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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WRESTLING………..REALLY?

That…is one of the strangest sports I have ever watched!

Some of you may have a family member or friend who has a child in that sport in high school,  I really don`t “get it”, but wrestling has been “tangling of bodies” type competition for thousands of years.

Jacob wrestled with God.   In Genesis we begin to learn of Jacob, who tricked his father Isaac into blessing him instead of his older brother Esau.  Jacob goes through a journey of places and marriages, and births of children and increase of wealth due to the fulfilled blessing of his father Isaac (Genesis 28:1-4).

Jacob was an upright honest man and a worshiper of the One True God.  By the time we get to Genesis 32, he has 11 sons, and some daughters.  Jacob is about to see his brother Esau, whom he tricked out of their father’s blessing.  That night as he tried to sleep…

(Gen. 32:24-30 NIV)”So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him ’till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob”s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man,Then the man said’,’Let me go, for it is daybreak. But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’  The man asked him, ‘What is your name?‘  ‘Jacob, he answered.  ‘Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.’  ‘Jacob said, Please tell me your name.’ ‘But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?  Then he blessed him there.’ So Jacob called the place Peniel,, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

WOW! That was some wrestling match!!! (I have a friend who says he doesn’t trust anyone who doesn’t limp!)

That wrestling (or struggle as is often interpreted) resulted in the beginning of the 12 tribes of Israel.  (Jacob’s 12th son Benjamin, was born after this incident.)

If you are like me, you have wrestled with God over a situation in your life.  Maybe many a sleepless night, or days of quiet thoughts and prayers, until the peace comes.  I have cried out to God “I will not let you go until you give me the correct answer!”

Sometimes the answer is not what you want.  My years of knowing God has shown me the answer is not always noticeable right away.  That’s where faith and trust are necessary in our walk with the Lord.  I look back and say “Now I see why God did it that way!  It was for my good!

Wrestling or struggling with God is a good thing!  It means you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  Wrestling in prayer for others is good too…that’s called interceding.  But, since we live in this sinful world, the instruction in Ephesians 6:10-18 is to consider wrestling with sin and winning.

.“Finally, my brethren, be strong on the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers. against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”(NKJV)

Whatever wrestling match you are in right now…be strong in the Lord…and WIN.  Even if, in wrestling with God you must give up to His best for you...YOU STILL WIN !!!

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I’m waiting, God. Where are you?

My church is currently revisiting the book of Psalms, with a different pastor preaching each Sunday. It is so refreshing! Isn’t that the beauty of God’s Word? It is alive and each time we read it, we gain new insight and a fresh perspective on how to apply it to our lives.

Recently, pastor Michael spoke on Psalm 13 – God in our waiting. He reminded us that we all are in a place of waiting at some point in our lives. What do we do when we don’t know where God is, we don’t know what God is doing, or our life looks nothing like we thought it would?

What then?

I remember years ago when I had been severely hurt by someone I thought was a friend. It was painful. It was confusing. And quite frankly, it was depressing.

What did I do?

First, in my tears I turned to the Psalms. The Psalms of lament comforted me somehow. Knowing there were others who had endured such pain and made it to the other side reassured me that I would, too. Seeing that God is okay with me asking WHY? was comforting.

Then, God asked me to pray for that former friend. I began to go on prayer walks every day. As I rounded the corner by her house I made sure to cover her in prayer. God had me do this for a full year. I don’t know the effect it had on her, but I can see now that this was the key to healing my broken heart.

Finally, I lifted up praise to God. Even if I didn’t know what would come of this break in our friendship, I knew God was still good and in praising Him, I allowed the Holy Spirit to take over my mind – renew my mind and change my heart. Do you know what? It’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you have abandoned yourself to worship. IMPOSSIBLE.

Without even knowing it, I was following the example that is laid out in Psalm 13 –

So, what should we do?

First, we LAMENT

1How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Then, we PETITION, or PRAY

3Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

Finally, we PRAISE

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

Yes. He has been good to me.

Even if.

Even though.

God is still good.

Amen.

(If you’d like to hear the sermon mentioned above, you can click here to find it.)

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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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What are the desires of your heart?

Do you have desires deep in your heart that some people might not even know about?

Do you have hopes and dreams that are buried deep that you are even afraid to acknowledge with the fear they may never come true?

I love this verse

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4

DELIGHT in the Lord and HE with GIVE YOU the DESIRES in your heart that you and him may only know about. But he knows. He knows your heart and if you spend time with him he will deliver.

“The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God.”

