Embrace Your Calling, Resist Mediocrity [Called Series]

Running UnhinderedAnd 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)

Has God given you a calling to equip the saints for the work of the ministry?

Are you embracing your calling?

Or can the living out of your calling be likened to the definition of mediocre?

mediocre: of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate

In 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul exhorts Timothy, “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 . . .”

Are you fanning into flame the gift God has given you in your calling?

I vividly remember a conversation I had with a ministry leader in which he shared, “I just want to live a normal Christian life.”

The statement in itself was completely understandable when you took into account the weight of ministry, the day-to-day pressures and responsibilities, and the energy invested in shepherding, counseling, exhorting, and teaching.

Yet if God has given you an equipping calling; it will be weighty in responsibility and challenging to carry out . . . a “normal Christian life” isn’t an option.

You have the high privilege of equipping believers for the work of the ministry.

Along with that high privilege comes the truth of Lk. 12:48:

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. (NLT)

Seeking to live a “normal Christian life” with less responsibility and challenge will only lead you to a life of mediocrity.

Has God given you much? Has He entrusted you with much?

Then embrace your calling with passion and equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. – 1 Cor 9:24

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For more on Ephesians 4:11-12: What Is Your Gift? by Ray Stedman

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God Who Brings Life to the Dead

new lifeEaster is an amazing reminder to us that Jesus rose from the dead.

How many of us live in the victory that He is daily the God who brings life to the dead?

We have no trouble with the concept of Spring and new life bursting forth in the midst of dead things.

Yet, in our own lives it seems more of a stretch.

Can God really bring life to the deadness of my marriage?

Can God raise to life the deadness in my heart after my divorce?

Can God revive my spirit after the death of my beloved?

Can God heal the deadness in my heart after the abuse and trauma I endured as a child?

Romans 4:17 resounds with the answer to every one of those questions:

. . .the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

This verse speaks of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise that He would give Abraham and Sarah a son though they were well past the age of being able to have children.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for God to fulfill his promise.

Yet during those 25 years, Romans 4:20-21 says concerning Abraham:

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. (ESV)

God has power to do what He has promised.

Today and everyday He is the God who brings life to the dead.

What dead part of your heart or life is He asking you to believe He can and will resurrect?

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Gutting It Out or Giving In

Running the RaceIn John 16:33 Jesus encourages us, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It’s common knowledge that trouble being nonexistent in our lives is a rare experience.

And yet, when faced with trouble do we have peace, take heart, and lay claim to both the promise and the hope that Jesus has overcome the world?

Do we also lay claim to the promise and the power Jesus speaks of in Luke 10:19?

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

Although not many of us are marathon runners in the physical sense, as believers we are life-long marathon runners in the spiritual sense.

Father trains us, prepares us, and has us run spiritual marathons for the duration of our walk of faith.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. – Acts 20:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. – 1 Cor 9:24

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

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

Marathon and triathlete Coach Joe English, does an excellent job of explaining the value of gutting it out or giving in during workouts in his post, Training — Why do the Tough Get Going?

Paula Rinehart includes a quote in her book Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Gerald May that powerfully portrays the same concept on a spiritual level:

Because real risking in faith can occur only in those areas of life where we feel most impoverished and vulnerable, it never becomes something we are really comfortable with.  For each layer of trust that  builds up, another, more challenging risk is offered.

True faith choices, therefore, always feel like risks; they just go on, involving deeper and deeper levels of our being.  Each choice remains difficult; what really becomes conditioned in this process is simply our willingness and readiness to take the risks of faith.  They never stop feeling like risks.

If you’re currently being faced with the choice to gut it out or give in, I pray you remember inspiring words of truth from Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP):

The 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]!

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

Prayer and PraiseThe Question:

Is your church body or ministry being faced with an abnormal amount of spiritual warfare and attack?

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.

Is your church body or ministry living in the victory of these promises?

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; He answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. – Psalm 20:6-8

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in His majesty.  The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, “Destroy him!” – Deuteronomy 33:26-27

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him.  “For there are more on our side than on theirs!”  Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!”  — 2 Kings 6:16-17

The Need:

The following questions are for your leadership team to consider as you pray and discern.

1. What strongholds has the Enemy possibly been able to fortify a position of attack against our church or ministry?

2. Have there been any ongoing, undealt-with sins amongst our leadership?

There’s no formula to determine these, they must be revealed to you by the Spirit of the Living God.

