strength

Elijah and Elisha-Receive a double portion of the anointing!

Elijah was a tremendous prophet who moved in the miraculous. He was called by God to minister during a very dark period in the history of the Israelites. Their nation had been divided into the north kingdom, which was called “Israel,” and the southern kingdom, which was called “Judah.” Ahab and Jezebel were the king and queen of the northern kingdom, and they were evil leaders who rejected God and His ways and turned the nation to the worship of Baal, the false god of a religion that even included child sacrifice. (See, for example Jeremiah 19:5). Elijah preached against them, and the nation made a turnaround during the time of his ministry.

Then, God called Elisha to be Elijah’s successor, and he became a “servant” or “attendant” to Elijah for a time. (See 1 Kings 19:16-21). Elisha apparently learned from observing Elijah; he saw how God had anointed his life with power to fulfill what he had been called to do. Therefore, when it came time for Elijah to be taken to heaven. Elisha was very bold, telling the older prophet, in effect, “I want a double portion of the anointing you have from God.” (See 2 Kings 2:9). Elijah replied, “You have asked a hard thing” (verse 10).

If you want a double portion of God’s anointing, don’t think of it as a little thing. It is a hard thing. But Elijah told Elisha that if he saw him when he left, he could have what he had asked for. Here is how that transpired:

Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle [“cloak” NIV] of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. (verses 11-13).

After receiving Elijah’s mantle, Elisha repeated what Elijah repeated what Elijah had done a little while earlier (see verse 8), to enable them both to cross the Jordan River: “Then [Elisha] took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’ And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over” (2 Kings 2:14).

If you count the miracles of Elijah in the Bible, you will see that there are eight. If you count the miracles of Elisha, you will find sixteen. Elisha did receive a double portion of the anointing!

2024-04-04T08:56:51-06:00April 8th, 2024|

Thanksgiving Brings Joy

Can you imagine the emotional and spiritual rollercoaster the disciples experienced during Jesus’s last few weeks on earth?

The triumphal entry into Jerusalem, with large crowds of people singing Hosanna and praising Jesus as the Messiah? The sheer anger of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus and their inability to control Him?

Or the last supper, when Jesus shared His most intimate moments yet by washing their feet, telling of His imminent betrayal by one of them, and His talk of death?

There was also the agony of His prayers in the garden; His arrest, scam trial, and beatings; His execution on the cross.

Then, after three miserable days of hope lost and unfulfilled expectations, Jesus returns. Alive.

For the next 40 days, His followers were able to see Him just a little more, and then He said goodbye as He ascended to heaven until His second coming.

They had seen it all, and in these final moments with Him, He left them as He was blessing them. They knew with certainty He was the Messiah, He loved them, and He was coming back again.

So what did they do?

They worshiped Him, a form of thanksgiving. This allowed them to return to Jerusalem with hearts full of joy, a joy that would carry them through the miraculous establishment of the church over the remainder of their lives.

When you receive the blessings, God has for you and respond by worshiping Him with a thankful heart, the same joy they experienced will be yours.

Worship Him. Praise Him. Thank Him—until joy overwhelms your heart as you become lost in His presence.

Today’s blog post is taken from Marilyn’s Today’s blog post is taken from Marilyn’s book, Treasures of a Thankful Heart.

2024-03-21T12:43:25-06:00April 1st, 2024|

Easter and the Power of Redemption

Do you know that there are two ways of looking at the death and resurrection of Jesus? From a human perspective, Easter proclaims the good news that our Redeemer lives! From the Lord’s perspective, Jesus’s death and resurrection were the price God paid to purchase a group of people—you and me—called “the redeemed” (see Hebrews 12:23 AMPC). God has always desired to redeem fallen man.

Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage is a beautiful picture of the way God works to redeem His people. “I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments” (Exodus 6:6). The Israelites had been in Egypt for almost 400 years—through no fault of their own. Jacob and his whole family had moved there at Joseph’s invitation. Eventually, however, Joseph died, the Pharaoh who ruled during Joseph’s lifetime died, and circumstances turned against the Israelites.

Has it ever seemed to you that you were in bondage to a certain habit or situation for the longest time? There comes a point when God says, “I’m going to get you out!” Jesus wants to redeem you out of those circumstances. To redeem means many things, a few of which are: “to break off,” “to deliver,” “to free by paying a ransom.” That’s what God wants to do for you and me. He wants to set us free from bondage so that we can walk in resurrection life—living victoriously every day.

Redemption for the Guilty

Have you ever thought, Well, I got myself into this mess. I’ll just have to get myself out of it? It’s easy for us to believe that God will redeem us when we’re innocent victims of oppression. But when the bondage is our own fault, we sometimes think God is going to sit back and watch us squirm to get free. But He doesn’t! Look what happened to Israel: after God set them free from bondage to Pharaoh, they eventually turned their backs on Him and were taken into Assyrian and Babylonian captivity.

