Sometimes the assumptions built into our local traditions help us get things wrong.
Jesus repeatedly said that he came to give us Life. The Life of God (in New Testament Greek: Zoe). Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus say his purpose was to come to get you into heaven.
He repeatedly said that he came to bring you Life, Zoe: the Life of God. Heaven is included.
He came to get Life into you: the Life of God. (Something the first Adam lost.) Relationship restored!
Jesus never said to make converts; he said to make disciples. (Converts are included in making disciples.)
He came so you can start helping to bring heaven to earth – now. Wow! You get to help bring heaven to earth.
Salvation is included, and you will go to heaven. And later in our New Heaven and New Earth, God will literally be our Light that we see by, in the Temple.
Help bring Heaven to earth: preach the Good News of the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Free the bound. Make disciples of all nations, all people groups.
Also, you get to pray for heaven on earth:
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6: 8-10, NKJV
So…my thesis here is that Jesus did not say he came here to get us into heaven, even though he does get us into heaven when we respond with faith. What he repeatedly said was that he came here to give us Life. The Life of God, in us, does result in heaven. And later, into the New Heaven and New Earth.
It’s like that he did not say we were to make converts. He said to make disciples – this should be our focus when evangelizing. Which will result in stronger and more effective Christians than by focusing on making converts. Let’s follow Jesus and do what Jesus said.
Let’s do and minister as Jesus showed, taught, and as he still says to us today in Scripture, with Holy Spirit. Doing as Jesus teaches is better than following local traditions.
This is from my Prayer Journal of today. I was having difficulty praying well for someone I know who needs our Lord’s help. And I was having difficulties, probably because a big part of me is aggravated. That’s not pretty, but it’s the truth. So here is what I wrote; I’ll call this person A______.
I find praying for A______ to be difficult.
So I look to Father, who already had a plan before the beginning, and who looks down on A_______ with immense love.
Then I look to Jesus, who as always is ready to heal.
Then I ask Holy Spirit to tell me how to pray for her. I am to pray with Father’s love and planning for good; pray with Jesus, who is always ready to heal and make whole. And I pray as Holy Spirit is leading me, now.
A______ has been restored and has received complete sozo. So this is how I pray.
Pray according to the nature of each Member of the Trinity, my deepest community and my most real family – who teaches me, mercifully, about how to have more and better faith.
And forgiveness, my ability to forgive and to have forgiven, was included as a free extra – pure grace!
The Trinity is my real family of faith. What a gift!
Faith is easy when we hear and rely on a word from God. Faith comes to us by hearing, and what we hear that gives faith is a Word from God.
We hear the Word. We hear Jesus, the creator of heaven and earth.
So…you understand, in a general way, that God does certain things and wants certain things to happen, like the destruction of the works of the devil. Such as Restoration, Salvo – including healing and freedom from unclean spirits (such things are what Jesus came for).
But without a personal Word from God that you hear personally, it is hard to have faith; likely impossible – otherwise we are trying to have faith in our thoughts or even worse, faith in our faith. Which I can tell you by too much disappointing experience – is not only extremely hard, it does not work.
But faith in what you hear from Jesus, the Word of God that created since the beginning before time and light, such faith works. And as long as you are experientially in touch, in contact, with that Word, faith is relatively easy and God’s inspiration always makes it easier.
So…how do you get such faith when you do not yet have it? Hear from God.
How to hear from God in such a personal way when you have not yet personally heard from God? It’s simple. Even easy. ASK.
Ask Jesus. (you are first having faith in Jesus.)
Pause, listen, receive and hear; and let faith blossom. (You are receiving a Word from Jesus. Have faith in that Word. Act – receive and take action to receive and have or experience what you have asked for. Taking action is not only part of the process Jesus repeatedly promised, it’s an outcome of and a result of your faith.)
So when you know something is wanted or promised in scripture, by God, and you have not heard in a personal way that gives you personal revelation and insight, ASK.
Ask, receive, knock – take appropriate next step action.
If you want a baby, maybe get a crib. At least buy diapers. Start getting ready to have what you have asked for and what Jesus gives you a personal, inspiring, revelatory message for: have faith.
