health

Waves of Victory

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt shortly before His death, the people mobbed Him, throwing their cloaks before Him and waving palm branches. They cried out, “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:13). That first Palm Sunday was quite a victory Sunday because the people celebrated Jesus and acknowledged Him as their king! Some time ago, when I was meditating on this passage, I wondered, Of all the plants, why did they use palms? What was so significant about palm branches? That’s when the Holy Spirit directed me to the Old Testament.

Palms and Willows

After the Israelites left Egypt, God gave them seven feasts to celebrate Him, His work, and what He would do in them and through them. One of these feasts was the Feast of Tabernacles, which they celebrated by constructing booths made of palm and willow branches. For seven days they lived in the booths, commemorating what the Lord had done for them.

You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Leviticus 23:40

God specifically told the Israelites to use palms and willows to build these booths. Palm trees were very important to that culture. They were a source of food and drink, the leaves were used to make ropes, and the trunk was used to make furniture. Palms eventually came to represent victory for the Israelites, so when God told them to use palm branches to make the booths, He was reminding them of their victories.

Willow branches are also mentioned specifically in the passage above. Here in American, we call them “weeping willows.” The willows had to do with the heartaches the Israelites experienced in the wilderness. The wilderness wasn’t a picnic. At one time, the earth opened up and swallowed up Korah and 250 men who were in rebellion. Mirian and her brother criticized Moses and she immediately got leprosy. The Israelites turned to idolatry, caused innumerable headaches for Moses, and had loads of problems. So, the willows were used on the booths to remind them of all the hardships they endured before they inherited the promised land.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he knew it was a time of victory. He also knew that between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, He would die on the cross. There would be a willow—a time of heartache. In our lives, we experience some wonderful victories, but we also have willows. Yet, if we will bring our willows to the Lord, He can transform them into victories. When you hit those willow times, don’t hold onto them; hand them over to God and watch them become palm branches.

One of the members of my prayer team once told me about a true transformation that had occurred in her life. For most of her life she had been an alcoholic. One day, 18 years before, she was in a bar telling another alcoholic all her problems. The other woman responded by telling her about Job, saying, “Well, if you think things are so bad, why don’t you read the book of Job in the Bible. You’ll find out you don’t have it so bad.” This woman did just that. She went home, found a Bible, and began reading it. The Lord began to deal with her out of that book and she got saved! When she turned her life over to the Lord, He took her willows and transformed them into palms. That bar—her alcoholism—became the turning point of victory in her life.

As this woman discovered, Job holds a crucial key for allowing God to turn willows into palms. Job lost everything, but did you notice the devil spared his wife? Why? Because his wife could keep needling him and giving him a hard time. The devil was using her to get to Job. Rather than listen to his wife’s admonition to “curse God and die,” Job turned everything over to God and put his afflictions into the hands of the Lord: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him” (Job 13:15).

Later, Job went on to give the first prophecy related to the resurrection:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God. (Job 19:25-26)

Job believed in his “willow time” that he would be victorious and there would be a resurrection. Job had an inner revelation of the Redeemer who would appear and bring resurrection. Likewise, when we talk about resurrection, we have an inner revelation that Jesus not only died for us, but that He lives. What a victory!

We all experience willow times. But whether they shatter you or lead you to victory depends on whose hand you put them into. If you keep them in your hands, they won’t change. But if you put them in God’s hands, He can bring transformation.

Remember too, that Scripture tells us, “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). In the natural it’s difficult to understand just how this work. But when you become a child of God, you have an inner revelation that He loves you so much, that if you will put your circumstances in His hands, He can cause you to triumph.

The Ultimate Victory

I think a lot of folks believe that getting older is a “willow.” Things don’t button the way they used to, there’s too much hair left behind in their brushes, and there are too many wrinkles staring back at them in the mirror. That’s because they’re corruptible. But there’s a palm coming! Look at what Paul said: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:42). What are we raised in? Incorruption! We know by the Spirit that we don’t just have a life here; we’re going to live in a new body that doesn’t decay, get old, lose hair, or wrinkle.

In subsequent verses, Paul also tells us that death is a dishonor; it’s a willow. Then he says believers will be raised in glory. When Jesus died, that was a dishonor. But when He was raised, it brought glory to the Father. He’s the first fruit of resurrection and we’re going to follow him! Paul continues to compare mortality and immortality and arrives at this conclusion:

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Eternal life will be wonderful! There is no sting of death for believers because Jesus has already borne the penalty of the law for our sins. When we claim Him, we can claim His resurrection and know that we will spend eternity in heaven with Him. Just imagine it: forever in His presence, rejoicing in the victory that He bought for us, and celebrating Jesus by waving palm branches:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9, emphasis added)

We’re not going to carry willows in heaven because God will wipe away every tear. Rather, we will carry palm branches because we’re not defeated—we were made victorious in Christ!

You might have a willow in your life right now that hurts and causes you great pain. Maybe it’s a broken marriage, prodigal children, or an unsaved loved one. Perhaps you need healing in your body or finances. Take those cares and place them into the hand of Jesus and allow Him to turn those willows into palms of victory. Pray with me:

Father, thank you that Jesus is the victory. I take all these willows and the heartache and weeping they represent and place them in your hands. I believe that you will transform them into palm branches of victory in each circumstance. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen.

If you’d like additional prayer, call 888-637-4545, or visit https://marilynandsarah.netviewshop.com/prayer.

2024-03-07T11:15:38-07:00March 18th, 2024|

Queen Esther and the Origin of Purim

In a couple weeks, the Jewish holiday of Purim will be celebrated around the world. In honor of this joyous occasion, today’s post is about the book of Esther and the history of Purim.

Esther lived in a historically dark time. Following the Persian Empire’s destruction of Babylon, many Jews had been displaced to Persia. Their king, Ahasuerus, ruled a kingdom of 127 provinces extending from India to Ethiopia. He was extremely wealthy and very astute in worldly matters.

As a demonstration of his worldly wealth, Ahasuerus called all the leaders of his provinces together for a six-month celebration. Can you imagine holding a six-month party? Talk about guests who made themselves at home! After these six months, he held a seven-day feast for everyone in the palace. The palace was elaborately decorated with gold and silver. Even the wine was served in golden vessels, each differing from the next. It was one of the most extravagant celebrations the world has ever known.

During that time in history, it was not customary for men and women to mingle at feasts. Therefore, Ahasuerus’s queen, Vashti, hosted a special feast elsewhere in the palace for the women. During the feast, the king became drunk with wine and bragged about what a knock-out his queen was, and sent word for Vashti to come into the court so that he could show her off. Some historians and Bible commentators say that he asked her to come in and expose herself indecently. “But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him” (Esther 1:12). Vashti had the guts to exercise some class and say, “I’m a human being, and I refuse to be exhibited like one of your golden vessels.”

Ahasuerus consulted his seven princely “wise men” about Vashti’s behavior. One wise man, Memucan, was particularly upset with Vashti. My guess is that Memucan was henpecked at home, and he probably thought this was a great opportunity to take out his frustration on women. He advised the king, “You had better handle this woman because she’s too gutsy. If you let her get away with this, all the women in the empire are going to rebel against their husbands. They won’t cook meals, wash the clothes, or take care of the children! You have got to do something about her!” Memucan then recommended that the king divorce Vashti, saying:

“If it pleases the king, let a royal decree go out from him, and let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered, that Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.” (Esther 1:19)

In a moment of anger, King Ahasuerus took Memucan’s advice and deposed Vashti. But he soon realized that he had made a big mistake because he truly loved her. Unfortunately, it was too late. In those days, the king’s laws couldn’t be retracted. After the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti and what had been decreed against her. In an effort to cheer him, the king’s servants suggested that he hold a beauty contest in which all the beautiful women in his empire could participate. The servants said, “Surely there is a woman in your vast empire who could become a suitable queen.” The king eagerly agreed to hold the contest.