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. – Mark 4:22

3. Is there a spiritual heaviness that’s very noticeable on our church or ministry campus?

4. Have we noticed a pattern of repeated satanic attack during a similar time or against a specific ministry area?

5. In last decade or so of our church or ministry history, can we identify undealt-with sins that have created a figurative pile of dysfunction, disorder, disclosed and hidden things, death, and decay that have been “swept under the rug,” glossed over, and ignored. Has God been trying to get our attention concerning it so that He can bring healing, wholeness and redemption?

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. – Proverbs 28:13

6. Are we consistently grieving the Holy Spirit by our unwillingness to allow Him to move in biblical but also supernatural ways within our body?

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

7. As leadership do we have hearts of stone that Jesus needs to turn into hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26)? As leadership are we in the consistent practice of listening to God?

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.

He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears,
and I have not been rebellious;
I have not drawn back. – Isaiah 50:4-5

8. Is our church or ministry in a “life or death” spiritual battle that needs a 2 Chronicles 20:12-17 victory?

9. Are we on the brink of Father using our church body in mighty way?

What promises has Father spoken over our church body? What has He impressed upon our hearts as to what He is about to do in our midst?

 For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.” – Isaiah 49:25

The Bottom Line:

Jesus wants to use your church body or ministry mightily for the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20), but first requires that we rid ourselves of any existing piles of death and curses (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) so we can stand against the enemies coming against us (Joshua 7:13, Ephesians 6:12-13).  Dealing with the spiritual strongholds or getting rid of your pile will follow clearly-stated biblical principles. At the same time, your church’s or your ministry’s 40 Day Prayer Focus will be tailor-fit by Jesus’ guidance and direction.

40 Day Prayer Support given through our 40 Day workbook and through 4 meetings (more meetings may be necessary depending on situation) which can be done via phone or online video call.

Angela Sansone is a knowledgeable, experienced, Spirit-led, and biblically-directed intercessor. She provides invaluable support and direction as well as helpful follow-up during 40 Day prayer process. Angela humbly assisted and supported our leadership team with written helps as well as interceding alongside us. She stood by us before, during, and after 40 Day process. — Artie Davis, Lead Pastor Cornerstone Church

40 Days in Bible:

Moses – Ex 24:18, Num 14: 34, Exploring the Promised Land – Num 13:25, Elijah – 1 Kings 19:8, Goliath vs. Israelites – 1 Sam 17:16, Jesus – Mt 4:1-2

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Is Your Child an Intercessor?

Child PrayingAs parents, we want our children to pray. And yet have you considered that God may possibly be calling your child to be an intercessor?

Having your child say they want to be a missionary, teacher, pastor, baseball player, or doctor are jobs we readily know how to cultivate their interest in such positions. Yet  being an intercessor is something you may not really understand yourself.

As parents, we have the responsibility to fan into flame (2 Tim 1:6) the spiritual gifts Father gives our children — with intercession being one of those gifts (Job 16:20-21, Heb 7:25, Romans 8:26-27).

During their childhood years, we want our children to grow in their love relationship with Jesus and in the practice of hearing and obeying His voice (Prov 22:6). Along with that, we want to come alongside Jesus in the spiritual gifts He is developing within them.

Have you noticed several of the following qualities in your child?

  • A hunger to pray for others’ needs
  • A passion to continue praying for situations, people, and even countries for long periods of time
  • A great desire to pray for long periods of time with little encouragement or evidence of a forthcoming answer or change
  • Being woken in during the night with both spiritual revelation and demonic attack
  • A delighted, overflowing excitement and joy over answered prayer
  • An amazing recall of dates, times, and circumstances surrounding answers to prayer
  • A sadness over people not praying over things that need praying over
  • A sensitivity to what God is about to do and to how He is working around them
  • Attuned ears to His voice
  • Child-like faith that boldly believes God when they sense He says what He is about to do or is going to do  (Is 46:9-11)

If you notice several of these qualities, these are ways you can specifically help your child grow as the intercessor God may developing them to be:

