It is sobering to read in Matthew 13:58:

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. – Mt 13:58 NIV

Jesus was in his hometown and instead of believing in His power to do the miraculous, the people focused on their own boxes of logic and experiences of watching Jesus grow up and knowing his family. Basically, they thought, “Who does he think he is?”

Having the vantage point of 2,000 years later after Jesus walked on the earth gives us a different perspective. Yet, do we still struggle with believing Jesus to carry out the promises He has spoken over our lives?

Does our unbelief or lack of faith have an effect on God carrying out his promises in our lives?

Our belief and willingness to walk by faith precedes Father’s promises, work and words proceeding in our lives to the fullest extent.

  • Precede — to go or come before
  • Proceed — to carry on or continue any action or process

Believing God for His promises to play out in our life is often one of crying out like the father whose son had been possessed by an evil spirit since childhood.

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!'” – Mark 9:24

In waiting on His promises to play out in our lives, Jesus often reaffirms our hearts like He did for Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, whose daughter was dying, “But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.'” – Mark 5:36

As I’ve written before in Unopened, Father’s gifts are often:

  • Seemingly unlikely
  • Extrodinarily unrealistic
  • Randomly untimely
  • Massively inconvenient
  • Crazy leaps of faith
  • Highly illogical
  • Unexpected blessings
  • Unimaginable opportunities

Yet in these, seemingly impossible realities, Jesus challenges us to:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Mt 7:7-11

Are you believing and receiving by faith the promises God’s spoken over your life? Don’t leave them unopened because they don’t fit into your box of logic and possibility.

“And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.'” – Mk 9:23

May we be like Abraham in believing God for a son . . . a promise which took 25 years to come to fruition:

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” – Rm 4:20-21

For More: Three Reasons to Pray for a Robust Faith by Will Davis Jr.

 

Woman Praising

Thank you Jesus for Grace and Wonder

I will be glad and rejoice in Your love,
for You saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place. – Psalm 31:7-8 NIV

Jesus, we praise you for Your grace and the wonder You place within our souls
when all is still dark and the glimmers of light have yet to shine

Lord, we thank you for the good things that You have planned
Even before we see them and receive them

Lover of our Souls, we know Your love is true
Even when the tears flow steadily
And our hearts are wounded and empty

Faithful Father, Friend, and Guide
You will never leave us or forsake us
It is under Your wings we hide

Loving Shepherd thank you that You hear every cry
You bind up all our wounds
You carry us close to Your heart

Almighty Healer, we thank you that You are working in ways we don’t even see
But we know that in that day we will say,
“Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9 NIV)

So as we climb towards the spacious place You have made for us
Even as we walk through this space of suffering and trial
We will sing praises even as it is still dark
For we know that You have power to do what you have promised in our lives.

Additional verses used: Isa 50:10, Jer 29:11, 1 Jo 4:18, Heb 13:5, Psa 34:18, Rom 4:17, 20-21

For more: Download a free copy of His Comfort poems

Washington Plain

Does monotonous, menial, or mediocre seem to describe the current moments of your life?

It’s been a long time since you’ve been on the mountaintop. Your life seems to stretch before you like a flat, dry plain. Have you asked God what’s going on and why He’s had you here for so long?

Have you ever pondered why we don’t find the words “monotonous, menial, mediocre” in the Bible?

Zechariah gives us insight to God’s view of such things:

“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” — Zechariah 4:10 NIV

Small things . . . not monotonous, menial, or mediocre. God says not to despise the day of small things.

Why?

In the kingdom of God, greatness is molded and shaped in tasks such as these.

So if you’re wondering what’s going on and why God’s taking so long to answer your prayer, to move you on, to bring the promise you know He has told you to wait on . . . persevere.

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” — Matthew 25:21 ESV

God is the waster of nothing and no thing. 

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God–you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration–what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. — Psalm 139:16 MSG

Thank you God for the day of small things. Thank you for preparing every day of my life before I was even born. Empower me to be faithful over little. Thank you that You are the waster of nothing and no thing.