Esther was a young Jewish girl who lived near the palace. Evidently, her family had been killed during the first Babylonian invasion, and she had been adopted by her cousin Mordecai, who was raising her as his own daughter. Mordecai and Esther were both captured during the second Babylonian invasion and exiled to Persia. While in Persia, Mordecai changed Esther’s name from Hadassah to disguise her ancestry. He gave her the Persian name Esther, meaning “star.” I think her new name really fit her. Like a star, Esther allowed the light of God to shine through her to penetrate a very dark generation.

However, Mordecai and Esther started out on the wrong foot. The prophet Jeremiah had instructed the Jews to return to Jerusalem after their 70-year captivity, but most refused. Only 60,000 Jews had chosen to return. The rest — over 2 million — decided to remain in Persian territory, including Mordecai and Esther. Besides that, Mordecai decided to enter Esther into the king’s beauty contest, which wasn’t a very holy thing to do. If she didn’t win, she would automatically become a concubine to the king!

For one full year, all the beauty contestants were groomed and trained in a manner appropriate for a queen. At the end of the year, they were presented to the king one by one. When Esther went before the king, the Bible says, “The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:17).

Esther delighted the king, and she was chosen to be his queen. Remember, the king loved to eat, so he held a great feast in Esther’s honor. He also “proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king” (v. 18). All to celebrate the beautiful new wife he had chosen.

Do you think that God ordained this marriage? From our natural viewpoint, the union between a Jewess and a rich, materialistic, heathen king doesn’t appear to be a match made in heaven. But remember, God is a God of providence. Providence means forethought of care and supply. God provided Esther with special access to an ungodly king so that she could divert her generation from impending destruction. God’s providence is evident throughout the entire book of Esther. But I want to point out a very strange fact: God’s name is not mentioned even once in this book! Although no one mentions God during this entire time period, He is present to move and guide the course of events that occur. Occasionally, it appears that God’s people have forgotten Him, but He never forgets His people. He is still a God who can provide needed help. He is always a God of providence.

One day, Mordecai overheard two of the king’s doorkeepers scheming to kill the king. Evil plots were nothing new in those days — nor in our day. Mordecai sent an urgent message to Esther, and Esther informed the king, giving credit to Mordecai. The two doorkeepers were executed, and the plot was squelched.

What was done to reward Mordecai? Initially, nothing. No one said, “Oh, Mordecai, you’re such a hero!” Have you ever done something that went completely unnoticed or maybe even backfired? Maybe you thought, No good deed goes unpunished! It’s not worth it. Believe me, if you stay true to God, then His hand will be in your situation. Eventually, you will reap what you sow. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

It seems as though there’s a villain in every story, and Esther’s is no different. In Esther 3:1, Ahasuerus promoted a very ungodly man, Haman, to the number one position in the kingdom. Haman, as the highest of the king’s princes, was consumed with pride. He loved his position in the Persian Empire. Haman, however, was not a Persian, he was an Agagite, which means he was of Amalekite descent. Why does this matter? Well, the Amalekites were descendants of the Edomites, and the Edomites were descended from Esau. The sons of Esau hated the sons of Jacob, and this went on for centuries. So we have a generational curse: antisemitism. This isn’t a new thing, and it’s satanic. It’s the devil’s plan.

Now, Haman’s position required everyone to bow down to him when he passed on the street. No one dared to defy Haman! But Mordecai refused to bow — I think he saw right through Haman all along. The king’s servants tried to get Mordecai to bow down, but Mordecai stood firm. Now watch God move on Mordecai’s behalf . . .

Haman was furious with Mordecai. Mordecai had suddenly come out of his quiet corner and taken a daring stand against Haman. What a blow to Haman’s ego! Although he was enraged, Haman was afraid to confront Mordecai directly. So Haman went to the king and said:

“There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.”

So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, “The money and the people are given to you, to do with them as seems good to you.” (Esther 3:8–11)

The king signed Haman’s decree, which proclaimed that all the Jews were to be killed. The decree was translated into all the languages of the provinces, and messengers were sent out to proclaim that all the Jews, both young and old, would be killed. Remember, no one except Mordecai knew Esther was Jewish. Since she was secluded in the palace, she was in a real predicament and didn’t even know it. She was included in the death decree, and the law of a Persian king couldn’t be altered once it was passed.

When Mordecai heard the decree, he put on sackcloth and ashes and began to weep in front of the palace gate. Someone went to Esther and said, “Your cousin is outside crying. He looks awful. He’s wearing sackcloth and ashes!” (Esther 4:4).

Esther did what many women do when they hear bad news — she went shopping! Esther bought Mordecai a brand-new outfit and sent a messenger to tell him to take off his sackcloth and ashes. She probably thought that new clothes would help cheer him up. But Mordecai told the messenger, “Send the outfit back to Esther and let her know that we are in a very serious situation. The king has signed a decree to kill all the Jews. Plead to the king on our behalf.” But Esther hesitated. The king hadn’t called for her in over 30 days, which very well could have meant that she had fallen out of favor with him. There was a law among the Persian kings that if you went into the court and the king didn’t extend his golden scepter to you, you would be executed. Even though she was the queen, Esther could die if she went before the king without being summoned by him. But Mordecai wouldn’t take no for an answer:

“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14)

Esther’s response is the key to our favor: “. . . I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16). Why is this the key? Because she surrenders her will to the will of God. When we surrender ourselves to God, it brings favor. It’s not easy, and we usually have to surrender more than once. In fact, we usually end up having to surrender over and over again! But when we surrender and lay down our life, that’s when God shows up!

God gave Esther a plan, and she told Mordecai to gather a group of Jews to fast with her for three days; then she would go in to see the king, even if she ended up being executed for breaking the law. This young Jewish maiden made a commitment to trust God and allow Him to use her in His divine plan to rescue the entire Jewish nation. When you surrender to God, He gives you His favor. When you have favor with God, He gives you favor with man, and that’s exactly what happened with Esther. After the Jews had fasted and prayed, Esther went to see the king:

So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.

And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you — up to half the kingdom!” (Esther 5:2–3)

God again gave Esther favor with the king. Esther thought it would be wise to ease into the request and maybe butter the king up a little bit, so she replied, “I just wanted to ask you and Haman to come to dinner tonight.”

That evening at dinner, the king was so enamored by Esther that he said to her again, “Ask whatever you like. I will give you up to half of my kingdom!” Esther responded with a second dinner invitation for the next evening, promising the king that she would then give him her request.

Haman must have really thought he had it made now that he had been invited to two of the queen’s dinner parties. Little did he know that the next banquet would be a “necktie” party and he would be the guest of honor. Haman told his wife Zeresh, “I love my life, and I just love my job. The only flaw is Mordecai, the man at the gate who won’t bow to me.”

Zeresh exclaimed, “I have an idea! Build tall gallows and hang Mordecai from it. That will take care of him!” Haman leaped at his wife’s suggestion. He wanted revenge so badly that he ordered his men to build gallows 75 feet high just to kill Mordecai (Esther 5:9–14). Why did Haman build such tall gallows? I think He wanted to make a big example out of Mordecai! The future looked pretty bleak for Esther’s cousin, but remember, God is a God of providence. Whenever His children call on His name, He will move heaven and earth to protect them.

The Bible says that pride always precedes a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Haman was ensnared in a tremendous web of pride, and he was about to plunge into disaster. After Haman had the gallows built, King Ahasuerus had a sleepless night. Who do you think was keeping the king awake? God. He used a simple little thing like sleep to change the course of history.

After tossing and turning for a while, the king finally gave into his insomnia and decided to get some work done. He asked his servants to read to him from the book which contained everyone’s name who had blessed the king. “And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus” (Esther 6:2).

The king asked his servants, “Mordecai saved my life. Has he ever been rewarded for his noble deed?”

