Monday, October 31, 2016

Prayer with nuclear capabilities

When you’ve learned all your life that the most spiritual form of prayer is the “If it be Thy will” type, the idea of being bold feels disrespectful. That’s the mindset I grew up with, and it’s the mindset of a large portion of the Christian world. Meanwhile, there’s another large portion of Christians who are naming and claiming blessings, proclaiming prophecies, getting emotionally fired up, but at the same time are being careless about submitting to God’s principles of holiness. One of the hardest things to teach is bold prayer, especially to those who are already saved. And as much as I preach it and try to live it out daily, the devil never stops trying to pull me off balance. Emotional discipline combined with spiritual audacity, are explosive ingredients for a faith with nuclear capabilities. But who really understands this balance? 

It’s been hidden in the Bible for 2000 years, probably because Bible scholars have imagined that the literal translation was too extreme. The Lord’s Prayer—the model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples—was originally written in Greek, in the imperative form, which means it was written as commands. In other words, it sounded nothing like the mumbled religious ritual most of us are familiar with. It was a shocking prayer that called God Father, and treated Him as if He wanted a personal relationship with them. On top of that, they were to speak like ordinary children unashamedly asking, even demanding, that their dad provide what they needed. (Give me my daily bread!) It was not the typical prayer of a holy man, and probably was one more reason the Pharisees were enraged by Jesus.

Then right after teaching His model prayer, Jesus told them a story about a pesky neighbor who kept banging on his friend’s door in the middle of the night (Luke 11). The friend was woken up and irritated, but eventually handed over what he wanted. Jesus shocked them again by saying that this is exactly how we’re supposed to interact with God. Most Bible translations say, “I say to you, though he will not rise and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as much as he needs.” I’m not a professional Greek scholar, but I discovered that the original word used for persistence, is actually the word for shamelessness. Audacity! So because of his shamelessness, he got what he wanted, and we’re supposed to be shameless with God too! 

Jesus was teaching at a time when all religious leaders were obsessed with acting superior, and humiliating those under them. Ordinary men who had a personal relationship with God and spoke to Him with shameless persistence undermined everything they stood for. It’s no surprise that audacious faith still offends religious people today. It’s so important to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and His teaching, and to resist the religious pressure to conform to manmade standards. When our relationship with God is real, personal, obedient, persistent and shamelessly bold, God is pleased. Prayer is meant to be answered. We are meant to love, know and obey Him, and we are supposed to insist, demand and insist again that He fulfill His promises until we see them!  

I’ve been preaching this concept of faith for years, but I’m still working on developing this explosive spiritual balance. It’s a process that should never stop for any Christian. I’ve challenged myself to pray even more shamelessly than before in these last few weeks, and God’s already moved some stubborn mountains. If this is Jesus’ most basic teaching on prayer, anything less is unbelief and doubt. When we think our prayer life is just fine the way it is, we disrespect Him, and waste time holding back our answers to prayers. God will gladly answer, but building a Father and child relationship with us is His primary concern. What better way to be His child than to become shamelessly persistent?

For the sake of Zion I will not keep silent, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burns… I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night. You who remind the Lord, do not keep silent; give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a glory in the earth.  Isaiah 62:1, 6-7 MEV

Friday, October 28, 2016

Rational faith and seeing through illusions

Here is the final set of email exchanges with Claudia Fernandes from Rio, as she sought counseling for a lifetime of rejection and humiliation. I’m happy to include her final response, which I just received this past week. To read from the beginning, click here for the first post, and here for the second to better understand what Claudia was going through and how far she has come.

>>12 February 2015 07:06<<

Hi Claudia,

The first paragraph of your email reveals an attitude that I want to help you destroy. What is real? Is what we see and feel real? We can’t see God, but He is close to us and is more real than anything we see. We can’t yet see the fulfillment of God’s promises, but they are more real than any of our problems or traumas. The chair you’re sitting in could appear more real than God because you can physically touch it, but it’s not. He is more real. The spiritual world is much more real and rewarding than the physical world.

What I want you to understand is that your thoughts become reality. Faith is deciding that the word of God will become reality, regardless of how you feel or what you see. We’re not lying to ourselves when we do this. We’re not deceiving ourselves. We’re simply deciding that the promises of God will become the new reality of our lives.

