Do You Long to Experience More of Jesus? [Called Series]

abounding explorationMore of Jesus . . . we long to experience more of Him as we grow closer to Him. Jesus longs for you to experience more of Himself too.

Yet often when Jesus leads us into an experience of more of Himself we hold back.

If more of Jesus is truly what we are longing for it will involve the:

  • Stretching of our faith
  • Deepening of our prayer life
  • Strengthening of our willingness to obey His voice at a moment’s notice
  • Developing a daily practice of going to places and into situations that He is inviting us to join Him in

In our longing, Jesus’ offer to us is often that of Jeremiah 33:3

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Also see Colossians 2:1-3)

In answer to our longing, Jesus invitation to our hearts is often that of Isaiah 50:4-5 (ESV)

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 

The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.

And yet in both Jesus’ offer and invitation to our longing, sadly we do turn backward and go no further.

In my work as a prophetic intercessor, partnering and interacting with ministry leaders, I have the privilege of interacting with many mature believers who have long ago committed their lives to serving and following Jesus wholeheartedly and unwaveringly.

Again and again through conversation, I have heard their heart cry of longing to experience Jesus in a deeper way.

In talking with one of my mentors and friends, a pastor of 30+ years, he described this tug-of-war of the heart as:

All I know Angela is that if you’re crazy, then I must be just as crazy as you. We all long for more of God and biblical Christianity, and then when Father reveals Himself and speaks, we question and doubt.

It is in our questions and doubts that we have the opportunity to go forward in faith or backward into our comfort zone.

Jesus always has and always will challenged His dearly Beloved children’s comfort zones.

What comfort zone is Jesus confronting in your life?

What comfortable beliefs is Jesus challenging in your heart?

Like the father of the son with a demonic spirit, do you need to cry:

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

Is Jesus reassuring your heart as He did with Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue whose daughter was dying:

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus longs for you to experience more of Himself and His hand is reaching out for you to take hold and join Him in an adventure that will transform your heart and life to the point that you will never be the same.

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Does Your Calling Compel You to Live with Urgency? [Called Series]

sunset of decisionAt the end of the day, what are you living for? What compels you? What drives you?

Does your calling compel you to live with urgency?

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

I am compelled to live every day with an urgency to be a part of Father’s work of bringing freedom to His dearly Beloved sons and daughters who also live with a high degree of spiritual oppression.

I grew up in Asia where my parents were missionaries until I was eight years old. Upon our return to the United States I thought my experiences of recurring nightmares of being strangled by a demonic presence, uncontrollable shaking, and hearing driven voices telling me to do things were just part of the spiritual attack that comes along with being a follower of Christ. When these attacks would occur, I would rebuke the Enemy “in the name of Jesus” and eventually the attacks would subside.

In 2003, I started going through a series of 3 four-hour prayer sessions with the Omaha Vineyard intercessory prayer team. As they prayed over me, it became evident that I was dealing with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression that stemmed from the time my family spent in Asia.

I struggled with why God had allowed me to live with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression for 32 years. In the process of Father freeing me from this spiritual oppression, He showed me how many of His dearly Beloved sons and daughters live with a substantial amount of spiritual oppression. Specifically, how many pastors and ministry leaders are silently struggling with a great deal of spiritual oppression that is often masked as:

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

Are you a pastor or ministry leader who is dealing with the above?

Prayerfully consider if spiritual oppression is a hidden reason behind these things (Mark 4:22). Consider a 40 Day Prayer Focus.

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Does Your Calling Consume You? [Called Series]

flight

And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ . . . – Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV)

Does your calling consume you?

In your every waking moment, do you know what He has created you for?

Are you daily and hourly walking in your calling?

The weight of your calling can be likened to an airplane — it is indeed weighty in regard to its responsibility.

Luke 12:48 speaks to this tension:

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Yet the enabling power Father has so richly bestowed on you is much like how an aircraft is able to take off and fly tens of thousands of feet in the sky.

2 Corinthians 9:8 describes this promise:

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NIV)

The prophet Jeremiah’s calling consumed him:

“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.'” – Jeremiah 20:9

The combination of the pressures of our lives, the demands of ministry, and the inevitable discouragement from those who don’t understand, believe in or appreciate our calling, at times can feel like an unbearable weight.

As a prophetic intercessor, the weight of my calling often weighs heavy on my heart and mind. During a particular heavy season of spiritual and personal attack, the weight of my calling seemed unbearable.

