Higher Ground

mesaIf you read at Out of the Fire on a regular basis, you know I often encourage intercessors to  wait on God for His perspective before launching into prayer.

A couple of weeks ago, we borrowed Higher Ground, a faith-based movie, from our library. We didn’t immediately watch it, but every time I passed that DVD case, those words, “higher ground,” caught my eye just a teeny bit. It didn’t really register, until I found myself humming the old Johnson Oatman, Jr. hymn by the same name. Finally the light dawned: “Aha! God is trying to speak to me!” (Side note: God often speaks to us in very small ways, but we miss His voice, because we’re just not paying attention.)

I hadn’t heard or sung Higher Ground in years, but once I understood God was drawing my attention to it, I looked up the words. They so aptly fit the concept of gaining God’s viewpoint. I have been meditating on the hymn since then, and I want to share it with you:

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Refrain:
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

(Refrain)

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

(Refrain)

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

(In case you’ve never heard this hymn, I’ve included a YouTube version of it at the end of this post.)

Higher Ground is the song of the overcomer. As the world around us becomes increasingly chaotic, we really must learn to leave above it all. Ephesians 2:6 says God has “made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

It’s also the song of the prophetic prayer warrior, concerning how we pray. We have a choice to make:

a.) Pray only from the natural realm perspective (as many habitually do), where “doubts arise and fears dismay,” praying from a position of fear, OR

b.) Go for the higher ground of God’s perspective, where we gain insight into what He wants to do in a given situation. Then, pray with confidence for His desired outcome.

Sometimes moving from the natural view to God’s view is a journey. We seek His face for what to think and how to pray, but getting His understanding doesn’t always happen rapidly. For me, it can be quite a lengthy process, but I keep inquiring, keep stepping forward in the little light I have. As I do that, more light shines.

During the period of time when I am still unsure how the Lord would have me tackle an issue, I pray a lot in tongues. As we pray in this way, the Holy Spirit releases wisdom about how to pray also with our understanding.

Like the song says, our aim is higher ground. We ascend the heights in incremental steps. But each time we ask Him for His perspective, we get a little more proficient in finding it. Over time, it becomes easier.

May I encourage you to go for the higher ground? It’s a powerful — and satisfying — place to pray from. When we do so, we are interceding in union with God, and that gets answers!

 

intercessor handbook

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

intercessor teaching

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Holiday Recovery Still in Progress

Portrait of My Dog, by C. J. Mulloy, courtesy of Morguefile.com

I hope you had a lovely Christmas! My husband Paul and I are still recovering. We stuffed an extra seven people, two of them rambunctious preschoolers, into our small, two-bedroom house for nearly a week. Whew! Not used to that. And try cooking for that army, when you’re used to dinner for two!

Add in all the extra flurry of the holidays, closing out our business books for the year, a year-end birthday thrown into the mix, and — well, you understand.

I hope to get back into more frequent writing mode soon, but in the meantime, I would like to share a few thoughts with you.

Reflecting on this past year:

I have been so very grateful to the Lord for three big breakthroughs we received this past year — all of which had been bathed in a lot of prayer for several years before that. Two were healing of relationships, while the third involved placing my dear 89-year-old mom in a nursing home, where she is now safe and happy.

The mom breakthrough was actually a series of little miracles falling into place very quickly. All my cares about various obstacles and what-ifs fell, one by one, to the wayside. We watched as the Lord met every need at exactly the right moment and in the best way possible. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that things turned out TONS better than I ever could have imagined.

I want to encourage you, if you need a breakthrough (or multiple breakthroughs), keep taking it to the Lord. Don’t give up, even if it’s been a long, hard road. He’s mindful of your every concern, and He is working it out behind the scenes for you, even though you can’t see it yet and you’ve been waiting a long time already. At the right moment, your answers will appear — better than what you prayed for. Express your cares to Him, and pray into every detail on your mind, because none of them are too small to catch His notice.

“Ask, and it shall be given to you … for everyone who asks receives” (Matthew 7:7, 8) is real. But sometimes we also have to follow through on, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

Oh, My Goodness!

“My Goodness” is one of God’s names (Psalm 144:2). It reveals His very nature. Lately, I’ve been focusing on Bible verses which talk about God’s goodness and His deep desire to bless us, because I want to get these concepts firmly rooted in my heart.

names of God, KJVWhile we would all theologically agree that God is good and that He wants to do good things for us, I suspect that most of us still struggle with being completely confident that He really will be good to us personally! The enemy loves to plant doubts in our minds about God’s excellent nature and His loving intent toward us. That deception has been going on since the Garden of Eden.

