The Power of Interceding

While I was in Thailand on the World Race, half of our group went to the red light district, while the other half stayed back to intercede on their behalf. The red light district is like entering a war zone. It is full of darkness, bondage, and slavery. Stepping on those streets you feel the weight of evil upon you. However, knowing you have people praying for you on your behalf, this weight seems a little bit lighter. You feel the protection.

As I walked those streets hearing the music blaring from the bars, seeing the flashing neon lights, looking up to see women trapped in window boxes dancing to draw in customers, you know evil is present, but there is a power of something greater because you carry it. The half of the group who stayed back to pray, started praying when the other group left and didn’t stop until they returned. Once the groups were back together at the end of the night, we would debrief and share our encounters. People who were on the streets said they would feel a pull to go into a certain bar or talk to a certain person, and come to find out there was someone on the other end praying for that exact thing to happen! It was pretty spectacular and made us realize we serve a big God and learned the power of intercession.

I was reading through an article I found in Grandma’s belongings and the author wrote, “Authoritative intercessors are men and women whose eyes have been opened to the full knowledge of their place in Christ.” He goes on to say these intercessors view the Word of God like a battle plan against the enemy to defend the kingdom of God. God wants to partner with us to advance His kingdom and intercession is one way to fight and through these prayers God will fulfill His promises.

I like this analogy of using the Bible as a strategic battle plan. Like Paul says in Ephesians, our fight is not against flesh and blood. We need intercessors and prayer warriors to pray in the spirit for our victory! We need to pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on us.

In the Greek, intercession is used as a way of approaching a King for a favor. As God as our King, we need to come to Him with our requests with the act of surrender. Getting on our knees is a great position for surrender. Praying on your knees shows humility and surrender. It’s honestly so powerful, you should try it!

Intercession can be used for the repentance of a person or people group as Moses demonstrated. Moses interceded for the people of Israel and for Aaron. He laid flat on his back and did not eat or drink for 40 days and 40 nights pleading with the Lord not to destroy them for the sin they had committed. In this position of surrender, the Lord listened to him.

Sometimes, God will bring a person to the forefront of my mind. At first I didn’t know what to think, but now I view this as God telling me to pray and intercede on their behalf. Most times I have no idea what to pray, and that’s ok. The Holy Spirit will intercede. So next time a person pops into your head whoever they may be, pray for them! You may be stepping into a battle you cannot see on their behalf.

We have authority in the name of Jesus because his spirit is within us. Use the authority given to you. Rev. J. A. MacMillan says this, “The church needs intercessors who have learned the secret of taking hold of the power of God and directing it against the strategic advances of the enemy.” 

A friend of mine mentioned she felt God wanted to give her the gift of intercession. At first she honestly didn’t want it. She thought back to the times she had prayed for someone and it was exhausting. She was deliberately praying a fighting prayer. I told her intercession does not always look like this. There are times God will bring someone to mind, you say a prayer for them and move on. Sometimes there is more to it and you have to pray a fighting prayer for them, get on your knees, and be at war in the spirit. And yes, that can be exhausting! But think of the life you are praying for. It’s not about you and how you feel, it’s about listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and using the power of prayer. Our mission is to advance the kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit is an intercessor and intercedes on our behalf. He alone can interpret the needs of the human heart. He intercedes for us while we are on the earth.

“… the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance to God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27

Jesus intercedes for us in Heaven. Like it says in Hebrews 7:25,

“He is able to save completely those who come to God through him,

because he always lives to intercede for them.”

(From Nikki’s book “A God You’ve Never Met” coming soon…)

 

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Connection

There is a connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Honestly, I believe it starts with mindset. The journey I have been on rings this to be true. It wasn’t until I started reading personal development books a few years ago did I realize the importance of mindset. I was never going to accomplish anything if I did not first believe in myself and love myself. For years I had been trying to please other people, trying to fit into what society deems as acceptable and beautiful. I have been on countless “diets” trying the next new thing and exercising like crazy and hated it. I was just trying to look good. And yes I got to a point where I looked good on the outside, but on the inside I was miserable. I would look in the mirror and would not be happy with what I saw. It got to a point I couldn’t maintain the lifestyle I had created for myself and I went down hill and gained most of the weight back. Then the cycle began again of me hating the way I looked and the person I saw in the mirror. I was nowhere near what society accepted as beautiful. And I was frustrated with myself and fed up! At this point I was not viewing my body as the storehouse of the Holy Spirit.

