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What to Do If You’re Tired of Toughing It Out by Joyce Meyer

What to Do If You’re Tired of Toughing It Out

by Joyce Meyer

Have you ever noticed how so many different thoughts run through our minds every day? Some are good, some bad. Unfortunately, our natural temptation is to focus on the bad; so accepting them doesn’t take any effort. The effort comes when we’re determined to cast down the negative thoughts, and take a firm grasp of the positive ones.

The Battle for Your Thoughts

Positive minds full of faith and hope produce positive lives. The opposite is also true: negative minds full of fear and doubt produce negative lives, which can ultimately destroy your life. Some people have been hurt so many times that they don’t think they can face the pain of another letdown. Therefore, they refuse to hope so they won’t be disappointed.

Battles are fought in our minds every day. When we begin to feel the battle is just too difficult and want to give up, we must choose to resist negative thoughts and be determined to rise above our problems. We must decide that we’re not going to quit.

When we’re bombarded with doubts and fears, we must take a stand and say: “I’ll never give up! God’s on my side. He loves me, and He’s helping me! I’m going to make it!”

Don’t Give Up!

No matter how bad the battle rages in your mind, don’t give up! Step out and regain the territory that’s been stolen from you. Even if it’s only an inch at a time, make sure you’re leaning on God’s grace and not on your own ability.

In Galatians 6:9 the apostle Paul simply encourages us to keep on keeping on! Don’t be a quitter! Don’t have that old “give up” spirit. God’s looking for people who will find the courage to rise above all the negative and pursue the positive.

Whatever you may be facing or experiencing in your life right now, I want to encourage you to stay positive and refuse to give up! God is with you. He’ll help you make spiritual progress—strengthening and encouraging you to keep on keeping on during rough times. It’s easy to quit, but it takes faith to press on to victory.

Reprogram Your Mind
When the battle seems endless and you think you’ll never make it, remember that you’re reprogramming a “worldly” mind to think as God thinks. In the same way that computers are programmed, our minds are also programmed.

From the time we’re born, our minds are like computers that have had a lifetime of garbage programmed into them. But God—the best “computer programmer” around—is working on us every day to reprogram our minds as we cooperate with Him (see Romans 12:2).

When Progress is Slow

This process of reprogramming or renewing our minds will take place little by little, so don’t be discouraged if progress seems slow. Don’t get down when you have setbacks or bad days. Just get back up, dust yourself off and start again.

When a baby is learning to walk, he falls many, many times before he develops the ability to walk without falling; however, the baby is persistent. He may cry for a while after he falls down, but he always gets right back up and tries again.

Learning to change our thinking works the same way. There will be days when we don’t do everything right—days when our thinking is negative. But never stop trying. God is gradually bringing us around to His way of thinking. Just don’t give up!


This article is taken from Joyce’s book, Never Give Up.


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Blessed: The Fruit of Character by Martin Schmaltz

Blessed: The Fruit Of Character by Martin Schmaltz
By Martin Schmaltz

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A foundational truth of the Kingdom lifestyle: it is to be a blessed life. Jesus reveals to us that this lifestyle answers the longing of the heart of man: to be blessed, happy and content. In the first nine verses of the Sermon On The Mount, The Beatitudes, Jesus presents a spiritual mindset that is counter to that of natural mankind and the world. The blessed lifestyle of the Kingdom is a product of His nature or character being formed in us. The radicalness of the Kingdom is: this blessed state does not come as the world says it will, but in a changed way of thinking and living.

Blessed Is a Product of Character

Jesus explains the source of this blessed life is a product of a certain kind of character. He tells us blessed people are:

  • the poor in spirit
  • the ones that mourn
  • the meek

These are antagonistic to our modern mindset. Our world says go get it, do what ever it takes to achieve. It is a dog eat dog world, don’t let anyone walk on you. Society is full of successful people with money, power and influence. Yet many are miserable, lonely, lacking peace and joy. Challenging them to give up what they are told will bring happiness is a foreign idea to them.

So how does this seemingly incorrect view produce happiness or a blessed life? The answer is seeing ourselves from God’s perspective. A realistic view of our state, allows us to see God for who and what He is. Then we will see our need for Him, allowing Him to transform our paradigms and us.

Let’s unpack what Jesus is saying about this character that is the foundation for a blessed life.

Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit….” Matthew 5:3

The blessed life is based on being realistic.

