Posts Tagged ‘morning’

The Garment of Praise

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

The answer against a “spirit of heaviness” is to put on the ”garment of praise.”

Satan hates praise:

Praise exalts Jesus no matter what the circumstances may look like. It engages our trust in God and activates our faith like nothing else can do. You see, praise introduces light and supernatural life into our circumstances. It is the ultimate release of spiritual freedom. Just listen to the following verses and let something click inside.

(2 Cor 3:17) “The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

(Gal 5:1) ” Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

(Jn 8:36) ” Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Praise is Agreement with God!

Praising the Lord and agreement with the truth of God’s Word, renews the mind and lifts the spirit of heaviness off your shoulders. Notice the Prophet Isaiah says that your life is designed to reflect your calling as “trees of righteousness”. Its your destiny to become the “planting of the Lord”. As you praise Him daily, you will release the stature of Christ within you… “that He may be glorified”, seen and celebrated as your Deliverer! Nothing so clearly displays the power of God like our freedom in the spirit.

The Effect of a Spirit of Heaviness:

It darkens our countenance. Our hearts are down cast. This spirit brings a “heaviness” over us and dims our vision, robs our hope and crushes our sense of purpose. There are testimonies I’ve heard from people who say “when this spirit comes it even makes the room feel darker”. It brings a heavy and oppressive atmosphere that restricts and quenches our perception. It may come like a cloud hanging over you or your location, but the most difficult part to deal with is that it causes isolation. The devil’s goal is to remove you from the atmosphere of love and approval. Think about it, if Satan can get you isolated, then he can break your spirit and remove your source of inspiration and hope.

Recognize it:

This is the first step. You are a Child of God! This is not God’s will for you!  “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) Don’t believe the lies… Praise God instead! Accept no criticism and carry no extra baggage. You must learn the art of selective hearing, so that you choose the things you ignore and the things that come from the Throne of Heaven. We destroy arguments and pull down strongholds, so that every thought is made captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). That means I am actively discerning where my thoughts are coming from and believe me… I can rule over them with praise!

Put on the Garment of Praise!

This literally means to be “wrapped up in praise”. God has given it to be worn and provide insulation. So put it on like a jacket every single day. Take a few moments each morning and every time there is a battle raging, to put it on like armor on a soldier. You will watch your enemy run for cover with his tail between his legs… like a whipped puppy. That’s right, praise is your most effective tool in magnifying God and shrinking the influence of the devil. Get loud, get aggressive and set your heart on spiritual freedom!

It is the anointing that breaks the yoke! (Isa 10:27)

Priority for Prayer

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” (Mk. 1:35-38)

Early in Jesus’ ministry, He experiences great success. His fame is spreading through Galilee as He casts out demons and heals many sick people. After one particularly busy day of healing, Jesus pulls Himself away. I want to highlight this moment, because I believe its a key that unlocks the doors we so often find frustrating in the ministry.

Three Observations:

1. Jesus prioritized prayer as the way to effectively minister to people.

He didn’t use busy-ness or success with people as an excuse for neglecting prayer and solitude with God the Father. He realized that in order to meet people’s needs, He personally needed time alone with God. I need this reminder often in the ministry! If we neglect prayer for the sake of ministering to people a breakdown will eventually come. I find my words becoming idle and even critical when prayer is not my highest priority. I hear of pastors and leaders suffering from burn out, or becoming proud of  “success”. True spiritual power, the kind that brings hope and spiritual transformation must come to us as God’s resource. Somewhere along the way we must pull ourselves into a quiet place and find prayer and fellowship with the Holy Spirit to be our refuge in the midst of life.

2. Jesus’ prayer was done in solitude, away from distractions.

Jesus needed to focus on the voice of His Father and seperate Himself from outside voices veying for His attention. This is why Jesus woke up very early in the morning, while it was still dark. He knew everyone else would be asleep and He could be alone. Jesus tells us that when we pray, we should shut the door behind us and meet with the God who hears in private (Mt. 6:6). That is so valuable… we must shut the devil out and shut our hearts in with the Holy Spirit.

3. Jesus’ time of solitude and prayer with the Father enabled Him to stay focused on His calling… to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.

While everyone was looking for Him and while He had experienced amazing acceptance and success; He left that comfort to focus on His calling to the Gospel of the Kingdom. Maintaining a “vision” requires nothing less than our undivided attention to the highest priorities. Through prayer, Jesus was able to stay focused instead of being enamored by success. Human success and Kingdom success are not the same thing. The only way to discern the difference is to find our identity in the prayer closet. Valuing our time with the Father will help us stay on track with a passion for the Kingdom rather than a desire for popularity. Powerful things are accomplished for those who stay loyal to the heart of God. In prayer the Holy Spirit reveals a Kingdom heartbeat and renews our mind with dreams that resonate in heaven (1 Cor. 2:9-16).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6)

Live On Purpose!

Loving Life's Journey

Now, maybe more than ever is the time to live with convictions in a world that seems to have lost its way. I would propose that finding your purpose in life is connected to your conviction, rather than the other way around. If we could look deeply into our heart of hearts, we could find our completed spiritual road map. Listen to what the Apostle Paul tells us about God’s plans long before we were even born. Note those four underlined phrases.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph 2:20)

What is your purpose?

