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As Far As The East Is From The West

I was meditating on David’s words in 2 Samuel 22 and 23 as I was writing for my next 10 Week Bible Study. I was struck by just how surely David saw himself as clean and righteous. He knew he was pure before the Lord, even though we have such an exhaustive witness in 1 and 2 Samuel to the contrary.

David was a man who knew how to sin, and how to sin big. But even greater than David’s ability to sin was his knowledge and surety that there was a God who forgave extravagantly. David understood that through his repentance, God made him a completely new creation.

David trusted in God’s faithfulness to forgive our sins, like he says in Psalm 103.

as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

The apostle John continued this same theme by saying this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Forgiven and Forgotten

In 2 Samuel 22 and 23, David repeatedly speaks of himself as clean and pure. He claims that there is no sin in him and that all his life he has lived righteously. How is that? Because he knew that through repentance God would forgive and forget all his sins.

David’s confidence in his forgiveness caused him to live differently, but it’s the way God wants us to live today. We can be free from the bondages of sin and death if we will fully embrace God’s forgiveness and grace through repentance.

Yes, repentance often looks like making amends with the ones we have wronged, but when we trust God that He has forgiven and forgotten, we can take on that same freedom of spirit to no longer live under the burden of guilt and shame.

How about you? Would you like to live like that? I encourage you to spend some time this week meditating on 2 Samuel 22-23:7. Knowing how badly David screwed up but that he could speak this of himself, how would that change how we view ourselves? How would that change your life? How would that change your relationships?

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Articles Books Prayer & Fasting Pro-Life Saving America Year of the Lord's Favor

How Prayer Changes Things

Lord, I ask that you would close that place. Put it out of business, Lord.

I prayed that prayer nearly every day for seven years. My wife reminded me about that the other day because the Lord had answered my prayer. I hadn’t realized it had finally happened.

The Dirty Sock

The Silk Stocking was a strip club down the road from our house in College Station, Texas. In fact, as far as I know, it was the only strip club in town. I had to pass it every time I went pretty much anywhere, so I made a habit of praying for its closure every time I saw it.

I had actually started praying that it would close back when I was a college student and some of my classmates lovingly referred to it as “The Dirty Sock.” I prayed that it would close and that none of the people I knew would ever go there.

After seven years of praying almost every day and another decade of praying anytime I thought of it or saw it, it finally closed.

Why Prayer Works

Prayer works. It just does. It does not work because of some etherial forces. It does not work because it makes us feel better. It does not work because we become more aware of the need for change within us. It does not work because our minds are cleared from wrong thinking.

Prayer works because there is a real God who really hears our prayers. Some of those other things may be good by-products of prayer, but they make prayer a waste of time if that is what you expect. Prayer should only ever be thought of as communication with a loving God who actually hears and desires to respond.

Planned Parenthood

In 1999, when Planned Parenthood decided to expand their clinic in Bryan, Texas to include abortion services, the churches in Bryan and College Station banded together and started an organization called the Coalition for Life. Their main goal was to pray for the closure of the Planned Parenthood in Bryan.

The organization grew to do more than that, but it never lost its focus. It prayed. We prayed. The city prayed. Groups would almost constantly be in front of the building praying for the women inside and for the clinic to close. In August of 2013 the clinic closed, but not until after it made some national headlines a few years before.

Abby Johnson (http://www.abbyjohnson.org) was the clinic director and had been asked to assist in an abortion for the first time in her career. After seeing a little baby die live on the ultrasound monitor, her world changed. She went from being one of Planned Parenthood’s most outspoken and prized clinic directors to one of the nation’s most firebrand pro-life advocates. After the procedure, she walked across the street into the offices of the Coalition for Life and asked what she could do next. They were shocked, to say the least.

Even the clinic building is now owned by some of the pro-life doctors who supported Coalition for Life, Haywood and Noreen Johnson. Check out their website, http://brazosmedical.com.

The answers to our prayers don’t always look that dramatic, but when we do not give up, our prayers will always be answered.

Faith Defined: Keep Praying

The power of fervent, consistent prayers over years are amazing. Praying for the same thing for a long time is hard, but that is actually how God ordained prayer to work.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I donʼt fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she wonʼt eventually come and attack me!’ ”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Luke 18:1-8

I don’t know why God made it to where we have to pray consistently over time, sometimes years, but He did. That’s just how it works, and He’s the one who gets to decide how it works.

But it works.

It really changes things, because we have a loving God who really hears and He really acts on our behalf, and on behalf of our faith. He defines faith not in what we ask, but in whether or not we will continue to ask.

The Better Solution

The most amazing thing about how God works is that He is way better at accomplishing what we ask for than we would be if we just tried to do it ourselves.

