If you have ever gone on a car trip with children you have heard that question many times over! “Daddy, Mommy, are we there yet?”
There’s a funny little story about a family taking a several-hour car trip and within thirty minutes the little boy was asking, “Daddy, are we there yet?” Daddy answered, “Not yet. We will be riding for several hours.” To a little fellow that didn’t mean anything and after several more inquiries about “are we there yet?” the daddy became exasperated. Finally, daddy said, “NO, we are NOT there yet and I do NOT want you asking again! We will be there when it is dark!” After several minutes of silence, the little boy quietly asked, “Daddy, is it dark yet?”
I have often thought of the Israelites taking 40 years to get through the desert when it should have taken them only a few weeks at the longest! I wonder how many times the adults, as well as the children, asked, “Moses, are we there yet?”
Why did it take so long? It wasn’t a simple detour . . . they camped out AND took the long detour!
The Israelites were not even out of Egypt before they started complaining. They whined and carried on so that even Moses got tired of listening to them! After the numerous miracles that God performed to show them His power, protected them from the plagues that confounded the enemy, provided a way out – with the goods of Egypt given to them – they still complained. They complained when the Egyptians started out after them and they continued to complain and whine after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. “We want water”, “we want meat” . . . on and on it went.
It finally got to a point that God said that the current generation would die in the desert and would never enter into the Promised Land.
That story hits me where it hurts because I don’t like to think of myself as a complainer but I know that I do! Many times I feel like Paul when he wrote in Romans, “I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want to do!” I want to NOT complain and before I know it – I have, again.
So then I wonder, because of my complaining does God get angry with me? Does He not answer my prayers because I whine? Am I wandering around and around and around in my own “wilderness” because of my attitude?
I’m not a fisherman (oops, PC … fisherwoman!). I remember once as a child when grandpa took my cousin and me fishing … we went to a fish hatchery, took a pole, threw in some kind of what looked like rabbit pellets, and caught a fish. I was excited then … later I realized that was not “real” fishing!
Also living in a community that has a small lake I’ve taken my grandchildren down to the lake and they caught the fish but I had to unhook the fishy fish from the hook!
However, this isn’t about my fishing experience or lack thereof! When I first heard the song, “I Remember the Fish”, I thought it was kinda silly but then I heard it again and listened. The words are so true.
How often when we are in crisis or have a great need we panic or begin to think, “How can I meet this need? Where can I get the money to pay the rent, feed my family, get gas …”
Remember the fish!
There are a number of stories in the Bible about God providing through fish. Peter needed money to pay his taxes … Jesus told him to go fishing and he would find the money in the mouth of the fish! He did and he did. (Matthew 24).
Peter and the disciples fished all night and caught nothing … Jesus told them to cast their net on the other side and they caught a boatload of fish!
They had a need and God provided … through fish.
But I guess the greatest story I love is the story of the young lad who went to hear Jesus. It was a long day, the people were hungry, the lad gave his five loaves and only two fish to Jesus and Jesus miraculously multiplied the small offering into enough food to feed 5,000 men, plus women and children, and had TWELVE basketfuls left over.
Back to the song … (youtube: Greater Vision, I Remember the Fish)
They sat down for supper in their quiet little house
Looked at one another, “What was God doing now?”
Times were hard and debts must be paid
Where was God? So little food on their plates.
Then the daddy broke his silence and the kids just listened in
He said, “When I face a challenge and feel like giving in
I go back to my favorite memory, to be exact,
It happened here in Galilee
When my mama woke me up and said,
That we are going out to hear a man named Jesus
On a hill outside of town.
We listened to His sermon and people needed food;
I handed Him my lunch — you know the rest!
So no matter how hard life may get
I remember the fish
You should have seen all the fish!
You see I’d often heard of miracles
But never witnessed one until I
Was watching the impossible and saw
Those baskets filled with so much food
There were faces full of joy,
How my faith grew that day as just a boy
So children learn this lesson, listen to your dad
Miracles will happen when you give God all you have.
Then when you’re weak draw strength from that day
When He met all your needs
He multiplied your faith
Like when my mama woke me up and said, … “
When we have a need, do we remember how God has helped us in the past? Can we draw on experience that our God is Jehovah-Jirah, our God provides?
Do we pass these stories on to our children? Are we making godly memories for them? Do they see us recount what God has done for us?
Stop right here and write down five of your own fish stories … (here are five of mine …)
1) I was a young mom, my husband was gone for a few days and I had NO money and needed milk for my baby … a lady in our church who was on welfare came to the house and told me God told her I needed milk money and she gave me $10 … in the ’60s that was a LOT of money!
2) I was saved from a near-drowning because Grandma prayed … she lived over 400 miles away and God woke her up to pray and my life was spared.
3) The time I literally in my spirit saw an angel beside me giving me the courage to face an immense challenge.
4) God commissioned us to start a Christian television station and we were faced with insurmountable odds going into a Board of Supervisors meeting. In our morning devotions, God had given us the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea with the Egyptians chasing them. As the wheels of the chariots came off … God said to us, “watch the wheels come off” … and we watched miracles happen in that Board of Supervisors meeting.
5) God spared my husband’s life a number of times in health issues and in car accidents.
There have been many sermons on Lot’s wife … how after her escape from Sodom she “looked back” and became a pillar of salt. I don’t believe I have ever heard a sermon on how Lot lingered!
Uncle Abraham was good to his nephew, Lot. Uncle Abe was the good ol’ rich uncle that everybody wants to have! When Uncle Abe left Ur of the Chaldeans he took Lot with him who also had many flocks, herds, and tents. There were so many of them that the land could not handle them all. The herdsmen didn’t get along very well!
