Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Power of Praise

Years ago I read a wonderful little book called “Prison to Praise” by Merlyn Carothers. In it, he discussed the revelation he had received about praising God in all circumstances, whether they be pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad etc. He also recounted stories of how the sacrificial act of giving God praise in difficult situations somehow turned things around in remarkable ways. It is a book well worth reading.
Last week our beloved cat Tommy ran off. I had opened the sliding door when I got up rather early and the little fellow darted out into the great outdoors to face a world of snakes and bobcats. We waited and waited, walked about calling and whistling for him to come home, but he never came.
Now Tommy is not just an ordinary cat. He is an English Short Hair and has the ability to announce himself with the cutest growl when he comes to visit me in my study or before he jumps up onto our bed for a good night’s rest. Needless to say all joy left for the day and all of us were fighting thoughts of trepidation and attacks of fearing for the worst! Where was he? Was he killed by a bobcat? Was he run over by a car? 
As the long day drew on and the shadows lengthened, feelings of great sadness tried to secure a vice-like grip on our hearts. Of course we all prayed, stood on the word, but that did not seem to help in the battle against powerful feelings. I even printed a “Missing” pamphlet and posted them around the neighborhood.
In the midst of all this I was suddenly reminded of the message of that little book and one of the scriptures it was based on, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord, let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:1-3
In Hebrews 13:15 we read, "Through Jesus therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that openly profess His name." 

King David was the master of praise. It was I believe, because of this amazing ability and discipline that God had raised him up from a lowly shepherd boy to become the mightiest king that Israel has ever known! Was there a lesson in it for me, to take these scriptures literally? Is there a secret power in praise that we need to apply more in our lives if we want to live in victory? Well, as darkness fell, I immediately started praising God in the situation. I praised Him for who He was, focusing my mind and thoughts on His greatness and awesome power. As I did so and continued for some time, I sensed a change in the spiritual atmosphere.
I had to take my daughter Christine to a youth meeting and as we were driving I was explaining to her the principle of praising God not for a situation, but in every situation no matter how bad things seemed. On the way back home a great sense of being free of all cares settled on my soul. Nothing seemed to matter and that wonderful feeling of closeness to the Creator was all that mattered. I parked the car and as I strolled up to the front door I heard a rustle in the bushes. Bending down under a moving shrub, there was the sweet face of little Tommy! I scooped him up with joy, went inside and together we thanked God for his goodness! I called Christine at the youth meeting and she wept with sheer relief and joy!

This may seem like a simple little story but it does demonstrate a great truth of the Bible, to praise God in all circumstances. On a far grander and more serious scale is the story of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles Chapter20. Jerusalem was surrounded by enemy armies totaling a million men. The King called an assembly of the elders and as they called on God in their anguish the voice of a prophet rang out. “Do not fear,” he said, “Go out against them, the battle belongs to the Lord!”
The next day the king placed the singers and praise band ahead of the army and went out to meet the invaders and exhorted them to put their trust in God and the words of the prophet. As they praised God the enemy turned on each other, killing and destroying them in their confusion.
Yes, we can indeed face an uncertain future with a mighty weapon in our arsenal, that is to praise the King of kings in ALL circumstances and stand and see the salvation of the Lord! How many battles have we lost because we did not know or apply this wonderful weapon in our arsenal against circumstances that conspired against us?