For more: Greater: Dream Bigger. Start Smaller. Ignite God’s Vision for Your Life. by Steven Furtick

Drawing Circles

Are you ready for an invigorating faith journey?

Mark Batterson invites you into that very thing in his book, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.

In doing this challenge, I found encouragement, fresh perspective, and grew in my passion to continue persisting through prayer. It was also invigorating to read others’ accounts of how God has worked mightily as they have faithfully circled people, situations, and impossible realities through specific, concentrated, and persistent prayer.

It’s also exciting to read the biblical principles set forth in Draw the Circle and see them played out in the movie, War Room.

We live at a time in history where it is so vital that we as believers are a part of the war room of prayer God has called each of us to.

Ephesians 6:12-13 says:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [ESV]

Are you faithfully circling your family, friends, situations, challenges, community, our nation and world in the war room of prayer?

May we be found faithful.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. — Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

 

butterflyIn 2 Corinthians 5:17, we read:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)

At the moment we received Christ, we were instantaneously transformed into a new creation. What an awesome reality!

In nature, we watch the miraculous transformation of caterpillars into butterflies.

Yet, the Christian journey is not a single moment of transformation at the moment of salvation. Rather, Jesus invites us again and again to re-enter the cocoon of His molding, reshaping, and reconfiguring of our lives and hearts to free us to become more and more like Him. (Col 3:9-11)

Jesus is continuously freeing His children from the grasp of the weights on our hearts and our minds.

Weights of:

  • Fear and worries
  • Insecurity
  • Failure
  • Anger
  • Detached Emotions

In each invitation Jesus brings to us, there is a choice to resist and stay the same or to embrace and embark on the journey of transformation. Jesus never asks for us to do it alone. He holds our hands every step of the way. Yet many of us are afraid.

Sadly although many start the journey, many turn away before the work of transformation is complete. We long to be freed, yet there is a strange comfort in grasping the familiar and the known rather than venturing out into the unfamiliar and unknown. So we reason away our need to stay in the cocoon of Jesus’ transforming of our hearts and go back to crawling like a caterpillar instead of flying as a butterfly.

Why do we resist and even turn away from the transformation Jesus offers us?

We are afraid. Fear’s grip on our hearts can cause us to retreat and reason away our need for Jesus’ healing transformation in our lives.

Author, speaker, and pastor’s wife Susie Davis knows the agony and the strangling grasp of fear on her life. She tells her victorious story of transformation in her book, Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World.

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Are you unafraid?

What fears are gripping you?

What journey of transformation is Jesus inviting you on?

Jesus invites us to His cocoon of transformation again and again. May we not miss a single one of His invitations for in doing so we exchange our crawling legs for flying wings.

A great resource in your journey of transformation: The Ultimate Journey

 

 

 

photo credit: Schmetterling I via photopin (license)

Knight Kneeling

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3)

I lived the first 32 years of my life with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression. In 2007, Father miraculously set me free.

As I have helped people deal with long-term spiritual oppression in their lives, I have seen the truth of John 9:3 play out — the work of God is displayed in their lives.

Again and again, I have seen Father miraculously transform the deadened spaces of their hearts and lives — that used to be thwarted and emasculated (to deprive of strength or vigor, weaken) into bridges of freedom and healing that in turn open up a new and greater capacity to minister to others in ways that they weren’t capable of as long as the enemy was exerting the weight and pressure of spiritual oppression on their lives.

As they are freed, a sort of resurrection of the deadened parts of their spirit and heart takes place. During the 40 day journey of prayer I go through with couples in ministry, my favorite excerpt from the daily guide we use is below:

Anticipating Resurrection

How do you anticipate well?

Unlike Lazarus, you are not physically dead
Unlike the paralyzed man on his mat who didn’t know of his resurrection until the moment Jesus told him to get up, pick up his mat, and walk (John 5:8-9)
Unlike Daniel, you know beforehand that the “lions” will be definitively slayed and sent forever away
Unlike Saul/Paul, you see the more your heart has always known there was and your spirit’s eyes will see your Father as He truly is . . . up until now your ears have only heard about (Job 42:5)

So how will you prepare?
Jesus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He would be resurrected
What kind of faith and what kind of perspective will honor and worship your Father and King as you prepare for Him to resurrect the deadened parts of your spirit and heart?
It will be a holy moment between you and Him.

