I love the red-letter editions of the many versions of the Bible I enjoy reading. There is just something about reading through the Gospels and seeing the words, that Jesus spoke, written in red.
Recently, I had an opportunity to read about a woman who used this same concept during her prayer time. In the book, the author shares a story about her friend taking a prayer journal with her when she goes to pray. She said, “I write in blue ink the words I want to say to the Lord in prayer. There’s something helpful about taking the time to write it out longhand. Then I wait in God’s presence for what I sense He is saying in response to what I’ve written. When I get a sense of His response, I write it in red. Back and forth we have a discussion, in blue ink and red ink.”1
A red ink pen is always handy for me, but I had never thought of using it this way. I am one of the people who mark up all the books I read. You can pull any book from my bookshelf including a Bible and know exactly my favorite parts and my thoughts about it because they will be circled, underlined, and comments added in red.
I also have a passion for spiritual journaling. For years, I have tried to document the insights I receive as I study the Word of God, as I pray, and frankly, as I just do life. I have found that if we are faithful with what the Lord gives us, He will give us more! Additionally, I realize my human inability to remember even the very important things as life goes by so quickly.
There have been many times that during my journaling I have chosen to write my prayers out longhand, and there have been times I have written things I feel the Lord is revealing or directing at the time, but I have never thought about changing ink color to write what I felt the Lord was speaking.
With this author’s story, I decided to do just that. I decided to write out my prayer that day. When I had finished, I picked up my red ink pen and I said, “OK Lord, I am listening” Immediately, I knew exactly what to write, the Lord began to impress on my heart the words He was speaking to me that I should document!
Since that time, I can thumb through my journal and quickly see sections written in red! There is just something about the expectation of picking up that pen and then waiting and listening for His voice. This practice has given me a fresh perspective on my communication with God.
In the book I referenced, the author asked her friend how she knew those impressions in her mind that she wrote in red were from God. “Without hesitation, she replied, “God’s response always lines up with the Word of God and the nature of God. Over the course of time, I’ve learned to hear His voice, to recognize the ideas He drops in my heart while I wait on Him. The enemy wouldn’t be telling me the type of things I write.”1
We learn as we practice. One of those red-letter passages found in the Word of God tells us, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NLT). As we spend dedicated time with the Lord, we can learn to hear His voice clearly.
I don’t choose to make writing out my prayers a ritualistic thing that I do every day, there will be times I choose to verbalize my prayer. I have however, quickly learned that it is a powerful practice to enter into my prayer time with the attitude that I am having a conversation with God and His part will be written down in red! It is a reminder that my discussions with Him are not supposed to be a one-way dialog!
There was something about picking up that red pen and saying, “I’m listening” that opened the door for the communication because I actively took on a new posture. I don’t think I will look at a red ink pen the same now, and I hope you won’t either!
Barrett, Donna L. Leveling The Praying Field: Helping Every Person Talk To God And Hear from God. Gospel Publishing House. 2019. 82-83
I love a new year. It is a great time for change, a time for new priorities, a time for leaving the past behind and looking toward the future. For 2019, I have felt to pray and believe for things for which there is “NO PRECEDENT”.
Before I explain why these two words are my focus, I want to invite everyone reading this to join with my church, Grace Community Church, and me as we start our year strong with a week of prayer and fasting starting Sunday 1/13 through Saturday 1/19.
I will be posting a daily update starting Sunday morning with the daily prayer focus topic and pertinent Scriptures, which I encourage you to pray and declare over each topic.
Additionally, I want to encourage you to add some level of fasting to the week’s activities. There are many types of fasts and there are great benefits to pairing prayer and fasting together.
Now I want to describe my focus of “No Precedent”. When I think about the word precedent, the first thing that comes to my mind is the way it is used legally. Let me share that form of the definition.
The noun precedent means an example from the past that provides evidence for an argument. It is most commonly used in legal circles and, more specifically, can be described as a previously decided case that guides the decision of a future case.
Having discovered a similar case in the past, the prosecution team used this precedent to support their argument.
There is precedent with last year’s Smith versus Jones case. 1
Two other ways precedent is defined in Merriam Webster Dictionary is:
“Something done or said that may serve as an example or rule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same or an analogous kind a verdict that had no precedent; a person or thing that serves as a model” 2
I want to share one last example I found which is…
Precedent and the Supreme Court
“A precedent is something that precedes, or comes before. The Supreme Court relies on precedents—that is, earlier laws or decisions that provide some example or rule to guide them in the case they’re actually deciding. (For example) When hostages are being held for ransom, a government may worry about setting a bad precedent if it gives in…” 3
Now that we have considered many definitions of the word precedent, I want to contemplate “NO PRECEDENT”. What happens when a case comes before the Supreme Court for which there is no precedent? In this situation, there is no previous example to guide the decision making process. The judges are forced to look outside of just what they have experienced or read from the past, and they must now move forward with the facts, knowledge, and wisdom they have been given. There is no history, tradition, or precedent to guide their thought process.
