Watch your mouth

WatchYourMouth“Na-na na-na Na-Na!” one of us siblings sing-songed to the other, laughing, skipping, sticking out his tongue.

Get the message? I won and you didn’t! Or, I got it and you didn’t! Or, I’m better than you are!

If my mama heard that, “Watch your mouth!” would be coming next. She didn’t put up with that kind of rude, disrespectful noise out of our mouths.

“Now say you’re sorry,” she would insist.

“Sorry” would be mumbled, head down, eyes looking up. Really sorry? No, not really, just sorry we got caught.

What difference did it make, we’d be thinking, if what we said was rude or ugly? Hurt his feelings? Made him feel bad? So what, he’d get over it. Wouldn’t he?

“We were just having fun,” we’d excuse ourselves. “Didn’t mean anything.”

“I don’t care,” Mama would emphasize, “don’t let me hear that kind of stuff come out of your mouth again.” And we wouldn’t – let her hear it, that is.

As my brother and I grew up, we started minding our manners a bit better. We were more careful how we expressed our selfish, holier-than-thou attitudes.

Then, we were both born again. Our attitudes began to change from the inside out; we began to learn that words really can help or hurt, create or destroy. But we also found that it takes work. It takes practice.

Nowadays I read multiple blogs and news stories on a regular basis. Like many of my friends, I use social media to keep in touch. I attend events like church services and prayer meetings. And I’ve noticed a troubling truth:

We Christians need to watch our mouth.

Just like the world, believers are apt to say “My back is killing me.” Or hearing a joke, to say, “That just kills me.” A young dad might tell one of his own kids, “You can’t do anything right.” Or commiserate to a friend, “I just can’t seem to get ahead.”

Describing the same problem over and over, they would beg God to fix it, then say in frustration “I don’t think my prayers are getting through.”

It’s disturbing to see so many believers criticize and find fault with their own church leadership, even the body of Christ at large. How is that helpful? Creative? I am more determined than ever to speak life, speak God’s word, offer real-time solutions, and not keep rehashing the problems.

Even more disturbing is hearing a Christian friend pray in doubt wishing, not knowing for sure what he’s asking is God’s will. Not knowing how to actually find God’s will in the first place. Not knowing the power in everyday words, not knowing what words really are:

  • Information. Facts, truth, ideas, solutions, answers – all conveyed by words, thought, spoken, or written. As time goes by, knowledge about everything under the sun is increasing. Wisdom in how to use that information needs to increase, too.
  • Weapons. Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…” James 3 tells us that the tongue can be a bridle, a rudder, or a spark, and is humanly untameable. (The Holy Spirit can tame it, and he will if we let him.)
  • Containers of life. Jesus said in John 6:63, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” Jesus raised the dead to life again with his word.
  • Conveyors of authority.

Mark 1:22 – The religious leaders recognized that Jesus’s words contained God’s authority and were astonished.

Mark 1:25-27 – The unclean spirit (demon) recognized it also, obeyed him and came out of the man.

Matt. 12:13 – The sick man recognized it, obeyed Jesus and his paralyzed hand was healed.

Matt. 8:5-13 – The Centurion recognized it, acknowledged that Jesus only needed to speak the word of authority – Jesus spoke and the servant was healed.

Acts 3:1-8 – Peter spoke words of authority, the crippled man obeyed and was healed.

Acts 27 – Paul spoke words of authority to those onboard the troubled ship, they obeyed and their lives were saved.

Here’s the thing – We have been given the same authority Jesus has, as his co-workers filled with the Holy Spirit and assigned to be his mouthpiece. See Matthew 28:18-20.

Ephesians 4:29-30 admonishes us, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

Edifying? Building up, like constructing a house. Corrupt communication? Words that wreck faith, health, confidence – including your own. When you talk, the first person to hear what you say is you, yourself.

Matthew 12:34 says that what comes out of your mouth is what was in your heart. We all need to be sure that what is in our heart is life, not death. Filled with faith, not fear or doubt or confusion. It’s critically important how we talk (and what we write).

Life and faith don’t get into our hearts automatically, just because we become a Christian. We have to do something about that. “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2)

“Faith comes by hearing…” (Romans 10:17) Hearing what? Hearing God’s word. Read it to yourself, read it out loud, write it down, re-read it often. Get it into your spiritual memory banks, your mind, your heart.

II Peter 1:2-10 would be a good passage to learn by heart! So would Philippians 4:8-9.

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)

“… receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:21-22)

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

My prayer is that our words – our hearts, our prayers, our ordinary conversations – will be used by the Holy Spirit to help solve problems, not create more.

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Who killed… ?

SpeakTheWordOnlyThe idea that God uses Satan as his lap-dog – or hit man – is an old and persistent idea. But it ignores Jesus’s plain commands, his delegating his own creative authority to the disciples and his command for them to pass that message on. (Matthew 28:18-20)

That idea prevents people from praying in faith. More believers, faithful church-goers, are getting sick and staying sick. More will die. And more will leave their church, seeking a gospel of power that actually works. Do I have to become one of those? Some folks probably hope that I do, because what I say below doesn’t jive with their experience.