“Nothing has been done for him,” they replied.

Now, Haman had just walked into the court to speak with the king about hanging Mordecai, but before he was given an opportunity, the king asked him, “Haman, what could I do to honor a man who has been especially good to me?”

Thinking that he was the one to be honored, Haman replied:

“For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’” (Esther 6:7–9)

Haman pictured himself wearing the king’s beautiful robes and parading through the streets on the king’s horse, while everyone — including Mordecai — bowed down to him.

But before Haman could ask the king, “Who is to be honored?”

The king said, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken” (Esther 6:10).

Haman was greatly disappointed. After he had fulfilled the king’s wishes and paraded Mordecai through town, Haman rushed home to tell his wife and friends what had happened. They became frightened and said: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him” (Esther 6:13).

No situation is impossible for God. He can interrupt the devil’s plans and change a curse into a blessing. Watch how God reversed the devil’s plot to annihilate the Jews.

At Esther’s second banquet, the king must have been on pins and needles, wondering what Esther could possibly want. Finally, she made her request, “My people have been condemned to death, and I want them to be saved.”

Realizing that he had signed his own wife’s death warrant, the king became so upset that he went for a walk in the palace garden. Haman knew he was in big trouble, so he ran over to the couch upon which Esther was reclining and began to beg for his life. Upon his return to the banquet room, the king saw Haman had fallen over Esther on the couch and yelled, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” (Esther 7:8).

One would think that nothing more could go wrong for Haman, but, in reality, his trouble was just beginning. He was taken back to his house not in honor but as a condemned prisoner. Not wanting such fine workmanship to go to waste, the king sentenced Haman to die on his own gallows. Then he gave over to Esther the property of Haman, and she appointed Mordecai to oversee it. (Esther 7:9–8:2)

In the meantime, the Jews were still sentenced to death. So, Esther approached the king and pleaded with him on their behalf. King Ahasuerus answered her and Mordecai by saying:

“You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” (Esther 8:8)

Talk about favor! Mordecai and Esther called in the scribes and wrote a letter permitting “the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives — to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them” (Esther 8:11). The chapter finishes by saying:

The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor. And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them. (Esther 8:16–17)

This feast became the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is celebrated by Jews all around the world to this day.

The book of Esther beautifully illustrates how God transforms seemingly average people into glorious vessels that he can use to penetrate dark and sinful times. Just as God enabled Esther to become a woman of favor and thwart Haman’s plot against the Jews, God can enable you to halt ungodly forces against your family, community, and nation.

God wants to use you in His providence during this time on the earth, and His hand is on you in a supernatural way!

Today’s blog post is taken from Marilyn’s new book, Wide Open Doors: Heaven’s Favor for Opportunity, Influence, and Success.

2024-03-07T11:22:48-07:00March 11th, 2024|

The Benefits of His Presence

Are you hungry for the presence of God? I believe in the heart of every human being there is a longing to feel God’s presence. Since we desire the presence of God, it’s good to know that He is omnipresent—He’s everywhere! In the words of the psalmist, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (Psalm 139:7).

In good times and bad, God is there. God’s presence is among sinners as well as saints. The thief and the drug addict can’t flee from it any more than the believer can—the difference is that generally the sinner tried to flee from His presence, whereas the believer runs to it. In His presence the sinner often finds conviction, but the saint finds comfort.

Even more awesome than the omnipresence of God is His manifest presence. God’s manifest presence is often experienced in a worship service, but He’s not limited to church services. Many times His presence is with us, but we fail to realize it. Jacob had a vision of a ladder with angels ascending and descending from heaven before he recognized the presence of God at Bethel. In the vision, God spoke to him and told him no matter where he’d go, God would go with him to bring him back to the promised land. Then, “Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it’” (Genesis 28:16).

Jacob had blown it big time. He’s lied, deceived, and done all kinds of wrong things. Following his vision, Jacob made a new commitment to God and promised that he would indeed serve Him if only He would bring him back home. The manifest presence of God changed Jacob’s life.

In the New Testament, Saul’s life was also dramatically changed when he encountered the manifest presence of God. Meeting the risen Lord, Saul became so totally transformed that he shook up the civilized world at that time and wrote 13 books of the New Testament.

There are times when God will manifest Himself without you doing anything or even consciously seeking Him, as in Jacob’s and Paul’s case. At other times, the things you do can cause His presence to manifest. One of these is praise: “You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered]” (Psalm 22:3 AMPC). I’m sure this is why Psalm 95:2 tells us to come before His presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise to Him. Praise brings God’s presence. You can praise Him wherever you are, no matter what you’re doing. Don’t just praise Him in church; praise Him in your car, your home, and your office.

God also bestows gifts upon those who dwell in His presence, which makes living in His presence so wonderful. There are several things that happen when God’s presence is manifested.

Benefit #1: Joy and Strength

Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” When you’re feeling tired or weak, the joy of the Lord can quicken you because “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). I have encountered this same joy many times. When I can’t sleep and start praising the Lord and thanking Him for all His blessings, there are no bags under my eyes in the morning and I feel totally invigorated for the day of ministry ahead of me.

The Holy Spirit will then move upon the people to whom I minister, and they will also experience His presence and joy. I know of one woman who got really “drunk” in the Spirit following a service in which the joy of the Lord flowed. On the way home, she was stopped by a policeman who thought she was drunk and tested her for alcohol. When the test showed nothing, she explained to him that the only thing she was drinking was the Holy Spirit and shared what happened at the meeting. He began to cry! Apparently, he was a backslidden Christian. He was so convicted he prayed and rededicated his life to Jesus. When God manifests, we’ll have people getting saved all over the place.

Benefit #2: Freedom from Sins

The second benefit is seen in that the presence of God brought joy to the woman but conviction to the policeman. This was evidenced also in the garden of Eden after the fall. When God’s presence showed up, Adam and Eve hid from Him because they recognized their sin. I saw the same thing happen in at one of my Bible Encounters many years ago. God’s presence was so heavy that people were coming up to me confessing their sins. They couldn’t stand the weight of their sins anymore. I didn’t tell them to do this; the presence of God was doing it. As they confessed their sins and repented, they were set free!

Benefit #3: Enemies Will Flee

“When my enemies turn back, they shall fall and perish at Your presence” (Psalm 9:3). When God’s presence comes on the scene, your enemies will be repulsed—this applies to natural and supernatural enemies like sickness, disease, and poverty. This was marvelously demonstrated during one of my meetings in Texas. One of the women there fell—literally—under the power of the Holy Spirit. When she tried to get up, she couldn’t and fell back down. She tried again and still couldn’t get up. She finally asked, “God, what are you doing?”

“I’m healing you!” He answered. She had a serious fertility problem and couldn’t have a child. She felt God doing a work, and after the meeting, she received proof of her healing. It became possible for her to have a baby—the enemy fled!

Benefit #4: Direction and Rest

The fourth benefit of God’s presence is that it brings direction. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, their sins finally drove God from them.  Even though they had experienced His manifest presence and divine direction in the pillars of cloud and fire, heard His voice, and knew His warmth and love, they continually rebelled against Him. Finally, God had had it. He told them He would no longer live in their midst but would instead send an angel to go with them. The people were so distressed that they pleaded with Moses to do something. Moses told them to repent and sanctify themselves. As Moses interceded on their behalf, God told them, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). Notice, God not only promised to continue to guide them, but He also promised them rest.

Benefit #5: Help During Affliction

Fifth, God’s presence is manifest in the midst of affliction:

In all their affliction He was afflicted,

And the Angel of His Presence saved them;

In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;

And He bore them and carried them

All the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9)

Are you afflicted or in a crisis? God is there! Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Jesus was in the first with them. When you are in a difficult season or circumstance, pray and trust Him. Instead of falling apart and having a nervous breakdown, pray: “Lord, I believe you can manifest yourself in this situation.” Who knows what He will do? Expect Him to show up and do wonderful things in crisis times.