God could have said, “Tough luck! You’re guilty. Get yourselves out of this one!” But He didn’t. He said, “And they shall call them The Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken” (Isaiah 62:12). The Jews had blown it—they had forsaken the Lord—and were led away as captives. But God still considered them “the redeemed.” After they had repented, God brought them back into the promised land. God will also bless you if you repent and turn back to Him.

Always remember, you are the redeemed of the Lord (see Isaiah 51:11). When we look at the events of Easter, we see that we have a Redeemer who lives eternally. Because of Easter, as the redeemed, we can enjoy the power and benefits of redemption eternally.

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, the Bible says He did it with “an outstretched arm and with great judgments” (Exodus 6:6). It took only one arm to redeem the Israelites. But in the New Testament, we see that it took two outstretched arms on the cross to redeem all mankind from sin. Your redemption took both outstretched arms of Jesus, didn’t it? By that act, Jesus redeemed you from your past, your present, and your future. That’s the good news of Easter!

Kinsman Redemption

Redemption includes one other aspect that will help you. This aspect is found in the Old Testament book of Ruth. Do you remember Ruth’s beautiful story? Originally a woman named Naomi and her husband left Bethlehem with their two sons. They traveled to Moab (which was a cursed place due to the idolatry and incestuous roots of the Moabites), and Naomi’s husband and two sons eventually died. The sons had married Moabite girls, and one of them, Ruth, chose to return to Bethlehem with Naomi. Ruth also chose Naomi’s God (see Ruth 1:16), so she was a believer; redeemed, delivered, bought, and set free. But she was about to experience the fuller meaning of redemption during her stay in Bethlehem!

Ruth began to glean barley in the field of a rich man named Boaz. But this wasn’t just any rich man. It just so happened that Boaz was a relative of Ruth’s dead husband, and Mosaic law made it the duty of the next-of-kin to marry the widow and raise up children in the dead man’s name. Boaz desired to marry Ruth; but in order to marry her, he first had to prove his family ties to her dead husband, buy back the land that used to belong to her husband, and be willing to raise his children under the name of Ruth’s dead husband. This was called the law of the kinsman redeemer.

The Hebrew word for redeemer is “ga’al” and it is translated 18 times as “redeemer,” 14 times as “kinsman,” and six times as “avenger.”

Jesus is all of these things to you and me. Jesus is our kinsman. He emptied Himself of His divinity and came down to earth clothes in humanity. In order to be your “relative” and to understand where you are coming from, He had to be tempted in all ways. Then He died for you. He shed His own blood for you. Those who are born again belong the Father. Jesus became your kinsman redeemer.

Another thing that the kinsman did in the Old Testament was to seek revenge on anyone who hurt his relatives. Jesus does the same for you. When the enemy comes against you, “The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Jesus took vengeance upon death itself. The book of Hebrews states:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV)

Do you remember the story of Cain and Abel in the book of Genesis? Gain murdered Abel out of jealousy. But God came to Cain and told him, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). He then avenged Abel’s death by cursing Cain. In the New Testament we are told that the blood of Jesus speaks of better things than the blood of Abel.

You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:23-24 NIV)

This means that Jesus’s blood speaks to the Father and says that you are redeemed, delivered, bought, set free, and that you are a very close relative!

Activating Your Redemption

What does this mean for our life? Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” If Christ is your living Redeemer and you are the redeemed, then you need to say what God says about you!

God says you are free, whole, healthy, prosperous, joyous, wise, forgiven, and much, much more! That’s what you should be saying about yourself. If ever there was a man you had a right not to say he was redeemed, it was Job. But look at what he said:

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 said, “If I die and worms destroy my body, I will still stand and see my Redeemer at the latter day upon the earth!” No matter how bad it looked in the natural for Job, he had a Redeemer, he was redeemed, and he spoke it!

You need to know the benefits of redemption, and the power of confessing them for yourself. Psalm 103:1-4 tells us the redeemed have all their sins forgiven, their diseases healed, and their lives saved from destruction! You and I have all the benefits of the redeemed because Jesus stretched out both of his arms on the cross for us. He redeemed us with outstretched arms.

There is nothing you can do to earn this redemption. Jesus redeemed you when you were innocent, and He redeemed you when you were guilty. He redeemed you from sickness, and He is your avenger upon the devil. But there is one thing the Bible says you are to do, and it’s found in Ephesians 5:16: you are to redeem the time because the days are evil.

Redeem the time by what you say with your mouth. Do you spend your time whining and gossiping? From now on, redeem your time by speaking what God says about you and about your situation! Pray with me, and let’s begin redeeming our time right now.