The devil is like a Hollywood producer. He creates a scene around us to convince us that our lives are going to be a certain way. Like a Hollywood scene, it isn’t real, but is seems real. We need to open the door for God’s reality to become our reality, and the only way to do this is to believe in His promises with every cell of our brain.

There is much more I could say about this. It’s a big subject. Next time I’ll tell you more…

Is what I’m saying clear?

I corrected your positive phrases (below). I want you to start to repeat these phrases to yourself EVERY day. It may seem silly, but it isn’t. When a child begins to speak for the first time, he only makes noises. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. But with time he develops the ability to speak the language fluently. These phrases may appear silly in the beginning, but they are the truth, and the more you say them and believe in them, the more they will become your new reality.

Remember, being a tither means putting God in first place. This means giving God the first ten percent of your income, but it also means having faith and rebuking doubts.

1. I can do anything. Things will be easier than I think they will be, but on the other hand I’m not afraid of difficult things because the victory is mine!
2. People like me. I am not alone. God is creating family and friends for me.
3. Even when I don’t see anything, God is at work. He is transforming both me and my situation.
4. I don’t only give my tithe, I put God first in everything! Prosperity, which is my revenge on the devil, is on the way!
5. God believes in me even when nobody else does. My faith is opening doors for me that were never open before.

We’ll talk again soon…

>>20 October 2016 16:17<<

Good afternoon Bishop,

I write this to glorify God for your life.

After I learned how negative my mind was, and how this blocked me from receiving the promises of God by faith, my life finally changed. Bishop, it has surpassed all expectations. Today I’m the owner of a house that I bought a little while ago, and have another house that’s in construction in a private housing development. I’m taking possession of all I have a right to.

As soon as I received my college degree I was promoted to manager, and now I am a full analyst in the company. I received 2 promotions in less than a year and my salary practically doubled. My self-confidence has grown, I’m exercising, competing in charity runs where I’ve won medals, and have joined a gym. But… the best of all is that I found peace, security, strength and the faith I never had. After all these blessings I’m convinced that this is only the beginning. Thank you so, so much Bishop. God used you to save my life. In fact, today I can say that I have a life.

>>21 October 2016 12:28<<

Amen. Thanks for letting me know. I can see that the Holy Spirit has transformed your life. That’s so great!
Keep going in the same faith, and help other people with the things you’ve learned.
I remember your story. Praise God that you started to see results, and that you overcame the negative thoughts of the devil.
God bless you!

>>21 October 2016 12:45<<

So true bishop. I had followed Jesus for so long, but my negative mind could not believe the truth of His word. Because of all the destruction I had seen in life, deep down I thought that I had been born to suffer. I couldn’t see any way out, to the point that I just wanted to die. After our conversations I began to reason, to look for answers, and tried to better understand the difference between what is real and what my mind understood as real. And because those who seek, find… BOOM! I was delivered from my totally distorted mind. Today I love life. I look at the world around me and am thankful for every beautiful day, thankful for my life. Today I’m thankful for everything, every single moment.

Clearly, every once in a while bad thoughts still appear, but now I have the strength, authority and confidence to rebuke them immediately. Never more have I felt broken, sad and unhappy. There’s so much happiness inside of me, I can’t contain it. It’s like I’m a completely different person. My feelings changed. My emotions changed. Everything changed.

Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him firmly in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. But after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 5:8-11, MEV

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My advice to Claudia

This is a continuation from a series of email exchanges with Claudia that began in February of 2015. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, click here to see how it began. 

>>10 February 2015 19:15<<

Thanks for writing to me Claudia.

One of your problems is that you concentrate on what you’re doing (tithing, offerings, midnight prayers, Israel Challenges) and what you got rid of (anger, grudges, impure thoughts) when you need to concentrate on trusting God.

This is hard, especially when you’ve gone through what you have. But that’s not important. It has to be done. The fact that you have these bad dreams about thieves killing you, and homeless people burning you with red hot coals, shows that your mind is full of negative thoughts. Don’t be intimidated by these dreams. Laugh at them! Determine the opposite as soon as you wake up! Determine that God is much, much greater than all the evil around you. Determine that you are victorious and fight against all the negative thoughts and feelings. This is how real faith reacts… You have faith, but you need to learn how to use it.