Abram approached Lot and let him make the decision as to go or stay and whichever he choose Uncle would take the other route. Genesis 13 tells us that “Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere … like the garden of the Lord. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan”. After all Uncle Abe had done for Lot in helping him to prosper, Lot choose selfishly. Bad choice!
Apparently, Lot was greatly influenced by those in Sodom. When the Lord told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy them. He interceded starting from 50 down to 10. Perhaps he should have gone all the way to one! Now the angels are in Sodom and Lot takes them to his home, feeds them, and welcomes them to stay the night with his family.
We all know the story of what happened next and that is not the issue I want to take up here. But what intrigues me is with all that happened during that night when the morning dawned the angels had to urge Lot to hurry! Was he not eager and anxious to get out of Dodge knowing destruction was coming? Chapter 19:16 tells us, “And while he lingered …” What in the world was so important that Lot lingered? Was he thinking, “I can’t leave all this?” Was he looking around to see if he had time to say goodby to his neighbors? To grab his car keys? To get his important papers together? To get the cash he had hidden under his mattress?
He lingered. What does it mean to linger? 1) to remain or stay on in a place longer than is expected as if from reluctance to leave; 2) to be tardy in action; delay; dawdle.
The angels were merciful to Lot and his family in that they took hold of his hand, the hand of his wife, and the hands of his two daughters and brought them out of the city.
Lot was going to obey but he had mixed emotions. He entered Sodom as a rich man … he was leaving with only the clothes on his back. God was wanting to save his life and future but Lot could only think of his present. Was he looking at all he was leaving behind instead of the fact that God wanted to preserve his life?
There is another instance of “lingering” in the Bible. Genesis 43:10 tells the story of Jacob’s sons who were petitioning Jacob once again to take Benjamin to Egypt with them. Jacob was reluctant to let Benjamin go and the brothers said, “For if we had not lingered, surely by now we would have returned this second time.” Jacob’s lingering to give his permission almost wiped out the family!
Lingering can be costly! How much better it is to obey quickly! We don’t know what the outcome would have been if Lot would have obeyed without looking back. For Lot’s wife, it was the end … she didn’t get the second chance!
Don’t dawdle! Don’t delay! Don’t look back! Don’t be reluctant to pick up and GO when God says “GO — NOW!” The future He has planned for you is far better than what you will be leaving behind!
There is nothing new under the sun that I can write on prayer! I would guess that there are thousands of books and articles written on the subject. I can only write about prayer as I see it, benefit from it, practice it, and answers I receive and don’t receive!
There are countless ways to pray … bowing, kneeling, standing, sitting, hugging your knees, laying in bed, face in the carpet crying your eyes out … you name it … you can pray at any time in any way!
Any time is conducive to prayer … driving (keep your eyes on the road!), ironing, washing dishes (if not using the dishwasher!) cooking, working … much of this would be the “praying without ceasing”. Praying without ceasing can be confusing to some thinking “I can’t pray all the time … I have to work, tend the children, read, etc.” but I believe it is an attitude of prayerfulness that we can have at all times in all circumstances (now I need to practice what I preach!)
Because I have many sleepless nights and sometimes find it hard to get out of bed (I know the sleep articles say if you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes … get out of bed! yeah, right!) I often have thought or silent prayer times. If I prayed out loud I would wake up my husband! Here is why I believe it is an OK way to pray … since God already knows the thoughts and intents of my heart … He knows/hears my prayers. I can unburden my heart to Him knowing that He hears and cares.
Satan can come and tempt me with thoughts that are not godly or are unwholesome but I can resist them. Thoughts that Satan brings are not sin UNLESS I entertain them and then they become sin. So the first thing to do when evil thoughts come to mind is to resist them as Jesus did … He used scripture … “It is written” (Matthew 4). We are also instructed in the Word of God to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). I also like the picture I have of the helmet of salvation which covers my mind and protects my thought life.
Thought prayers can sometimes then help to put me to sleep! 🙂
However, thought prayers should never take the place of sincere, out loud, gut-level prayer. There will be times when nothing will do like being on your face crying out to God! David did! Psalm 77:1, “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.” Whether this was a cry from his heart or actual tears I don’t know but there is a place for tears and crying out to God in prayer.
I have also found it effective to pray either bowing or kneeling (if your knees allow it!). There is just something in my spirit that responds to that posture … maybe it’s the act of submission. Bowing is an act also of honor to one of greater authority or power.
Now here is another aspect of prayer that is much overlooked … silence! Listen for and listen to His voice. I think we say too much and listen too little. We would not have the Bible today if the thirty-five people who wrote the sixty-six books had not been quiet enough to hear the voice of God! God speaks to us through His Word but I have also experienced times when in quietness and silence before Him I have “heard” Him speak to me in my spirit … I knew it wasn’t just my thoughts … but His thoughts!
One thing that used to bother me … what does it means when Jesus said in Matthew 6:7, “… do not use vain repetitions …”? I often pray the same thing over and over! The repetition is for MY benefit … to keep my mind on the need before me. Obviously, He knows it already but praying it once and leaving it alone is not “whatever will be, will be”! To me the “vain” part is praying by route, to be seen or heard by others, to become puffed up thinking that by my much praying God will answer!
There was a time in my life when I couldn’t pray anymore. I was prayed out over a certain matter and I simply just could not form any more words. I took a hymn book and read many of the hymns and said to God, “I can’t pray anymore so here are my prayers!” And I also used printed prayers. NO … that is not wrong! After all, the prayers in the Bible that we are encouraged to use … are printed!
