Listening in prayer

Do you keep a journal? We used to call them diaries, but that makes me think of a teenager writing about her secret crushes in the pages of a book she hopes no one will ever read. I’m not a teenager anymore and I don’t have any secret crushes, but I do have secrets. We all do, don’t we? Secrets that we hope no one will ever know, or read about. But I have learned something in my old age, there is Someone who knows all my secrets. His name is Jesus. And even though He knows every single one of them, even the ones I don’t even acknowledge to myself, they are safe with Him. I have discovered that He does one of two things with my secrets (He might do more, I don’t know). First, if I confess my secrets to Him, He will forgive them. I mean, isn’t that what sin is, a secret? And second, He loves me unconditionally, even as He watches me living with those unconfessed secrets. Perhaps, I should add that He does a third thing with my secrets, come to think of it. When I confess them, He forgets them! Micah 7:19 tells us “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”. This has often been translated as the sea of forgetfulness.  What powerful imagery! The ocean is a pretty big place and my secrets will easily be hidden and forgotten. Just ask anyone who has ever searched for debris in the middle of the ocean. It’s deep and wide and ever moving. 

But there is something else that I want to mention when it comes to keeping a journal. I write in my journal every morning the things that I believe God is showing me in scripture or telling me through His Holy Spirit. You see, God also has secrets, but His secrets are good, not evil and He likes to share them with His friends. In John 15:15 Jesus says to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”. Jesus wants to share His secrets with you and me as well. How do we know this? Because Jesus had just told the disciples a few moments earlier “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” and “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”. (John 14:16-17,26)

In John 10:27 Jesus tells us “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.

Let me rephrase that. Jesus tells us that if you are His sheep, you will hear His voice and follow Him. Let me ask you a question. Do you know the sound of your mate’s voice? Do you know the sound of your best friend’s voice? I’m assuming you said yes. Why do you know it so well? Is it because you spend time with them, and listen to them when they speak? I’m sure the answer is yes, again. So why do so many not know the voice of their Master? I think you are beginning to see where I’m going with this, at least I hope you do. Is the reason why so many Christian’s don’t know His voice, because they don’t spend any time listening? 

Let me ask you another question. Have you ever spent time with someone who talked non stop and never allowed you to get a word in edge wise? And when they were done, the “conversation” was over? I think a lot of us look at prayer like that. We talk at God, give Him our shopping list, tell Him what we want Him to do for us, and then we walk away. And might I add, that we walk away feeling satisfied, even gratified, because we spent time in prayer. So, how do you feel when someone just talks at you? I bet it’s not a nice feeling. I look at my prayer life, over the past 45 years of being a Christian, and I cringe to think how many times I did that to the Lord, and then patted myself on the back, thinking I had somehow appeased Him. I bet He didn’t feel so good. I have images in my mind of Him opening and shutting His mouth, trying to get a word in, but not being allowed to. Why? Because I never stopped talking long enough to allow Him to say anything.

So let’s go back to that journal. Why do I keep a journal? Because I like to write down all His secrets. I like to write down every single thing He tells me. My journal forces me to stop talking and listen for His voice. It was not easy at first. I had to learn to listen. I had to learn to be quiet and wait. But it has gotten so much easier with time. And I will testify to this, waiting on God and hearing His voice, is so worth it. There is nothing so wonderful as to hear the voice of the one who loves me the most, who delights in me, and died for my sin. And truthfully, He already knows everything I need and want. (I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t ask for things in prayer) He tells us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. What does seeking the kingdom really mean? Perhaps Mary shows us in Luke 10:41:42, But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” What was Mary doing? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, and listening. 

Why do you have to love God with all your heart?

Last Winter the Lord told me to do something I didn’t want to do. Have you ever had that happen? You know it’s Him! You know because the second you heard Him say it, this fear just grips your heart, and you know without a shadow of a doubt, that was God! Well that morning as I heard Him ask me to give this thing up, my heart fluttered and I didn’t want to do it. So I told Him that I didn’t want to do it, but, that I would still think about it. So I thought about it. I pondered on it and I came to a conclusion. I still didn’t want to do it, but I have learned over the course of my life, that He never asks me to give something up, without a good reason. I honestly believe, judging from my own experience, that God always gives back better. Seriously.

