Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

As I opened the Bible app on my phone to do my morning Bible reading, I hadn’t been particularly thinking or searching for this verse a day or two ago. Actually, to be quite honest, I haven’t been so disciplined in reading my Bible as I should.  Yet Isaiah 41:10 popped up unannounced and unasked as the Bible verse of the day.  Undoubtedly this is perhaps one of my top 10 “go to” verses in the Bible–you know the ones that you can recite in your sleep and that serve as a bedrock to any situation. How many times have I read this verse? How many times has it calmed me in times of uncertainty, fear or despair?  Yet this time, as is often the case when reading God’s word… this time it spoke to me a little differently.  In moments prior, the last three lines always anchored me—God’s strengthens me, helps me and upholds me.  But on this particular day as I read, my heart, my eyes, my entire being centered on the first two lines.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.”  Over and over I read: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.”

Then closing my eyes and meditating on it:  “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.”

Then the revelation, peace and joy that comes with the piercing power of God’s word:  “God is with me! He is God! God is with me! He’s my God!” It was almost like I said to myself: “Girl don’t you know God is God and He’s with you? What’s wrong with you? What you worried about?”

Of course if you are a Christian you’ve heard that preached in countless sermons, taught in many bible study studies or you’ve just read it for yourself.  And of course we know in theory God is with us.  But how often  do we forget?  How common for us to know it in theory but not live as if we believe it or know it?  So frequently we don’t  live it in or day to day experience. It is so easy to give that encouraging word to someone else, but we can’t embrace it for ourselves.   And if you don’t know Christ as Lord and Savior, you may not know the beauty of God’s blessed assurance to be faithful to His people at all.

So as the last fleeting hours of 2015 pass us by and we embark on the adventure of the unknown in 2016, like me you  may be having moments of reflection, pursuing goals for the coming year, seeking strategies for the next steps and holding some apprehension about who, what, where and how to do it all.   It’s natural for these feelings to come. But the message is simple:   “Fear not, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”

Notice God didn’t say, “Fear not, I’m going to give power or make you wealthy or give you this or that.”  He simply said, “I am with you.  I am your God.”  And when we have Him, really and truly in every dimension of our lives, He is all we need.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine…..and yet still I rise!

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

 

 

 

 

 

Sin, deliverance, grace, faith and mercy.  We throw these words around freely assuming that people understand what they mean. Yet one can’t help but think, “Do people truly understand the Gospel and its significance for their lives?”  Are people grasping the basic teachings and foundations of Christianity?  Do we truly understand what it means to be saved and have eternal life through Jesus Christ?  So in my last post I began to talk about how we in sharing our faith and even every now and again as we teach and preach from the pulpit, have to lay down the basics of Christ and Christianity for our audience.

But before I can go any further however, I think it is absolutely necessary to lay out what I consider to be some essential truths or perspectives that I personally consider PARAMOUNT in following God through Jesus Christ. I learned pretty early-on if you get a good handle of these concepts, its makes it just a little easier to develop and grow in your relationship with the Lord.  This list is by no means exhaustive and please note the disclaimer that this is my personal opinion.  I am sure others and perhaps even some of you reading right now if asked may have similar overlapping suggestions or perspectives that may be somewhat different. Either way, I pray that this list will help bring some enlightenment and understanding to someone as we aim to go back to the basics of Christianity.

Here we go…

1) You cannot follow God strictly by intellect.  Get over how brilliant you think you are.

I know….Ouch!  But yes, you are hearing right.  The truth is, you are just not that smart.  This was a difficult lesson I had to learn firsthand because of the way I am naturally wired. Listen, I’m blessed to work as a medical professional.  By nature I am analytical, detail –oriented and somewhat of a deep thinker.  Confidence, sound judgment and at times quick decisive action are just a few of the skills that I must have in my arsenal in order to care for those who walk through my office door.  All of these facets of intellect allow me to do what I do, just as it allows you to perform certain tasks using the talents and gifts you have been given.