What is poor in spirit? Being realistic about our situation, recognizing our spiritual inability and inadequacy. Have you ever been in a meeting or event and you knew that you were out of your league? How did that make you feel: inadequate! Realizing my inadequacy is grasping I do not measure up to God nor his expectations. Isaiah realized this when he saw God. His response was woe is me, a man of unclean lips among unclean people! He saw himself for what he was.

The poor in spirit not only recognize their inadequacy, but also their inability. Not only do we not measure up, we do not have the ability to change our current condition. Due to our fallen nature, we are completely devoid of spiritual ability to change our inadequacy.

The world’s mentality is to “pull yourself up by the boot straps!” It is to do more or work harder, make something of yourself, or get more things and we will change our status. Unfortunately, many have shown, it does not produce a blessed life.

Outside of Jesus we are poverty stricken in spirit and will never find spiritual fulfillment outside of Him. I must come to the place that I admit my own spiritual weakness: That I cannot enter the Kingdom of my own abilities or worth. When I come to the realization I am not only unable, but I don’t have it in me, then I realize my relationship to him. I become poor in spirit – not proud, vain, egotistical or self-sufficient.

Jesus said it is this individual that would have the Kingdom! The poor in spirit acknowledge and live out their dependency on the King.

Mourn

 

“Blessed are they that mourn….” Matthew 5:4

Blessed is being repentant.  For those who recognize their spiritual poverty, the natural response is lamenting or mourning of their condition. This produces repentance. Repentance comes from deep within the soul when we realize all the Lord has for us and how little we have actualized in our lives. Truly seeing our in ability and inadequacy causes us to fall before God and repent.

It is the repentant person who will find a comfort and nearness of Jesus. The word comforted here means to be summoned up close and encouraged! Those that repent – Lord calls near to him and comforts them!

Meekness

“Blessed are the meek…..” Matthew 5:5

 

By now, I am sure you can see the progression of character transformation. The recognition of spiritual poverty and repentance produces an attitude of meekness.

In our society today, meekness seems to be associated with weakness. In a dog eat dog world, you have to be tough. You cannot let your weaknesses be seen. But the kingdom is different.

Meekness in the kingdom is being humble or gentle. Because we realize our inability, we trust and accept the Lord’s plan and dealings for our lives. Because we have seen him, we see from a Kingdom vantage and yield to His ways. It actually takes a certain amount of strength to admit how much I need God and to submit to his ways!

It is to the meek, gentle or humble that Jesus promised an inheritance. Could it be that it is because of the character transformation that Jesus feels they can be trusted with resources? Just a thought.

If we summarize these three verses we see some idea of the blessed life based on a character transformation.

  • It is the poor in spirit who receive the Kingdom.
  • Those who mourn are the ones He calls near.
  • Those who are meek have an inheritance.

If we admit total inability and inadequacy.  If we confess this and yield ourselves to God.  He will be our comfort, giving us the Kingdom and incomparable riches

Transformed Actions

The process of character transformation does not end here. Continuing with the next three verses we see that the development of this spiritual character results in a transformation of our ambitions, attitude and actions.

Ambition

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness….” Matthew 5:6

 

Hungering and thirsting describes a type of ambition. A more common question posed may be “How bad do you want it?” It is a question of how much we desire something, implying what will I do to achieve it.

Ambition is normal, without it we are lazy and non-productive. The question: “Is it proper ambition?” The ambition of the world is for pleasure, resulting from our power of control or the accumulation of things. It is placing ourselves in the position of attempting to be like God, determining what is right and wrong for our lives. Lucifer sought this when he tried to exalt himself like God. It was the same lie he told Eve in the garden! Worldly ambition is man’s attempt to put himself in the place of God.

Ambition is all right, but we must hunger and thirst for the right things. Kingdom ambition is different: it is based on the knowledge of our spiritual condition and Jesus is the only source of fulfillment. It is a desire and ambition for what He has for us, for this will be the “right” things for us. Things of the world will pass away, but the things of God are eternal.

Attitude

“Blessed are the merciful….” Matthew 5:7

This process of character development starts with a recognition of our condition and results in a change of our attitude and actions.

This new spiritual character will result in an attitude of mercy or compassion. The poor in spirit, mournful and meek have a different attitude. Understanding our weakness, allows us to understand and relate to others in their struggles and failures.