You’re probably wondering what I was told to give up? You might wonder if it was something evil, or wicked? Something sinful. But it wasn’t! He told me to stop buying so many craft supplies for my crafting hobby. If you know me, you know I love to make handmade cards and other mixed media projects. I was buying cool new products to play with each month. Sinful? No! Distracting? Yes! It was hard to spend time with Him on occasion when I was looking at new toys to play with. And let’s face it, this society loves new toys. Now I want to mention something here. He wasn’t asking me to stop creating. He was asking me to stop buying.

After I had chosen to obey Him, (not a pleasant word, is it?) I was reading in Luke 14:33, “In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not say good-bye to all his possessions cannot be my disciple”. Ouch. I hadn’t seen that one coming and frankly, I was glad I had made the right choice. Thankfully He hadn’t asked me to get rid of all my craft supplies. 

So, why would the Lord ask me to do this? What He showed me is that we often believe that God is only interested in the big things. And in my opinion, buying craft supplies was a little thing. It’s not like I was spending a ton of money. Or that we didn’t have the budget for it. But here’s the problem: it was a part of my heart that I had kept for myself. Have you ever considered that your heart is a big thing? It might actually be the biggest thing you have to give. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37 and John 10:27 that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. I was keeping a part, albeit a small part of my heart to myself. Even though what I was doing was not evil or harmful, it was a part of my heart that did not belong to Him. I knew this to be true because it would not have been such a struggle to stop, if it had. 

Now, this story would not be complete it I didn’t tell you what happened after I chose to obey Him. (Yes, it really is a choice.) It didn’t take long either. Within days of my submitting to His request, I started to feel this sense of peace come over me. I actually began to feel more joy while I was creating something fun. Instead of always feeling the pressure to actually use the new products I had recently purchased, I was enjoying what I already owned. I began to pull out things I had forgotten about, that I hadn’t played with in years. Amazing. I was surprised, to be honest. I discovered that He really does know what’s best for me! I can trust Him. Even with my whole heart! So, how about you? What immediately came to your mind, when you first read this story? Don’t be afraid. You can trust Him with your whole heart. He is a very good God!

The coming Apocalypse of Jesus Christ

Lately I have had this overwhelming sense of being alone, of confusion and of nothing making sense anymore. I have felt this on and off for some time now, and I know many others have as well.  I know that God is not the author of confusion, and yet, there seems to be this air of turmoil and distress in the atmosphere. I hear people saying “I just want things to get back to normal”, or “I can’t wait for all this to be over”. But what if all “this” is part of a greater plan? No, I’m not talking about conspiracy theories. I’m talking about God’s plan for the end of this world.  When the disciples asked Jesus what would be the signs of the end of the age, the first thing that Jesus said was, “Do not be deceived”. (Matthew 24:4, Mark 13:5, Luke 21:8) Why would He say that unless there is great deception coming on this earth? What if this great deception is already here and it has started with many small deceptions? Most of us who are Christians have read or perhaps heard about the coming anti-Christ talked about in the books of Revelation and Daniel, and even in other books of the Bible. We are told that he will deceive the whole world, and that he will perform great signs and wonders on this earth, to deceive, in the words of Jesus, if it were possible, the very elect. (Matthew 24:24) What if all this turmoil and confusion is so that we are willing to accept this leader who will restore things back to normal? It reminds me of the phrase, if you want to cook a frog, put him in a pot and heat the water slowly. He won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. 

With this in mind, I want to ask some questions that I hope will get you to think and perhaps even to reinterpret what is really going on in the world right now. Feel free to comment or even add your own questions.

What if one of the reasons for the turmoil we all feel is that there has been very little, if any, teaching in the church about the end of the age? What if the reason we are in distress is because, like the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ time period, we have misunderstood, or perhaps misconstrued the scriptures to fit our own narrative? What if our understanding of the “end of the world” has been shaped more by Hollywood and its numerous apocalyptic movies, that we all paid to watch, than by the Bible? What if these movies inadvertently taught us that evil is in control, that God is dead and that the devil will win? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes, when I look back at how many movies I paid good money for, so I could learn their narrative, in the name of entertainment. You see, the world knows the end is near, but the church for some reason, has chosen to ignore it. 