It’s not quite so simple when it comes to the Lord. Why?  Because God is beyond human understanding.  He is an oxymoron in every way. He’s in some ways simple yet mind-blowingly complex; He is loving, gentle, compassionate and meek and at the same time frightening and terrible, especially in times of anger or quite frankly just because of His majestic power.  He can come quiet as a dove or as forceful as a raging fire storm. He knows everything about everything at all times and in all places. Sometimes He gives, sometimes He takes away. Sometimes He punishes, sometimes He pardons.  I could go on and on. My point is, you could merge together the genius of the world’s greatest minds throughout history and it would not begin to scratch the surface of God’s wisdom and knowledge.  And on top of that, He shares with us what He chooses to share.  So there are things you will learn and understand about God because He chooses to share them. And things you will not know because he hides it or alternately because our limited human minds cannot understand it.

A widely accepted basic belief that is rooted in the teachings of ancient philosophers and commonly accepted in Christianity and among many world religions today is that human beings are essentially made of 2 main parts:   the material and the immaterial or what is considered the natural (the things in the world we can detect with our human senses) and supernatural (those things in the world that are present beyond the natural senses).  That being said, there are different theories proposed to further explain the makeup of human beings with 2 such popular thoughts in Christianity being the tripartite theory and bipartite theory of humankind. Stay with me now! The tripartite theory asserts that human beings are comprised of three main parts:  body, soul and spirit.  The bipartite theory asserts that human beings are made up of two parts:  body and soul/spirit.  So in other words, although tripartite and bipartite theory share the belief that human beings are made of the body, bipartite theory sees no separation between soul and spirit.  The word soul or the word spirit are different words that can both be used to describe the same thing.[1] Tripartite theory would argue that the soul is a distinct entity and the spirit is a distinct entity.  For reasons beyond the scope of discussion for this blog post, my personal belief is in the tripartite theory of man so I will elaborate more from that perspective.  I hope you are still with me? I know some of this detailed information may seem pointless, but trust me in believing you will soon see that these points will help to bring greater insight into why following God is not strictly about intellect and reason.   Almost there!

So the body constitutes the natural or material part of us. It would include our natural senses, organs and limbs for example.  It is essentially the parts of us that can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, etc. and it is also through the natural senses that we interact with the natural world we live in.

The soul and spirit are considered to be more supernatural aspects of ourselves and the parts we know the least about. The soul is made up of the mind (intellect, reasoning and judgment), will (the power of choosing one’s own actions, conscious choice in regards to actions or thoughts, desires)[2] and emotions (feelings).  It is through the soul that we have our cravings, passions, appetite and desires for certain things.   You can now imagine why someone with a “sick” soul can make bad decisions based on irrational judgment or unhealthy emotions.

And then there is the spirit. This is perhaps the most mysterious and supernatural aspect of us that we know.  The spirit is believed to be the part of us that makes us conscious or aware of God.

It operates in ways outside of the natural world as we know it. Now am I saying we don’t use our minds in some capacity to have a relationship with God? Of course not.  You have to love and follow God with every dimension of your being:  your body, your soul and your spirit.   But the ego and pride that naturally comes with our human intellect must be buried to follow and love God. First as I keep emphasizing, your intellect is less than adequate to fully decipher the vastness of God so there is no reason to boast. Second, if you approach God with a superior know-it-all mindset, how can you ever humble yourself and give Him the reverence that He demands and the honor that He is due?

Because of sin (deeper discussion in later posts), every human being is born with what is known as an unregenerate spirit. It means by nature, humans are naturally wicked and we naturally oppose the things of God. However, when we open ourselves, surrender our will and allow God’s Spirit to have an authentic encounter with our spirit, he will give you the gift of spiritual regeneration.  In other words, God will illuminate, renew, restore and transform your spirit and cause you to gravitate to Him. And your regenerated spirit, under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit will then influence your soul and body to live a life that honors and desires God and the things of God.[3]  The deeper in relationship you get with God, the more your appetite and cravings will be for Him and what He represents. Through this ongoing transforming process, you will learn to love the Lord God with all your body, soul and spirit.  It is

