Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘Conversation’

Transforming Reality

First Thessalonians 1 is so very rich in encouragement and demonstration of the process of walking in faith and strengthening our understanding and ability to overcome the tyranny of our senses. Every day we are in the business of translation. What our eyes see and what our ears hear is quite often contrary to what God’s Word says. What we sense with our physical being seems to be the reality of the moment. But what God expects of His children is for them to measure and compare what we are observing, or hearing, with what His Word says. (His expectation is also His blessing, for what we find in His Word is so far superior and beneficial to us than what we find in the world.) And what pleases our Father, and mightily benefits us, is our decision to exalt His Word over our present feelings, experiences, and observations. We translate the “reality” in front of us with the Word of God spoken in faith. If what we are seeing, hearing, or feeling does not conform to God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:5) – we speak to the mountain and the mountain must move (Mark 11:23-24). For God’s Word is our ultimate authority and reality.

God established all that we see through the spoken word. The Genesis 1 account and John 1 teach us that what God spoke became reality – and that spoken Word is Jesus (John 1:3). Made in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26), we are to be imitators of our Father in this (Ephesians 5:1). What we speak forth is always our faith, or lack of faith, talking. When we speak forth what we see or feel – for good or evil – we are either blessed or snared with the words of our mouths (Proverbs 6:2). God created this world through His spoken Word. He established its parameters, its functioning principles, and the manner in which all things work together. Instead of speaking forth what we see, when we, in faith, speak forth God’s Word, aligning our energy, our focus, and our confession with His ways of doing and being right, we set in motion the power and will of God on our behalf. We restructure our reality with the Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 – Our preaching of the Gospel came not only in word but also in {its own inherent} power and in the Holy Spirit and with great conviction and absolute certainty {on our part}.

Faith in God’s Word (Jesus), in God’s promises to us {which are all “Yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)}, is powerfully transformative for it “receives and carries away and enjoys to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36). When founded on “great conviction and absolute certainty” God says it will produce. God helps us in our faith walk by assuring us throughout Scripture that His Word has “its own inherent power“.

In Isaiah 61:11 He speaks of the “self-fulfilling power of His Word“. In Isaiah 55:11 He says:

So shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth: It shall not return to Me void {without producing any effect, useless}, but It shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent It.

In Hebrews 4:12, He tells us that His Word is “alive and full of power {making It active, operative, energizing, and effective“.

Finally, returning to 1 Thessalonians, let all of the work that we do, and the words that we speak, be “energized by faith” (Verse3). Let us welcome the message of the Word with joy (Verse 6). Be excited and anticipatory for the manifestation of God’s Word – all of His promises – in your life, for this is such a strong indicator of faith in our God. Lean “your whole personality on Him, in complete trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness.” (Verse 5) Spend much time in the Presence of your Father. Enjoy His Presence for He truly enjoys yours! Allow the sense of peace and well-being in His Presence to show you how cherished you are by your Abba. And hold as absolute Truth and reality the wonderful message of Verse 10:

…Jesus…draws us to Himself {investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah.}

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The Greatest Conversation

I have often heard that the purposeful reading of classical literature can be referred to as taking part in “The Great Conversation”.   Ideas and philosophies expressed through the written word over the centuries evolve and blend; food for thought and deep pondering are offered to us by authors reflecting the issues and societal thinking of their own period of history.  Those who thoughtfully and purposefully enter into this “Great Conversation” recognize that expressed wisdom through the written word is not only relegated to today’s writers.

That being the case, it would also be true that Christian writers who have penned works throughout the centuries are taking part in “The Greatest Conversation”!  We have so many writers today who bless and inform our faith walk as they obediently write, led by the teaching of the Holy Spirit: John and Lisa Bevere, Gloria and Kenneth Copeland, Lynne Hammond, Joyce Meyers, Rick Renner, to name but a few.   (See Recommended Reading List) But the light of God’s wisdom and the leading of the Holy Spirit to write is evident throughout the Church Age.  Those who have come before, those who have, in obedience, written down the counsel of the Lord have much to teach us if we will willingly enter in to this greatest of all conversations – C.S. Lewis, William Wilberforce, Lillian Yeomans, Hannah Whitall Smith, F.F. Bosworth and so many others have obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit to bless the Body of Christ with their writings.  I have discovered such wealth here.  Whether a single sentence or an extended treatise, they offer food for my spirit – words that grow me in my faith.