You can do all the right things in the church, attend lots of meetings, give your tithe and forgive your enemies, but if you hold on to negative thoughts about the past in your mind, all the good you do is cancelled out.

Claudia, I know you can conquer this. You are a woman of faith. You love God. But you’ve given room for negative thoughts and feelings. I know because my wife and I used to be the same way. God wants you to react. He wants you to fight against evil, and trust in His promises like you’ve never done before. He wants to transform all this evil into a great victory!!

I want you to make two columns on a piece of paper. In the first column, make a list of the five most common negative phrases that go through your mind every day. In the second column write the opposite of every phrase next to it, what God would say to you. Then send me both lists and I’ll tell you what to do next…

There’s a lot more I could say about your email, but not now. Little by little I’ll help you to be victorious.

God bless.

>>11 February 2015 22:00<<

Hello Bishop,

I understand your suggestion, but I find it hard to keep affirming a reality that is not yet mine. It seems forced, false, that I’m lying to myself. I don’t know how to explain it, but everything I told you is real, it’s true, it’s what I am actually living. They are not only negative thoughts, they’re my day-to-day reality.

I’m like the young man that was with Elijah in 1 Kings 18:43. God promised rain, and the young man went to look 7 times and saw nothing, and then finally saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand. Only after the man said that he saw the cloud, did Elijah send him to tell Ahab to prepare for rain.  Well I’ve tried to see this cloud 70 times 7 times. For 12 years I’ve been going back and forth, waiting for the answer to promises. I’ve only wanted one sign from God, one small cloud, something that would prove that the promise would start to be fulfilled, like Elijah… Understand? I’m not sure if you understand my logic.

But I’ll obey your advice. You’re a man of God, experienced in the things of God, and you know only too well what I am in need of. Below is the list of thoughts that constantly go through my head concerning my actual life:

1. Nothing is easy for me. Everything is extremely complicated, difficult and slow to happen… when it does happen.
2. I’ve never deserved a family. I’ve always lived in the most cruel and painful loneliness. None of the few relationships I’ve had have lasted. I’ve not even given birth to any children to keep me company.
3. I’ve spent years fighting and trying to remain in the presence of God, in search of a transformed life, and until now, nothing.
4. I’ve been faithful, and yet the fact that I’ve been a tither and an offering giver has never made a difference, I’ve never prospered.
5. All the time and in every social setting I am the least valued and the most humiliated. No one has ever believed in me. No one has ever given me any kind of a chance to show that I am capable.

1. I can do anything. Things will be easy, quick and without complication.
2. I have a family. I’m never alone.
3. My life has been transformed.
4. I am very prosperous.
5. Everyone believes in my potential. I was never humiliated.

I knew what I was asking Claudia to do was a mind bender. How do you start affirming positive things when it feels like a lie? I was proud of her to at least be willing to try even though it made no sense to her. I found though, that though her negative thoughts were very aggressive, she wasn’t able to imagine how to counter them with positive thoughts that were equally aggressive. I had to help widen her vision with that which you’ll see it in the next and final post on Claudia’s transformation. Check in tomorrow for more. 

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is complete.  2 Corinthians 10:4-6, MEV

Rational faith and Claudia

Claudia Lucia de Souza Fernandes is from Rio de Janeiro, and came across my contact information at the beginning of 2015.  She wrote asking for advice a few times, and I hadn’t heard from her since then, until just this past week, when she surprised me with an amazing testimony of change.  She’s been practicing all the principles I’d taught her on her own, and I want to share her experience for various reasons.  One is that there are many possessed believers in churches all over the world who are in need of help and not condemnation.  Another is that the principles of God work no matter who you are, where you’re from or what kind of past you come from.  And thirdly, those who approach those principles in a rational way by simply practicing them, even when they don’t feel like it, are those who find miraculous blessings.  I am so happy for Claudia because she didn’t depend on me or any other person to do what she needed to get free, but simply did as God led her through our correspondence. Read the first section of our email exchanges, and each day I’ll post more.  See if you can identify with her feelings, her mistakes, and the instructions she receives from me as well:  

