Led by the Spirit, how does that work?

Esther's Petition

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons – mature children – of God. (Romans 8:14)

What does that look like, really? someone asked me recently. How does it work?

Here’s an example... Last Wednesday evening I left a class at church to drive home. Nearing West Palmetto Street, I began “knowing that I knew what I knew” – I wasn’t supposed to go home yet.

But if not home, then where? I wondered. I didn’t know anyone I could just drop in on, without prior notice. I had eaten supper before going to class, but perhaps the McDonald’s at I-95? Or the Huddle House near there?

No, not there, I felt in my gut. So I turned left on Palmetto, waiting for some sort of direction from the Holy Spirit. I live just three minutes from church so it didn’t take long to reach…

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Weapons don’t wield themselves

GodsWeaponsMadeForYou“The worst thing the enemy can do to a believer in Jesus is to send him home to heaven early.”

Why doesn’t God stop him in his tracks?

It’s obvious that the enemy of our faith is at work in the world, sometimes very close to where we live. We wonder why he seems to be getting away with so many murderous acts, causing so much chaos, turmoil and tragedy.

Reminders of several basic facts:

  • War is being waged for control of this planet, control of the people who live on the planet, and eradication of the people inhabited by the Creator of the planet.
  • God gave control of this planet to human beings. Stopping the enemy is our job. We’re not doing a very good job of it, but it’s still our responsibility.
  • It’s not an even fight, the sides aren’t even close to equal – but you’d never know that from the way some folks act. Or don’t act.
  • We are the conquerors!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV, emphasis added.)

God’s goal:

  • “(God our Savior) who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
  • “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
  • God made a way for that to  happen: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The devil’s goal:

His goal is to destroy the things God loves above all – people, human beings created in His image. To do that, the enemy will try to:

  • Kill every human being he can, Christians or not
  • Prevent every human being he can from becoming Christians
  • Prevent every Christian he can from bringing other human beings to Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

Well, the enemy himself is not flesh and blood. He just stirs up flesh and blood to perform as his willing servants, or as his unwitting instruments.

“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.” (Eph. 6:12)

Stopping particular people the enemy is using will not stop him from picking other people to use. We should indeed do whatever we can to stop (or prevent) attacks by those people. But that’s certainly not all – we should also:

Learn how to fight the real enemy:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

Changing the mind and heart of the person is the only answer to shutting out the enemy from using that person to do evil. Praying, sharing God’s Word, God’s kind of love and life (living the gospel), displaying a God-filled life, are steps toward that change.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

You can shout and yell at people, but that won’t make them listen. You can shout and yell at the devil, but that won’t make him listen either.

Only taking authentic authority over him will work to stop his activity. And first you have to know he’s real, and that he’s really the one behind the evil actions.

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’

“Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19:11-16)

Weapons of war:

Acknowledge that YOU have been given spiritual weapons. Know what they are and learn how they work. Recognize who is actually behind the evil activity you see. Ask God what to do about it and listen for his reply. The Holy Spirit will tell you what to do. Some weapons at our disposal include:

  • Spiritual armor. (Eph. 6:10-18) This includes defensive and offensive equipment. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Withstand and resist are the same Greek word.
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12) We need supernatural information, wisdom on how to make use of it, faith, miracles, healing.
  • Discerning of spirits. (I Cor. 12) We especially need to know whether the wicked behavior is caused by human or evil spirits. Believers can exercise authority over evil ones, but human spirits require other approaches.
  • The Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12) Knowing it’s in the Bible isn’t going to help if you don’t know the scripture itself. Study. Learn. Get it in your memory banks.
  • Prayer and intercession. (I Tim. 2:1-2) Ask specific requests, based on knowledge of the scriptures and who you are in Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit as you ask.
  • Love and forgiveness are powerful weapons. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Remember, the kindness of God leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
  • Your own testimony. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11)
  • Spiritual authority. (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus told the disciples to do what he had been doing, and to teach others to do the same things. That includes you and me. He gave us this authority because he knew we were going to need it.

Matthew 18:20 says, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20) Note: signs won’t confirm God’s word that isn’t preached, taught, or spoken.

  • Stand firm in the faith. Having done all to stand, stand. Stand firm. (Eph. 6:13)
  • Pray in faith, speak in faith. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18)

If you look up those events in I Kings 17 and 18, you see that Elijah didn’t actually pray about the rain stopping and starting – he just spoke about the rain. Whatever praying he did, he did beforehand, surely to ask the Lord for instructions on what to do next.

  • Don’t waver back and forth in doubt, hoping for the best. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
  • Confidently expect results. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” (I John 5:14-15)

Weapons don’t wield themselves:

The problem is, too many Christians think all this is automatic –  that they don’t have to be on their guard, don’t have to put on any armor, don’t have to exercise authority, don’t have to resist the devil, don’t have to pray for their enemies, don’t have to share the gospel, in other words, they don’t have to wield any weapons.

It’s as if they think, Let the preacher do it, let the missionaries do it, I don’t have to do it myself.  They may pay a high price for that mistaken belief.

Also see: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/armored-front-and-back/

(Originally published in 2015 — still appropriate.)

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/