If you want to heal someone, ask Jesus – how do I pray. Notice what you experience next, and pray – doing that. Until healing is completely and thoroughly enforced, the prayer results have shown up. (Ask – Jesus. Receive – guidance about how to pray. Act [action is like knocking on a door] to open up what you are having faith for – open that door for Jesus. Jesus makes it easy.)
Faith is easy. Ask Jesus. Listen – receive. Knock – act on your faith.
Faith is easy when done right. The Word makes such faith possible. Grab onto it!
And do not proceed on your own ideas about how to do something without faith or guidance from God. Sarah tried that, and the results have been not only the birth of a difficult child, but the birth of a people-group that have been in conflict with Israel ever since.
Faith is easy. Ask, Receive, and Act (like knocking on a door) – to be ready to have what you have asked for.
Here’s an interesting and fun way to look at Intention & Intuition.
From the point of view of how we humans experience things, intention and intuition are the same thing, but going in different directions. Let me explain. And try to put this into words.
Especially when experienced as the Still Small Voice of God,we experience deep intuition as something that comes into us from outside. We receive it on the inside, but it doesn’t really come from us.
We experience intention as something inside us with which we want to use to change the world outside of us.
Intuition comes from outside of us into the deep center of us, often transforming us. Intention goes out through our deep center into the world outside of us, changing the world.
(I’m trying to put into words things that are far deeper than words. Not everyone will describe these experiences the same way.)
Intuition is heard or experienced through our Still Center, a place of stillness that feels like the very center of our being. This is where we experience the Small Still Voice of God. We experience intuition as coming from outside of us into the inside.
Intention is felt or experienced through our Still Center, as something that is already inside of us and with which we intend to affect the universe outside of us. We experience intention ad coming from the inside of us and going out into the world.
It’s an odd and unusual thought, but intuition and intention have far more in common than has been recognized. They might even be the same thing, just coming from and going to opposite directions.
In terms of how humans experience two-way conversation with God, intuition is vital for hearing from God. Praying in the Spirit may be related to intention. I have often prayed with intention, especially after hearing from God.
It is said history repeats itself. Well, sorta…. Events and periods of time occur that are unique so they are given a name so we can tell one from the other. However, although different, there are patterns that are repeated over and over again. It generally is good versus evil, good guy versus bad guy.
As I write, we are truly in a unique period of time. So much is happening to us, to our area, to our country and to our world. Any period of time can be defined that way; but it appears that at this moment we are facing some of the biggest issues we have ever faced. In a historical as well as biblical sense, this is a major time of GOOD vs EVIL.
During an earlier time, the world faced a threat of world domination by Japanese as well as German empires. Most of us were not around and only know there was a war in the mid-20th century. However, at the time experts agreed that the allies, as the good guys were called, could not win the war against the greatest armies of that period. For a time, America was unprotected after Pearl Harbor; Australia considered moving its relatively small population to the south in order to protect them from the expected Japanese assault; Britain barely survived an invasion from Germany. Germany and Japan were printing money in English for the expected takeover of the USA. Could it have happened regardless of the formidable outback, the huge determined American continent and the British nerve? Maybe.
Even if they couldn’t beat us many believe – which even was reflected in slogans of the time – that to win the war or at least stop the tyranny it would take until the late 1940s or even beyond. That’s almost a decade. As it happened, from Pearl Harbor until the German surrender was less than 3 and a half years. We didn’t have a lot to begin with and it that relatively short period of time defeated one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, with Japan surrendering soon thereafter.
In 1776, we were at war as a new nation against the mightiest of empires known to man. We definitely at that time had no chance of winning ….. but we did.
In 1989 the Berlin wall came down without a shot fired. Talk about impossible.
Christians… believers… all know that Good is stronger than evil. But many times evil wins.
What happened that was different in the above. People of prayer, and especially those who believe what GOD has promised. And the Bible has thousands of promises.
In the revolutionary war, the clergy lead the charge of freedom; Washington himself was continually on his knees and the new leaders put their lives on the line betting a country could be formed based on the LOVE OF GOD. It proved true.
In world war II, the churches were more prominent than they are currently and people knew the dangers. They prayed. There were no ships… a man prayed .. ships were built quickly. Patton prayed, and the weather was with him to win a battle. People prayed, and the biggest and riskiest invasion of France was successful.
