Henry’s Sentries are being called up

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A radical revolutionary not afraid to speak up against Great Britain, Patrick Henry is most famous for his speech that includes the line, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Governor of Virginia during the Revolution, he fought to add the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution.

As I was dreaming a nonsense sort of dream early this morning, a word from the Lord interrupted my dream quite loudly. “Henry’s Sentries.”

It was so loud, so pronounced, that it woke me up from sleep about 4:00 AM. There was nothing more than that, no explanation, nothing. I couldn’t imagine what it meant.

I know what a sentry is – a guard, a watchman – which is what prophetic intercessors are, in the spirit realm. I am one of those.

But who or what was Henry? Immediately the name, Patrick Henry, came to mind. All I remembered about him was “Give me liberty or give me death,” a statement he made in a speech before the American Revolution.

Questions and more questions kept coming:

  • Who exactly was Patrick Henry?
  • How was he connected to “sentries?”
  • How did he get information that caused him to support resistance to Great Britain?
  • Who were his friends, acquaintances, cohorts, compatriots in those times?
  • Henry’s sentries — were they secret agents? Spies?
  • Pre-Revolution and/or during the Revolution?
  • Did Patrick Henry know Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and if so, were they friends?

I got up, fixed a cup of coffee and went to the computer. Using various phrases to seek out what that word referred to, I learned that without the voice and influence of Patrick Henry, there would be no Bill of Rights attached to the Constitution. That piqued my interest even further.

And then I came across a free online digitized biography of Patrick Henry, written by his grandson William Wirt Henry: “Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence And Speeches V1.”, published in 1891. I found a printed copy online and ordered it. I started reading the digitized  version, taking a break only to go to a Tuesday prayer meeting at my friends’ home.

I have learned some interesting things about Patrick Henry:
– Ordinary looking, unassuming (usually).
– Didn’t care much about his outward appearance or dress.
– Loved music; played the violin and flute.
– Loved fun, quite personable with an excellent personality.
– After a few years of regular school he was tutored at home by his father.
– Closely observed people and things, keeping his thoughts to himself a lot of the time.
– Highly intelligent; a voracious reader.
– A Christian from an early age; knowledgeable of the Bible.
– Possessed a remarkable and accurate memory of whatever he read, saw or heard.

I have also learned some important things about him:
– Married at age 18, he failed at two occupations, then read a couple of law books, applied for a law license, was examined and licensed.
– He began a highly successful practice while still a very young man, serving the working class people mostly; quite successful in court, he soon became respected and well liked in that area of Virginia.
– He was a powerful, anointed orator when he finally began to speak on issues that he felt passionate about. Like freedom. Liberty.
– Elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses on a “fluke,” in just a few short days he became one of the most notable and powerful voices in Virginia politics. Amazing!

I gradually came to realize that Henry’s sentries didn’t live during his lifetime. God is calling them up in OUR lifetime.

Henry was a modern-day Son of Issachar (see note below), one of Holy Spirit’s sentries whose relationship with the Lord, close observation of the times and events he was living through, and courage and willingness to speak out were instrumental in saving the American colonies from the grip of Great Britain.

Sentries like that are needed now, in the time we’re living in. I could name a few that I know of across the nation today, but many more are needed.

I shared about this with the members of the prayer group and was asked to pray a prayer of impartation over the group – there were nine of us there today – for this specific assignment. And so I did.

We are all connected to other intercessors in this area and other places, some prophetic, some not, but we have discovered a common thread in the last few weeks: attacks of the enemy to distract our attention and change our prayer focus.

Some have been hurt in odd accidents, some have become sick with unusual ailments or someone in their families have, and some have been experiencing sudden disturbances in their household or with relatives.

At the same time, there have been a number of great answers to long-time prayers, real breakthroughs.

We are committed to continuing our prayers / commands / decrees, asking the Lord to sharpen our spiritual seeing, our hearing, our attention to his voice; committed to taking greater authority over the distractions of the enemy, to standing up and speaking out when and as the Holy Spirit directs it.