If you don’t know what God’s will is, you can’t pray specifically in accordance with I John 5:14-15.  Such as, healing is the children’s bread. The stripes on Jesus’ back were for our healing. Jehovah God named himself, I am the Lord that heals you. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy – Jesus came to give life – life to the full!

Jesus commanded the disciples to obey, and to teach us to obey (Matthew 28:18-20), whatever he had commanded them. He did it, and he showed them how to do it. And he commanded them – and us – to heal the sick.

When did he rescind that? Where did he add “except for John Doe, or Jane Doe” ? When did he add, “except in Florence, SC” ?

To obey His wishes, more is needed than just knowing what God’s will is – it requires speaking out, declaring, commanding God’s wishes just as Jesus would do.

Not wondering in doubt, not hoping in fear, because those prayers are double-minded (maybe he will, maybe he won’t) and they get nothing. They dishonor God.

Instead, it requires speaking in faith, knowing that the power that created the universe inhabits you. The Word of God inhabits you, your heart, your mind, and your mouth. Jesus needs your mouth, your tongue, to speak out his creative power today.

Sadly, Jesus himself couldn’t do miracles in his home town of Nazareth because of people’s unbelief. Today, ignorance or unbelief in what God’s wishes / will are, coupled with unbelief in the authority that was delegated from Him to us, will stop the power of God from accomplishing what He plainly desires –what he paid a very high price for.

How did Jesus combat that? By teaching, and teaching. And more teaching.

Many miracles are happening in the world today, people healed from deadly diseases, the dead raised, even missing eyes or limbs restored. Why? Because ignorance and/or unbelief aren’t putting up an automatic barricade.

Here’s a helpful teaching article from Andrew Wommack Ministries:

Our Authority Releases God’s Power

There are a number of keys to seeing the miraculous power of God manifest on a consistent basis. One of the least understood, and therefore seldom practiced, is the fact that healing is under the authority of the believer. God has already provided His healing power and placed it on the inside of every born-again believer. It is up to us to release it. Understanding and using our authority is the key to seeing miracles happen.

Look at how Peter and John ministered healing to the lame man in Acts 3:1-8:

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.”

Notice that Peter didn’t pray for this man. He also didn’t ask God to heal him. He said, “Such as I have give I thee.” This didn’t mean that Peter was the source of this healing. Notice what Peter said in Acts 3:12,

“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?”

It was God’s power that healed this man, but that power was under Peter’s authority. Peter went on to say in verse 16 that it was faith in the name of Jesus that had wrought this miracle. But Peter didn’t ask God to heal this man. He believed the Lord had already done His part and had placed that power within him. Now it was Peter’s responsibility to release that power, and that’s just what he did.

The Lord never told us to pray for the sick in the sense that we ask Him to heal them. He told us to heal the sick. There is a BIG difference between the two. It has to do with operating in the authority He has already given us. Look at these commands the Lord gave His disciples.

“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”(Luke 9:1-2)

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” (Matt. 10:1)

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:7-8)

Jesus told us to heal the sick not pray for the sick. What a radical statement! This will get you kicked out of most churches today, but these are the exact words of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is precisely why more people don’t see the miraculous results they’re praying for. They aren’t taking their authority and commanding God’s power; they’re passively asking God to do what He told them to do.

I know this goes contrary to popular Christian doctrine. We’re constantly told that it’s not us but God who is the Healer, and I agree with that totally. But, I also believe that God has placed His healing power under our authority, and it is up to us to release it. If we don’t take our authority and become commanders instead of beggars, God’s power will not be released. There needs to be a radical renewing of our thinking on this issue.

A good friend of mine, Dave Duell, held a meeting in Africa many years ago. It was one of his first times he saw miracles such as the blind and deaf healed. The people were so excited that they were mobbing him as he walked through the streets, trying to touch him so they could be healed. His first thought was influenced by this religious thinking I’m trying to change. He thought, They shouldn’t be looking to me. I’m not the healer; it is Jesus.

He was about to stop them when the Lord spoke to him. The Lord said, “Dave, do you remember when I rode that donkey into Jerusalem, and all the people put their garments and palm branches in the way and cried, ‘Hosanna’? What would you have thought if the donkey had spoken up and said, ‘It’s not me! It’s not me’? That would only have revealed the donkey’s arrogance. No one was praising the donkey; they were praising the One that was riding the donkey.”

When Dave recognized the people weren’t trying to touch him but the One he was carrying, he let them touch him all they wanted and people were healed. This is exactly what happened with the first-century disciples. Peter had people line the streets so that if only his shadow would touch them, they would be healed (Acts. 5:15).

Look at an amazing passage of Scripture in Isaiah 45:11.

“Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”

What a powerful scripture! What does the Lord mean when He tells us to command Him? Well, He certainly doesn’t mean we are mightier and more powerful than Him and can order Him around. He means, concerning the things He has already done, He wants us to take our authority and command His power.

It’s like electricity. The power company generates the power and delivers it to your house. It’s not your power, but it’s under your control. You don’t call the power company and ask them to turn the lights on. No! They won’t do that. They generate the power, but it’s under your command. You simply flip the switch on the wall and command the power to work.

Does this mean you are the power source? Certainly not! You can put a light bulb in your mouth, and it will never come on. You aren’t the power source, but you are the one in control of what that power does. You can plead with the power company all you want, but they won’t flip the switch for you. You have to assume your authority and acknowledge the power is under your command.

That’s what the Lord was speaking of. He has already healed everyone who will ever be healed. He did it two thousand years ago when He bore our stripes on His back. Then He deposited His resurrection power inside every believer (Eph. 1:19-20). He’s done His part, and now it is up to us to do ours.

We need to take the authority He has given us and become commanders instead of beggars. This is a powerful truth that works, and it’s the reason we see so many miraculous healings. We aren’t just praying for the sick; we are healing them in Jesus’ name.

http://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/authority_releases/
Also see:
Killing Sacred Cows
http://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/sacred_cows/
How to Receive a Miracle – Part 2
http://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/receive_miracle2/

Healing Testimony, 26 July, 2014

blood-lambWednesday evening July 23, 2014, Keith called to say several musicians would be away on Sunday, they would be shorthanded, and to ask if I could play the piano for Sunday’s worship service.

Sure, I agreed, and promised to be there for practice Sunday morning. No problem.

Saturday morning I awoke as usual to the playful antics of Friday and Baby (cats), insisting not too patiently that I arise and feed them. As usual I sat up a moment before sliding on bedroom slippers, and immediately was struck with back pain.

A deep throbbing ache in my right hip extended down my right leg. I could lie flat or stand okay, but sitting was a definite problem.

Since I had done nothing out of the ordinary physically the days preceding that – no heavy lifting, no twisting –  I suspected this was a “fit of pique,” designed by the enemy to keep me from playing the piano at church the next day. Naturally, playing the piano requires sitting on the piano bench.

Not that the church couldn’t worship perfectly fine without me. They could and would. But I had looked forward to joining the praise team in praise and worship. Hmmm. (I did wonder if the fact that I’d recently prayed for some other people with back pain had anything to do with it.)

Making my way to the kitchen to tend to kitty food and coffee I began praying about the situation, thanking God and praising Jesus the Healer. John 10:10, I reminded myself. I Peter 2:24, by the stripes of Jesus I am healed.

While standing at the kitchen counter I laid hands on every achy spot I could reach, taking authority in the name of Jesus over my own body and commanding spine and hips to be normal. I specifically mentioned spinal vertebrae, foramina, discs, muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels, demanding them to be completely healed, healthy, whole, strong and pain-free.

After breakfast, my Saturday housework plans underwent an amendment. No vacuuming, no dusting, no mopping. Instead, I put on an old DVD, lay flat on the living room sofa, and began a day of prayer and praise amid the antics of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, A&E’s 2001 television series.

Why the old familiar TV shows? Unlike watching the news, they required no mental attention, but they did distract my thoughts from the physical attention achy bones and muscles and nerves seemed to require.

They drowned out all the “you’re sick,” “you can’t do anything,” “you need a doctor,” “playing piano for church is out,” messages coming against my mind. I could more easily focus on praying in the spirit, praising and thanking the Lord for his word. For “sozo.” For healing.

Laying flat on the sofa with feet propped up and head on a cushion, all morning I prayed in the spirit, praised the Lord and recited healing scriptures while videos played in the background. I rebuked any enemy spirits that were “crunching, twisting or pounding” back muscles and nerves in my body. Occasionally I got up to refill my coffee cup. The kitties kept me company, probably puzzled at this change in routine.

Lunch came and went. More prayer in the spirit, more praise, more commands to places that hurt.

Then, mid-afternoon I switched gears. I began talking about the blood of Jesus to myself and to the enemy. About the cross, the nails, and the blood that flowed from Jesus’ back for my healing. I didn’t just mention “His stripes,” I discussed the result of those stripes.

Blood. Lots of blood, covering His head, arms, hands and feet — especially his back, hips, and legs. I began to describe the blood of Jesus.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11)

In an instant all the pain disappeared. Not gradually, not an improvement, there was suddenly no pain in my back, right hip and leg. The enemy simply couldn’t stand the blood of Jesus.

This was an important lesson to me. Prayer, praise, quoting scriptures, taking authority, laying hands on our own bodies, commanding and demanding health — they’re all important. I’m confident that eventually my body would respond.

But the most essential weapon in spiritual warfare is the blood of Jesus. Without His blood, there isn’t anything else.