Heavenly Father, I know that my Redeemer lives. I am delivered, loosed, set free, bought back from bondage, and a very close relative to Jesus, who is my avenger upon the devil! From now on, Lord, everyone will know that my Redeemer lives because I am going to say so! Amen.

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

2024-03-13T11:28:14-06:00March 25th, 2024|

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|

Q&A: Discouragement, Burnout, and Hearing God’s Voice

Over the years, I’ve had people ask me questions about discouragement in ministry, burnout, and hearing God’s voice. I have compiled a few of those questions and answered them below. I hope that you will find the answers informative and that they will encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

Q: I am struggling trying to keep the vision of my ministry. Have you ever been discouraged about serving God?

A: My heart has been deeply touched as I’ve traveled and have met many individuals in the five-fold ministry asking similar questions. I do know how it feels to be discouraged, and at times I wondered whether I was really in God’s will for my life and my ministry. I want to encourage you not to give up hope. Please continue to press on to victory—it will come eventually as you trust in God’s ability to deliver you from your circumstances. God promises us in Matthew 28:20 that [He is] with you always, even to the end of the age.” Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (NASB).

Q: I’m resting from near burnout from church duties, outside women’s organizations, my family responsibilities, etc. During that season, my quiet times were not what they should be. Now I find myself having regular, quality quiet time but feeling a lack of fulfillment. I don’t seem to have any vision, and the Lord seems to be silent. Do you have any suggestions or Scriptures?

A: The answer to your burnout problem and present lack of fulfillment is found in John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” In life, there are seasons of bearing fruit, pruning, growing, and bearing more fruit. Certainly, in the times of “fruit bearing,” where there is evidence of what our life is producing, we have a sense of fulfillment because we can “see” what we have done. However, there are necessary times when God puts us in a “dormant” state so that we can abide in Him and He in us. John 15 goes on to say, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (v. 4). I believe you may be experiencing a time of “abiding” in your life. God is giving you a season of rest, consolidation, and a chance to re-energize. Enjoy it! Receive this time as God’s wisdom for this season in your life. If the Lord is silent, then you can be certain that you are in His will! The Holy Spirit gets “noisy” within us when we begin to walk outside of God’s will.

Q: I’m not sure if I’m hearing God’s voice or someone else’s voice. What does God’s voice sound like?

A: We all struggle with the question, “Is this the voice of God?” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, John 10:3-5 offers us a wonderful promise: “…the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” The voice of God can come to us in different ways. In the Old Testament, the voice of God is described as a still, small voice (1Kings 19:11-2). Most often, God’s voice sounds very much like our own thoughts. But these thoughts do not originate from the mind, they come from deep within our own spirit. Believers have been promised that as we continue to walk with God, He will guide us with His eye upon us and lead us in the way we should go (Psalm 32:8). According to Galatians 5:16, we can know that we are being led by the Holy Spirit if we are walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit means to act on God’s Word no matter what our senses (or “sense-knowledge”) tells us. I believe our flesh seeks after signs—something we can see or feel. Check out the leading you have by asking yourself, “Is this my flesh wanting a sign, or is this God’s Word directing my spirit?” If you follow the Word, you will never be disappointed.

Q. Several people have told me that God has a special call on my life. How do I find out what God’s will is for my life?

A. I want to share with you three steps that have helped me discern the will of God for my life:

  1. the desire must line up with the Word;
  2. you should have an inner witness of your leading—the Holy Spirit bears witness with God’s Word in your spirit which brings you peace; and
  3. circumstances should line up accordingly. At times there may be a waiting period.  The desire may be scriptural; you may have an inner witness; but circumstances may take some time before coming together.  When this happens, it’s important to be patient.  It is never wise to try to make things come together on your own. God will bring to completion what He’s begun (Proverbs 3:5-6).

You can trust God for your future.  As you learn to rely more on Him and less on your own “feelings,” you will find a peace that truly passes all understanding.  Be very careful about accepting any “Word from the Lord” from others.  Remember, all “words” must line up with the Word, your own inner witness, and the circumstances.  Anytime we depend on someone else’s understanding of God’s will for our lives, we are putting ourselves in a place of danger.

2023-07-06T10:21:28-06:00July 24th, 2023|

Mind Games

Success is a mind game. If you’re not in the right frame of mind, your chances of success are diminished. What you think and believe will play an important role in your success. The devil will do what he can to make your best efforts fail by playing mind games with you.

The devil wants you to live in fear. All of us have attacks of fear. You may be afraid to try because you are afraid to fail. I believe that not trying is the biggest failure of all. If God told you to do something, you’re better off trying to do it and failing than not trying at all! You will never succeed if you give in to the fear of trying. Successful people overcome the fear of trying.