especially through our spiritual connection with God, as God Himself is a Spirit that we get insight based on what God shares with us that is outside of what the mind can understand.  It is primarily by the leading of our spirit by God’s Spirit that we love Him, obey Him and love each other, even the unlovable, when it naturally doesn’t make sense and when we naturally would choose to do the opposite.  It is God’s amazing Spirit that enables us to do extraordinary things beyond our natural human ability. The concept of the spirit will come up over and over again in this Back to Basics series where I can elaborate further on this crucial part of who we are.  Furthermore, this Spirit-to spirit connection between us and our Creator is why people can still worship, have relationship and connection with God despite mental, intellectual or physical disability.  The point is not to get hung on the details but to realize that God connects with us prominently through the supernatural aspects of ourselves.  He wants to have a deep connection with you!

At the risk of becoming too long winded, I will stop here for now.  Looks like each concept will have to be its own separate post versus completing it all in one writing as I initially thought.

So remember—the mind and the intellect is a gift from God.  But make it easier on yourself and humble yourself from now. Never think you are sharp enough to outthink or fully grasp Him.  He will baffle you every time.  A mind tempered in humility is the best mind to have….and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

Bibliography

[1] Strauss, Lehman, “Man A Trinity (Body, Soul, Spirit),” published June 14, 2004, https://bible.org/seriespage/2-man-trinity-spirit-soul-body (accessed October 14, 2015).

[2] Dictionary.com, s.v. “Willl,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/will (accessed October 17, 2015).

[3] Strauss, Lehman  “Man A Trinity (Body, Soul, Spirit)

Good morning friends,
This morning I was sharing this message with a friend of mine going through a difficult time where she has been mistreated and I felt led to share more globally. It is something I am sure many of you have heard before and already know. However, sometimes as we go through our difficulties, we are feeling low or people make us feel like we are less than we are, we forget and take God’s love for granted. I pray this will minister to someone and serve as a reminder to us all. You are loved!


Jeremiah 31:3 New International Version
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Roman 8.26 NKJV
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.
Good morning! This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in this day! No matter what we are facing we are alive and God is for us! So we always win!

God is so amazing. The scripture is saying you don’t have to have fancy words to pray. Just talk to God sincerely. And sometimes when we are so distressed and don’t have the words, the Spirit of God that is in us will go to God on our behalf. Even when we don’t have the words to speak God understands when we groan, cry out or just send thoughts and prayers to Him in our mind. He knows our heart. And He has compassion for us. No matter what we do God loves us even in our flaws. Don’t try to compare God’s love to human love. Although it is hard not too. God loves us in a way that is hard for us to imagine.

He loves you when you do well or even when you mess us. He loves the murderer, the robber and the thief. He loves the liar, the prostitute and the con artist. He may not love our actions but He loves us. He loves us all. He just wants you to surrender to Him, let Him take control, heal you and change you for the better. So you can be the very best you can be.
Even when people don’t love you or treat you right remember God loves you! You are loved! You are His beloved! You are His daughter (or son), His princess (or prince), His masterpiece, His treasure, His joy! Receive and be healed in God’s love.

Everyday wake up, look in the mirror and say: I am God’s , masterpiece! God loves me! God loves me and I love me! I am loved!

With peace and blessings may you be restored and renewed in God’s love!

Stillirise323

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”
Philippians 1:12, NIV
It is inevitable in life to go through some tough times. As long as you draw breath, trouble in some form is a given. God never promised us an easy life. Yet, sometimes like me, you must wonder, what is the purpose.
Well, God is pretty amazing in that he is a multi-tasker. He can kill several birds with one stone, accomplish many purposes in one shot and get all the glory.

Although I admit not always pleasant to endure, your troubles and trials will make you better. If you allow them to and submit to the process, the Holy Spirit can use them to make you stronger, increase your faith and sharpen you overall. Through trials we can become more like Christ.

But beyond that, as Paul says in this scripture, your story can help advertise the Gospel and the good news of salvation (deliverance from the oppression of sin) through Jesus Christ. As God helps you endure, as you display your trust and faith in Him even in the darkest hour, as He keeps you in a state of perfect peace and as He works miracles and solutions in your favor, you will draw people to the person and glory of God.

