Somebody posted, “The Other Serenity Prayer,” on Facebook. Feeling a bit poetic and creative, it inspired me to write my own, so here goes. I hope you like it:
A Yielded Life
God, grant me eyes to see the love you already have for me, so I’ll stop trying to earn what I have already been given for free.
It’s been a drippy wet 2017 so far. Bounteous quantities of rain continue to fall locally and in states where drought had ruled for years. During dry spells, the ground can become hard like a tabletop. This is especially so, when it sits undisturbed for long periods of time and there’s been little or no rainfall to soften it. Farmers and gardeners break up hard ground using various tools before they plant seed.
Rain is generally considered a blessing in scripture. In the natural it soaks in and softens ground, giving seed the moisture it needs to grow. Unless the ground is too dried out and packed down; in which case, water runs off and often takes topsoil away with it. Gardeners till the soil, loosening it using simple tools such as a trowel, or a shovel, or a hoe. Farmers plow ground with bigger machinery to accomplish the same objective faster and on a larger scale. When circumstances are right, soil, moisture and seed combine to produce a crop. What is true in the natural is applicable to the spiritual realm also.
Jesus drew a parallel between human hearts and ground, with the gospel being seed.
Over a period of years in the USA hearts have become hardened to the gospel of Jesus Christ, even antagonistic in much of mainstream society. God seems to be working to change the conditions out there to make room for greater receptivity. Societal unrest is apparently shaking up stiff human hearts much like a gardener swinging a hoe breaks up hard ground to dig rows before planting.
During a phone call meeting for intercessors in Lamplighter Ministries on February 22, 2017, Jon Hamill interviewed his guest Bonnie Jones about an event that occurred to her late husband, Bob Jones, nearly 40 years ago. As she told it, the Jesus People Movement of that era was in full swing. Revival was flourishing in America. At that time Bob Jones carried a powerful Presence of God upon him that would elicit a response from folks as he went about his daily activities, even shopping. He walked in a prophetic Samuel anointing where none of his words fell to the ground; in other words, everything he said would actually happen; his words came to pass.
During that season God gave Bob Jones an unexpected, startling, even distressing prophetic word. He told Bob he was writing “Ichabod” across the church in America. Ichabod means the glory of God has departed. The LORD told Bob he was removing his glory from the American church and disciplining her because church leaders were profiteering from the glory and taking the credit for what God was doing. Church leaders did not have the character to properly steward the fabulous things God was doing. They didn’t give God the glory, so God decided to remove it.
Yesterday I happened upon a divine appointment while walking for exercise. I’ve found that talking with folks along my route is a great way to keep walks interesting and to practice following the leading of Holy Spirit and loving people I’ve never met before. So I tend to keep a lookout for potential encounters as I go. Here’s what happened:
When I caught up to this man I just up and asked him if anyone had told him about Jesus Christ. It’s the first thing I said to him. He was willing to talk. He said he knew about Him. I asked if he’d received Jesus into his heart. Still with an open attitude that surprised me, he went on the say that he had been raised to know God but had not walked down that path as an adult. He’d taken a different route. We were quiet for a moment. Then I said, “Maybe it’s time to reconsider that decision.”
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Believers, let’s resolve to never give up; never give up on walking with God. Never give into despair, doubt and unbelief. Never cut our years short or decide to embrace a misguided lifestyle, with its dark feelings, as an intentional way to spend time. Keep on resisting evil. Keep on choosing hope. Move away from the downside and toward the upside and the goodness of God. To be trapped in difficulties, not knowing precisely how to get free, is one thing; to love darkness and embrace it with gusto as a chosen lifestyle is something altogether different.
I am writing to anyone held captive to one sort of problem or another; people longing for victory and not sure where to find it. God has great compassion for you and He is more than willing to help. As for the other group, those who have abandoned themselves to dark activities; I assume those folks who love missing the mark do not “feel like giving up” and would never read this article. On the other hand, people who “feel like giving up” are seeking change, looking for answers and want hope, encouragement, and light; they’re looking for ways to move forward into a better future. Those are the folks I’m speaking to.