Living life from this perspective allows us to have compassion. We can turn the other cheek, give up the coat and cloak or suffer reproach. Because we understand, that is what we are, outside of the grace of God! Understanding my weakness, then I can understand others. In short, I will have a greater concern for others than myself!

Action

“Blessed are the pure in heart….” Matthew 5:8

 

Our actions or behaviors are changed as we see the ultimate progression of this character transformation. As we see our spiritual poverty, it causes us to mourn our condition and in meekness submit to God. From this perspective, the focus of my ambitions changes along with my attitude towards God, myself and others. This new mindset is revealed as my actions are propagated from a heart of purity.

Good or bad, our actions are based on the motives and intent of our hearts. I am sure we have all interactions with people that caused us to question their motives. In the world’s system, many are encouraged to do for others only if you think you can gain some benefit from it. A simple example is many business-networking events. I have participated in these and most of the interactions are overshadowed by an intense “get some business” attitude. Very few actually seek to establish relationships and get to know one another beyond a source of business.

In the Kingdom lifestyle, our actions should be based on a pure heart.

Pure in this context means something that is clean or unmixed. It is the end product when the impurities have been purged away. This is exactly what happens as we progress through this character transformation, becoming more like our King. It is at this place, our actions are based on integrity and sincerity. There is no deception or using of others for our gain: no ulterior motives, because we are operating from a changed spiritual character.

A Spiritual Transformation

This process of character development is initiated with our new birth and the values of the Kingdom are birthed in our lives. It is a spiritual transformation as we allow His indwelling spirit to teach and guide us. It can be challenging: sometimes it is not a pretty sight when we see ourselves for what we really are (apart from Him.) It requires a continual honesty: it seems, that sometimes just when we think we have arrived, He graciously points out another area! Yet in this, there is still hope being presented. Those that are searching have come, not to expect perfection in demonstration, but a sincere searching and honest evaluation and progression. So, even in our continual attempt to walk out our journey, we demonstrate His transforming grace. It is in this process, we will find the “blessed” life that genuinely reveals the nature of or heavenly Father! This becomes attractive to the hungry around us!

Martin Schmaltz

www.martinschmaltz.com


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The Good that isn’t the Best by Lisa Dickson

The Good that isn’t the Best by Lisa Dickson
By Lisa Dickson

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Distraction is one of the enemy’s biggest snares.  He will do anything he can to divert our attention away from God’s priorities and to keep us from our greater purposes and destinies. The enemy doesn’t care if we become involved in activities that are good and beneficial as long as they distract us from the Holy Spirit’s more critical appointments and urgent timetables.  If we aren’t aware of Satan’s subtle devices we can be seduced into going after trivial causes and participating in pointless religious activities that get us off course from God’s best for us.   If we allow our natural affections or desires to influence us instead of the Holy Spirit, we can end up on wild goose chases that lead us away from what God is wanting to do now.  It’s important for us to spend time with God daily in order to align our hearts and minds with His and to become more sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to know God’s word well so that we can discern and not be easily deceived by counterfeits or diversions.  When we know and study scripture, we set ourselves up to receive greater revelation and truth because the basics are already engrained in us. Once we align with His desires we can’t let other things distract us, even if those things seem good and right.

Oswald Chambers once said, “It is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural standpoint that keep us back from God’s best….it is the good that hates the best, and the higher up you get in the scale of natural virtues, the more intense is the opposition to Jesus Christ.” Natural talents can hinder us from what can only be accomplished supernaturally by the Spirit of God through us.  We can end up trusting in our own abilities instead of relying on the Holy Spirit’s power.  Our natural strengths can become our greatest weaknesses spiritually because they can keep us from the surrender that is absolutely essential in order to walk in supernatural power and effectiveness. The Holy Spirit alone can do exploits that have power to change situations and people.

Hindrances and Diversions

Not only can the good in us become a hindrance to God’s best through His Holy Spirit, but the good things that we get sidetracked with can also distract us from the best that God is presently focusing on.  This often happens at critical times, just as the Holy Spirit is situating us in order to release something corporately in the body of Christ or launch us individually into a specific ministry or purpose.  The enemy sometimes brings situations and people into our lives to get us off course, delay the work of God through us, and to get our eyes off of God’s own goals.  These diversions are often timed just right and appeal to our affinities, bents, desires and needs to create a perfect storm of distraction that takes our eyes off of God’s own timing and purpose for us.

