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The Bible is filled with accounts of God's supernatural protection. Remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace? What about Daniel and the lion's den? God has no problem bringing you out of threatening circumstances. Time and again He has proven He is well able to get the job done.
But God's protection is not automatic. There are choices you have to make for God to be your refuge. The psalmist says: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust'” (Ps. 91:1-2, NKJV). read more
Every day from every direction the winds keep blowing. The continuing war with Iraq coupled with the ongoing global war on terror threaten to disrupt the peace and calm so many of us have taken for granted. Since 9/11, it has been easy to see that we in America were not prepared for this period of instability.
Often there is a parallel between the natural and supernatural realms. In the supernatural realm today, the winds of war are blowing as well. The church in America needs to be prepared for the spiritual challenges that lie on our very doorsteps. But are we?
In Judges 3 we read how a generation of Israel was somewhat oblivious to what war was really about. The Lord remedied this situation by allowing some enemy nations to exist so that "the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war" (see v. 2, NKJV).
For Christians, learning to do "war" means gaining measurable victories over the kingdom of darkness. Think about it this way: When a thief gets saved, stealing diminishes; when a wife-beater gets saved, a family might be restored; when a drug dealer gets saved, drug dealing decreases in one neighborhood. As James 5:20 says, "He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."
There are five primary ways for us to effectively fight the good fight of faith--the kind that changes lives for Jesus.
The will to work, fight and win. Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, "It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it." The Bible says that the Jews in Nehemiah's day "had a mind to work" when it came time to rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in the face of their enemies (see Neh. 4:6).
Knowing and having faith in Jesus' victory at Calvary and how it has changed countless situations, lives and families through the ages ought to provide plenty of motivation for pressing through to victory.
Righteous living. A clear heart and life allow us to stand in the face of adversity as well as to draw inner strength and stamina for undertaking spiritual action. Without righteousness, the devil can rightfully accuse us of attitudes and actions we have not repented of.
If our lives are not right with God we can pray the prayers, sing the songs and yell the formulated declarations but our voice is a shout with no clout. The condition of our heart matters: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
Prayer. So much can be said about praying, but I like what James wrote best: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). The "much" it avails includes the power of God being loosed in us and through us as we fight for the lives of our family, friends, cities and nations. I have watched it thwart the works of darkness and help open the doors to evangelistic ministry.
The Word of God. God's Word ought to be stored up in our lives so that when we need it, we don't have to run to a bookshelf to find it. The Word is to be hidden in our hearts where it is available to be brought to our minds by the Holy Spirit on a moment's notice. In this way, Scripture becomes "the sword of the Spirit"--ready to be used when we face a situation in our own life or in another's. Is your ammo ready?
Winning people to Christ. This could be the most underused or even forgotten weapon of spiritual warfare, especially when influencing families, neighborhoods--even cities. There is no spiritual weapon that can replace evangelism. There is no spiritual substitute for evangelism, for it is the primary way of actually reaching out and touching another person with the life, love and gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of the easiest ways to measure the victories of our war is with this question: Are lives being changed and people getting saved? People coming to Christ and lives being transformed are a sure way to measure if our ministries or churches are effectively waging war in our communities.
Let's not be like the Israelites in Judges who knew nothing of war. Every day gives us great opportunities to make a difference. Let's move to the front lines. read more
God wants our communication with Him to be unencumbered by rules and legalism.
Do you realize that even directing a thought toward God qualifies as silent prayer? It's true! Whether you have been praying for years, are just learning to pray, have hit a "slump" in your spiritual life or simply want your prayer life to improve, know this: God wants you to learn to pray more effectively, and He wants your prayer life to become more fulfilling.
Short, simple prayers can be mighty beyond description, but this does not take away from the fact that prayer is also a grand mystery. Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian who wrote many profound books while imprisoned for his faith, wrote: "Prayer is the most wonderful act in the spiritual realm, as well as a most mysterious affair." read more
Short, simple prayers can be mighty beyond description, but this does not take away from the fact that prayer is also a grand mystery. Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian who wrote many profound books while imprisoned for his faith, wrote: "Prayer is the most wonderful act in the spiritual realm, as well as a most mysterious affair."
I believe the greatest mystery of prayer is that it joins the hearts of people on Earth with the heart of God in heaven.
Prayer goes into the spiritual realm. It brings things out of that unseen realm and into the world around us, right where we live. It ushers spiritual blessings into our natural, everyday lives and brings spiritual power to bear on our earthly circumstances.
We human beings are the only creatures in our known universe who can stand in the natural realm and touch the spiritual realm. When we pray, we connect with God, and He affects our daily lives beyond our comprehension.
I believe prayer is one of the greatest powers available in the entire universe. That's a bold statement, given the other kinds of power that are available today, but I am convinced beyond the slightest doubt that it is true.
When we think of atomic power, we think of forces greater than we can imagine. When we think of something as basic as fuel power in a motorcycle on the highway, we think of something extremely noisy, intense and potentially dangerous.
But every kind of power we encounter on Earth means nothing in heaven. Atomic power could wipe out an entire city of people, but it cannot give them eternal life. This power once commanded the attention of every nation, but it never healed a broken heart. Fuel power takes us where we want to go in the world, but it does not help us make any spiritual progress in our lives or move forward in God.
Prayer opens the door for God to work. It is the activity that you and I can engage in on Earth when we need the power of heaven to come into our lives and bring wisdom, direction, encouragement or a miraculous breakthrough. Prayer connects us to the power of God—and that is why it is a greater force than anything else we can ever imagine.
Only the power of prayer can move the hand of God. And only the power of God can change an individual heart, free a person from bondage and torment, overturn disappointments and devastations, break an addiction, or heal a person's emotions. Only God's power can bring peace, instill joy, grant wisdom, impart a sense of value and purpose to a person who doesn't know what to do in life, and work every kind of miracle.