Before I stop let me also mention the privilege we have of praying in the Spirit or as we pentecostals say, “speaking in tongues”. It is real! Ephesians 6:18, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” Jude 20, “… pray in the Holy Spirit”. I Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding …”. Praying in tongues is praying from the spirit instead of the intellect and the same goes for singing! And the awesome thing to me is that this is a heavenly spiritual language and the devil cannot understand what you are praying!
I literally would not be here today without prayer that was offered to God for me. Grandma Kopp was awakened early one morning when I was in my early thirties with the admonition from God, “Pray for your grandchildren”. Grandma prayed and early that afternoon I was saved from a near-drowning. I personally know the power of answered prayer … I’ve been the recipient and have seen God answer many of my prayers.
Finally, let me say again … what kinds of prayers are there? Private, corporate (Queen Esther asked for others to join her, and although “prayer” is not listed they fasted and that most often goes with prayer), silent, gut-wrenching fervent crying out to God, praying in the Spirit, listening, family praying, without ceasing, written (and I encourage you to write out your own prayers!). Ask the Lord to invade your thoughts!
You may not be able to travel the world and preach the gospel but your prayers can! Don’t just pray for what concerns you … pray what concerns the Father’s heart!
We CAN have the mind of Christ in our praying. One of my often quoted scriptures to myself is Isaiah 26:3, “You (God) will keep him (me) in perfect peace (yikes I need that!) whose mind is stayed on You (God, because he (me) trusts in You (God).”
“Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray”
“Don’t expect a thousand-dollar answer to a ten-cent prayer”
“I need to stop talking about prayer — and pray.” Bertha Munro
I don’t like to be presumed “dumb” – even if I am blonde! I know I don’t have the highest IQ in the world but I’m not dumb (unless it concerns math!) And no one that I know wants to be made the fool. None of us want to appear lacking!
There are some things in the Bible that if I had been asked to do them . . . I don’t know that I would have had the nerve. Why? Because they are a little bit “out there” – crazy things or things I would say might sound dumb!
Take for instance when Elisha sent word to Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan and he would be cleansed of his leprosy (II Kings 5.) Naaman at first reacted just as I would have. What? That’s crazy! Of all the nerve! When you read the story and find out his servants encouraged him to do just that – he did – and was cleansed! WOW!
What about the widowed mother who was desperate to save her sons from being sold and Elisha told her to gather all the empty jars she could beg or borrow (and no, not steal!) and from her meager supply of oil begin to pour out of her limited resource into all the borrowed pots. No wonder Elisha told her to shut the door! The neighbors would have thought she was crazy for sure! (II Kings 4.) She obeyed and the oil kept coming until she had no more pots to fill! WOW! She sold the oil and had the money to pay off the debts and keep her sons (hope she paid the people for the borrowed pots!).
Another “widow” story … I Kings 17 tells about Elijah approaching a widow who lived in the town of Zarephath. There was a terrible famine and she was at the end of her pantry food stuffs. Elijah comes along and asks for some bread. She answers that she only has enough to make a small meal for her son and herself then they will lay down and die. But the audacity of the preacher asks her to make his first then to make another for her son and herself “for thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘the bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’” WOW … can you imagine? She did and so did the bin and jar! What confidence she must have had!
OK – walking around Jericho once each day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day! Don’t you think maybe they felt a little silly? And to do it without talking – now that was a miracle! ☺ (Joshua 6.). But they did it and the walls fell enabling them to take the city.
Here are a few from the New Testament: It’s a wedding and they run out of wine. Jesus tells them to fill the pots with water and then pour some out and serve it to the master of the feast. Come on! Give me a break! Serve the water to the master and try to make him think its wine? But they do and it IS wine! (John 2.)
The disciple needs money to pay his taxes and he has none. Jesus tells him to go fishing! Yeah! A day off … but he still needs to pay his taxes! But Jesus doesn’t just tell him to go fishing … He tells him that the money he needs will be in the mouth of the fish! Huh? (Matthew 17:27) … and it was!
Jesus spitting and putting mud on the eyes of the blind man and then telling him to go wash it off and his eyes would be open? Try that today and you’d be slapped with a lawsuit! (John 9.)
I think one of my favorites is the feeding of the 5,000 men – don’t you know that had to include many more woman and children to boot! So to be conservative let’s say 20,000 might have been there. Now the people are hungry. The disciples could find only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to serve the huge crowd. Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people gather in groups of 50 and 100 (sure hope my group disappears!). Jesus took the bread and fish gave thanks for it, blessed it, broke it and then gave it to the disciples to give to the multitude. Can you picture these big guys thinking, “WHAT! Now wait a minute! All I have is a few crumbs of bread and even less a sliver of fish and I’m to go out there and feed my section of 2,000 people!! I’ll be the laughing stock of all time around here. No way am I going to do something so dumb and so embarrassing! No way am I going to do that!” (Only miracle found in all four gospels…starts in Matthew 14).
But they DO it! And as they DO it – the miracle happens. The loaves and fish MULTIPLY to feed ALL (with 12 basketfulls left over! I’ve always wondered if each disciple took a basketfull home?!)
My point – sometimes (I might add … many times!) we may feel that Father is asking us to do something that doesn’t make sense. Something that may sound really crazy, or even dumb. We are terrified to obey. But who are we to question God? His ways and thoughts are higher than ours and certainly more creative.
How does it work that “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, thou shalt be saved”? But it does. (Acts 16:31.)
How does tithing work? You work so hard for your wages and then God says, “give me a tenth and I’ll make the rest multiply”? But it works! “Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” Mark 16:18. “Give and it shall be given unto you …” Luke 6:38. “Be ye holy for I amholy.” I Peter 1:16.