William Wilberforce in Real Christianity writes powerfully of lukewarm faith, Rev. Will Harney encourages the Body of Christ toward unshakeable faith and how to achieve it in  Praying Clear Through, and in Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis offers a clear and concise proof for the Christian faith.  Lewis wrote in the 1940’s, Harney in 1915 and Wilberforce in 1797.  Hannah Whitall Smith  encourages us to walk daily in the joy of the Lord in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life published in 1875.  Lillian Yeoman’s and F.F. Bosworth , both now home with the Lord, give testimony and speak so powerfully of the Gospel concerning healing.

Each of these writers “sought acceptable words, even to write down rightly words of truth or correct sentiment” (Ecclesiastes 12:10).  Their works were ” written to admonish us and fit us for right action by good instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11).  These are our brothers and sisters in Christ whose words still instruct us.  And time is of no relevance as they hold conversation with us if we will seek out their works and honor them with our attention.

The Words We Speak

Words can build up or tear down.  They can pour out kindness, encouragement and edifying thoughts, or they can diminish, cripple and wound.  Your words clearly define your heart condition.  They are tools for good or weapons for evil.  In your own life they can defeat you or bring about success.  They are powerful little packages that carry within their use a strong indicator of their origin, their birthplace.  Do they emanate from a deep well of compassion and love or from a brackish pool of self-indulgence and evil intent?  Words are like seeds whose potential harvest in a life can be deadly or life-giving.  Given their extraordinary influence, we need to give careful attention to the manner in which we affect our lives and the lives around us with the words we choose to speak.

Matthew 12:36-37 – But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, non-working) word they speak.  For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.

Submitted to God, immersed in His Word, obedient to the counsel and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and walking out in the authority that our Father says is ours (Hebrews 2:8) through faith in Jesus, we are to take and exert dominion in our lives through our spoken word.  Jesus is our example in this:

Whatever I speak I’m saying exactly what My Father has told Me to say.  (John 12:50)

Speaking God’s Word into any situation – holding out to the world the Word of Life (Philippians 2:16) is to bring the dead to life! (John 5:24) This is not overstatement or outragious hyperbole – it is God’s righteous analysis of the situation and the need.  Our divinely appointed work, our ministry of reconciliation, is to speak the life-giving, alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), Word of God into the lives of those He sends across our path.

Hebrews 1:4 speaks of the difference between Abel’s acceptable and Cain’s unacceptable sacrifice.  Of Abel’s actions we read:

And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking.

Long after an encounter, our words spoken in love will still be speaking into a life! We are co-creators with our Father in this. At the very beginning of this new year, let’s recognize the power of our words and bless the world with the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26) and the life changing power of God’s Word.

 

 

 

Correctly Introduce Him to the World – Part Three

2 Timothy 2:24-26 – And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending).  Instead, he must be kindly to everyone and mild-tempered [preserving the bond of peace]; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong.  He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], and that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him [henceforth to do His [God’s] will.   [Emphasis mine]

There is no wiggle room here.  Either you accept the Truth of God’s Word and the Lordship of Jesus or you are snared and held in captivity by the devil.  That absolutism must inform our witness for Heaven.  It is not optional, a personal preference, or a chosen value package.  This is how God has established this world; benefits and blessings when you choose life in Him, curses and failure when you don’t (Deuteronomy 28).

But here in 2 Timothy there is a fine-tuning of the manner in which we present this Truth to the world.  Because God’s Truth is absolute, because His Word is the only standard for all life, because there is no “Plan B”, our presentation of the Gospel, the manner in which we introduce Him to the world, could be perceived and received as overbearing or contentious.  Yet God’s instructions concerning the manner in which He wants to be represented are clearly outlined.  He expects kindness, a mild-tempered, peaceful approach to conversation, and courtesy and gentleness in our interactions with those still lost in the muddle of unbelief.  All of these attributes are under girded by absolute confidence in God, reliance on Holy Spirit guidance, and God’s love extended through us to our listener.  For it truly is by our love, not by exacting certitude or righteous proclamations, that they will be persuaded.

