘Am I believing right? they will ask themselves. Am I praying right? Did I vote right?’ “

“Why?” I asked him. His answer was brief: a short list with no further explanation:

Flashpoint — Critical Mass — Paradigm Shift

And so I did quite a bit of research to be sure I knew just what those things were:

  • Flashpoint: Chemically, the lowest temperature at which vapors of a volatile material will ignite, when given an ignition source. Gasoline and spark plugs in a car engine, for example.

In International Relations, a flashpoint is an area, or a dispute, that has a strong possibility of developing into a war. Political pundits today include the Middle East as a major flashpoint.

  • Critical mass: The smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction, such as in a nuclear power plant. (A supercritical mass would result in an explosion, such as the atomic bomb in WWII.)

This concept is used in other contexts, such as group dynamics, where it refers to the smallest percentage of people in a group needed to trigger a change. On occasion it takes quite a long time, not to mention lengthy persuasive arguments, to acquire the needed percentage. Amending the U.S. Constitution to allow all citizens to vote, for example.

  • Paradigm shift: Paradigm refers to a pattern, model, or overall concept accepted by most people in an intellectual community, because of its effectiveness in explaining a complex process or set of data. A paradigm shift is a change caused when someone discovers data that disproves the pattern or concept.

One notable scientific paradigm was believing the Earth is the center of the universe, that the sun, moon and stars all revolve around the Earth. That changed with the discoveries of Copernicus and others (telescope) in the 17th Century.

“Justification is by grace alone” (Romans 1:17) was a major paradigm shift in the religious world, instigated by Martin Luther and resulting in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century.

Apparently those things would happen — or begin to happen — in 2019.  Any one of them would cause or contribute to confusion and uncertainty around the globe, including across the church world. “Optimistic and encouraging?” Not exactly.

After a while I prayed again and asked, “How should we respond to those things?”

“Having done all to stand, STAND,”  he said, emphasis on STAND. 2019 is going to be an interesting year, I thought to myself.

I was right.


(Originally published January 1, 2019; slightly edited to republish June 10, 2020.)

 

Do you still want America? I asked God…


In recent months I’ve been praying for the many intercessors across America, that as they pray, they will truly listen to God’s voice and speak (petition, command, declare, decree) what He wants spoken. In detail sometimes, in generalities sometimes. And particularly these days about our nation.

In a bedtime conversation with the Lord the other night, I asked the Lord “Do you even still want America?” I was wondering if and when he would get sick of the spiritual conditions in this nation as it is right now. He replied, “Define America.”

Then He began to show me images of the many, many aspects of this nation as it is right now – not just the continental United States but its islands, territories and protectorates, including embassies in foreign lands.

Physically (the multiple geographic regions coast to coast and around the globe) to begin with, then socially, politically, religiously, governmentally, and quite a few other aspects. Business. Education. Research. Medicine. Science. Entertainment. Communication. Infrastructure. Construction. Technology. Exploration. Military. Security.

That conversation and those images continued for some time, but the Lord never specifically answered my question except to finally say, “I created this nation.” I knew then that he didn’t intend to abandon it, no matter what was happening. I’m grateful for that.

“Show me how to pray, how to speak,” I asked him for the umpteenth time (it’s a frequent prayer of mine). It was an interesting few hours.

Forgiveness, the most powerful weapon

Two scripture passages keep coming to mind today:

  • First, Jesus’ words on the cross, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23:34 KJV].
  • Secondly, Stephen’s words as he was dying, “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60 KJV]

Forgiveness is the most powerful weapon there is.  Multitudes soon received that forgiveness and were born again. A coincidence? I don’t really think so.

Did you ever wonder why those statements were both spoken ALOUD? And heard and recorded by those who heard them?

Jesus taught us how to deal with enemies. Love them. Pray for them. Do good to them. Ask God for mercy for them. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-37)

It has bothered me greatly these last several years to read on social media Christians cursing (in words or attitudes) so many people they don’t like in politics (both parties). Jesus paid a tremendous price for the souls of those people!

