Why Pray?

My siblings and I have had a good relationship over the years, but we never spent a lot of time just talking on a regular basis. Two are gone and now it is just me and my eldest brother living in another state. It occurred to me over a year ago that one day one of us will be gone, then the other. In the past, we have gone years at a time not communicating. There was no problem between us. It was just each being busy with life as it is. I determined to call him once a month and we were just going to talk. I will text ahead of time to see if it is a good time to talk. For the past year, that has been happening, and we both look forward to our monthly chat. There is no set day, but my determination was to do it in the first part of the month, knowing that if it was put off, a month could slip by and we not communicate. Through our monthly communication we have tapped in on a good thing that we were missing. Sometimes we have talked more than an hour, laughing, exchanging ideas, and reminiscing the pastjust having a good ol’ time – something that was unheard of in the past. And we have had a face time call or two when there was something of interest to be shown and seen. I would encourage anyone to do what you need to do to communicate with family in a positive way. One day the family is gone and we will have missed out on some good things that were available to each of us.

The question has been asked, “Why pray?” We communicate with God because words share ideas, desires, observations, burdens, and questions. With prayer to God we should always have a time when we shut up and just be quiet and listen to hear from God. He can communicate back to us directions, encouragement, reproof, instructions, and solutions. As we of the same family can communicate back and forth, so can sons and daughters of God communicate back and forth with their heavenly Father. If we are busy with life so that we don’t set aside the time and initiate the call, we can go days, months, years, and even a lifetime with no communication. When we fail to be in communication with God, we stand to lose a lot here and now and our eternal soul forever. One day it is all over and we have missed the goodness and benefits that could have been experienced. When this is realized, there is good reason for gnashing regret for not making the call with Father God on a regular basis. Why pray? To open our heart before our heavenly Father who cares for us. Then, hearing his Word to our heart and mind allows him to share his heart with us. Prayer from the heart is always a good thing.

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Jesus Is The Gift To All Mankind

This Jesus, whom the world celebrates in this season, was a man supernaturally sent and birthed into the world to save us from our sins. He came by the hand of God the Father and he grew up under the hand of God the Spirit teaching and guiding him. The Word declares that he himself is God whose name Emmanuel means “God with us.” As God in the beginning of creation was God and moved and spoke by his Spirit, so did Jesus move and speak by his Spirit. The Word says he was anointed by the Spirit of God to preach the gospel and go about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. This Jesus came to bring order and freedom in our lives. He gave himself wholly to that mission. He took a terrible beating that left him unrecognizable, and then was hung on a cross to die. Some thought God was afflicting him, but he did this to take our sicknesses away, and to take our sins away, and to give us dominion and authority over the devil. He did all this as a gift to mankind. Did you catch that? He did all this as a gift to mankind. He gave himself and the work he accomplished as a gift to all mankind. He did this to help us with the things we face in life and to be with us when we face death. To receive the gift of him, of his person, by faith, is to receive his life and all that he accomplished for us. Our identification with him is by water baptism. Our power in him is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Our walk in his victory in this life is by walking in fellowship with the Father through the Spirit of God. This is the way Jesus did it for us. This is the way we do it for our own lives and for others. This Jesus who died for us was raised from the dead and lives today in the heavenly realm. His Spirit is sent to be his presence on earth in our lives. Just as we receive the person of Jesus by faith, we receive the person and operation of the Spirit in our lives by faith. We hear the Word, receive and embrace it, and take action accordingly. It is the same pattern in creation and the same pattern in the life and ministry of Jesus. He moved and spoke by the Spirit. He did it together to accomplish the work of God in the earth. We trust God and we move and speak by the Spirit to accomplish the work of God on the earth. It is living by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He is God’s gift to all mankind to bring abundant life and liberty in every way. This wonderful gift is offered to you in love. It is extended to you. Will you receive Him?