In Luke 9:59, Jesus asked a certain man to follow Him. The man told Jesus, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” To anyone else, this would seem like a reasonable and even honorable response but to Jesus it was a delay that revealed the man’s priorities.  Jesus knew that the man’s inability to drop everything in order to follow Him was because he was more mindful of earthly priorities than heavenly ones.  In reply, Jesus said to the man, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

While Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem, his enemies, Sanballat, Geshem, and Tobiah attempted to distract him by setting up a meeting in order to cause him harm and to stop the work of God. Nehemiah was wise to their diversionary tactics and refused to come down from the wall in order to meet with the men.  We need to keep our eyes on what we know God is calling us to do and stop listening to other voices that the enemy may be using to get us to turn away from what God wants to accomplish through us. If we lack discernment, aren’t even sure what the goal is, or we’ve lost sight of God’s purposes for us, we can turn away to meaningless or even harmful endeavors that Satan has devised in order to trip us or others up.

Jesus’ Goal on Earth

Jesus had one goal and purpose on earth. That purpose was to introduce the kingdom of God and to suffer and die on a cross for the sins of mankind.  When Jesus began speaking about His own imminent death, Peter in his shortsightedness, rebuked Jesus saying, “far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to you!”  Peter’s limited, earthly mindset prevented him from seeing and hearing revelation. His honorable and noble declaration of allegiance was in reality inspired by Satan in an attempt to hinder the work of God on earth.  Peter’s words were an offense and a stumbling block to Jesus and nothing else.  We can believe we are doing great things for the kingdom and even be deluded into thinking we are preventing evil when we are simply getting off course and becoming distracted from God’s purposes.  Things that we decide are good kingdom causes are at times just our own soul-driven goals that we want God to bless. The Holy Spirit may be focused on something else entirely but we are missing it because our own agenda is priority.

It can’t be stressed enough that in this crucial hour we are to remain fixed on the heart of God.  We can’t allow diversions and personal goals to keep us from hearing and seeing clearly and correctly.  Not all diversions are sinful or evil but they can be used by the enemy to keep us from God’s best for us.  I believe that more and more in the coming days we are going to be challenged with very subtle deception that exchanges the best for the good.  God’s best sometimes offends us because we are often asked to trust and obey in the absence of detailed information or a concrete plan.  The best is mostly faith-driven and it requires us to do only what the Father is doing. The “good” is often attached to personal satisfaction and reward yet it can miss the purposes of God that often require us to forgo reward in this life. Obedience to God’s best often delivers no earthly reward at all. It can seem like we aren’t really doing much or feel as if we are failing when in reality we are doing huge things in God’s eyes.

John the Baptist discovered first hand that the best looked a lot different than the good that he envisioned.  The Jesus of John’s imagination looked more like the best king of this world instead of the best King of heaven.  Royalty from heaven always waits for its crown. While John awaited his own execution, he realized that lasting, heavenly rewards aren’t always redeemed in this life. The good we think is the best is really not what God always has in mind. The best can often feel like the worst to our flesh but in reality it is right in line with God’s perfect will. We want God to bless goals and desires that we label and deem noble but they often have more to do with us or some cause more than Him.  The point is, we need to be willing to obey and trust God even when it requires us to sit still and wait.  The best may require us to stay when the others are going, say what others aren’t saying, and do what others aren’t doing.  Mary of Bethany understood the priority and simplicity of the best while Martha was busy doing good things for her Lord. Both of the women loved Jesus but Mary chose that greater, one thing that was priority.  Sometimes the simple trust and obedience of God’s best is accomplishing exceedingly more than all the labor and activity that the good can offer.

Lisa Dickson

bucko195854@gmail.com


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Honouring Prophets, Embracing the Prophetic by John Belt

Honouring Prophets, Embracing the Prophetic by John Belt
By John Belt

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Introduction

Prophets and the prophetic can be a controversial subject for many people.  While there are legitimate expressions and practices in prophetic ministry, many people have not always had the best of experiences.  It can be easy to end up on either end of the stick when it comes to prophetic ministry.  With this there can be those who are “whole hog” prophetic or others who don’t want to have anything to do with it because of the abuse and misuse.