Benefit #6: Foretaste of Eternity

I saved the best benefit until last. This relates to God’s eternal presence. What is it about us that longs for the touch of God—that desires to know Him in a very personal way? Jude 24-25 tells us:

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—

To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity). (AMPC)

Jesus is going to present us before the presence of God’s glory with joy. Think about it. We are going to live eternally in His presence. What we experience here on earth is just the faintest touch of what we will one day experience in heaven. No wonder we are so hungry. We were made for the presence of God!

2024-02-29T11:53:20-07:00March 4th, 2024|

Power and Wisdom from the Holy Spirit

“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!’” (Judges 6:12). An angel comes to Gideon and says, “Gideon, you mighty man of valor!” But Gideon doesn’t look like a man of courage, and he doesn’t talk like one either! He says to the angel, “Pardon me?”

But the angel just keeps speaking faith to him. He says, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel!” But Gideon doesn’t answer in faith. He says again, “Pardon me, but…” and then comes up with all kinds of excuses why it will never work. “My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe, and I am the least in my family,” he said. But the angel of the Lord doesn’t give up. “I will be with you,” he says to Gideon.

Gideon has the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him, but he seemed to have so many holes of unbelief that the Spirit had to clothe him with His power to make Gideon the deliverer that he needed to be.

Do you ever feel like Gideon? I know I do! But when we feel like we are the weakest in our tribe and the least in our family, God will continually show up to prove that He is who He says He is, and He will cover us in the power of the Holy Spirit. Just like He did for Gideon.

How do I know that this same power is available to us today? Because Jesus spoke of this! He said, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). What did the Father promise? The Holy Spirit!

Have you ever prayed to be Spirit-filled? If so, you know how wonderful it is. If you haven’t and would like to know how, I’m going to tell you. The Bible says in Luke 11:13, “…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” So how do you get Spirit-filled? Ask! It’s that simple. You ask to get saved. You ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So that is step one.

Then we find the second step in Acts 2:4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Who speaks? The Holy Spirit? No! They began to speak. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are the ones who must take a step of faith by speaking. You won’t understand the words that you speak, but the Spirit will speak through you if you let Him inside your heart and open your mouth. It will almost sound like childish gibberish to you, but you’re acting in faith and doing what the Word says.

Now, the last step to being Spirit-filled we know from Romans 8:26, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” So when I pray in the Spirit, my mind doesn’t know what to pray for, but He knows. He intercedes for us according to the will of God.

I remember when I first went to a Vietnamese salon to have a manicure. These four sisters worked there and they were so friendly. But they had a big statue of Buddha in there. I asked God, “How do I talk to them?” And the Lord said to me, “Chocolate.” Now that seems a strange word to hear in your spirit, and not very Biblical. I expected Him to say “love them” or something like that. But He said chocolate, so I took them a box of chocolates. And let me tell you, I took chocolates from then on and all four of them got saved. Hallelujah! Listening in your spirit will give you wisdom!

How do you do it? Well, of course you read the Word, because the Spirit and the Word work together. But also you have to stop and listen. Sometimes you’ll just be talking to somebody and you have to stop and pray “Lord, I don’t know how to answer them,” and you just take a moment to listen in your spirit.

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). Zechariah had eight visions from God that he recorded. I said to the Lord one time, “I don’t have many dreams and visions. You know, my goodness, Zechariah got an interpreting angel. I don’t get an interpreting angel.” And the Lord said, “But you get the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will lead you to all truth.” We can listen in the Spirit and hear from God with the same might and power that Zechariah did!

 

2024-02-14T11:18:09-07:00February 26th, 2024|

Pray to Change the World

“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many
to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”
(Daniel 12:3)

Do you want to shine as the brightness of the firmament, full of God’s glory? You will reap vast, eternal riches when you pray for nations. Perhaps you cannot personally go and minister God’s Word in the uttermost parts of the earth, but your prayers will touch the people who are there; and they can touch the people who bring the gospel into those countries.

God is even preparing the hearts of the people for whom He wants you to pray. Therefore, it is important for you to esteem His priorities and to pray for nations:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (1 Timothy 2:1–2)

You may ask, “How do I do that?” You can obey this Scripture by praying each day for a nation and for that nation’s leader. Today is President’s Day in the United States, so you can begin by lifting up our president and his staff. Here are some guidelines that God has given us for effective prayer.

  1. Pray that decisions against the gospel will be brought to confusion. Psalm 109:29 says, “Let my accusers . . . cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle.” We must put the devil’s work to confusion because a house divided against itself cannot stand.
  2. Pray that leaders who live in spiritual darkness will receive a personal message of God’s love and repent of their evil ways. Second Chronicles 33 tells about Manasseh, who was so evil that history says he had the prophet Isaiah sawed in half. After 55 years of wickedness, the Assyrians took Manasseh and his nation into captivity. While in prison, Manasseh sought God and repented of his evil. God restored Manasseh to the throne, and he led the entire nation to repentance! Likewise, we should never look at any ruler and say, “He will never change.”
  3. Pray that leaders will find knowledge and wisdom in God’s Word. I pray this Scripture for our president every day: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1). When you claim this verse for those in authority, you are loosing the power of God’s divine direction on their behalf.
  4. Pray that leaders in war-torn nations will grow weary of bloodshed. I believe that spirits of violence cause leaders to become power-hungry. Bind these powers, principalities, and rulers of darkness in the name of Jesus; exalt the name of Jesus over those nations (Ephesians 6:12). Pray that war-torn countries will find rest and peace in Jesus!
  5. Pray that leaders will know that their earthly kingdoms were given by God. Nebuchadnezzar ruled the greatest empire that the world had ever known (see Daniel 2). One day, he exalted himself and said, “Look at this great kingdom that I built!” Even history acknowledges that the man went stark-raving mad. Seven years later, he looked up to heaven, began praising the Lord, and his sanity returned! Fervently pray that rulers will praise God—not themselves!

By faith, you can decree salvation unto the uttermost parts of the earth (see Hebrews 11:33). Decree the salvation of nations by faith—your faith pleases the Lord. Dedicate yourself to pray for the nations in the uttermost parts of the earth. Your intercession can turn nations to eternal righteousness, and you will shine as the stars forever and ever!

This blog post is excerpted from Marilyn’s 101-day devotional, Beautiful Inheritance.

2024-02-14T11:08:28-07:00February 19th, 2024|

God’s Rx for Hurting Hearts

This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day here in the U.S. This day commemorates matters of the heart—mostly romantic love. However, many people suffer from hurting hearts. God is the only one who has the full prescription for healing this malady and His prescription is not experimental, it is guaranteed to work!

Everyone has experienced hurts, sorrows, disappointments, and failures, but isn’t it just like God to have one old-fashioned, heaven-sent remedy that will heal them all? He is so efficient, and His apothecary is absolutely within everyone’s price range: it’s free! His remedy is all-inclusive; it covers every imaginable pain. It doesn’t taste bitter; it tastes sweet, and by taking it you will “fulfill all your days” and increase your lifespan!

Is your curiosity aroused? Do you want to know what it is? It is Myrrh, a beautiful, aromatic spice with healing properties. I am going to show you where to find it and how and when to apply it. Get prepared to receive a bundle of blessings!!!

At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus prophesied the end result of His mission by reading from the Book of Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,

And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,

To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Is there anyone whom this prophecy doesn’t cover?

What do the brokenhearted, the captives, the imprisoned, and the mournful have in common? They all have deep hurts within their hearts that are in need of healing. Isn’t it wonderful that from the very beginning of His ministry, the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus with a special anointing to heal the hurting and the brokenhearted?