People from many countries prayed, and the walls of Germany were torn down by regular people.
In the natural; in logical thinking none of this was possible. So prayers of many were provided, but not just wishing prayers. Jesus said for us… not HIM… to speak to the mountain. Don’t talk about the mountain, don’t negotiate with the mountain. Command the mountain to go. We personally can’t pick up that mountain, but if it’s in our way… whatever that “mountain” is… it must go if we have the FAITH OF GOD and accept that authority.
That means what we see or what we reason to be is not the truth. The truth is our desired outcome. We speak to the mountain – and we do not let the mountain speak to us and tell us what is to be!
The early Americans wanted freedom only GOD could provide. Extended war and failure was not an option for the events of the 40’s. Tyranny under the Iron Curtain was not GOD’S best.
The mountains moved.
The world currently is in crisis. It’s historical, and it’s biblical. Many people are praying. As before, we are to move the mountains. We are not obligated to repeat what experts tell us. We are told to follow this sequence or expect this or that. They tell us hope is way off. WE DO DOT PRAY WHAT WE SEE OR HEAR. We pray what we want to happen … period. God’s way is better than ours. There is no compromise; we don’t negotiate. Like Jesus, we don’t negotiate with evil – ever! We believe and set the process up for the impossible surprises of GOD. We bind the evil; we curse the disease; we pray for heaven to come down to earth. We don’t need a flowchart; we want to move things out and bring in the good in the eternal NOW of GOD.
Don’t be like Pharaoh who when asked when to get rid of the Frogs, he said tomorrow. What’s wrong with today?
Running my race. Sometimes I do well; too often I do not.
I have recently, again and again, fallen short of the Glory of God.
I am a sinner.
I have hurt others, and I have been hurt by Christians I look up to and admire. And I have used that as an excuse to sin even more.
How did all this happen, I wonder. Maybe you wonder, too. Well, it was all too easy.
A lot of it happened through social media. Through the news. And most terribly – in my own heart.
Friends I admire and look up to would send me jokes about democrats, and I would laugh – some of them were really funny. And some of these were not just funny, some were also quite nasty.
Other friends would send me descriptions of religious republicans and the twisted things some of them are encouraging, and I would agree.
Friends from different parties would send me news articles. Too often full of truths that make my heart recoil. And too often — one sided or twisted versions of events. And I would agree for a while, before I saw more broadly and inclusively.
Friends with high ideals and good reasons sending me twisted, one sided, soul shrinking propaganda. And I would read and agree for a while. Until….
Everybody has good reasons. Too often amplified beyond reason – the kind of thing that gives opportunity to unclean spirits. Too often twisted, to make a point. Too often so one-sided as to be sinful in themselves, yet very convincing.
And here I am, a well meaning feckless chameleon; first agreeing with this and seeing it clearly. Then agreeing with that, and seeing that clearly. Boy, talk about being double-minded. I’m an expert. A friend tells me the Greek literally means two-minded, a person with two minds – actually two souls.
I have lost all sense of proportion and of the larger picture: I am bound by love, previous repentance, and duty to a King and Kingdom that is at hand: Immanuel and his Kingdom. How often do I forget the Good News of the Kingdom? Too often.
I get caught up being for this or for that; or against this and against that. As though these were my first allegiance. I forget Whose I am.
I have sinned. Repeatedly. Forgetting Whose I am, forgetting the Kingdom and Immanuel. My first allegiance. I am ashamed.
So I again repent and ask for more of Holy Spirit. For help to live not for what I eat or drink but for righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Putting the Kingdom first.
Lord, help me be a beneficial influence in the culture that surrounds me, influence, share and spread the Kingdom of God. And to do this first, before and more strongly and with more skill, love and determination – than any good thing I do in well intentioned and wordly politics. Help me follow Holy Spirit so well and so much that I am full of Fruit of the Spirit. Love, self-control, kindness, patience…and control my tongue.