Over and over in the Bible we see things that in the natural don’t make a lot of sense but if we can get over our preconceived ideas of what God is like and how He works, or we think “how” He should work, and trust Him when He tells us to do something, we might see a lot more done in His name.
What is a door? A door opens and lets someone in or serves as an exit to let someone out. Doors can be fancy or plain. Doors can be hollow or thick. Doors can be tightly locked or easily broken. Doors are for security. Doors can have peep holes so the insider can look outside.
God shuts doors sometimes. Genesis 7 tells us the story of the flood that destroyed the world. God told Noah, his family and the animals to enter the ark and verse 16 says, “and the Lord shut him in.” A door God closed that stayed closed for one year and seventeen days (Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, page 7,k).
Genesis 19 gives us the story of God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Two angels went to Sodom and Lot greeted them and invited them to spend the night in his home. The angels at first refused and said they would sleep in the open square but Lot urged them and they relented and went into his house. Before they retired for the night the men of Sodom surrounded the house and demanded that the men (as they called the angels, v5) “Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally” (NKJV). Lot went out to them “through the doorway, shut the door behind him …” But the men of the city were insistent for the men (angels) to be brought out and tried to break down the door. Verses 10 & 11, “But the men (angels) reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.” In this story Lot opened and shut a door, it was subject to being broken but the angels pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door.
Joseph of Arimathea who had become a disciple of Jesus laid the body of Jesus in his personal tomb “and rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb” (Matthew 27:57-61). However, the next part of the story is what brings joy and hope to us all … Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb! Hallelujah! Chapter 28:1 & 2 tells us that when the two Marys came to the tomb after the Sabbath there was a great earthquake because an angel of the Lord descended and “rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it”! Man rolled the stone to keep Jesus in but an angel rolled the stone away to show Jesus was no longer there!
Matthew 25 gives us the parable of the Ten Virgins. All ten had been invited to meet the Bridegroom. The Bible tells us five were foolish and five were wise. The five foolish virgins asked the five wise for some of their oil because they lamps were going out. But the wise answered, v9, “no lest there be not enough for us and you; but go you rather to them who sell, and buy for yourselves” which they did but while they were gone the Bridegroom came, welcomed the five wise virgins and shut the door. When the five foolish virgins returned and asked to be let in … the Bridegroom said, “I know you not” and the door was not opened to them. Verse 13 ends the parable, “Watch therefore for you know neither the day or the hour when the Son of Man cometh.” Our lives are to be lived as if Jesus would come today.
Revelation 3:8 Jesus says, “I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it …” There is deeper truth to be studied here but I want to concentrate on the “open door that no one can shut”. What is your open door? Who can shut it? If we don’t take advantage of the open doors before us that God has opened, who is responsible. If we don’t walk through, who does? Who then can shut it? God?
There are doors that we are responsible for. Psalm 141:3, “Keep watch over the door of my lips.” How do we talk? What thoughts come out of our mouth? Are they uplifting and noble, pure, virtuous, degrading, snarly?
There is one door that only we are totally responsible for. There is a classic picture that shows Jesus standing at a door and knocking … obviously wanting in. Interestingly there is NO door knob. For Jesus to enter, the person inside MUST open the door to let Him in. Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” WOW! What an invitation! That’s what salvation is all about … inviting Jesus Christ into the door of our heart and dining with Him. Dining? Yes, partaking of all that He offers to us … fellowship with Him, knowing God and being infused with the Holy Spirit … but I, you … MUST OPEN THE DOOR!
One more door I want to mention and that concerns the doorposts of our house (our family). The last plague that God sent to Egypt concerned the protection of His people. His command was that a lamb without blemish was to be killed and the blood of that lamb put on the doorposts of the house. When the death angel passed over the land any door WITHOUT the blood experienced death of the firstborn. Exodus 12:13, “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
How does that apply to us? The Lamb of God (Jesus) was slain for you and me. His blood covers us but we must apply it! We must teach it to our children. It’s not hokus pokus … His blood is real! Do Christians still suffer and die? Are Christians martyred? Yes. Does that mean the blood covering doesn’t work? The blood is not just something we claim in an emergency but we must submit to the efficacy of His blood. When we are covered by the blood God provides that supernatural protection. If we are not submitted to the blood through the repentance and confession of our sins we do not have this protection.
John, the beloved disciple, near the end of his life lived in a time of impending persecution for the Christians. John was exiled to the island of Patmos, a prison island that may have been used to quarry rock. While exiled there he wrote the book that now ends our New Testament, Revelation. This imprisonment did not keep him from writing nor did it stop him from enjoying God’s presence … chapter 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day …”. Chapter 4:1, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Question for us … if in prison (lockdowns and shut-ins) what should you or I be doing? Would we be complaining and griping or would we be in the Spirit enjoying His presence and perhaps seeing that open door to heaven?
If you are as “old” (smile) as I am you may remember the old television show, “Let’s Make a Deal”. The contestant had to choose door number 1, 2 or 3. It may be the winner take all or the prize behind the chosen door may be the “dud”. We face the same challenge today … which door will you choose … opening your hearts door to Jesus or keeping your door closed? Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9). He is the ONLY way to salvation and eternal life.
Don’t leave the door to your heart, house or mouth unprotected!
I Chronicles 12:1 “Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still a fugitive from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, helpers in the war.”
There is always a leader in a war but a leader needs help in fighting the war … he cannot do all the fighting himself. He would be vastly outnumbered.
God had given David 600 men who were loyal to him … mighty men, strong men, armed with bows, could use both right and left hands in hurling stones and shooting arrows … the Bible calls them “mighty men of valor”. Where David went, they went. Where David fought, they fought. If David said, “jump” they probably would have said, “how high”, on the way up!