Have you ever had an emotional hurt? Well, God has a special anointing specifically designed to heal your heart when it hurts. Sometimes we mistakenly look to other Christians or to our spouses when we are hurting, but often they are not as sensitive to us as we need them to be. Actually, I think that their insensitivity can work for our good, because it will make us look to the only one to whom we should turn: Jesus! Through Jesus, we can draw from that anointing of healing that God planned for us to have.

Where are we supposed to go in order to learn where to find healing after our hearts have been wounded or broken? When we’re in a state like this, we need love.

Did you know that there is a beautiful story in the Bible that is full of illustrations of perfect love? That love story is the “Song of Solomon.” The “Song of Solomon” had always been a puzzling book to me until the Lord gave me a simple key, which unlocked the whole book. We have to see the book written as a bridegroom speaking to his bride. I had always read it and interpreted it in the light of seeing Jesus as my Savior, but God said, “Don’t read it like that! Instead of looking at me as your Savior, look at me as your Bridegroom. Then you will understand what I am saying to you.”

A sachet of myrrh is my lover,

like a tied-up bundle of myrrh resting over my heart. (Song of Songs 1:13 TPT)

This passage is saying that Jesus, my beloved (or in this version, “lover”) is myrrh to me, and He is lying upon my heart. I knew that I had to discover the spiritual signifi­cance of myrrh. What is myrrh? It’s a beautiful, aromatic fragrance. It can come in the form of sticks, crushed leaves, or oil. In order to discover the signifi­cance of myrrh, I began to look in Genesis, and my search took me through Revelation!

I found that myrrh is very expensive. When Jacob’s sons had to go into Egypt to get food, Jacob wanted to send Pharaoh an appropriate present. He chose myrrh because it was very costly. This illustration shows that when we begin to look at myrrh as a healing substance for the heart, we must realize that it is very, very expen­sive. It cost Jesus His life to heal your broken heart.

There are all kinds of hurting hearts. Someone is hurt because they have been rejected by a mate; someone else is hurt because they have had an emotional crisis in their childhood and never been set free from the pain; another is hurt because of a set-back in a career or the death of a loved one. Hurt comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but remember that Jesus is the precious, expensive balm that heals broken hearts.

In the Old Testament, I found that the sacrifices offered by the priests were mingled with myrrh. This was done to make the sacrifice have a sweet aroma. Can you imagine the smell of animals burning on the brazen altar? They burned the entire animal. The priests sprinkled the anointing oil, which was composed of a combination of myrrh and other aromatic spices, on the sacrifice for the purpose of making it smell more pleasant as it was burning.

Have you ever had to make a sacrifice, and it really hurt? Jesus can show you how to make your sacrifices smell good—how you can make it easier to bear. He will touch your heart, and whatever you have to give up will suddenly not matter to you anymore.

I had the opportunity to apply myrrh to a very dear sacrifice during the early days of my marriage. As a young bride, I had always wanted a home. Both Wally and I realized the importance of acquiring our first home as soon as possible, and we purchased it just as soon as we were financially able. Prior to marrying Wally, I had a sneaking suspicion that he might be called into the ministry, and I realized there were very few young couples in the ministry who were able to afford their own homes. Before I married my husband, I told him, “If you are considering the minis­try, I will never marry you.”

“Oh, I’m not called into the ministry,” he reassured me. Do you know what he did? He trapped me. After we were married, he was suddenly called into the ministry, and we had to give up our home. Oh, that hurt me so much! It was such a sacrifice for me. I moaned and groaned and griped and grumbled.

Then one day, the Lord just touched my heart, and it was as though that house meant nothing to me. By that time, we were in the ministry as traveling evangelists, and He put myrrh on my sacrifice, and it smelled so good to me. What’s a house? After that, I didn’t even want a house for a while.

Another characteristic of myrrh is that it is a preser­vative. When they took the body of Jesus down from the cross, they anointed His body and His burial clothes with myrrh. They wanted to take advantage of the natural preservative qualities of this spice.

If you don’t get your emotional and heart wounds healed, you can actually shorten your lifespan. Did you know that people die of broken hearts? But the healing myrrh of Jesus upon your heart will preserve you from a premature death, physical distress, and many things that can hurt you and make you physically sick all of your life. Some people are always sick because they are wounded emotionally. Jesus is myrrh to them if they’ll only turn to Him. He is a preservative to keep you from having a short lifespan.

Myrrh is also used as a disinfectant. I had to laugh about this, because my mother told me that when she was a little girl, her mother would put a little bag of camphor around her neck to keep her from getting colds. It was a kind of disinfectant. I thought, Jesus is a bundle of myrrh to us, and when we wear Him on our hearts, He keeps us from catching hurts and wounds. Some people are offended at every little thing. If you don’t look at them just the right way, they become all uptight, and you have to ask them, “What’s the matter now?” I have noticed that if I keep Jesus and the sweetness of His myrrh upon my heart, I’m not as easily offended nor am I so sensitive to the hurts that come my direction.

Queen Esther used myrrh to make herself beautiful (Esther 2:12). Myrrh upon your heart, a healed heart, a whole heart, is very beautiful. Do you know what people see? They see Jesus on your heart. People who do not have wounded spirits and are not always uptight about something have a lovely fragrance about their person. I believe that myrrh doesn’t just beautify and perfume the outside of an individual. The myrrh of Jesus on your heart will radiate from the inside of your being to the outer man. Jesus is Myrrh, and He desires to make you beautiful!

Did you know that prior to going in before King Ahasuerus, Esther had to go through a ritual of purification for one year? During six months of the year, she was anoint­ed with the oil of myrrh. This spice not only purified her, it covered her with a rich fragrance, and made her very beautiful. Can you imagine how beautiful you would look if you held Jesus on your heart and allowed His Word to purify you for the rest of your life if Esther was made beautiful after only six months?

Hegai, the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, was responsible for giving each woman who had an audience with the king, anything that they thought would make them more beautiful. When it was time for Esther’s turn to go in before the king, she asked for nothing; rather, she relied upon Hegai’s judgment. Undoubtedly, Hegai had faithfully served the king for years, and he was well aware of the king’s tastes. Just as Hegai carefully chose the things that would make Esther beautiful and find favor in the sight of the king, Jesus Christ will do the same for you. If you put His rich anointing of myrrh upon your heart, a supernatu­ral beauty will radiate from your inner being, and you will find favor with both God and man.

Priests were also anointed with myrrh. When they prepared to go into the temple for their priestly minis­try, they anointed themselves with special oil, which was partially made with myrrh. We are kings and priests, and we are sent to heal the brokenhearted. We are anointed with myrrh so we can be priests to people and minister to their broken hearts. I just love that!

One time when I was in the Chicago airport, a woman beside me was crying; she was very distressed and disturbed. Not long before my flight, she tapped me on the shoulder and asked for an aspirin. I told her that I didn’t have any, but she would be able to get one from the flight attendant on her flight. I asked her if she was sick, and because I was concerned, I asked if there was anything I could do.

She said, “I’m in terrible trouble, and I saw you reading your Bible.” (You should carry your Bible everywhere; it opens doors for ministering.) “I wondered if you are Orthodox,” she said.

“What’s Orthodox?” I questioned.

“I’m Russian Orthodox,” she said, “and I believe that Jesus is the way to the Father.”

I replied, “If that is the definition, then I’m Orthodox.”

She then told me that her husband had hijacked a plane in the United States and that he was in prison. She had come from Paris to visit him. “We’re in trouble, and he’s a political prisoner,” she said. I don’t know what we’re going to do, and I thought that since you have a Bible, you could possibly help me.”

I prayed, “Lord, how am I going to heal this woman? How am I going to help her?”

They were calling my flight, and I didn’t know what to do. Instantly, the Lord showed me the most unique thing to do. He said, “Just take her into your arms and hold her. My love will continue to flow from me into you, and it will flow from you into her.” Praise God! That was wonderful! I will never forget it as long as I live! We’re anointed to be priests. You have a healing anointing of myrrh residing in you as a believer—use it!