But the more we come to truly understand God’s nature — especially His goodness, mercy, and tender kindness toward us — the easier it becomes to trust Him through all things.

Here are the latest couple of verses I have been thinking on (but there are so many more to choose from):

Psalm 2:12“… Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

Psalm 3:7“… Your blessing is upon your people.”

Pursue knowing Him above all else:

Intercessory prayer is indeed important. Amazingly, God has invited us to partner with Him in bringing His purposes into the earth through intercession. We should take this commission seriously. But as urgent as this is, pursuing Him with the express goal of knowing Him intimately is even more important to Him.

We must never become “Marthas” more than “Marys” — even when it comes to prayer. It’s easy to get caught up in focusing only on interceding when we see the desperate needs all around us. But Mary found the “one thing needful,” and Jesus said it was not to be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42). So, don’t let either the internal pressure you feel to intercede, or pressure coming from other prayer warriors, keep you from devoting time simply to the Lord’s Presence.

Pursuing Jesus together with you in this new year,
~ Lee Ann

intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

pray the Bible

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Prophetic Intercession — Releasing Your Revelation

Hearing God speakIn our last post, we saw that God desires to share with us things yet to come. If you are an intercessor, the amount of time you spend with the Lord will most likely cause you to hear more about the future than believers who are not investing as much time in prayer. You are also more likely to hear about events which go beyond your personal life.

It has been said that, on average, intercessors hear two to three years ahead of schedule. Our advance notice can cause problems for us in the local church if we are not aware of this. Today, I’d like to help minimize those problems.

When we hear something from the Lord or experience a vision, it often feels like a “now” revelation because of its vivid intensity. The truth is, though, often it is not for the present. It is speaking of the future.

Typically, we excitedly contact our pastors with what we’ve heard or seen, especially if it’s to do with our local church. Meanwhile, pastors are often focused on the here and now: the day-to-day caring for their congregations, getting the next sermon together, short-term goals, and dealing with immediate problems. So, when we spring upon them an idea which doesn’t fit their current frame of reference, their response is, “That’s not God.” They may not tell us that, but it might be what they are thinking. The disparity between the “now” realm of our pastors and the “not yet” world of intercessors can create a tension-filled disconnect between the two groups. This is sad, because we have a lot to offer each other, if we could only learn to work together.

What can we intercessors do to help the situation? Here are some tips to make the road smoother:

Timing:

Wait on your word or vision for a few days before sharing it. Sometimes we release revelation too quickly, only to have God clarify and expand upon it, if we wait. Pray about whether this is the right time to share it. Proverbs 15:23 speaks to this: “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”  A word released at the right moment is so much more effective than a word shared either prematurely or tardily.

Right before or after a church service is not usually a good time. Beforehand, your pastor is focused on guiding the service and preaching. Afterwards, he’s tired and just wants to be done.

Your presentation skills matter:

How you preface your word or vision has a lot to do with whether you will be heard. “The Lord told me you need to do this,” and “God said the church’s direction needs to change” rarely go over well, even if you really did hear from God. Such approaches are not only annoying, but they sound arrogant.

A softer approach is more likely to be received: “Pastor, I think I heard something from the Lord. This might not be for right now, but I wanted to mention it, in case it will be useful to you down the road somewhere.”

When possible, share your revelation in writing. Pastors are almost guaranteed to forget what you said if you only tell them orally. They have too many other things on their minds. Keep a copy of what you share, and date it.

Ask for feedback from your pastor, but then let it rest. Give your word or vision time to play out. When it finally does, it probably won’t look exactly like you envisioned it, but that’s OK.

If you see your word being fulfilled at a later date, rather than having a smug “I saw that coming!” attitude, look for an opportunity to encourage and bring confirmation. Sometimes my pastor or someone else in the church had the same prophetic revelation as mine a year or more afterward. I approached that by saying, “Pastor, I was excited to hear what was spoken this morning. You may not remember, but last September, I shared with you that same thing! It was an encouragement to me that we’re both hearing this.”

This is one reason why it is important to write down what you hear and see, with the date, so you can retell it accurately. If you approach this with a heart attitude of wanting to serve, you will not sound like you are bragging, and your reiterated word will truly encourage your pastor that he is on the right track.