Introduce Him daily to the world correctly – according to His instructions.  Let your skilled and suitable teaching (inspired by God’s Spirit and informed by your study of the Word) demolish strongholds, correctly dismantle relativism, and confidently establish the Truth that there is only one Way to life in God – through His Son.

Life-Giving Words That Change Hearts

Words are powerful things!  Words either correctly or incorrectly represent our Lord.  I speak here not only of Scripture but of “everyday” words and conversations.  As ambassadors for the kingdom we carry a weighty responsibility. As His daughters we  need to recognize our authority and our assignment – God making His appeal to the world through us (2 Corinthians 5:20).  “We speak not to please men but to please God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

Words are so often carelessly flung about.  We do not, most of us, take some thoughtful time to realize how powerful our words are.  We are admonished in James 1:19 to be quick to hear and slow to speak.  It is a learned realization.  From our earliest years, as we utter our first syllables, and begin the process of verbal communication, we are not informed of the innate power within the spoken word.  With proper training we understand that some words and phrases are unacceptable in polite company, but that this God-given gift of language is a creative force – for benefit and blessing or detriment and death – we received no instruction in that!

The Word instructs us in this, though.  Measure your words carefully, we are told (James 1:19).  Allow the Spirit of God to speak for and through you (Matthew 10:20).  Don’t be careless in your conversation, but let it be characterized by lovingly expressed truth (Ephesians 4:15), showing unqualified courtesy toward everyone (Titus 3:2).

Language is a tool useful for sending out life-giving words to change hearts.   (They can also be harmful and ungodly, adversely affecting and shaping lives.)  Thank God for His Holy Spirit Who leads us always into speaking and thinking righteously.  Allow Him to teach you along these lines.  Allow Him to restructure your assumptions about your words, for He will lead you according to the Word of God.  And then you will truly step into your God-given assignment of ambassador, correctly reflecting your Abba.

Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the Name of the Master. (Colossians 3:17 – Message Bible)

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Matthew 12:34-37             Ephesians 4:15              1 Thessalonians 2:3-7

James 1:19

Avoiding Spiritual Deafness – Part One

In his book Following God’s Plan For Your Life, Kenneth Hagin writes:

“Spiritual things are just as real as material things.  In fact, the spiritual realm is even more real than the natural realm because God, Who is Spirit, created the material, natural realm.  So if you are successfully going to follow God’s plan for your life, you need to become more Spirit-conscious than you are mind-conscious or body-conscious.

He goes on to say that when you are more “sense-conscious and body-ruled” you “often become spiritually deaf”.  We need to develop our comfort level with spiritual ears.

1 Peter 4:7- …keep sound minded and self-restrained and alert therefore for [the practice of] prayer.

Each of us has the responsibility to understand and diligently continue to seek God’s direction for our lives.  His desire is to have a personal relationship with you.

One of the things that my daughter and I often express when we are sharing spiritual things and what we feel the Holy Spirit has been speaking to us is “I’m not sure if this was me or the Holy Spirit”.  I am willing to bet that most of you with even years of experience in the Lord have wondered that same thing.  “Is this me or You, Holy Spirit?”  Because the leading of the Holy One within does not come with trumpets blaring and a loud, “Thus sayeth the Lord”!   It is a quiet and gentle leading.  What He says always lines up with the Word.

He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. (John 16:14)

Jesus tells us that we will recognize and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit  (John 10:27).  That becomes our daily practice, our daily calling – recognizing the voice and leading of the Holy Spirit.   In The Master is Calling, Lynne Hammond offers good counsel on how to learn to discern between Holy Spirit prompting and personal desires:

“I will note, however, that I spent a great deal of time reading and meditating on the Word of God.  And the more I did that, the more easily I could tell when some prompting or thought was not from God.  I could discern the difference between my mind and my heart because the Word was helping me to divide the two (Hebrews 4:12).

