God’s relentless display of beauty… You (part three)

There is a resurgence rising up to engage with something more. People around us are experiencing a world that is cracking and crumbling around them. Everything from religion to politics is failing to deliver on their promise of an amazing life in an amazing world. As daughters and sons of God in Christ we possess an eternal something. 

My most prized possession is God’s living word. I had no idea how powerful his word would be when it was first being planted in me as a boy. It has been a relentless slow-burning fire in me. The Holy Spirit has pursued me thousands of times in my sin and rebellion using the prophetic. The prophetic for me is receiving and sharing the living word of the Lord. 

The prophetic is a powerful force alive with heaven’s glory. God uses it to infiltrate every nation with the truth that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn. He actually came to save it (John 3:16-17) He saves us by staying with us and relentlessly changing us into who we really are. His word is alive with the power to do that for every person in every nation. 

And God’s strategy is you. You are his masterpiece, work of art, craftsmanship, made for the glory of heaven here and now. When you are led by the Spirit to put your faith in Jesus, your eyes are opened to see that the Father has a purpose for you. He is designing you to love his glory and to live for his reasons (Ephesians 2:10) 

So, don’t allow the distraction of trends and hype to make you throw away the treasure of the prophetic. The living word of God is moving and shaping you. You were planted by God when you trusted Jesus with your life. He is intent on growing you into who you really are… and oak tree of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:3) 

You are a blessing! 

Life-union…

I had a “prayer warrior” friend say to me recently that the problem with Christians in western culture is that we won’t humble ourselves enough to receive the living word of the Lord. I was intrigued and provoked (in the best way) as I have wrestled with this very thing for many years.

I have discovered a new favorite phrase from “The Passion Translation” referring to how Jesus calls us to live. He urges us to “remain in life-union” with him. For many of us, we will remember hearing about this as “abiding” in Jesus.

When it comes to being prophetic, no matter your age or culture, you must relate to Jesus as a person and you must receive his words. Both are far more than an idea, a concept or a set of beliefs.

What would happen if we gave our lives, surrendering ourselves to Jesus in order to remain in life-union with him? It would require us to embrace him as a living person present with us and his living words as something active inside us.

We would stand out as a bit strange at times… but “wonderfully” strange.

Maybe you have that same desperate hunger gnawing away in your gut as I do for God to be known on earth as in heaven. And you aren’t sure what to do with it. I encourage you to ask the Lord to make remaining in life-union with Jesus a priority in everything you do. Watch for him to show you the implications of his living presence with you and in you. Anticipate that you will experience him and his living words as active transforming agents in your life. Let your life-union with him expand your worldview.

As you do, you will find yourself prophesying more and more with your words and even your actions. Here is John 15:1-7 from “The Passion Translation”:

“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches.[e] As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words[f] live powerfully[g] within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done.” (John 15:1-7) TPT

You are a blessing!

Not invisible… transparent

Lately, I have been writing more my journey in the prophetic. I’m not sure of all of my motivations behind this. But, I know that I want to help us all (including me) receive and declare the living word of the Lord in this time we have been given.

In a church prophetic prayer session recently, one of our prayer warriors was crying out to the Lord, saying, “We want the pure prophetic, Lord!”. As she prayed I began to see a picture of myself wearing a cloak. As I wore it, I disappeared. So, I said to the Lord, “Oh… a cloak of Invisibility”. I sensed from him that I wasn’t exactly right. So I waited. What came to my spirit was the word “Transparency”. As I engaged with that word, I began to see myself on the stage of our worship center. I realized that people could see the outline of my shape… enough so that I was recognizable. But, I was see-through. People could easily look into me and even through me. I was wearing a cloak of Transparency.

I intuitively understood that this really blessed the Lord and it is what he wants for me. He wants me to walk boldly in transparency. There is a burden in my heart, that tells me that he wants that for all of us who want to grow in the prophetic.

Lord, give us the pure prophetic. And, begin by transforming me and clothing me with your transparency. – Amen.

You are a blessing!

