When God advances His larger plan through us!

Merry Monday by Parris

“Hannah prayed unto the Lord” I Sam. 1:10

I had mentioned last time I wrote that the Lord spoke to me while praying for my family that I was in fact praying over the city all these years. I tell you I was undone! He was in fact using my earnest prayers for the great city of New Orleans. I had a hard time connecting it with scripture until someone reminded me about the story of Hannah who was barren and then conceived and gave her son Samuel to the Lord who impacted the nation of Israel. Hannah prayed unto the Lord.

But listen to what Jack Hayford says,

“For Hannah, she gave birth to Samuel, who became one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. 

God uses the burden of Hannah’s heart to bring a surprisingly larger solution to a burden of His own heart.  Barrenness was not only Hannah’s condition, but Israel’s condition as well.  It was a season of spiritual need and with little prophetic activity, and God sought a voice to speak on His behalf to His people.  Hannah could not know that her intense intercession for a child was moving in concert with God-brining her a son, but also bringing forth the will and blessing of God for a whole nation.  As she entrusts the longings of her heart to God, He moves on her behalf, but also advances His larger plan through her at the same time.”

If we don’t watch out we get caught up with the have nots rather than the God that has and is working on our behalf that we can completely lose sight of God’s nature and who he is. As Hannah prayed God had it all under control, he was just looking for that mouthpiece that was willing to lift up her voice and live surrendered to God. Hannah lived grace, actually her name meant grace. The divine weaver of our lives always manages to take the bad, the disgraced, the dark in our world and weave in his beauty. What I love about Hannah was that her pain brought her to worship and that’s when our world changes. When we are confused worship, in pain worship, lonely worship, criticized worship! When we move in concert with God the world around us begins to change.

Then Hannah prayed and she just took her time to glorify God and his mighty power!

“There is no one holy like the Lord;

    there is no one besides you;

    there is no Rock like our God.

The Lord brings death and makes alive;

    he brings down to the grave and raises up.

 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;

    he humbles and he exalts.”

So when you cry out to God, just realize he is working on such a much larger scale than you could ever imagine!

HIS WORD IN YOU

Jn. 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Oneness, that is what our hearts are crying out for and that is what Jesus is describing through this powerful illustration of the Vine and the branches. He is the vine we are the branches. We are connected to Him, the life that He experiences He shares with us. His life is flowing in us and through us. In this verse the Lord describes the practical way we can flow with Him and allow this experience to deepen in us. Jesus is the Word of God, as we abide in His word we begin to experience the beauty of our union with Him. His word is in us, His word birthed us, His word enlivens us, His word is the very life of God in our souls. This is the source of our power in our prayers, Christ Himself is breathing His prayers in us by His Spirit and His word. Abide in His word and you will abide in Christ and His life. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this verse.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you–This He gives as the equivalent of the other expression: “I in you. If my words abide in you”–that is, not only in meditation, in memory, in love, in faith–all these words enter into your will, your being, and constitute your life–if they transform your character into their own likeness, and you become and are what they speak and mean–ask what ye will; it shall be done unto you. Your words to God in prayer will be the fruit of Christ and His words living in you….If ye abide. Yes, Lord, the power to pray and the power to prevail must depend on this abiding in Thee. As Thou art the Vine, Thou art the divine Intercessor, who breathest Thy spirit in us. Oh, for grace to abide simply and wholly in Thee, and ask great things.”

So Jesus is taking us beyond memorization and mental acceptance, He is teaching us to take the word of God into the depths of our heart. Love His word, embrace His word, delight in His word, and your prayers become intertwined with His prayers. This is the place where we begin to bare fruit. The result; God is glorified and we are filled with joy.

“BLACK AND BLUE”

Merry Friday by Parris

Have you ever felt like your prayers are making God black and blue by their pounding?

Jesus quoted a parable about the unrighteous judge that said, “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’ LUKE 18:1

Jesus the great mediator is always about his business as the minister of the sanctuary. He ever lives to make intercession for us. Our prayers rise like incense and are not forgotten or in vain.

