Thursday, August 06, 2009
"WHOM THE SON SETS FREE IS FREE INDEED."
No fear. No restraints.
No self consciousness.
No judgment. No guilt. No shame.
No regret. No doubt. No pride.
Nothing to hold us down. No-one to keep us back.
Nothing to separate us from God's love.
Everything we've ever dared to dream.
This is freedom.
This is why Jesus came for us.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
This is, in part, why we worship.
We are free to be the men and women God has made us to be.
We are free to display His glory. We are free, as His adopted children,
to claim His glory as our own! We are free to cast off everything that hinders,
and the sin that so easily entangles, and run the amazing race He has marked out for us!
We are free to be OURSELVES, our TRUE selves. And most of all,
we are free to help invite others to walk in this freedom.
This is truly GOOD NEWS.
And this is why we are worship leaders.
Whom the Son sets free IS FREE INDEED!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Nic Billman: God's Heart for the Least of These: "You Will Find Me in the Darkness...I'm Out Here, Come Find Me"
A Vision of the Broken
Recently my wife and I and a few friends of ours had a time of worship. It was just my keyboard and our voices—simple and intimate. We were singing our love to Papa, and His presence was washing through the room. It was awesome! Then a vision come to me.
I saw the broken and the dying on the streets. There were prostitutes selling their bodies, there was a drug addict shooting up in the alleys, there were children begging for food, and there was a widow sitting alone on her porch with the blank stare of depression in her eyes. There was a crippled old man who was crying out, "Water, please, I need water"; his clothes torn and dirty. There was a mother with two babies—she was sitting at a laundromat weeping, her tears falling down on the faces of her hungry children. All of these people were desperate and dying. Everything was dark gray and lifeless.
From there I saw church buildings; the doors were closed, but there was life inside and awesome worship with lots of people. All of the people were praying and crying out, "God, we want to hear Your voice; why can't we hear You? Show us Your face. We want to see Your face." Then I heard a sound behind me. I turned back to the streets and heard the Father say, "I'm out here, come find Me."
"You Will Find Me in the Dark, You Will Find Me in the Darkness"
I started to sing these words, "When I was hungry, you gave Me bread. When I was thirsty, you gave Me a drink. I was sick, you came to Me. I was naked and poor and you clothed Me in love. Just stare into the eyes of the child who's left alone—there you'll find Me. Just open up your arms to hold the least of these—there you'll find Me. Come find Me." At the same time my wife, Rachael, started singing, "You will find Me in the dark, you will find Me in the darkness." It was clear that God was moving all of our hearts in the same direction.
We spent about an hour in that song as we interceded in worship for "the least of these." As a worship leader, I am constantly worshipping through music, whatever the setting: a church service, at a conference, in public or alone in my room. Since I was a teenager I've always had these experiences where we'll be at the height of worship and my heart immediately turns to the poor and the sick, or God takes me into a vision like He did the other night. If we sing about things like God's love, His heart, drawing closer to Him and wanting more of Him, we are going to inherit more of His heart. His heart is for you and me, and it's also for the "least of these." It's a beautiful intertwining of His heart and ours, and worship is the perfect atmosphere for that to take place!
My life's "theme song" is called "Shores of Grace." My wife and I wrote it back in September 2008. It was also written in an intense time of worship where God began to reveal His heart for the least of these and we began to pray, "Father, show us how to love so we can love with Your heart. Teach us how to see so we can see with Your eyes." Again, God just burst in right in the middle of our worship set and ruined our plans for the evening! Hallelujah!
God's Heart For The Least Of These
You see the heart of God has always been for the poor, the sick and the lost, listen to the words of Jesus from Matthew 25:34-40:
"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"
This was one of the last things that Jesus taught His disciples. Do you see how Jesus ties our blessings, righteousness and inheritance into our willingness to love and care for the least of these? Jesus identifies Himself with the least of these—He says I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, I was sick, I was in prison. We see it throughout the life of Jesus; He always had time for the least of these. He stopped a meeting to spend time with a broken woman who wanted to anoint his feet. He stopped along His journey to visit with a shamed Samaritan woman. He even ignored the law regarding the Sabbath to heal a man who was born blind.
In fact, most of the miracles that Jesus did was when He was just out and about. He didn't plan outreach events with the disciples. He just did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19), and that was loving the people.
Jesus simply could not look upon the multitudes and not have compassion for them (Matthew 9:36, 14:14). His heart was so full of the love of the Father that He couldn't look without compassion. We are to live the same way. We should be so full of God's love that rivers of living water should flow from our hearts and change lives and atmospheres everywhere we go. This is what Jesus was referring to when, in Matthew 10:8, He said, "Freely you've received, freely give." He said to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and raise the dead. Why? All for love. Freely we receive His love and freely we must pour it out! All of those actions are targeted on "the least of these"—the sick, the dying, the oppressed and the dead!