Here’s another question for you. What if the reason we have all been caught off guard, sleeping, like the 10 virgins, (Matthew 25:1-13) is because our faith has not been in the God of the Bible, but in an idol that we have created in our own minds, a mental “golden calf” that we called Jesus? Have we perhaps done what the Israelites did in Exodus 32 when they made a golden calf out of their own jewelry and then called it Yahweh? Paul warns us in the scriptures that in the end, we would be taught doctrines of demons, and another gospel. This is a particularly tough one for me, because I’ve had to really examine what I have been taught and what I have believed, compared to what’s actually in the Scriptures. There are different gospels being taught, some focus on unity, others focus on prosperity, and some even teach that sin no longer matters because God loves us and just wants us to be happy. These “gospels” are very crafty in what they teach and it is hard to not be fooled by them. Often times it’s not what they teach. It’s what they don’t teach!  

He tells us to pray that we would be counted worthy to escape what is coming on this earth. But how many of us are actually reading the word for ourselves and know this? How many are so familiar with the word of God, that we can recognize when we are being taught a lie, albeit a subtle one? How many recognize deception when it is presented to us? How many of us know the Bible so well that we discern a false gospel when we hear it?

What if our understanding of the word apocalypse is actually incorrect? What if the word does not mean devastation and destruction, as Hollywood has tried so hard to teach us, but instead, revelation. (The Greek word apokalypsis means: disclosure: — appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation).

What if there is actually nothing to be afraid of? What if God is wrapping things up, bringing things to a close and has plans to rapture His church before the time of great tribulation that is coming on this earth? Would you still be afraid? Would you still be confused and in turmoil? And what if I told you that that is exactly what the coming apocalypse is! It is about the revelation of Jesus Christ to the whole world. Jesus tells us in Luke 21:28

“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” That sounds more like hope than despair to me!

What if our understanding of Scripture is all wrong? What if the entire Bible, 6000 years of history points to the revelation of Jesus Christ? If you look at the Old Testament, every single scripture, every single book, points to His first coming. It all points to Jesus! And from that time forward, from His death and resurrection, every scripture, every book has pointed to His second coming? You see, when you look at His story, History, you see Jesus! Jesus who came to earth, to redeem us and is preparing to come back to restore all things. It’s all about Jesus. We must take our eyes off of the world, off of the media, off of everything except Jesus. He is coming for a pure and spotless bride. And that my friends, is the greatest joy, the greatest victory, the greatest story ever told. 

I know I have asked some tough questions here, but my goal, my desire is to get you to think. Sometimes, a change in perspective, a paradigm shift in our thinking is really all that we need. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.

Paul is saying, change your thinking. Stop looking at things from the worlds perspective, from the devil’s perspective, and start looking at things from God’s point of view. I will repeat what I have said in other posts, God is in control. The reason things are heating up in the world is not because God is reacting to the devil! NO. The devil is reacting to God, because he knows his time is short. Revelation 12:12

We have been taught that the devil has power and he does. I’ve even heard it taught that God is not in control, that humans are. What foolishness. God is sovereign! He gives us free will, He delegates His authority at times, but He is, always has been and always will be in control of this world. This is His Story. This is His world and Jesus is coming back soon for His church.

And I might add one more question. Do you know Him? Have you repented of your sins and believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross two thousand years ago for your sins? Do you believe that He then rose from the dead three days later and now sits at the right hand of the Father, ruling and reigning? If you haven’t repented, I encourage you to call out to Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to you and to forgive you for your sin. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. He has no desire to send any of us to hell. Hell was created for the devil and his fallen angels. But we too will end up there, if we choose to follow the devil and make a mockery of the cross. We too will end up there if we choose to believe that we are good people and don’t salvation through the cross. Keep watch my friends. Don’t be caught asleep when He comes!