Hebrews 10:35-37 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great
recompense of reward. For you have need of patience, that, after you have
done the will of God, you might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and
he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
None of us know what the future holds. We only know who holds the future. They say, hindsight's 20/20. That's pretty good, when you consider the fact that you can't even see the present that well. No need to look so far into the future or the past that you lose today.
Regardless of the past or present, I have confidence in my future. I know I will receive the promise. I can not believe I will not be healed. And, that is a fine double negative. Others gave up a long time ago. But, I still believe. Believe, and pray, with me. And, your prayers are appreciated, as always. A prayer request has no time limit. God is not bound by Physics, Time, or Neurology. Did you feel the Spirit of God just now? I did. I believe that out there in cyberspace... in the air... there are a thousand readers, unconstrained by geography or denomination, joined in prayer with me for my healing. Please, don't stop praying!
I've often thought about the parallels between my relationship with my son who has Asberger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of Autism, and my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father. Certain things were always missing in our relationship, mine and Travis'. For example, he never invited me into his thoughts willingly, and I often resorted to a game of 20 questions to learn anything about his day, and to be able to even guess at how he felt. Also, he would never point at anything, and say, "Look, Mom" as in the way small children point out horses on a hillside. He just sat and stared wide-eyed, and I would look for what he was seeing. To point them out would be to invite you to see what he sees. That is not something many autistic children do. He never really left the preschool stage psychologists call "parallel play," where very small children will play with a friend by playing separately side-by-side. This continued with him until he quit playing with toys. And, he never called out, "Hi Mom, I'm home!" when returning from anywhere. He would look through the house for me sometimes, and then just see that I was indeed there, and move on to whatever he intended to do.
These examples reveal that he has basic communication limits, you might say. He is not openly communicative. He holds his thoughts and ideas inside a lot. Also, he is not socially oriented, and has tendencies toward seclusion. He also appears to be "unreachable" at times, or rather unavailable to others. Discipline and training often took years of repetition, and reinforcement to even see a response in him. Removing privileges, like the computer would seem to be having no effect, but over time, he would eventually decide that he liked it better when he had the privilege and would respond to the requirements. Frustratingly, it sometimes took years before I would see this "breakthrough" and the requirement became habit. It took a lot of patience.
Sometimes, as he began to open up, it seemed he only did so when he was at the point of utter frustration, and I began to realize that when he finally did let me in to his thoughts, it was going to be something I didn't like hearing. Happy thoughts would never be shared. Only those driven out of him by frustration. His kindergarten teacher was concerned because he never spoke. At that point, I wasn't concerned. He seemed fine at home. He talked when I had him alone. But, she told me everyday that he wouldn't talk. Finally, after about 2 months, I got a phone call at work saying he had talked, and he was in the principal's office. He had stated that he wanted to be the line leader, including a curse word for emphasis. He had added the complaint that the same little girls always got to be the line leader. Imagine that. Your child finally speaks and it lands him in the office. :) You can picture him, I am sure, waiting all those weeks to be chosen line leader before becoming frustrated and saying something. It could have been avoided simply had he asked up front how to get to be line leader. But, that didn't happen because he wasn't communicating with the one who could help him get what he wanted.
In his late teens and High School, he developed a strong interest in Football, as an observer, and fact gatherer. We went to games, but he had a difficult time with the noise level of the crowds at the game, so we often sat at the end of the bleachers where it wasn't as crowded. But, that and the cellphone became avenues for communication with him. He would talk about football, and he would text and reply to texts. His teacher at school would text back and forth with him even on the weekends. When he would come into the classroom on Game Day, she would have something written on the board encouraging her team on, to be sure to get Travis' attention, since he is an ardent Georgia fan. He began to interact with her on that level in a joking manner, and became quite conversant outside the house. Overall, communication habits are something he has had to develop much more slowly than most people.
As you can see, this is often the way we are with God. We frequently don't ask for the things we want before they become big problems. We don't talk to Him on a daily basis. We don't include Him in our thoughts. We ignore His prodding efforts to speak to us. We don't tell Him what we see. We don't call out to Him in the silence of an empty room. We become unreachable, as if He weren't speaking at all. We isolate ourselves and withdraw from him for six days at a time, coming to church on the seventh. At times, it seems we are almost totally blinded to the Spiritual world.
Below is a video of Christophe Duffey, a ten year old boy who is both moderately autistic and blind. He was adopted before his musical talents were known. He sings and, well you will have to listen to the ironic choice of songs in this video. "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord!"