James goes so far as to incorporate the least of these into the very definition of pure religion in James 1:27:
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
The mindset of the world is to look out for number one, to do what's best for you and to focus on your needs. However, the mindset of Jesus was to ignore His needs and instead focus on the needs of the poor and the sick. We need to be unspotted or uncontaminated from the ways of the world and simply fix our eyes on Jesus and follow in His footsteps.
Praise, Worship and the Glory
Now you might be saying, "What does that have to do with worship?" If worship is all about drawing closer to the heart of the Father, we're going to feel God's heart for the least of these. And if worship is all about honoring the Father, then what better way is there to honor Him than to intercede for the broken? It's a natural progression as we go deeper into worship. As we truly receive "more of Him and less of us" then our hearts will begin to break for the things that break His heart.
The Church typically views worship in three phases:
1. Praise 2. Worship and 3. Ministry.
We start out with more upbeat music praising His name and lifting Him high, then we worship and sing about His love and saving grace, and then we get to the point where the atmosphere of worship is heavy and it's time either for personal ministry, corporate ministry or ministry to God's heart. This model fits the Old Testament design for the tabernacle that Moses built with outer and inner courts and a most holy place. High praise starts in the outer court, followed by holy worship in the inner court, then with ropes on our ankles for the most holy place as we enter the manifest presence of God!
Father Bill McCarthy said, "We should praise until the Spirit of worship comes and worship until the Glory comes. Praise brings an increase of anointing, but worship brings the majesty of God into the midst of His people." This is especially true in the Charismatic and Pentecostal streams of the Church—we praise until the Spirit of worship comes, we worship until the glory falls, and then we soak in the glory. It's great and I love when that progression takes place in a worship service, although it doesn't have to be in that order. Sometimes I hit one note on the keyboard, the glory falls and so do I! But I digress back to the progression of worship.
I believe that there is a fourth step to that progression that has been overlooked—it's intercession. Once we get to that place of deep worship, that place where the glory falls, it is then we should begin to cry out for the lost, for the broken, for the sick, the poor and the dying. This is why so many times in my life when I get to that place, sometimes all I want to do is lay down and soak in the glory, but instead I'm weeping on the ground crying out for the least of these. That is a natural thing.
As I fell more in love with my wife, I got to know her more. As I got to know her more, I became more interested in the things that interested her. It's the same way with the Father. We need to break out of the mold that says to separate those things, and just allow God's heart to penetrate our times of worship. For years we've been singing about His love and now it's time to sing, "Father, show us how to love." It's time to pour out all that He pours into us. There is a very fine line that separates worship and intercession—a very fine line. The two go hand in hand.
Worship is Key to Intimacy, and Intimacy is Key to Intercession
2 Chronicles 7:14 says: "...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."
Jesus is the example of humbling oneself as we read in Matthew 25. He lowered Himself to the place of the "least of these." In our culture today we tend to see "humbleness" and "humility" as negative terms or terms of weakness. We hear things like, "I was humiliated" or "It really humbled me." But a true, simple definition of humility is to admit that God is God and we are not and to submit to His authority and will. Jesus made Himself so low, that there was no one He could look down upon, and He could do nothing apart from the Father.
The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is the root of all sin; it's where it all began with Lucifer saying, "I will be exalted above God." Pride is elevating yourself above another. Our goal, as with all things, should be to live like Jesus and to live a life of humility—that is to let God be God and to not lift ourselves up above others. When we live in humility, we restore what was broken in the fall—as a pure relationship with God in total submission to His will, just like Jesus!
The other term that is used in that passage is "seek My face" which is a term of intimacy. God gives us a key in this passage: if we'll humble ourselves and seek His face, He will hear from Heaven and He will bring healing to our land. When we are in that deep place of intimate worship, that is the best time to intercede before the Father. The closer you get to the Father, the clearer you can whisper in His ear.
Just like Esther, she received favor from the King through intimacy. Then she was granted access into His chambers, and while there, she interceded for her people. As a result, she saw the course of history for her nation redirected because of the powerful combination of "intimacy and intercession." The story of Esther is a prophetic one, symbolizing the way we are to approach the throne of God.
Be a Thermostat, Not a Thermometer
Worship is more than just music or art; it's a lifestyle (Romans 12:1). We need to live like Jesus did, open our eyes and see what the Father is doing, and then do it. Not just to see the need, but also to meet the need. Anyone can be a thermometer and just gauge the spiritual temperature, but we're called to be thermostats and to change the spiritual temperature! We're not called to just point out sickness, poverty and sin; we're called to change those ashes into beauty. After all, it's Christ in us that is the hope of glory!
As we spend time in intercessory worship, crying out for the "least of these" while also prophetically declaring their destiny in the Father, a culture cultivated from the very heart of Papa God is created! We begin to truly experience more of Him and less of ourselves, more of the Spirit and less of the flesh. It stirs up boldness within us to step out and love the unloved and to have compassion for the multitudes. Once we've gotten to the place of interceding in worship, there is still one more step—GO FIND HIM. To find Him in the broken, to find Him in the poor and the sick, to find Him in the lost, to find Him in the widow and the orphan. The promise is that if we seek Him, we will find Him. He's calling out, "Come find Me." Will you go?