How about you?

……………………………………………..

The sons of Issachar are described in I Chronicles 12:32: “Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.” They served David well.
See https://www.livingaschristians.com/resources/2020/06/14/the-sons-of-issachar

The world is winding down

18 April 2022

At bedtime last night, I prayed as I often do, “Father, please speak to me.”  What I had in mind was, what did the Lord want me to pray about, to request of him. That brought on a conversation I didn’t expect.

“The world is winding down,” he said.

Then he defined what “the world” actually is. Every human being alive at one moment in time constitutes the world. It’s people, not the planet earth. And this world, this iteration of the world, he said, is winding down. He continued explaining.

The people of the world consists of many believers and many unbelievers, young and old. Many, many are tired. Even faithful, spirit-filled believers are weary, exhausted from holding on, interceding, trying to believe their prayers are right and will be answered, although it’s been a long time and there’s still no breakthrough.

They are not just spiritually tired, they are physically, mentally and emotionally worn out. They are ready to come home.

And while this world winds down, the next iteration of the world is winding “up,” he said. It is is being called up even as we speak, an army to be energized and trained whether they ever wanted to be or not.

Although they haven’t been planning or studying to be pastors, preachers, missionaries, revivalists, or even administrators in a church somewhere, they are my next-gen warriors for a battle they’ve never imagined being in. How shall they fight?

They will call those things that be not as though they were, and thus call my will into being, here on the earth.

A great number of soldiers are being called up by my Spirit. Some are longtime Christians who thought they knew how to pray. They did in some ways, but they didn’t know how to do the kind of spiritual warfare necessary now.

They need to know how to speak the word I give them and see it happen in front of their eyes.

Recognizing my voice suddenly, surprised and maybe not pleasantly surprised at its message, they find themselves ready to obey. Dissatisfied with the status quo of their own faith, their own life, they have felt unsettled in the spirit but haven’t known why.

This is why.

A new army of warriors is necessary now so I am calling them now. Their training is going to go fast, covert and overt fighters, learning to throw spiritual “monkey wrenches” into the enemy’s plots and plans, sometimes in an instant.

Here is more of what the Lord said in that conversation:

Change will come in how these fighters think, how they think about their own spiritual authority, about praying and listening, seeking and speaking in agreement with God’s word, commanding, decreeing and declaring what he wants spoken.

Change will also come in what they see, not just what exists in the natural, but also what exists in the supernatural.

They will also see what God wants to exist in the future. Describing those things as though they already are, co-laboring with him they will call them into being.

This world is going away fast, he repeated. As people retire, resign from their present assignment or die, new warriors are taking their place in homes, schools and colleges. Malls. Hospitals. Government departments. Office buildings. Factories. Farms. Churches too. Military installations, new recruits and seasoned soldiers, U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force. Every branch.

Ordinary looking men and women, doing ordinary work, won’t be ordinary natural people any more. They will watch and listen for my voice and say what I say. Command what I command. Decree what I decree, declare what I declare, the Lord said. Then he added:

Call them up with me. Say with me, Warrior Army, arise now. Arm yourselves. Be on guard. Be alert. Say what the Lord tells you to say, now. The training will be fierce but it will be fast. The results will be, too.

As our conversation ended, I knew one thing for certain — 

This is going to be live fire training.

Although I fell asleep in a few moments I was wide awake again in a few hours. I got up and stayed up, meditating about all he had told me and wondering, should I publish that conversation or keep it to myself? I was listening for his directions as I began typing these notes.

Childhood Salvation

Is there such a thing as childhood salvation?

Is there really an age of accountability? Some people think so, some people don’t. Some say it’s 8 years of age, others say it’s 12.

But have they ever lived with a strong-willed 3 year old? One who knows what it means to be “naughty?”

