28 June 2015

Once.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. . . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  ~John 16:23-24
On Friday, God blessed me to pray for someone I love dearly. He gave me words to speak, words filled with life and the hope that is in Jesus, the very life and hope that is one of the gifts that come with the baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit. So beautiful. Later that day, as I pondered on prayer, I wondered about something I have wondered many times before: just how many times do I need to pray for something, before the prayer "works"? Before God hears and answers? Days? Weeks? Or several times a day for longer, if I want something really really really badly?

This is something I've wrestled with for a long time. I'm a pretty random person, easily distracted . . . but also deeply sincere. I always want to pray for others, but I felt a burden to pray repeatedly, over time, in order for it to be any good . . . and yet I knew myself, and would not offer to pray for people because I knew it would be a one-time thing, and I didn't want to let them down with my meager attempt to "pray for them", because I thought what I was able to do wouldn't work. I couldn't remember everyone that I wanted to pray for, and I couldn't spend hours each day making sure I prayed for all of them with the depth of fervor that I thought I had to offer as a sacrifice for the prayers to be heard and answered.

And Friday, as I pondered on this, really asking God just how many times I needed to pray before it "would work", I heard the answer so clearly:
"Once."
And it wasn't just a "once, with all the energy of your soul" kind of once. It was a "Once, when I tell you to, and the way I give you to pray."

That answer has been such a relief, not just because it lifted a burden that I floundered under (feeling like my prayers were making a difference because I wasn't consistent for everyone I wanted to pray for), but because it built my faith up into something even stronger. I can trust my God to guide my prayers, and I can stand confident upon His rhema (spiritual word to me) and logos (written scripture) as I pray for things. Believers are commanded in scripture to heal the sick, to pray for one another, to bless, and so much more. God wills GOOD for His children. I have permission from the Godhead to pray for SO many wonderful things, in Jesus' name. He hears, and WILL answer. Without me doing time on my knees for the sake of pleasing Him enough to grant my petition. He wants me to pray--absolutely! And He also wants me to be up and about, blessing and loving and working and playing, and praying all the while.

I've been moved upon to pray for some things many times over the last couple of years, out of the love and desires of my heart that the Lord has planted there. And I'll keep on doing that. I'm just thankful that I don't have to pray for everything and everyone in that same way.

These passages now carry even more meaning:
"And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." ~Matt 21:22
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." ~John 15:16
"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." ~John 15:7
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. ~Luke 11:9  
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." ~ John 5:14
Lord, I'm so glad you're not One who insists on exacting a price from Your own who petition You, before you grant their requests. When I pray in faith (in right alignment with Your word, Your character and Your will), I fully trust You will answer me with bread, not stones. With good things. You know how to give good things to those who ask. God, I declare Your name as the highest in the heavens, I declare Your holiness, Your love, Your perfect peace, and invite all who search to come and taste the fruit of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, for You are He: the Living God. And I will praise You, pray to You, and rejoice in You always. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. ~Jeremiah 15:16

I choose growth.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. (Romans 12:2 AMP)

If we want to know God's will, if we want to be remade into His image, we must be teachable, and we must let Him be our teacher.

There is no such thing as spiritual homeostasis. We are either increasing in light and knowledge, or we are decreasing in them. Either growing into the new life Jesus brings us, or withering into our own mortal stature and wisdom. 

I choose His teaching, His tutelage, His blessing, His image. 

Father God, I love You. Jesus, I love You. I don't know how I ever could have made it the last couple of years without Your comfort, Your presence, Your healing, Your power, Your teaching, Your leading, Your miracles. Thank You for showing me who You truly ARE. That is a treasure worth any price. Keep teaching me, God. I will learn. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

24 June 2015

True Friendship

This was written by a friend of mine, to a friend of his . . . and I cannot help but shout from the mountaintops a truth so beautiful as this.
"I will never fear to read what you have to say. Even if I disagree with it. Your friendship means more to me than that, and I can bear the burden of learning to comprehend you." -- Rocky

23 June 2015

The real enemy is not flesh and blood.