Another way to consider this thought is inventions. Before something is discovered or invented, there is no precedent to guide the thought process about the discovery. Think about electricity as an example. Since electricity is a natural force that exists in our world, it didn’t have to be invented. It did however, have to be discovered and understood.
Most people give credit to Benjamin Franklin for discovering electricity, In 1752, Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment. In order to show that lightning was electricity, he flew a kite during a thunderstorm. He tied a metal key to the kite string to conduct the electricity. Building upon Franklin’s work, many other scientists studied electricity and began to understand more about how it works. For example, in 1879, Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb and our world has been brighter ever since! 4
We have all experienced times when due to a storm or technical issue we lost our electrical power. Most can’t imagine living life long term without electricity, yet before it was discovered, there was NO PRECEDENT for electricity and all the benefits it provides us. People didn’t sit around and say, “I sure wish someone would discover electricity, it sure would be great”. They didn’t know what they were missing because there was no precedent for it at that time.
Let’s consider an example that is near and dear to most of us, the mobile phone. At one time, we thought it was great to be able to sit attached to a cord and take turns using our phone with our neighbors for whom we shared our party line. At that time, there was NO PRECEDENT for this device called a mobile phone, which is now so much more than just a means of verbal communication. This gadget is our camera, GPS, computer, video gaming system, flashlight, calculator, dictionary, video camera, weatherman, photo album, mail, Bible, and so much more!
When the Lord began to challenge me with these two words, “NO PRECEDENT”, I was reminded of three specific images from my childhood church, where I started attending when I was only 4 years old.
The first image I was reminded of was an out-house! Unbelievably, I vividly remember having to go outside to a wooden building as a small child when I first started attending that small community church.
The second image I saw was the old church fan. That device made of cardboard and a wooden stick that we used to stay cool since there wasn’t any air conditioning! Thirdly, I remembered those hard wooden pews.
When indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and padded pews were available, the church embraced and welcomed these things. Why is it then that the church, is often less likely to accept the spiritual things for which there is no precedent?
There was no precedent for a women until God formed Eve from the rib of Adam
When Noah spent years and years building a boat on dry land, there was no precedent of rain
There was no precedent for a baby being born from a virgin until Mary delivered Jesus
There was no precedent for Moses’ burning bush or Saul’s bright light on the road to Damascus, but both of these men were never the same after these experiences.
Just because there was no precedent for any of these examples, does not make them any less real. Have you ever thought about what would have happened if Mary had said to the angel, “No thank you, I won’t carry the Son of God because there is no precedent for that!” Thankfully, she responded positively and said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). I don’t believe that meant that she totally understood everything, but she was willing to do something that had never been done to see God’s plan fulfilled!
Let’s consider the passage in Luke 5:36-39 from the New Living Translation.
36 Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. 37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”
Jesus’ comment in this passage concerns the Pharisees who rejected the “new wine” or the gospel and held that the “old wine” which was first century Judaism was better. Up to this time, there was no precedent for the gospel that is now being preached. Jesus was very controversial and not all believed or followed Him.
I could show you many examples, but this one has always stood out to me the most. Look with me at portions of John 6:53-67 NLT
53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.
60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” 61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.)
66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
The disciples felt that what Jesus was saying was very hard to accept. He was teaching them spiritual truths that didn’t make sense to their natural thinking. There was NO PRECEDENT for this type of teaching or believing. In fact, we read where many couldn’t accept it and they deserted Jesus.
Those who stayed had to make a decision, just because they had never seen what Jesus was doing before, just because they had never heard these teachings before, would they choose to have faith and believe or would they decide this is too hard and walk away.
I want to remind you of the verse I read earlier
“But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.” Luke 5:39 NLT
In 2019 are you content to say,
What I have is just fine?
Where I am with God is just fine?
All the undiscovered bottomless things of God are just fine?
Just getting by is just fine?
Do you remember what I said about electricity? It didn’t have to be invented, but it DID have to be discovered and understood. We need to be driven to discover and understand the bottomless things of God, EVEN THOSE FOR WHICH THERE IS NO PRECEDENT!
If you are like me, then you are not satisfied with “THIS IS JUST FINE” MENTALITY! In 2019, we have to be willing to put on some new flexible wine skins. What that means is we may have to be willing to sacrifice our own ideas, opinions, agendas, and preferences. We may have to sacrifice our time, our comfort zones, and our traditions!
Traditions can be a good thing; we just enjoyed a holiday season where I am sure many of you have traditions. Certain traditions can be healthy, but some can be harmful.
When tradition is doing something for the simple reason that we have always done it this way, it can inhibit growth and forward momentum. I heard the Lord speak to my spirit….this year choose ignition instead of tradition!
In that context, I am talking about tradition as doing something simply because we have always done it that way, even though God stopped directing that a long time ago.