As it is with anything in regards to the Body of Christ, patience with grace is always needed to see people grow in the Lord. It is by “reason of use” that we can excel in anything that God entrusts to us.  With this we should make an effort to give room for others to grow in their gifts and callings.  In this article what I’m attempting to do is help others realize that in spite of error, we need to still fully embrace the heart of God concerning prophetic ministry.  Just as you would not disown your own child because of immaturity and just as we would not dare throw away the truth that “God heals and performs miracles”, in the same way we should not only to accept prophetic expression but pursue it knowing that a life of revelation enables us to be in the heart of God’s desires and purposes.

A Prophetic People

Jesus highly regarded “the prophets”.   More than that, He told us that he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist, an OT prophet. This means that anyone that believes in Jesus Christ has the capacity to live in a much higher place than any  OT prophet just by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By this statement Jesus places us in the category of being prophetic at the very least.  Greater than that, we are sons of God.

Prophets are those who live in a place that is very close to His heart.  You may live close to God, be prophetic and not be a prophet, but you cannot really be a prophet and not live close to God.  God knows who His prophets are.  Jesus closely associated Himself with the prophets, He himself being “The Prophet” that Moses prophesied would come. (Deut. 18:15)

God Picked You to be Prophetic

Numbers 11:29 “Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!”

So why all the talk about prophets?  Because God calls every one of us to a prophetic life.  By honoring those who walk in the prophetic we receive the blessing of that gift and life.

Matthew 10:41 “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”

In this verse it is interesting how Jesus brings together the reward of a prophet with the reward of a righteous  man.  These really go together. Do prophets have to be perfect to be honored?  No. We all need to lean on the righteousness of God, that is His grace and what Jesus laid His life down to bring us. We also must realize that this righteousness of God should be working in us a change to reflect the image of God. For those familiar with the “prophetic movement”, there has been valid reason to be disappointed at times. At the same time, we must realize that prophets are people that are in process.  This is the Body of Christ.

There is more reason to be encouraged through the good and powerful things that have been accomplished through prophetic ministry. Many lives have been positively impacted for the Kingdom of God. God is in process of refining His Body to reflect His image.  God works with His people throughout a lifetime here on earth.  Paul sets the example, “Not that I’ve been perfected…”  Let me tell you that without prophets and prophetic ministry there will be no open heavens, no power and no glory in the church.  Whether you consider yourself a prophetic person or a prophet, both of which are in process, you are still a gatekeeper of heaven that has the grace to open the way for others to have a living encounter with God.  In simple terms, those who know the secret place with God are prophetic whether they call it that or not. It is not how we title ourselves, no badges are needed. It is the substance of Christ that God is after. There are many prophets in the earth that are not known, that God respects as such. The bottom line is that we all need to know how to connect with God in the secret place if we are to have any impact while on the earth.  Just as Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing apart from the Father.” It is the same with us.

John 5:19 “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

The Validity of Prophetic Life

Jesus connected Himself and associated Himself with the prophets:

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 23:29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous…”

Prophet, prophets and prophesy are referenced over 500 times in scripture, not including other variations of prophetic references. Compare that with all the rest of the 5 fold offices (teacher, apostle, evangelist, pastor) and you will see that the times mentioned on this area far outweighs all other biblical offices. Not that this means it is necessarily more important, although we should give heed to this. All parts and functions of the Body of Christ are important to God. With this it would still seem to be something important, at least in God’s eyes.  I would venture to say it is because the prophetic office, function or gift very much has to do with intimacy with God, hearing, seeing and speaking on His behalf. Keeping this in mind, what does God look for in those who really walk this prophetic line?

Here are some foundational characteristics:

  1. Avoid a man-pleasing spirit
  2. Refuse to compromise, but speak the heart of God
  3. Embrace a spirit of honor that comes from a pure heart vs. gossips & backstabbers
  4. Committed to a close place of intimacy with God
  5. Walk with a consistent track record of faithfulness to God
  6. Disengage from a territorial and religiously competitive spirit
  7. Are quick to turn to righteousness when wickedness is revealed
  8. Are humble enough to admit it when they miss it

The Holy Spirit Releases the Prophetic

Because intimacy with God is at the very core of being someone who sees and hears from God, it is only normal for prophets to operate in dreams, visions and revelation.  In Acts 2 it is clear that when the Spirit is poured out prophetic life is released.  An evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work is the eyes and ears seeing and hearing in the Spirit.

Acts 2:17 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.”