You and I are in a war today. I am not only speaking of America, although that is true but I am speaking of our families … our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. I am finding that I cannot fight this battle alone … I NEED mighty men and women of God who join me in this fight, who are my helpers in the war. I am not speaking just of myself … but YOUR war as well. We MUST hold up one another because our battle is not fought with swords, spears or guns and bombs but by INTERCESSORY PRAYER!
Look at Moses in Exodus 17:10-13. The battle was going on in the valley, Moses was on top of a hill watching and I believe praying. As long as his hands were up in the air Israel prevailed but when he became tired and let his hands drop the Amalekites prevailed. So Aaron and Hur, who were with Moses atop the hill, sat Moses on a rock and they held up his hands and by the end of the day … Israel defeated the enemy! It wasn’t Moses’ victory alone … it happened because he had “helpers in the war”.
Jesus had helpers also in the Garden but they failed Him. Twice He found them asleep on the job. We will never know how the story would have been different had they stayed awake and prayed with Jesus. Yes, I know … Jesus had to face this trial alone, He knew He was going to be crucified but how would the story have changed … had His disciples prayed?
There was another near miss with helpers … read the story of Peter being released from prison by angels sent from above (I would LOVE to see this story repeated in today’s world!). Acts 12:5-19 tells us that when Peter realized he was free he went to Mary’s house (mother of Mark) where “many were gathered together praying.” I imagine they were praying for Peter! Yet when Peter knocked and Rhoda answered the door (notice she did not open the door!) she recognized his voice, ran to tell the others and they didn’t believe her! Oh, ye of little faith! Maybe they didn’t really expect God to answer in such a dramatic way. But Rhoda insisted it was Peter and FINALLY at Peter’s insistent knocking, they opened the door and “were astonished”!!Moral of this story is … pray BELIEVING for the answer and don’t be surprised how it comes!
Who are your “helpers in the war”? As a female I have certain ladies I can call on when I need someone to join me in the battle. But even that is not enough.
I read in John 14 that before Jesus left this physical world to return to heaven He promised to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit. And further in John 17 we see that Jesus is praying for all believers … that includes you and me! So as my husband often says, “we join in Jesus’ prayer meeting”. I mean how powerful is that! To know that Jesus is praying and interceding for YOU!
The Holy Spirit also prays THROUGH us. Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” It’s powerful praying when we pray in the language of the Spirit because then we KNOW we are praying in His will!
WOW … what better helpers in the war do we need?! When we pray for our families, our cities and state, our country and the needs around the world … we are entering the prayer meeting with Jesus, the Holy Spirit prays through us and we have friends to call upon as we stand together in believing prayer.
Now the question to me is … who am I helping in the war?
I have realized that I have experienced a feeling of oppression and heaviness that is unusual for me. It has been coming on for a while and in the last few days I have acknowledged it and am taking authority over it.
There are SO many things in this life I simply do not understand … this morning the news that a friend has a brain tumor, a married couple who are good friends of ours are both very ill with Covid, the daughter of friends who is suffering the trauma of rape, another dear friend whose husband is on hospice and will soon be face to face with Jesus, another friend with a teenage pregnant daughter, more restrictions coming on us because of Covid and yet thousands are being allowed into our country with no restrictions at all, the economy … the list could go on and on. And yet, God’s Word tell us we are NOT to be anxious over ANYTHING … His Word also tells us that He has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind!
So how do we cope? For one thing there is a chorus we used to sing in the 70’s … “Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, lift up your voice to God. Sing in the spirit and with understanding, O magnify the Lord.”
Therein is the secret sauce … LIFT up our voice to God. Now I often will pray in my head and I know He hears those prayers but there are times when we must LIFT UP, out loud, our voice to God. So what if others hear … it might do them some good also! Secondly, in I Corinthians 14:15 we are told to sing in the spirit as well as the understanding. Now that “spirit” is not capitalized which means we sing with OUR spirit but I believe we also sing in His Spirit which is with languages of the Spirit. Look at the rest of that verse, “and I will ALSO sing with the understanding.” So I do believe we are to pray and sing IN the Spirit, in our spirit and with our understanding. It is most difficult to sing praises and worship Him and keep a spirit of heaviness!
Why pray and sing in the Spirit? I am quoting here from the notes in my Spirit-Filled Life Bible, “Paul reveals the place of tongues in his own personal prayer life. Praying in tongues is praying from the spirit instead of the intellect, and the same is true of singing praises. For Paul, praying and singing, both in tongues and in everyday language, were normal and regular parts of prayer and praise. There is no suggestion of hysteria, emotionalism, or abnormality of any kind.”
Thirdly, I Corinthians 14:4, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself”. Edify: to instruct or benefit; uplift. So singing and praying in the Spirit builds up our internal disposition to offset discouragement, depression, oppression, etc.
Fourth … PUT ON the armor of God. These are defensive weapons … I like to think that first is the helmet of salvation because without salvation we can’t claim to use the rest of the armor! The breastplate of righteousness (His righteousness) covers our chest, heart and internal organs; the belt of truth (His truth as shown in the Word of God) holds the breastplate in position; wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (so ya’ all gotta’ know the Word!) so we can FIGHT off the enemy; the shield of faith to stop those fiery darts that the enemy shoots at us; and then finally to walk with our feet in shoes of peace! Wow … you know there is a whole series of study in these admonishments! (Ephesians 6:10-20.)
I referred earlier to being anxious over nothing … now THAT is a hard one! Who of us have never worried or been anxious over nothing! I certainly cannot raise my hand!! Philippians 4:6-8 is being burnt into my brain and heart. “Be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known to God; AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (caps obviously are mine!) Yes, I pray and I supplicate but how much THANKS do I offer? I guess I need to do that more so I can hold on to the peace He has to give!