Hotline To Heaven

The Atlantic Cable
In 1865 a multi-stranded cable was laid on the sea bed connecting Ireland with Newfoundland. The conductor was a strand of seven copper wires. This cable formed an uninterrupted telegraphic connection between Europe and North America. The transatlantic cable, completed in July 1866, was the beginning of fast communication across the seas.
Multiple channels of communication
New York merchant and financier Cyrus Field first proposed laying a 2,000-mile copper cable along the ocean bottom from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1854, but the first three attempts ended in broken cables and failure. Field's persistence finally paid off in July 1866, when Great Eastern, the largest ship then afloat, successfully laid the cable along the level, sandy bottom of the North Atlantic. As messages traveled between Europe and America in hours rather than weeks, Cyrus Field was showered with honors. Among the honors was this commemorative print referring to the cable as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The cable under the Atlantic, "The Eighth Wonder of the World"
Your Jesus Connection
More than two thousand years ago, Jesus spoke of his infinitely fast connection to you. In John 15 we read, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
In a way similar way to the signals flowing along the multi-stranded Atlantic and modern day fiber-optic cables, full salvation of spiritual, mental, financial, social and physical blessing and prosperity is flowing to you right now if you are connected to Jesus! In contrast to being worlds apart from the source of the signals, we read of God, "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24) He is right with you pouring His fullness into you! 
Ephesians 3:19
"and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Don’t just receive one blessing, switch on all the channels of spiritual and so-called material blessings. Prosperity does not mean money, it means love, peace, joy, marriage and family life, health, and yes money, etc. Are you receiving me, hallo, hallo…? 
You will soon realize that you can stand complete in Him, lacking nothing! Col. 4:12 "always laboring fervently for you in prayer, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."
The connection to the Source is a multi-stranded one that covers every aspect of life. You may have shut a few off in your mind but it is time to reconnect and let all blessings flow to you. Think of the ones you have switched off, ask, and reconnect.
“I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly” John 10:10
No person or condition is your source of blessing, but only Jesus. People and conditions are just channels of blessing that God uses to bless you with. Once this sinks in, you will not be upset if certain people do not respond in love or in business because you will realize that Jesus is just changing the channel but remains your Source!
Jesus is no respecter of persons. That means He will not send health to one and not to another. The sap in all the branches of the Vine contains the same nourishment. Yes, there is hope even it seems like the final hour. There is hope for a prosperous business, art, music or a writing career. There is hope for a happy marriage, fabulous health or freedom from addiction. They are all my friends, flowing to you right now! Jesus is the True Wonder of the world!         
 You will hear a voice saying,"This is the way, walk in it." Isa.30:21
Keep each channel open!
Remember to keep all channels open. While you are expecting a request to manifest, keep the love, the peace and the joy channels open! "You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace."(Isa.55:12) 
Be a channel of love and forgiveness to everyone, regardless of what they may have done to you. "Faith expresses itself through love."(Gal.5:6). 
Resentment and unforgiveness block the channels. Your faith or expectation or should be quiet and peaceful, joyous and loving. When you find struggling with unbelief, switch to gratitude by remembering what blessings He has already done for you. David built his faith in the same way, pairing his expectations with testimonies of the great works that God had already done! This is a sure way to increase the faith or expectation channel and to keep your peace and joy channel flowing at the same time.
"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest." (Hebrews 4:11)
How blissful is the excitement that your prayer requests have been answered and are streaming toward you!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Your Christmas Gift

The Argument
I had been arguing with the Baptist pastor that my lady friend at that time had brought to meet me. He was telling me what Jesus meant to him, like he knew him personally. “What about all the Muslims, the Hindu’s and the Pygmies in the jungle who will never get to know who He is? According to scripture they are all going to hell. Is that fair?” I responded angrily. “I can’t answer that, but I do know He loves me, directs my steps and I often sense His presence strongly”, he answered politely. I got mad at him and left her apartment with the words, “Don’t expect me to join your Jesus club!”

Damascus Road
That night alone at my house, I found myself pacing the floor in a troubled state. At one point I picked up the Bible that my friend had left for me, flipped it open and read the page. The passage was about the apostle Paul on his way to Damascus in pursuit of early Christians who he was persecuting and killing. Suddenly Paul saw a blinding light, fell off his horse and cried out, “Who are you?” The voice came back, “It is I, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and why are you persecuting me?” When I read these words, a powerful presence filled my house. I immediately and un-mistakenly knew it to be Jesus! Like Paul of old, I fell to my knees and said in a whisper, “Sorry Lord, I did not know that you were still alive!”
Ever since that time many years ago, I have sensed His presence and direction many times and have come to better understand His love and grace. I also came to know more about His promises about eternal life, healing, health and all the other blessings and instructions that are spoken of in the Bible.
Jesus is your Christmas gift. No promise or blessing compares with the peace and joy that knowing Him brings.