So what are you going to do? I say this just as much for myself, as someone who sometimes has their own struggles of faith during difficult times, as I say this to you. Are you going to allow the time of trial to be a waste? Or are you going to allow God to use it to reshape you for the better and bring glory and honor to His name?

Let your test be a great testimony for the glory of God and an instrument to bring people to salvation in Jesus Christ!

And yet still I rise,

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

(CONTINUATION OF POST:  I KNOW IT WAS THE BLOOD).  PLEASE SEE THAT POST FOR PAGE 1)

The Blood of Jesus Reconciles Us Back to God

Central to Christianity is the notion that through the sin of Adam and Eve disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, mankind was eternally separated from God. God cannot tolerate sin and unholiness.  He just can’t. There has to be a mediator of some sort, something to buffer the sin.   As such, God still was merciful and still preserved mankind despite our sins throughout the ages. What was one way he did it?  Before Jesus came, God set up a system in ancient Israel where the sacrifices of animals were required payment for the atonement of sins and a gesture of worship towards Him . Leviticus 17:11 says , “For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul.  Depending on the sin and the type of offering you were giving, certain animals including bulls, goats and lambs, often  pure and without defect of the animal were the only acceptable sacrifices based on the Lord’s specifications.   Imagine the thousands of animals sacrificed and the gallons of blood shed in those years!  Why? Because no different from those of us living today, those ancient folks always sinned, so they always had to be offering sacrifices day and night.    Keeping it real with God like I do, my question would be, “Lord did it really take all of that?” Never the less, this is how it was.  The blood of those specifically chosen animals, “paid for” if you will and covered the sins of the people of Israel so that they could have a relationship with God and not be destroyed by his wrath.  Instead of seeing their sin and destroying the people, God saw the pure blood of those sacrifices and granted the sinner pardon.  The blood of those animals served as the buffer between Israel and the judgement and wrath of God. That sacrificial system was the foreshadowing of what Jesus would ultimately do on the cross.   Jesus came as God in the form of man, living a sinless life, pure and without defect.  He served as the perfect sacrifice who gave His life by the shedding of His blood, that we would have the opportunity to be once and for all reconciled back to God.  No more bulls or lambs needed.  He was the guiltless Lamb of God. You must only acknowledge that your are sinner, genuinely repent of those sins, submit your life to God and acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Doesn’t mean you will never sin–but when you fall, those sins are forgotten by God, once you ask for forgiveness, through the atoning power of the blood of Jesus.  Instead of your sins, God sees the blood payment of His beloved Son. Please note the correction.  I initially said in he original post that the blood of Jesus covers all sins.  Pardon my miswriting.  As pointed out, I want to be sure to clarify and emphasize that  the blood of Jesus, unlike the blood sacrifices of animals takes away our sins. John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) and Hebrews 9:26 further states “Now once at the consummation of the ages He has manifested to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself.”   Where the blood sacrifice of animals could only cover our sins and require a continued sacrificing of the blood to be in right relationship with God, the blood of Jesus did what thousand of sacrifices could never do–it completely erased our sins.   Not limited to sins we have committed in the past, but for every offense we would ever commit in our lives, Jesus paid the price with His life and His blood.    (Thanks so much to my friend Cory Quarterman for pointing out the need for correction, the importance of clarification and the supporting verses). This if nothing else is the central point in our having victory over Satan and the forces of darkness. You cannot defeat him  and have eternal life in heaven without first having reconciliation and relationship with God.