I ran into a prayer tonight at the Douglasville Mall. I don't mean the abstract spoken thing, but a concrete person who prays literally... a pray-er. And pray he did, four times before we were through. I have met him on another occasion there in the mall. Apparently, he makes it his habit to pray for others. I wrote about my first prayer with Zack in a previous blog titled His Father's Eyes. I have a recorded clip from a question I asked Zack here below for you to hear yourself. Just click the mic to listen. (A new window will pop up with a Quicktime Player and the sound will begin.)
Mark 16:15-20 And he said unto them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
This passage that Zack mentioned is part of the great commission. It's actually Jesus' last words here on Earth. How important do you think these words might be? Zack said at one point that he believes what happens is that sometimes people have prayed, didn't get the answer they expected, and then begin to rationalize as a part of human nature, telling others that God might not want to heal them. So we have heard so much doubt that our human nature basically sabotages our faith.
"Truth is truth." I like that. I know from experience that prayer moves us to the place we need to be to receive an answer from God. Prayer works, if you are a prayer. How many prayers will pass before I am healed? Five less now.
Tonight, I am praying for some of the needs I have received messages about, from the feedback line and emails. The Podcast is available on the podcast page at: http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/ or on the player below.
We would love to hear from you, our listeners. You can send Listener Feedback at any time. If you need prayer, we will pray for you.
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What did the following women have in common:
After you've taken a minute to think about it, scroll down to read the rest of the post.
These women all shared a miracle. They all received a miraculous gift. They all became Mothers in unnatural ways. They each had miracle babies. They each needed God to make this happen, because quite frankly, Sarah and Elizabeth were too old. Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Mrs. Manoah had female problems. And Mary was, well, too single.
But, they all found themselves surprisingly pregnant, and delighted to hear the news. Hannah and Mary broke into singing. Sarah laughed. Mrs. Manoah ran for her husband she was so excited. Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb. Rachel praised God. And, poor Rebekah didn't know what to say, because of the distressed pregnancy, so she prayed for God to tell her what was going on inside her. Supernatural prayer gave her the results she couldn't obtain before ultrasound- "Sit down sister, you're carrying twins!"
Sarah's son was a Mamma's boy. Rebekah gave birth to the twins: one was an unbeliever and apostate, the other so deceptive that his own family despised him for years. Manoah and his wife both spoiled their son, and he was a party animal and immoral; sleeping with whores and tying foxes tails together just to set them on fire and watch them run through his enemy's cornfield. Rachel's son was thrown in prison, after being accused of rape, and Mary's son was sentenced to die as a terrorist. Elizabeth's son was thrown in jail for "hate speech" and afterwards executed. Hannah's son once became so angry that he chopped a political prisoner to death with a soldier's sword.
There the stories diverge, and we must remember that Sarah's, Rebekah's and Mrs. Manoah's sons turned to God later in life, after "sowing some wild oats." But, the sons of Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Mary were all upright and honest men, with a zeal for serving God that would explain their odd behavior and imprisonment, and even executions.
Sarah was the mother of Isaac, one of the Patriarchs who redug the old wells of his father, a Spiritual symbol for us today. And, he married Rebekah, who was the mother of twins Esau and Jacob. Esau never repented and turned to the God of his father, but forgave his conniving brother Jacob in midlife. Jacob raised a family of more than 100 children and grandchildren, establishing the nation of Israel in their worship of the one true God. Mrs. Manoah gave birth to Samson, the mighty man of valor, who repented after years in confinement and prayed for God to use him one last time. And, God did. Rachel gave birth to the honorable judge Samuel, who served his whole life without mention of sin, until it came time to raise his own sons, and they didn't turn out so well. It seems he let them get away with whatever they wanted to do in his house, just like Eli had before him. Elizabeth gave birth to the wildman John the Baptist. After his parents died, John lived as a Bedouin in the desert, eating locusts and honey. He preached salvation to Israel to turn their hearts to God, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah. And, his 2nd Cousin Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Messiah and Savior for the whole Earth. John and Jesus were both imprisoned and executed, but one came out of the grave. Because that baby was born, you and I today have been saved. This birth brought about the salvation of the whole Earth.
Never forget the importance of a single prayer.
I used to read Westerns as a teen-ager, and John Wayne...the Duke... was one of my favorites to watch on tv. The Sundance Kid was my favorite book. But, John Wayne had this serious, no "hawg-warsh" attitude that I could really feed on. I find myself still to this day having a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I think somebody's logic is a little fuzzy. I find that you just can't educate the redneck out of hillbillies sometimes. They say you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl. But, I had somebody trying to tell me, recently that since A-B=C, we could subtract C and end up with A. I got so mad I was seeing stars. But, I just quietly said, "I don't git it," like the kids say in school. "That sounds like a bunch of hog wash to me," I mumbled in a quiet voice while staring em down.