The FedEx Man
Say a man from FedEx knocks on your door with a pile of Christmas parcels from Jesus, all addressed to you. The first one is labeled and reads, “Eternal Life (Romans10:9)” You gratefully accept that one, and sign for it. The second one reads, “Healing and Eternal Health (Isaiah 53:5)” You struggle accepting that one for a moment but with some encouragement from the FedEx man (The Holy Spirit) reminding you of the relevant scriptural promises, you sign for it too.
He still has many packages for you however and gives you the next one. It reads, “Riches and Wealth (2 Corinthians 8:9)” The FedEx man starts reading down a list of scriptures to encourage you to take that parcel too. While you stand there in confusion, he starts passing all the others to you. The labels float past one by one. One reads, “Whatever you ask (Mark 11:24)” Another reads, “Happily Married (Proverbs18:22)” Yet others read, “Children (Deuteronomy 28:4), Freedom from Addiction (John 8:36), More Than Enough (2 Corinthians 9:8), Living Water (John 7:36), Victory (Psalm.108:13), Whatever You Say (Provebs18:22), Whatever you wish (John 15:7)", etc., etc.
You remain standing there in a state of shock and softly respond to the delivery man, “I am sorry, I am just not worthy, I can’t accept these, they must be for someone else, there must be some mistake. I can’t believe He really wants me to have all these too?”

Will you accept them all?
“ No, I assure you, the parcels all have your name and address clearly marked on the labels, they have all been prepaid for and are just for you!”, the Holy spirit is now whispering to you. “Please don’t let Him down, Jesus bought and paid for all of these.” If you don’t believe it He will be so disappointed!” The man turned around, leaving all the gifts on your porch and left with the words ringing in your ear, “Merry Christmas!” 
Will you leave them outside or bring them all into your heart?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Clunker or Cadillac?

I overheard a salesman telling a customer on a used car lot. “This one goes like a Cadillac!”
“No way”, I thought to myself, looking at the condition of the old clunker.
This incident took me back to the day when I bought one of my first wheels, a beaten up panel van. The hood was up and the keen salesman and I were looking at the dirty engine. He said, “It needs a cleaning but goes like a bat out of hell!”  I looked at him in disbelief  and then he added, “At least, I think it does”

No engine?
The Smooth Ride
Whatever car you like to drive, a Cadillac has a reputation of giving a smooth ride. We all know that some roads are better than others but one thing is sure, it’s far nicer to drive a Cadillac than a clunker. It is also much more enjoyable to travel on a good road than a bad one.
In Isaiah 40:3-5, the prophet speaks about a road that you should make for God in your heart;”Make straight in the desert a highway for our God” 
He is saying to keep God’s presence continually in your thoughts and to let Him have His way with you. In return, God creates a highway for you in this life and travels it with you
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells it like this,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”
You can go through life without God and experience mountains and valleys, ie highs and lows, rough terrain and crooked paths. Somehow walking with God just smooths out things. His Word in your heart smooths out your ride. Meditating on the promises of God makes each difficult situation so much easier to bear.  His Word lets you trade in your clunker of a life for a brand new smooth-ridin’ Cadillac!
This does of course not mean that you will not have troubles in life. It does mean that they will affect you less! The clunker will rattle and shake over fifty miles of bad road. The Caddie will just fly over it!