When we get belligerent and militant about not getting our way, we do more harm than good. We turn people off or lock their heart in opposition. When abortion doctors are murdered, it only emboldens abortion advocates. When “Christians” remind strippers of how terrible they are, or how women walking into an abortion clinic are going to hell, it only hardens peoples’ hearts.

But when we pray, and ask God to change things that seem too far above our pay grade, He gives us a clinic director who knows how to offer people working in clinics who want out a way out. When we ask for God to close a strip club, He does it and then provides a church in town that goes out of their way to reach out to every stripper and help them find new work to provide for themselves and their families (that happened for the strippers of Silk Stocking, by the way).

The 7:14 Prayer

The Lord spoke to me about the dire situation America was in back in 2003. I wrote a book titled The Year of the Lord’s Favor based on that encounter, and out of that book I started a prayer movement to encourage people to pray with me.

Now I pray twice a day, at 7:14 am and 7:14 pm, a prayer based on 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“Lord, have mercy on America and Your church for our wickedness. Give us humility and raise up a praying church to seek Your face. Forgive us and heal our land, Lord.”

I pray this twice a day because I know the power of consistent, fervent prayer over years. I have seen it work, and I know why it works. The God who hears our prayers is way better at answering them than we are at making what we want happen by ourselves.

I encourage you to join with me in praying for America. Go to 714Prayer.org and join the movement to pray twice a day with us.

Or maybe you have something bigger than yourself you want to see changed? Lost children, hurting family and friends, or injustice in your city? Begin praying, and set your mind to pray until God answers, even if the answer comes beyond your years.

Because prayer works.

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Prayer & Fasting

3 Steps to Gain God’s Approval

APPROVAL

[fontawesome icon=”fa-quote-right” circle=”no” size=”medium” iconcolor=”black” circlecolor=”” circlebordercolor=”” flip=”” rotate=”” spin=”no” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””]23Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

John 2:23-25

Jesus would not “commit himself” to those in Jerusalem after the temple cleansing and signs he performed because He understood what was in man’s heart and he didn’t need the recognition from it. He only came to do what the father would approve of.

This is one of the most powerful things John tells us about Jesus. Jesus sought only His Father’s approval, not man’s. We need to focus on what gains us God’s approval. It sounds simple, but it is so hard because man’s voice is always louder to us than God’s.

First, I am not saying we need to gain God’s approval for our salvation. Salvation is from faith in Jesus and His atoning blood and that alone. That said, once we have been accepted by God through Jesus, we can walk in a greater level of His authority, His presence and His power when we choose to see ourselves through the lens of God’s approval.

We Need Approval

This is powerful because by nature, we all seek approval in one form or another. Jesus knew what was locked deep inside the heart of man. Jesus instructed Jeremiah on this long ago:

[fontawesome icon=”fa-quote-right” circle=”no” size=”medium” iconcolor=”black” circlecolor=”” circlebordercolor=”” flip=”” rotate=”” spin=”no” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””]The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

Inside, there is a terrible wickedness that lurks around, and that wickedness often shows its face when we have the power to accept or reject other people. Often, our acceptance of others is manipulative. We accept them because we want something from them. Jesus understood this and modeled for us something very powerful. He showed us that God’s approval is what empowers us, even in the face of boisterous praise or extreme rejection from man.

What are three things we can do to fill our minds with God’s approval instead of man’s?

1. Study God’s Word. We must fill our minds with what God has already said. We need the Word in us, and we only get that through daily reading, devotion and study. You cannot know God, and will never feel His approval, if you refuse to listen to Him.

2. Spend time in prayer. We have to learn what God’s voice sounds like apart from the voices outside of us. That may come in various ways, but we have to quiet our mind and spirit and spend time in prayer to learn. You can’t do this on the run. It needs to be scheduled.

3. Say no. This may sound harsh, but to set ourselves free from the praise of man we must learn to tell people no. If we practice the first two things then we will have the confidence to know when to say “no” even when it looks like we are giving up tremendous advancement opportunities, as well as “yes” when we should. “Yes” can be the prison door to the fear of man.

Breaking free from the fear of man is easier said than done. We all do actually need the approval of man sometimes. We need our boss’s approval, or that of a teacher to progress in our career or studies, but it is much better to seek the approval of God and let Him have those conversations with them instead of us. When we see ourselves as trying to earn God’s approval, we put our hearts in a much safer place.

That is because God is really good at getting others to approve of us when we actually need it.

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A Diary of Dreams and Visions Prayer & Fasting Prophecy Spiritual Gifts Supernatural Stuff

Stories Are Powerful

Stories

Listening to stories is a powerful tool for people. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you’re talking about, stories make complex subject easier to understand by making them more real.