To be prophetic is to be a normal believer.  No one needs to make an effort to be strange, but to simply see and hear in the Spirit.  When we read the letters of Paul, even though he had been taken up in the Spirit to see things unmentionable, he does not come off as a man from outer space or on dope. He comes across as someone normal. A mature vessel should be able to communicate what they have experienced in a way that is not overly-dramatic, drawing attention to themselves, but rather in a way that communicates the truth of the prophetic experience in a way that others can connect with.

Understanding the Prophetic

If people do not understand or are afraid of the prophetic they can shut themselves off to this aspect of God’s way of speaking to them. Fear is a thief, but with understanding of the truth fear can be removed and revelation can be received.  Paul prayed that we would have the spirit of wisdom and revelation.  Revelation is the prophetic.  When God opens our eyes to see and hear His heart and desires this is revelation given by His Spirit.  We need to be completely open to how God would speak to us in His own ways.

1 Samuel 3:1 “Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.”

 

Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”

It is important that we have a spirit of revelation for apart from God we can do nothing. We need to welcome the spirit of wisdom and revelation. This is nothing far out, but is very much part and parcel of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Clearly in this verse above God shows us that His pleasure is for us to be connected with Him in such a way that His words are ringing clear in every person.  He created us to be a prophetic people.

When people do not understand where others are coming from in regards to prophetic experiences they can be offended.  When people are offended in the natural mind or jealous because they don’t have any revelatory experiences, they are tempted to persecute and mock these experiences.   Nothing will cut you off from a personal experience with God quicker than mocking another person’s experience with God.  You may even pray for revival your entire life, praying God would use you in it, but if you mock others you may never see revival in your life, much less a bigger breakthrough in your region, beyond yourself.

What Really Matters

It is not important that people are part of a church that magnifies “the prophetic”.  Jesus is the one Who is to be magnified.  He is the center.  But at the same time we should be a part of a body of believers that embraces the prophetic.  It does not have to be called prophetic.  Yet, if there is a spirit that ridicules prophetic ministry or an expression of the prophetic in any way you must make sure you are not participating in that spirit. This is a mocking spirit that is operating out of presumption and pride.

Ignorance in understanding God’s relationship to the prophetic is not an excuse to speak against it. Ignorance just means to “ignore” something.

Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

What is also not acceptable is when people do have understanding and speak against it anyway. Jesus said that there is a prophet’s reward when we receive the prophet.  No reception, no reward. (Matt. 10:41) In rejecting the prophet, you reject God’s appointed blessing. You may even be rejecting God as well.

2 Chronicles 20:20 “Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe and remain steadfast to His prophets and you shall prosper.” (AMP)

Through simple honor, we receive reward from God and God Himself. Learn to see a person by the Spirit, rather than through natural eyes.  If you have rejected the prophetic or prophets in any way I would encourage you to repent,  changing direction,  so that your life does not become a hindrance in God’s purposes, but rather be a vessel of honor prepared for noble uses for the Kingdom of God.

God does not want His people to be ignorant of how He speaks. The prophetic, as it is with all the promises of God, and other important biblical topics should not be ignored. As we grow in understanding the call to live close to God in this way, we will experience a greater clarity in our spiritual senses. Clearly, Jesus is “The Son of God” before anything else.  But He is very much associated with the prophetic life. He connected Himself and associated Himself with the prophets.  Can we?

John 1:50 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”  And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

In His Great Love!

John Belt

www.liveinhispresence.com


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Speak Softly and Love Loudly by Patrick Carden

Speak Softly and Love Loudly by Patrick Carden
By Patrick Carden

Christians have an image problem.

“The very word “Christianity” is a misunderstanding – in truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

That’s a bold statement!  But sadly, I think in some ways it’s true even though it is painful.  And I don’t think Nietzsche is the only one that sees it that way.  There are some people that look at the “Bible thumping, judgmental, and holier than thou” Christians and think they are all crazy.  They tend to lump all Christians together and view us in a less than favorable light.

What can be done to change that perception?

It’s pretty simple.  We have to quit judging and start loving.

Judges in the Church

Some of the biggest judges are in the church.  It’s crazy how much judging goes on in the church.  We think we’re better than other people because we found Jesus.  I’m pretty sure that’s a position that Jesus would not accept or support.  We’re not supposed to elevate ourselves and think we’re better because we found Jesus.  We’re supposed to love and serve others because we found Jesus.