The Blood of Jesus Establishes The Blood Covenant With God— A Covenant of Blessings, Benefits and Breakthroughs

Now I will be the first to admit I really didn’t know all of the ramifications of what this meant.  I’ve heard about the blood covenant here and there, but after researching for this blog post and getting greater understanding I must say I am encouraged, empowered and excited! The idea of a blood covenant is not exclusive to Christianity.  Apparently it is  a concept that has been seen in most cultures throughout the world from the beginning of human history.  Wayne Nelson, in the article Understanding the Blood Covenant  (http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=4089)  states that a blood covenant simply means  that two covenant individuals share such a close relationship with each other that all they have or possess in this life is available to each upon demand.  Now that’s pretty deep!  So how does that apply to us as Christians and children of God who have a blood covenant with Him through the blood of Jesus Christ.   It means all that God has, by the binding agreement of the covenant relationship  is available to us and all that we have by the binding of the covenant relationship is available to God.  Doesn’t this line up with the biblical scriptures:  “…if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,…. (Romans 8:17, NIV) and “…Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8, NKJV). Gleaning from the example Mr. Nelson gives us in the article, if God for instance wants you to preach His holy word, under the blood covenant your answer would be to submit to God’s will.  God on His part then, on your asking should answer by  providing  what you need, for example the words,  stamina,  power and anointing to convey His announcements to His people.  So what does the blood covenant bring?

                                      The Blood Covenant Brings: 

a) Deliverance

He(Jesus)  too shared in their humanity so that by his death he (Jesus)  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 2:15)

b) Victory

Having disarmed principalities and powers (i.e. satanic forces) He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:15)

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

3) Cleansing and Purification from Sin

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7, NKJV)

All that God has, all that we need–love, joy, peace, strength, rest, renewal, healing, restoration, the list goes on, is ours through the blood of Jesus!

The Blood of Jesus Protects

-Now this is a topic up for debate.  Not so much that there is a question of whether the blood of Jesus brings protection.  Most Christians believe it to be true and don’t question in.  If the Lord used the blood of an ordinary lamb on the doorpost of His people, the Israelites,  to prevent destruction from coming upon  them during the Passover as seen in the scripture:  The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt (Exodus 12:13, NKJV) surely we can infer that the royal blood of Jesus protects us more completely. But the debate is over whether people need to declare or  as they say in church lingo “plead the blood of Jesus” for protection against Satanic attack. People for example will plead the blood of Jesus over their home to protect against disaster,  over their minds to keep their thoughts holy and prevent influence by evil thoughts and plead the blood over themselves and their loved ones for safety and protection.   This is honestly something I had some question about, because I hear and see many great spiritual leaders who I admire and who I would consider mentors, pray and speak this way regularly and I actually feel very comfortable doing it.  But truthfully, I never saw it written in the scriptures and I always questioned where that practice came from. So here stands the 2 sides of the argument: some argue that pleading the blood of Jesus is not biblical. That the work of the blood is already done and we are already under the protection of the blood. We don’t need to go around chanting it over every thing in our lives as if it is some magic phrase to call down the protection of God.  On the other hand, those who support using the phrase really believe the utterance of the phrase, works in the spiritual realm to disarm and dismantle demonic forces and demonic attacks because of the power the blood carries.  My take—I see both sides.  I have been around people who plead the blood of Jesus almost mechanically over everything, going as far as to even say “blood them up, blood them up” when pleading the blood for protection  of loved ones, those who don’t know Christ and against their enemies as they get into a frenzy.  That magic potion way of using the phrase, I don’t agree with.  But I have heard stories where people plead the blood over property and everything surrounding that property is destroyed while the property is spared and I myself must confess several times when I am held in my sleep by whatever force holding me, my cry of the blood of Jesus allows me to wake up and break from the hold.  The best explanation that resonated with me was given by Dr. Pat of Lunch Date With Jesus Prayer Line, that explained that when we say the blood of Jesus against demonic spirits, although they already know the power of the blood, it is like a reminder to them that they don’t have the right or the power to touch that thing or person covered in the blood.  So my opinion, done responsibly and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, it can benefit us and there is no harm in doing it.  But either way whether you say it or not, we know the power of the blood is already working. The work of Christ is done and we can easily ask specifically for what we need.  I leave it up to you to let the Holy Spirit guide you on this notion.