I think the article at this link explains the issue quite well. https://truthforkids.com/age-of-accountability

I don’t remember a time in my life, ever, that I didn’t know for sure that Jesus is the son of God, that he is God himself, and that he took my sin on himself and died on the cross to pay for MY sins.

“Jesus loves me, this I know.” And I do, actually. I was taught that simple song as a young child, and I believed it then just as I believe it now.

For God so loved the world, including me, that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus, and that whosoever (including me) believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). I was taught that powerful verse as a young child too, and I believed it then just as I believe it now. It summarizes the gospel very well.

I have been trying to understand how I came to believe what I know to be true. Several things come to mind.

One:

My parents were both Christians who had been raised in Christian homes. (That really does make a difference.) We loved them and we trusted them. We trusted them to tell us truthful things, not to tell us lies.

They prayed for us and with us, my brother and me. We prayed over all our meals, prayed over both ordinary and special events, prayed at bedtime, and of course prayed in church. And we went to church as a family. We went to Sunday School and “preaching,” attended nearly every revival at our own church as well as other churches, plus tent revivals.

Even in the days when one or the other of my parents were far from perfect parents, far from perfect in their actions towards each other or towards themselves personally, they still turned to the Lord to help them. To deliver them. To restore them. And he always did.

I never knew my father’s parents; his dad died years before I was born and his mom died when I was about 3 years old. But they were church members (Baptist) and I can imagine them praying for their family and the families that would come in later years. That would include me. Many of the older Motte generations are buried in the Grove Hill Cemetery in Darlington, South Carolina.

My mother’s parents and most of their Powers siblings were members of Methodist churches. Many of their generation of that family are buried in the cemetery at Pine Grove Methodist Church between Timmonsville and Darlington, SC. My own parents are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Florence.

When I would see either set of relatives, Christmas Day, Easter, birthday celebrations, whatever the occasion, there was always a time of catching up with family news, and there was always prayer. Every meal where Da (my mother’s father) was at the table would begin with him saying grace – “Thank the Lord for Dinner.” (Or Breakfast, or Supper.) And he meant it, as short as it was. He was indeed thankful. So were we all.

I didn’t hear my great grandparents’ prayers, but I am convinced that they did know the Lord and that they did pray.

Two:

My brother and I were taught the Bible, as being the real, actual, word of the living God. Sometimes it was Mama and Daddy doing the teaching, sometimes a Sunday School teacher, and sometimes the pastor. The Bible was important to all of us, as important as eating food and drinking water.

Early days we were read Bible stories from a children’s book. We learned about Abraham and Sara, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, Elijah and Elisha, many others from the pages of the Old and New Testaments.

We also learned about Jesus — lots and lots of stories about Jesus. Who he was, why he came, what he did while on planet earth. We learned about sin and what it was, how it first got into existence, what God thinks about it, and what God did about it, for us, by sending Jesus.

We learned what grace is too, and that we didn’t deserve God’s grace but we got it anyway. We didn’t deserve God’s love, but we got it anyway.

We also learned that salvation isn’t automatic just because our parents were Christians, that we ourselves were responsible for that decision. I will never forget two little lessons we learned somewhere: “God has no grandchildren,” and “Living in a garage doesn’t make you a car!”

We were first taught these concepts in simple, easy to understand words. We learned that we have the ability to ask Jesus into our heart — meaning, to ask him to forgive us when we did wrong (i.e. naughty, bad things), ask him to be our “saver” and ask him to help us change our messy way of selfish thinking.

As a teenager I had occasions to think about all that once or twice, and each time I made a conscious decision and recommitment to that truth: Yes, Jesus was indeed my Saviour. As an adult living a troubled life years later, I made an expanded, deliberate decision that Yes, Jesus was both Saviour and Lord, and although I hadn’t really been acknowledging him as MY Lord, I wanted him to be.

