In, it’s such a little word

What was the plan, exactly?

Let’s talk about words some more. Words are describers:

Short, tall. Long, short.
Strong, weak. Simple, complicated.
Ideas, plans… Plans?

Remember this for later: “No word of God is void of power.” (Luke 1:37)

I was meditating on that verse one evening. It’s the angel Gabriel’s answer to Mary that day. He had told her something amazing, something wonderful, something absolutely dumbfounding. And she had asked him, How?

I gave that a bit more thought, then asked – “NO word, Lord? No word of God is void of power?”

“Have you considered the word in?” He replied. “As in, In the beginning?”

“Hmmm. I know several verses begin that way. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1.” I could almost feel him nod his head and wait, as I continued to think.

I had to admit that I’d never really considered that little word, in. So I did. I looked it up in various secular and Bible dictionaries, Strong’s Concordance, etc. The definition is not complicated. In indicates a location, a relative position. Inside. On. Within. At. Among. With.

Those meanings are simple. How is that little word in powerful, I wondered? Various Bible phrases began coming to mind.

In Christ. In Him. In whom. Jesus claimed that He was in the Father, that the Father was in him, and one day, they would both be in us. What a thought – one day we would be inhabited by God himself.

Consider John 14:10, 20-21, 23:

  • 10 “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works… “
  • 20 “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”
  • 21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…”
  • 23 “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

Also:

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” (Eph. 1:3-4)
  • “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Eph. 3:12)
  • “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:6)
  • “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” (Col. 2:9-10)
  • “For in him we live, and move, and have our being;” (Acts 17:28)

So much wonderful truth is contained in that one little word, “in!”

After a day or two, I began wondering about something else…

What exactly happened “in the beginning?” (Or even before the beginning.)

The Word was there… In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Secret things were kept… That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. (Matt. 13:35)

A kingdom was prepared… Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matt. 25:34)

The blood of prophets was shed… That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; (Luke 11:50)

God loved Jesus… Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

God chose us… According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: … 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him: (Eph. 1:4, 10)

The works were finished… For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Heb. 4:3)

Jesus coming to earth in human form was preplanned; foreordained… Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (I Pet. 1:20)

The Lamb (Jesus) was slain… And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)

Certain names were written in the book of life… The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev. 17:8)

I’ve begun to see a plan, haven’t you? The essential difference between Christianity and any religion: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) The Gospel. The good news. THE PLAN. The only plan, planned from the beginning.

Christians are inhabited by the same Spirit that created everything. (John 1:3, Col. 1:16)

Such a powerful word, in.

Words are Containers

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”

The following list began one recent evening as I was praying. I asked the Lord, “Would you please speak to me?”

I expected a conversation, perhaps a few sentences or so,  but He simply said, “Word.”

And then He began speaking this list, showing me mental images of what each one indicates. I put off writing it up for a few days, then finally went to the computer and began.

As I typed, word after word came to mind, even just now as I thought I was about through. Words are:

Containers      Explainers     Definers     Descriptors     Expressors
Impressors      Stressors     Reminders    Triggers     Tools    Equipment
Weapons     Armor     Creators    Destroyers     Healers   Deliverers
Revealers      Directors     Commanders     Preventers     Protectors
Comforters      Empowerers     Teachers     Trainers     Restrainers
Discipliners      Punishers     Confusers     Illustrators     Distributors
Distracters     Deceivers     Changers     Carriers     Manipulators
Stitchers     Connectors      Planters     Disguisers    Separators

You can probably come up with a few more.

Words are important. The way we use words is important. The unspoken words too, those non-verbal, physical expressions we use when speaking, are also important. Shrugs, frowns, smiles, leers, raised eyebrows, smirks, wrinkled noses, for instance, can add emotion, emphasize or negate what we are stating.

Why? Why are words so important?

Remember Genesis chapter 1? God created everything that exists and He used words to do it.

“And God commanded, Be, Light.” (Genesis 1:3, literal from Hebrew)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Words contain power, not just God’s words, even our own words. I think we need to be more thoughtful, more careful, the way we fling words around.

Why a baby?

christ_childWhy did the Creator of the universe choose to become a baby?

“… who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be a grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. ” (Phil. 2:6-7 NASB)

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. ” (Heb. 4:15)

Babies can’t sin, I’ve heard people say. Surely they aren’t tempted like adults are – after all, they don’t even reach the age of accountability until 12 or so!

Have they ever been around little kids? Toddler tantrums? Terrible twos? Self-willed children? Full of selfishness, greediness, me-me-me-itis? Did you ever tell a little child No, No, over, and over, and over?

As young as they are, and as trusting of mom and dad that they are, children are indeed tempted to disobey. Determined to get that thing, do that thing, apt to stomp their foot, yell and break into angry tears when told No for the umpteenth time.

While those early behaviors may not qualify to some folks as sinful, they still need correcting. Training. Discipline. Guiding. Teaching. Lovingly, lovingly, firmly and consistently.