Finally, we must walk in faith … faith in God that HE is in control of our lives. That doesn’t mean that everything will be as He wants it to be because we can make decisions contrary to His will but if we repent and confess He can turn things around to our good.
Faith … confidence or trust in the person of God! To have faith in God you must KNOW Him. Let me list here a few verses …
Matthew 6:30, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith.”
Mark 11:22 (Jesus speaking), “Have faith in God”. Some scholars say it should have been translated “Have the faith OF God”. Again notes from the SFLB, “The positive lesson to be learned from the cursing of the fig tree is the power of believing prayer. A mountain is symbolic of an obstacle, hindrance, or insurmountable problem. Faith is the key that releases the resources of heaven into our situation.”
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (get out your Bible and read the entire chapter!) to see all the things FAITH accomplished … and more! It’s awesome!
Finally, and I truly LOVE this verse, Hebrews 12:1 & 2, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside EVERY weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher OF OUR FAITH … “ Folks, it is not our faith! We cannot conjure up enough faith for anything … it is HIS FAITH in us!
We are in a spiritual battle … a real warfare … for our personal life, for our families and for America! I am determined to fight the fear that wants to invade my spirit and lay hold of HIS FAITH! Just think of it … It’s HIS faith! He has given us HIS faith! Grab onto it!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a sleepless night! If you’re human you will had to have raised your hand! We need sleep to live. Those in “the know” tell us we NEED 7-8 hours a night! Yeah, right! I’d LOVE that. You’re fortunate if you get close to that … and especially if you are a mom or a postmenopausal woman! (Sorry guys!)
There are several verses in the Word of God that promises sleep to His beloved (Ps. 127:2 – I’ve often asked Father in the night if I wasn’t “beloved” anymore!); that our sleep will be sweet, we will sleep in peace and that we won’t be afraid. But then WHY do we have sleepless nights? Why do our fears and worries (OK – concerns – I KNOW we are not supposed to worry!) seem bigger and larger than life at night?
Isaiah 26:9 – “With my soul I have desired(longed for) you in thenight.” When we are awake and the nights seem long perhaps it is designed that we might desire time with Him without distractions!
NIGHT TERRORS (sweats, nightmares and cries)
When you are “down under” a weight of concern, filled with worry, frightened or sick – it is WORSE during the night hours. You can manage during the day. You’re busy, things to do, places to go, people to see – but as night falls and the body requires rest, you go to bed to sleep and you can’t sleep. The mind goes into high gear and sleep eludes you. Fear is magnified, you think the worst and you can’t wait till sunlight.
I had a child that had night terrors. This child was never fearful during the day – always a joy to be around. For a period of time this child would wake up screaming in the night and have NO recollection in the mornings of what it took us to calm the child down.
It is the same when morning dawns after a bad night … we seldom understand just what it was that was keeping us up because in the light of day it never looks as bad.
Look at some night terrors …
A. Weeping nightsPs. 6:6 “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears”.
Been there – done that! Oh, I don’t want to think back on my weeping nights. I’ve had quite a few! Various problems but just the same the tears were there. Maybe I wasn’t “swimming” in my tears but I sure enough had a very wet pillow!
Lots of tears but I love this one … Ps. 30:5, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.
B. Struggling nights
Genesis 32:22-24, “… he, (Jacob) arose that night … then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him,until the breaking of the day.” Oh, Jacob had a long night! No sleep and involved in a wrestling match! Jacob knew he had a need; he was just plain scared of meeting up with his brother whom he knew he had treated badly. Now here as he wrestles with this “man” (believed to be an angel of the Lord) Jacob comes face to face with who he is (Jacob the deceiver), acknowledges and owns it and then God blesses him.
Who was Jacob? He was a “supplanter” – a deceiver. When he faced it, admitted it — THEN God blessed him.
Often our night struggles are times when God gets our attention! We see ourselves for who we are, admit our failures and cry out to God for His touch on our lives. When God touches us it changes our lives! Jacob had a limp from that day forward. Every time he took a step from then on he was reminded he belonged to God! He was dependent upon God. It didn’t stop him from walking but it probably slowed him down enough to remind him he was God’s. It didn’t make him perfect but was a reminder of Who he belonged to!
What’s your limp?
C. Grieving nights
We usually associate times of “grieving” with times of personal sorrow as when a loved one dies – and these times are valid. Sorrow and grief does often rob us of a good night’s sleep. However have you ever grieved over what grieves the heart of God? Sin grieves the heart of God and sin should grieve us too! Have you ever wept over your sins or the sins of others? Have you ever wept over the conditions of the lonely, the lost, the downtrodden, the heathen? Have you ever interceded for others through long hours of the night?
Look what the Lord said in I Samuel 15:10 & 11, “Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.’ And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.”
Oh, it’s easy for us to be awake during the nights when it’s OUR troubles or our sorrows but do we really lay awake because of God’s concerns? Do we grieve over what grieves the heart of God?
D. Comfortless nights
Here is another of my “been there, done that” nights … Job 7:4, “When I go to bed I think, ‘Oh, that it weremorning,’ and then I toss till dawn.” (TLB)
Perhaps this is more common among women than men but how many nights have you laid down to go to sleep – very tired – when as soon as your head touched the pillow the eyes pop open, the mind shifts into gear and sleep goes out the window! We either want to sleep or have it be morning! The night can be sooooo long and we can’t wait till morning.