>>1 February 2015 22:20<<


I’m 40 years old, and I can honestly say that they’ve been 40 years of shame, humiliation and suffering. I’ve been a Christian for 12 years. 8 years in another denomination and now I’ve been in Universal (SiLC) for 2, but even now I don’t know this God who transforms lives because mine has changed very little, if at all… I’m no longer living in sin, no longer a hypocrite, I’ve sealed up all the gaps, I’m a tither, take part in challenges, but haven’t yet seen any answers. I’ve participated in 3 Israel Challenges, I’m currently in the Fast of Daniel, but because of all that I’ve been suffering I’m beginning to think that my sacrifices are in vain. I attend the meetings on Friday for deliverance, Sunday for the Holy Spirit, and Monday for my finances.

I need a sign. Something from God. Bishop, help me discover what I might be missing to find God’s favor.

>>1 February 2015 23:02<<

Hi Claudia,
Can you tell me more about your life?
What’s going wrong?
What changes do you want to see that you’re not seeing?
What negative thoughts go through your mind?

>>3 February 2015 19:18<<

Bishop, I’ll try to sum up a little of my story.

As far as my family goes, I have none. Both my grandmother and my mother died early. I was all alone because my father didn’t want me and I never got to know his side of the family. Since 17 I’ve had to work hard to provide for myself, I’ve always rented rooms, apart from the times that friends have put me up.

I spent 12 years in the world, all alone. Imagine the suffering. I drank, smoked, was out on the streets at night. I got involved in some relationships, but only a few, because I met a guy and got engaged for 10 years without ever getting married. We separated and then a humiliating phase of my love life began.

I became a Christian in 2003. I got baptized in a Pentecostal church, received all the gifts you could image, served a great deal in the church, was an exemplary role model, was active and courageous, had an unusually strong faith for where I was at the time, and yet, my life never really changed. I was lonely, miserable, lived in a tiny studio apartment in a slum, had anger problems, was depressed—I had no idea that I wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit because I thought the gifts were a sign of the baptism.

I met the man who is now my ex-husband, who was a pastor in another Pentecostal church. I thought I would finally have a family and be happy, but my greatest dream turned into my greatest nightmare. In our 3rd year of marriage he began cheating on me with various women and I just kept forgiving him. Then I discovered he was using drugs. In the end he began to steal from me, and out of desperation, I determined that either he’d have to admit himself into a Christian rehab or he’d be out on the street, because the landlord of the house I still live in said that if he didn’t leave, he’d kick us both out. And so my husband agreed, went to rehab, and then asked for a divorce, saying, “What happened was the work of the devil and you cooperated with the devil to get me kicked out of the house.” He went back to being a pastor, but is now with another woman, and here I am humiliated.

I decided to attend another church, because everyone there turned their backs on me. In their minds I was the reason my ex-husband had backslidden—I had destroyed his ministry. (Bishop, I want you to know, ever since I’ve become a Christian I’ve never backslidden, never gone back to the world, and have never cheated on my husband.) At that point I felt like I had to go to Universal (SiLC) to stay in the presence of God. I attend on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays.

In these 2 years of seeking, I’ve only manifested a demon once—when I was sick, recently separated, and my grudges and sadness were like a curse. But I learned to forgive, prayed for all who had offended me, and now no longer hold resentment.  I’m not angry and don’t curse—because I used to do that—I don’t have lustful desires, I’m careful about what I think and rebuke all sexual immorality and evil… I’ve always been faithful in my tithes and offerings, and have participated in Israel Challenges… Bishop, I’m fighting, but I’m still miserable, lonely and hopeless. I see so many people receiving miracles and being transformed, while I’m stuck with the same old life as always.

A few days ago I changed the hose on the gas canister for my stove at home, but because I forgot to tighten it properly it was leaking. I was woken up from sleep by my landlord calling my name. I quickly got up and started explaining what must have happened, and he said, “I thought you were trying to kill yourself.” Bishop, for him to say that, he must think I have reason to do such a thing. My life doesn’t glorify God. I say that I serve God, that I follow Jesus, but I’m miserable, ashamed and totally humiliated.