Children can be led astray. They are susceptible to being misled, mistreated, deceived, cheated, and abused. Susceptible to being lied to, and also lying to others.

They need to know the savior, the rescuer, the teacher, the guide and constant companion from an early age.They need to be taught right from wrong and how to tell the difference. They need to learn the word of God, and know the Word of God.

Children need to know that Jesus went through childhood himself with all its scrapes and bumps, all its hazards, and he knows what that’s like. And so he came as a baby.

Jesus loves children. When the disciples wanted to shoo the kids away, Jesus rebuked the disciples, not the children.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ” (Matt. 18:3)  “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

Was it because the children were so innocent? So charming, so sweet, so trusting, so loving – so innocent? Hmmm. Maybe. Maybe there’s more to it.

Children are curious. They are always attracted to something “new and shiny,” something different and fun. They are full of energy, running, climbing, investigating everything. Wanting to do it themselves. “Me do it! Me do it!” Wanting to have it for themselves, no matter who it may belong to.

So, why did Jesus come to earth as a baby, and not a full grown man? In order to be tempted in all points as we are, he had to.

(Originally published on 12-22-15.)

 

A little learning is a dangerous thing!

What you don’t know will kill you.

    You know?
    What do you know?
    Who do you know?
    How do you know?

Everyday phrases like those seem to abound about knowing something. But what about NOT knowing something?

“If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.” (I Cor. 8:2 NASB)

Knowledge is defined as facts, truth, information, data; skills acquired through experience. Are those things important? Sure. More important than intuition? More essential than gut feelings? Yes and no.

When authentic (God-defined), knowledge has to be the foundation of our faith, set firmly in place before intuition or gut feelings can be depended on. The Holy Spirit can and does inform, lead and guide by what we might call intuition or gut feelings, but his advice relies completely on God’s word.

If you were to look over text books from a few hundred years ago, you’d see that some “facts” aren’t always factual, scientific “truth” isn’t always correct, and certain “data” sets have changed over the years.

Hecataeus of Miletus believed the Earth was flat and surrounded by water. He ridiculed the belief that water encircled the world, yet most classicists agree he still believed the Earth was flat because of his descriptions of literal “ends” or “edges” of the Earth. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth)

Even skills acquired through experience can be changed by further experience. Those funds of knowledge have been adjusted, adapted, even edited over the years.

But God’s word is unchanging. It’s actually alive, dependable, trustworthy and faithful. (I Peter 1:25; Hebrews 4:12)

God places a high value on a certain fund of knowledge: his word. Not just bits and pieces of his word, but the whole, the complete, taken in context, meditated on, digested, lived by. Everything we need to succeed as his children is contained in it. (II Peter 1:2-8)

There’s one problem; assumptions sometimes take the place of actual knowledge of the scriptures. Partial knowledge takes the place of whole understanding. Here’s one example:

I Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

That verse is often quoted. It sounds really deep, really holy, really true, doesn’t it?

However, verse 10 says, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Here’s another example:

John 8:32 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” That’s another frequently quoted verse, spoken by Christian and secular people alike. But it’s only the last half of a sentence.

The first half reads, “Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” Without the first half, the last half isn’t really true.

Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” And Isaiah 5:13 says, “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…”

That helps explain why many believers live beneath God’s best for them. Something critically important is missing in their life.

Missing with many believers is the knowledge and understanding of who we are in Christ, and the authority we have been given through the indwelling Holy Spirit. If you don’t know you have it, you certainly won’t exercise it.

Then too, believing the wrong thing, trusting on faulty or false knowledge will also lead to not exercising the authority and power God has delegated to us. (That’s especially true in our speech.)

Some critical truths for believers to learn, to know, and to act on:

1. Greater things than Jesus did will we do.
2. As he is in the world, so are we.
3. Prayer is not begging God to do something he has told US to do, he has told us plainly to do certain things. Prayer is finding out what God wants prayed and praying that: his will.
4. Words are destructive or creative, therefore speak creatively. Speak life: command, declare, decree what God wants in the circumstances.
5. If you keep saying what you’ve got, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.
6. You have an enemy stalking you, using stealth weapons. He disguises himself, of course.
7. Those include ignorance, doubt, unbelief, half-truths; believing lies about your identity, your ability, your assignment.

Scripture references:

1. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12 KJV)

2. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)

3 (a). “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:17)

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” (Col. 1:9)

3 (b). “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:8)

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:20)

“And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:20)

Note: The Lord can’t confirm something that isn’t preached…

4. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Prov. 18:21)

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:10)

5. See Number 4!

6. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (II Cor. 2:11)

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (II Cor. 11:14)

7. “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11:23)

God is building a wall

Late Friday night March 15, 2019 I was sleepily praying about many things including politics, the President’s 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 vineyards. Watch towers.

“Think more like this,” the Lord said, and showed me the city wall around Jerusalem, with tall, broad, high guard towers at intervals.