My view of myself has changed and I realize my importance in Christ. I want to have a healthy body because of Him and no one else! It starts with the mind, and then you need to take action on the body. Once I started going to therapy, I began to peel back the layers of shame and guilt I had placed on myself. I started working out in a way that was fun for me. It is now something I look forward to each day. I love exercise. An important aspect of healthy success is getting your body moving! I continue to learn to listen to my body by fueling it with what it needs and not what will cause it to suffer later. And also listening when my body needs to rest. This took awareness, action, time, and outside help to figure this out.

Spirit is tied into this as well. You must fuel your spirit by spending time with Jesus each day. Diving into the Word of God, journaling, getting your thoughts on paper, listening to God, praying, and surrounding yourself community. God’s voice is the one that matters, so take time to listen to him.

You are beautiful.

Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? I challenge you to say 5 things you like about yourself when you look in the mirror. You were created in God’s image. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Walk in the confidence of who you are in Jesus!

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

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Do You Believe in Miracles?

“I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs in the earth below.” Acts 2:19

Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe the miracles in the Bible still happen today?

These are 2 questions I asked a church group while we were on a mission trip in Belize. Less than half raised their hands. At one point in my life I was like them, and maybe you are this way too. I would read the stories in the Bible and not believe they still happened today. How could they? I was stuck inside my head, over analyzing, and trying to think logically, when I wanted to believe it was true so badly in my heart.

Month 2 of the World Race, God rocked my world and shifted my belief. Before then I was in disbelief and questioning God and his supernatural powers. But he proved himself to be a God of miracles through the act of the Holy Spirit.

I was in Tegucigalpa, Honduras walking on the dirt streets of a very poor community. We walked house to house praying for people and offering them an opportunity to be a part of a food program. Toward the end of the long day, my 6 teammates and I were making our way to the bus. One of my teammates, Christina, was walking significantly slower than the rest of us. I stopped and waited for her to catch up and asked if she was okay. She said her back hurt so bad she could barely walk and had numbness down her leg. Well that’s not good.

In that very moment I felt the need to pray for her, but I told her we would wait until we got to the bus. God literally stopped me in my tracks and I stood there and turned towards her to say, “NO! I AM GOING TO PRAY FOR YOU NOW!” She agreed and as we were slowly making our way to the bus, I placed my hand on her back and prayed for healing. I prayed for buckets of healing to be poured down from heaven. I declared God did not want his children to be in pain but to dance with him. God is the ultimate physician who can and will heal her! I praised him for what he was about to do, heal my friend!

When I finished I looked at her and asked, “How do you feel?” She was silent with her mouth and eyes wide open.

“Nikki…”

She paused.

“I don’t feel any pain.”

I laughed, “Are you kidding me?”

“Nikki, I wouldn’t lie to you. The pain is gone!”

We were both stunned and speechless. Christina and I looked as though we had just seen a ghost. She can I turned slowly in a bit of shock as we made our way to the bus. We silently sat next to each other. She put her legs up on the seat in front of her and looked at me wide-eyed, “I couldn’t sit like this before.” I was shocked! God used me to heal my friend’s back. That night I was unable to sleep still in awe of God and the Holy Spirit and his power. I sat on a blanket in the middle of a grass field under the stars and had a conversation with God. During this time, God shared with me my brother would be healed from epilepsy and my dad would be a believer. I began to cry and thanked God for sharing this with me. What a big day! I can tell you for sure my belief in miracles changed. The miracles which occurred in the Bible still happen today!

We have the Spirit within us, but He comes upon us when others are involved. In this moment with Christina, the Holy Spirit came upon me to heal her.

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave is inside me, inside of you! Do you believe it?

(excerpt from my book A God You’ve Never Met: Who is the Holy Spirit?….coming soon!)

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The Big 3-0

I just celebrated my 30th birthday. Honestly, I was super excited about turning 30! I had this feeling my 30th year was going to be one of the best. Some people go through a minor crisis entering their 30th year. But for me I decided to have a different mindset. Instead of thinking about what I don’t have, and not being where I thought I would be at this age (married and with a kid possibly), I made the decision to think about what I do have and where God is taking me! It was a sense of relief. When I put my life in God’s hands I don’t have to worry. All he wants me to do is trust him.

A couple days after my birthday, I sat with God and dreamed with him. He told me big things are to come. God also reminded me Jesus was 30 when he began his ministry with the disciples. God told me to start reading about Jesus’ life as a 30 year old. I want to be like Jesus and now I am the same age Jesus in his prime of ministry!

I really feel this is a year for continued growth, for deeper connection with my Father in heaven, and to become more and more like Jesus. I do feel like God is preparing me for my future husband and vice versa! Even though when I was younger I thought I would be married by 26 and have a kid by the time I was 30, I now think no way do I want a kid at this moment! I am living a full and vibrant life just as God intended me to right now. My own family will come, but not yet! God is continuing to make me whole and reminds me who I am in him. 