Make sure you know what sphere God is speaking about before you share:

Much of what you hear will be for you personally, especially if it is of a corrective nature. Don’t mistakenly project it onto others. While growing in hearing the Lord, we sometimes err by thinking we have a word for the church, because we haven’t yet learned to distinguish between personal words and words for others. Ask God to make clear to you which it is before sharing.

While learning this, several times I shared revelation which I thought was for our congregation, but it wasn’t taken seriously. In my discouragement over not having my words received, I became confused about whether I could even hear God accurately. I nearly gave up. But at the critical moment, the Lord brought some prophetic words my way from two well-known ministers. They matched almost exactly several things I had heard. I then realized that what I had thought I was getting for the local church had been about the American church as a whole. No wonder they hadn’t made sense to my pastors!

If you make mistakes, don’t give up. Keep on listening to the Lord. Ask Him to help you mature in releasing your revelation. If you maintain a heart attitude of humility and desiring to serve, over time, God will honor your efforts, give you favor, and make a way for your words to be heard.

intercessor manual, intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

questions about intercession

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

You Can Know the Future — The Holy Spirit and You (Part 2)

knowing the futureBut when He, the Spirit of truth, has come … He will show you things to come. John 16:13

Since the beginning of time, mankind has longed to know the future. I believe that this desire was implanted within us when God first made man in His own image. Because of the entrance of sin, many throughout history have sought to quench this God-given thirst wrongly, by tapping into occult spirituality. However, man’s wrong usage does not detract from the Lord’s nature as a foretelling God. He still invites His people to seek Him in this area today.

In the Bible, the Lord spoke to both Israel and the Church of their past, their present, and their future. He also speaks to us about our personal lives in all three of these time zones as we commune with Him in prayer. Christians usually do all right with Him speaking about the past and the present. But, because miracles and present-day spiritual gifts were discouraged by many churches for a long time, some people still get nervous with the idea of the Lord speaking about our future, other than what is specifically recorded in Scripture.

We don’t need to be afraid of seeking God for information about our future. Jesus already told us that part of the Holy Spirit’s purpose for being shed abroad in our hearts is, “He will show you things to come.”

Now, we do need to be careful not to get out of balance with this. God set a precedent of telling us about the future in the Bible. He delights to speak of what is to come. But He also withholds information. Having a constant need to know is unhealthy, so we shouldn’t overdo it. There is a time to know, and a time to walk by faith, not knowing. God uses both to help us grow in relationship with Him.

Sometimes the thirst people have for future revelation leads to being indiscriminate about where they are receiving information from, even listening to evil spirits, thinking it must be God. It has also led to inordinately exalting those who happen to get some predictions right. We have put our prophets in a very unsafe position of feeling pressured to perform, always having to speak about what lies ahead. As a result, unreliable, immature, and wounded prophets have sometimes gained large followings of people who hang on their every word.

Why does God tell us things about the future?

  • He likes to share His secrets with His trustworthy friends. Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Because New Testament believers now have the Holy Spirit dwelling within, we can all, in a measure, partake of this promise.)
  • He wants us to begin taking preparatory steps to come into His plans for us.
  • He is giving us vision toward which we can stretch our faith — because God’s plans are too big for us to accomplish in our own strength.
  • He uses revelation of the future to build hope and a sense of purpose in us.
  • He wants us to pray into what is yet ahead. As we bathe the future in intercession, we partner with Him for it to become reality in our natural world.
  • He sometimes forewarns us of trouble ahead, but with that will also give His assurance that He will be with us in it and that He will take care of us.

Why does God withhold knowing the future from us?

  • He has our good at heart at all times.
  • Knowing ahead of time about deep struggles and sadness which will befall us would cause us to be fearful and despairing. Knowing these things before their time would steal our joy in the present. God gives supernatural grace in the moment for difficulties we must go through.
  • Our immaturity — if we knew many of the wonderful plans He has for us, we might try to rush into them in our own strength instead of waiting for Him to put them together. He knows what we are mature enough to handle at any given point in time, and in His wisdom conceals from us whatever would be too much for our egos to handle.
  • He wants us to seek Him more than we seek revelation.
  • He wants us to inquire of Him for guidance, which He then doles out as it is needed. Our faith is built as we take one step at a time, holding His hand in trust, letting Him lead us.
  • He likes to surprise us with good gifts. He is the God of suddenlies.