Developing spiritual ears involves the practice of a lifetime.  Some have occasionally heard an audible voice, but in my experience those instances are few and far between.  It is cultivated over quiet time spent in His Presence.  Tuning out the world and tuning into Heaven will not only become easier, it will become a desired experience.  Set aside time today to sit and listen with thanksgiving and expectation. He will fulfill His ministry in your life.  It is not only His assignment, it is His great desire.  You are loved by God.  You are loved by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Isaiah 55:9           1 Peter 4:7

Watching in the Spirit – Part Two

“Watching is the very first step to Spirit-led prayer.  It’s praying to pray.  It is tuning into God and purposefully searching out the promptings of the Spirit.  It is looking for His leadings so you can follow them and pray about things of which you have no natural knowledge.”  (Cameneti/Hammond – Secrets to Powerful  Prayer)

Isaiah 62:6 I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises].  Keep not silence.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit to God’s children includes announcing and declaring to us things that are to come (John 16:13).   Watching in the Spirit, with the Spirit, establishes the partnership that God intended.

“One reason the Holy Spirit is so eager to help us watch is because that’s what He is doing.  He is constantly watching over the world longing to move on it in power, and carry out the will of God. But He cannot do that apart from the prayers of the body of Christ.”  (Cameneti/Hammond) [Emphasis mine]

They are quite right in saying that while the job of the Holy Spirit is to carry out the will of God, He cannot without the cooperation and the prayers of believers.

Notice in John 16:14 -15, we are told that the Holy Spirit “will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.” It is then our job to pray out (“to keep not silence” to “put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises]”).  The authority and the responsibility are now ours.

Because this is His ministry, His purpose, when we determine to “watch and pray” with Him (Mark 13:33) He will communicate to us what it is we need know, what situation we need to speak God’s Word into (even situations we know nothing about!)

It is foolish and even harmful to ignore the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It is short-sighted and self-defeating to ignore the practice of watching in the Spirit.  Jesus told us that it was for our benefit that the Holy Spirit was sent. (“It is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous” – John 16:7).  His guidance ushers in Heaven’s purposes for you, and your watchfulness establishes God’s purposes on the earth.

Now that you have God’s Word on the subject, step into the reality of His Presence in your life as a born-again believer.  Watch with Him.  In great expectation allow Him to fulfill His ministry in your life.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Isaiah 62:6               John 16:7-15

Watch Your Words

When I was in the classroom, many times students would come to me for prayer for particular symptoms.  “Would you pray for my headache,” they might say.  My response was always, “If you have already claimed it as yours, there is not much I can do about it!”  Usually I got puzzled looks in response.  And, of course we prayed, but not until I expounded a bit on my first statement.  Sickness is not ours.  Jesus has redeemed us from that curse.  Every sickness and every disease is under the curse of the law. (Deuteronomy 28) and Jesus has redeemed us from that curse by being made a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13So to call a sickness or symptoms yours is to deny the truth of Scripture.  This is not “picking at straws” or “majoring on minors”. It is at the very heart of the matter.  Your words demonstrate where you are in your faith walk and in your understanding of what Scripture teaches us of who we are in Christ.  God has gone to such great lengths to bless us, and yet with our mouths we deny the blessings.

What a world of difference between “Pray for my headache” and “There is the symptom of a headache trying to sit on my body.  Please agree with me in prayer.”  What a demonstration of faith and understanding is “These symptoms of a cold are not mine and they cannot stay” rather than, “I think I’m getting a cold”. What a decreer of God’s blessings is, “Diabetes runs in my family but that curse will not come near me” rather than “I’m bound to end up with diabetes since it is so prevalent in my family.” By your words you either receive the blessing or usher in the curse.  When you believe God’s Word to be true in the area of the health of your body that belief informs the words you use.  Out of your heart your mouth speaks.

There are so many phrases that we have heard and have used that we must censor.  “My feet are killing me”, “I always get the flu”, “I’m dying to tell you”, “This disease runs in my family”, “I’m sick and tired”, “I’ll never get over this”.  As you begin to speak the life-giving Word of God over your days (and the days of your children) you will see the reward of the diligently faithful!  Don’t own sickness.  It doesn’t belong to you.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Deuteronomy 28: 1-14; 58-61             Galatians 3:13

God’s Alive and Active Word

I heard the story of a young woman taking part in street ministry.  She was standing on a street corner passing out Gospel tracts.  A gentleman walked past, and as she attempted to pass him the pamphlet, he scornfully mocked her.