I didn't want to do that. I tried hard to just let it go. But, I couldn't listen to such a crazy, uninformed reasoning without saying that I just didn't like it.
John Wayne had this habit of calling strangers, "Pilgrim." He was a pilgrim himself, usually, just riding through you know? A pilgrim travels, in a progressive way, usually. John Bunyon, author of a Christian classic allegory called Pilgrim's Progress, wrote about a Christian's journey from the perspective of a pilgrim, because we are pilgrims. Bunyon once said that, "You can do more than pray after you've prayed. But, you can not do more than pray before you've prayed." I think this holds a lot of truth. Prayer alone is usually never enough. But anything without prayer is usually too much. So much time can be saved by getting help. That is, if you plan to make progress, Pilgrim.
Psalm 91:14-16 Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
This clip of "Greg Says Grace " from Meet the Parents on Movie Clip is really quite funny. It emphasizes how a child or even an adult might feel when praying for the first time. Prayer seems to come naturally, or rather easily for small children. But the older we get, and the longer we suppress the natural inclination to, "cry out to Jesus," the more difficult it becomes to experience the reality of a relationship with God. It becomes tantamount to trying to pick up a foreign language for the first time in your sixties.
So, what's eating you, Pilgrim? Cry out to Jesus now, before you find yourself at the end of yer trail, face-first in the tumbleweeds.
Where is there room enough inside me for God? How can I call God to me if He is already here? Where could I go in the universe so that God could leave where He is and come to live inside me? Where could I call God to, when I am already in God? Since God fills Heaven and Earth, do they hold all of Him? Or does He run over? Where does the overflow go? Do greater things hold more of God and smaller things hold less? I simplified the questions of St. Augustine, who lived seventeen hundred years ago in the 4th Century, from his classic work, The Confessions of St. Augustine. So, these are not new questions, but rather questions even philosophers consider.
God is so big that He fills the universe! He is bigger than Earth. He is bigger than our Solar System. He is bigger than our Milky Way Galaxy and bigger than even a cluster of galaxies. Francis Chan, the author of Crazy Love, talks about what he calls "the awe factor of God" in this three minute video.
A half-breed woman asked much the same questions of Jesus. "Where do I have to go to find God?" Jesus' answer was that God is a Spirit being. He is not contained in one place alone, but He is everywhere and obtainable by all...even those unaccepted by society. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24
On a more personal level, is God big enough to handle your problems? Is He larger than the grand scheme of your dreams? Can He guide the course of your career and the steps of your children simultaneously? Has it ever occurred to you that God is bigger than your budget, and when there's too much month left at the end of the money, there is still more of God's divine provision? Does He see in the dark, and in your heart? Can He hold you in your failures and in your triumphs?
In Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus talks about how to pray, "When you pray." His requests are simple and sums up the needs of man; God's will, our daily bread, a two-way forgiveness, and deliverance from evil. You can say all you need to say to God in a 25 second prayer. The problem is most of our prayers are too short. They never get to the beginning. Jesus' prayer began with faith..."Our Father who is in heaven..." Wow! He is our Dad and He is in Heaven! How lucky can we be?! We have an audience with the God of the universe and He is related to us. Talk about nepotism! Nepotism is defined as "favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit." That sums up our position, doesn't it?
What ever it is you need, whether you are unemployed, sick, scared, or need comfort in a loss you have suffered, when you pray... start with our Father who is in heaven. You will end up with more than you ever dreamed.
"...and God bless Mamma, and God bless Uncle Roy, and God bless Tammy and Angie, and my friend Lisa. And God bless by teacher, and God bless all my cousins... and God bless everybody in the whole wide world, Amen." Remember saying your bedtime prayers as a child? Or, with your children? I can remember both. My husband and I were talking about children praying for people today, and the fact that some of the prayers they say for people can be so sweet. He was repeating one such prayer he had heard a child pray for me. They grasp so easily the idea that they shouldn't leave anybody out of their conversation with the Almighty. Afterall, if you have an audience with God, make the best use of it. And, they believe God is listening.