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With God All Things Are Possible

Recently a man came up to me after the prison ministry and asked for prayer. In some one-on-one counsel he told me of his apprehension of getting out soon and meeting his Mom. He is a young man around 30 years old who has been in prison for several years. His concern was that he had never known his Mom to be sober. For his whole life, they were either drunk or high together, or both.  Once he was in prison, he got sobered up and had been drawn to the Lord. He started going to prison church regularly and learning about the power of prayer. He started praying for his Mom. With that, his Mom got busted and is in drug court. She, too, has sobered up. Now, he is about to get out and meet her for the first time in his life with them both being sober. He is excited and just sort of scared for who he is going to meet. He expressed that he just does not know what it is going to be like or what to expect. He feels like he is going to meet his real Mother for the first time in his life. We did some praying together concerning the situation, and I encouraged him to be walking in the Spirit by trusting God in the whole thing, and keep the Lord central is his life committed totally to Him. And, we agreed that his Mom come into the things of God with her making a total commitment to Him, also.

I daresay that most of us have not dealt with such a situation in our personal lives. But whether this or some other type situation, there is a lesson that we all can take to heart – never give up hope. With our trust in God and calling upon his name, we can expect and prepare for change to occur. God did not just turn us loose and say “Make it the best you can.” He gave promise that if we call upon him and give ourselves to him, he will be faithful to help us and guide us into the way, the truth, and the abundant life. He is bigger than all situations. Even when it seems impossible, remember, with God, all things are possible. This young man and his Mom have the opportunity to start a whole new life. It is in his heart to help others come into the same new life in the Lord that he is experiencing. I am praying that he stand strong and give a clear witness to his Mom of his commitment to the Lord and the blessings he is experiencing in him, and that she can know him, too. This is what it takes. It takes the power of the Spirit of God in and upon our lives to overcome the patterns of destruction that get set up in our lives. We in ourselves fail, but with God all things are possible.

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Surgery, Renovation, Abundant Life

We are all familiar with a doctor doing surgery to remove or repair something concerning our body. I once had a hernia that reached emergency proportions so I ended up in the ER. There, we got it resolved enough so in the next week I was able to have a regular surgical session scheduled and have it fixed. I should have had it fixed a long time before, but I did not. It has done well for years now with no impairment. I know of a man who had a dream concerning a certain person in a certain church in a certain town. The man in the dream had a good life, but he was hungry and thirsty for more of God. He had heard of some Christian leaders who had experienced more gifts and power of God in their lives, and this stirred him to desire the gifts and power of God even more. In the dream, the church the man was a part of was undergoing extensive renovation. The renovation of the church involved taking out, the surgical removal, if you will, of old windows, doors, walls, and other parts that impaired the full function of the facility. As with any renovation, it was a messy operation, but the end result was good. As a respected member of that church, this man’s walk with God would influence others toward having more of God’s gifts and power in their lives, also. The Lord sent a message to the man to encourage him to “earnestly desire” (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1) more of what God had for him. As he did this, the Lord met with him and graciously poured his Spirit out upon him, transforming his life, enhancing his walk with the Lord. He received that for which he was hungry and thirsty. As he continued to walk with the Lord Jesus in this more intimate way, the church was benefitted as were many others, even internationally.

The Lord ministers to us in such a way. We have things in our lives that impair his blessing to us and through us. There are concepts, practices, beliefs, opinions, and experiences that we carry that need to be surgically removed. He wants to remove the little windows of our building. He wants to install huge plate glass windows that allow a flood of light that dispels the hidden pockets of darkness that are harboring elements that impede the move of God in people’s lives. Through the operation of God in our lives we can come to a place of greater peace, joy, and fruitfulness in the kingdom of God with healing. Once the impairments are removed and the harmful conditions are repaired, there is a reconstruction with new materials on the established foundation of the Word of God with all the glory going to God. When the way is cleared so that what Jesus Christ accomplished for us is applied to our lives, abundant life is allowed to flow freely with healing.

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From Fig Leaves To Fullness Of Life

Now is the time of leaves. We have a fig bush in our back yard. Two large, deeply lobed fig leaves placed together makes a good pattern for a garment similar to a pair of shorts. If you sewed them together on the sides, leaving the top open, and attaching the bottom tip of the leaves, leaving space for legs to go through, they would make a good pair of shorts – for a while. When they dried, you would again be frolicking in your birthday suit.