Your children’s children could be the ones

Anyone who dedicates their life to God’s kingdom manifesting on earth as it is in heaven will need the span of their life to complete the journey. And even then, they will realize somewhere along the way, that they have been consumed by a vision of something that may not be experienced in their lifetime. Your children’s children could be the ones to actually live out the scenes that play out in your soul as you pray for the unprecedented move of God on earth as it is in heaven. This can’t stop us from praying or discourage us. It needs to actually fan into flame the gift of prophecy as we pray for keys to be released to all nations and generations. As they fulfill their God-designed mission we will all be able to celebrate it together literally for eternity. Keep praying for more workers to be sent to the harvest!

I was deeply encouraged and blessed this morning as I read the following from “The Passion Translation”, “Then Jesus gave this illustration: ‘Imagine what would happen if you were to go to one of your friends in the middle of the night and pound on his door and shout, ‘Please! Do you have some food you can spare? A friend just arrived at my house unexpectedly and I have nothing to serve him.’ But your friend says, ‘Why are you bothering me? The door’s locked and my family and I are all in bed. Do you expect me to get up and give you our food?’ But listen—because of your shameless impudence, even though it’s the middle of the night, your friend will get up out of his bed and give you all that you need. So it is with your prayers. Ask and you’ll receive. Seek and you’ll discover. Knock on heaven’s door, and it will one day open for you. Every persistent person will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he needs. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.'” Luke 11:5-10 TPT

You are a blessing!

The first time I reached out for prophetic ministry

We all need strengthening, encouragement, and comfort. That’s what prophesying is all about. (1 Cor 14:3) The first time I intentionally reached out for prophetic ministry was in the mid-1990s. A small conference I was attending offered the opportunity to sit with one of their prophetic teams in order to receive a word from the Lord.

I excitedly jumped into line. Hearing from God is something I could never get enough of. There have been many times in my life when I wouldn’t have been able to identify that. But, it has always been there. There has always been a relentless hunger and thirst for more.

I sat down with three wonderful women of God… ordinary people, like me, but so beautifully intent on getting a message from God that would strengthen, encourage, and comfort me. I still remember the three prophetic words they spoke into my life: 
1. They sensed the Lord’s great favor over me and on me. He really likes me, enjoys me, and lights up every time and any time he sees me coming to him. 
2. They saw me as a farmer, an ordinary man who is intent on being authentic. They sensed that the authenticity on my life was anointed and that God was going to powerfully use it to help others. 
3. Seeing me in the Spirit as a farmer also spoke to them about my devotion and loyalty to the Lord and my commitment to stay at the work he gives me through all of the seasons, including the harvest. The Lord wanted me to know that I am a man who does what I am told and will stubbornly complete the work.

That was almost thirty years ago in a church facility less than a mile from where I am writing right now. But, there is still life coming from that encounter. The Holy Spirit moved me deeply and quietly that day. They were prophesying to me. They recorded it on a cassette tape and sent me on my way. I’ll let you know if I find that tape some day.

If you know me, you may see some of those same things in me that they saw a few decades ago. I have learned that once a prophetic word is spoken to you and you can tell it is the Lord speaking, it then becomes your work (sometimes painful work) in the vineyard of your life to encourage yourself with it and use it to help you take your stand in your everyday life.

I am so grateful for the blessing of that day when those three friends of Jesus prophesied to me. But, unless I worked with it by faith, you wouldn’t be able to see any of the fruit of it in my life today.

Do you have some strengthening, encouraging, and/or comforting things that have been prophesied to you in Jesus’ Name that you need to go back and work with again? There is still life from God in them.

If you listen for the knock you’ll hear his voice

To be prophetic is to synchronize through surrender. It is recognizing that Jesus is knocking at your door in everything. By faith, his knocking is transformed into his voice. You hear it because you are listening for… Him. Just open the door.

“Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me. And to the one who conquers I will give the privilege of sitting with me on my throne, just as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. The one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying now to the churches.” Rev 3 – The Passion Translation

Grow by prophesying in prayer

Prophesying or “the prophetic” is receiving the living word of God and sharing it in the power and authority of Jesus’ Name. I remind myself often that my identity is in Christ. As a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, I have authority to pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven and to fully expect to see it happen increasingly.