No one will see grave wrappings falling off
No visible mat will be tossed aside
No one will pull you out of the lions’ den
Ananias won’t come and lay his hands on your eyes . . . Father will.

He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. Psalm 55:18

Excerpt taken from 40 Day Prayer Focus Guide, originally written in April 2010

For More:

40 Day Prayer Focuses for Churches and Ministries: Targeting Spiritual Warfare

He Overcomes! . . . The Promise of Luke 10:19

Does Your Calling Compel You to Live with Urgency

Pastors, Has the Enemy Come in Like a Flood?

10 Ways to Keep Going When You’re Taking Spiritual Ground

photo credit: Tididi via photopin cc

The Ultimate Journey logoFreedom . . . it’s something we long for at the very core of our being. We long to be free from the emotional, spiritual, mental and physical weights that beset us.

In my 30+ years of walking with Jesus, I’ve found going through The Ultimate Journey experience to be one of the most transforming, life-altering, paradigm-shifting experiences I’ve had. Hundreds of others have had the same experience.

So why take The Ultimate Journey?

Life Changing

Biblical: The Ultimate Journey isn’t some newfangled philosophy. It’s based on biblical beliefs and the biblical experience of the Israelites journeying from the bondage of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land.

Freedom Bringing: it’s a powerful tool God has used again and again to free His beloved children of the emotional, spiritual, and mental weights that weight them down.

Paradigm-Shifting: so many of us are muddling through life with faulty paradigms or belief systems that trip us up again and again. The Ultimate Journey helps you define and discover your faulty paradigms and then replace them with paradigms based on the freeing truths of the Bible.

Hope Infusing: there are few things more weighty on the heart than feeling like you’ll never be able to get past something that’s hindering your life and relationships. The Ultimate Journey helps you work through and push through those seemingly impossible obstacles.

Healing and Wholeness: whenever Jesus touches our hearts and lives bringing His healing and wholeness to our brokenness . . . it’s amazing. The Ultimate Journey is a tool Jesus uses to bring His beloved children His healing and wholeness.

Dynamic Church Experience: Church bodies from all over the U.S. have small groups going through The Ultimate Journey. As they do, they witness God bringing dynamic wholeness and healing to their church body both individually and corporately. For Pastors: A Few Ways The Ultimate Journey Will Help Transform Your Congregation

Affordable: If there are no churches in your area that offer The Ultimate Journey as 13 week phases, you can go through each phase in 2-3 day turbos at The Ultimate Journey headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa.

On-Going: As the name suggests, going through The Ultimate Journey is a journey rather than a destination. As you continue your journey, there are ways to keep connected, growing, and actively working through the things life brings your way.

Forward Moving: As I’ve talked with believers about going through The Ultimate Journey, the most common objection I hear is that God tells us not to live our lives focused on the past. This is very true.

Yet, until we deal with our past no matter how hard we try we will continue dwelling on it consciously or subconsciously — Is. 43:18-19. When we’ve dealt with and faced our past, is when we will be able to truly see and experience the new thing God is doing in our lives.

So when will you be taking The Ultimate Journey?

soldiers in a prayer circleOften when I pass out my ministry card to people they ask, “What’s the 1019 stand for?”

I respond with Luke 10:19 where Jesus says to His disciples,

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (NIV)

It’s a truth that is central to our faith yet seemingly known by few and lived out by fewer.

I run into believer after believer, ministry leader after ministry leader, and church after church who are more comfortable with explaining away or misdiagnosing spiritual oppression in their life and in the life of their church body rather than calling it for what it is and biblically dealing with it through a long season of prayer, typically 40 days.

I’m not talking about looking for a demon behind every rock nor am I seeking to simplify the complex spiritual attacks which often beset us.

I am challenging us as believers to take the example given us in Mark 9:14-29 where Jesus explains to His disciples concerning the demonic spirit that they couldn’t drive out of a boy,

And He said to them,“This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:29

When we’re unwilling to deal with spiritual oppression through a long season of prayer, we spiritually limp around beset by fierce spiritual attack the remains undealt with.