In those 3 beloved people I saw the power of God on display first hand. Joel lost his battle to cancer and went home to be with the Lord Tuesday, December 17, 2013.  Although the Lord did not heal Joel in this life, I have the peace of God that He is present with the Lord and healed on the other side of heaven in eternity.  My dear friend Kerri-Ann had brain surgery where it was discovered that the bleeding was due to an unknown aneurysm in the brain.  The aneurysm was treated and her recovery has been miraculous.  She never lost consciousness, never had any neurological deficits–she’s been talking, walking, singing, praying for others and praising this whole time.  Don’t tell me my God ain’t awesome!  Daddy had to be helicoptered immediately for emergency surgery to the nearest qualifying hospital for repair of the aortic dissection. He was within minutes of death’s door. After 5 hour open heart surgery, he is at home recovering discharged home 4 days ago.  His healing has been astounding as well.  Nothing but the sovereign hand of God could do this!  Nothing but the divine majesty of our Lord in all 3 lives!  All possible by nothing but the Blood of Jesus!…and yet still I Rise

With peace and blessing may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

Fighting, struggling, clawing to write this post.  Couldn’t get it out, no matter how I tried.  Three days prior —migraine headaches, heaviness and an unshakeable restless feeling.  Then Dec 11, 2013 all hell broke loose and God’s glory stepped in….

You are regular target. The devil is out to get you and he will stop at nothing to take you out!  I can’t stress enough that we must wake up and realize that daily we are engaged in a very real spiritual battle. You must understand this is all out war.  The devil seeks to kill, steal and destroy and his ultimate goal is to lead you to an eternity of torment in hell.   Regular weapons won’t help to win this battle.  Rockets, missiles and hand grenades are of no use here. To win this spiritual war you need supernatural spiritual weapons.  In prior posts we have looked at how Praise and worship, discernment and prayer are invaluable tools in spiritual warfare.  Today we will examine the blood of Jesus.

These past  2.5 weeks have been none like I have ever experienced. It started when I found out that a church brother had terminal brain cancer.  Doctors said there was nothing left to be done. What? This couldn’t be?  Ours paths crossed  for the first time just 9 months ago when I had the privilege to serve with him during a mission trip to Haiti.  His positive attitude, his unmistakable light, his  kindness and infectious optimism made him impossible  not to love.  He had plans to return to the next mission trip to Haiti.   By this new development with him I was shocked and devastated. Apparently this had been something he had been dealing with for a while.  But you would never know by his demeanor and the beautiful light that shone through him wherever he went—he was the same Joel Jean Baptiste.  Hadn’t I just recently spoken to him up to 2 months ago or so in bible study?  Now he lay dying in a hospital bed with an inoperable brain tumor with bleeding to the brain…..

The saints quickly mobilized.  Word got out and suddenly prayers upon prayers were going out on behalf of Joel Jean-Baptise.  We “bombarded heaven” as the popular saying goes with requests, petitions, sometimes demands from God to heal Joel. God you are able. You are Jehovah Ropha–the God who heals. Is anything too hard for God? God you can do this! The prayers and hospital visits continued.  December 11 ,2013–Joel’s 35th birthday. He lay mostly unresponsive in the bed. People came out in droves–the outpouring of love and support were overwhelming for him.  A testament to the kind of person he was.  It was then that Ms Kerri-Ann Dacosta, gifted prayer warrior with an unmistakable anointing for intercessory prayer (praying to God on behalf of others) went to see Joel.  I wasn’t there to witness, but the reports were she prayed mightily and fervently.  Knowing Kerri-ann the way I did, I expected nothing less. But then coming out of the prayer, by Kerri-ann’s own account, the sudden onset of the worst headache she had experienced in her entire life. It would knock her to her knees, although she never lost consciousness.  God would have it that this would happen on the neurology floor where he would send an angel in the form of a caring and compassionate neurologist to immediately step in and wisely insist that Kerri-Ann go downstairs to the emergency room of the hospital and have a CT Scan. The finding–subarachnoid hemorrhage—-bleeding on the brain.  Oh did I mention that earlier that day, just a few hours before I got to the hospital to visit Joel and subsequently find out about Kerri-ann in the ER, that I got a call stating that my uncle, who is a father to me, had sudden onset upper back pain. A quick visit to the doctor, quick action and further investigation revealed a life threatening aortic dissection—a tear in the all of the main artery of the body with bleeding…..usually fatal within minutes.