I am reading through a prayer challenge book called “Draw the Circle.” It is by the same other who wrote “Circle Maker.” He talks about praying circles about your hopes, dreams, desires, and wants. It’s about being persistent and trusting that God will provide. Sometimes he doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want him too but he answers them in a better way. Sometimes the answer is no, and sometimes it’s yes. With that he has our best interests in mind.

He knows the deep desires of your heart and he wants you to pray into them. Sometimes patience is required because things don’t happen on our timing but in God’s. And that’s how it should be. He knows all the details. He sees everything we cannot see. Imagine trying to do a puzzle with your eyes closed and some of the pieces missing. You will never be able to complete it. But God has all the pieces lined up in front of him and he can see everything! So why are you not trusting him with all that you are and the desires and dreams of your heart. He knows what they are, but he is wants you to pray into them.

Pray circles around your desires. I am doing that now and I am writing it down. Writing your prayers and desires down is helpful for later when you can go back and see how God connected the dots and how he answered your prayers! He most likely will answer them in ways you are not expecting.

“When we pray regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.” (Draw the Circle).

Seek God’s face every day. Bring him your hopes and dreams and desires. He has a plan! You must be patient, trust him, but take action by praying!

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Am I God’s Friend?

I was captivated by her story as she told me how God was her playmate as a child.

An only child, my friend Karen says, ” I didn’t have an imaginary friend as a little girl. I just talked to God all day long.” She smiled joyfully as she recounted days in the back yard of her family home, playing by herself. Only she wasn’t by herself. She was talking to God, her constant companion, about anything and everything.

Photo: AdobeStock - Used with Permission

Photo: AdobeStock – Used with Permission

I was amazed. You see, Karen didn’t have the benefit of attending Sunday school or church with her parents like I did.  She was left to her own devices in the spiritual realm at that young age. And yet, she KNEW God was close. He had called her by name. And she had listened. Her childlike faith allowed her to converse with the God of the universe like he was her best friend.

Because he was.

It makes me wonder – how many times had God called my name, even as a young girl, and I didn’t have ears to hear? My friend’s life-long ability to speak directly to God like he’s right there in the room with her is something I didn’t learn until much later in life, in spite of growing up in a pastor’s home.

Have you tried it? If you listen, he is calling your name. He wants you to know him. He wants you to talk to him. Like he’s right there in the room.

Because He is.

 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:3

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LOVE Your Enemies

Ouch. This is a tall order.

But, Jesus Himself tells us to pray for and love our enemies. UGH.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27, 28

At this time of great political dissension in the USA, not to mention riots, hate crimes, and general unrest, it is pertinent that we as Christians not only remember these direct words from Jesus, but that we actively participate in them daily. If there has ever been a time to love and pray for our enemies, it is now.

Our enemies range from ISIS to the “Frenemies” that permeate our daily lives. From that deadbeat Father that refuses to pay child support and tries to intimidate, to the head of a country who threatens nuclear war. Jesus makes no distinction. We must love and pray for them all.

Without fail.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

We did not deserve it, but He loved us anyway. And He loves us now and forever despite our constant shortcomings. We must think of loving our enemies in this way. We expect nothing in return, but give the unconditional love of God to those who don’t deserve it. It is only when we can turn our hearts from hatred to this kind of love that we can truly pray for our enemies and hope the very best for them – that they will also come to know the love and salvation of God on a personal level that will change them from the inside out.

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Regardless of our political views, we are to pray for our President and the leaders of the nations. Regardless of our personal disappointments and hurts, we are to pray for those who mistreat us.

This is truly a challenge. Will you take it with me? Will you commit to this kind of prayer and love? The world needs us now. Let us stand by humbling ourselves on our knees in authentic prayer and love for all.

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VALLEY THOUGHTS

Where I am now living there aren’t any geographical mountains….so there aren’t any valleys. It’s flat in Florida! Most of my life has been spent in places where I could at least see the mountains in the distance. I love the geographical mountains and valleys.

Some valleys are beautiful and lush with greenery due to the water run off from the surrounding mountains……but when the sun is low it casts long shadows and darkness comes sooner than on the mountain top.

One of my favorite old songs to sing is  “Peace In The Valley.” Everyone seems to identify with the Hope we have for the future when Jesus comes back to earth to set up His Kingdom. “What A Day That Will Be”…….so many songs we hear and sing give us encouragement that everything will be perfect “In The Sweet By and By”!!!

But what about peace right now…in our hearts, minds, thoughts, homes, neighborhoods……in our world?

In the 23rd Psalm, David says…”yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow….”  But, is there peace in the valley of our lives…..where those dark shadows hide our clear sight? We want to live on the mountain top all the time…but that’s not reality.

When we find ourselves in the valley there are many thoughts that trouble us. We want security, right? I know I have questions about tomorrow…..how about you?