Shores of Grace Ministries
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Recently, a friend commented to me about her disappointment when a dire situation suddenly arose in her family. She had just learned to live life without expecting the other "shoe to drop" and then it did. You must understand that this was not a casual or superficial complaint; this friend has faced her share of circumstances which would cause many of us to take one look, and run quickly in the opposite direction.
My friend was widowed very young by cancer, then, just as suddenly, this newly single mom's oldest son faced a cancer diagnosis of his own—and that's just the beginning of her journey. Her life story, meant to be a testimony of joy coming in the morning, has not yet seemed to have reached the light of dawn. Most recently a new set of "challenges" has reared its ugly head just as, in her mind, she could begin to trust in things not completely falling apart at every turn.
My heart aches at her situation and at my own, as we have faced seemingly innumerable losses and reasons for tears in the last couple of years. These are years which we had hoped would mark the end of our own season of "weeping and mourning"—only to replace the chronic pain and sadness I had lived with of raging circumstances. My raging circumstances included almost losing my marriage, walking through my mother's brain tumor diagnosis and her death a year later, the loss of jobs, a bankruptcy, the loss of our home, dealing with an immobilizing injury, and living homeless for three months. And yet, in the midst of darkness, a treasure forms.
Isaiah 45:3 "I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name."
"Lord, Haven't I Suffered Enough?"
One summer morning a few years ago, as I walked and talked with the Lord, I found myself sitting on a park bench, weeping, and out of my heart came this prayer, "Lord, how is it that it feels like the first 30 years of my life have been about grief and tears?" In that moment His inexplicable love surrounded me, and filled me like a warm and healing balm. I heard Him whisper, the way that only He can, to my innermost being: "Kathryn, though your weeping has endured for a night, the rest of your life will be about carrying My glory."
I went away from that encounter rejoicing at His words, seemingly a promise of better things to come. Only, those "better things" turned out to be the circumstances noted above; not exactly what one would expect restoration to look like. I was understandably confused and disappointed. Not that there weren't amazing, encouraging circumstances and miracles that also occurred during that time. Yet, I too, like my friend, was looking for a quality of life without the constant expectation of bad things happening. "Lord, haven't I suffered enough? When can I trust again that things are going to be okay?"
As it happens, I was asking the wrong question. I had interpreted His promise to me to mean a change of circumstances, but He was talking about much more than that. As always, He has the best in mind when I can only conceive of the crumbs. Hidden inside His words to me was a promise of the transformation of my very heart. My question to Him needed to be not, "When can I trust in better circumstances coming for me," but, "Lord, what did You mean about carrying Your glory?"
Oh, if we only understood the "nature of suffering." Christ's suffering for our ultimate redemption was the greatest passion play, the greatest illustrated sermon ever presented on the very character and Person of the Godhead: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). He is ultimate Love, in its purest, highest form. And, if we are very courageous in the midst of great trial, we suddenly become the seat of conception for the greatest revelation that can come to the heart of man: I AM.
The greatest treasure of darkness is that He is unchanging, He is still the same, He is on the Throne, His name is Love, and He never fails. Though the light become darkness around me, though the mountains be removed and hurled into the sea, You remain, Your love remains, and my Jesus is still the same.
In the Scriptures we are told to "count it all joy" when we face trials of many kinds, for to persevere through painful trials produces the character of Jesus, and His character within us gives birth to the hope that does not disappoint—even His GLORY (see James 1 and Romans 5) . Christ in me in perfect, intimate, conjugal oneness IS the glory of God in its ultimate expression.
The Glory About to Be Revealed In and Through Us
To carry His glory is His ultimate design and plan for humanity. Romans 8:18 says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." It goes on to say that even creation is subjected to the frustrated groaning of waiting for the revealing of the sons of the Kingdom. In Matthew 13 we see that it is in His sovereign design to harvest out of us every evil thing that hinders and causes us to stumble, "AND THEN" we will shine like the sun (with His glory!) in the Kingdom of our Father.
His ultimate design was and is to form and reveal in me a true worshiper; to give my life every opportunity to be a testimony and a pleasing fragrance, to reveal in me His glory, the treasure formed in darkness—the wealth in secret places. My place of suffering, at the merciful hands of adverse circumstance, is the crucible for the glorious "AND THEN" of Matthew 13, revealing the "pearl of greatest price."