I don’t know why I can’t find the grace of God. I know it can’t be a lack of faith, if it were, I wouldn’t have been able to remain pure-hearted until now. It’s not because I don’t do my part, because I go to school, travel a long way to college, and keep a limit on what I buy so I can pay for it. I pray every night at midnight, pray as soon as I wake up in the mornings, and drink blessed water from the church…

I dream about armed robbers. In all my dreams I get shot. In one of them a robbers say that he kills other people quickly, but that he’s going to kill me slowly to make me suffer. I also dream about homeless people at an intersection with red hot coals that they throw on me as I pass by.

I know I’m in a spiritual battle, and because of that my hair has begun to fall out. There are bald spots all over my head and so I have to tie up my hair. I went to the dermatologist, and she doesn’t know what it is. She says I’ll need to shave my head and asked me to take various exams.

Bishop, I am so tired. My entire life is one of defeat. It seems to be a fight that will never end. I see testimonies that used to give me hope, but now they cause me pain because I feel frustrated at not being able to have a decent life.

If I die today, I don’t have the money for a funeral or anyone to bury me, and if I were to end up in a hospital bed no one would visit me. There would be no family member or friend for the doctor to talk to. Bishop, I can’t even die without suffering more humiliation. This is difficult, Bishop. Very difficult.

...Do you know anyone suffering like Claudia? Would you know how to help someone like her? She seems to be trying her best—has God abandoned her? Check in tomorrow for my response to Claudia.  

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:4-7, MEV

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flipping the world on its head

We are interpreters and don’t even realize it. Say that you bump into a friend you haven’t seen for a while. He shakes your hand and says, “Great to see you! I haven’t heard from you in ages!” Your brain could easily interpret his greeting to mean, “I’ve really missed you!” or just as easily, “Oh it’s you, you rotten friend, thanks for ignoring me for years...” Your interpretation will dictate your reactions and behavior, and create your own “truth” that you live by. You can potentially build a stronger friendship or destroy one, or even worse, foster grudges and resentment that stay with you for years.

But interpreting the world God’s way can turn all of that on its head. One quality of being born of God is being very aware of the fact that we live on a spiritual plane, which can affect and change the physical world. A total stranger could send all the wrong messages of hostility, rejection or contempt, and even though our fleshly instinct wants to judge them as jerks, God’s Spirit creates a new interpretation. First of all, we interpret ourselves as strong and in no need of approval by anyone else to be happy. Secondly we see beneath the surface to discern someone who’s hurting, insecure, or being attacked demonically and in need of help. We know that reacting in the Spirit could change their spirit for the better, so we go out of our way to be kind without expecting anything in return, or by silently praying against the demons that are tormenting that person’s mind at that moment. We impact their lives for the better. We may not see any specific change in the person, but the Spirit of God in us sees it. We can walk away from the experience stronger, more blessed, and untouched by the negativity that our old reactions would have created.

God’s constant message to us is that every problem has a solution, that there’s always something good we can do. We can interpret bad news, or even ordinary events, spiritually. And then our reacting can change the course of how things play out in the future. Our interpretations may seem crazy to others, but if they spring from the Spirit of God, they’re always right. Look at how Jesus interpreted situations that baffled His followers: 

He slept through a storm that could have killed everyone on board.
He told His disciples to feed thousands of people with a few fish and bread.
He told mourners to stop crying because a dead girl was just sleeping.
He touched lepers.
He criticized religious leaders.
He ate with prostitutes and thieves.
He destroyed property and ran people and animals out of the Temple.
He cursed trees.
He talked to storms.
He forced demons to obey Him.
He healed everyone who asked Him.
He didn’t back down before His own death on the cross.

God wants us to start interpreting the world His way. But this comes from a radical faith in Him, His promises and His character. It feels unnatural at first, because it’s implicit that every time we live by the Spirit, we kill our flesh. But the more we practice it, the less we want to go back to the old way of interpreting. 

What problem is bugging you the most? What’s making you feel stuck? Ask God to show you how He wants you to interpret that situation, and then start acting on it. That interpretation could demand that you act in a way that makes you look crazy, that makes you feel vulnerable or foolish or even weak. Great! That means you’re being forced to act by faith, and faith is what moves mountains.