And in an instant, he was. A lot changed that day… I changed a lot that day! See https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/all-things-became-new/

I don’t have a specific date written down anywhere when I was born again. Some folks would say I wasn’t really born again, then. I wasn’t saved, I wasn’t really a Christian, as a child.

I have to disagree. Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been my loving companions for too long, the Bible has been too precious to me for too long, and the Kingdom of God has been too real to me for too long.

But I have often wished I’d made Jesus both Saviour AND Lord of my life much earlier.

Childhood Melodies

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.”

Patty cake. Three blind mice. Row, row, row your boat. Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

Daddy sang bass, Mama sang tenor — no, actually they didn’t, Daddy sang something in a barbershop quartet but I have no idea what range voice he had.

Mama didn’t sing much. She loved to hear him sing, though, and when I was little and taking piano lessons, Mama taught herself the basics of playing the piano.

Music was always playing in our house, whether on radio or hi-fi (record player with fancy turntable, loadable with multiple vinyl records). Folk music, classics by symphony orchestras, musical movie soundtracks, blues and jazz from New Orleans, boogie woogie, Hits of the 50’s and 60’s, Big Band love songs and war songs — Mama and Daddy had a huge collection of long-play 33’s to choose from.

Or somebody in the house might be singing (who knows who), or playing banjo (daddy), or playing piano (me), or playing violin (brother Bud, aka Harold).

During the summer months when Bud and I spent a lot of time at our grandparents’ farm, Mimi usually had a radio on in the house tuned to a country music station somewhere.

Grand Ole Opry on WSM radio, direct from Nashville! I learned to love the sound of fiddle music, acoustic and slide steel guitar, the thump, thump of a big old bass guitar, the twang twang of ukuleles and mandolins, and lots of hillbilly tunes. Bluegrass. Mountain music. Honky-tonk!

When Mimi and Da bought a black and white television set, they discovered the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry were broadcast there, too! Now I could see what my favorite country western music-makers looked like!

Saturday nights brought the memorable Kitty Wells’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” or Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight” right into our living room.

I still can’t hear the name Hank Williams without hearing him singing “I Saw the Light.”

In between the vocalists might be the comedy skits of Minnie Pearl, or the amazing strings and pickin’ music of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.

Here’s a clip titled Earl’s Breakdown — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtMdqh3HFBo. It was wonderful then, still wonderful now!

Why did we love music so much?

One practical, earthly reason may have been Daddy’s oldest sister, Aunt Myrtle. She played piano for silent movies! And she sponsored my piano lessons. Myrtle could play like Liberace and she loved for all of us to listen.

There’s another, more spiritual reason, though. Music was Father God’s invention. The Lord sings! The sons of God (angels) sing! Heavens, earth, trees and mountains, even the stars sing!

So when it came to creating human beings, it’s only logical that He’d include a music gene in there somewhere. At least in my own family, I’m sure he did!

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:7)

“Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.” (I Chron. 16:33)

“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13)

Childhood Prayers

Bette, age 5

My earliest childhood prayer went like this:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mama and Daddy, God bless Bud, God bless Mimi and Da, God bless Uncle Ponk and Aunt Vera, God bless Uncle Dub and Aunt Pearl, and God bless Uncle Mike.”

I asked God to bless every relative of Mama and Daddy’s that I could remember, their brothers and his sisters, their spouses and all their children. I added names as time went on, when Mike married Frances, and babies were born to one or another family. No doubt I missed a few cousins now and then.

Once in a while I would tag on somebody not a relative, like my school teacher or Sunday School teacher, or friend. At the end of the prayer, I was always careful to add “In Jesus’s name, Amen.”

Confident that everybody I loved was covered with God’s protection for the night, I pulled my doll babies closer and fell asleep.

Even now I can clearly visualize my bedroom and my bed, myself snuggled up under the covers with five or six dolls surrounding me as I closed my eyes and spoke to God at bedtime. I was in kindergarten at the time of that mini-vision, but I had prayed that same bedtime prayer many, many evenings before that.