There is a story in Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian stays at the Porter’s house and it says; “the next day they took him and led him into the armory, where they showed him all manner of weapons which their Lord had provided for pilgrims; as sword, shield, helmet, breast-plate, all-prayer, and shoes that would not wear out.” Eph. 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” As a pilgrim we can take “ALL PRAYER” AND POUND AWAY AT HEAVEN’S DOOR. EVEN IF GOD TURNS BLACK AND BLUE FROM OUR POUNDING, HE DOESN’T TURN A DEAF EAR.

My friend pray always — with all prayer — Matthew Henry says; “With unwearied importunity renewing our petitions till they be granted, and supplication for all saints. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favors received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. It is ‘the panoply of God,’ therefore we are to be endued with it, not by exercises in our own strength, but by dependence on Him. We shall never put on the armor of light unless in silence we draw near to Him who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Communion with Christ, and only communion with Christ, receives from Him the life which enables us to repel the diseases of our spirits. If we go forth into the world of struggle from the secret place of the Most High, ‘no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper,’ and we shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

All prayer is our voice that gets us through all our circumstances!

CELEBRATION AND TERROR

Rev.8:3 – Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.

Many may think that the injustice in the world doesn’t receive its rewards apparently ignored by the Lord in heaven. Nothing could be further than the truth. The book of Revelation makes that very plain. Much of that book deals with exactly that, justice being served on the wicked and mercy being displayed to the redeemed. Today’s verse lies at the very heart of this issue. The seventh seal from the Lord’s scroll is opened and the seven trumpets of justice and judgement are about to sound. The Lord’s response to the evil on earth is connected to the prayers of the saints. Apparently all of our prayers are still very much alive and will be released through God’s actions during the Great Tribulation. This is how Jonathan Edwards describes it.

“God has respect to the prayers of his saints in all his government of the world; as we may observe by the representation made (in this verse). There we read of seven angels standing before the throne of God, and receiving of him seven trumpets, at the sounding of which, great and mighty changes were to be brought to pass in the world… But when these angels had received their trumpets, they must stand still, and all must be in silence, not one of ’em must be allowed to sound, till the “prayers of the saints” are attended to. The angel of the covenant, as a glorious high priest, comes and stands at the altar, with much incense, to offer with the “prayers of all saints” upon the golden altar, before the throne; and the smoke of the incense, with the “prayers of the saints,” ascends up with acceptance before God, out of the angel’s hand: and then the angels prepare themselves to sound. And God, in the events of every trumpet, remembers those prayers: as appears at last, by the great and glorious things he accomplishes for his church, in the issue of all, in answer to these prayers, in the event of the last trumpet, which brings on the glory of the latter days, when these prayers shall be turned into joyful praises.”

The silence in heaven is drenched with anticipation. Final justice and mercy are about to begin. All of us witness evil and injustice in our world everyday. Bring these things to the Lord in prayer. He is gathering our prayers for His final response. The great day of celebration and terror is about to begin.

TEARS THAT AVAIL

Behold, he prayeth.” —Acts 9:11

Prayer gets God’s attention. This simple three word verse speaks volumes about the Lord. The Lord was calling Ananias to reach out and pray for the Pharisee from Tarsus. This would have been unthinkable for Ananias but those three words stood out, “Behold, he prayed”. Ananias was wary about visiting Paul until the Lord told him Paul was praying. Paul had just been awakened and his first recorded action was to pray.

Sometimes it seems we are so overwhelmed that we don’t even have the capacity to pray. That’s when the supernatural element of prayer kicks in and our prayers take on new power. We may be only able to muster a groan and some tears but the Holy Spirit energizes those groans into prevailing prayer. It’s when we are at our weakest that the strength of the Lord begins to shine. As Paul said later in his life in Romans 8:26 – “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on the prayers of the Spirit.

“Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul began to pray the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying soul. Oftentimes a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears; yet that groan has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has been caught by God and treasured in the lachrymatory of heaven. “Thou puttest my tears into thy bottle,” implies that they are caught as they flow. The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High. He may only look up with misty eye; but “prayer is the falling of a tear.” Tears are the diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah’s court, and are numbered with “the sublimest strains that reach the majesty on high.” Think not that your prayer, however weak or trembling, will be unregarded. Jacob’s ladder is lofty, but our prayers shall lean upon the Angel of the covenant and so climb its starry rounds. Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it.”