When I think about IGNITION, it gives me the idea of a rocket ship launching. I believe God is challenging us to “Fan into flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to each of us” (2 Timothy 1:6). WE NEED TO BE IGNIGTED!
We need to dare to believe again, dream big again, and have faith to hope for the things we haven’t seen yet. Even the things for which there is NO PRECENDENT!
I opened with definitions of the word precedent, now let me take you to the Bible’s definition of “NO PRECEDENT”.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV
9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
I particularly love that last verse in the Amplified Bible; it says, “The bottomless things of God”! While I know that we often think this passage only pertains to heaven, I believe it also applies to earth. There are some things that eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and man has not even thought of that God wants to do for His people to advance His kingdom.
Are you someone who wants 2019 to be full of the things God has that eye has not seen and ear has not heard? If that is you, let me give you some next steps.
It’s a new year and it is time for a new wine skin! We need to get alone with God and allow Him to renew our mind and transform us from unhealthy tradition to ignition.
We must avoid imposing past traditional structures on present renewals. We should understand that yesterday’s forms are often incapable of handling today’s dynamic of spiritual renewal
Make prayer a priority! Plan now to be a part of our week of prayer and fasting starting this Sunday January 13th.
Ask God to show you specific things that you are to pray and believe for in 2019. Then write it down. This will keep you focused throughout the year.
Begin now to plan how you will participate in the fast. Write down your plan so you will be more likely to stick with it.
NEW BEGINNINGS….BELIEVE AGAIN!
I realize that sometimes it is easier to settle, to feel like the old is good enough, but I am here to challenge you to hope and expect again.
It is important to inspect what you expect. Set some goals; write down what you are expecting God to do in the coming days. Have courage to believe again, even if you have been disappointed, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and dare to believe again!
Stay persistent! Many people plan to change the way they eat or the way they exercise at the New Year. The reality is, the majority will not even make that change last until the end of the month. If you go back to the old ways, you never have anything new. If you want something you have never had, you are going to have to do something you have never done.
I am asking God to help me let my guard down; to not be afraid to believe for the big things. I am asking Him to change any doubt into faith, and to give me some bulldog tenacity and persistence to stay with it until the end. I want to keep on believing for the things I see with my spirit eyes regardless of what I see with my natural eyes. Will you believe with me this year?
Several years ago, my husband and I took off for Wisconsin to pick up our boat. Since neither of us had ever been to this area, we used a TomTom GPS in the truck to help us find our way. I did not realize that when I entered the destination in the GPS, that it asked me if I wanted to avoid toll roads. I inadvertently selected “yes”. We drove around and around one of the major cities on our way to our destination because the GPS was routing us around the toll roads. Coming home, we realized our mistake, paid our two quarters to stay on a toll road, and saved an hour of drive time!
Recently, I flew to Houston Texas to train a new employee with my company. My connecting flight was delayed which caused me to arrive at Houston late at night. I was somewhat uneasy finding my way to my hotel because I do not see as well as I once did after dark, I had never been to Houston, and I was in an unfamiliar rental car. I was using my iPad to navigate me to my hotel. Siri routed me onto a toll road. I come to the first gate where I needed to pay two quarters, which luckily I found and kept moving. Siri told me to exit quickly but as I came off the exit ramp there was an officer waving me back on the toll road. There had been a horrible wreck with a semi-truck and a car and there were casualties. There was no way to get over to the street that led to my hotel.
The officer was not patient with me so I sped back onto the toll road beginning to feel even more uneasy with my current circumstances. I came to the next gate and pulled into the lane with an attendant. I explained my circumstances, and she began to tell me all the turns I would need to take to get back to that exit without using the toll road. I gave her two more quarters and proceeded to the next exit off the toll road. Siri autocorrected and began to navigate me through a very scary neighborhood and back streets until I was finally safely at my hotel.
The next morning when it was daylight I could see that I had a choice. The state highway ran parallel to the toll road and I opted to use it each day as I traveled between work and my hotel. One afternoon on my way back, I noticed one reason people were willing to pay to drive the toll road was to avoid traffic.
I want you to consider these two examples of my toll road experiences in a spiritual analogy. In this analogy, the highway will symbolize your soul and the toll road will represent your spirit.
Scripture acknowledges that there is a difference in our soul and spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASA
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We all live in a body, we have a soul, and we have a spirit. When I reference your soul in this analogy of the highway, I am referring to your mind, will, and emotions. We know that our soul is often at war with our spirit man. Consider this Scripture.
Galatians 5:16-17 NASU
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
“Flesh” in this passage is just another way to refer to your soulish realm which includes your mind, will, and emotions. The focus for this teaching is your mind, or more specifically your human understanding.
Have you ever acted on information that you did not fully understand? If we are honest, all of us have done this many times. There are two major statements that I want you to consider.
You know some things in your spirit that your mind does not understand.
Your mind battles with what your spirit knows.