The Bible is an amazing book. It tells how Adam and Eve went from innocence to the ingenuity of covering their naked realization of sin with fig leaves sewed together. They were placed in the garden and prophetically had freedom to eat of all the trees of the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life was in the garden. They could eat of that. But the law, just the knowledge of good and evil, brings death. They could not have life by the law. The law was given to expose sin. But they chose to attempt to live by that law, by that knowledge of good and evil. The results were inevitable. They died spiritually. To try to be good and do better, they made the attempt by their own religious efforts. With the fig leaves drying up in time and with this not sufficing as a permanent solution, God himself provided coats of animal skins to cover their nakedness and shame realized by sin in their lives (Genesis 3). With an animal being slain for them, this was a prophetic move on God’s part pointing to the future ultimate solution for the sin of all mankind – the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. We can never keep the law perfectly and be good enough to qualify entrance into the purity of heaven.

After a meeting in prison, I asked an inmate, “If you died and came before God, and he asked you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’”, what would you say? He was speechless. I shared with him how Jesus Christ lived a totally righteous life and gave himself as the sacrifice to pay for our sins. When we turn from trusting in our goodness and ability to be good, and turn to Jesus Christ trusting in and holding to what he did for us as our salvation before God, that is what will get us into heaven. He received that Word, prayed, and I will baptize him in the next scheduled time. His belief in and identification with Jesus Christ is his salvation. In Christ he can be filled with the Spirit of God and walk with God in victory and life now and forever. As long as we are living in the law of our goodness and ability, we fall short. When we count on Jesus alone for our right standing with God, we can live forever.

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Believing Prayer And Smart Choices

She attended the church as a teenager. About three weeks before she was murdered, she visited the church. I introduced the prayer Krystle LeeAnn Wilder posted on her refrigerator by relating to the funeral gathering that it was said many times that LeeAnn was a light to those around her. It was said that she loved her little Amani, she loved the pre-school children who she taught, and she lived a life of loving others generally. By what she wrote, it was evident that she put her trust in the Lord Jesus and committed her life to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is evident she was looking to and being open to the Lord for what she needed in her life. With this introduction I read her prayer statement to the assembly. It is apparent the Word of God lodged in her heart so her trust was in the goodness and faithfulness of God through the name of Jesus Christ. Now, I will allow her light to shine more by sharing her prayer with you. Her prayer statement is entitled, and I quote: ‘“To Press Through the Dark Days”. “We’re in a Holy Place right here and now, because we’re calling upon your presence Lord. You say that where two or three are gathered in your name, you are in the midst of them. And so we pray that you will inhabit our presence as your Word says that you will. Help us to cast off distractions and set aside anything that hinders us from allowing you, Lord. Let your Holy Spirit lead us according to your will and design for our life. Exchange our ideas for yours. Instill faithful Courage within us that is ready to do your will. In Jesus’ name we pray! Amen. For where two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 No matter how things look right now, know that God is still in control of our lives. Stay in peace and believe that He will always be with you in all directions. God knows when to send you exactly what you need.” End of quote. God is in control of our lives as we give him control through faith and calling upon his name and yielding our lives to him in trusting obedience. The devil seeks to destroy this kind of faith. He knows it can destroy his kingdom. After Herod killed James in the early church, prayer was ramped up without ceasing and rescued Peter from prison who was destined to be killed (Acts 12).  It is so important to stand strong in believing prayer and make smart choices to push back the hand of the enemy. There is warfare against faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ. We must know God’s ways and be quick to follow the promptings of God’s Spirit if we are going to triumph in every way.  Believing prayer and making smart choices is our key to victory.   