Three people I knew.  Three people I walked with in different levels of intimacy and impacted my life in different ways. Three people with bleeding related affliction….

The blood is the source of life in the human body.  It carries oxygen and life- sustaining nutrients to every organ that keeps us.  It also removes the waste of carbon dioxide that threatens to kill us.  If our blood, in our limited sinful human state is the major life source of the human body, how much more is the blood of Jesus , the one in whom we live and move and have our being, the source that sustains every aspect of our lives?

(CONTINUATION  ON THE NEXT POST:  I STILL KNOW IT WAS THE BLOOD)

More than the civil wars that have ravaged the continent of Africa, the Muslim terrorist attacks against Western culture, the genocides that continue to plague human history, we are engaged in a very real and ongoing spiritual battle. The devil has waged war against God and anything related to God.  That would certainly include His creation. This means you!  No one is off limits.  The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy everything God has for you.  Kill, steal and destroy your life, dreams, joy and peace of mind—all of the blessings of God. You can’t win this war with natural weapons.  Bombs, AK 47’s and hand grenades won’t help you here.  To win this war you have to tap into supernatural weapons.  Access those  weapons that God has granted us coupled with His limitless power.   Thus far I have mentioned praise/worship and discernment as mighty tools available in our arsenal against the powers of darkness.  Next up for discussion:   the power of prayer.

What is prayer?  In simple terms, it’s just communicating with God.  For most of us the majority of the time we communicate through spoken words.  But keep in mind, we can interact with God through our thoughts.  I loved the answer the great evangelist Billy Graham gave when someone asked if God hears our silent prayers .  He wisely said:

“Yes, God hears our prayers on all occasions, whether we’re praying out loud or praying silently in our hearts and minds. After all, He knows all about us and knows what is going on inside us—both good and bad. The Bible says that God “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible also says, “The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him” (Proverbs 15:26). (http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=3828)

God really does have it all covered.  Sometimes life becomes so heavy that we don’t know how or what to pray.  But we have an all-knowing God who sees and knows the words of our hearts and the words of our thoughts.  Though most of us most frequently pray aloud and some would argue that verbal prayer is better, know that God “hears you” in your silence.

P= Praise, Persistence,

In prayer take time to praise God.  Everyone likes a compliment.  God is no different.  Tell God how awesome He is.  Thank Him for His goodness, His love and His mercy.  Bombard Him with sweet, adoring words from your mouth—what the popular bible verse says is the “fruit of your lips” (Proverbs 12:14) . The more you do it, the more you will begin to feel and connect  to His presence and power.  And we know praise and worship moves God to fight our battles and give us victory over the Enemy.

It is common practice that people set aside time alone to pray in a quiet place.  It may be early morning before confronting the day, late at night before going to sleep  or any other set time.  However, the bible instructs us to “…pray without ceasing(Thessalonians 5:7).  In addition to that quiet time, know that you can and should talk to God all the time.   Need help with a challenging situation? “Lord help me to resolve this.”  Did the Lord show you favor at work? Thank him right then and there.  Something heavy on your heart? You don’t have to wait until you get home to tell God.  Even in the midst of a crowd you can share your concerns. The more we talk to God, the more we grow in relationship with Him and vice versa. Get in the habit of talking to Him all the time and before you know it, it will become second nature.

Persistent prayer also comes in handy when we are enlisting God’s help or looking for God’s guidance.  A wonderful example I’ve heard of this was a preacher describing how his little girl would latch on to his leg and not let go until he moved to get the cookie she politely asked for.  In her simple act, the Lord revealed to him that the same tenacity and persistence that this little girl showed in getting what she desired, is the same way we have to latch on to God and pray until He moves on our behalf one way or another.  God may not always answer by giving   exactly what you want, but persistent prayer encourages Him to move in the way that He knows is best for you.  So after you pray, and after you’ve prayed, pray, pray again.