Lately, I have found that prophesying in prayer is a powerful way to grow the gift of prophecy in my life. A few months ago, the Lord challenged me about praying prophetically through Jeremiah 1:7-10, “But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.'”

I am learning to go (in the Spirit) to everyone he sends me to and prophesy (in my prayers for them) whatever He commands me with faith and boldness in the Name of the Lord Jesus. I feel like I am only beginning to scratch the surface on being sent in the Spirit to prophesy in prayer over people and places.

I have begun to have more faith when I pray, that he is putting his words in my mouth. He does that primarily while I am reading, recalling, or meditating on scripture. The Holy Spirit can use what I have read in the Bible to impress the living word on my mind. I then intentionally prophesy His word in prayer and try not to mix in too much of my own words or agenda. I don’t expect perfection out of myself, just growth in grace. I also remind myself by faith in His word that I am appointed in Christ to prophesy over nations and kingdoms in order to see a transformation occur in those nations and kingdoms for the glory of God.

If you begin to prophesy in prayer, declaring alignment with the living word of God in the unseen realm, you likely will find that your awareness of God’s presence will increase. You may also have more vivid and detailed dreams, impressions, and visions.

So, enjoy the fact that you have been designed by God to receive the living word of God and share it in the power and authority of Jesus’ Name. Have fun!

You are a blessing!

Don’t say you are too________

Growing in the prophetic has required me to surrender my conversations to the Lord. And by that, I do mean surrendering them over and over again… sometimes daily. Better said, I surrender by letting him put his words in my mouth. The prophet, Jeremiah had his life-altering encounter with the Lord when he was young. In his opinion… TOO young. In the middle of one of the most amazing visitations from the Lord (you can read about it in Jeremiah 1), this young man got distracted and he almost derailed God’s appointment with his own words… “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

In order to grow in the spiritual gift of prophecy, I have learned over many years to trust God’s living word more than anyone else’s opinion, including my own. I have learned to cooperate with him as he puts his word in my mouth.

Jeremiah tells us more about his encounter with God, 
“But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth.'” (Jeremiah 1:6-9)

When I prophesy, I know according to God’s word that he wants to strengthen, encourage, and comfort people. (1 Corinthians 14:3). Right up until this morning, just before I began to write, I had to intentionally reject the limiting, negative words (objections) I wanted to speak over my own life. I have my own set of excuses of why I should not be able to prophesy. I get too easily distracted by the limitations, fears, failures, and weaknesses that I see. But, I need to have God’s words in my mouth instead of my own. I am who he says I am!

I process it this way: How would I fill in the blank if I were Jeremiah? “Alas, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak, I am too _______.” How would you fill in that blank for yourself? Whatever it is, you, by the grace of God, must let him confront it with, “Do not say you are too ______.” He is not pitying us when he confronts us this way. He is lovingly rebuking our limited vision of ourselves and calling His design up from within us.

I have learned that growing in the prophetic is a patient growing process. It involves not just reading and knowing what the Bible says. But, it is the daily habit of surrendering your words, objections, and opinions to the Lord who is sending you and longs to put His words in your mouth. Don’t rush the process. There will be many learning experiences. That means you will make a ton of mistakes as I have. Our Father is patient and calls us to go work in the vineyard of our lives every day. He is always full of joy and hope for you.

Still, my words… your words will not release God’s transformation in people or nations or even ourselves. But, thankfully the Spirit of God longs to fill our mouths with his words. His word is living and active! (Hebrews 4:12)

If you hold a dime in front of your eye, you can block out the sun from your vision. Are you blinding yourself from seeing who God has appointed you to be with your own words? If so, let me urge you to surrender to the Lord and let him touch your mouth. He created and redeemed you to do good works for His reasons. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are a blessing!

God never had to discover you…

The Lord knows us completely. There is nothing that is hidden from him. More than that, he never had to discover you. He knew you before you were in your mother’s womb. There is a reason why you have been set apart. God has appointed you for his purposes.

These were all foundational to my journey in the prophetic. Lately, I have been led to take another look at the way I have told my story to myself. The Holy Spirit has been encouraging me that there are keys and treasures in the ground of our stories if we will allow him to transform our perspective.