Pearls are fascinating gems. Natural, uncultured (that is, without human intervention) pearls are very rare, forming only when a microscopic parasite or impurity accidentally invades the safe, pristine environment of the soft tissue or mantle of a sea mollusk. Being irritated by the invader, the mollusk coats the impurity with a calcium secretion in layer upon conjunctive layer. If one were to dissect a natural pearl, there would be no solid "centre" visible, but a series of concentric "growth rings." It's not a stretch to see the allegory. (Incidentally, my middle name is Margaret, from the Greek, meaning "A Pearl." In this sense, Trouble is literally my middle name.)
That summer morning when He spoke to me, He was giving me much more than a promise of better things to come. He was giving me a priceless key for life and having it abundantly. He was essentially saying to me, "Kathryn, I've chosen for you to endure; and where you have wept and thought it was 'for nothing,' you will come to find it has worked to ignite the brilliant, raging flame within you, the greatest treasure concerning darkness. If you will allow Me, Your life will carry the very I AM."
I long to be able to tell my friend that better days are coming for her, but they are not necessarily the better days of "easier circumstances." I have no idea if more loss will come to her, but I do know that as she comes through this time of trouble, she will emerge radiant and shining, with a better revelation of the character and Person of the God who loves her, who formed her, who has called her by name.
Often now, when I meet people, they look into my eyes and say something like, "Oh! I see Him! Shining there!" and I am reduced to tears for the honor of having been given the gift of an unveiled face, revealing His glory as a bright reflection in the mirror of my life. I have come to intimately know the truth of Psalm 84, that blessed are those who have set their hearts on pilgrimage, who pass through the valley of weeping, making it a place of springs—that the former and latter rains fall on them there.
Rightly He promised me that there would come a day for me when I would "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you...Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice...for you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over" (Isaiah 60:1, 5, 20).
And, if He promised me, He has promised you.
In His love,
Thursday, July 02, 2009
"Who can understand how He spreads out the clouds, how He thunders from His pavilion?" –Job 36:29
(New York, NY)—After a heavy thunderstorm last week in New York City, the sky was filled with unusual clouds and color, and people came out from all over the Big Apple with cameras to catch a shot. (Photo: MSNBC)
According to the MSNBC report, the extraordinary cloud formation was said to be "Mammatus" clouds which are typically found where moist air interacts with dry air.
Descriptions of the remarkable sky included "apocalyptic," "strange," "orange" and "awe-inspiring." To watch the MSNBC video of the clouds over New York, follow the source link provided.
Source: Staff - MSNBC
Thursday, June 11, 2009
"Times might be dark but I say, 'It will be alright!' You have eyes to see light, so it will be alright! You have been up and down and all around because I am stretching you to use you in a new way. Even though your emotions have been ruling you, hear the sound of Heaven. I am stretching out the emotional structure that has been ruling you in the past so I can use you in days ahead.
"I have a larger bow to string you on, so I have needed to allow stretching times to occur. You will be MY bowstring that shoots forth in days ahead. You will hold the arrow and withstand the stress of the seven years ahead because you endured the stretching this year. This stretching will come to an end, and though you've been unstrung, watch Me string you again.
"Come up higher! I have a place of sacrifice that you have not known. Come up to My throne and you will rule the thrones that have been rising around you and contending for the blessings that are yours.
"There is a rumbling in the earth and there is an eruption on the way. Watch the eruptions that come forth. I have held up much in the past seasons, but there is an eruption that is brewing. Many things in the government will erupt and blow up now. Many structures are vying and contending in the earth, but I tell you I can go to the core of things. I can go deeper than any other structure to shake the depth of an issue. I am going to blow some things fully loose and into a new place.
"What you have seen in California is going to cause an eruption in this nation. I am allowing My covenant to be tested in this land. In the midst of My covenant tests, watch the lands that realign. Lands and peoples that resist My covenant plan will have an eruption and shake!"
Chuck D. Pierce
Glory of Zion International Ministries
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
It is our privilege and delight as the Body of Christ to pursue the mystery of the knowledge of our God. Most are in agreement that this is a time of acceleration where the things of the Spirit are concerned. As a God-driven hunger for Spirit and Truth increases in our hearts, we are finding ourselves hitting a wall again and again as we attempt to understand the things of the Spirit via the mind of man.
We seem to have a problem in this present age comprehending what it means to have the mind of Christ. We must seek God to find just what it means to live by the Spirit.
"For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart."—1 Corinthians 2:16
We've lost the fullness of what it means to be a new creature in Christ at our conversion—to the truth that Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, shed His Blood that we might be freed from the curse pronounced upon mankind when sin entered through the first Adam. If indeed Adam and Eve lived outside of the curse before they sinned, why then are we, though redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb who bore sin on our behalf, still living as though nothing happened to negate its hold on us?
In the Garden
I can't imagine the world which Adam and Eve lived in before all of this happened. God walked with Adam in the cool of the day, so His glory had to have filled the atmosphere. I've heard stories of people who have been in the kind of glory cloud that was so thick, you couldn't see the person next to you! It was described as breathing pure oxygen and was absolutely exhilarating.