When you’re tired, you can make some wrong decisions. Elijah became exhausted and made the wrong decision. He had just experienced the power of God like never before: He called down fire on Mt. Carmel, had the prophets of Baal killed, prayed for rain, and then ran 20 miles in the mud from Mt. Carmel to Jezreel (1 Kings 18). But when Jezebel threatened to take his life, he ran off scared; he left the revival that had started on Mt. Carmel. Why? I believe it was because he was physically tired. He wasn’t thinking straight, or he wouldn’t have feared Jezebel’s threat. So, God put him to sleep. You will be up to the Lord’s work if you are physically sound and mentally alert; don’t sacrifice good judgment to fatigue. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep!

We are living in the “Information Age,” and with all this information comes what I call the “frenzies.” It’s easy to get into a state of panic if we look at all the negative things going on around us. But, Paul told us not to walk as the gentiles walk “in the futility of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17), but to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23). When Paul was dragged outside the city of Lystra, stoned, and left for dead (see Acts 14), the disciples could have gotten into a frenzy of anguish; instead, they said, “Paul, in Jesus’s name, get up!” Their faith brought Paul back to life. Don’t surrender to frenzy; surrender to faith!

Our minds won’t let us forget the past—past failures, past hurts, past sins. But God has no trouble forgetting those things as long as we have confessed them and forsaken them. The Bible says that “He will . . . subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). Your past failures are no excuse for your present inaction because God has put a “No Fishing” sign beside the sea of forgetfulness! What He’s forgotten, you need to forget. Don’t let past hurts keep you from present joys—don’t surrender to past experiences of failure!

I believe that this is the beginning of a whole new wave of success for you. Get out there and do what the Lord has told you to do! Don’t let others or the devil lead you down the path to failure. In areas where you have had constant defeat, you are going to see real victory; so rejoice in your newly found freedom.

Excerpt taken from Marilyn’s devotional, Beautiful Inheritance.

2023-07-06T09:31:28-06:00July 17th, 2023|

Freedom from Fear

Fear is the Christian’s most dangerous enemy. Hebrews 2:15 says that Jesus delivered us from a lifetime of bondage to fear, but as a Christian you probably know that fear still creeps in at times. Fear attacks us today as it attacked Jesus’s disciples when they walked with Him on this earth. Jesus continually said, “Fear not, fear not, fear not.” He acknowledged that fear was indeed a very real threat to faith; and that is why He wants to set us free from it.

Following chronologically through Peter’s life, I found a pattern of fear that is too often very real for Christians. His life is an example of how fear does not always disappear overnight; but it shows the restorative process that Christ wants to create in all of us. By maturing in His divine restoration, you discover how to not only get free from fear, but to stay free from it.

Not long after making the greatest statement that a man could make, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15–16), Peter made the worst statement: he denied knowing Jesus at all. How could a man be so extreme? He did the best — and he did the worst.

How did Peter get himself into this position of denial?

I know what is behind it: fear. Jesus had been his intimate friend, guide, and counselor for three years. Now He had been taken away for trial and judgment, and Peter was afraid that he also would be taken and tried. When the Lord’s enemies recognized Peter they said, “You’ve been with that Galilean; you’re one of His disciples” (Matthew 29:69, author’s paraphrase).

Peter abhorred the thought of crucifixion. He was filled with fear, and he began cursing and swearing. Out of terror for his own life, Peter denied knowing his Lord. Peter didn’t just suddenly come into this fear, however. I have seen that fear is very subtle, and it is a very gradual process. Just as when you begin reading God’s Word and grow in revelation knowledge, you can also regress in a process of fear. Faith will take you from strength to strength and glory to glory; fear will take you into growing weakness until it manifests itself in sin.

I want you to look at Peter’s life to see how he started with one statement of fear, and eventually found himself in its control. His first real mistake with fear — strangely enough — happened immediately after he made the tremendous statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

After Peter confessed Christ’s lordship, Jesus began explaining to His disciples that he would have to die on the cross and be resurrected. Peter could not imagine losing his Lord, and he reacted violently:

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:22–23)

Peter’s first step towards really blowing it was by denying the cross of Jesus Christ. Why did he do it? Was it out of compassion for Jesus? No, it stemmed from fear. He’d been thinking, We’ve found the Son of God, the Messiah. He’s ours. He’s going to deliver us from Roman rule, and we’re going to rule and reign with Him.

But he could not see this simple truth: before the crown must come the cross. As far as Peter was concerned, anything having to do with the cross would put the crown away. How could the Messiah establish His rule if He died? No way. Peter’s first fear was a fear of the cross.

