I woke up from a nap yesterday to the sound of worship music and I thought that I must have left something playing on my computer in the other room. I checked a few minutes later and found that there wasn’t any kind of music being played in the house and yet, I very clearly heard the Tim Hughes song, Here I am to Worship, playing in my ear. So the only logical explanation was that I was hearing it come from somewhere else, most likely the spirit realm. Then, as I sat down to write, I kept hearing the opening lyrics to Time of the Season from the 60’s play in my head. I’m not a 60’s child, I missed that era by at least a decade, and I don’t think every line from this song was written with righteous intentions, but this one, “it’s the time of the season for loving” jumped out at me. There are pockets of turmoil happening around the world and in our own country, and it’s easy to get swept up in the anger and frustration of all that is happening but I feel like God is calling us to a deeper place of worshiping him and a focused approach to loving others. It’s a season of loving him and loving those that he created; a season for loving. It’s time to toss out all agenda, tear down walls of separation, and truly begin to walk out the command of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves. I also feel like there’s another aspect to this and that the Lord is saying he wants us to have a greater realization of his love for us because, when we learn to live inside of his love, loving others becomes incredibly easy. Take some extra time today to bask in God’s love and find a way to intentionally share his love with someone you would not normally spend any time with; you might be surprised how quickly a wall can come down through an action of love. Love really does conquer all.
Over the past few weeks the Lord has begun to speak to me in a new way and show me things he hasn’t shown me before. It seems that September has brought some shifts and I feel like the Lord is saying many others are going to begin to hear him in a new way. Don’t expect it to be the way you are used to, and if you feel like you have never heard his voice before, get ready to hear it clearly now. This is not for everyone; it is for those who are sincerely pressing in to listen to what is being said. God wants all us to hear his voice, he is not remaining silent. But we often let everything else around us drown out his sound. If you listen, you will hear him. Here’s the great news; we can all press in, we can all hear him speak, there is so much he wants to say to us. Set aside some time, listen closely, and get ready to hear him in a whole new way. I also feel like we are moving into a season of divine encounters and of increased supernatural activity. Keys that are needed to open up new doors are being released and the ones who have been waiting outside of those doors are going to see the doors open very soon and others are being released into the destiny that has been waiting for them for a long time. Get ready for something amazing!
One of my favorite prophetic stories in the Old Testament is the story of Elisha taking over for Elijah when the time came for God to take him off of the earth. Most believers know the story about the supernatural events that took Elijah to heaven but it’s not the fiery chariot or falling mantle that strikes me as so interesting; what interests me is how Elisha acted after his promotion. On Elisha’s first day on the job, his very first act as the Prophet of Israel was to part the waters of the Jordan river. Just a few minutes after receiving Elijah’s mantle he immediately performed a miracle. He didn’t wait a few years to grow into his position. He didn’t wait for more training. He didn’t seek out a bunch of great leaders to find out if he should do what Elijah used to do. Somehow, he recognized that his identity included the ability to operate in the supernatural realm and he went right to the water with an expectation that it would divide in front of him.
This is the attitude we need to have today. It’s so easy to think that we need to grow into our giftings or wait for God to show up in some powerful way before we can actually go out and have an impact on the world around us. Jesus said “these signs will follow those who believe…” so the very instant that someone gives their life to Jesus they take on a new identity and every promise of Jesus is instantly available to them. A brand new Christian can go right out into a group of sick people and expect miracles to happen. Moving in the supernatural becomes our birthright the minute we are born again. Do we need training? Of course! There is much we need to learn but at some point we also have to step out in faith; part of the learning process in using the gifts of the Spirit is to actually use them. Elisha stepped right into his position and I think that’s a good model for us to follow today as well.
A few weeks ago I heard the Lord say that this month is Shift-tember. He renamed the month to represent the finalization of the shiftings that have been happening in many of our lives and ministries. I feel like we have finally entered into a season where all the shifting and transitions that have been occurring for several years are starting to come to an end and that we are going to start to see the plans of the Lord solidify in our lives. Many of us have been waiting for major breakthroughs in different areas like finances, health, or restored relationships, and I feel like we are entering into a season where the things we have contended for in prayer are starting to break through and manifest in our lives. Hold strong! Don’t give up or give in! There is nothing the enemy can do to stop the promises of God. If you have been holding on to promises for a long time, as we have, know that the time is here for some and will be here very soon for others. God’s timeline can be very confusing; we often find ourselves wondering why things are taking so long or why God hasn’t just instantly decreed something to happen in our lives. But there are so many pieces to his plans that we cannot see and we have to trust that he has everything in control. Many times, God is aligning other people to come alongside of us but we have to wait until they are prepared before those connections happen. Your patience will pay off! Your persistence will pay off! Your pursuit of what God has called you to will pay off! The payoff will come in ways you don’t expect it so keep pursuing and keep pressing in. It’s easy to lose hope, but stay focused on what God is doing and you will see his hand move you into the place you need to be. Shift-tember is here.