I believe the "speed of light" was different in the garden before the fall, that would have made the atmosphere contain a different level of oxygen, etc. which would have sustained their bodies in a different way. Their minds would have been much more alert. Breathing a different level of oxygen increases everything in our bodies.
I imagine they had use of a much larger capacity of their brain. If the curse has been broken, shouldn't we, at the bare minimum, be living as they did in the garden before the fall? What I ponder these days is: why are we not living in that same environment? Just as God was with them in the garden, He is IN us at our conversion. It seems the atmosphere they were surrounded in would be the very atmosphere we should be carrying inside of us—the very glory of God! Christ IN us, the hope of glory!
"Christ purchased our freedom (redeeming us) from the curse (doom) of the law (and its condemnation) by (Himself) becoming a curse for us, for it is written (in the Scriptures) cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified)."—Galatians 3:13
"Therefore if any person is (ingrafted) in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old (previous moral and spiritual condition) has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!"—2 Corinthians 5:17
Born Again By the Spirit
The old has passed and the fresh and new has come. We can now walk in His manifest glory right here and right now. When Moses was in the presence of God's glory, his face shined so that he had to wear a veil over it. Something happened to him as he beheld the measure of glory the Lord allowed to pass by Moses as he hid himself in the cleft of the rock. Should not that glory reside in us today? Should we not be "leaking light" as we become one with Him by our spirit communing with His Spirit?
As we become born again by the Spirit of God and we become one with Him, we come into alignment with who we were created to be—one who is made in the image of God. As we walk on this earth, we are to navigate by allowing our mind and body to follow our own spirit-man as we are led by His Spirit. I'm afraid we have no idea how to do that! We have so navigated for centuries by the mind of man, that even when we think we are being led by the Spirit, we are still following our linear, rational, left-brained, Greek/Western thought processes.
"Jesus answered, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born of water and (even) the Spirit, he cannot (ever) enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of (from) the flesh is flesh (of the physical is physical); and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not (do not be surprised, astonished) at My telling you, 'You must all be born anew (from above).' The wind blows (breathes) where it wills; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."—John 3:5-8
"If I have told you of things that happen right here on the earth and yet none of you believes Me, how can you believe (trust Me, adhere to Me, rely on Me) if I tell you of heavenly things? And yet no one has ever gone up to Heaven, but there is One Who has come down from Heaven - the Son of Man (Himself), Who is (dwells, has His home) in Heaven."—John 3:12-13
Notice that Jesus says about Himself that He is in Heaven. He's standing there on the earth, telling Nicodemus that He is in Heaven. We are seated with Him in heavenly places. He didn't say we would be seated, He said we ARE seated. That would mean present tense. The ability to be in two realms at the same time is something we need to grasp as we let our own way of thinking fall away and take on the mind of Christ. If it were not ours to have, He would not have put it in front of us the way He continually does in Scripture.
We have rationalized the life out of what Jesus really said until there is no Spirit left in it—just the mind of man in his small box of what is possible and acceptable by our limited thinking and understanding, not to mention our religious ways of processing His words.
I believe God is going to illuminate our minds as we give way to His Spirit communing with our spirit-man. It is a time in history when the sciences, the arts and spirituality are coming to a shift as He allows us to see the fullness of how He put this world together for us to live in—both in the physical realm as well as the eternal realm—AT THE SAME TIME! As we meditate on Him and His Word, He is going to help us to get our heads wrapped around the things of the Spirit.
He's going to help us step into and take on the mind of Christ. It would behoove us to ask Him to reveal just how He meant for us to live on this earth. Again I say: we need to ask Him just what was in His heart when He created man in the very beginning to commune with Him. It would be good for us to ask Him how to walk with Him truly as a new creature in Christ—one with His Spirit, with Christ in us, living through us, and with our spirit-man taking the lead.
It's time to break out of the limitations we have walked in for the past decades upon decades! The choice is ours as to just how deep we go into the mind of Christ.
"Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him?"—Isaiah 40:13
Saturday, June 06, 2009
This article is an excerpt from The Hidden Power of Watching and Praying by Drs. Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda. You will not want to miss this essential key to the release of apostolic power for these last days.
When we wake up to harmony with Heaven through a life of unceasing prayer, we make contact with the throne from which all things temporary and eternal flow. More than that, we begin a duet with the One who sits in that throne and holds all things together by the word of His power. Our simple, ordinary lives become extraordinary as He invites us into a participating role that reaches beyond our private lives. When we pray "Your Kingdom come," we are praying Heaven down to earth.
The first thing we recognize about God's Kingdom is His absolute supremacy and power as Lord over all. When we pray, "Your Kingdom come," we are making ourselves His subjects. That means we acquiesce to become the servants of His will and plan.
When we pray, "Your Kingdom come," we are moving from passive to aggressive. We become the violent ones who advance the Kingdom by force of His power. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12).