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Power Through Jesus Christ

Having encountered the Lord when I was about 14, my life was changed. All I wanted to do was read the Bible and learn more about Jesus and tell people about him. I actively began sharing Jesus everywhere I went with whoever would listen and with many who did not want to listen. Around the age of 19, recognized as “preacher”, I was ordained by a denominational church, and “pastored” in a couple of small churches. I actively shared the Lord in college. In the Word, I saw the early church operating in power that I knew nothing about, nor had I seen anything like it in the modern church. I knew God was the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and people’s needs were still the same as in “Bible days”. I was hungry and thirsty to know the God of the Bible and flow in the same power in which Jesus and the early church flowed. I heard about meetings in Little Rock where people were being filled with the Spirit just like in Bible days with the power of God being manifested in people’s lives as in the Bible. Some college buddies joined me in going to a meeting. The meeting was in a large fine home. There were probably about 25 people seated in chairs they brought in. One chair was set to itself. The speaker spoke and invited that if we wanted the Holy Spirit power of God in our lives, come sit in the chair for prayer. I immediately jumped up and quickly hurried to the chair and sat down. The speaker came over to me and laid a hand on my shoulder and said “There it is.” Silence. I was believing for the fullness of the power of God in my life, and I thought, “Well, there’s only one way to learn to swim, and that is to dive in!” In an act of faith and committal and yielding my life to Him, I opened my mouth to give breath to praise,  and out came a language from my inner being that I had never heard. I stood up speaking in another language and went to a bedroom to privately continue in my new language. This was the beginning of what I read about in the Bible. Jesus then became even more real to me and continues to be more real to me in every way. I have seen and continue to see miracles in my own and other people’s lives. The Heavenly Father is a person who is Father to me. The Son, Jesus Christ, is a person, who is my Lord and Savior for what he did for me. The Holy Spirit is a person, the Helper Jesus promised to be right with me in this life in supernatural power.  He helps with communication with God and helps empower me for an effective witness of Jesus Christ. They all work together as One God for power and victory in life.

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Salvation Through Jesus Christ

A black, six-foot-wide livestock watering tub just fits in my 6 x 10-foot trailer. It comfortably holds 20 inches of water which is more than enough to completely submerge a person. This is what I have been using to baptize the prisoners in the prison ministry. We had two people who wanted to be baptized in the church. We announced we would go to the house and have a baptism immediately after church. As we were having “meet and greet”, a teenage girl came up to me and said she wanted to be saved. With tears running down her cheeks, Barbara led her to faith in Jesus Christ and giving her life to Jesus. We have a large yard, so I went ahead of the group and directed the cars in getting parked in the yard. We all congregated under our pavilion where the baptismal tub was parked, and rejoiced in three precious people entering a life of commitment to and walking with Jesus.

When I was about twelve years old, I was hearing the preaching at church and walked down the aisle, said yes to all the questions, was pronounced to be saved, and got baptized. I was a good kid, but about two years later in the privacy of my bedroom while saying my nightly prayers, I began to realize I did not have a real connection with God. I argued within myself that I was saved because I had walked the aisle, gotten baptized, and was a good person. The inward struggle brought me to a time of tears of desperation, sobbing into my pillow so I would not disturb my parents sleeping in the next bedroom. Then, I came to realize: Jesus Christ died for me. What he did for me is what makes me right with God. I had peace. I quit crying. Then, I realized I could commit ankle deep, knee deep, loin deep, or it was a river that could not be passed over (Ezekiel 47). I prayed, “Lord, let me dive in and swim on your grace!” I made a total commitment of my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, to follow him, trusting in his finished work for me as my salvation. I have erred along the way, but he always draws me back to himself, washing me clean from my sin by the power of his blood that he shed for me. Years later, with a clear understanding of the meaning of water baptism, I was baptized again. Now, when the good news of what Jesus has done for us is preached, believed, and received, just like in the book of Acts, obedience and commitment is shown by being immersed in water. This shows our old life is washed away and we are raised into new life in Christ, committed to following him. That’s how we roll. Believe, turn from our way, receive Jesus’ work as our salvation, be baptized. Commit our life to him. Walk with him in peace.