That fear still exists today, because inherent in the human personality is also a struggle with the fear of the cross. We are fearful about having to die to our own desires. We so often fall short of willingness to say, “Jesus, I am willing to surrender all to your cross.” That unwillingness to surrender our old nature is fear. Paul had a revelation that we must “die” at the cross by faith:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Whether you like it or not, you must be willing to crucify the hidden corners of your life. You have to allow the Holy Spirit to shine His searchlight through your soul and show you how to crucify those dark areas. The fear of allowing our old nature to die is a deceiver, for before the crown must come the cross.

The cross is a place of victory, not a place of fear.

But Peter was blind to the truth about Jesus’s crucifixion. He could not see that Jesus had to die before He could bring life. Fear had entered in, and it began popping up all over the place. He made one negative statement, and soon he found himself making more of them. Matthew 26:33-35 shows that Peter was still not seeing God’s Word because he began boasting in himself.: “Oh Jesus, the rest of the disciples may be offended because of you. But I would never do that. I would die with you first” (author’s paraphrase).

Have you ever heard other believers exalt their own strength in this way? They’ll tell you, “Have you heard about so-and-so? They really blew it, but I would never dream of doing what they did.”

That is nothing more than confidence in the flesh. Instead, you can say, “Jesus in me is greater than he that is in the world.” You can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Confidence in God’s Word will always keep you and bring you through during a trial. But Peter’s misplaced assurance in his own ability is what failed him. You see, fear brings you to a point where you rely on your own courage and bravery: “I’ll be brave! I’ll be brave!” But the characteristics of true bravery and courage aren’t found in the flesh; they are only found in the Spirit.

In John 18, we see Peter getting into a really zealous spirit; but it is not Word-inspired. Again, I see it tying into his inner fear of the cross; he just cannot bear thinking about Jesus going to the cross because that spoils all of his plans. So, when the Jews came to take Jesus away, Peter was overtaken with a spirit of fear, and it drove him into a wrong zeal in his own motives: “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear” (John 18:10).

He’s trying to help Jesus avoid the cross! Oh, that fear was just chewing on Peter, and it was starting to show up in his conduct. Jesus was led away, and Peter followed Him. But in what way did he follow? The Bible says that Peter “followed Him at a distance” (Matthew 26:58). Fear puts a distance between you and your Lord because it deteriorates your trust. Oh, you’re following Him, but there becomes a distance because you are relying on personal works, not on faith.

How did Peter get so far away from Jesus? It started with his first statement, “I’ll never let you go to the cross.” It ended up with, “I’ll die before you go to the cross; I’ll cut off people’s ears before you go to the cross.” Then in Mark 14:66–67, Peter’s fear reached its peak:

Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Peter denied it. He denied it again. And finally, when they said, “We can tell you’re one of His by the way you speak,” what did Peter do? He began to curse and swear. He said, “I do not know the Man!” (Matthew 26:72).

As he spoke those words, a cock crowed in the distance and the Words of his Lord came rushing back, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34). Peter was now flooded with guilt and sorrow.

Fear never justifies wrong deeds; it only creates them. It begins as a seedling, and soon it brings its close companions of condemnation and sorrow. All of this denial began with a seed of fear: the fear of the cross implanting itself into Peter’s soul. Now it had saturated all of his actions.

Fear of losing Jesus, fear of having to die for his faith, fear of losing his security blinded Peter to the victory of the cross. Fear never respects the things of God because it is a deceiver.

But in the midst of this dark picture, I also found the steps of restoration that Jesus planted. Jesus always wants to help you overcome fear and you overcome fear by applying the same process to your life that Jesus applied to Peter.

#1: Jesus Prays for You

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31–32)

Jesus is focusing Peter’s attention on God’s Word: “Although you will know Satan’s attempts to sift your faith, listen I’ve prayed for you. Remember: I’ve prayed for you.”

You may say, “His faith did fail.”

No, it did not fail. It was Peter’s courage that failed him, and that is why we must be cautious about where we place our reliance. Our own courage will never be enough. Peter’s courage may have failed him; but his faith did not fail. After he denied Jesus, he wept bitterly because he still believed.

Sometimes you may feel as though you really failed, and the devil will lie to you, “Why bother trying again? You can’t do it.” But although you may have blown it, you may have said wrong things, done wrong things, and faltered in courage, hold on to Him. Your faith will not fail you, and it will hold you up if your bravery lets you down.

Your first step out of fear is to know and believe that Jesus has prayed for you, and that He still prays for you. In John 17:20, before His death, Jesus prayed to His Father and in that prayer He said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.”

Then in Hebrews 7:25 it says that Jesus “always lives to make intercession for [us].” He prayed for you then. He’s praying for you now. When you come against fear you can say, “Satan’s trying to sift me; but my faith won’t fail because Jesus is making intercession for me to come through.”