I want to reference several Scriptures to drive these two statements home, starting with one that is very familiar to most of us.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
I KNOW SOME THINGS THAT MY MIND DOES NOT UNDERSTAND!
This Scripture reminds us that we should not lean on our own understanding. In many ways, this passage is related to the war between your soul and your spirit. Instead of leaning on our own understanding, we are directed to acknowledge Him in all our ways.In the original text, this word “ways” means a road or course, in relation to my analogy; we pay the price to stay on the toll road. What is the price?The word “acknowledge” in Hebrew is yada, which basically means direct, intimate contact with God. The price of staying on the toll road is staying in close communion with your Heavenly Father so He can enlighten your understanding. Look at these examples.
1 Corinthians 2:10-15 NKJV
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
This passage is supporting the fact that your spirit knows some things that your mind does not understand! However, in these next four verses, we read that we can have our understanding enlightened.
Luke 24:44-45 NASU
44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Ephesians 1:17-18 NKJV
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
2 Timothy 2:7 NASU
Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
1 John 5:20a NASU
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true;
MY MIND BATTLES WITH WHAT MY SPIRIT KNOWS!
We just referenced several Scriptures that show us that the Lord will help us to “know” some things. He will enlighten our understanding. God reveals things to us in different ways, but in many cases, that understanding doesn’t last forever. In that moment that the Lord shows you something, or speaks something, you KNOW it in your spirit, but then time passes and your mind or your human reasoning begins to question if it was real or you may simply forget it.
This is why I am faithful to carry a spiritual journal with me most of the time. When God speaks something, or shows me something, I have to write it down because I know that later my mind will question it, or I will forget about it.
Once God enlightens your understanding, it often becomes about obedience and diligence to document and stand firm on the revelation knowledge He provides. This is because many times you will not feel it or your mind will not understand it again at some point in the future. Life is full of distractions and our human emotions and understanding fluctuate with the cares of life.
It is easy to let our mind go to the worse case scenarios, it requires less discipline to allow our emotions to drive us; but that is the highway that most travel. You will be better off to pay your quarters and stay on the toll road, you will do a lot less circling the situation, and you will stay on a road of safety.
So how do we win this war between our soul and our spirit? How do we stay on the toll road? As I already said, staying in a close personal relationship with your Heavenly Father is key, but with that prayer is essential.
There are many kinds of prayer, but I like to incorporate prayers of declaration into my life. I build those declarations from the promises found in Scripture. I use these declaration prayers to inspire spontaneous communication with my Father during my prayer time.
Has your mind been warring against what your spirit knows? Do you find yourself wavering from faith to fear or from belief to doubt? I want to encourage you today to use the below prayer, stand firm on the promises of God, pay your quarters and STAY ON THE TOLL ROAD!
Toll Road Prayer
Today my soul is warring against my spirit! My soul, which is my mind, will, and emotions, relies on my human understanding. However, I know some things in my spirit that my mind does not understand! That is why I commit to trust in the Lord with all my heart and I do not lean on my own understanding. (Prov. 3:5) The peace of God surpasses all my human understanding and that peace guards my heart and my mind through Jesus Christ. (Phil. 4:7)
Even though I walk in the flesh, I do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of my warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3-5) I bring every thought, emotion, and human understanding that is contrary to God’s will captive and I refuse to entertain it.
Father, Your Word tells me to give attention to know understanding, (Prov. 4:1) and I trust You to give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, and to enlighten the eyes of my understanding (Eph. 1:17-18), that I will see and say what my spirit knows even if my human understanding is limited.
Everyone loves a season of revival, but how do we experience this season? If I take a food recipe, add every ingredient just as directed, and follow every instruction, I can expect a specific outcome. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is an exact recipe for revival. God chooses when and how He wants to reveal Himself to His children. One thing we can do is create an atmosphere that is conducive for God to move in our midst. This is not a formula or a recipe, but an opportunity for an appointment.
The definition of atmosphere is, “A surrounding influence or environment”. 1 This is simple to explain, but defining revival is not quite as easy. I think we often equate “revival” to special services that are scheduled from time to time, but this is not what I am talking about.
For some, revival is literally bringing back to life; similar to the way you would revive a person who has stopped breathing, or one whose heart stopped beating. Some are dead to the things of God, and are living their life away from Him. They are revived to life in Christ when they begin serving Him for the first time or they come back after being in a backslidden state. A revival should be a time where we see the lost saved and the backslidden come home.
What is revival for Christians, those who are faithful to attend church, and practice the disciplines of faith? Consider this passage of Scripture.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NASU
16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Based on this passage, we could say that for the Christian, revival is a time of renewal. A time of renewed focus, rekindled passion, and revitalized energy to pursue the next place in God. A season where there is movement from one state of glory to the next. This passage says that we “are being transformed.” It is not a stagnant state and I believe a season of revival is a time to move from one state of glory to the next.