Please read this article from Intercessors for America when you get a few minutes. I have been a supporter and subscriber to IFA for many years; this particular article seemed extremely timely when I read it this morning.

https://ifapray.org/blog/a-prophetic-word-for-the-unmasking-of-the-cover-up/

 

Finished… am I finished?

Ever felt like a cog in a wheel?

What exactly is a cog? It’s one of the tooth-like parts around the edge of a wheel in a machine that fits between those of a similar wheel, causing both wheels to move; cogwheel, a wheel with cogs around its edge, used to turn another wheel or part in a machine.

In human terms, it’s a member of a large organization whose job, although necessary, makes them feel as if they are not important. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/)

“A cog in a wheel is an important element; it keeps the machine running smoothly. If it’s cared for – cleaned, oiled, and polished regularly – it will serve the machine well for years. If it’s not cared for, it will break, bringing the machine to a halt. The breakage may even cause greater damage to other parts of the machine.” (https://www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com/2015/05/18/a-cog-in-a-wheel/)

“Is it time for me to quit?” I asked myself the other night. “Time to quit reading, quit studying, quit writing, quit praying – quit interceding? Is my time on planet earth over? Am I finished?”

I was feeling tired. Exhausted, actually, physically, mentally and emotionally. And a little bored, too. I was feeling like a very unimportant, worn-out old cog in a machine, no longer necessary and easily replaced if broken or removed.

I had been thinking of Jesus’ words in John 19:30, “It is finished.”

What was the IT, I wondered? The IT that was finished? His earth-life existence as a human being? His work as Savior? His sacrifice for sins? What exactly did he mean by that?

I’ve read some opinions on the meaning of that final statement. Here’s one I like:

“Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The word in this verse, “finished,” is actually from the Greek word, “tetelestai,” which is the same word that means “paid in full.” Often, it was used in an accounting term, which indicates a debt was paid. The uniqueness about the way it was written is that the tense of the word indicates both a point in time it was complete and that it would also continue to be complete or finished. And this is the essence of what Christ came to do. He came to “finish” God’s work of salvation in us. He came to “pay it in full,” the entire penalty, or debt, for our sins. He’s at work in our world still today in powerful ways.” (https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/the-power-of-jesus-last-words-the-meaning-behind-it-is-finished.html)

But think about this: Some things were not actually finished. Jesus would return as a human being in a few days, remaining on planet earth for a few more weeks. At the moment on the cross when Jesus said “Finished,” he had not yet presented his blood in heaven so his sacrifice for sins wasn’t finished; his work as Savior was not complete.

His ministry to human beings wasn’t done either. More was still to come on the day of Pentecost! And beyond that, his ministry as intercessor for believers is a never-ending assignment.

Of course, none of those things could have been realized had Jesus not actually died on the cross — died body, soul and spirit. In that regard IT was indeed finished. The debt we owed was truly PAID IN FULL.

As I meditated on all this, the Holy Spirit began to talk to me.

“Finished, hmmm? Just an old cog? Unimportant? Unnecessary?” He began to show me a few examples of old cogs, the way He sees them.

  • Abraham and Sarah — parents at 100 and 90 years of age; think they needed to be re-energized?
  • Moses — failed son of Pharoah’s daughter who became a shepherd in a foreign land; recalled to be deliverer of Israel at age 80.
  • David — many long years running for his life from King Saul, chased, persecuted; tired?
  • Zachariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents — elderly new parents whose son became a “wild man” living in the desert.

I’m sure they’d all prayed, waited and wondered; wondered if IT was finished, whatever IT was in their lives.

Things to think about.

Armor of light

Esther's Petition

light-explosionThe Armor of Light is another type of armor we are instructed to “put on”:

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (Rom 13:12 KJV)

The apostle Paul is talking about daylight and darkness here, but not ordinary days or ordinary darkness. He means the day of the Lord’s return is coming soon; because of that we should discard our old life’s works of evil and prepare for our new daytime assignments. Good religious instruction.

But is that all he means?

I thought about Jesus and his inner circle at the Mount of Transfiguration. “After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” (Mark 9:2)

“There he was transfigured…

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