#2: Jesus Sees You

In Luke 22:61, at the same time Peter says, “I don’t know Him,” Jesus turns and looks at him. What do you suppose that look said? “Peter, you are letting me down when I need you the most. You said you would die for me, but now you are cursing me.”

No, I don’t believe Jesus’s look said that at all. I believe that He was looking to Peter’s soul and saying, “Oh, Peter, don’t do this to yourself.”

So, the second part of knowing what to do when fear strikes is to remember that Jesus sees you. He isn’t condemning you; He wants to help. He sees you right where you are, and He still loves you.

#3: Jesus Sends You a Message

Jesus also has a third step of restoration from fear, and it is shown after Jesus’s resurrection. Remember, the last look Peter had from Jesus right before His death on the cross was the one after Peter denied Him. Then after Jesus’s resurrection from death, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visited the tomb with the intent of anointing Jesus’s body for burial. The stone had been rolled away, and as they entered, they saw a man sitting on the right side. He spoke to them:

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” (Mark 16:6–7)

Why didn’t he just say, “Tell His disciples that He is going before you to Galilee?” Why “and Peter?”

I believe it was because Jesus wanted Peter to have a personal message of His love. Have you ever noticed that in a heavy attack of fear, Jesus will give you a personal message through His Word? Once, during a trial where the natural circumstances were almost impossible to bear, I called out to God for a personal message: “God, I must have something fresh from you. I know that I claim these daily Scriptures, but I need something straight from you.”

He gave me the most precious Scripture from the book of Haggai, and I still use it against fear today: “According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!” (Haggai 2:5). Jesus has a personal message for you in His Word. It’s not just “God’s Word for Christians.” It is for you today.

In 1 Corinthians, I saw that not only did Jesus send Peter a personal message, but He also had a personal meeting with him directly after His resurrection: “He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5).

I always imagined Jesus’s appearance to the disciples in the locked room as His first. But Jesus went to Peter before He talked to the rest of His disciples. He wanted to say, “Peter, I still love you. I prayed for you, I saw you, I sent you a message—and you’re coming through.”

Have you ever awakened in the night with fear flooding in through every fiber of your soul and the warmth of Jesus’s presence comes to drive it away? Those personal moments with Jesus will dissipate any fear surrounding you; He wants to calm the storm within, and that is why He promised, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” These quiet times alone with Jesus are carved from God’s love, especially for your reassurance.

#4: Jesus Will Deliver You

Now that these steps toward pulling Peter out of fear had taken place, Jesus still had to deal directly with what happened, and the way He totally delivered Peter from fear is dynamite!

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also. They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish . . . (John 21:1-6, 9–11)

One man, Simon Peter, managed to drag the entire net of fish to the shore all by himself. Why is it that seven of them couldn’t muster the strength to draw in the net — but one man did it alone? It is because after Peter had received a vision and a touch from Jesus, he received strength. Once you get a vision of Jesus, nothing is the same again; you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (see Philippians 4:13).

Now Jesus was going to deal with him. Notice that when the disciples came to the land, Jesus had a fire burning. Peter might’ve thought, I remember the last fire I warmed myself near; it was when I denied you. Jesus had that fire ready on purpose. He wanted to heal those memories of the enemy’s fire by allowing Peter to warm himself over the fire of a friend who is closer than a brother.

Jesus said, “Simon Peter, do you love me more than these?”

“Oh, yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus replied, “Feed my lambs.” Meaning, “Give my young disciples (lambs) nourishment from the Word.”

Jesus asked him again, “Simon, do you love me?”

Simon said, “Lord, you know that I love you. You know what kind of love I have for you—because you know me.”

Jesus replied, “Tend my sheep.” Meaning to shepherd or pastor. Notice that Jesus is not speaking of lambs, but sheep. Given the best of nourishment, the disciples mature into the ability to receive training and direction.

But now Jesus looked at Simon and asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah. Do you love me? Do you even love me as a friend?”

And Peter’s heart wrenched; he was grieved. “Oh, Jesus, do you even doubt my reciprocal love for you?” Then, “Lord, you know all things, including my love for you.”

Now came the calling, “Feed my sheep.” The Lord called Simon Peter from being a fisher of men to a teacher of sheep. “Nourish and love them; nourish and love them.”

I found it interesting that Peter professed his love for Jesus three times—exactly as many times as he had denied Him. Within those confessions came the warmth of healing and restoration. From the restoration came the call: feed my sheep.

Jesus then probed into the exact place from where Peter’s fear originated:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” (John 21:18–19)

Jesus was saying, “I know your fear; I know that you have been fearing the cross all along.”

Peter was martyred on a cross, and Jesus told him about it before it ever happened. Historians say that when Peter was crucified, he refused to die in the same manner as his Lord; he cried, “I am not worthy.” He was crucified upside-down.