I can remember laying my children's tiny hands on my head as we prayed, and having them pray for me, as a blackmail tactic of sorts. :) Surely, God would listen to the prayers of a little child, if not mine. That is really not necessary. It is not a question of how deserving you are of God's answer, but whether or not you have His attention. Remember the woman who wanted healing and asked just for the crumbs under the table like a dog? Mark 7:28 We have it backwards it seems. We heard Jesus say He loved children (Luke 18:27) and that He listens when children come to Him, but we didn't understand that we can go to Him just like that little child. This is the essence of being born again, allowing ourselves to be placed in a whole new relationship to God.
He hears our prayers alright, ours and theirs. Just like our hearts melt when a child prays, it's all the same to Him if you speak His name.
Everybody wants something. None of us are immune to "wishery." If you've ever bought a lottery ticket, entered a contest, or tried to become pregnant, then you know what it means to wish. Prayer is different from wishery, as I like to refer to the practice of wishing. When we talk to God about our wants and our needs, we are involved in a conversation and God listens as well as speaks. Wishery is missing one vital ingredient, hope. Hope likewise requires reason. Without both reason and hope, it does no good to "name it and claim it." No, I am not very much into the name it and claim it camp. You guessed it right.
I have known cases where children wanted to pray for God to "let them win" a Bible competition, after not studying. I reminded them that the other team was praying to the same God, and they studied. I told them I thought God would let the team win that studied His Word the best.
In prayer, a meeting of minds takes place, so to speak. But, sometimes we find it easier to manipulate or convince God to give in to our petitions. Superstition and witchcraft are specifically related to rebellion in the Bible. 1 Samuel 15:23 God wants Christians to come to Him for their needs.
Genesis 30:14 Leah and Rachel were sisters in the Old Testament. Rachel was beautiful. Leah was plain to look at, but the oldest child. Abraham's grandson Jacob met Rachel at a well outside her father's ranch, and it was love at first sight. He followed her home and struck a deal with her dad Laban to work seven years as a dowry for the right to marry Rachel. Seven years seems like a long time, but he was in love. At the end of the seven years, the family throws a wedding and Jacob gets married. But, Laban covered Leah's face with a veil until after dark, to trick Jacob into thinking he was marrying Rachel. In the end, Jacob had to agree to keep Leah, and work another seven years in order to marry Rachel.
This trick may have helped Laban out by giving Leah a husband, but it certainly didn't help Leah's relationship with Jacob, who wasn't interested in her to start with. But, as it turned out, Leah gave birth to one boy after another, while Rachel remained childless. Still, Jacob loved Rachel the most. It seems that both women began to wish. Rachel wished for children, and Leah wished for Jacob to love her. After a few years the two experimented with the idea of surrogacy, but this didn't bring them satisfaction, even though they were both successful in their plan.
One day, Leah's oldest son Reuben found some mandrakes growing in the fields and brought them to his mother. Mandrakes have roots that are shaped in the form of a man, as pictured below.
Not only was the form of the root seen as erotic to people in the middle east, but it's fruit was a potent hallucinatory drug, slightly poisonous and considered an aphrodiasiac to many people. The fruit was also called the love apple. Many believed superstitiously that the fruit, like the root, had magic properties that would cause fertility and sexual drive and desire. Rachel believed this superstition and thought that if she gave some of the drug to Jacob, she would get pregnant. Mandrakes are also mentioned in Song of Solomon 7:13.
The Bible records that she asked her sister for some of the mandrakes. Her sister would have known what she wanted them for, and made a lewd joke about the fact that Rachel had Jacob's love. Genesis 30:15 "And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that you have taken my husband? and would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" This was an insult, but Rachel had no pride at this point apparantly. She quickly offered Leah the chance to have Jacob spend the night with her, in exchange for some of the mandrakes, which she planned to use later with Jacob herself, in order to conceive a child. Leah accepted the deal.
Though the drug acted as a stimulant temporarily, it would leave him unconscous for two or three days. This didn't stop the woman from her plan to use the drug on Jacob. From there, we find that Leah conceived that night and gave birth to a son. But, Rachel did not get pregnant... not for at least three more years. We know this because Leah had three children after that exchange before Rachel finally conceived Joseph. Rachel's wishery led her to try superstitious nonsense to get what she wanted, instead of turning to God for what God apparantly wanted her to have.