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God’s Way To Bring About Healing

Cleaning up some very large bamboo cane along the creek that borders our property, rewarded me with some very fine splinters in one of my fingers. It happened to be the same finger that I shot a nail through, and into the next finger, a couple of years ago. And, a couple of days before I got the bamboo splinters, in that same finger I had already gotten a couple of splinters off an old door I was sanding. The finger painfully swelled and needed surgery to really fix it, but I opted for the antibiotic only from the medical field. After preparation for self-surgery – alcohol, sharp knife, etc., I realized the one set of splinters was broken off too deep for me to deal with, and the bamboo splinters were too fine to even be seen, much less to be dug out. Plus, the pain to dig around so deep – it was way too much. So, I just let it go and continued with the antibiotic. Now, with the month or so that has passed, that finger has a hard knot within it. No doubt, the flesh has encapsulated the cane splinters as the defense mechanism God has set up to deal with such neglect of remedy. Now, there is no pain, just a knot a little less than the size of a black-eyed pea in my finger. I guess it will be there till my dying day.

Here’s the deal. In life we get splinters between us. We’ve all been stuck and we have all stuck somebody with a harsh word, a misunderstanding, a misdeed, and on it goes unlimited. We can go to the heavenly Father and deal with it his way, or we can just let it go and get calloused over the matter. God’s way to deal with offences is that we each humble ourselves before God and before each other. We are to lay the cards on the table of how we either gave offence or were offended. We are to confess our faults one to another. Then, we are to pray for each other. According to the Word, this is what brings about a healing (James 5:14-16). The offence, the splinter, is not just internalized and calloused over. It is removed and real healing takes place, because our mutual trust is placed in God who is the healer. This is how the Master Physician handles it. We might make a shallow apology and live in a calloused condition, but doing it God’s way brings complete healing. Complete healing is better. The offense, the splinter, being calloused over, is a condition of hardness. We want to remain tender toward God and toward each other. Doing it God’s way helps us to be sensitive to God’s needs and desires and to each other’s needs and desires. Jesus Christ paid for us to have overflowing abundant life. Abundant life is living in peace, joy, harmony, and with a mind to love and help one another.

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A Sweet Smell In The House

As I walked by one of the back rooms of the house, I noticed a very faint, pleasant fragrance. I didn’t think anything about it. About the third time this happened, it got my attention. I thought, “Hmm, what is this sweet fragrance. I’ve not noticed it before.” I followed the scent and looked around the bedroom then the bathroom. Then I remembered! I had put out a new bar of soap in the shower. Barb buys these big bars of soap that last a long time, and they are usually all different scents. That bar of soap was wafting its particular fragrance through the bathroom, into the bedroom, and down the hall. It was barely perceptible in the hall, but it was there. When it really got my attention I wanted to find the source.

Paul told the Ephesians that as we walk in love as Christ walked in love for us, it is a “sweetsmelling savour” (a very pleasing fragrance) to God. Jesus gave himself as an offering and a sacrifice for us for our good and benefit. As we offer ourselves as an offering and sacrifice to God, we too, become a pleasant fragrance to him. Paul  said to the Corinthians as we triumph in Christ in this love walk, and our lifestyle and demeanor shows the knowledge of him in every place, we are a sweet fragrance to God and to people. To people who are perishing, we are a fragrance of death to death, and to saved people we are a fragrance of life to life (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). As our lifestyle and behavior reflects the lifestyle and behavior of Christ, then we are that pleasant fragrance to God and man. Not every person likes what they smell, but if it is Christ in us, God enjoys it and those who love God enjoy it. What we, as believers want to do, is make sure we are generating the pleasant fragrance from the love of Christ, and not some acrid odor of the flesh from the love of self. Every bar of soap has a different fragrance, but they are all pleasant. Every personality is different, but we all can be permeated by the same love of Christ which is a godly, merciful, and compassionate love. It’s like the old song, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, that’s just one thing, there’s just too little of”. This love will boldly take the knowledge of God to the street because it will have a pure life to back it up. It can be an unrelenting warrior when needed, but it is also gentle, wise, and always seeking a way to benefit the situation. This is what Jesus did by living in the supernatural power of the Spirit of God. By God’s power he brought help, healing, wholeness, and eternal life to those who had ears to hear. This is the sweet fragrance God enjoys that draws men to God. It is Christ expressed.

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