The awesome, tremendous power of God—the greatest in the universe—is released in our lives through simple, faith-filled prayer. And because we can pray, we have extraordinary power. We can overcome problems we thought we could never overcome; we can do things people did not believe we could do; we can make brilliant decisions. We can walk in victory through all the challenges in our lives.
I have learned that God has not made prayer complicated. Sometimes our religious mind-sets and "systems" present prayer in such a way that it seems out of reach for many of us. But God wants our communication with Him to be unencumbered by rules, regulations, legalism and obligation. He intends for prayer to be an integral part of our everyday lives.
If you want power in your life—power over anything—I encourage you to simply pray!
Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. She has written more than 70 books, including the popular Beauty for Ashes and Battlefield of the Mind and her first novel, The Penny (all FaithWords). She is also the founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. and the host of Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. read more
Using a map of the world as an aid to prayer helped me discover several keys for influencing both those residing in my "Jerusalem" as well as those living at "the ends of the earth" (see Acts 1:8).
1. The Motivation Key: biblical purpose. Having a map in my hand motivated me to move beyond mere "bless me" prayers to touch multitudes that have never heard the good news of Jesus. More specifically, it added a biblical purpose to my praying. Purpose is defined as "something set up as an object or end to be attained" or "what one seeks to achieve."
When I first began praying for the nations I was driven by God's promise to His Son, "Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your possession" (Ps. 2:8, NLT).
I almost stopped using this promise as a basis for my praying after a Bible professor, who heard me quote it in a seminar as a foundation for praying for the nations, suggested the verse was given exclusively by God to His Son. It wasn't for us, he said.
Thankfully, I read the rest of my Bible before tossing the promise aside and discovered in Romans 8:16-17 that any promise God gave His Son is ours as well. That's because we are co-heirs with Christ of all the Father has given Him.
Paul wrote: "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:16-17, NIV). The New Living Translation reads, "Everything God gives to His Son, Christ, is ours, too."
That settled it! I could ask God for both my neighbors and the nations. This has provided me with a biblical purpose and a powerful motivation. And holding before me a map of both my nearby neighborhood and the distant nations brings this purpose alive every day.
2. The Ministry Key: biblical passion. The second key helped release in me a biblical passion. For many people, prayer provides a specialized ministry when other popular callings may seem out of reach.
Most followers of Jesus won't become apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers (see Eph. 4:11). The majority won't serve as bishops, deacons, or elders, or even sing in a church choir. But all can embrace a twofold ministry that truly has eternal implications.
First, every follower of Jesus can minister to the Lord. This concerns our personal worship. It focuses on a passion for the Lord. There is no higher calling than ministry to the Lord.
Second, every follower of Jesus can minister to the lost. This concerns our personal witness. It focuses on a passion for the lost. It involves not only praying for those who don't know Jesus but also developing a plan to share our faith in Christ with them. This includes supporting missionary endeavors in distant nations with our resources.
Notice how the psalmist links these two themes in a single psalm: "Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; bless His name. Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does. Tell all the nations that the Lord is king" (Ps. 96:1-3; 10, NLT).
Holding a map of the nations (and our neighbors) before us in prayer and saturating that map with worship and intercession brings Psalm 96 alive in our praying.
3. The Mandate Key: biblical pattern. All true followers of Jesus have been given a mandate to help fulfill the Great Commission. Praying over a map of the world (that includes a map of our neighborhoods) brings new life to this mandate. It also provides us with a biblical pattern to help carry it out.
A mandate is defined as "a resounding directive" or "a clear and focused objective given by a person or persons in authority." Another definition reads, "To put into one's hands; to command or entrust."
We discover our mandate from Christ in such commands as, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations ... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20, NIV).
Luke provides a description of the biblical pattern for fulfilling this mandate when he tells in his gospel how the early church responded to Christ's command: "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 5:42).
4. The Mission Key: biblical plan. The final key introduces to each believer a biblical plan that enables us to truly affect both our neighbors and the nations for eternity. This model for missions is increasingly being described as the "prayer, care, share" plan.
Based largely on such Scriptures as Luke 10:5-9, it has been embraced by Mission America, a coalition of 80 denominations and 400 parachurch ministries, as its primary objective for influencing our communities as well as nations.
Prayer focus. When Jesus commissioned the 70 to go forth with the gospel, He admonished them, "'When you enter a house, first say, "Peace to this house"'" (Luke 10:5). Prayer for our neighbors (and nations) is the primary blessing we can give them. Prayer additionally prepares the way for the rest of the plan to be effective.
Care focus. Next in the Luke 10 model, we read Jesus' commands to "'Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you,'" and "'Heal the sick that are there'" (vv. 7,9). His words speak of a willingness to fellowship with those around us as well as to look for ways to meet their needs (such as through healing the sick). These qualities embody the care focus.
Share focus. Finally, Jesus said, "'Tell them, "The kingdom of God is near you"'" (v. 9). God's kingdom, of course, is revealed only through Jesus Christ. Thus, to witness to a lost person about Christ is to point that person in the direction of God's kingdom. To lead him to Christ is to bring him into the kingdom. What began with prayer and was nurtured in care now opens the door to share who Christ is and how He can transform that person's life.
We have an urgency to vastly increase an army of those who are focusing prayer on all the nations of the world, especially in light of intensifying global tensions. Therefore, we encourage believers to pray daily for their neighbors and the nations.
Dick Eastman is international president of Every Home for Christ, a global home-to-home evangelism ministry that has planted more than 2.6 billion gospel messages in 198 nations. His books about prayer and evangelism have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. read more
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