Posts Tagged ‘reasonable’

His Word to You

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28)

Here we have the amazing story of how Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel who told her she would become the mother of the Messiah. Naturally Mary was shocked and asked how such a thing could be, since she was a virgin. The angel did not go into a longwinded explanation, but simply told her “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk 1:35). That was good enough for Mary and she responded with a powerful declaration of faith: “Let it be to me according to Your Word”.

Discovering Favor:

That simple reply is at the heart of the mystery of answered prayer. Mary came to believe that as a virgin she would become pregnant and give birth to Israel’s long awaited Messiah. There were probably a lot of young Jewish women that might have hoped for that privilege, but Mary didn’t just hope it – she lived it. She knew a secret, because God had revealed His Word to her. Yet, she would come to live it out, only as she discovered her favored estate with God. For Mary to have felt favored by God would seem normal and expected in Jewish households, but a divine revelation from the angel Gabriel would have certainly emphasized its reality.

Favor Establishes Faith:

Now there would be nothing absurd about Mary’s belief in God, because she was finding His favor in His Word to her. It was rooted firmly in the Word of God’s supernatural encounter. God’s Word to her made faith… reality and had made the ridiculous… reasonable. As the angel told her, “With God nothing will be impossible!” I can almost hear a shout of “Amen!” as she embraced the words. “I am Your maidservant! Let it be to me according to Your Word.”

Receive His Favor:

Most of us are not likely to experience a visitation from Gabriel, but we have encounters with the Holy Spirit waiting for our embrace right now. The Bible is filled with words for us from God and there are angels that accompany our activities everyday. As Kingdom Agents, we are designed to walk in the favor of God and establish an atmosphere around our lives that allow His voice to become recognizable.

Like a fragrance, Mary found that favor longs to be discovered. You can be told that it is there, but it must be received and experienced, to be sought out and appreciated. God’s Word to you is like Mary’s secret, dependant upon your willingness to recognize His favor.

Keys of Authority

Scripture: “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened. (Jonah 3:5-10)

Thought for Today: “Saving a City”

The Book of Jonah is so often described as the story of a selfish prophet, but it is also the story about a repentant city. Nineveh was on God’s mind for all the wrong reasons. It was a great city; but God was about to release judgement upon it, because of its sinful behavior. The story gets vague for those of us who are so far removed in time and distance, but there is no overlooking the fact that God was interested enough in this Gentile region, to send a prophet. We have no knowledge of the message Jonah carried, but the response of the city is powerful. They contended for their lives through prayer and fasting.

They Believed God!

We could speculate all we want about the sin of a city, throw stones and cast blame, but if there is a believing people, there is always hope. Believing God’s Word stands against all the natural instincts the sinful heart finds reasonable. Yet, God would say “Come let us reason together, though your sin is as scarlet” believe Me “they shall be as white as snow” (Isa 1:18-20). “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land, but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”

The believing heart, the willing and obedient heart, is transformed when there is hope… and God offers hope to all men, everywhere. Any man, family, city or nation that believes God at His Word and will contend for the life found in Christ, shall be saved!

Proclaiming a Fast!

Nothing uncovers rebellion, like the activity of fasting. When we choose to repent of our sin through setting aside our legitimate appetites of the flesh and seek God; its like the city of Nineveh putting on sackcloth. We feel the guilt and shame… evidence of a heart that has gone astray. We see our rebellion for what it is and uncover its effect upon our family and community.

Yet, we also uncover something more beautiful, the spiritual emptiness that a loving God can fill. Fasting awakens our spiritual hunger, opening the heart to a fresh, clean, satisfying breeze of the breath of heaven.

Keys of Authority:

This is the greatest challenge to the Kingdom of God. Closed doors hinder the advancement of God’s heart into a city or nation. Can a believing people contend for the transformation of a city? Nineveh’s salvation is the story of a king, a throne, a robe and a decree… a transfer of authority.

  • Nineveh’s king held the keys of authority.
  • He arises from his throne! His seat of authority.
  • He lays aside his robe, the covering of superiority and commits to sackcloth and ashes.
  • He relinquishes his ruler-ship and publishes a decree that all the city would cry mightily unto God, perhaps He would relent from the violence in His hands.

Amazing! The idea that a city can be saved in a day… is true! If that city will hand over the keys of authority.

The Saving of a City:

My favorite statement in the book of Jonah: “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented” (Jonah 3:10). This city contended for its life through prayer and fasting. They were heard in heaven and God saved the city of Nineveh.

Could God save our city… were we to believe Him, fast and pray and hand over the keys of authority?

Saving a City

Today is day 7 of our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Scripture: Jonah 3:5-10
Thought for Today: “Saving a City”

The Book of Jonah is so often described as the story of a selfish prophet, but it is also the story about a repentant city. Nineveh was on God’s mind for all the wrong reasons. It was a great city; but God was about to release judgement upon it, because of its sinful behavior. 

The story gets vague for those of us who are so far removed in time and distance, but there is no overlooking the fact that God was interested enough in this Gentile region, to send a prophet. We have no knowledge of the message Jonah carried, but the response of the city is powerful. They contended for their lives through prayer and fasting.

They Believed God!