The priests also used myrrh when they prayed. Myrrh was placed on the altar of incense and as they prayed, their prayers would rise up to the Father as a sweet-smelling savor, and He would take delight in them. When we pray and intercede for the brokenhearted, I believe that an anointed fragrance of myrrh rises to the Father, and He takes delight in our sacrifices of prayer; and He heals our loved ones. Psalm 141:2 says: “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

I thought about Jesus and looked at the times He was involved with myrrh. At His birth, the wise men brought gifts to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is for a king, and Jesus is a King; frankin­cense is for a prophet, and Jesus is a Prophet; myrrh is for a priest, and Jesus is our “Great High Priest” and “He always lives to make intercession for [us](Hebrews 7:25). The myrrh was specifically brought for His anointing as a priest.

When Jesus was on the cross, we again see myrrh involved in His life. Myrrh has an anesthetic effect, and it deadens pain. Mark 15:23 tells us: “Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.” Why didn’t He take it? Wouldn’t you have taken it? If He had taken that wine, it would have deadened His pain. Instead, I believe Jesus was saying, “I won’t take any pain medication; I want to take all the pain of the cross so I can deaden yours.” That’s why He refused myrrh.

Here is an interesting side thought that will bless you. “New wine” is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and often in Scripture, we see wine as a symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ. God the Father has mingled the myrrh of Jesus Christ with the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit together with the cleansing power of the earthly counterpart of wine and myrrh when He was on the cross, the Father graciously allows us to partake of the heavenly counterpart: the “new wine” of the Spirit that has been lovingly mingled with the healing myrrh of Jesus Christ and the cleansing power of His blood. Praise God! Isn’t that beautiful? The “new wine” of the Spirit and the blood and myrrh of Jesus will anesthetize, cleanse, and deaden every one of our hurts and pains.

There are times when our hurts are so very deep that simply deadening the pain of them and allow­ing them to heal naturally is not enough. Remember, Scripture says, “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me” (Song of Solomon 1:13). He isn’t just a little bottle of oil, or a few crushed leaves; He’s a whole bundle. At times, you need a bundle because sometimes you have a bundle of hurts. He provided myrrh for each one of your hurts. He is not only a pain killer for the hurting heart, He is the healer of your hurting heart.

When Jesus was born, He was given myrrh; on the cross He was offered myrrh; and in His death He was anointed with myrrh. Why was He wrapped in myrrh at His burial? Because myrrh has a very sweet smell. “All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad” (Psalm 45:8).

Other than being resurrected, this was one of the very last prophecies Jesus had to fulfill. Jesus smells like myrrh; He smells so good! Why? Because He smells like healing. He smells as though He is everything I need. He is that beautiful, satisfying smell; the fragrance that makes our hearts glad. Let’s look again at Song of Solomon 1:13; it tells us when we are healed my beloved is a bundle of myrrh to me; He shall lie all night upon my heart.

There is also a beautiful verse in Psalms that ties in with the same thought. “It is vain for you to . . . eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2). Did you know that even while you are asleep Jesus is healing you? He wants you to be whole and at peace all the time. If you’ve been hurt and are out-of-it, tonight just go to sleep in Jesus. Allow that precious myrrh of Jesus to deaden and take away all the awful pain you’ve been bearing.

When you let Jesus heal your wounds, you begin to smell like He smells. Then you won’t need to go around saying, “If you’d been through what I’ve been through . . .” Have you ever been around people who have been through a trial and are still hurting from it? When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire, they didn’t even smell like smoke (Daniel 3:27)! When you’ve been with Jesus, you smell great. He always smells good. But when some of us come out of trials we smell like smoke! We still gripe and groan. If you’ll take a little myrrh, you’ll stop griping and groaning and you’ll smell like Jesus. You won’t smell like smoke! He will heal your broken heart.

This blog post is excerpted from Marilyn’s mini book, God’s Rx for a Hurting Heart

2024-02-07T13:19:33-07:00February 12th, 2024|

A Study of Psalm 43

This month’s verse is taken from Psalm 43. So, I thought it would be appropriate to do a short study of this beautiful Psalm.

Author: Hezekiah

Background: Psalm 43 was written by Hezekiah, king of Judah, just before the efforts of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, to capture Jerusalem. At the height of the siege, an angel of the Lord struck the Assyrian camp, killing 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (see 2 Kings 19). The dark moods of the first part of this song (which is Psalm 42) begin to give way to more positive prayers.

Theme: This Psalm is a wonderful companion to Psalm 42. Together, they make a sadly beautiful song, and some Hebrew texts even present them as one. We see several refrains repeated in both psalms: “Why go I mourning?” (42:9 and 43:2) and “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” (42:5, 42:11, and 43:5).

The psalmist pleads for light and truth to dispel the darkness and insecurity of Psalm 42. When our back is against the wall, we should rehearse past victories and put all our confidence in the Lord. We can delight in his joy, even when circumstances remain unchanged.

Personal Application: In your walk with Christ, there will be circumstances where no victory is in sight. When this happens, don’t give up! This is the time to start thinking about the marvelous things your heavenly Father has done for you in the past. Can you remember a time when you were backed into a corner with no way out, and God opened a door for you to escape from your difficulty? Of course you can. The same God who delivered you previously certainly come to your aid now. All you have to do is call on Him.

Memorize the beautiful refrain from verse 5: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (KJV). Put all of your hope in the God of your salvation, and He will give you joy even in adversity. The joy of knowing that, through Him, you are assured of ultimate victory.

Psalm 43

Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (KJV)

This blog post is excerpted from Marilyn’s book, Experiencing God’s Heart: The Book of Psalms for Today.

2024-02-07T12:56:56-07:00February 7th, 2024|

You Can Have Joy in Your Home

You don’t have to put up with a troubled home.  Instead, find out what’s wrong, and do something about it!

I remember when we first started pastoring; Wally and I called on every family who came to our church.  Some of the homes we visited were warm and loving, others seemed cold, empty, broken, and without love.  They were much like a house in our old neighborhood.  Driving by it one day, we saw the police bring out a handcuffed man.  That sight so touched me that every time I’d drive by that house, I’d pray over it.  Later when I drove by, I noticed the house was cleaned up, and had a “For Sale” sign in the yard.

Maybe you feel your house is cold, empty, or broken.  There may be things “left over” from your family, such as generation curses of alcohol, drugs, strife, confusion, divorce, pornography, violence, and anger.  I have good news for you—it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Make Jesus the master of your home and He will turn the situation around.  With the Living Word at the head of your home, the devil—and his ways—will never again have a foothold.

Evicting the “Strongman”

Matthew 12:29 says, “How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?  And then he will plunder his house.”

The only way you can spoil the strongman and reclaim your home for Christ is through Jesus.  You can have good intentions for the welfare of your family, but if Jesus isn’t Lord, you will have a problem.  No matter how well you plan financially or have everything else in order, Jesus has to be at the helm of your ship.  If He isn’t, one stronger than you will be steering a course for the jagged rocks of destruction.

Making Jesus Lord is only the beginning.  He must stay Lord.  Matthew 12:43-45 states:

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

When your house is cleansed and Jesus is made Lord, demons that have lived there for generations flee, but they will attempt to regain entry.  If the devil succeeds this time, he will come back with seven spirits that are worse.  It’s important to not only make Jesus Lord of your house and family, but to make sure He remains master.

Authority of the Believer

Jesus has all authority, and the Bible says He has delegated that authority to you through His name.  When the devil comes marching up to your door, you can absolutely bind him and kick him out!

The husband of a friend of mine would not sleep with her.  She couldn’t understand why.  We prayed together that God would work in their lives.  Finally she prayed, “God bring out the truth of what is wrong.  Why don’t I have a marriage?”