Remember what the Lord told Paul when he felt he was at his weakest, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”. Maybe you feel like you are done, that’s okay, the Lord is just now getting started.

THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS

Acts 3:16 – And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

The resurrection changed just about everything. Jesus was raised from the dead for us, that’s why Paul called it firstfruits, Jesus was the prototype. One day all of us will be raised from the dead. When Jesus was raised from the dead all authority was given to Him by the Father as a man. That’s what changed everything, a human was given all authority over demons, sickness, and death. Jesus turned around and gave that authority to us. That’s what it means when we were given authority to act and pray in His name. In today’s verse Peter is used to heal a lame man in the Name of Jesus. I guess what all of us need to determine is this, have we too been given authority to minister in His Name and what would that mean. Here is how Maclaren describes it.

“The name of Christ, then, is the representation or embodiment of that which Christ is declared to be for us men, and it is that Name, the totality of what He is manifested to be, in which lies all power for healing and for strengthening. The Name, that is, the whole Christ, in His nature, His offices, His work, His Incarnation, His Life, His Death, Resurrection, Sitting at the right hand of God—it is this Christ whose Name made that man strong, and will make us strong. Brethren, let us remember that, while fragments of the Name will have fragmentary power, as the curative virtue that resides in any substance belongs to the smallest grain of it, if detached from the mass….yet in order to realize all that He can be and do, a man must take the whole Christ as He is revealed.”

So Peter made it very clear that day, that lame man was healed by the authority given to him to act in the Name of Jesus. In other words we have been given the power of attorney to act in behalf of Jesus. If that is true, it is not our resources that are important but the resources invested in the Name of Jesus.

GALILEAN FISHERMAN OR A VOICE FROM HEAVEN

Acts 2:7 – They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

Peter was on fire that day, he was speaking like a man from another world. He was actually speaking a new language rather than the language of this earth. Many in the crowd that day didn’t get it. All they could hear was the Galilean twang in Peter’s voice. He had the smell of a fisherman (even though he had left his nets years before). All the crowd could see was an uneducated yahoo, what good could possibly come out of this.

But something was going on that these bystanders couldn’t quite get. Twice in this passage Peter is said to be speaking in what we would call elevated or supernatural speech. First it was the speaking in other tongues. To those with deaf ears, it sounded like the babbling of a drunken man. Paul called it the language of angels, I like to call it my heavenly language. This prayer language is supernatural and flows out of what Jesus called our innermost being. Paul said it was praying in the Spirit. To the natural man this language is foolish, to the spiritual it is the very power of God. After the mocking and accusations of drunkenness Peter stepped forward to give a word of explanation. This too was called elevated speech in the original language. Peter was speaking in the language of the people by the power of the Spirit. Acts 2:14-16 describes it, “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…”

Even though he spoke by the Spirit only a portion of the crowd could “hear” Peter’s message. Thousands heard the voice of heaven and were filled with the Spirit, many others could only hear the voice of a Galilean fisherman. Peter had been changed by the Baptism in the Spirit, he was now speaking the language of heaven. Things haven’t changed much today. Many are still offended by the language of the Spirit, to many others that language just makes them feel right at home.

HE PRAYS FOR YOU! 

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MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22.32

What a picture we have of Jesus praying over His disciples during His prayer in the garden. “I have prayed for you” He tells the hurting and confused but He too needs prayer before he faces His greatest battle. I don’t think we can ever understand the depths of the love of God and what Jesus did on the cross for us. He prays for us even now before the throne of God that we would finish our race and see His glory! He prays for us! What an amazing treasure to have and to hold as we walk it out on planet earth.

Spurgeon writes, “I will be their God – Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoeless ocean of delight, come bathe thy spirit in it, swim and thou shalt find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and thou shalt find no bottom. I will be their God”.

Do you not realize that even now you are not alone? That He who moves the galaxies isn’t put off when he calls you out by name before his heavenly father? He holds us firmly in his grasp and prays!