We may find this story humorous and silly, thinking that these women were superstitious and ignorant. But, how often do women today follow what we refer to as "old-wives tales?" Even "love potions" and aphrodiasics are common usage. Nothing has really changed in the last 3000 years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Man in the Myrtles in the first Chapter of Zechariah is a picture of the presence of God. God's presence is not something to be taken lightly, and He won't be found anywhere or in any fashion. Many people like the come as you are approach, and that's all true, because Jesus calls you from where you are to follow Him. But, at some point after the call, and before you experience the wind in your wings in your prayer life, you will find yourself dealing with some things in your life with God. Prayer Warriors are like those Women With the Wind in their Wings. They help carry away problems in prayer. I have seen times when I knew my freedom in the Spirit world was a direct result of the prayer of an elderly saint who had spent her lonely days praying for the people in the church. You can imagine the sense of freedom Zack felt, seeing the burden of sin being lifted off his people. Now, we know from this side of Calvary that Jesus died to have our sins imputed on the cross. Our sins are washed away by remission at baptism. But, after baptism, all that remains is for us to cry out to Jesus in prayer for the shortcomings of our life of grace.
But, Zechariah didn't jump from the presence of God experience with the Man in the Myrtles, directly to the release in prayer experience of the Women With the Wind in their Wings. There are three scenes enfolded between these two beautiful visions. The first is the vision of an angel sent to measure Jerusalem. In this vision, Zack shares God's call to come out from bondage and to rebuild Israel. Zack gets a real vision of what Israel can be in God's eyes, and how it will measure up to His standards in the end. I like the words where God says, "After the Glory!!"
Zechariah 2:8 For thus says the LORD of hosts; After his glory has he sent
me unto the nations which plundered you: for he that touches you touches the
apple of his eye.
God says, after the glory of your first experience with him, or after Zack's vision of God's glorious presence in the Myrtles, you are going to be mine.
The second scene beyond the Man in the Myrtle vision is a shocking vignette for me. Here Zack sees the High priest, a man named Joshua, facing off with Satan, which would be kind of like seeing your own Pastor facing Satan on your behalf. I think it ironic that Joshua is also the same name as Jesus in the Hebrew. Jesus is just a more modernized Aramaic form of Joshua. Jesus did face Satan on our behalf. But, back to the Pastor Joshua. The only difference here is that Joshua is not facing Satan. Satan is facing Joshua. Joshua has his eyes on an angel of God. Satan is standing to his right facing him, resisting Joshua, attempting to prevent Joshua from interceding on the behalf of the people...trying to stop this encounter with an angel. The reason I find this so shocking is the open conflict, or warfare. But, some things are worth fighting for. I've always been a runner in the past, avoiding a conflict. I try to face issues now. That's a good thing, I believe. We have to be able to set limits somewhere.
But, in this vision, God rebukes Satan and calls Joshua a "brand plucked out of the fire." Joshua is wearing filthy clothes. This is not surprising. Most Pastors have seen quite enough filth to shock the average person. They encounter a lot of "stuff" from dealing with each individual's problems. Joshua is given a change of clothing from God and Zack calls out for God to put a crown on Joshua's head as well. Then the angel of the lord begins to instruct Joshua on how to lead the people into restoration with God, because God is planning on sending a Messiah out of Israel. (They're told to clean this dump up, because a Messiah can't come out of a dump.)
The third vision from the Myrtles gets a little more ethereal, or other worldly. As a matter of fact, every time I look at the page, I want to just skip past this chapter because it belongs in the book of Revelation. Of course, it belongs right where it is, and God has a revelation of His Spirit for me right here and now. We don't have to wait for heaven to experience God's Spirit.
In this vision, the angel has to wake Zack up because he has fallen into a deep sleep. The angel shows Zack a Golden Candlestick and two olive trees, which represents God's Spirit burning inside their King Zerubbabel, who would lead them in their rebuilding efforts. (See, I told you it sounds like something out of Revelation :)
Zechariah 4:6-7 Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is
the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by
my spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? before
Zerubbabel you shall become a plain: and he shall bring forth its headstone with
shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
Oh the beauty of god's grace that allows a filthy people to be called clean to stand before His Spirit! The Man in the Myrtles, the angel measuring to rebuild Jerusalem after the glory lost, Satan rebuked from the children of God as they are given clean clothes and crowns, the flowing of the olive oil of God's Spirit through the candlestick, and then the Women with the Wind in their Wings carrying off the wickedness of God's people; all of these five visions together form a prescription for those who want to encounter the presence of God in their own lives... for those who want to rebuild on a foundation of God's Word.
It seems all you have to do to hear from God is to ask Him to speak. Pick any four pages in the Bible, and you will find something to speak to your life from God. It's no wonder the Bible has been preserved through the centuries. God's Word is so easy to love. It is like feasting at a banquet table.
Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner
over me was love.