As I am in the first week of my 30s I can tell you it has already been one unforgettable week! I already see myself checking things off my bucket list and learning more about Jesus in his 30th year. I have big goals and plans for this 30th year and one is to finish the book I am writing! 

God has big plans for you as well, but have you taken the time to sit with him and dream? Have you sat with him to reflect on your past year? I encourage you to do so. It will give you encouragement as to where you have come from, and give you direction as to where you are going! Your Father in Heaven has big plans for you! 

(On my 30th birthday in Bryce Canyon, Utah!)

LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE!

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To Love


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Doesn’t that sound simple? To Love. This is all God has called us to do. Love him, and love others, but why are we making it so difficult?

We let our differences get in the way. We let our opinions get in the way. We let our selfish selves get in the way. If we want to live a life like Jesus we need to look at his model for us. 

Jesus engaged and interacted and sat with those who were “different” from everyone else. He listened to them and gave them his undivided attention. He loved them in a way no one else would. He didn’t let their differences get in the way. He is the Son of God for goodness sake and he came down to our human level to be with us and love and serve us. Why are we not doing this today? 

If you call yourself a Christian, why are you casting judgment on others? If you call yourself a Christ follower, why are you not loving your neighbor? 

He called us to love. That’s it! It’s simple and yet for us we overcomplicate it. 

I am learning what it means to love. To see those who are different than me, who have a different belief than me, who have a difference of opinion than me and sit to gain understanding of who they are and why they believe the things they do. It is not my place to cast judgement. I surely don’t have all the answers, none of us do. So we need to change our judgement to gaining understanding for the person in front of us. 

I have a constant prayer that I will see people the way God sees them. I want to see his children the way he does!

We are all unique and beautiful in our own way. Learn about the uniqueness of your neighbor. They were made in the image of God just like you were. Don’t you forget that!

Think of a person who is different than you and that you have possibly cast judgement on and rode them off. Reach out to them. Tell them you want to learn more about them and just sit and listen. Don’t offer advice. Don’t state your opinion. Just be with them and show them love the way Jesus does by giving them your undivided attention. 

If we all do this, honestly, the world would be a better place! If you call yourself a Christian and a follower of Jesus, do as he did. Love him and love your neighbor. It’s that simple. Get yourself and your selfish motives out of the way and be Jesus to the person in front of you. 

 

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Lessons in Understanding

Written by Gladys Johnson

The voice of the questioner seemed to come from over my shoulder as I was kneeling in prayer asking for the will of the Lord at a troubling time in our pastoral ministry. In fact, I was kneeling behind the pulpit. 

I answered the voice, “My vision.” 

The voice said in a sticky, sweet way, “Give it up, and you can go free.”

I stood to my feet. “Of course,” I said, “that’s all I have to do.”

I was a lady minister, called to the ministry at the age of 14 years. Looking back, I don’t think anyone, including my parents, pastors, or youth leaders, took my calling too seriously.

My husband, Lloyd, and I began to date at 17 years of age. Awfully young, but these were pre-war depression days. He was a young man who had to work because of family problems, and his mother had died when he was 9 years of age, leaving him and his sister to be cared for by the father who was not equal to the task.

I came from a large, loving family, but poor. I knew I had a call from God on my life, but had no idea how to fulfill that calling. Lloyd and I were in love. But God was not through dealing with me. One Sunday morning, as we sat together in our church in Portland, Oregon, the pastor began a Missionary sermon, and told the story of a young lady who had given her life to ministry in China. Before he told the entire story, my heart told me the lady’s name would be Gladys (Gladys Aylyard). I began to cry. Lloyd and I left the service early, got into his car, and drove a few blocks away. Lloyd stopped the car and asked me why I was so upset. I told him about my calling to the ministry.

“I know all about that,” he said, “and I will never stand in the way of you fulfilling your calling.”

On the strength of that statement, we married when we were both 19. We were happy. But God did exact that promise from Lloyd in years ahead. 

When I stood to my feet after hearing the suggestion that I give up my vision, I felt a certain finality. When I began preaching, I felt no opposition to a woman in ministry, for this was the way I grew up. My pastor and his wife both preached. This was now the late 70’s. We were in the strong Jesus movement, which allowed for no women in the pulpit. I felt that opposition many times. It seemed to me now that all I had to do was give up my vision, and I could be free. It sounded so good to me, even though I knew that voice came from Satan himself. For a full week, I wrestled with the suggestion. Then, one day in my home, I began to repent for entertaining a suggestion from Satan. I thought about Jesus in the wilderness, and how He met Satan’s suggestion with the power of scripture. As I prayed, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “And how did Jesus come out of the wilderness?”