We could speculate all we want about the sin of a city, throw stones and cast blame, but if there is a believing people, there is always hope. Believing God’s Word stands against all the natural instincts the sinful heart finds reasonable. Yet, God would say “Come let us reason together, though your sin is as scarlet” believe Me “they shall be as white as snow” (Isa 1:18-20). “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land, but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”

The believing heart, the willing and obedient heart, is transformed when there is hope… and God offers hope to all men, everywhere. Any man, family, city or nation that believes God at His Word and will contend for the life found in Christ, shall be saved!

Proclaiming a Fast!

Nothing so gets to the raw center of our rebellion, than the activity of fasting. When we choose to repent of our sin through setting aside our legitimate appetites of the flesh and seeking God, its like the city of Nineveh putting on sackcloth. We feel the guilt and shame, evidence of a heart that has gone astray. We see our rebellion for what it is and uncover its effect upon our family and community.

Yet, we also uncover something more beautiful, the spiritual emptiness that a loving God can fill. Fasting awakens our spiritual hunger, opening the heart to a fresh, clean, satisfying breeze of the breath of heaven.

Keys of Authority:

This is the greatest challenge to the Kingdom of God. Closed doors hinder the advancement of God’s heart into a city or nation. Can a believing people contend for the tranformation of a city? Nineveh’s salvation is the story of a king, a throne, a robe and a decree… a transfer of authority.

  • Nineveh’s king held the keys of authority.
  • He arises from his throne! His seat of authority.
  • He lays aside his robe, the covering of superiority and commits to sackcloth and ashes.
  • He relinquishes his rulership and publishes a decree that all the city would cry mightily unto God, perhaps He would relent from the violence in His hands.

Amazing! The idea that a city can be saved in a day… is true! If that city will hand over the keys of authority.  

The Saving of a City:

My favorite statement in the book of Jonah is, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented” (Jonah 3:10). This city contended for its life through prayer and fasting. They were heard in heaven and God saved the city of Nineveh.

Why would He not save our city… were we to believe Him, fast and pray and hand over the keys of authority? I know He would! 

Controlling Patterns

In regards to spiritual warfare, we are admonished by the Apostle Paul to be wise in who we find ourselves wrestling against. He flat out tells us that we must not wrestle with flesh and blood (Eph 6:12), that our battle is not with people or even ourselves, but with principalities and powers in heavenly places. We wrestle against demonic forces that use our thoughts and control our actions by way of deception and fear. We must come to grips with this if we want to win our battles in the spirit.

Evil Forces:

The forces of evil defy the Truths of God by subliminal and subversive tactics that have their influence in our brokenness. Admittedly we have sinful residue still hanging around in our lives. Although our sin is forgiven and this residue does not make us evil, it does still leave us susceptible to deception. Evil is a perversion of reality that is orchestrated and controlled by Satan, himself. His aim is to construct networks of shame and guilt within our lives based on f-e-a-r… “false evidence appearing real”. When evil forces, like hatred or lust are visible in the human heart it is not by way of personal choices; well thought out and reasonable, but entanglements in our emotions and feelings. Feelings of fear are often more real than feelings of peace, because we are “tuned-in” to them through natural perception, by way of our five senses. These senses rule us and rob us of our ability to see spiritually, when they are controlled by wicked authorities in heavenly places. I am reminded often by the Holy Spirit, that there are forces I cannot see, standing behind what I cannot seem to break through. Our real enemies are not in the natural realm.

Example:

  • Something calls up fears of distrust in us and we protect ourselves from being hurt or embarrassed… this is pride at work, inside.
  • Someone gets a promotion that we believe we were more qualified for and we feel anger or resentment… this is jealousy at work.

We are not evil when we have such emotional triggers inside, but Satan targets our sinful desires by watching our behavior, setting traps and establishing strongholds of emotional bondage. His goal is to lead us astray, into darkness and captivity. Jesus called him a “thief”, whose only goal is to steal, kill and destroy (Jn 10:10).

Evil Works:

These types of works are of the devil and are what Jesus came into the world to destroy through His cross and resurrection (1 Jn 3:8). The Apostle John makes it clear that to practice sin is to be a slave to sin, but that Christ offered us real hope to break controlling patterns of evil.

A Clean Slate:

Our freedom from the sinful residue of brokenness comes through knowing God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness wipes the slate clean. Living continually with a clean heart allows us to stop wrestling to achieve acceptance with God, but freely practice righteousness (1 Jn 3:4-9). God has accepted us through the blood of Christ and our life is now hidden in Him who has made us acceptable.

Grace is Supernatural: 

Its amazing to come into the knowledge of God’s freedom, because we get the power to succeed by faith in His supernatural grace. This grace is the work of God that transforms our carnal perceptions of reality and allows the Holy Spirit to govern our understanding. The Holy Spirit guides us into all Truth (Jn 16:13), beyond the wrestling and into the peace of God (Phil 4:7).

Living Sacrifices:

Knowing these demonic controlling patterns that war against our thoughts can help us become more aware of how our lives can be governed by the Holy Spirit. When we see evil desires coming up inside us, we can shift our focus by allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the Father’s heart to us. We are to become living sacrifices, surrendered to the tranforming power that comes as we offer our whole being to God (Rom 12:2). The Holy Spirit wants to lead us. He wants to help us live according to God’s original design, rather than our fears. Renewing our thoughts is the primary way God breaks us free from the strongholds that once governed our behavior. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

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