As you ask the Lord to show you things to come, keep in mind what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see dimly through a glass, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I am also known.”

In addition, remember that the Body of Christ sees and knows together. Anytime you hear of a prophet who knows it all, beware. God gives pieces of the puzzle to several, so that together we obtain one big picture. He wants us to depend upon Him and each other.

Next time, we’ll talk about how intercessors can handle wisely what we hear about the future.

nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Getting to the Truth — The Holy Spirit and You (Part 1)

But when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth  — John 16:13

I love John, Chapters 14 and 16, where Jesus tells us about the Holy Spirit, Who has now come to live in the heart of every believer. In Old Testament times, the prophets experienced the indwelling of the Spirit (1 Peter 1:11), but the rest of God’s people did not. They depended on the prophets to give them the Word of the Lord. How different it is today, when every believer can hear God personally and sense His Presence within. What a blessing!

The Spirit is our ever-present friend, comforter, guide, and teacher. He continually points us to Jesus. We can come to know Him even more deeply through the Baptism in the Spirit, which is not an end in itself, but an entrance into a satisfying adventure of intimate fellowship and partnership with Him.

I so appreciate knowing Him as the Spirit of Truth. I frequently pray that He will expose portions of my thinking which are not in alignment with truth. I pray this often for my loved ones as well — especially if I see areas of their thinking, speaking, or actions which don’t line up with God’s heart.

It could be a self image issue which needs to change — because, unfortunately, we tend to believe negative things about ourselves due to past hurts, unkind words which have been spoken to us, or lies that spirits of darkness have injected into our minds. It could be a perception of God’s nature which needs to change (again because people say wrong things which take root, or because the devil whispers slanderous thoughts to us about the Lord). Often, deception enters in through all the stuff we encounter in everyday life in a sinful, God-opposed world.

Sometimes the Spirit needs to correct doctrinal error in us — teachings which are generally believed and taken for granted within our particular church circles. We have a habit of passing around various ideas which become accepted over time because we hear them so often. If a prominent pastor or teacher says something, pretty soon other pastors and teachers are also saying the same thing. After we hear the same idea from several different sources, we start believing it as gospel truth. Sometimes it isn’t, and it takes the Holy Spirit ministering His truth to us to reveal that and reorder our thinking.

Generally, He guides us away from error and into truth by making a particular Bible verse stand out to us. Suddenly, the light bulb goes on that the Bible doesn’t really say what we were told for so many years that it said!

He may also use a solid Bible teacher to point out truths we had never seen in the Word before — but it is up to us to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11. They received the apostles’ teaching eagerly, but also searched the Scriptures to make sure what they were being told was really so!

The Spirit also guides us into truth by prompting us in our spirit that some idea we’ve been harboring isn’t quite right. He may cause us to feel uneasy about something we hear said. We must listen to these subtle warnings and not dismiss them just because our rational minds can’t identify any problem. The Spirit knows what we cannot discern through our natural senses.

The Holy Spirit’s work of bringing us into truth is a lifelong process. We rise to ever-greater truth as we fellowship with Him in prayer and the Scriptures, until that day when we are with the Lord and all darkness is purged from us. The Spirit is continually cleaning up error in us and enlightening us to real truth. Deception comes off in layers. Sometimes we inadvertently allow new layers of it to become attached to us, so He patiently removes those as well.

I believe one of the best ways we can accelerate the work of truth in our lives is by actively inviting the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth. James 4:2 tells us, “You have not, because you ask not” — so let’s ask! Then we stay open-hearted to Him and let Him do what we’ve invited Him to do.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). All thanks and praise to Him for sending the precious Holy Spirit to us, so that we can experience the reality of this promise!

Do you have thoughts or a testimony on how the Spirit is guiding you into all truth? Perhaps you would like to share by leaving a comment.

understanding Holy Spirit

 

For more on the work of the Holy Spirit, see Lee Ann’s book, Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God.

 

A Note to My Readers

I’d like to ask a favor of those of you who have read my books at some time in the past. If you enjoyed them, would you be so kind as to take a couple of minutes to review the ones you have read at Amazon?

Reviews help authors immensely in spreading the word about our books, and I would appreciate your help in this way so much. You don’t have to write paragraphs unless you want to. A couple of sentences are enough.