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Recently a discouraged young man told me he felt like giving up. Every day he battled the same old problem. It was a tough struggle and victory seemed illusive. Can you relate? If not, likely you know someone who can. Many people are in this situation; folks all around are battling overwhelming enemies of various kinds. I am not speaking here of human enemies but of enemies such as addiction, poverty, rejection, failure, fear, lonliness, lust, inner brokenness, anger, depression and lack of purpose; enemies in the unseen realm.
Rather than soaring on the heights this man found himself dwelling in a low place, a valley-of-decision. Would he succumb to the pressure to give up, or not? What is the way through a dry place, a fiery trial such as this? Is there a way out? Is there hope for the future? Yes!
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It is such a delight to watch a little child with his dad or mom. The child carefully observes every move the parent makes with admiration in her eye. Then the child gives it a go, trying to do the task just like Dad or Mom. In a parent–child relationship this type of learning goes on over much time in many contexts. The child learns a myriad of different skills and all in the context of an ongoing committed love relationship. Mentoring is typical of what good parents do. It’s potentially part of our relationship with God, too.
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We need to forgive. It sets us free. It’s basic. It’s crucial. It’s one of those MUSTS of the faith. If we want forgiveness we must forgive others. It can be hard. Something important to know: Forgiveness is not reconciliation. You don’t have to reengage in relationship with every person you forgive. You just need to quit trying to make them pay for what they did. The decision on what sort of future relationship you have with someone you have forgiven, or whether or not to have one at all; that is a different subject. Ask God for wisdom on that. Remember, forgiveness is about getting free of the past. It’s not about where to take the relationship in the future. Here are some tips to help with forgiveness:
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Have you ever read “The Parable of the Bags of Gold,” as it is called in the NIV version of the Bible? That parable suddenly came to mind the other day. With a revelatory jolt, I suddenly realized that you and I have something of substance to learn from the servant who buried his talent rather than using it. The potential danger of ending up like him is more feasible than I’d ever considered.
Now, I tend to prefer to identify trouble ahead of time whenever possible, as to avoid it; rather than to race blindly into it. A bit of foresight and purposeful choice making can do a lot to steer us around pit falls, away from dead ends and toward a prosperous result in our lives. Right now, let’s learn an important lesson from the servant who did NOT prosper in the end. Let’s examine our ways and position ourselves for joy rather than for regret on that all important day of reckoning, shall we?
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Healing a Toe
It’s a beautiful sunny day, not too hot; time to get outside for an exercise walk. I headed into a local park, walking on a meandering path of asphalt past a Hispanic couple seated on park bench. Being somewhat observant, I noticed the woman’s leg was extended, up on her man’s lap. As I passed by I inquired how they were doing. The typical answer of “fine” came back, and it didn’t look like this is really the case. I pursued it a bit more by commenting on the woman’s leg. That’s when the couple opened up to some extent. It seems the man had accidentally stepped on the woman’s toe and she was in pain. The toenail looked clouded. I offered prayer.
Opening up some more, they both agreed. I explained that I would be praying in the name of Jesus; that I have an anointing from God to release his healing to people; and that it’s God who does the healing, not me. They still agreed. The man said they are Christians and that he believed me. He meant it. I placed my hand gently over her toe and left it there as I spoke with them some more. After a few minutes I asked the woman how her toe was feeling. She said the pain was gone. The man’s face lit up with surprise and pleasure all at the same time. Continuing to leave my hand there a while longer, I went on to tell them about where revival is going on locally so they can visit if they’d like. I got the impression they aren’t in a fellowship anywhere so I hope they visit the place I told them about, or go somewhere else for support. After this encounter I walked onward and into several more street encounters; encounters of precious ones with different needs and God gave me different things to say each time.