We want to control our own lives, but we know we are subject to many circumstances we cannot control. We look back through the years and think about the rewards we worked for but somehow never realized. There were times we wanted revenge for being mistreated or left out. Some of you have felt abandoned, isolated, forgotten, or criticized, maybe by your own family.

Have you found yourself wandering in a dark valley of rejection or hurt today? Or in a valley of pain and poor health, or financial devastation? That “valley of the shadow of death” could be physical, mental, or spiritual.

Be encouraged today that it is possible for you to live on the mountain…..but you must be determined to climb out of the valley by reading God’s Word, memorizing some verses, praising and praying to God, asking for help, filling your mind with praise songs and hymns. Yes, it takes some work and determination…..just like a mountain climber in the physical world!!!

This poem written by Annie Johnson Flint speaks to reality..

God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn  pathways all our lives through. God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way. Grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.

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GOD’S VOICE

The older I get, the more I find how many deep hurts most people have from their past.  In the last two days three people have opened their hearts and mouths to spill out their deepest pain to me.

My heart is broken with the facts of life and the struggles we all deal with.  We are not immune to the deception of the enemy of our souls who constantly seeks to devour us.

All I can do is listen, encourage, and pray.

It seems when Satan the accuser does his dirty work on someone’s mind and stirs up old wounds, it weakens even those who seem, by all appearances, to be strong in the Lord.  The feelings of unworthiness take over and hope disappears.

Beloved ones……DO NOT LISTEN TO THE LIAR’S VOICE.

As I wrote in my May 2nd blog, Jesus says in the 10th chapter of the book of John, my sheep know my voice and will not listen or follow another.  Can you hear Him now?

Can you hear Him calling you to repentance and forgiveness and healing of memories that consume you, and who and what you think you are?

YOU ARE WORTH THE PRICE JESUS PAID ON CALVARY.  Don’t listen to the enemy of your soul who tells you Jesus couldn’t love you that much.  He did…He does…He will.

Trust God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit to help you on this journey of life.  No one else can do it for you……this is between you and God.

Find a believer in Christ to pray with you.  Seek out some verses of scripture that will sustain you every moment of everyday…..write them on a 3×5 card and keep them before you.  You will gain strength, and victory will be yours.  That’s a promise from God, and He does not break his promises!

LISTEN TO HIS VOICE………CAN YOU HEAR HIM NOW?

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ “Night sky praise

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When Heaven and Earth Collide

On Thursday I was worshipping during a corporate worship service and I felt as if heaven and earth were colliding. It was the feeling as if things of heaven were coming down to earth and all the saints were in one room together along with angels. The presence of God was so overwhelming in the room that I was flat on my face lying on my stomach on the floor.

While I was lying on the floor worshipping there was a presence of someone else worshipping with me. Yes, there were many other people physically in the room, but I felt as if someone was with me spiritually. It felt as though someone I dearly love who went home to Jesus about 6 years ago was with me. That presence was my dear Grandma! It was beautiful. I felt as though my grandma and I were worshipping our God together! I had tears of joy streaming down my face. She and I were laughing together and singing praises to our Savior. The moment was wonderful and I didn’t want it to end.

I know for a fact my grandma is in heaven and I believe God gives us gifts from heaven like visits from the ones we love who have gone before us.

This is not the first time my grandma has visited me. Almost exactly a year ago I had a dream that was so vivid I felt as though my grandma was in the room with me. She told me she was sent from God to bring me reassurance and hope.

Before my grandma’s visit last week, I was missing her and wishing she was with me. I want to talk with her so badly about all the things God is doing in my life. I want to sit down over a cup of coffee and have a conversation about Jesus. Even though I cannot physically see her or give her a hug, I was reminded on Thursday that she is with me. She is seeing all that God is doing in my life, and we shared a special moment together in the presence of God. What an incredible gift!

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Hillsong has a song called “Heaven and Earth.” The chorus is

Heaven and earth collide
The Savior for everyone has come
Bringing the dead to life
All for the glory of Your name

This is so true! The savior for everyone has come. He came to this earth and is alive in heaven. He brings the dead to life, which is true in many ways, but in this case, my grandma “died” on earth, but is alive in heaven with Jesus! And I was able to experience her being alive to bring glory to the name of Jesus. He is the only reason why I was able to worship with my grandma and see her in a dream.

I hope this is an encouragement to you! That you will experience heaven and earth colliding. Worship God, give thanks to him, praise his holy name, ask for an encounter with him, and you will experience the greatness and glory of the Lord on earth as it is in heaven.

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1: 18-19

 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” Matthew 6:9-10

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