Those who watch in prayer are going back to the origin of humankind and, as the offspring of the Last Adam, they are resuming the high call of being created in God's image. Watchers accept and take up again the charge to tend and watch the garden of God while uprooting the garden of satan, which is in chaos and darkness. It was God's original intention that the garden He planted be tended by the man made in His image. But failing the command to watch as well as tend, Adam and his wife fell to temptation.
This failure is echoed in Jesus' words to His disciples in Gethsemane, where He told them to watch and pray lest they also fall into temptation to desert and betray Him. Had the first watchman (Adam) been vigilant, he would have grabbed the devil by the scruff of his slimy neck during that fatal controversy with Eve, and tossed him out of the garden on his ear!
Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of the world when God gave him a revelation of the true King as he lay in his bed one night. In Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he saw that there are spiritual realities conducting spiritual activities that are invisible to the naked eye. He saw watchers, majestic messengers of Heaven, bringing decrees from the throne of God that concerned the kingdoms of this earth:
"I saw in visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from Heaven. He cried aloud and said thus...
"'This decision is by decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.'" (Daniel 4:13,14,17)
The watcher told the king that his sovereignty would be removed until he recognized God rules over the realm of mankind and sets up rulers as He wishes. When Nebuchadnezzar heard the decree he realized he was not in charge. He also learned that holy messengers participate in administering the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
The Church enters into that work as, one by one, our hearts are awakened to fulfill our priestly ministry together as intercessors. In these latter days, the Church has become the chosen vessel to carry the Kingdom to the earth.
The main activity immediately coupled with Jesus' first mention of the Church is authority to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth through the activity of prayer!
Jesus said, "On this rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." The word that Jesus used in this first mention of the Church is the Greek word, ekklesia. It literally means "the called out ones." In that day and age, this was the term used to denote the governing authority, those called out to judge and govern the people. This is where we get the idea that the Church is not just an assembly of people, but also a ruling Body of Believers, founded on the revelation that the Rock, Jesus Christ, to whom and through whom all authority in Heaven and earth has been given, reigns and rules on the earth.
The main activity immediately coupled with Jesus' first mention of the Church is authority to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth through the activity of prayer, "I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven" (Matthew 16:19).
The Church is the vehicle through which God advances His Kingdom. Prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel are the means by which we will prevail. "Now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the Church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places" (Ephesians 3:10).
What we see on Pentecost is the glory and presence of God through the Holy Spirit, and the context in which He appears is in the corporate gathering of the Church, watching and praying in one accord. The Church born under the heel of a pagan society, opposed by the might of the Roman Empire, and powerless in its own right, this small band of 120, began to vibrate with the power and glory of the Kingdom and turned the kingdoms of the world upside down in a matter of generations. They accomplished this through corporate watching together in prayer.
In the early Church the power of the corporate Body watching and praying in one accord was the key to the release of what we define as the apostolic ministry: preaching the Gospel with signs, wonders and miracles.
We find that many people want to be part of an apostolic church. They say, "We are apostolic." And yet, they don't give much attention to the Scriptures such as the ones in which Paul the apostle (who is a type of an apostolic church) wrote: "I proved myself with fastings often, in watchings often" (see 2 Corinthians 11:26-28). People don't want to know the part of the apostolic package that involves fasting and watching. Of course, when Paul talks about watchings, it is in the context of watching and praying.
Part of the apostolic release of the end-time Church, we believe, will be a grace for watching in prayer. Signs and wonders and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are there for us, but they come in the context of the preached word and standing in intercession for our families, our churches, our cities. We must learn to be watchmen. God calls the people of the Church to become watchmen on the walls and the more corporate we become, the better it is. There is more power in corporate watching and praying.
We find an extraordinary example of this in the story of Peter's miraculous release from prison in Acts 12: "Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the Church" (Acts 12:5). Peter's plight was dire, but notice that he was not praying—he was sleeping. It was the Spirit-filled Church that had the mission, through prayer and prayer alone, to rescue him from this perilous situation. They understood that they had access to a Kingdom authority that was greater than any held by the earthly and spiritual rulers of that age.
The Church engaged in constant, watching prayer. They were a picture of apostolic prayer: fervent, continuous, unswayed by circumstances or disappointments, prevailing until the victory is won.
Apostolic Prayer will Move Heaven and Earth, Releasing Angels to Hearken to His Word
They did not pray a few hours one day, but a long time. It says they offered "constant prayer." By the time of Peter's rescue, they may have been engaged for several if not many days of prayer already. Even in the middle of the night, there were some who were gathered together in watching prayer for Peter's life. After days and nights of constant prayer, suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to Peter and the prison cell was filled with a bright light. Apostolic prayer will move Heaven and earth, releasing angels to hearken to His Word.
The angel, who had just come from the very presence of God, carried the Shekinah glory of that presence when he came. This glory-light is equation-changing. We've seen it and experienced it. It's alive. It comes from the Presence, from Heaven. And it changes the equations on earth when it arrives. When we pray, "Your Kingdom come," we are inviting Heaven's light to shine into the darkness.