  • Go through the youth edition of Experiencing God (dvd pack, book) with them — this study is excellent for specific instruction on how we hear and discern God’s voice
  • Encourage your child to journal things they sense God wants them to pray for, encouraging them with the reality that it may take months or years before they see answers to those prayers
  • Encourage them to write the date by verses in their Bible that stand out to them as ones God has as promises to claim for themselves or for a person God is having them pray for
  • When they are in their pre-teens or teenage years, give them a copy of Beth Moore Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds. This is an excellent resource of verses that specifically targets spiritual strongholds in our own or others’ lives.
  • Pray Psalm 55:18, Isaiah 49:25, Psalm 56:3-4, & Luke 10:19 over the ministry of intercession God is entrusting to them
  • Encourage them in Scripture memory — these words of truth will not only act as motivators not to sin (Ps 119:11), but also as a personal arsenal of strength to rely upon during times of intercession and spiritual attack

Additionally, God often gives intercessors a sensitivity to numbers (dates, verse references, even things in nature like the number of geese flying overhead or the numbers and letters on license plates, etc.) as a means of encouragement and confirmation of what He’s showing them or speaking to them about. Encourage your child to always test the spirits (1 Thess 5:19-21), but don’t discourage them in this because you may not understand or relate to it.

Something that may be of great encouragement and spiritual inspiration to your child is visiting a house of prayer and learning more about the worldwide 24/7 prayer movement.

God is raising up multitudes of intercessors in the last days, your child may be one of those He is calling, molding, and shaping towards that end (1 Peter 4:7). How will you join Him in affirming and strengthening your child in his/her vital calling?

For more:
Beyond the Veil: Entering into Intimacy with God Through Prayer by Alice Smith
Precious Stones of Intercession: Specific and Persistent Prayer on Behalf of Others  by Angela Sansone

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Intercessors: Why Intercede? [Poem]

Angela Interceding in IndiaEarly on in my ministry as a prophetic intercessor, I wanted to put the calling God had given me on the shelf. If you’ve ever asked the same question of your calling as His intercessor, I pray this dialogue between Father and myself encourages you.

Why Intercede?
Originally written January 2008 

Sleepless nights, weird interactions, people leaning on you when they’re weak
Being weighed down by emotions that belong to the one you’re called to intercede for
Being drawn into situations that aren’t yours
Being praised when things go well and blamed when they don’t

Why Intercede?

Recipients who are thankful and warm
Then distant and cold
It seems like a personal invitation to being ill-treated and misunderstood

Why Intercede?

People want one-sided prayer
People want someone who will listen and say a verse or two
That reminds them God is around and aware
But are easily scared by
Specific direction, prophetic words, and explanation of future happenings in their lives

Why Intercede?

“HOW CAN YOU KNOW?” they scream

The messages God gives me to share
Are often unwanted things that recipients find suspect and want me to explain

Why intercede Father?

One day, My dearly beloved, you will see all the ways
I worked through you as you obeyed and interceded and spoke My messages
To brothers and sisters who were trapped, hurt, alone, sad and afraid

You keep strengthening, encouraging, and comforting them with My words of truth (1 Cor 14:3)

And when they call it “sweet-smelling crap”
Remember you’re the messenger and I AM the Message Giver

You’re responsible for sharing; I AM in charge of bringing about
And doing what I said I would do (Is 46:9-11)

I’ve got your back, My dearly beloved
You won’t be disgraced or put to shame (Is 50:7) even when they say to you
“This is 99% through and what you told me didn’t come true.”

Give My gifts and translate My truth to My daughters and sons
You’re perfectly who I made you to be and I enable you to do what I’ve called you to do

In eternity you will see how I honored your sacrifice and your willingness to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7)
And that’s why you intercede My dearly Beloved

For More:
Prophecy Isn’t a Formula
When Father Speaks  (see “Receiving and Testing a Word of Prophecy” section)
Obey or Disobey 

 

Grief and Loss: Has Part of You Died?

Consolation

What is the agonizing loss that makes you weep silently as you fall asleep?

What is the memory of loss that jars you awake in the middle of the night?

What is the heartache that gnaws at your gut as you awake to begin another day?

Through our losses, a part of us often dies.

And it’s hard to believe we will be able to regain what’s gone or to continue on.

Isaiah 53:3 beautifully reminds us Jesus knows well our feelings of grief and loss:

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus knows our pain . . . He comes alongside in it . . . and He draws us to a deeper experience of Him being our Redeemer, Healer, and Savior.

For He “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17).

He is close to our broken heart and will rescue our spirit that is crushed (Psalm 34:18).

He does new things as He revives our hearts and lives (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Mercy Me’s song, The Hurt and The Healer is a powerful testimony of this truth.

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