“Are you trying to tell me that only you have the right answer,’ he sneered.

“Sir,” she said, “I only know that For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to the end that all who believed in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life.”

“What about all the other people who believe differently?  What happens to them?  They perish? What kind of a God is that?”

“Sir,” she repeated, “I only know that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to the end that all who believed in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.”

“You have no proof of any of this.  You’re just believing in and passing on myths and fairytales.”

“Sir, I only can tell you that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to the end that all who believed in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.”

As she was repeating this a third time the man walked away in obvious disgust, and the young woman felt a bit flustered and embarrassed that in the face of all of his questioning she could only repeat John 3:16 over and over again.

The next day she resumed her street ministry at the same location.  The same gentleman came hurrying up to her with a very troubled look on his face saying, “Miss, please tell me how I get this everlasting life. I could get no sleep because your words have been playing over and over in my head since I left you yesterday.”

I often pray that the Lord will bring people (harvesters) across the path of those I am interceding for (those who need to know Him better) to speak words into their hearts that Heaven knows they need to hear.  Certainly, the gentleman’s heart in this story was pierced with the Truth, and the alive, active power of God’s Word, despite the young woman’s concern that she was repeating the same Scripture verse over and over again.

The Holy Spirit knew that was what he needed to hear – and he was gloriously born again. (She may even have been a very new Christian who did not know much more about Scripture than John 3:16, but the Holy Spirit utilized that knowing to touch that man’s life for eternity.)

You can offer kind words, understanding words, or exhorting words.  But the most powerful, life-changing words that you can offer anyone, in any situation, is God’s Word.  Get it into your heart.  Memorize and meditate upon the Word of God.  And then, at the propitious moment, the Holy Spirit will lead you to draw upon that repository in your spirit and speak forth God’s Word to bless, feed, and guide many.

For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ the Messiah and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Psalm 45:1             Luke 10:2             John 3:16

1 Corinthians 2:2

The Process of Heart Change – Part Two

“Be ye therefore perfect(Matthew 5:48) seems an impossible exhortation, but it means, simply, strive for excellence.  When you daily see yourself accepting nothing less than God’s standards – how will you feel about yourself?  And how will you extend that feeling out to the world -at-large?

I confess that for years I allowed well-established, poor habit patterns to define my days.  Projects remained half finished, well-intentioned lists of things to accomplish were never fully completed, and television viewing stole many hours which could have been put to more productive use.  Each of you will have your own “list of regrets”.  I journaled about the change I wanted to see, asked the Lord for His help in this, and years went by with the same well-intentioned focus on the problem, but with no resulting consistently altered life, no heart change, no obvious overcoming.

Then, one morning, God spoke to me concerning this lengthy period of stagnation:

“Be purposeful!  Don’t just berate.  Berating is not fixing.  If you point a finger at something – at an area of lack in your life – and complain that it is not changing while recognizing its negative impact, that is missing the mark.  You are “righteously” attacking the problem, but not changing.  You are addressing the issue, but not altering it.  To change, truly attend to and alter, requires heart change, not just a recognition of the problem.  Set off on a different path today – a path of walking in the answer not just identifying the problem.  Be your best self in Jesus.  Don’t just wish it, don’t just journal it, don’t make lists about it – DO IT!”

What areas undermine your process of heart change?  Certain floundering relationships, eating habits, viewing habits, the application of heavenly principles to your finances, a book you are meant to write, a Bible study you are meant to start, a cleaner home…. What area in your life is hiding from the excellence of Heaven?

Paul speaks of this in Romans 7   “I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prisonMy decisions such as they are, don’t result in actions” (Verses 14 and 19 – Message Bible).

Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in your life that need your attention and resolute action.  You no doubt have discerned His leading in this area already.  His counsel and His direction, when taken seriously and obeyed, cause you to be the very best and most beautiful you that you can be in Christ Jesus.

What will you alter today?  What will you discard as contrary to God’s purpose and vision for your life?  Get serious with your Heavenly Father about your future days.  He plants the dream and enables you with His grace.  You accept the vision and walk purposefully toward it.  Create with your Father!

Scriptures associated with today’s entry:

Matthew 5:48        Ephesians 4:13