R=requests

“Be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God (Philippians 4:6, NKJV). No matter how big or seemingly insignificant, God wants to be included in every aspect of our lives.  Just take a look at yourself and everything around you. The make-up and complexity of something as simple as an eyelash is astounding, much less our entire human bodies and  all the things of nature.   The phrase “spare me the details” doesn’t apply to God. God is a God of intricacy and intimacy.  He wants to hear about, be involved in and orchestrate every detail of our lives.

I love the example the biblical character Nehemiah represents for presenting our requests before God.  He went to God for anything and everything.   When he needed pardon from the king of Persia to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the destroyed walls of the city, what did he do? He asked that God let him “ prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy…” (Nehemiah 1:11, NKJV) in the sight of the king.  Not only was Nehemiah given pardon without hesitation, but the king went a step further and  gave him extra assistance in going.  Through our prayers we can call down the favor of God.

Got haters or opposition causing trouble in your life?  Check Nehemiah again.  When his enemies tried  different tactics to prevent him from rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah didn’t curse, didn’t physically retaliate, didn’t  lose his cool.  Just like a child who tells their parents about the bully at school, Nehemiah simply went to Father God in prayer.   His simple request was this: “…O God strengthen my hands….” (Nehemiah 6:9, NKJV)  and “My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works…”(Nehemiah 6:14, NKJV).  And voila!  Checkmate!  The very next verse,  the  words of Nehemiah’s victory:  “The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days”(Nehemiah 6:15).   You see the devil just can’t win when a child of God cries out and He decides to step in. So the next time Satan comes and tries to step to you, brandish your weapon! Kaboom! Hit him  with your prayers!

 

A=Answers

The beauty of prayer?  It’s an exchange not one one-sided.  It’s a dialogue not a monologue.  It’s collaborative not selfish.  When we speak, God speaks back.  When we speak God delights in our act of worship through prayer.  When He speaks He speaks life into our being.  Yes..it is important to praise and present your petitions before God.  But also take time to hear what God is saying to you.  Open your spirit and tune your senses to see how God is leading.  He may speak through a person, His Word, your thoughts, a feeling, a song…anything.  Trust that the enemy will always try to hinder you from praying because he knows how powerful of a weapon it is.   Without it you are extremely open and vulnerable to attack.  Just like soldiers must stay connected to their generals for guidance, so we must stay connected to God Almighty for all that we need.  It is through prayer that God will dispatch his Holy angels to fight on our behalf.  It is through prayer that God moves the obstacles in our lives. It is through prayer that God heals, delivers, blesses, empowers, guides, defends and protects us.  So pray and simply trust God. Pray and believe God to answer (in different ways—another topic) in His perfect way, according to His perfect will and in His perfect timing.  I guarantee He will never steer you wrong.

Y=Yes

Prayer is indirectly a sign of worship.    When you pray to God you are saying God I acknowledge you, God you are real and God I am dependent on you.  You wouldn’t pray to something or someone you didn’t believe in. In essence you are saying yes, You are God.  The lie?  A good prayer has to be fancy, eloquent and have a barrage of big words.  The truth—the beauty of prayer is that you simply do it.   That you intentionally reach out to God.  God doesn’t look at the details of the eloquence of words.  He looks at the genuineness of your heart. The amazing thing is as you grow with God and spend time in His holy Word, you will learn to allow his Spirit to guide your prayers and naturally begin to pray according to the promises of the scriptures.  When we pray in obedience to God and declare our yes to Him, this opens the door for God to partner with us in overcoming the forces of darkness.  So if the devil  insists on riding your tail, have no fear! TKO him with your prayers!

This post does not begin to scratch the surface that is the vastness of prayer.  Minister Maurice Belfonte, youth minister at Shekinah Youth Church/Greater Allen AME said it best in this facebook post:   “Prayer redirects, reconnects,  reorders,  recovers,  reinvigorates, refocuses,  reveals, reduces, restores, reactivates,  reminds, replaces,  reforms, recommits.  Just a few things that Prayer has done for me.  I could go on and on. The moral of the story is:  #PRAY.”

So after you pray and after your pray, pray..pray again…and  yet still I rise

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323