Expositor Bible says, “Nor are the prayers of Jesus limited by any such narrow circle; they compassed the world, lighting up all horizons; and even upon the cross, amid the jeers and laughter of the crowd, He forgets His own agonies, as with parched lips He prays for His murderers, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Thus, more than any son of man, did Jesus “pray without ceasing,” “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” making request unto God. Shall we not copy His bright example? shall we not, too, live, labour, and endure, as “seeing Him who is invisible”? He who lives a life of prayer will never question its reality. He who sees God in everything, and everything in God, will turn his life into a south land, with upper and nether springs of blessing in ceaseless flow; for the life that lies full heavenward lies in perpetual summer, in the eternal noon.”
When we learn to see God in everything we join into His prayer and we see the unfolding plan of God upon this vast universe. Our steps flow into His and we live out a perpetual summer of eternal bliss hearing/seeing/feeling the echo of his prayer casting its shadow upon the earth! He prays for you my friend! He assures us that there is no department of our being, no circumstance of our life, which does not lie within its range of His prayer! He is praying for you right now!

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT

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Eph. 6:16-8 – In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Praying in the Spirit is the source of our power as Christians. Being filled with the Spirit, or walking in the Spirit, is not something that happens in moments of crisis or only special seasons of spiritual revival, it is our normal way of life as Christians. This is where we are strengthened for every aspect of our lives. That is where we are infused with moral courage and strength, power for ministry, grace to live in peace, and the supernatural ability to walk in love. Without this spiritual dynamic in our lives we are left to our own resources to “try” to be Christians. Here is how Andrew Murray describes the importance of praying in the Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit does not come to us just at times when we think we need Him or at times when we think we need His help. The Spirit comes to us as our lifelong companion. He wants to view us as His possession, completely and at all times. Many Christians do not understand this truth. They desire that the Spirit of God help and teach them, but they do not grasp that He wants to live within them continually and have full possession of their lives. Once we understand this, we will realize that it is possible to live while we continually pray through the Spirit. By faith, we will have the certainty that the Spirit will lead us to a prayerful attitude and make us aware of the presence of God, so that our prayer will be an exercise in our fellowship with God and His great love. As long as we limit the working of the Holy Spirit to certain times like Pentecost, it will remain an unsolved riddle to us.”
Praying in the Spirit can take on different forms. We can pray in the Spirit in our natural language, in praying scripture, and also praying in our heavenly language. Praying in the Spirit acknowledges our need for God in every area of our lives. We especially need His help when it comes to prayer. Pray in the Spirit, this is where we find God’s help in all our weaknesses.

THE WORLD WITHOUT END 

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Thankful Tuesday by Parris

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Eph. 3:20
Once again I’m compelled to turn to the book of Ephesians. I think Paul took ink and paper and became an artist in this book. He loved to paint a picture with words. This scripture has continued to challenge me throughout my life. What I failed to realize is that he is talking about our prayer life and the power of God working through us.

You see God goes beyond our thinking and our asking. He likes to transcends all powers of the mind. We can never ask too much, and can never think too much, He wants us to ask beyond God’s ability till I have thought beyond God’s ability, which is of course impossible. But yet Paul challenges us to enlarge our prayer life to take on petitions beyond our human understanding!

When is the last time you stretched out your dreams and visions and cry to even greater depths and greater heights, until we say, “thou hast done exceedingly above all that we ask.” Another commentary states, “The finite can never grasp the infinite and our poor mortal capacities cannot hold God’s idea of pardon. We may have some notion of forgiveness, but not until you yourself have entered personally into the mystery of this forgiveness, can you understand or have any hint of the depth of the sea into which God has cast the sins of which we have repented.”

You see there are so many facets of the Christian life that goes beyond everything we could have dreamed of, forgiveness being one of them and holiness and the mercy of God just to name a few. It’s time to open up the gates and let the King of Glory come in.

How do we tap into this power? Well by being filled with the fulness of God to overflow capacity. Reach out to grasp the heights, plunge into the depths and live in its breath. Have you gotten yourself into a rut? Did you attempt to do something for God and fail? My friend get yourself back up because even in your so called failures God works mysteriously and miraculously. Believe again trust again and stretch again.

You never know, you just might meet the Jesus of today, yesterday, and forever!