Slowly the image expanded again; the wall grew higher, and broader, and longer, encircling a much greater distance than any one city. It was still growing when our conversation ended, but my thoughts didn’t end there.

I couldn’t go to sleep. I praised and thanked God for his message, and prayed. As I did, the faces of many people and accounts of horrible situations ran through my mind like a newsreel. Occasionally I dozed off only to wake up a short time later, still praying. More faces. More needs. More lost souls!

When Saturday morning dawned I was still praying. Eventually I got up, fed my hungry kitties, made myself a cup of coffee, and meditated on what the Lord had said. I jotted down some notes.

I knew he didn’t mean a wall in the natural world somewhere.

But like a physical wall, I knew this spiritual wall is becoming more obvious as it goes up. It is indeed a divider, between good and evil. God is creating a wall and drawing a line, making people choose. By their words and actions, they are revealing their hearts publicly.

And I understood more clearly, too, the purpose of the call to pray that is spreading across the world today. The intercessions of God’s people are the building blocks for his wall, brick by spiritual brick.

I spent some time Saturday researching definitions and uses of the words wall, tower and fortress in the Bible. I discovered that God himself is our strong tower, our defense, our fortress.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and he is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10) I remember singing that verse many years ago, and now I find myself singing it again.

Over two years ago the Lord gave me specific words to pray, more like a command or decree: “Out and oust.”

That meant, reveal those (in government, or business, or media, or entertainment) who are opposed to God’s work, and remove them from any sphere of influence. Since then I have watched the answer to that prayer play out publicly, again and again.

God’s wall is going up, spiritually. He is drawing the line. And people are being forced to choose which side of God’s wall they want to be on, when the final bricks are laid.

Why a baby?

christ_childWhy did the Creator of the universe choose to become a baby?

“… who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be a grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. ” (Phil. 2:6-7 NASB)

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. ” (Heb. 4:15)

Babies can’t sin, I’ve heard people say. Surely they aren’t tempted like adults are – after all, they don’t even reach the age of accountability until 12 or so!

Have they ever been around little kids? Toddler tantrums? Terrible twos? Self-willed children? Full of selfishness, greediness, me-me-me-itis? Did you ever tell a little child No, No, over, and over, and over?

As young as they are, and as trusting of mom and dad that they are, children are indeed tempted to disobey. Determined to get that thing, do that thing, apt to stomp their foot, yell and break into angry tears when told No for the umpteenth time.

While those early behaviors may not qualify to some folks as sinful, they still need correcting. Training. Discipline. Guiding. Teaching. Lovingly, lovingly, firmly and consistently.

Children can be led astray. They are susceptible to being misled, mistreated, deceived, cheated, and abused. Susceptible to being lied to, and also lying to others.

They need to know the savior, the rescuer, the teacher, the guide and constant companion from an early age.They need to be taught right from wrong and how to tell the difference. They need to learn the word of God, and know the Word of God.

Children need to know that Jesus went through childhood himself with all its scrapes and bumps, all its hazards, and he knows what that’s like. And so he came as a baby.

Jesus loves children. When the disciples wanted to shoo the kids away, Jesus rebuked the disciples, not the children.

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ” (Matt. 18:3)  “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

Was it because the children were so innocent? So charming, so sweet, so trusting, so loving – so innocent? Hmmm. Maybe. Maybe there’s more to it.

Children are curious. They are always attracted to something “new and shiny,” something different and fun. They are full of energy, running, climbing, investigating everything. Wanting to do it themselves. “Me do it! Me do it!” Wanting to have it for themselves, no matter who it may belong to.

So, why did Jesus come to earth as a baby, and not a full grown man? In order to be tempted in all points as we are, he had to.

(Originally published on 12-22-15.)

 

Principles of Intercession: A new section added

Beginning in the Fall of 2016, I began teaching an adult Sunday School class, Principles of Intercessory Prayer (intercession).

I have begun uploading my notes from those classes to this blog.

If you decide to read or study using these notes, please take the time to read the many Bible passages that are mentioned. Topics covered in the study include:

  • Definitions of intercession and prayer; not the same thing
  • Why pray? Prayer is God’s idea, his command
  • Authority of the believer in prayer
  • Knowing and praying the will of God
  • God’s faith needed to pray in faith
  • Hindrances to answers: doubt, unbelief, sin
  • Power of your words, before, during and after prayer
  • Gifts and work of the Holy Spirit
  • Intercessors of the Bible
  • History of revival – Great Awakenings / Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

Over the last 40 plus years I have collected, read and studied many books on prayer and intercession. At some point I may try to list those as an addendum. Many of the thoughts, ideas and principles contained in my notes have been prayerfully assimilated over the years from quite a few of those authors. Thus they may seem familiar to you.

One book that I purchased in bulk and gave away to class members and others is “Authority in Prayer, Praying with Power and Purpose” by Dutch Sheets (published 2006). I highly recommend it to anyone serious about participating in intercessory prayer.