When did I stop praying those precious, repetitive words?

Perhaps it was after the day I heard the Lord whisper to me in a small quiet voice, and I realized that he was actually listening to my thoughts and prayers. And I knew somehow that I could just talk to him, I didn’t have to use memorized, rote prayers! How neat.

He didn’t speak that day in answer to a prayer, actually. He had spoken in the middle of my first grade classroom as I was admiring my teacher. He said, “One day YOU will be a teacher.” That was it.

That was all he’d said to me then but I knew it was God. I had no question or fear or doubt or anything, just some surprise that he considered me important enough to speak to, in the middle of a school day, in the middle of a school room. Me!

I didn’t really expect God to talk to me again; I didn’t even ask him to talk to me again for many years. I just accepted it as a one-off, something he wanted me to know just because I loved my teacher, and because he loved me.

And then I sort of forgot it. Yep.

As the school years passed by one by one, none of my plans included becoming a teacher. Nuclear or space physicist, that was my plan. That was what I studied all the math and science for, took all the advanced testing for, planned to enter college for.

My family faithfully attended church where as a young teen once again I greatly admired a teacher: my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Mellie Sue Hewitt, always smiling, soft spoken and kindhearted. She was also quite knowledgeable in the scriptures. In her classes the Old Testament came alive, relevant, and important.

Prayer was a given in her classes, and they didn’t consist of repetitive phrases and sentences. They were more like chatting with a close, personal friend. Along with amazing stories of dynamic Bible characters like Abraham, Moses and Joshua, I learned that the God they knew, and that she knew, appreciated ordinary conversational prayer.

Then Daddy died suddenly of a heart attack, May 14, 1960. I was 16 years old. My mother couldn’t cope. She fell apart, turned away from church, away from her faith, and turned to substances for “support.” Drugs and alcohol.

After that, church wasn’t a real priority for me either. Mama had dropped out, so I dropped out. While most of my friends went away to college, I was enrolled at USC-Florence here at home. Mama drove me back and forth. We didn’t talk much.

If you have read any of my other stories, biographical stuff, you probably know that my plans got majorly derailed during my first year of college. My grades were excellent, I had no problems in class, but life-shaking problems at home finally got the best of me.

My alcoholic mother and I simply could not get along. I dropped out of college to marry the man who I thought would take me away from all my problems. He didn’t. It turned out that he, like Mama, was an alcoholic.

I began practicing the art of conversational prayer, and I mean practice. Practice. Practice. Prayer lists. Notebooks. Little sticky notes on my desk, in my Bible, everywhere. Most consisted of “Please help me” type requests. Help me get through today. Help me get through the week! Help me pay the bills.

Help me not fall apart, like Mama did. They were all one-way but despite my having dropped out, I knew, I just knew, that He never had.

A lot happened in the next few years. I’ve written about some of it. I bought a number of books about prayer, how to pray, intercessory prayer, having a prayer life. I read and underlined, wrote notes in the margins. My prayer lists grew. My notebooks got filled, post-it notes proliferated on computer, mirrors, Bibles and books.

And along the way, I discovered something amazing. Prayer isn’t always one-way only.

Lies coming down

I shared this word with only a few fellow intercessors back in February, but this week I’ve seen more and more of it coming to pass.

On Monday night February 14, 2022, as I was praying before sleep the Lord showed me ranks of angel warriors with swords drawn and pointed outwards, preparing to attack.

Father God showed me that he has called Time and the warriors are deploying. He is calling an end to the lies and deception that the enemy has been using across America (and the whole world, for that matter).

The spirit behind all the lies and deception is actually the spirit of fear, He said. Fear of being found out, truth revealed, deceptions uncovered, lies that had brought much influence, power and wealth, while hidden.

Over the coming days / weeks / months there will be a battle of God’s warriors against the spirit of fear behind the lies, deception, all the deliberate falsehoods afflicting God’s people — indeed all people.