There is a familiar passage in Matthew where Jesus explains the parable of the sower. This parable is relating to people who receive the Word of God, but I also think this passage can be used to paint the picture I am talking about with revival.
Matthew 13:18-23 NASU
18″Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
The common element in all four of these examples was the seed. The seed did not change, but the ground where it was positioned did. For this analogy, I want you to consider the seed as an opportunity for revival or renewal and let us consider the ground as the atmosphere.
In this parable we see that the ground, or in our analogy the atmosphere, can be hindered by many things. The enemy hindered the growth of the first seed. That is because he hates revival, and will pull out every weapon in his arsenal to prevent a move of God.
The second seed in the parable was hindered by affliction and persecution, “because of the word”. It is common for those who are actively seeking revival to come under attack. As I already stated, the enemy hates revival.
The third seed’s growth was hindered by worry, anxiety, cares of this world, and deceitfulness of wealth. All of these are distractions, and if we do not cast these cares over on the Lord, they will prevent us from having an atmosphere conducive for revival.
Jesus has provided the power for us to overcome all of these hindrances, and just as we can create good soil that is favorable for seed to grow, we can create an atmosphere that is conducive for revival or renewal.
The first thing we do to create that atmosphere for revival is to pray. The Bible says:
2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
History shows us that every significant revival was birthed with prayer.
The second thing that will shift the atmosphere is praise and worship!
2 Chronicles 5:13-14 AMP
13 And when the trumpeters and singers were joined in unison, making one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and other instruments for song and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever, then the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud, 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
You can shift the atmosphere with praise and worship as an individual, but look what happened when a corporate body joined in unison! The glory of the Lord filled the house so that the priest could not stand to minister! That is what I call revival!
When the enemy comes to steal your seed, or the cares of life are pressing against you, or trials and tribulations are making you want to back up….just start praising and worshiping and you will see the atmosphere shift!
Look at this example when Paul and Silas are in prison:
Acts 16:25-30 NASU
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Again, that is what I call revival! Their prayer and their praise changed the atmosphere in this prison. Chains were broken, and when these signs and wonders happened, the jailer wanted to know what he needed to do to be saved!
This is what we see in a season of revival, we see prisoners set free, we see chains broken, addictions broken, bad habits broken, negative mindsets broken, and we see people get saved!
The third thing that creates an atmosphere for revival is hunger or desperation.
Proverbs 16:26 The Message Bible
Appetite is an incentive to work; hunger makes you work all the harder.
This passage is basically saying people who are physically hungry have an incentive to work. Hunger, in the natural, will drive people to do things they might not otherwise do. It should also be this way in the spiritual realm. Our spiritual hunger for a move of God should drive us to dig deeper and do things we might not otherwise do, and it will move Him and will shift the atmosphere.
When Jesus gave the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, one of them was about hunger.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 NASU
Hunger and desperation for a touch of God is powerful. There are so many examples in scripture of this, but one of my very favorites is Bartimaeus.
Luke 18:35-43 NASU
35 As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 36 Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, 41 “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.
I love this man! He did not care what others thought or what they said, he was a desperate man. When he realized the uproar of the crowd was a result of Jesus coming near, he was determined to take action. He cried out with all his might, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
He was persistent. When he was told to be quiet, his response was to cry even louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Those around you may not understand your hunger and your desperation, these people didn’t understand Bartameus. I can just hear in my mind what he might have been thinking when those around him were telling him to be quiet. “It is easy for you to not be hungry for something, it is easy for you to not be desperate, but I haven’t seen everything I want to see yet!”
I feel the same way; I have not seen everything I want to see yet! I want my hunger and my desperation to reach heaven. I want it to shift the atmosphere and bring revival in to this city, to this state and to our world!
The last thing that creates an atmosphere for revival is expectancy. After Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we read in Acts where He provided instructions to the believers.
3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Acts 1:3-5 NASU
If you continue reading in this passage, it tells us that Jesus ascended to heaven and they traveled back to Jerusalem where they went to the upper room. The Bible says that they were “All with one mind and were continually devoting themselves to prayer”. (Acts 1:14)
I believe that they went into that upper room with expectation. I believe, as they stayed unified in prayer they anticipated the very thing that Jesus had told them was promised.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4 NASU
I believe this group in this upper room created an atmosphere for revival. They prayed, they worshiped, they were hungry, they were expectant…, and SUDDENLY heaven appeared!
They did not know what this season of revival would look like. I am sure they did not expect it to be like it was, but it was powerful and it was from God. The Bible says about three thousand were saved that day and, “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles”. (Acts 2:43)
That is what I call revival!
While revival is difficult to define, it is something we must contend for. We can’t just follow a recipe and expect a specific outcome, but we can pray, praise and worship, be hungry, and expect a move of God, and we will create an atmosphere where He will do just that!
Will you join me? Will you contend with us to create an atmosphere that is conducive for revival?
As I close this teaching, I want to link you to a video to watch. When I was seeking God in prayer about this lesson, He gave me the title and the main points. After that, this song that you can hear at this link began to play.