“Full of the Holy Spirit,” I replied. And received a fresh overflow of His Spirit and determination to go on.

I had heard the voice of Satan before. Again, I was kneeling behind the pulpit in prayer, a favorite spot of mine. A voice said to me, “I’m going to empty this church just like I did the Baptists.”

We had purchased the church from a Baptist group a few years before, and they had sold because the body of the church had gotten down to 9 members, due to unfortunate circumstances. They had dealt very fairly and kindly with us.

My first thought was, “Oh, those poor people. They never knew what hit them.” And I said out loud, “You’re a liar, Satan…get out.”

We had experienced a wonderful move of the Holy Spirit in the church, with many healings; body, soul, and spirit, and the Lord had knit together a body of believers who loved each other greatly.

Satan was over-confident, and bragged too much. He openly displayed his tactics. I stood on Luke 10:19

“Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

(At the end of this writing from my Grandma she wrote this,

“In this book I would like to share with you some of the lessons the Lord taught me in our pastoral ministry.”

She wanted to write a book, but never finished. Now I am living out her legacy by writing a book myself with some of her stories and some of my own.)

(Baby Nikki with Sweet Grandma)

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Spiritual Battle

We cannot underestimate Satan. I recently experienced what it was like going into battle without armor. There was a particular time a couple of my friends had some very heavy things they were working through and I wanted to be there for them. I wanted to often my support and care and fight with them through their struggle. I didn’t want to take on the burden, but be a sounding board and someone to offer advice from an outside perspective and pray with them and for them. This is exactly what I was doing. However, after two days of fighting I felt off. I felt a heaviness upon me and I was on the verge of tears. I didn’t know what was going on with me. I knew my friends possibly may feel this way because this was their struggle, not mine, so what was going on with me? I felt as though I had been hit by a truck! I was exhausted! I don’t remember the last time I was this exhausted without physical activity involved.

I was fighting a battle unprepared. I came to realize I walked into this battle without armor on; without protection for myself. I was praying for protection for my friends, but I didn’t have anyone praying protection over me. And as I was praying for others, I stepped onto the battlefield and was exposed to the flaming arrows of Satan. This is like going snowboarding without any of the proper gear – jacket, pants, goggles, gloves, helmet, board, boots. I would never go on the mountain without any of these items, which is how I need to view each day as we battle against Satan.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, never start a day without putting on the armor of God because you never know what your day will bring and you must always be prepared. As my alarm goes off each morning, I pray and put on the armor of God before I even get out of my bed.  Pray, because prayer is a spiritual weapon against Satan. There is nothing he can do against prayer. It’s powerful and it ushers in the presence of God which he cannot defeat. Pray for others, but don’t forget to pray protection for yourself.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-17

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Lost in the Woods

When you think you are lost and don’t know where to go, keep going because you never know what you will find.

This is what I was telling myself as I was running along the paths on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. If you don’t know about this place you need to look it up. There are 8,000 acres of land with which now has 2 hotels, a small village of shops and restaurants, a farm, horses, and a mansion called the Biltmore house. This home was completed on Christmas Eve in 1895 after 6 years of construction. This home has 100 rooms, 43 bathrooms, and 6 floors! HUGE! And the man who built it was named George Vanderbilt in which he and his wife and their daughter lived in this massive place. Now this land is a national forest and the home is a high demand for tourists.

I woke up one morning while staying at the Inn on this Estate and decided to go for a run to see what I would find. It was raining and as I was passing the front desk the concierge called out, “Have fun and try to stay dry.” I turned back to him with a huge smile on my face and said, “I will get wet, but I’m ok with that!” And he smiled back and said he would have a water ready for me when I return. So sweet!

I headed out on the estate. I didn’t truly know where I was going or where I would end up, but I had a plan to run about 4 miles along the river, I just had to figure out how to get there. I found a road that went right past the majestic horses and in the distance saw this road paralleled the river so I headed there. I ran along on a muddy path next to a river as rain was falling. I continued until this muddy trail turned into a paved path and continued on. I followed the path and it crossed the road and then turned into another dirt trail. There were signs for hiking so I decided to follow them. I got to a point while I was running I realized I didn’t see the signs anymore. I was still on some sort of path, though it was covered with leaves. Maybe it was a maintenance path or horse trail, I wasn’t quite sure. I continued on and got to the point I had no idea where I was. It was raining and fog was rolling in, and no person in sight. I was in the middle of the trees, no clue where I was until I looked up to my right and there through the trees was the Biltmore House. I laughed to myself at first because I couldn’t believe how far I had actually ran. Way past the 4 mile mark I set out to do.

