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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EVER PRESENT

Do you wonder where God is sometimes?

We see people praying with their heads up, eyes up, arms raised upward, or often with heads bowed in reverence. I know there are times when I forget that God is Omnipresent…that is one of his attributes. Sure, as a child I was taught that God is everywhere, but because that is so far beyond my comprehension I often live life by myself.  Actually, in doing that I am not acknowledging His love for me, and that He wants to be involved in every part of my life.

I recall a time when my brother, Ron, was 2 years old, and we were sitting as a family together in our large home church in Portland, Oregon before the Sunday morning service began.  Ronnie stood up on the chair, looked around and spoke out in a loud child’s voice, “IS GOD HERE YET?  Causing laughter, and being shushed by us, he went on to say, “WELL, I HAVE A LOUD VOICE!!!”  I guess he thought the Pastor was God!

In my study this week, in preparation for the writing of this blog, I read many scriptures and commentaries on the subject of the Omnipresence of Almighty God.  I came across a phrase that affected me profoundly…GOD IS ALWAYS HERE, BUT ALSO ALREADY THERE.  Wow…that hit me with tears and praise.  I couldn’t stop weeping at the revelation of that truth for not only now, but for my future!!!

In Joshua 1:5 we read that God told him he was the new leader of the children of Israel after Moses died; “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you, I will never leave you or forsake you.” And in verse 9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  This promise was just before he led them across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

Psalm 23 reminds us that He will be with us through the valley of the shadow of death.

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”

Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?   If I go up to the heavens you are there; If I rise on the wings of the dawn, If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

In your scripture reading this week I suggest you read Job 38.  This will remind you that God is everywhere taking care of everything…..yesterday, today, and forever the same.  He is in control…and the sooner you give in to that fact the happier you will be.  Knowing that He is HERE, and in control and, you are not, is freeing!!!

You don’t need to be in a church building to experience God’s presence.  Enjoy the fact that God is with you wherever you go.  Talk to Him anytime…He loves YOU!

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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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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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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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I’m Being Pruned!

In the beginning of 2017, God told me this was going to be a year of growth and preparation. I did not know what kind of “growth and preparation” he was going to put me through. I am in the start up phase of my business so at first I pictured the growth of my business. I had dreams of what this year would look like with many clients, creating courses, and such. However, that is not the kind of growth God had for me.

This growth was more of an internal growth and preparation. Let me give you a picture. Think of plants and how they grow. If you let them grow and grow and grow without ever pruning them, they would get out of control. There is a hibiscus bush outside my front door. I get so excited when I see blooming red flowers! But then when the bush is overgrown the landscaper trims it and the flowers are gone. It’s a sad day when I come home and see the flowers have been pruned. However, when the flowers grow back they are more vibrant than ever before!

I see this as the life God has for us. He is the vine and we are the branches that continually get pruned. It hurts and it’s painful, but it’s for the best. I am in a pruning season. Pains I have avoided in the past are coming to the surface and I have a chose to either deal with them and uproot them, or to avoid them. Avoiding has not done me any good so I am choosing to deal with them. And let me tell you, it is not easy. I have been seeking outside help, which has been hard but so good at the same time.

I encourage you to look at the areas of your life that need pruning. We cannot be all God has called us to be if you do not deal with our pains, and our struggles, and our sins. We are not perfect which is why we go through these seasons of pruning. Let me tell you, even when you feel as though you are in the thick of it, God will never leave you. He has told me over and over that he is never leaving me and let me tell you, I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit even in my darkest moments. Trust the process and let God do the work he needs to in you. He will NEVER leave you.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 

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Entertaining Angels

My grandma would say, “Treat everyone with love and respect because you never know when you are entertaining angels.” And it wasn’t until years later (ok I’ll admit this year!) did I realize this exact phrase is in the Bible! My grandma knew the Bible like the back of her hand and I did not appreciate her knowledge until I grew older.

“Do not forget to entertain strangers for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

When I was younger I did not understand this statement. I had heard about angels but didn’t fully believe they were actually real and around us. This was a concept my head could not wrap around. I was too much in my head. I was trying to think logically. I couldn’t see them, how could they be real? This is where faith comes in.

I have heard stories of people being visited by what they thought were angels. The more I learn about God and the Holy Spirit, the more I become curious and want to know for myself.

Grandma would tell us a story she claimed taught her faith and the provision of the Lord. One day, during the Great Depression, there was no bread for lunches when she and her siblings left for school. Their mother instructed them to come home for lunch, which she recalls was not a short walk. When they arrived at home, their mother still did not have anything for them to eat. At that moment there was a knock on the door and a man stood before them with a loaf of bread to advertise a new bakery in the area. Their mother came in the the house with her eyes full of hope, lifted up the loaf of bread and exclaimed, “The Lord will provide.”

Grandma would tell me this story when I was a little girl, but when she told it she would say the man at the door was an angel. She would say the Lord sent him to provide food for her family. You never know when you are entertaining angels! 

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3 Considerations to Conquering FEAR

Tomorrow is the fourth of July. It is the day we celebrate the independence of the United States of America. When I think of the freedom I think of the men and women fighting for this country. I think of Jesus dying on the cross for our freedom in him.

I feel like freedom is something we say we have and yet a lot of us are held captive in our fears…

Last week at church we discussed fear, and this is something we all deal with. We are responsible for making the choice between using fear to our advantage or letting it over take us.

Here are some things we should consider.

1.Fear is Satan’s way of taking over your life.

He will do whatever it takes to get you to disobey God. He doesn’t want you to be successful. He doesn’t want you to have a joyful and happy life. Just think, if Satan is coming at you hard that must mean God has something HUGE in store for you.

“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and live it to the fullest.” John 10:10

2. The greater the fear/risk, the greater reward.

Think for a moment of a time when you were so fearful, or had to take a big risk for something. How was the outcome? Was it better than you would have expected? I can think of many times I was fearful and even a bit frustrated and wanted to give up, but when I decided to press in and conquer without a doubt I was so glad I did and felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

3. God is on your side. You have nothing to fear.

God is bigger than any of our problems, fears, or concerns. If there is a fear you have give it over to him and he will take care of it for you. I am releasing a fear of rejection. I am in the coaching field and I “sell” my services to others. I have a fear that people will not want what I have to offer. There are times I hear no, but the times I hear a yes I am over the moon and so glad I asked one more person, because the reward was much bigger than the risk!

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

These are the words God gave me during worship of lifegroup last week:

I have a plan. I know the next steps. I know what is out in front of you but you have to trust me. Let go of your fear of rejection and step into the risk of the unknown. There will be greater reward when you do the things that are hard and that take risk. What is ahead will not be easy but you are always up for adventure. Look at the next days of your life as adventure. The time you spend with me will radiate out and be a part of your daily life and be in every aspect.

Do the thing that scares you the most!

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