The song begins with the words, “The atmosphere is changing now”. Later I looked for the video of the song instead of just the audio. Close to the end of the video, a small sprout begins to grow out of the ground. What confirmation for me, when I had used the analogy of the seed and the atmosphere! I believe if we are faithful, that we CAN create an atmosphere for God to move. Watch the video at this link and be blessed.
Atmosphere. 2016. In Merriam-Webster.com Retrieved April 19, 2016, from http//www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atmosphere
This series began with the inspiration and purpose for the 90-Day journey of prayer and communion that we recently experienced. In part two, I shared that I had insight from each month of this journey that I feel relates to the seasons we experience in our Christian walk.
In the last post, I discussed the first-month season of relationship building and intimacy with God. This is so critical. It is the foundation that will ground you through every other season you will face. David was the example that we considered and we will continue to see how examples from his life will relate to the next season we will study.
We began to feel a shift in the atmosphere during the second month of the 90-Day journey of prayer and communion. I feel this directly related to the fact that our enemy, Satan, was not happy with this commitment to pray and he certainly did not like our newfound understanding of the power of the cross.
Warfare became very intense for many. Have you heard the saying, “New level, new devil?” I don’t know about you, but when there is an intensity in warfare that hits my life, I view it as a positive. That means I am really close to something precious that the enemy does not want me to have.
I recently saw this post on Facebook.
Times of intense warfare is when many miss their blessing – miss their destiny – miss their breakthrough…..when the warfare gets intense they listen to that lie of the devil that says, “If you will just stop praying, stop worshipping, stop giving, the battle will stop!”
NO! The greatest battle will often come before your greatest victory!
David was not afraid of the giant Goliath, although other trained soldiers with greater stature than he cowered in fear. I like the way David responded to Saul when he argued that he was not equipped to fight Goliath.
1 Samuel 17:34-37 NASU
“But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”
The intensity of this battle or the size of the enemy did not intimidated David. This is what he said to Goliath.
1 Samuel 17:45-46 NASU
“You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you.”
Where did David’s confidence come from? He gained his assurance during his season of intimacy! His strong relationship with God developed his faith that He would provide, empower, and intervene. His confidence grew through each private victory in battle, first with the lion, then with the bear. God was faithful.
If David had this kind of confidence, we should have more! We live on this side of the cross….where all power and authority is available to us to defeat every power and every principality through the blood and the name of Jesus.
During the 90-Day journey, we kept music playing at the church during those designated prayer times each day. One song that often played was an encouragement to not be moved by the winds or the waves during a storm. We should keep our eyes on Him, for He is all we need. This is what we must do during times of intense warfare, keep our eyes on Him, and stay in close proximity to the power available through the cross.
During seasons of warfare, you should also remember that the enemy has many different strategies, and one key tactic is to wear out the saints. There is a big difference in stepping into the ring to fight a world championship and stepping into the ring of an underground cage fight.
There are times that the enemy will taunt us to jump in that cage fight ring…..in this place his plan is just to wear us out and beat us up so we are not in our position for the real territory taking battle we are called to!
Sometimes you have to strap on your armor, get your shield of faith and your sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God and just STAND until the commander gives you the order to engage! (Ephesians 6:10-17)
When the enemy tries to get you distracted this way, just declare, “I’m not stepping in that ring!” Warfare seasons are a reality for a child of God. When those times come remember what the Bible tells us:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NKJV
In the first part of “Unleashing the Potential of the Cross”, I shared the inspiration and purpose for the 90-Day journey of prayer and communion. As I stated then, I feel there were specific insights learned in each of the three months of this journey that apply to seasons we face in our Christian life. In parts two through four, I want to break down these three seasons I feel the journey represents with the examples from the life of David.
Month one of this journey was all about intimacy and all about spending time with God. The presence of God was so rich every time I set aside time to meet with Him. It was a time to reconnect with the Father and not ask for anything but just focus on my relationship with Him.
When Jesus walked on this earth, He scolded Martha saying she was troubled and worried about MANY things, but Mary chose the ONE thing that was important…..time at His feet. (Luke 10:38-42)
If we want to walk victoriously in our Christian life, the very first thing we must learn is to consistently stay at His feet – stay in His presence, and focus on our relationship with Him! Our relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is what will get us through every season we encounter!
David understood relationship and fellowship with God. He was the least likely choice to become King of Israel, but what qualified him was he learned about the presence of God in the sheep field. Scripture tells us “…the Lord has sought out [David] a man after His own heart….” (1 Sam 13:14 AMP)
David was human and made significant mistakes, but when he did, he did not go to the people to look good politically, he went to the Father.
Ps 51:10-12 AMP
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
I recently heard a minister say this, “Politicians always want position. Prophets always want presence. When politicians get in trouble, they try to preserve the position, but prophets preserve the presence!”