Mother Teresa was canonized this past weekend by the Catholic church for her life’s work in helping the poorest of the poor. One of the rules in Catholicism for declaring someone a saint is that the person must have performed at least two verifiable miracles. One of those miracles involved a woman who was healed from a stomach tumor and another was a man who was healed from multiple brain tumors. And as amazing as each miracle is, her focus was not on the miraculous, but on loving the people society had rejected. Isn’t it interesting that a young woman can go to the poorest of the poor to share God’s love in a tangible way and when she did, God showed up in ways she probably didn’t even expect. She was often asked by others what they could do to have the same types of impacts that she was having and her response evokes the same sentiment I often have. “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are, in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society, completely forgotten, completely left alone.”
We can go to the other side of the world to help the poor, or we can drive to that spot in our own city where the forgotten members of society live, and show them how valuable they really are, how much they are loved, and how great an impact they can have on the world. It doesn’t take much, just a willing heart and unconditional love. The forgotten part of every city in America needs what God has placed inside of us. And how cool would it be if revival broke out in a parking lot in the poorest part of town instead of in a church building? The Azusa Street revivals started in an impoverished part of the city, wouldn’t it be great if it happened that way again? If you’re looking for me, you’ll most likely find me in these types of neighborhoods. They are my favorite places to minister. And they can be your favorite too, give it a try, you just might find out that Jesus loves to show up and show off amongst the people who have lost all hope.
Go find your Calcutta.
I’ve been to a lot of churches during my life. Some have been quiet, some have been loud, some have included flags waving through the air, and others have included people running laps around the building when they got excited. I think I can safely say that I have seen a wide variety of activities within churches and, oddly enough, I have learned to be comfortable in a lot of different church settings. But one thing I have trouble understanding is why some churches try to control the activities within the church to the point where no one is able to freely express their worship and thankfulness to God.
Some people think flagging is weird, others think laughter in the altar should never happen, and some don’t like it if you shout when you get excited. And yet, if I go to a football game, I’m sure all of these same people will be quick to scream their approval for their teams, proudly wave the teams logo through the air on flags and towels, jump out of their seats when a great play is made, then shout and celebrate throughout the game. Why are we so comfortable celebrating at a sporting event and so uncomfortable celebrating God? Shouldn’t the God who has welcomed us into an amazing relationship receive at least the same level of excitement we show for a group of people running up and down a field?
Don’t get mad at me, I get it, I know that some people prefer quiet reverence to excited worship. And I think there is a time to sit quietly before the Lord to reflect on what he has done for us and to listen to what he has to say. But there should also be a time for celebration; God actually established feasts and festivals for the Jews as times to celebrate, David commissioned 24-hour worship after the ark of the covenant returned to Jerusalem, and the elders around God’s throne are in a constant state of overt worship and praise. Maybe we could take those examples and apply them to our own lives because we seem to lose track of something when we trade in celebration for quiet reflection. God has done amazing and great things, let’s celebrate it!
I was watching a movie a few days ago and a major plot in the movie was that an investor decided to take a big risk on something he knew was going to have a huge payout, but it would cost him millions of dollars over several years before the big payday would actually come. Somehow, he just knew he was right. And even though everyone around him thought he was crazy, he stuck to his intuition, made the investment, and then rode out a tumultuous storm for a few years. In the end, he was proven right and brought in almost a 500% profit on the investment. As it turns out, great risks can produce great rewards.
World changers are usually the ones who look foolish to others because no one else seems to understand what they do. It can look foolish to give up everything in order to pursue a dream God has put in your heart. Very few people agreed with Martin Luther when he challenged the Catholic church’s position but hundreds of millions of people today have benefitted from the risk he took. If we want to see God move in amazing ways through our lives, we have to learn to be risk takers. We have to be willing to say yes, even if we don’t know where the “yes” is going to take us and even if everyone else around us thinks we are crazy. It also helps to have a few good risk taking mentors that can help you make sure you are hearing accurately because it can be quite confusing in the midst of the journey to where God is taking you.
God is always faithful. He has proven himself time after time in situation after situation and he has never let anyone fail who was passionately pursuing His purposes. Ask God about the risks he wants you to take, say yes, and then get ready for a crazy adventure of changing the world!