"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." ~Ephesians 6:12
This passage has been brought to my mind several times a day for about a week now. Over and over, the Lord has reminded me that when there's a conflict or disagreement, it's not a "me vs. them" scenario. It's an "us vs. the enemy of our souls, who is out to destroy the children of God" scenario.

When I have a disagreement with someone, remembering this verse resets my paradigm, robs emotion of its power, and sets me in alignment again with Jesus' purposes and desires: to see His children united in love, which love is God, is Him. I still have a long way to go in practicing remembering this every single time (especially at home, where old habits are dying hard, hard deaths), but this treasure of knowledge is one I cherish, because when I do remember it, it changes EVERYTHING.

(I love, too, that the address is 6:12, which symbolizes to me the true opposition: the enemy's imperfection setting itself against the authority and government of God.)

Father God, thank You so much for speaking into my heart this week and teaching me this verse. And thank you that the address holds meaning for me, so I can remember it easily! Thank You for how You guide me, teach me, and even offer tests for me in order to learn . . . tests that are instructive, constructive, and NOT destructive. Thank You for showing me the false dichotomies of the enemy, so I can step back into the true choice that lies before me, and for the way You show me where You long for me to tread. Lord Jesus, fill me with Your presence, teach me more of Your ways, and show me more of Who you Are, of Your glory. Teach me to receive Your presence and comfort continually, and not shut You out because I confine Your ability to comfort within my own expectations. Holy Spirit, come and fill me, fill my home, fill my family, fill my life, touch others through me in every way you can, and keep on revealing God more and more to me. God, I praise You, for You are good! I thank You, for You are generous! And I love You, because You first loved me and still do . . . when I am able to offer You nothing that could ever merit what You so freely give. In Jesus' glorious name, amen!!!

13 June 2015

Bless the, Lord, for He Is Gentle

"One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of our own individual temperament and natural desires. Yet there is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself (see Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you--and His experiments always succeed." --Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest.
But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. (1 John 2:5 CEB)
Confession: These two were on my FB timeline this morning, as I scrolled through during that first hour of the morning, the hour when Jesus has told me is my best (and often only) chance to really get into the Word. {cringe}

And yet, still, my God is gentle. He entreats. He continues to whisper to me the things He has in store, and continues to make plain the calling He has planted in my heart. He sees my tendency, still extant, to want to self-flagellate when I fall short, but He literally reaches out, and with a gentle word stays my hand and encourages me onward. Lord God, thank You for being Who You Are. For not being a retributive and vengeful God in my life, but the Good Shepherd, the Lover of my soul, and One I can trust more than anything else, ever. Even as I have little people pulling on me as I try to type this, and larger people asking me questions and calling me away from this, and I try to just get these last few words out, I thank You for another day, and for the fact that, in this case and this calling, the hour of grace is not yet past.

10 June 2015

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:1,6 ESV)
When I heard this psalm shared recently, that last verse really stuck out to me . . . "everything that has breath". And I heard "ruach". The last verse then repeated in my heart:
"Let everything filled with the Holy Spirit praise the Lord!"
All Creation is filled with the Spirit of God . . . as Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 19:40, if He shushed the people's praise, the very rocks would cry out to Him.

And I love that praise, in this psalm, is an injunction in command form: "Praise the Lord!"

Lord God of Heaven, You are the joy of my life, and You radiate all around me, both inward and outward, permeating all things with Your Goodness, Mercy and Grace. Thank You, so much! And thank You for the ease of finding You in Your Word. When I start to get overwhelmed with the idea of the sheer VOLUME of scripture before me, not sure where to start, I love that I can remember I just have to open the book, and I will find YOU. I love that it truly IS my joy to say "Your will, Your way", and I pray all of Your children can catch that vision, can feel the joy of Your presence, learn to rest in Your kindness, and be drawn inexorably into Your embrace where they will find their deepest needs filled, their captivity broken forever, and their hearts given rest, in the beautiful name of Jesus, Who I will praise all my days, amen.