David knew the power of God’s presence. When you read the story of him bringing the Ark of God’s Presence back after it had been stolen by the Philistines in 2 Samuel 6:1-11, it paints a picture of the three-month journey I am describing.
If you know the story, the first time David attempted to move the Ark he tried to do it a new way, with a new cart. Uzzah reached out and touched the Ark to stabilize it as it rode on the cart and he died.
Here is an interesting thought…..Perhaps Uzzah became too familiar with the Ark of God’s presence since his father Abinadab’s house is where the Ark had been housed.
I have heard this said, “The same sun that melts wax hardens clay.” The Bible tells us that in the last days even the very elect will be deceived. I believe one of the greatest deceptions is becoming too familiar with the presence of God! We should never take the things of God lightly or for granted, especially in the days we are living in!
After Uzzah died, David took the Ark of God’s presence to the house of Oben-edem for three months. David was still determined to bring the Ark back, but he had to be willing to do some things differently to get it done. He learned some things during his 90-day journey as well. The second time David did some things differently.
The first time he tried to do it the convenient way…with a cart. The second time he followed the pattern of less convenience and the priests carried the ark.
The first time he chose 30,000 choice men, the second time “all the house of Israel” participated.
The first time there was just worship, but the second time there was sacrifice….there was blood!
Scripture tells us after six paces they sacrificed an ox and a fatling. (2 Samuel 6:13) Most commentators will say this happened after the first six paces only, but many think that they sacrificed every six paces. If that is true, they left a blood trail all the way back! In the same way, we must make much of the blood of Jesus who was our sacrifice. His blood gives us permission to go to dimensions we have never been before.
David had the priest bare the weight and do it the inconvenient way and they had to kill some things along the way! We need to be willing to do some things that are inconvenient and we need to let go of some things to experience this new dimension!
When David came into the city with the Ark of God’s presence, his wife had hatred for him because of the way he was acting as he was dancing before the Lord. She did not understand or think it was necessary. We see the same response when the woman brought her alabaster box and poured it out on Jesus’ feet and washed them with her tears and her hair. (Luke 7:37-38) Many thought that was not necessary.Many do not understand walking in close fellowship with the Father. They are critical of acts of worship or a commitment like communion and prayer two times a day for 90 days, because it is heavy and it is inconvenient. I believe these types of commitments equip us to be mighty men and women of God in every season we face!
So in summary, month one was a reminder of these importance points:
Our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – we should always make time for Him.
A reminder that there is much power available through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and through the blood He shed.
Sometimes a commitment to relationship is inconvenient, it is at times sacrificial, but it is worth it!
In His presence we are strengthened, empowered, and equipped to face all other seasons.
At the beginning of April this year, while traveling very early in the morning, I was challenged to embark on a journey as I listened to a sermon by podcast. The minister was discussing many topics that I had been studying and praying about since the beginning of the year. He was encouraging this church to begin a 90-day journey of dedicated time of pray twice a day, which would also include partaking of communion. As I listened, the Lord began to urge me to make this commitment as well.
I thought that these three months would be a personal journey for me, beginning April 11th and ending on July 11th. However, the second day of my commitment was a Sunday, and at the end of our church service, I felt compelled to share briefly with the people at my church about this challenge and encourage others to join if they felt inspired to do so. Our pastor immediately determined that this needed to be a corporate commitment and he said we would have the church open at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day!
Now the accountability became very real! It was one thing to tell the Lord in the privacy of my car that I would pray and take communion twice a day for 90 days, but to do it publically added a new level of commitment that made me thankful. To be honest with you, I entered into that time knowing it was an appointment, but unsure what the purpose or outcome would be. One thing I can say is that if you set aside two hours a day to meet with the Lord, you can expect there to be revelation. It would be impossible for me to share everything about this 90-day journey, but I do want to try to articulate some strategies I believe the Lord showed me that will be critical for us to understand during these final days.
This commitment seemed extreme to many, but I believe we are living in extreme times. We are seeing thing unfold that I never thought I would live to see. Signs of our Lord’s soon return are all around us. However, as darkness gets darker, we the Church are to shine forth bright, this is the time for great visitations, people are looking for a solution, people are looking for deliverance, and Jesus is the answer!
We are living in a time like never before and it is very important that the church wake up and the lost come to Christ. I am not sure how much catastrophe or how much of God’s glory we will see to bring the end time harvest of souls, but I believe we see this time defined in Scripture.
The Bible warns us in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASU
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”
But in contrast to the great difficulty, look at what we read in Acts 2:17-21 NASU
“AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT and they shall prophesy. AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESSAND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’”
I believe that the time we are living in will require us to enlist and engage as the Army of Christ on a different level than we have in the past. I also believe that that each month of the 90-day journey painted a picture of the seasons we must learn to navigate. In this post, I want to provide the introduction, and then I will post insights from each month in parts two through four.
For me personally, the significance of the beginning of this 90 days on 4/11 can be referenced in the below scripture.