Society is falling into chaos. This is the message we see in the news everyday as violence and lawlessness continues to increase around us. We can look at this in a few different ways. We can agree with the turmoil around us, become fearful, and retreat within the comfort zone of our theological walls. Or, we can take action in the same way Jesus did. Did you ever notice that Jesus didn’t spend anytime judging the Roman culture around him? We don’t see any mention in the Bible of Jesus condemning the activities of the Roman government, or the rampant perversions that commonly occurred during his time on earth, or getting sucked into the political arguments of the day.
What was his model? To bring the kingdom of God to earth. How did he do it? By going into the marketplace and anywhere else people commonly congregated and revealing the love of God by performing miracles, setting people free from demonic oppression, and teaching the principles of his kingdom. The church in today’s society is poised to be incredibly impactful if we would adopt this same model. It’s easy to wait for people to step into the four walls of a building before we try to minister to them but there are so many people who won’t come anywhere near a church. So we have to go to them.
We have what the world needs. We have access to everything in heaven and we have an opportunity to change the world. We don’t need to be concerned about what is happening around us. We can change that reality if we are willing to step out in faith and actually do what Jesus modeled for us. When the world sees that there is a better way, they will abandon the chaos and step into the love of God. This is how we change the world. This is how we change society. This is how heaven comes to earth.
“Be perfect, therefore, as you heavenly Father is perfect;” that’s a big requirement Jesus gave in Matthew 5:48 and one that most of us probably think is out of reach or completely impossible. But I have this theory, if Jesus tells us to do something, it’s possible for us to do it. Jesus made other seemingly impossible statements about healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and doing greater things than he did. If you are of the belief that the supernatural ways of God have never ceased, then you probably familiar with God’s desire to work through people to bring about supernatural results and you know that these things are not outside of our reach. But this whole idea of being perfect is a tough one to think about, probably because it is something we cannot logically picture as a state we can achieve on this side of eternity. But Jesus said it, so it is possible!
One of the things that stands out to me in Jesus’ earthly ministry is that he was 100% accurate with every prophecy, word of knowledge, and any other spiritual gift he used. And he healed every person that came to him. I wonder if he operated at this high level because of his perfection. It’s common in most healing meetings to see 10%-20% of the attendees healed but what would it take to see 100% all the time? Jesus talked about how a mustard seed’s amount of faith could move a mountain so I don’t think it requires a ton of faith to see greater levels of the miraculous. But it might be attached to this perfection idea. If we could live out a perfect life, I suspect we would have zero distractions to keep us from clearly hearing God’s voice for every situation we encounter and we would be able to bring the solution every person needs. Of course, this is just a theory because Jesus is the only person to ever live a perfect life. But, he left the door open for us to follow in his footsteps of perfection and if we are supposed to represent him, then maybe, just maybe, we have a chance at hitting that mark and operating at a much higher supernatural gifting level.
We are in a season of time where God is choosing to reveal himself in a lot of new ways and, for some people, these new ways are too far outside of the box of what they are used to. Manifestations of the Holy Spirit might freak you out a little bit or maybe even make you feel a little uncomfortable. That’s perfectly understandable if it is new to you but if you hang around God long enough, you will quickly discover that he likes to show up in a lot of different ways. I tend to think that if God always did things the exact same way, we would create a theology out of it, and scorn anyone who chooses to think differently. Take a look at church history, it has happened a lot of times and is one of the reasons we have so many different denominations.
The Bible very clearly teaches that God does not change, he is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8) but I am confident that no one on the planet knows everything about God so we can’t possibly assume that we know every detail of his personality. There are aspects of his nature that we have never experienced and when we experience him in a new or different way it could be that he is revealing a different part of himself to us. I don’t know about you, but I get excited whenever the creator of the universe reveals himself to me in a new way because it takes my relationship with him to another level. For me, it’s exciting to discover something new about the God I love and serve. For others, it may just freak them out, but we have some great Biblical examples that prove this point.
God revealed himself in a burning bush in front of Moses, he used a cloud and a pillar of fire with the Israelites, and lightening surrounded the top of the mountain when the law was given; God chose a handful of different ways to reveal himself in just the first few books of the Bible so why would we ever think that he isn’t continuing to do the same thing today. What if Elijah ignored the still small voice because he was looking for a burning bush? What if the Israelites ignored the Messiah because he didn’t show up the way they expected? Oh wait, a lot of them did. Maybe that proves my point. Here’s the deal, there’s no logical reason to think that God won’t continue to show up in new ways today and I think it is very wise to ask him for the discernment to recognize when it is him so we don’t make fun of something that he is doing.
So here’s my point, don’t discount what God is doing just because you have never seen him do it in a certain way before. He is as infinitely creative as he is eternal and there is so much more to this relationship with him than we will probably ever fully realize on this side of eternity. Ask for more of him, and expect him to show up in a new way. You just might be surprised at how excited he is to reveal himself to you in a real, tangible, personal way.