Albert Einstein wrote a book called Relativity: The Special and General Theory. Given the author and the subject, you would imagine it to be a difficult read, but it’s not. Einstein wrote the book to explain his theory to high school students eager to understand more about physics, but who couldn’t possibly understand the complex (mind-numbing, really) math behind it. He uses many word-pictures and hypothetical illustrations to expertly explain his knowledge to readers. I don’t understand much at all about astrophysics and I found it to be a fascinating read because of how easy he made it for me to understand what he did.

Growing In Experience

Stories about our experience with God are equally as powerful. Whether we are studying the depths of the universe or the one who created it, there are many things too lofty for me to understand (Psalm 139:6). Examples from peoples’ lives make those things much more attainable for my small brain. When I hear someone else’s experience with God: how He spoke, healed, delivered, provided and acted on their behalf, my faith to ask for similar things is strengthened. It also gives me new insight into God’s Written Word.

When we have little experience with how God works, it can make understanding scripture much harder. When we have experienced God’s hand in our lives in various ways, it opens up our understanding of many things in His Word. That is why it is important to surround ourselves with people who have gone before us in their lives in God. People with more and varied experience than us. Again, this is true in any aspect of life, not just our spiritual lives, but how much greater our need in the spirit!

Take some steps this week to fill your mind with what God has done for other people by listening to and reading their stories. Here are three steps to get you on your way:

1. Listen to stories that will energize your faith to believe for great things. I encourage you to listen to Mike Bickle’s prophetic stories called “Encountering Jesus” here and his stories about supernatural finances here. There are many other people with varied experiences that will energize your spiritual life, but these are some of my favorites and I actually listen to them once a year or so.

2. Surround yourself with people whom are safe to share your stories with. It encourages us not only to hear others’ stories, but to tell ours as well. This can be a difficult thing, though. Not everyone wants to hear about your life in God, not even in the church. Having a home group or a Bible study where you can feel safe share your meaningful experiences is a must. If you don’t have that now, begin seeking it out today. It will propel you further along much quicker than you could imagine.

Book Iso SMALL

3. Engage in prayer meetings and activities. You won’t truly learn from other peoples’ stories if you don’t try to put them into practice. In our Christian walk we do that through prayer. Find people who hold prayer meetings where together you ask God to move in your life. If you can’t find one, start one and invite your friends. Fellowship is God’s way to give us strength in our asking!

I love listening to others’ stories about their experiences with God, but not so I can know cools stories. I use them. I use them to spur me on to ask God for the same things in my life. I think these three things will help you do the same.

I have heard from the Lord myself because I listened to others stories–and it’s why I published my book, A Diary of Dreams and Visions–to encourage you the same way I was encouraged. Because stories are powerful.

 

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A Diary of Dreams and Visions Prayer & Fasting Prophecy Spiritual Gifts Supernatural Stuff

Can God Speak…To You?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Can God speak to you? Even though many people would say yes, most people live like the answer is no. Most people live as if God only speaks to other people. Prophets. Apostles. Pastors. People who are more worthy.

The truth is that Apostles, Prophets and Pastors are not worthy. None of us are worthy to hear from the Lord, but He has chosen to reveal Himself to us. He loves us enough to speak to us and He longs for us to hear His voice. But still most people do not have many, if any, stories of God speaking to them.

Here are 3 things you can start doing today to put yourself in a position to hear God’s voice:

1. Understand that God is happy to know you and hear from you. He is not mad, disappointed, irritated or upset with you. The only time God is displeased with us is when we willfully and rebelliously reject Him or engage in rebellious habitual sin. I can guarantee you that if you’re reading this to figure out how to hear God better, He’s overwhelmingly happy with you.

2. Let God hear your voice. Talk to Him about what your feeling. Talk to Him about what you’re thinking about. Tell Him what’s on your mind, then ask Him what is on His. He wants us to know Him, not just know about Him. That takes two way communication. You can never have a relationship with an author’s book, no matter how good the author is at crafting a story. You can only have a relationship with the author. Ask God to speak to you every day, but make sure you’re speaking to Him every day.

3. Fill your mind with God’s Written Word. We know our children’s voices well enough to pick them out in a crowd because we are so familiar with how they sound. When we listen for God’s voice, we will hear many other voices: our own, other people, Satan’s and God’s. The only way we can learn to pick His voice out of the noise in our crowded head is to be intimately familiar with what He has already said and how He says it. If someone tells me they heard the Lord tell them to quit their job and move, I don’t know if they’ve really heard from the Lord or not because sometimes He does tell us to do those things. When someone tells me that the Lord told them to divorce their wife, leave their kids and go marry another woman, I can easily tell them they haven’t heard from the Lord because that would go against what God has already said.

I hope this is a quick shot of encouragement for you to start asking God to speak to you. Sound off in the comments with what other things you think I could add to this list.