I was sitting on the stairs in my deserted place of work. I held out my hands and prayed, “Father this calling is too heavy, please take it back.”

As I prayed, I sensed a weight was lifted from out of my outstretched hands and yet in its place a feeling of a vacuum. After a half hour passed Father spoke, “You have no idea what stood in the balance of eternity with your request.”

And as the weight returned to the palms of my hands Father continued, “Never give your gift back to Me again.”

In the here and now, it often seems easier to lay our calling aside than to continue on in it.

And yet only by daily embracing our calling, only moment by moment letting Father’s calling on our lives consume our waking moments will we be able to say with confidence and passion along with the apostle Paul:

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7

Standing in the balance of eternity – does your calling consume you?

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Let Your Strength Come from Jesus [Called Series]

mountain peaksThe Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!
Habakkuk 3:19 AMP

When you are low on strength, what a promise to remember!

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

At your weakest point, this is His promise to you.

For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me. – Colossians 1:29 ESV

When you have nothing left, His energy is powerfully infusing your very being.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Cor 12:9-10

Life is full of countless points of weakness in our lives, and yet those can also be our greatest moments of strength.

A great book that illustrates these truths within this struggle is Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds’ Feet on High Places:

Adult version

Kindle

Audible

Youth version

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Let Your Treasure Be Immaterial [Called Series]

sunlight streamingIs your treasure immaterial?

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. – 2 Cor. 4:16-18 NLT

The things we can’t see will last forever . . .

  • that relationship you’ve been building with a young believer
  • the friendship you’ve been investing in with your neighbor who is seeking Jesus
  • those prayers you’ve been praying for your community
  • that time you’ve given in serving the least of these (Mt 25:40)
  • the money you’ve invested in furthering the Gospel
  • those steps of obedience you’ve taken that you have yet to see any visible fruit from
  • that step of faith you boldly take when the crowd around you asks you “Why? and “What are you thinking?!”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Mt 6:19-21 ESV

For More:
John Piper on Don’t Be Anxious, Lay Up Treasure in Heaven, Part 1

Enough: Finding More by Living with Less by Will Davis Jr.

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Let Your Vision Be Eternal [Called Series]

FreedomTherefore, 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

During His 33 years on earth, Jesus clearly lived with a vision that was eternal. He endured the horrific torture of the cross and the unimaginable weight of crushing sorrow of bearing the punishment of our sins “for the joy that was set before Him.”

Do you and I live for the joy that is set before us?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV

  • The joy set before you in cruel betrayal . . . redemption, healing, wholeness.
  • The joy set before you in crushing blows of failure . . . seeing how the hand of Almighty God recreated the shattered pieces and redeemed them into a mosaic of beauty.
  • The joy set before you in heartache and loss . . . your tears will be wiped away and there will be no more crying, sorrow, or pain (Rev 21:4).
  • The joy set before you when you’ve been overlooked, abused and tossed aside  . . . heaven has no nobodies or second-class citizens.
  • The joy set before you when you’ve been harshly discriminated against . . . in heaven there is only acceptance and love.
  • The joy set before you when your investment in others all seems for naught because words that have been said and rumors that have been spread . . . in eternity all redeemed for nothing you do on this earth for Almighty God is a waste of time or effort (1 Cor 15:58)
  • The joy set before you when you yourself have squandered what you have been so generously been given . . . the joy of seeing your Father’s face who has forgiven you and the outstretched hand of your Savior who loves you and whose nail scars and stripes paid for every one of our sinful, selfish, and short-sighted mistakes.

Today my brother, my sister, are you living for the joy set before you?

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When You Don’t Know Why [Called Series]

Comfort and GriefOne of the greatest ways believers lose heart and stop moving forward in their walk of faith is when they don’t know why.

Why did they have to die so young?

Why do I lived with constant pain and fatigue?

Why didn’t I get chosen?

Why didn’t God give me that job, that spouse, that house, that promotion. . .?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why was I abused?

Why was I raped?

Why didn’t my parents want me?

Why me?

Each is a valid question of the heart. The experience of each contains deep sorrow and pain.

Yet the choice each person asking the question is faced with: to heal and go on or to be stuck, lose heart, and stop moving forward in their walk of faith.

We live in a world full of sin and thus sorrow and pain.

Revelation 21:3-4 gives us an anchor of hope and a beacon of faith when we choose to move forward in our walk of faith:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

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For More:

When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada

Rest Ministries, Inc.: Joyfully Serving the Chronically Ill

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