You won’t actually perceive this battle very well on the earth for a little while, He said, because it is a purely spiritual battle. But you will perceive the results soon as the lies are made obvious. The lies and deception will come down, will end, and the truth will become obvious.

Soon the spiritual battle will descend onto the earth and the natural world will also engage in this battle. Spiritual warriors and prayer warriors will be put to work more fiercely than ever.

So be alert, be aware, watch and keep watching, listen and keep listening. More importantly, pray and keep praying.

Posted 1 April 2022

 

Armored, front and back

x-default“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
— Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I’ve been thinking about armor lately. The apostle Paul told the Ephesians, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13)

You don’t wear armor to play tennis. Or golf. Or lay around on the beach. Or just to work in an office, or push a vacuum, or cook dinner.

Ordinary people doing ordinary jobs don’t even own armor. A hunting rifle, maybe, a utility knife, maybe. But surely not armor.

It got me to thinking. Who does wear armor? Who even owns armor? Hmm. Soldiers. People who are trained to fight, who know what armor is for and how to use it. People who know there’s going to be a fight – not just a scuffle, but a serious fight. Up close and personal, with somebody out to hurt you. To kill you.

If you read through Paul’s epistles, you’ll see that he didn’t write the same things to everybody. He wrote to the Ephesians things that he didn’t tell anyone else. So, then, they don’t apply to anyone else, right?

Well, that would be nice, if it wasn’t for the fact that the devil doesn’t hate Ephesians only. In this fight, we all need this particular armor, whether on the tennis court, the golf course, in the office and in the kitchen. Every place can be and often is a battlefield in the spirit.

  • John 10:10 – Jesus: the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy; Jesus comes to give abundant life
  • I Cor. 10:4 – Paul: we have powerful weapons and a war to fight; they are spiritual, not physical
  • Eph. 4:27 – Paul: give no place to the devil
  • I Pet. 5:8 – Peter: the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone
  • James 4:7 – James: submit first to God, then resist the devil and he will flee

Here’s that whole passage from Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

RomanBattleArmorStand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Eph. 6:10-18 NIV)

Paul, a Roman citizen, is describing a Roman soldier’s armor – notice, every piece is worn in a place where Jesus shed his blood, from head to hand to foot. Some sandals even had metal spikes in the soles.

RomanArmorBreastplateBackParticularly notice, the back of the breastplate was also armored.

Some people claim the armor is only on your front, so you’re supposed to only advance. That’s not true. Isaiah 58:8 says that the glory of the Lord will be our rear guard (rereward, rear-ward in KJV).

If sometimes it seems like the enemy comes at you from all sides, the Lord has provided protection from all sides.

An offensive weapon, a sword presupposes offensive actions by a soldier trained in wielding it. The fully equipped Roman soldier had two swords, a short one and a long one. The short sword was used for hand-to-hand fighting – this is the word used in most of the New Testament. A long sword or javelin was worn over the soldier’s right shoulder – this is the word used for Jesus’s two-edged sword in Revelation.

“Having done all to stand, stand…” it says in the King James Version. Done all… all what?

Having acknowledged the need for this armor, having acquired it, clothed yourself with it and trained in its use, stand up strong in it. That sounds like we’re defending something, doesn’t it? And we are.

Stand firm in the faith, Paul says in his letters. Faith is the devil’s most valuable target. If he can’t kill you outright, he’ll steal your health. If he can’t steal your health, he’ll destroy your reputation. Whatever he can do to nullify your faith, he’ll do.

Standing firm in your own faith is not all we do, of course. Spreading faith, advancing the kingdom of God is the Christian’s primary business. But if you’re so busy fighting off attacks in the mind, emotions, health, family, job, reputation, etc., you won’t share your testimony much. You won’t advance the kingdom much.

Reading the news from around the world, I realize just how much of a war is going on. How violent, how hate-filled, how horribly cruel – how evil – the attacks on Christians are. How much we need God’s full armor! Too many believers in this country assume it will never happen here.