Is the enemy coming against your church body with a flood of spiritual warfare and attack? Is. 59:19

If so, then it is possible that the enemy has established a stronghold or a series of strongholds that can be dealt with through a 40-day prayer focus.

Are you a pastor or ministry leader who is silently struggling with:

  • heavy depression
  • weighty and unexplainable emotional struggle
  • repetitive and persisting spiritual attacks
  • unexplainable delays in personal and spiritual progress

Prayerfully consider if spiritual oppression is a hidden reason behind these things (Mark 4:22). Consider a 40-day prayer focus.

We follow a Leader and Guide who wears the victor’s crown! He has overcome and has given us authority to overcome all the power of the enemy!

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For More: Does Your Calling Compel You to Live with Urgency

Photo on Flickr by U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos by U.S. Department of Defense

Intercession handsAt times in our lives, we go through several simultaneous transitions in our location, employment, relationships, and ministry. Transitions can have a tumultuous effect on our lives and even our calling.

Early on in my calling as a prophetic intercessor, a friend gave me large praying hands. At the time I was simultaneously working on a church staff and spending 100’s of hours of intercession praying through some significant attacks that were coming against us individually and corporately.

During those years when the attacks were especially fierce, I would put my hands over those praying hands and picture myself joining hands with Jesus, the Ultimate Intercessor (Heb 7:25), in prayer.

When I first received those praying hands, they seemed a little large and unattractive. Yet, they have become an abiding symbol that is one of the first to be unpacked and displayed in our home to remind me of my calling to intercede wherever Father brings us, whenever He brings us there.

In each time and place, the terrain and opportunities may look a little different, but the calling remains the same.

What about you?

What is your anchor point visually and heart-wise that helps you to refocus regardless of how the circumstances and situations around you change?

Some helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Make a covenant with Jesus that you will live out your calling wherever He brings you and whenever He moves you on to another place
  • Keep a journal to remind you of the victories and defeats and how He has faithfully brought you through that you can look back on when you’re starting to lose focus
  • Make one of the first things you do when you move to a new place is to establish an anchor point visually and heart-wise that helps you to keep your focus on living out your calling

Let us not allow a change in our location, employment, relationships, or ministry to douse the flame on our calling. Instead let us fan it into flame wherever Father brings us, whenever He brings us there.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Tim 1:6

For More: Greater by Steven Furtick

ProvisionDo you ever wonder if Father’s provision is enough?

Have you ever stayed awake at night wondering how you will make it through?

Right now, are you feeling at the end of your rope with waiting for Father to rescue you?

You are not alone.

Throughout history and throughout the Bible we find brothers and sisters who experienced and proclaimed this truth:

Father, even in this Your provision is perfect and right.

Their Last Meal of Bread: 1 Kings 17:1-16

During a great drought in the land, the widow at Zarephath was getting ready to make her last meal for herself and her son. The imminent reality in front of her . . . death from starvation.

God sends the prophet Elijah to her telling him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 1 Kings 17:9

And the widow went from preparing to eat her last meal to having a jar of flour that didn’t get used up and a jug of oil that didn’t run dry.

Nothing to Pay Her Debts: 2 Kings 4:1-7

A widow whose husband had died cried out to Elisha that her husband’s creditor was coming to take her two sons away as his slaves. Elisha tells her to take the little oil she has and keep pouring it into all the empty jars she had gotten from her neighbors. The oil filled up every last jar.

Then Elisha told her, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

Fishing All Night and Catching Nothing: John 21:1-14

After Jesus rose from the dead, Peter and some of the disciples were fishing. They were seasoned fisherman, yet that night they caught nothing.

The next morning Jesus appears on the shore and asks, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

What about you?

Feeling like you’re at the end of your rope?

Are you at the end of your resources?

Have you been investing and trying and coming up with nothing?

Take heart. In your difficult situation, Father will provide in perfect faithfulness at exactly the right time.

photo credit: ~diP via photopin cc

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