The Peace of God
John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
It is the peace of God that makes the ride of life smooth. Jesus says you will experience rough patches but He has made them smooth. They just won’t affect you that much!
The Smooth-Ridin' Caddie
Keep the windows closed!
Imagine for a moment that you are riding in your new Cadillac on a beautiful smooth road say, somewhere in Arizona. Suddenly you hit a dirt patch with gravel flying and clouds of dust blurring your vision. Tell me, would you then roll down your windows and let the dust in to choke you? Of course not! In the same way when the troubles of life come on you suddenly and unexpectedly, keep your peace! Don’t allow thoughts of the trouble at hand to come in and dominate your thinking. As you will know by now if you have studied my other blog postings, thoughts lead to feelings. Good thoughts like scriptural promises cause good feelings. Bad thoughts like continually thinking about the trouble at hand causes bad feelings.
I love this scripture, 
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, He who rules his [own]spirit (is better) than he who takes a city” Proverbs 16:32
You can rule your own spirit in only one possible way, not to react to circumstances but by displaying the fruit of the spirit and not the reactions of the flesh. Stay peaceful when trouble shows up. Stay joyful because the joy of the Lord is your strength. Stay loving because love conquers all. It takes practice of course, but eventually you can gain a good measure of control. 
The ability to control emotions is rooted in the ability to choose the thoughts you think. Refusing to think hateful thought when you have every reason to do so, forces the situation to change for the better. Jesus said,
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28
Somehow, this changes the situation in your favor. You become a channel of blessing to your persecutors and they are either changed for the better or their plans come to nothing. So, when trouble shows up which it will, decide to display one and all of the listed qualities below by refusing any contrary thought!
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I would also venture to say that against such things no one or no situation has any power over you! What a smooth ride that can be.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Power from the Vine

The Vine and the Branches
 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.” (John 15:5-7)
The imagery invoked by these words of Jesus is an extremely powerful aid in transforming our thinking.

The true vine
The chapter starts by Jesus saying that He is the true vine. I believe that He is implying that there are false vines, ie false teachers. There are so many today that teach spiritual principles that are mostly derived from Bible scriptures but leave out the first essential, being connected to the King of kings. Indeed, one can apply the spiritual principles in writings of people like Wayne Dyer or Rhonda Byrne of “The Secret” fame and manifest amazing results. Their words may sound the same, taking Biblical principles and mixing a dose of misleading Hindu philosophy, but without remaining in Jesus, sadly all people willultimately be branches that are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned.

Remaining in Jesus
The spiritual connection we as believers have to the presence of Jesus is by far our greatest blessing. The reality of that connection takes us through every trial and stays with us wherever we go. It is the pearl of great price. No ability to manifest health, wealth and earthly happiness could ever compare with the ability to come boldly into the Father’s presence through our connection to Jesus. And yet, too many good believers neglect to apply Bible teachings on how to experience an amazing life through mental transformation because New Age teachers have grabbed hold of it and running with it! I have made it my objective to help believers with the Lords instruction in Romans 12:2“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Power from the Vine
As you as a believer are a branch connected to the true Vine, all blessing flows from Jesus. As a branch, you are a conduit of all that Jesus has to offer, eternal life, love, peace, joy, health, wealth, satisfying relationships etc. A constant flow of all good is pouring through you second by second causing buds to form and delicious clusters of grapes to appear. Your job is to allow these blessings to pass through the conduit of your thoughts so that wonderful results can manifest! 
Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Again, your job is to ask Jesus for it and allowing it to happen through you as you think, picture and confess the end result. If you don't expect it coming to you, you will not be fruitful. You open or close the tap valve to the volume of the flow of God's blessings flowing through you by your faith or unbelief. If you chase after things you simply chase them away because in reality you are acting as though you don’t have them. Instead, confess that having asked, you have them and that they are busy happening, budding, flowering and coming to fruition. How hard is that? Yes, I know it is hard for the natural mind but it is well worth the dedicated effort!

Bearing abundance
Make a list of the fruit you want to manifest. Make a big list, bear much fruit. Remember Jesus said this, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.”
The more you get this right, the more pleased your heavenly Father will be! Now contrast this with the traditional Christian thinking of being satisfied with the minimum while in reality secretly wishing you could have it all!
God wants you to have it all. In fact Jesus warned in verses 1 and 2 that,He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Prayer for bearing much
“Thank you Lord that You have given me the opportunity to be a fruitful branch on You, the true vine. Thank you that you are helping me to discover my heart’s desires so that I can ask you for them. Thank You Lord that I simply have to be still and know that You are God and that you are bringing about, all that I desire, have asked you for and see happening in the eyes of my spirit. Amen.”