The Untamable Tongue
3 My brethren, (A)let not many of you become teachers, (B)knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For (C)we all stumble in many things. (D)If anyone does not stumble in word, (E)he is a[a]perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 [b]Indeed, (F)we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.5 Even so (G)the tongue is a little member and (H)boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And (I)the tongue is a fire, a world of [c]iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it (J)defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of [d]nature; and it is set on fire by [e]hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, (K)full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made (L)in the [f]similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a (M)fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? [g]Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Heavenly Verses Demonic Wisdom
13 (N)Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have (O)bitter envy and [h]self-seeking in your hearts, (P)do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 (Q)This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For (R)where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But (S)the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, (T)without partiality (U)and without hypocrisy. 18 (V)Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
There is a straightforward way to transform terrible memories, which I just recently discovered and noticed through a Facebook friend, Henry Kanu, who lives in Sierra Leone.
This works so well for me because I already have experience with and belief in a particular promise of God: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good”, Romans 8:28a., ESV.
Henry Kanu and I were discussing and exploring this promise, when Holy Spirit prompted me to test this out and prove it to myself – even further.
So I thought of two memories that I considered terrible memories of things I had experienced. (My wife’s unexpected death and a painful childhood time.) Then I applied God’s promise to those two memories.
Remarkably, they no longer seemed like terrible memories; there were just precursors – things that happened first, before God tuned those experiences into good things – which I can now easily notice and appreciate. I am grateful for what has happened.
Applying God’s promise literally transformed the memories from being of things I felt were bad – into memories of how God made good out of those things. I literally remember and experience the blessings that God gave as a result of these experiences.
They no longer were terrible memories for me.
If you have enough experience &/or enough trust in this promise from Romans 8:28a, I believe this transformation can easily happen for you, too.
And if you need more experience with this promise, I recommend you do two things. First, meditate on God’s promise. Second, remember some specific things that are terrible memories, and notice how God turned these experiences into something good for you.
After doing this for a while, see how the promise may help you transform a memory of something that felt bad, and that you thought of as a terrible memory.
I believe you will notice as I have, a memory of something you thought of as being bad and that felt bad – can be transformed by applying God’s promise of Romanss 8:28a.
Oh – and it’s an excellent idea to give thanks for the improvement and transformation to Jesus. And to praise him for this. Which will have the side effect of nailing down the transformative experience of a bad memory into being the start of something good that God has done for you.
Thank you, Henry Kanu. And most of all, thank you, Jesus Christ!
Point One: God has proven himself to be a skilled planner. If you look at the remarkable number (hundreds!) of advance plans (sometimes called prophecies) that he prepared in advance of his Messiah’s appearance on earth, details as far back as Genesis 3, you realize that God has some mad skills at planning ahead.
Point Two: God is good. That’s not negotiable. God is always (always!) in favor of his kids, always working for our good.
Point Three: In Exodus, God is pretty badass. His plagues confront the Egyptian “gods” and show them to be powerless. Then he leads a couple of million people out of slavery right on the schedule he had announced several centuries earlier.
And here’s where my ears seriously perk up.
God, the omniscient, omnipotent super-planner leads his people into the desert, famous for having neither food nor water. And what a surprise, the people have no water, no food.
So they complained. Like people do.
They wanted food (Exodus 16). So he fed them meat (quail: good eating!) in the evening, and bread (manna) the next morning (v12).
Then they complained about not having water (Exodus 17), and in the midst of their whining, they asked for water (v2). And God gave them water. He used a pretty epic miracle (v6) to do it, too.
And in these ways he provided for his children for forty years in the desert. (Hint: read Exodus again. What epic stories!)
We’ve all heard sermons about their complaining, and how that irritated God and really frustrated their leader, Moses. Reasonable lessons to draw from these stories.
I was talking to God the other day as we were going through Exodus. “You’re so good at planning. Why did you lead them into the desert without food or water?”
And suddenly, my mind was taken back to The Magician’s Nephew, CS Lewis’s book about the beginning of Narnia. Polly and Digory were on a mission for Aslan, the Christ figure, and they were hungry:
“Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Digory.“
I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.
“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.
“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse. “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”
AndFather whispered to me, “I wanted them to ask me, so I could answer them.”
I realized that God was training them how to come to him to meet their needs: his goal is relationship, a relationship of trust.
Someone smart once said, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” God works on our behalf to teach us that faith, how to relate to him in faith.