Deliverance comes in the glory light. The angel struck Peter to wake him up, and his chains fell off. In the same way, our corporate, fervent prayers will loose chains of iniquity, injustice, darkness, and oppression and release captives to freedom. The account also gives us a picture of the power of prayer to loose the Church to her destiny, a Church bound by religion, humanism, and principalities of this age; chained between soldiers, imprisoned by iron gates, but set free by prayer.
Peter was led by the angel through the gates and past the guard posts. The city gate opened of its own accord. Jesus, you will remember, said that He was going to build His Church and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (see Matthew 16:17). No matter what the enemy has thrown at you, no matter what gates of iron may seem to block your path, this is the promise to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Corporate watching prayer is God's awesome secret weapon. Personal devotion, personal praise and prayer are powerful, but the corporate Body harmonizing in prayer and apostolic intercession releases authority to see cities taken overnight. I believe the end-time believing Church is on a rescue operation for millions of souls. We are on a rescue operation for our nation to come into revival. We are on a rescue operation for all the members of our family to be saved. We are on a rescue operation to see signs and wonders and the greater works restored to His Church, to confirm the Gospel message.
"What I Say to You, I Say to All: Watch!" Mark 13:37
Jesus went, "as was His custom," up to the mountain to pray during the night watches (see Luke 22:39). Apparently, He usually would take with Him two or three of His watchmen friends, most often James, John, and Peter. Watching was commanded by God in keeping with the observance of Passover. That is where the spiritual concept originates. Jesus kept this observance as a regular way of prayer. It was this kind of prayer, prayer to effect salvation for the world, which caught the imagination of Jesus' closest friends.
As they watched His style they said, "Teach us." We are learning from the Master, who told us to keep vigil with Him. We are taking back the night. We are reclaiming the territory formerly possessed by the early Church, prevailing in corporate prayer. While the world sleeps, the watchmen are awake, routing the enemy, delivering the captives, and taking away the spoils of his kingdom.
"Your Kingdom come," the prayer of the apostolic Church, is a corporate expression. Individually and corporately we stretch ourselves out in prayer in a posture of expectation until Christ comes. We will fulfill what Jesus asked when He said in the Gospels, "What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:37).
The final amen to all Christian praying from the days of those first apostles onward is the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. All Christian prayer prevails in the expectation of His appearing. We are praying toward the consummation of His will, which is His Kingdom established and a new Heaven, a new earth, filled with His new creation.
Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda
Mahesh Chavda Ministries
Thursday, May 28, 2009
"For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical (weapons of flesh and blood), but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds..."—2 Corinthians 10:3-4
I am not a seer or a visionary like my husband David is, but in crucial times I have been led by the Holy Spirit to intercept what the enemy has meant for evil in his efforts to kill, steal and destroy everything God has for us.
In 1980, within a one week period of time, David had turned forty, his mother died a painful death from cancer, and we lost a business to an unscrupulous partner. It was during this time when the enemy spoke to David, telling him that he no longer had anything to live for, and then proceeded to convince him that his only answer was to end it all. So David decided to take out a one million dollar policy on his life and then set out to make the suicide look like an accident.
It was only two weeks prior to this, while sitting in church, when I became very burdened about David and the downward spiral his life was taking. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me to go to the altar that day and totally take my hands off the situation—handing David over to the Lord to do a work in his life. It was at this point when the Holy Spirit helped me realize I was not responsible for David's salvation. And only then—as I completely turned him over to the Lord—could the Holy Spirit have the freedom to do His work in David's life.
I vividly remember the day David had planned to commit suicide. He called me at home and tried to prepare me for what was about to happen. After hanging up the phone, I called out to our two children, Debbie and Joe (who were teenagers at the time), and told them that we must pray immediately because the enemy was out to destroy their father! Our children, both Christians, joined me in the bedroom where we knelt down beside the bed. In our desperation, the only thing we knew to pray was to plead the Blood of Jesus Christ over David and the entire situation the enemy had gotten him into.
When the Enemy Comes in Like a Flood—There's Nothing Like the Blood of Jesus!
When the enemy comes in like a flood, our true recourse is to apply the Blood of Jesus Christ to that situation.
God did answer our prayers, and in the last seconds as David was headed for the bridge abutment, the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart and said this wasn't the end but just the beginning. David had only enough time to swerve the car. Instead of hitting the bridge head-on, the only damage was to the passenger side of the car.
It was after this when David rededicated his life to the Lord!
In the ensuing twenty-eight years, the Lord has miraculously sustained us through many tragedies: the loss of Van Koevering Piano Company after the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers; a tragic house fire; and David's heart stopping a total of twelve times.
I remember once during an airplane flight to a New York hospital when David's heart had stopped for the tenth time. Upon his return home from that hospital, and in a very weakened condition, David asked me, "Did I scare you?" I answered him and said that he couldn't scare me and that he wasn't going anywhere because his assignment here wasn't finished yet.