Talk about somebody moving right in and taking the fear. If someone came and told me that I would be crucified, my first thought would be, I’ll never go to another foreign country.

But Jesus brought Peter to such complete deliverance that he was willing to go anyway. It didn’t matter to him, because suddenly he saw that the cross was a place of victory: first the cross, then the crown. I believe Jesus was saying, “Peter, you won’t be fearful, because I’ll be there to take you right out of it.”

Not only did Jesus completely restore Peter from his fear of the cross, not only did He forgive all of his faults, but He brought him back into the ministry he was called to fulfill.

In Acts 2:14, he was a changed man: “Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.’ ”

He preached a sermon that wouldn’t stop! They could have killed him, but he didn’t care; instead, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” was the message that he preached, and 3,000 men were converted that day! Is that the Peter of fear? No, that is the Peter who was restored by the hand of the Lord Himself.

Be a Simon and dismiss fear when it comes your way. Be a hearing one. Jesus did not come to give you fear; He came to deliver you from it. Psalm 112:7 speaks of the fearless man: “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Be bold! Let your flesh and your fear die at the cross and start living in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. Jesus took Peter right to the cross and delivered him from fear; He wants you to receive your deliverance at the cross also. First the cross, then the crown.

This post has been excerpted and adapted from Freedom from Bondages (Marilyn Hickey Ministries, 2021).

2023-07-06T12:30:55-06:00July 10th, 2023|

Meditations on Strength and Courage

Tomorrow, all across the United States, we will be celebrating freedom. Today, I want to talk about freedom, but not freedom from a tyrannical government. Rather, I want to discuss freedom from fear—a tyrannical weapon of Satan.

Sixty-three times in the Bible, it says “Fear not.” God told Joshua five times to be strong and courageous. Why? Because he must have needed to hear it! And to Joshua’s credit, he believed it, and he took the promised land in less than seven years! I don’t believe it’s a sin to become afraid, but I do think it is a sin to stay afraid.  Joshua 1:9 states: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”

One key way to overcome fear can be found in the verse preceding this:

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (v. 8)

When I first began studying Joshua 1:8, I was troubled and thought, Lord, how can I possibly meditate on your Word day and night? You must not understand my schedule.

The Lord began dealing with me and said, “Did you know that Joshua was responsible for the food, water, clothing, and spiritual and military guidance for over a million people?”

Think about that.

While God provided everything while the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, after they crossed the Jordan River and entered the promised land, this became Joshua’s responsibility.

I’ve discovered that God has a lot to say about meditating, and it is exciting what meditating on His Word can accomplish. Meditation on the Word changes lives—in fact, it is life.  If you meditate on the Word day and night, you’ll implement the key element of being blessed, prosperous, and successful in every area of your life!

Since this month’s theme is hope with an emphasis on optimism, and our key verse is Joshua 1:9, I’ve provided one meditation below for each day this week, including today. It’s time to overcome unhealthy fears and become strong and courageous!

Day #1: In Him

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We can conquer because He has conquered. The footprints of Jesus are on everything, including you. Everything you meet; He has already met.

The greatest outpouring of God’s miracle-working power was unleashed at the moment Jesus was raised from the dead—when life conquered death. Jesus gives that same resurrection power to believers when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:8).

The Christian life is not a struggle but a surrender. It is receiving and appropriating what He has purchased for us with His death and resurrection and being aware that we are in Him. Knowledge and formula are not enough; we must be in Him.

Each day, look to Him and say, “I’m wholly yours, Lord: my spirit, my soul, and my body are yours.” If one day brings a defeat or a disappointment, use it as an opportunity to gain another victory that will glorify the Lord. After a while, this way of life becomes a habit. It’s not a struggle; instead, it’s spontaneous living! Then you will realize you are every bit whole in Him—spirit, soul, and body. You are no longer living life under the sun. Now, you are living life under the Son! This is God’s victorious lifestyle for those who are wholly committed to Him.

Day #2: Dead-end Fears

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13

The first words Jesus spoke after the resurrection were, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:10). The road that leads to fear is a dead-end road. Sometimes, fear can be constructive and beneficial. When I was growing up, my parents set rules for us in our home. If we broke them, there were consequences. I had a healthy fear of disobeying them. Likewise, we can have a healthy fear of God. But when fear becomes our master, it produces dead-end results.

Fear comes into your life when you focus more on your circumstances than on Jesus. It will torment your soul and your body. The spirit of fear will move into all areas of your life, hindering you and hurting you, and when you give in to them, they will grow until they become bondages. When a fear is not surrendered to God, it will become a phobia that will envelop your mind and make you paranoid. Many diseases are rooted in fear.