Finally, her husband confessed that he had sexually molested their daughter from the time she was two years old until she was 18.  My friend was so distraught.  Her husband was sentenced to prison, and she divorced him.

Their daughter attended a university, became born again and Spirit-filled, and married a young Christian man.  But she took tons of baggage into her marriage.  Once, her husband called me and said, “She is always threatening to leave.”  I advised him, “Tell her you will help her pack.  Don’t bow to her tantrums.”  I asked him, “Are you praying taking authority in your home?”  The Holy Spirit spoke to him, and he began praying in tongues and reading his Bible every day.

When he did this, something began to happen to his wife.  She became as spiritually “turned on” as he was.  In addition, he and his wife became assistant pastors and God has prospered them financially.  The turnaround started when the husband made Jesus master and believed that He could take them through their challenging situation.

Stand Until You Win!

Prayer is the foundation for everything.  Establish Jesus’s authority in your household through prayer.  In Exodus 17:8-13, as long as Moses’s hands were raised in prayer, the Israelites won the battle.  Yet, when Moses became weary and his hands came down, the Israelites would begin to lose.

As Spirit-filled people of faith, we have the Holy Spirit to hold up our hands—to strengthen us as we pray and stand against the enemy of our families and homes.  If you refuse to give in to discouragement, you and your family will win.

Jesus has given you authority over the enemy.  In John 14:12, Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. Ask, believe, and take the God-given place of authority over your house.

Build Your Child’s Confidence—Six Godly Ways

Whether your children are young or old, obedient or rebellious, confident or insecure, you can build them up by expressing your love!  Establish a weekly, 10-15 minute time with your family to tell each person what you love and appreciate about them.

  1. Say, “I love you. I’m delighted God gave you to me.” (See Mark 1:11.)
  2. Identity enjoyable character traits. Verbalize your appreciation for each child’s personality type.  (See Proverbs 31:26; Psalms 49:3.)
  3. Praise your children when they act appropriately. (See Proverbs 12:18.)
  4. Build confidence by affirming, “God made you. He loves you.  You are God’s treasure to me.”  (See Psalms 139:14.)
  5. Reinforce their potential, “God has a special plan for your life.” (See Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 2:10.)
  6. Introduce children to their heavenly Father—the only perfect parent. Teach your children Who God is, what God thinks, and how God acts.  (See Deuteronomy 6:5-9; Psalms 34:11-14.)
2024-01-23T12:28:37-07:00January 29th, 2024|

Finding God’s Strength

If you’ve ever felt “out of it” in any way—ill-equipped, ill-prepared, or just plain ill—you know the frustration of human weakness. Whether physical or otherwise, each of us experiences some type of inadequacy at one time or another: a failed business, serious health condition, damaged marriage, or a serious setback.

Most people desire to meet every challenge and succeed in every circumstance. Overall, that’s a sound, Biblical approach to life, but in a world that’s performance-oriented, it can easily become distorted.

We’re comfortable when we face life on our best footing. When we’re prayed up, rested up, built up, and dressed up, we tend to face the day with confident assurance. There’s a sense that we’re positioned for a positive outcome because we have done everything right.

However, when something upsets the delicate balance of feeling in control, our true weakness becomes evident. We must surrender our desire to be in control to God and allow Him complete access to our lives—even our weaknesses.

A Fresh Take on Weakness

I have good news for you, regardless of the world’s wisdom or even your own past experiences, your success is not based upon your strength—and failure is not formed in your weakness.

The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with weakness, yet God used him to accomplish much. When a “thorn in his flesh” beset him, he cried out to God for relief. “I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’…”. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NKJV)

Knowing all that God still had planned for Paul, you might think He would have removed every hindrance—especially the thorn that caused the Apostle such pain. Instead, God showed Paul a new way of looking at his weakness.

God knows that man’s strength can only go so far…for so long. Ultimately, our strength is insufficient. When we acknowledge that fact and turn to Him, we switch from our own “power supply” to His grace—His limitless ability exercised on our behalf.

After three pleas from Paul and God’s unexpected answer, the Apostle gained a new perspective on weakness:

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV)

Instead of begging God to fix the problem, Paul boasted and delighted in it. Think about that. According to the New King James Version, Paul took pleasure in his weakness!

Rest in Real Strength

When I feel weak, the first thought that comes to mind is not pleasure, but exasperation! How could Paul have delighted in his weakened condition? Simple—he realized that, with God backing Him up, every obstacle became an opportunity for God’s power to be demonstrated.

Moments of weakness turned to strength

The Bible is filled with testimonies of God’s grace at work. Jacob, the strong-willed and accomplished son Isaac, worked for his father-in-law Laban and brought him great wealth. After twenty years, Jacob took his wives and headed for his homeland. But to go forward, he would have to face his estranged brother, Esau. Jacob was terrified because he knew that on his own, he was no match for Esau and his troops.

Before the dreaded meeting with Esau, Jacob had an encounter with God at Peniel, which means, “face of God”:

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. (Genesis 32:24-25 NKJV)

After this experience, Jacob would never be the same. His self-reliance was gone forever. He was left with a limp—a permanent reminders that he was not in control. Jacob’s weakness became his greatest strength—because it produced an unshakeable trust in God.

The Source of our Strength

When you’re feeling weak or inadequate, remember that Jesus Himself was ridiculed as He hung on the cross (see Mark 15:32). Beaten and bloodied, He was not the world’s typical picture of strength. Yet His “weakness” was used by God to bring salvation to the world!

Allow times of weakness to work for you and for the kingdom. Ask God what you can learn through periods of seeming failure, defeat, or frailty. Take full advantage of every opportunity to acknowledge God’s strength. Most of all, cling to Him as Jacob did at Peniel (Genesis 32:26). Release yourself into His hand, and draw on His unending power.

Even when weakness is all your natural eye can see, you can enjoy the genuine victory that comes only from God. Each deflated expectation can turn out to be your open door to accomplishment. Any challenging experience can become an equipping moment of success—when you allow God to work through your weakness.

2024-01-17T12:50:35-07:00January 22nd, 2024|

Bring Back the Joy!

Is there some area of your life where you’ve lost your joy? Far too many of us find ourselves robbed of one of the most valuable assets available—our joy. In many cases, it’s the devil who is to blame. If the devil can take your joy, then he can get to your possessions, your health, your spiritual wellbeing, your strength, and more. I’m flat out mad at him, while my spirit is stirred with compassion for those of you who’ve been recently attacked by him. It’s time to bring the joy back!

The true definition of joy differs from that of “happiness.” Happiness can be a fleeting, temporal condition that depends upon the comfort of your flesh. Joy is not based on outward circumstances but upon the condition of your heart and the spiritual stance you take when you have been attacked by the enemy.

I realize that you may be sitting there right now in the middle of a problem. You may even feel as though it will never be over. But, dear friend, Psalm 30:5 reminds us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

If you are a person of faith (even a mustard seed of faith), it doesn’t matter how dark conditions may be right now. You can rest assured, your brighter day is on the way! Regardless of how dark or bleak things may seem right now—even if circumstances are devastating—God’s joy can be yours!

It’s time to knock down the gates of hell that have built up joy-robbing strongholds in your life. It’s that plain and simple. You can experience some substantial victories in your circumstances, in Jesus’s name. So, here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Bombard the gates of hell with your prayers! Your joy is coming back! Use your faith, your authority, the anointing that’s resting on you as a Christian, and the Word of God to activate the weapons of your warfare. That’s why 1 John 3:8 says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
  2. Step out in faith and give a gift of faith and joy to someone in need. I have found that the quickest way to get a miracle rejuvenation of joy is by opening your heart and giving the best gift you can—and it doesn’t have to be money. Shovel someone’s sidewalk, offer to watch their kids, take some cookies to a neighbor, pick up groceries for a lonely senior citizen—whatever you can give, give.