“And He said to them, to you has been entrusted the mystery of the kingdom of God [that is, the secret counsels of God which are hidden from the ungodly]; but for those outside [of our circle] everything becomes a parable.” Mark 4:11 AMP
When Jesus walked on this earth, He often taught by using stories, analogies, or parables. These stories often concealed the truth from those who would oppose His message. However, those who were closest to Him could understand the truth behind the comparisons.
Another way to say it is, Jesus veiled the truth in parables and then looked for treasure hunters who could reveal the story in the story.
The thing about a treasure hunt is it requires perseverance and commitment. This leads to the significance of the end of the 90 days 7/11….
“If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!” Matthew 7:11 AMP
If you consider this scripture in context going back to the previous chapter there are many wonderful nuggets….
Matthew 6:19-21 AMP
“Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
This 90-day journey was not about treasure on earth it was about Kingdom treasure. The kind of treasure that is found with perseverance, commitment, and sacrifice and through methods that was inconvenient! Many, like those who did not understand the parables, do not realize that these treasures are even available. They are hidden unless you seek and ask for them.
It is critical for us to find them now, because I believe these treasures will enable and empower us to navigate the unique times we are living in!
Matthew 7:7-8 AMP
“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. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.”
Asking implies consciousness of need and belief that God hears our prayers. Seeking implies earnest petitioning along with obedience to God’s will. Knocking implies perseverance in coming to God even when He does not respond quickly.
90 days of asking, seeking, and knocking through prayer and communion twice a day. 90 X 2 = 180! Many people need a “180” in their lives, and this 90-day journey was a dedicated time to seek direction and ask for that to happen.
So you may be asking, “Why communion?” I do not believe I fully understood this at the beginning, but I quickly learned that at least for me, and I believe also for the Body of Christ, we need a renewed passion for the power of the cross!
Perhaps you noticed the title is not “Unleashing the Power of the Cross”. This was my original plan, but through prayer, I realized it should be “Unleashing the Potential of the Cross”. Let me explain why…
Do you know what that word potential means? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it means, “existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality.”
We talk about the power of the cross, the power of the blood of Jesus, but we do not always walk in that power so it is actually potential.
It is easy to become too familiar with the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made on it if you have been a Christian for a long time. I began to be stirred about the power of the cross and Jesus’ blood a month before Easter this year. Our pastor had placed a big, wooden cross on the platform for his sermon series. The first Sunday it was there, I was sitting on the front chair, and while Pastor was preaching, I began to have a fresh perspective of the meaning. I began to thank God for sending His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for me – I thanked Jesus for that ultimate sacrifice and for shedding His blood for me, and for bleeding as he bore those stripes for my healing.
While sitting there looking at that cross, I got a glimpse of something in my spirit….You know how you can watch crime scene coverage or TV shows and they go to a place where they think someone has cleaned up the blood from a crime? They show the agent spray the substance called luminol. Then turn the light off and they see the blood that was not previously visible show up in a blue color.
That morning, looking at that cross, I got a glimpse of what the enemy and all his forces see when they come out of darkness to bring opposition to the child of God….they see the blood! It may have been shed 2000 years ago, many have tried to clean it up, but it is still there!
Just as the Children of Israel applied the blood of a lamb for protection, we in this age apply the blood of Jesus. We pray from the place of the power of the blood, the cross, and the resurrection. That same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us!
During this 90-day journey, I heard God say this:
My Son’s blood is more than enough to meet every need and break every chain!
My son’s blood purchased your salvation.
My son’s blood paid the price for your healing, but what you must understand is His great sacrifice also granted you access to heavenly places:
When He breathed His last breath on the cross, the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom, granting you access to joint seating with My Son!
My son met all requirements once and for all!
Do not allow His great sacrifice to be taken for granted.
The door is standing wide open! Access has been granted for you to walk in all authority, power, and revelation…to be My hands and feet, and voice in this earth in these final hours.
THIS WORD CHALLENGES ME TO SEE THE CROSS AS MORE THAN A FIRE ESCAPE!!!
I believe this is why communion twice a day for 90 days was so important during this consecrated time. I can tell you for me; it brought a brand new perspective of the potential of the cross.
Day after day, I came to the cross; I laid many things down at the cross, things I do not need to carry because He already carried them for me. I would pray, “Lord if you will take care of my business, I will focus on Yours!
Day after day, I not only laid things down at the cross, but I picked things up from the cross. He said, “Access has been granted to walk in all authority, power, and revelation.” Day after day, I picked up authority, I picked up power, and I picked up revelation!
I learned that the closer proximity to the cross, the greater the power.
Why am I telling you about this? Because it is available for each of us! I feel like this 3-month period was an ordained period for me personally and for our corporate body. We saw some of the “180’s” happen, but more importantly, there was a “180” in my perspective about the potential of the cross that is available to us! It is not limited to this 90-day journey, but is available for the remaining days we live on this earth!