Then He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rise out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it is. And when a south wind blows, you say, ‘There will be heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You can discern (interpret) the face of the sky and of the earth. But why do you not know how to discern (interpret) this time?  Luke 12:54-56, MEV

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Curses that just won’t go away

George came from a long line of broken relationships, domestic violence, abandoned children and runaways from abusive homes. George was so amazed to find God, to receive salvation, die to all the sins of his past and find a new life. For over 10 years, he’s been serving God voluntarily as a prayer counselor at church as often as he can fit into his schedule. He’s a great guy, good-hearted, humble and very lonely. No attempts to find the right woman to marry have worked. He prays, fasts, and tries his best, but lately he’s become weary of disappointment. “I know there’s been a generational curse on my family for years, but I’m filled with the Spirit now – why’s this curse still affecting me?” he asked.

Christians of all church backgrounds are still carrying around the curses of generations before them. Some, because they aren’t truly saved, Christian in name only.  But others like George are sincere, and are still blocked by the same evil that has destroyed their families for decades. Why? It’s not because it’s God’s will, or that the power of the cross is too weak, or that they are unworthy to be freed from the curse. It’s because they haven’t yet learned to live in the freedom that Jesus purchased for them on the cross. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us—as it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’” 

The law of the prince of this world, is that once he owns a family (which is how demons think), he has the right to continue tormenting that entire family line, even inhabiting unborn babies in their mother’s wombs. But Jesus became a curse so we can be free from curses, and free from the devil’s laws and rules. Galatians 5 also says, “For freedom Christ freed us. Stand fast therefore and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”  That’s not only talking about sin, but about all the bondage of the devil. Submit to Jesus as Lord, and you’ll be saved, but to find total freedom from the curses of your past, you need to make specific choices in faith to “untangle” yourself from their hold. Jesus’ death broke the power of all evil. Sickness, sin, and curses. Most Christians focus on forgiveness of sins—the most important, because there’s no salvation without it—but few are even aware that acting in faith is part of breaking generational curses as well.

I discovered George was convinced he didn’t deserve a happy marriage. He wasn’t even aware of how negative he was, but his actions and choices proved it. He was always nervous and doubtful about his worth, and about approaching a woman who interested him, and his attitudes would sabotage his attempts. When she’d eventually turn him down, he’d become resentful and carry a grudge, making him even more unattractive to the opposite sex.  Holding on to guilt and unworthiness was his default setting, and he accepted it as unchangeable. He didn’t understand that he had to act on the fact that Jesus had broken his curse, and it wasn’t going to happen automatically just because he was a Christian. Without knowing it, George’s passivity was permitting a generational curse of loneliness to needlessly continue.  

Once we identified what was going on, we began to fight against the negative thoughts that he was entertaining. He recognized how insecurities had been blocking him on his job, his family relationships, his health, and even how he served as a prayer counselor. He’s finally taking hold of that freedom that Jesus died for by rebuking those attitudes and doing the exact opposite of his passive default setting, even if it makes him feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Yes, Jesus carried our curses, but we have to live in the faith that they are broken. Only we can change our habits and mindsets to prove to God, to the devil, and to ourselves that those generational curses are broken forever. Faith is to be grabbed ahold of and put to use in every aspect of our lives.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would give you, according to the riches of His glory, power to be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man,  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19 MEV

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pure, innocent trust

Be absolutely sure of what you don’t yet see, act and live as if it’s already yours, and it will become reality. That’s a paraphrase of the defining verse on faith in Hebrews 11. It has nothing to do with selfish wishes or magic, but merely a practical faith based strictly on His promises and commandments. Jesus is so clear and straightforward about His guarantee of answered prayer, it’s almost too good to be true. We’ll even try to argue it away, “Jesus didn’t REALLY mean that, did He?” 

“I will do whatever you ask in My name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  John 14:13-14

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also, if you say to this mountain, “Be removed, and be thrown into the sea,” it will be done. And whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive.’”  Matthew 21:21-22

“If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you.”  John 15:7

It’s like a dream come true, to have “anything” or “whatever you desire” given to “everyone who asks.” It’s so amazing, it seems to awaken the child inside of us. And that’s exactly what God wants, because that’s how He sees us—as His children.  He wants us to expect wonderful things with that same innocent faith that our own kids display. The joy we see in our child’s eyes when he or she fully trusts in our simple promises is priceless. It gives us even more joy when we fulfill that promise and see their excitement and gratitude. Our bond with them grows even deeper with each experience. That sensation is a tiny glimpse of the immense joy that God has when we go through the same process of pure and innocent trust in Him. God loves to bless us, not just for the blessing, but for the deepened bond of trust we develop each time we step out in faith. Faith unites us to Him. It’s impossible to please Him without it.