When we’re around nonbelievers or unchurched people we definitely should not make them feel uncomfortable.

There are scores of people that have walked away from “church life” because they were made to feel like they didn’t belong, or didn’t measure up in some way, shape or form.  And if that has happened to folks that are brave enough to come to church, imagine how many people outside the church don’t want to be part of the church because they feel Christians are judgmental and look down their noses at everyone else.

Jesus doesn’t fit the judgmental model.  Jesus always found the pathway to grace.  Take the way he handled the woman caught in adultery for example.  He had the law behind him which meant He could have demanded she be put to death.  Could you imagine if that had happened?  Picture it….all His buddies would show up at the stoning with signs that said, “God Hates Whores.”  But He doesn’t do that! What He does is genius!  Read about it in John Chapter 8.

The Calling of the Church

The calling of the church is not to judge.  We’re called to love.  And to love like Jesus, unconditionally.

Love will do way more healing than judging will.  Judgmental glares can wound people to the core.  Today, a single hurtful action by a Christian can drive hesitant believers from church and do almost irreparable damage.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

We should speak softly and love loudly.

Patrick Carden

www.abridgetochange.com

cardenpd@gmail.com


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Becoming a People of Mercy by Francis Frangipane

Becoming a People of Mercy by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

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Throughout His life, Jesus reached to those rejected by others. He loved the outcasts, those who were despised, scorned, and excluded. Yet His practice of dining with known evildoers offended the Pharisees, and they confronted Jesus’ disciples with this question: “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?” (Matt. 9:11)

When Jesus heard their question, He answered, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:12-13)

Jesus told the religious Pharisees to go and learn what our heavenly Father meant when He said, “I desire compassion [mercy], and not sacrifice.” So many today are religious without being compassionate. Compassion in the Greek language means a “yearning in the bowels.” It is something that cannot be easily ignored.

You see, a religion without love is an abomination to God. The church needs to learn that God desires love and compassion, not merely an adherence to ritual and sacrifice.

It is right that we should be troubled by the sins of our nation. But we must remember, all nations sin. All cultures have seasons of moral decline and spiritual malaise. Yet these periods can become turning points if, in times of distress, leaders and intercessors cry to the Lord for mercy. Thus, Christ-like prayer brings redemption out of disaster.

Mercy, Not Wrath

The church was created not to fulfill God’s wrath, but to complete His mercy. True prayer is born of love and comes in the midst of sin and need. It comes not to condemn, but to cover.

Jesus said His Father’s house would be a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). Consider passionately this phrase: “prayer for.” Jesus taught His disciples to “pray for” those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt. 5:44). When Job “prayed for” his friends (Job 42:10), God fully restored him. We are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6), and “pray for” each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). Paul wrote that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, he urged “that entreaties and prayers be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority.” (vv. 1-2)

The nature of our calling is to pray for people in difficulty, in sin, in sickness, and in need of God.

Conformed to the Lamb of God

 

Consider this: the only being in all the universe worthy to “open the book” and release God’s wrath on sin is the very One in all the universe least likely to do so. His commitment to man’s redemption was a total sacrifice, an offering that abides eternally at God’s throne. Yes, He is the lion of the tribe of Judah, but He is also the Lamb slain for men’s sins. He is the only One to whom authority is given to open the book of divine wrath (see Rev. 5).

Because Christ paid the highest price for redemption, we can be confident that He will not release divine fury until He fully exhausts divine mercy. Even then, when His judgments finally come, they will continue to be guided by His motive of mercy, giving time for sinners to repent.

God’s Word tells us plainly: “As He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) Our pattern is the Lamb. Our goal is not merely the exposure of sin, but also the unveiling of the sacrifice for sin. Our great commission is to bring healing and the message of God’s mercy to the nations. Until Christ breaks the seals that ultimately will lead to wrath, we must stand in intercession before God as ambassadors of the Lamb.

May the Lord give us a clear vision of this truth: intercession is the essence of Christ’s life. Not only is He now at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Rom. 8:34), but His coming to earth and dying for sins was one extended act of intercession. Jesus beheld the depravity of mankind’s sin. He examined it carefully in all of its offensiveness, perversity, and repulsiveness. Yes, He rebuked it when necessary, but the wonder of the Gospel is that, in spite of mankind’s sin, God so deeply loved the world that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16-17).

We are called to follow this same amazing pattern of mercy.