Making the dark, darker

Talking with the Lord on Saturday, December 3, 2021, as usual I asked him the question:

“What is going on right now, Lord? What are you doing?”

And he began telling me, as he nearly always does.

“Making the dark, darker,” he said.

“There are still a few slivers of gray and white among the dark places, and I am closing those gaps and making it all dark. Very dark.”

I knew that wasn’t all there was to it, and it wasn’t. He continued.

“I’m also making the light, lighter. Brighter. The contrast will become ever more evident around the globe, as those who have preferred the dark are beginning to long for the light.” For Jesus, the Light of the World.

I knew that Father God is not responsible for the darkness and so I waited for more discussion. He went on to explain.

Making dark places darker is making them much more obvious, much more evident. Far more repugnant to those who have loved the darkness… up until now. That love is turning.

A spiritual revival has sprung up in various places around the planet in recent years, growing more widespread; gaining more attention.

It is a precursor of a soon-coming global outpouring of the Holy Spirit with tremendous worship and joy, miraculous signs and wonders, miracle healings, salvations and deliverances. Years-long prayers and intercessions are coming into fruition; patience is paying off.

At the same time persecution and murder of believers is worsening. The battle for the Faith — the faith of believers — is certainly not new. It started with the apostles.

But Christians worldwide, and particularly prayer warriors, have been under many deadly and increasingly vicious attacks in recent days, some insidious or temporary irritations, but some long-lasting disasters.

All are designed to distract from the Word of Truth and from the work of the intercessor. The enemy assumes (rightly so in many cases) that it’s hard to minister to other people when you’re in real distress yourself, physical, mental, emotional, financial, family, or community.

Never mind!

The increasing supernatural darkness can never stop the Light from coming, the overwhelming, engulfing glory of God.

2022 will be a year of contrasts, challenges, conflicts, and confusion. And a year of confirmations and celebrations.

 

Thomas was not the only doubter

Do you sometimes have doubts? Wondering, questioning your faith and then feeling guilty about it, those kinds of doubts?

You’re not alone.

“Doubting Thomas” is a familiar Bible character. One of Jesus’s original apostles, he had seen all the miracles.  He’d even participated in some of them!

And yet, “tch, tch, tch,” he declared he would have to see and feel Jesus alive again for himself, in order to believe he’d really been resurrected.

What a disappointment Thomas must have been. Jesus commented, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Did you know Thomas wasn’t the only one? Hundreds of people saw Jesus back from the dead, alive and well just as he had promised. “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.” (1Cor 15:6)

And yet some of the apostles doubted! When they saw Jesus, “they worshiped him… but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17) Amazing.

But doubting wasn’t a new sensation for them. Jesus had explained more than once that he would be killed — he had to be killed to fulfill prophecy — but don’t worry, he would rise again! And they just didn’t quite believe it.

He’d done many miracles along the way. Multiplied food, healed sick people, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, raised dead folks. The twelve hadn’t just seen it, they had done it too! So how could they doubt?

Well, the word doubt in Matthew 28 is “distazo,” meaning to waver; to believe two opposing things. “Yes, it’s true. No, it’s not true.”

Jesus spoke that word to Peter. Jesus said, “Come,” so Peter did, he left the boat to walk on the water like Jesus, but soon began to sink.

“Why did you doubt?” Jesus asked him. (Matthew 14:28-31) “Come” surely meant that Yes, Peter could do it, he could walk on the water too! And so he climbed out of the boat. But as his senses saw, heard and felt the storm, his resolve wavered. No, he couldn’t, all his senses said. Jesus could, but Peter couldn’t.

Chiding him, Jesus pointed out the problem: Peter’s wavering between belief and doubt; resulting in little faith. Peter called out for help, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Mat 14:31 ESV)

One other thought: Jesus’s Why question means Peter could choose between two options: “Yes, I can do this,” or “No, I can’t do this.” He chose the right one first, but then switched to the wrong one.