And it wasn’t just Job! Even the psalmist Asaph experienced it … “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted”(Ps. 77:2) Yep! That’s been me! It was like I couldn’t “give it up”, I hung on to my problems and pain … I would NOT be comforted! But while Asaph is thinking on all his troubles he ALSO remembers his “song in the night”(v. 6).
So what do we do when we can’t sleep? Do we run for the bottle of sleeping pills? Alcohol? Television?
Ps. 91:5 “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night …”. A command to not be afraid? How can we stop being afraid? By making the Lord our “dwelling place” (v. 9) … that means living in His Presence, concentrating on Him, singing unto Him, memorizing His Word, meditating on Him.
NIGHT MEDITATIONS (intercessions and petitions)
The night can be precious times of fellowship with Jesus. Ps. 4:4, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” (The Living Bible, “Lie quietly upon your bed in silent meditation.”) Ps. 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”.
Ah, the problem is … being silent and being still! So how can we be still and have a quiet settled heart?
A. TRUST Him
Have confidence in Him. Nothing catches God by surprise. He knows our days and our thoughts. He knows what is ahead and He charts our path. We can trust in God and NOT be afraid! (Ps. 56:4)
One of my favorites and one that is fabulous to meditate on … Isaiah 26:3 & 4, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” (KJV)
There is not time here to go into all the verses in God’s Word that assures us that we can TRUST in God – but we know that He is trustworthy!
B. MEDITATE on His Word
Meditation has gotten a bad name. Many today associate it with Yoga or eastern religions. We picture someone sitting cross-legged on the floor, palms outward, eyes closed and humming! But it is not that! It is SO much more.
What does it mean to “meditate”? To reflect, mutter, ponder. When the angel spoke to Mary the Bible tells us that she “pondered” these things in her heart – meaning that she thought about them, turned them over in her mind.
Ps. 63:6, “… I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”(KJV) Joshua 1:8, “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.”
We can think of plenty of things to think about during the night watches but what we should do is meditate, think, ponder, and yes even mutter on God’s Word. That will bring peace!
Ps. 77:12, “I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of your deeds.”
Ps. 119:147, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.”
Ps. 119:55, “I remember Your name in the night, O Lord…”
C. DESIRE Him
Is. 26:9, “With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;”
Do you love the Lord enough to stay up all night standing before the Lord? It’s HARD to stay up at night (unless of course you are sleepless!). Look at the exhortation to bless the Lord in Ps. 134.1, “Behold, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord”.I will admit that would be hard for me (I don’t like to stand very long!) but how blessed we would be!
D. PERSEVERE … in fellowship with Him Luke 6:12, “… continued all night in prayer to God.”!! That verse speaks for itself … spending all night in prayer!
As we give our terrors and tears to Father, as we trust and meditate upon His Word – guidance WILL come! Our Father will give us instructions. It is wonderful to know that we don’t have to navigate this life on our own!
Ps. 16:7, “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons” Ps. 16:11, “You will show me the path of life…” Job 33:15-16, “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.”
Ps. 19:1 & 2, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech; and night unto night reveals knowledge.”
The WORD is God’s counsel to us. Often in the quietness of our hearts in the night, meditating on God’s Word, reading God’s Word, we can hear His still small voice.
The Lord called Gideon to be a deliverer for the Israelites. Gideon wasn’t sure of his calling and built an altar and it was “the same night” (Judges 6:25) that the Lord spoke to him.
Joel says, “your old men shall dream dreams” (with the pouring out of His Spirit). Most dreams come at night (yes, they can come during naps too!) and God can give instructions in dreams too! (Joel 2:28).
I foolishly thought when my “dark night of the soul” sleepless nights ended – I’d have no more. Wrong! That’s my only time now when I can be quite enough to hear God! He gets my attention in the night hours …. Husband is asleep, Television is off, Phone doesn’t ring, No radio, no stereo, no computer, And I can’t sleep! ☺
How often I’ve claimed the verse,“He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalms 127:2). Sometimes I can go to sleep … other times I get up!
Night praise …Ps. 92:1 & 2, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High: To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night”.
Job 35:10, “Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night…?” Even Elihu, one of “Job’s comforters” knew that God could give songs in the night! Here is another comforting verse which comes after the psalmist cries and pours out his tears to God, Ps. 42:8, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me …”
I think my favorite story of singing in the night is found in Acts 16. Paul and Silas were in jail. Their clothes had been torn off, they had been beaten with many stripes, to keep them “safe” the jailer threw them into the inner prison which probably meant NO light or movement of air and then put their feet in stocks (shackles). Hey, this is NOT fun!
So what did they do? What would YOU do? I would feel sorry for myself … “God, why?” “What have I done to deserve this?” “Why me?” “Where are You God when I need You?” Oh, I can be a real complainer! But Paul and Silas PRAYED and SANG PRAISES! Songs in the night! Can you beat that?! WOW! Singing with blood running down their backs, can’t move because their feet were bound. They were hot, stinky and hungry … but they prayed and sang!
God heard AND came to their rescue! I love it! There was an earthquake, all the doors opened, all the shackles were broken but NO ONE was hurt let alone killed! All because their focus was not on their pain but on God!
There is one final verse here that is a challenge to all of us … Ps. 149:5, “Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds.”!!! Well, maybe someone who slept alone wrote this! If you’re married it might be best to wake them up and let them know what you plan to do! ☺
I have gone to bed with worship music on and often I’m singing in my “head” along with the CD … maybe I need to “sing along” out loud! Remember the Word of God also says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word ofGod”(Rom. 10:17). It is good to read aloud and sing aloud the Word of God — it brings FAITH!
I believe we can all say when we are in our dark night of the soul that we long for deliverance. We want morning to come but our deliverance can also come IN the night hours … we don’t have to wait for the light of day.