In that moment I felt a sense of comfort and peace and joy! I felt Jesus was with me. Tears came to my eyes and I couldn’t stop smiling. I wasn’t really lost after all! The path wasn’t distinct, and yet I kept taking step after step. I kept in mind to keep going because I didn’t know what I would find. And in turn I ended up seeing a side of this mansion the general public doesn’t see. It was incredible!

I thought about this moment and related it to life. We may not know what we are doing or where we will end up, but if we trust God and keep going we will see something spectacular. And sometimes the path doesn’t look like much of a path at all, but if we put our fears to the side and keep our curiosity in front great things will happen and God will show up!

Keep going!

(the trail looked a bit like this except less leaves on the trees and some fog)

(A portion of the front of the Biltmore House)

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Reflection

As I sat and reflected on 2017, there was one common theme. I went all the way back to the beginning of the year. I found myself writing down every significant moment that happened. I was writing out details I didn’t want to revisit. I was writing out moments that were hard for me. But as I was writing I realized why God was having me do it. He wanted to show me where He was through it all. As I was writing I saw God in the middle of it. He was with me the whole time. This was the theme. Over and over again throughout the year God would tell me He would never leave me. And now reflecting back I see that to be true.

God is faithful and true to His word. If you are unsure if God was in the hard times maybe you need to sit and write them out as hard as it may be. Allow yourself to see where God was in the midst of it all. It may surprise you. And you will find healing in revisiting those moments and seeing Jesus. It was for me. Now I can let it all go and leave it in 2017. I am a new creation. I am transformed by the blood and love of Jesus. And I am stronger than ever before!

We look at new years as a fresh start. I can see the significance, but something God reminded me as I reflected was that life is a continued process. We will forever be growing and changing if we choose to.

Do you want to change? Do you want to continue in this growing process of life with your Savior and Father in Heaven?

Take what you have gained and learned from 2017, continue and increase it in 2018.

With God the impossible is possible. He has given you promises that have not happened yet. Let me tell you, he will follow through. They will happen. Some of them in this lifetime and others in the lifetime of generations to come. I think of Abraham and how God showed him the stars and told him he would be the father to many nations. Yet Abraham is not alive to see it all happen.

Don’t lose hope. And certainly do not give up on God. He is with you. Go into this next year with a renewed sense of HOPE. God your father in heaven is with you and sees you. He is in the pain, the struggle, the heartache. He is in the joyful moments, and the celebrations.

He loves you very much!

Make 2018 a year with God! This is going to be your best year yet!

May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 1 Kings 8:57

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

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This Keeps Me Going

One morning I woke up thinking about Grandma. She had written me a note months prior to her passing and it’s something I hold close to my heart. I recently placed it on my desk so it’s something I see all the time now. It reads,

Dearest Nikki:

It was good to be with you yesterday – I enjoyed it! Just want you to know how very dear you are to me. I pray for you. I know God has a wonderful plan for your life. You are precious in His sight. God bless you always.

Love,

Grandma

I began thinking about the times I would drive up from college in San Diego to visit the family and I would head straight to my grandparent’s house. Sometimes I would even surprise them and what a joyous surprise that was each time! I loved sitting with them talking. I would ask them to tell me stories from their childhood and earlier years. I loved it!

Those are times I wish I could get back. After they both passed away, I would drive up from San Diego and become sad because I could no longer drive over to their house to surprise them. They were both very special to me and I enjoyed our precious, numbered time on earth together. I look forward to the day we are joyously reunited in the presence of God. What a spectacular day that will be. I looked forward to hugging both of them.

I was also thinking about what God has asked me to do. He is calling me to write a book. This is something Grandma talked about doing, started, but never finished. I am writing this book for her, with her in mind. I am doing this for both her and God. And when I think about that, it keeps me going in this process. Writing a book is no easy task and it scares me. But knowing I am doing this for Grandma makes it more manageable.

I recently went through boxes with my mom of my grandparent’s things. Most of it are lessons and sermon notes my grandma wrote. I have since made copies of those and are using them to be included in my book. Now I really feel I am writing this WITH Grandma!

Grandma and Grandpa, I love you and miss you everyday. I look forward to the day we are reunited in the presence of God. I cannot wait to hug you again and dance with you and sit and chat with you. Until that day comes, I am living my life for Jesus.

With great love from your granddaughter,

Nikki

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