After Jesus rose from the dead, his followers (men and women) still had problems with doubt. Maybe his promise wasn’t of a physical resurrection, they probably wondered; maybe it was only spiritual. But the tomb is empty — where is his body?

Jesus’s voice convinced Mary but she couldn’t convince the others. They all had to see him in person, hear his voice. Thankfully Jesus was understanding, and fulfilled their desire. (Mark 16:9-11)

Wavering is still a problem with Christians.

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting (wavering), for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,  being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas 1:6-8 NASB20)

Doubt / waver here is the Greek word “diakrino,” meaning to examine all the facts in order to determine the truth, but never coming to a final decision. Yes, it’s true! No, it’s not true! Faith-nullifying wavering and doubting.

Paul also addressed this problem. “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1Cor 16:13 NASB20)

Do you have doubts sometimes? You’re not alone. So did the apostles! Just don’t stay there. Choose the right option.

 

What was in the wilderness?

Matthew 4 and Luke 4 describe the temptation of Jesus in the Judean desert. Most of my life I had a mental image of that desert as being mostly sand dunes, rocks and lizards. One day, out of curiosity I decided to check out that wilderness, where it was, what was in it, what it was like at that time.

I wondered, what was there out there that could tempt Jesus? During the 40 days before Satan showed up, that is. Here’s some of what I learned:

East and south of Jerusalem, it’s one of the smallest deserts in the world, much of it lying adjacent and west of the Dead Sea. Craggy and rough, it’s hilly and mountainous with steep cliffs and deep ravines. It was difficult but not impossible to traverse on the well-used paths and trails that criss-crossed the area.

There are streams and many wadis, some containing pools of water in shaded areas; and also beautiful oases. The most famous oasis in the Judean Desert is in Ein Gedi near the northern part of the Dead Sea, called David’s Waterfall.

There are also many fruit trees and other vegetation (see the section on trees below).

Sparsely inhabited but not empty, the desert contained several small villages on its edges. Bethlehem was one, a place where many of Jesus’ relatives lived.

Bedouin encampments the size of small towns (the Bedouin were and still are very hospitable people to visitors) plus camels, sheep, goats, and donkeys.

Leopards and other wild animals also inhabited the area, although leopards are scarce today.

Herodium today seen from the side.

The spectacular Herod’s Palace (Herodium) south of Jerusalem may contain his burial site (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodium and http://allaboutjerusalem.com/attraction/herodion-national-park).

This palace complex was atop an artificial hill built by Herod the Great, the site of several archeological digs through recent years. After his death this opulent summer “resort” was used by many Roman officials.

Also in the desert is the fortress of Masada which overlooks the Dead Sea, captured and built up by Herod the Great as a military base. Both Herodium and Masada were occupied by Roman officials and solders who regularly traveled to and from those sites. Both are Israeli National Parks and popular tourist attractions today.

Many fruit or nut trees occupy wadis and oases, including date palms, pistachios, wild figs, carob and acacia:

Carob / Locust trees bear fruit that is edible green or dried; the dried fruit is used in candy and other foods as a substitute for chocolate. The sweet, soft flesh of the green fruit is called “honey.”

Carob and acacia (below) are legumes, members of the pea and bean family.

Acacia is a “rain tree,” so-called because its leaves fold together in rain or high humidity. Edible and primarily used as animal fodder, it provides helpful gum and has many medical applications also. The Tabernacle and Ark were made of acacia wood.

Considering everything there was for him to see and do in that wilderness, what was Jesus tempted with?

Food, people, animals, a magnificent natural environment and impressive man-made structures — a better question might be, what wasn’t Jesus tempted with?

Anything and everything that human beings today are tempted with, including distractions, tempted Jesus in that desert. Think he doesn’t understand your situation? He does.

I Cor. 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)

And Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”