David is fleeing from his son Absalom when he cries out to God about his many enemies and the many that have risen up against him. But immediately he states in Ps. 3 that God is a shield for him, God bestows glory on him and lifts up his head; that he cries out to God and God answers him and then he says in verse 5, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” With God watching out for me … why am I awake with worry? I can sleep because THE LORD SUSTAINS ME! Hello!!!!!!!
I like the verse in Exodus 12:42, “It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land ofEgypt …” He was protecting HIS children and bringing them out of bondage … and I believe that as a child of God I also can believe that He is keeping vigil over me in the night hours and bringing me out of whatever bondage or fear that I am encountering.
With the Lord watching out for us, what is our fear? He is our rear-guard as well as our front guard! He will not only watch over you but also that which belongs to you!
Plus the story from the “Night songs” fits here too! God delivered Paul and Silas in the night … and HE WILL deliver us when we keep our focus on Him.
Finally – all our nights will be gone! Revelation tells us that in heaven “there shall be no night there” (!) (21:25 & 22:5).No more night challenges, no more night fears, no more sleepless nights … for then we shall eternally be in the light of His presence!
I want to end with the chorus to “No More Night” by David Phelps … No more night no more pain No more tears, never crying again And praises to the great, “I AM” We will live in the light of the risen Lamb. Hallelujah!
The Israelites had just had an awesome, stupendous, glorious, unheard of victory … the walls of Jericho falling down without a shot being fired! WOW! God had given explicit instructions how to go against the city and they obeyed. Personally I think the greatest victory here was that they marched around the city without saying a word, once a day for six days and then on the seventh day marching seven times! But then they were men … maybe that explains it! 🙂
Sin is not always apparent at first. It can be hidden for a time and we think no one else knows but it WILL be revealed.
Maybe the Israelites got a little cocky, self-assured, over confident with their victory at Jericho and now Joshua sends spies to assess the next battlefield … the city of Ai. The spies come back with their report … it’s small, we can take it, in fact it will be easy so we don’t even need to send all the troops perhaps just a small detachment of men.
Surprise! The Israelites went to battle thinking they were going to be victorious and they were soundly defeated so much so that thirty-six of their men were killed and the Israelites fled and ran for home. Defeated. Thirty-six of their men dead. Their hearts melted and became like water (Joshua 7:5). What happened?
Joshua gets the news and he and the elders fall on their face before God. Joshua gets mad at God and asks why He let this happen! Perhaps they all should have stayed on the other side of the Jordan. He complains to God that all the people around here are going to laugh and cut us down and then what will happen to Your great name? Interesting isn’t it how we want to blame God when bad things happen!!
God answers Joshua and tells him to GET UP, why are you bellyachin’? There is sin in the camp! Someone has stolen that which I commanded was not to be taken and has hidden it. God said He would not be with them anymore until they found the guilty party and administered justice! I guess we might think that is pretty severe but God wanted an obedient people!
God instructed Joshua how to find the guilty person. Joshua obeyed God’s instructions (and God gives us instructions in His Word how to weed out the sin in our lives!). Finally standing before Joshua was a man named Achan.
Joshua to Achan: What have you done? Do not hide it from me.
Now I will have to give credit to Achan at this point. He did not blame anyone else. He didn’t say, “I didn’t hear you … I didn’t get the memo … i was eating lunch …” no, he confessed his sin to Joshua. He admitted that he saw the goods, he coveted them, took them and hid them in his tent.
What is keeping us from full fellowship with God? Is there a hidden sin that we think no one knows about? That sin MUST be dealt with and eradicated. Could it be sexual sin, pornography, lies, cheating, finances, sour relationships?
Joshua was in a hurry to rid Israel of this hidden sin because he sent his messengers and they RAN to Achan’s tent, found the hidden treasure, brought it back to Joshua and laid it out before the Lord.
There are consequences to our sin. Achan and his family suffered those consequences. Let me say here that we are not to go out and stone and kill those that are involved in sin but when the sin is revealed it is to be killed! Confess, repent, bury it and heap stones upon it!
The disobedience was grievous to God and that place was given the name “Valley of Achor” … Achor meaning “trouble” … the Valley of Trouble.
Not a good legacy!
We may think that we can never rise above our sin. That we are doomed to stay low and live in the pits but God does have a plan of HOPE!
In Hosea 2 we read of God’s unfaithful people. Time and time again the Israelites had turned their back on God but He continually pursued them even when they went after other lovers. In verse 14 we read how God still went after them … and He comes after us! “Therefore, behold, I will allure her. Will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope …”
THERE IS HOPE!
Correction and discipline is never fun … it’s always painful! Serious issues require surgery! A cutting away of that which is infecting our spiritual growth. Just as we discipline our children so God disciplines us when there is sin … why? because He LOVES us! He does not want us to wallow in our valley of trouble and think there is no way we can rise above this. When our sin is identified, don’t try to rationalize it, deal with it and bury it! When you have done that you can begin to walk through that door of hope that God is offering you. Satan will tell you that you have no hope but he is a liar!
God is a LOVING Father. God is a FORGIVING Father. God offers HOPE when confession and repentance is sincere.
After Achan’s sin was dealt with here is what God said in Joshua 8:1, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” And herein lies their door of hope, their obedience brought victory.
Isaiah 65:10 also shows us that our Valley of Achor/Trouble can become a place of peace and rest … “And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for My people who have sought Me.”
Psalm 119:81, “I HOPE in thy word.” Romans 4:18, speaking of Abraham but a word for us as well, “Who against hope, BELIEVED IN HOPE”