How does a person uncover their purpose if they don’t know what it is? The answer may come from a small voice that tugs at your heart when you first awaken in the morning. No, its not the coffee pot! It softly whispers, “If only I could…” or “If money was no object, I would…” These questions are keys to unlock the treasure of a purpose filled life. Whatever inspires you to jump out of bed in the morning, whatever you are excited to spend time doing, or whatever you feel really passionate about probably has something to do with your purpose.

Purpose must be Awakened:

God has knit into your innermost being a set of blueprints that if you could read them, they would connect you to your dream. Awakening your purpose is about exploring and experiencing the way that God has knit you together. Who you were meant to be is never about who others are, its all about your understanding of how God made you.

The Goal:

The goal is to begin discovering your uniqueness, rather than how you fit into some arbitrary niche. Remind yourself that the felt reward of your purpose is to have a sense of satisfaction and confidence as you “walk in” or live out of your “good works”, as the Apostle Paul puts it. You must avoid measuring yourself by others, because you are not on a quest to become like anyone but you. The goal of life is all about becoming who God designed “you” to be! God really likes the real you.

Called to Bloom!

You are called to bloom, not create. God has already written upon your heart. You are called to release the glorious revelation of His plan. Its colorful, powerful and fruitful in all of its unique expressions… its you and its yours to give to the world. No one can release your purpose for you and another one just like it will never be seen again. So don’t hold back, shrink back or even look back… God wants you to live on purpose!

Our Highest Prize

Scripture: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:31-32)

Thought for Today: “Living for Jesus – boldly”

Our highest prize is to be found living for Jesus. Living in such a way… that places are shaken, fullness is experienced, unity is established and all things are shared among a generous fellowship. God is offering us the invitation to walk in spiritual prosperity and release His love to the world around us. Our enemies are God’s enemies, our difficulties are God’s difficulties and yet, our victory is God’s testimony. We are beginning to understand that we have full access to everything for which Jesus died. Its not about the bigger, better or more popular life, its about gaining Christ. He has captured our hearts, by loving us in the midst of discovery!

“We cannot, but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

Prayer and fasting can lead us to believe that our Christian faith is more about dying to self than living for Christ. Yet, we are exchanging the ashes of a misguided life for the beauty of abiding in His Presence. Though darkness lasts for the night, fresh joy gets released in the morning. The Lord, Himself becomes our Everlasting Light and shapes the way we see our world. It truly is Christ in us that is the hope of Glory (Col 1:27).

The Unveiling:

Yet, Glory goes unseen, because flesh is a veil that the devil uses to hide what is available to us (2 Cor 4:4-6). The inward, spiritual man is so much more wonderful than the outer, natural man of flesh and blood. Its the Holy Spirit’s influence that begins to delight our heart and remove the veil of flesh, so that blessing, purpose and fruitfulness can emerge as our treasure (2 Cor 3:16-18). And treasure it, we will… just try to still our voice, shift our vision or hold us back! We have understood the call to go forth in power and it is now inside us, to endure all things with bold perseverance (Heb 10:35-39).

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?… Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us! (Rom 8:31-37)

Getting Past Hungry

Scripture: “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. (Psalm 63:1-3)

Thought for Today: “Getting Rid of Kinda Hungry”

These are the times I find myself craving things like steak and baked potato, or chicken burritos. We’ve been in our fast long enough now that my stomach has resolved its issues, but my mind is beginning to feel a bit neglected. That’s when I know I’m getting to the heart of the prayer and fasting goal. I want to awaken my spiritual hungers for God and my deepest thirsts for the passion of His heart. What I want to see happen in me is that “my comforts” and “my passions” line up with the will of God. Its my desire that when I say I believe in Christ, I am not found betraying Him in my behavior.

The Psalmist says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (Ps 42:1).

Hungering and thirsting after God is a practical reality that results in an unhindered chase. In other words, if I hunger and thirst after God and train my mind to find its comfort in His purposes, then my flesh will begin to find its delight in His passions. The question I must resolve is, “Do I crave the nourishment of a spiritual feast in His Presence more than the local smorgasbord?” I can proudly boast of a full belly, while I waste away with an empty heart… but today I am kinda hungry.

And God says, “Its about time!”

Fasting and prayer should be a time of discovery… exploring, and enjoying intimacy with God. It should be feasting in His Presence, identifying with His purpose, and denying the natural food in order to delight in the supernatural food that comes from the mouth of God.

Fast or Feast:

Jesus assumed His disciples would fast (Mt 6:16-17), but not until He was gone from them (Mk 2:19-20). While He was close, while He was with the disciples… it was the season of feasting and celebration in His abundance. This time in His Presence was the time for the dance and the joyful embrace of His Provision. He was their water brook, as the Psalmist has said.

Lead us to the Feast:

The time has come when fasting is to lead us to the feast. When our hunger and thirst for the food that truly satisfies, becomes our deepest search, then we can celebrate. His Words, His Presence, His voice in the morning, fills the heart with light (Isa 58:8-9). God help us to pray and fast until we uncover the feast. I want to be found running to Him… for Him.

Please Holy Spirit, become my water brook… abundant and refreshing.

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