Now believe for breakthrough miracles to be released in your life and circumstances—and watch the joy return!

Today’s blog is an excerpt from Marilyn’s 101-day devotional, Beautiful inheritance.

2024-01-04T08:32:39-07:00January 15th, 2024|

Joy Makes Life Worth Living

“. . . The Joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Our God is a joyful God, and it is with His joy that we become stronger, more powerful Christians. What is joy? One of the Hebrew words for joy is chedvah, which means “rejoicing, gladness.” In Galatians 5:22, joy is the Greek word chara, which means “cheerfulness, delight.” So, joy helps you worship God, and it makes you glad, cheerful, and a delight to be around. You will even start to like yourself better when you receive God’s joy.

Receive God’s Joy!

You receive the joy of the Lord when you are anointed with the Holy Spirit. This anointing starts at the top of your head and goes all the way to your feet: God begins with your head because your thought life gives you direction—it either gets you in trouble or sets you on the right path.

If you think being righteous means being as sober as a judge, then you haven’t read Acts 2. On the day of Pentecost, the people didn’t appear sober when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit—they acted like they were drunk! People who saw them said, “They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13). When you are baptized in the Spirit and receive the anointing, you too will act joyful.

Some get nervous when they see other people respond in joy. They don’t think it’s scriptural, but being jubilant is very scriptural. Psalms 66:1 says, “Make a joyful shout to God.” In fact, there are seven references in the Psalms about making a “joyful noise” to the Lord.

Make a Joyful Noise!

The Hebrew word for joyful in Psalms 66:1 is renanah, which means “shout for joy, singing, triumphing.” Joyful expressions are loud and noisy. Have you ever tried to laugh and keep it all inside? It’s nearly impossible. It’s the same way with the joy that the Holy Spirit places inside you; it has to come bubbling out. Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” If you are moving in the Holy Spirit, you will have the joy that comes with Him.

As a Christian, God calls you to be joyful, Isaiah 51:11 says, “So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” The redeemed are supposed to have so much joy it comes out of their mouths. It is necessary for Christians to be joyful in order to give glory to God and to witness to the lost.

Your Daily Joy

Like your zeal for the Lord and your dedication to keep His commandments, you must commit to daily maintenance of joy. Isaiah 12:3 says, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” When Jesus lives in your heart, then you already have joy inside. All you have to do is pull some out every day.

Fullness of joy is found in God’s presence, so start your day by entering into His presence with joy and praise. When you get up in the morning, say, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24).

It is also important to watch what you think, say, and do. Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth…”. Watch what you are saying. You can say words that will bring depression into your heart. If you’re not diligent, you can lose your joy! In Psalms 51:12, David said, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation . . .”. He wrote this after he had an affair with Bath-Sheba and had Uriah killed. He lost his joy because of sin; and the same thing can happen to us.

Sometimes it isn’t a major crisis that steals your joy—you lost it because of your own indifference to God. If you don’t read your Bible, don’t pray, don’t set your priorities according to God’s will, or get into sin, then you will not feel the joy of the Lord because you are not dwelling in His presence.

With repentance, God’s joy returns. David knew that his salvation would restore his joy. There is no question that David’s joy returned—he remained a man after God’s own heart and God sent the Messiah through him. Proverbs 15:13 tells us that “by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”

When you focus on heartbreak, you lose your joy. Don’t let problems overcome you; instead let promises take over problems. God wants you to be joyful in times of trouble because the strength found in joy will bring you through your problems. If depression has killed your joy, ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you again. He will resurrect your joyful heart.

The anointing destroys the yoke. If you are depressed, sad, or living under a burden of oppression or circumstances, ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you with joy. God will break those bondages and set you free. According to John 10:10 in the Amplified Bible, Jesus “came that [we] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” This is the level of blessing that God wants for each of use. When we decide to be led by a joyful heart, strive to joyfully express our love for God, and commit to maintain our joy by seeking God daily, God’s true power can be released—and we can have the overflowing abundance of joy the Word promises.

2024-01-04T08:13:07-07:00January 8th, 2024|

Fresh Anointing for the New Year

Happy New Year! I want you to start your new year off with a fresh anointing of joy, miracles, and supernatural supply! When the miracle anointing of God is applied to a need, Scripture teaches us that the “yoke” of that difficult circumstance is broken and removed from your back. The powers of darkness are defenseless. Lying spirits are speechless. The possibilities for supernatural solutions are endless!

Perhaps you are dealing with a deep hurt in your heart—a heartache or heartbreak. In fact, you might feel like you are about to fall apart emotionally. But there is an anointing that can break that yoke!

Maybe you have a physical affliction. Or maybe, like a lot of people, you want to lose weight this year. You have prayed; tried to eat the right things; done everything you know to do and yet, you have a dilemma in this area. What would break that? The anointing! Isaiah 10:27 states:

It shall come to pass in that day

That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,

And his yoke from your neck,

And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.

You may have awakened this very morning with a longing and yearning for reconciliation in your marriage or with a family member or friend. You’ve asked yourself, “Can the joy come back? Can the love, communication, and happiness return?” The Holy Spirit is directing me to say to you: “The anointing can destroy your yoke of broken and wounded relationships!”

Maybe you are in a financial pit. You feel as though this hole is getting deeper and the chances for your recovery are growing weaker. The anointing can work in the pit and break the yoke of financial difficulty.

I believe this year can mark the start of new anointings for some of the greatest days you’ve ever known in your life. It is possible for you to receive the perfect personal anointing from God for:

  • His health, strength, peace, rest, and joy. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).
  • His supply for your needs, wants, and desires. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
  • His opportunity for you to see dreams come true. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
  • His love in your family, marriage, home, and relationships. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
  • His victory in your spiritual walk. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).
  • His answer for what you’ve been needing from Him. “Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).

Wouldn’t that be wonderful? It’s more than wonderful, it is altogether possible through the biblical principles of anointing and prayer! When something is anointed, it is tangibly blessed. Therefore, it is empowered to prosper. When the presence of that anointing comes, the curse is removed! Wherever God brings His anointing, those things which were not growing and were failing to be fruitful suddenly blossom and become productive again.

An anointing that comes from God impacts every level of your life. God is still in the anointing business today! And when God want to place an anointing upon you, there is a choice you have to make: you can exercise your faith and receive the anointing, or you can refuse the anointing and try to make it alone. I want you to receive the anointing for miracles in 2024!

Here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Get some anointing oil (you can use anything that is available to you—even cooking oil!) and put some on your fingers. Touch and anoint the doors of your house. I want angels to stand guard at each entry of your home and keep the powers of darkness out as the Spirit of God comes in to minister to your every need.
  2. Let God lead you as you touch and anoint anything that can link your faith and the power of His anointing to your need! Anoint your checkbook. Anoint the pillows where your children or grandchildren lay their heads. The anointing:
    • Destroys the yoke.
    • Breaks bondages.
    • Stops harassment.
    • Heals hurts.
    • Removes barriers.
    • Dismantles blockades.
    • Lifts the burden from your shoulders, mind, and heart.
  3. Find a Scripture that speaks to your needs, wants, and desires, and speak those over your life. If you need help finding a Scripture, there are free, topical lists on my website: https://marilynandsarah.netviewshop.com/shop/MHDL&page=1&rpp=all
  4. If you’d like someone from my team to pray for you, please call 888-637-4545 or you can submit your prayer request on my website: https://marilynandsarah.netviewshop.com/prayer

Finally, plant a seed that God can bless! When you give a gift to God and desire a blessing to grow in your life, you give your gift as though it were a seed. That seed must be planted in spiritual soil that is rich in faith. The seed becomes effective when you sow it with a specific purpose or need in mind. The harvest grows to maturity as you keep on believing, staying in faith, and trusting God.

Get ready to see supernatural things happen in 2024!

2023-12-06T12:12:18-07:00January 1st, 2024|
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