Speaking of the people of God, Isaiah declared this prophecy, 
“Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendor.
The least of you will become a thousand,
the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the Lord;
in its time I will do this swiftly… 
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 60:21-22, 61:3)

As sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus, we have been planted by God. His desire and intention have always been to grow us into productive “oaks of righteousness”.

The Lord interrupted my thoughts last week. I sensed that he was saying to me, “I have driven you into the rock like an anchor. I have done that to make you a blessing. By driving you into the ground, I am able to cause shakings and at the same time provide stability to those around you.”

While I meditated on what that could mean, I was led to the image of the tree from Isaiah’s prophetic writing. I am beginning to understand that the Lord faithfully heard my “Yes” to him and in turn, planted me deep in the ground. Throughout the years and experiences, the Gardener has never stopped taking care of me.

I am planning to share more of what the Lord teaches me in this process over the next few weeks. I am hoping that it encourages you and helps you appreciate just how committed Jesus is to you as you live for the “display of his splendor”.

You are a blessing!

My Top “5Q” Takeaways (review of Alan Hirsch’s book)

Incredibly empowering book! Thanks, Alan Hirsch for another well-written, deeply engaging read. “5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ” comes alongside the Body of Christ and engages us in a conversation in which we at first think we are fluent. Then, as Hirsch provokes and invites us to learn the ways of APEST in light of J-APEST(the unique way that Jesus relates to all of creation), we either jump off the submarine or strap ourselves in for a deep plunge into what is according to Hirsch, “coded into the whole Body of Christ, and we are but the living expressions of that Body in our given time and place.”

“5Q” is his term for hearing, appreciating, perceiving and engaging the gift of APEST (APOSTLE/PROPHET/EVANGELIST/SHEPHERD/TEACHER) as the way God relates to all things, is revealed in Christ, is expressed in the Body of Christ (BOX) resulting in the Fullness of Christ (FOX) spoken of in Ephesians 4.

 

My Top 5Q Takeaways are:

  1.  I experienced a powerful refocusing of Eph 4:1-15 and the APEST gifts on the Fullness of Christ being expressed through the Body of Christ. “We are to treasure the fivefold precisely because we treasure Jesus and what he is doing through us.” It was very refreshing to take a deep dive into a study on APEST without being distracted from the reason I was drawn to following Jesus in the first place… to be more like Him.

  2. J-APEST “I will sometimes refer to the distinctly Jesus-shaped version of APEST as J-APEST to distinguish it from the creational and ecclesial expressions” I loved Hirsch’s focus on the presence of the five-fold in Jesus’ DNA. Because it was there in Jesus, it is present in us because we are in Christ.

  3. Scenius: (borrowed from Brian Eno) “So I thought that originally those few individuals who’d survived in history-in the sort of ‘Great Man’ theory of history-were called ‘geniuses’. But what I thought was interesting was the fact that they all came out of a scene that was very fertile and very intelligent. So I came up with this word ‘scenius’-and scenius is the intelligence of a whole… operation or group of people. And I think that’s actually a more useful way to think about culture… Let’s forget the idea of ‘genius’ for a little while; let’s (rather) think about the whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work.” This was a brand new term for me. It holds a lot of power and hope to fuel my dreams for revival and the Body of Christ working the Harvest.

  4. The Gift of APEST is in our DNA: “The good news is that APEST has been given at the very constitution of the church in Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and it cannot be removed, although it can be suppressed. It is there… latent in the Body of Christ waiting to be activated.”

  5. Bases and Phases: “We all have a base ministry in which we feel most comfortable. This base ministry flows out of our primary gifting. In order to mature, we have to enter a phase where we receive training and experience in one of the other four ministries.” Empowering, wise insight. Though my APEST tends to be expressed as Apostle/Shepherd/Prophet/Teacher/Evangelist, it is not bad for me to go through seasons of learning when I might behave more like an Evangelist, Teacher, or Prophet if you were to interact with me. I can assume that I will return eventually to my base ministry.

    Early on in “5Q…”Hirsch challenges the reader with the following comment… “If you are able to sense something of God’s beautiful design along the way, will you have the courage to change? Will you pay the price to learn again?”