It has been quite a ride since, and we are now beginning to see the fulfillment of the true calling and assignment on David's life.
We must remember in this troubled day of increased onslaught from the enemy who is out to kill, steal and destroy, that we need to get back to our source of power—the Blood of Jesus Christ!
I am reminded of the words of some timeless hymns that call us back to the Blood of Christ:
"The Church has one foundation, tis Jesus Christ her Lord. She is His new creation by water and the Word. From Heaven He came and sought her to be His Holy Bride. With His own Blood He bought her and for her life He died."
"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' Blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus' name. His oath, His covenant and Blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."
"Come to the shelter's safe retreat; hide you in the Blood of Jesus. Come for the storms around you beat; hide you in the Blood of Jesus. For the storms are raging high; O hide you in the Blood til the dangers pass you by."
"This is all my hope and peace, nothing but the Blood of Jesus. This is all my righteousness, nothing but the Blood of Jesus."
Women of Warfare—With Power
As women of warfare, God is calling us back to our spiritual source—the Blood of Jesus. We are women—some single, some married (sisters, wives, mothers, and grandmothers)—who need to pray the Blood of Jesus over our families daily.
We must realize today, that wherever our loved ones may be, no place is completely safe—even our churches can be targets. It's great to know, however, that the Blood covering not only works over our families, but also works just as well over our property, homes, cars, jobs, health—in every area of our lives. No evil power can withstand the covering and the protective hedge of the Blood of Jesus Christ!
Another example of the awesome power of the Blood of Jesus happened in December 2007 when the Holy Spirit put a burden on my heart for Judy (not her real name), the daughter of some dear friends of ours. Judy was in the middle of a terrible divorce, and I had been praying for her for several months. But it was in December when my prayers shifted. The Holy Spirit told me that this divorce would end in tragedy if the Blood of Jesus was not applied over this precious daughter and her little ones. The burden was heavy on my heart for a week or more when I asked the Lord to make the proper connection of a time and place.
The very next Sunday we visited a church, and Judy was there with her children, parents, and grandparents. I expressed my heartfelt concerns, and after the service we all gathered around Judy and prayed for the power of the Blood of Jesus to put a shield and a hedge about her and the children.
In February, while we were attending a conference where David was speaking, we received word from Judy's family that her estranged husband had determined in his mind to kill Judy. He had began making plans, even telling the men who worked for him that they could have his business, and then he gave his computer with all of his business information on it to his father.
He acquired a gun and set out to kill both Judy and himself! Tragically, when he made his attempt, he succeeded in crashing into her car, and in the process he ran his pickup truck into a ditch where he could not get out. As Judy called 911 to summon the police and he heard the sirens nearing, he put the gun to his head and committed suicide. I believe Judy's life was spared as a result of the protective covering of the Blood of Jesus applied in December as we prayed over her life.
It was then in July of 2008, when the Holy Spirit again gave me insight through a word of knowledge that Judy was having dreams and nightmares of her deceased husband. Once more I prayed and asked the Lord to make the connection of the right place and time, and I would be obedient. That Friday night we were invited to her parents' home for dinner and Judy happened to be there. When the time was right and the Lord provided the opportunity for us to speak privately, I asked if she was having dreams and nightmares of her former husband. She told me of the nightmares and that the vividness was so real—she could actually smell and touch him.
The Holy Spirit instructed me to tell her that although this man was dead, the demonic spirit that made him kill himself was still trying to attack her through her dreams and in her vulnerability. I advised her to plead the Blood of Jesus over her mind, her emotions, her subconscious, and her dreams before she went to sleep, and then to turn the dreams over to the Lord for her protection. We all came together that night to pray over her and decree that she was set free. Thankfully, the nightmares then stopped.
Isaiah 53:4-5 tells us that when Jesus shed His precious Blood for us at the Cross, He took upon Himself our sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses, carrying them as His own burden. Jesus was wounded and bruised for our sin, wickedness, and rebellion. And He obtained peace and well-being for us through His shed Blood, and by His stripes we are healed and made whole.
As women of warfare, we can stand on the words of Psalm 68:11, "The Lord gives the word (of power); the women who bear and publish (the news) are a great host." Let us learn to take this Word of power and use it!
Becky Van Koevering
About David and Becky Van Koevering: Becky Van Koevering says her childhood was a "musical adventure" which prepared her for life as the wife of David Van Koevering, a musicologist and instrument builder. They have been married forty-eight years and have two children, Debbie Brown, administrator for their son, Dr. Joe Van Koevering, a pastor, author, and television host for God's News Behind the News in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Now of retirement age (but hardly retired), Becky and David have begun their most recent music project—recording the sounds of the electronic instrument that produces the frequencies of the periodic table of elements—a sound which ushers in a whole new dimension of healing and praise.