Faith that saves us for eternity, is just as childlike as the faith we need for specific miracles. Our problem is that we consider ourselves too sophisticated. We’re too jaded and calloused by the world to really trust like a child. But if we say that He’s our Lord, then more should be happening than simply enduring the frustration of evil overcoming good. If Jesus’ words are true, then the daily experiences of His presence correcting, guiding, answering our prayers and empowering us to fight the devil, will be evident. If not, we need to examine ourselves and ask why, because it’s not God’s fault. Maybe we’re going through all the right motions of faith, but the inner, childlike purity and innocence is missing. We have to tear down our lofty ideas of being “realists” that explain away why we don’t see His promises come true. We know nothing compared to His wisdom, and He isn’t impressed with our years of experience, our ministries, or our status in the hierarchy of our community. He is definitely not impressed with religiosity, or an appearance of holiness that covers hidden sins.

We are sheep: vulnerable, not too bright, and totally dependent on our Shepherd. We are children: needing love, care and discipline from our Father. Stop assuming that you’re doing everything perfectly, and stop thinking of yourself as a “realist” as you quench the Spirit who wants to bless you. Answered prayers, miracles, deliverance, healing—they are promised to those who are truly His. True children, true sheep, truly vulnerable, truly humble. The more mature a Christian grows, the more he knows that he is small, utterly dependent, and utterly loved.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

4 ingredients to answered prayer

This is a post from October 12, 2014 that I thought was worth repeating. We had just arrived in Brazil two weeks beforehand, and God had impressed on me part of a verse that reads, “dwell in the land and live securely.” When we’re in sync with God, no matter where we are, we’re secure. Fear and alarm is all over the news these days, which reminds us of Jesus’ warnings of the end times, when faith will grow cold and the spirit of the antichrist will be on the rise. But those belong to Him are always safe in the palm of His hand. His promises are for all times, in all situations as long as we are obedient.

Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:3-4, HCSB

The commands of God in these 2 verses are: trust, do good, dwell, and delight. The promises? Live securely, and receive your heart’s desires. It’s so simple, but we have a way of complicating the simplicity and beauty of what God asks. As we’ve seen after going through many of the promises of the Bible, every promise comes with a condition or command. If we humble ourselves and consistently obey His commands, the promises will come flooding in. Unfortunately, we have selfish and sinful natures that doubt and rebel and so we end up postponing our miracles from happening, or even cancel them out.  

The dictionary definitions of each command:
TRUST: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something
DO GOOD: to do what is desired or approved of, showing kindness, having or displaying moral virtue
DWELL: live in or at a specified place
DELIGHT: take great pleasure in

Rewording verses 3 and 4 according to these definitions, we can say that God wants us to have a firm belief in His reliability, truth and strength, to be virtuous and kind and do what He desires. He wants us to live in the place where He has specified, because He will guarantee our safety and peace. We need to take great pleasure in Him, enjoy being in His presence, enjoy obeying His commands and enjoy spending as much time with Him as possible. Then and only then, will He grant us the desires of our hearts.  

So ask yourself, do I really have a firm belief in God’s reliability, or do I waste time worrying that He won’t come through for me? Am I virtuous and kind, and do I do what He wants? Am I dwelling (living, working, associating with people) as God has specified? If so, I have no reason to feel anxious because my safety is guaranteed.   

Do I take great pleasure in Him, all the time, and on a consistent basis? Do my prayers, my battles against demons, my church attendance and my reading of the Bible happen in fits and spurts according to my schedule, moods and impending problems? Or is delighting in God something that I do eagerly and can’t spend a day without?

The world offers tons of ways to chase after security and our heart’s desires with no guarantee of actually finding them—they usually include a good amount of money and the right connections. What God promises is iron clad, and requires the currency of faith, trust and obedience. Anyone can have security, and anyone can find their heart’s desires, no matter how privileged or poor they might be.