Jesus fashioned us for faith and confidence. When you are afraid, be honest with the Lord. Tell Him that you’re afraid, that you don’t want to be afraid, because you know it’s the opposite of faith, and that you’re sorry for it. Then repent, saying, “Lord, I’m going to trust you to take care of me in this matter.” Saturate yourself in God’s love. He cares for you and wants to take away your fears. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Day #3: Sweet Surrender

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

When we know Jesus as “the way,” we find truth and life (see John 14:6). Jesus fulfills our total being. He is the way for our will, the truth for our intellect, and the life for our emotions. Life surrendered to Him is abundant life.

Surrender helps us overcome fear. Jesus struggled in great agony when faced with the cross. He knew He could walk away from it all, leave you and me behind. However, He conquered His fear and surrendered to His Father, saying, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). How was Jesus able to face the cross? He surrendered to God because the Father’s will was best.

Surrendering our fears, bitterness, and grief to God is the only way to overcome them. When we are bitter, we must examine the reasons why we feel that way so we can get rid of it by laying it at Jesus’s feet. If we don’t allow grief to follow its natural course—taking our pain to the Lord and allowing ourselves to feel it—we will become angry and discontented. We must turn to God so that He can move in our situations and heal our attitudes and emotions.

Finally, surrendering to God can help us defeat depression in our lives. Depression causes us to feel burdened, gloomy, and sad. We can fight sadness and depression with the joy of the Lord. Cast your burdens on Him and begin to worship Him. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Rejoicing in the Lord will elevate you above the situation and enable you to maintain a childlike faith.

Sometimes, surrender is needed hour by hour or minute by minute. But I have found that surrendering to Him brings great peace in the midst of difficult situations.

Day #4: Dealing with Reality

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16

There are three ways we can approach life: 1) we do all we can to escape reality; 2) we constantly rebel against reality; 3) we hand over our realities to Jesus let Him develop us.

Too often, people turn to alcohol, narcotics, food, or other addictions to escape the weights of life. As they keep facing the same harsh realities, they soon discover that they can’t escape them. Christ came to set us free in our realities, not from our realities.

In real life, I am a woman. In our culture, there are certain negative stereotypes associated with my gender: lack of intelligence, lack of leadership abilities, lack of toughness, and many other falsehoods, which can limit me if I let them. But I have found the exact opposite to be true in Christ. God did not make a mistake when He made woman. I have experienced abundant favor. I have lived in His ability to develop daily miracles; and He can do the same for you!

Day #5: Kingdom Reality

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

Did Jesus ignore reality? The raising of Jairus’s daughter is told in three of the four Gospels (see Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; and Luke 8:40-56). Jairus asked Jesus to heal his dying daughter. In Matthew’s account, as Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jairus’s house, a sick woman in the crowd reach out and touched Jesus’s cloak, and she received healing for an issue of blood. While Jesus was talking to the woman, Jairus’s servants arrived with news that his daughter had died. Was Jesus unable to juggle the two realities? If so, why was He sidetracked with the case of this woman?

Jesus knew that there was a higher set of facts at play—kingdom facts. There is always a higher level of reality than what we see before us. Jesus lived in two worlds—earth and heaven. This story demonstrates how choosing the higher way of heaven can affect the lower way of earth.

When Jesus came into the ruler’s (Jairus’s) house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. Matthew 9:23-25

Jairus’s daughter lived, showing us that the kingdom of God runs on faith. Is anything impossible with God?

Day #6: Living for Today

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (1 Peter 5:7 AMPC)

When we try to live for yesterday, today, and tomorrow all at the same time, we get confused. If you try to go in three directions, you will get nothing but dizzy. Be a today person. If you carry all the worries of the past, present, and future, they will weigh you down and overwhelm you. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Jesus wants you to live in the present. When you try to live in the past and future, you cut off the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Often, I have wasted hours worrying about some event in the future, and, when that time came, the things I feared never occurred. What a waste of time that was! Cast your cares on Him and enjoy every good thing today!

Day #7: The Ongoing Work of Christ

Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]. (Ephesians 1:23 AMPC)

In the opening chapter of Acts, Luke gives an account “of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen” (Acts 1:1-2). But Jesus was not finished with His apostles. He was sending them the Holy Spirit who would empower them to do all that they were called to do (see John 14:26).

To me, this suggests that as long as I have breath, Jesus is still working in me. Christ in us is a constant hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27). Jesus came to give us abundant life (see John 10:10). As I have gotten older, I have found new abundances.

Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I make all things new.” Jesus makes new beginnings. What He begins in your life, He wants to continue. Keep your eyes open for daily miracle. He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13).

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This post has been excerpted and adapted from 30 Meditations on Jesus (Whitaker House, 2014).

2023-05-08T14:19:51-06:00July 3rd, 2023|
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