We are not minimizing sin when we maximize Christ’s mercy. There is a difference between whitewashing sin and blood washing it. The reality that compels God’s heart—that is an underlying principle of life – is “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). To live a life of mercy corresponds perfectly with God’s heart. Mercy precisely fulfills the divine purpose: to transform man into the Redeemer’s image.

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org


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Don’t Let Delays Defeat You by Lee Grady

Don’t Let Delays Defeat You by Lee Grady
By Lee Grady

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A breakthrough is waiting for those who persevere. If you have stopped praying, receive fresh grace to pray again.

George Mueller, the great 19th-century British evangelist, prayed in more than $7 million during his lifetime to feed the thousands of orphans in his care. He didn’t believe in telling people about his financial needs, yet he always had enough to pay his enormous grocery bill because God supernaturally provided.

But Mueller’s faith was stretched in other ways. He prayed regularly over a list of five people he wanted to see converted to faith in Jesus. The first man was saved after five years. The second and third men converted to Christ after 10 years. The fourth man was saved after 25 years of consistent prayer.

“Sometimes construction crews in my city erect large flashing signs along the highway near my house. All drivers groan when they see the message: ‘EXPECT DELAYS.’ Life is littered with these signs, and Jesus said they are part of our training process.”

But here’s the clincher: Mueller prayed for the fifth man’s conversion for a whopping 52 years. The friend made a profession of faith in Christ a few months after Mueller’s funeral!

This story challenges me to the core because I’m so impatient. I’m guilty of revving my engine at stoplights and tapping my foot when my Internet connection is slow. Technology is a blessing, but it has also spoiled me into thinking I can get spiritual results as fast as I want them.

Praying for 52 Years?

Would you pray about something consistently for 52 years if there was no sign an answer was coming? I started praying about some big requests three years ago, and I realized recently that I had grown weary of the process. Prayer had become painful. Doubts began smothering my dreams. I felt like giving up, but God spoke three simple truths to my heart. They might help you:

  1. God never said this would be easy. Jesus gave us many wonderful, rosy promises, but He also said: “In the world you have tribulation.” (John 16:33, NASB) That’s not a Scripture you will find embroidered on a pillow or inscribed on a flowery greeting card. But it’s a guarantee. Anybody who attempts something great for God will face difficulties.

Sometimes construction crews in my city erect large flashing signs along the highway near my house. All drivers groan when they see the message: “EXPECT DELAYS.” Life is littered with these signs, and Jesus said they are part of our training process. If Abraham and Sarah had to wait 25 years for the birth of their promised heir, why do we think our answers should be instant?

  1. You must persevere if you want to receive. Perseverance is one of those archaic words we’ve stripped from our vocabulary. Waiting is a weird concept for people in the 21st century who have movies-on-demand. If someone tells us to wait, we just find an app on our phone to speed up the process.

But there is no shortcut when it comes to receiving God’s answers. The definition of perseverance is “steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.” Faith is painful because God is stretching our spiritual capacity to receive. Press through the pain! There is gain on the other side.

Speaking of prayer, Jesus said: “Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7, AMP) In other words, don’t stop praying no matter how long the answer takes.

  1. The end result of faith is a larger territory. When Isaac sojourned in the land of Gerar, the Bible says he re-dug the wells of his father and then dug new wells. After he dug the first two, the Philistines quarreled with Isaac and tried to claim ownership of the water. But when Isaac dug a third time, the fighting stopped and he named the new well “Rehoboth,” which means “a broad place” (see Gen. 26:18-24).

Isaac could have become discouraged after the first well-digging fiasco. Many people back off at the first sign of a fight, but Isaac didn’t let the quarrels stop him. He dug a second time and hit yet another roadblock. But he kept on digging. When the breakthrough occurred, Isaac declared: “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” (26:22, NASB)

Keep on Believing

The lesson Isaac learned is still part of our faith curriculum today. There is no getting around it. We must keep on believing when circumstances tell us to quit. We must stretch our faith when it feels like we have no more stretch left. We must pray beyond the delay.

George Mueller said: “God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hands as a means. Trials, obstacles, difficulties and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith.”

If you have grown weary, or even if you have quit believing, receive fresh grace to pray again. Let patience have its perfect work. God will fortify your faith and empower you to receive a miraculous breakthrough.

Lee Grady

www.fireinmybones.com