Even if you did not buy the book at Amazon, as long as you are an Amazon customer, you can review books you have read elsewhere.  (You can also copy and paste your review to Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBooks if you choose, but Amazon is the biggie that helps the most.)

Besides reviews, word of mouth /social media recommendations are also a huge help!

Thank you so much! I appreciate it no end! For your convenience, here are the links to my titles at Amazon:

intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor Manual

 

 

Bible verses for intercessors

 

The Intercessor’s Companion:
Bible Ammo to Win Your Battle

 

 

intercession questions

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

 

how to start a prayer group

 

House of Prayer ~ House of Power

 

 

personal prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

 

 

names of God

 

The Names of God

 

 

peace of mind

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World

 

 

nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God

 

 

topical Bible

 

Encouragement from God’s Word

 

 

hearing God's voice

 

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God

 

 

healing

 

God’s Word on Healing

 

 

new Christian discipleship

 

How to Pray and Read the Bible

 

 

character education for adults

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus

 

 

 

Teach Your Kids to Hear God!

 

 

Homeschooling

 

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

 

 

homeschool character study

 

Character Building for Families, Volume 1

 

 

homeschool character training study

 

Character Building for Families, Volume 2

 

 

 

As You Pray for America

hand with curled fingers

I am so encouraged by what God is doing across America within His Church. The intercessors are beginning to arise in greater numbers, and people are gathering together to pray with others for our nation. Finally, we are waking up out of our sleep!

As we see so much turbulence around us, this is not a time to fear, but to be confident in our God, Who is committed to answering the concerted prayers of His people.

In one of our prayer gatherings a few weeks ago, as we were entering into prayer for our nation, in my spirit I saw a hand, palm upward, with the fingers curled toward the center of the palm. And the Lord spoke that He holds victory in His hand. He said He would release that victory as we intercede together. He said we could pray with confidence in His willingness to pour out victory in response to our prayers. Our prayers uncurl His fingers to release His victory plans (which He has already decreed) into the earth.

Still, I found myself just a few days later feeling very low over what we were seeing in the news (during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings). But the Lord spoke to me again, “You must not let yourself get under the burdens. You must have confidence in your God.”

It is very easy to fear when we get our eyes and ears on what people are doing and saying. That’s not where we are called to be as prophetic intercessors. We are to stay focused on the Lord, eyes on Him, hearts set on His agenda. Sometimes there is a struggle in our minds to maintain that place, but we must keep coming back to it, if we falter.

We need to remember where the real battle is, too. It is easy to see people as the enemy we are battling, but never forget what Ephesians 6:12 says about this: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, … powers, … the rulers of the darkness of this world, … spiritual wickedness in high places.” While it’s a very familiar verse to many of us, we have to keep reminding ourselves of it, because it is easy to become angry with people, rather than understanding the underlying, root source. Yes, there are wicked people doing wicked things. But the evil spirits pulling their puppet strings are the real enemy.

With elections coming up soon and a vicious battle for a Supreme Court seat fresh in our minds, we must recognize that what looks like a political battle between Democrats and Republicans really is not. It is a spiritual battle for whether righteousness or evil holds this nation in its grip. It is about wicked spiritual beings wanting to have complete control over this nation. Please do not think I am saying one political party stands for righteousness and one for evil. It may sometimes look that way, but the war goes much deeper than that.

In our prayer gathering, we don’t pray against people or political parties. We pray for righteousness to be exalted in our land. While we don’t pray against particular people in government, we do pray that those who do not stand with Bible principles will be removed from office and have their influence broken, if they refuse to have a change of heart. We ask that people of integrity and righteous principles would be placed in government office and other places of authority. We plead for the people of our nation to come to Jesus, which is by far the most important result we look for.

How can we pray effectively in a way that releases God’s plans into our nation?

  • We can never go wrong by using Daniel 9:3-19 as our model. Daniel identified with his people in repentance, humility of heart, and fasting.
  • We pray according to what we see and hear by the Spirit of God, rather than only by what we see and hear in the news. This requires quieting ourselves and asking God for His counsel on how to pray.
  • We pray much in tongues. As we do, we grow in understanding what God intends to do and how to pray in agreement with Him. Romans 8:26 tells us, “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities [weaknesses and limitations]: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us ….”
  • Use Scripture to contend for God to prevail. “It is written” is a powerful way to war.
  • Join together with others in prayer meetings. There is so much more power in the corporate gathering of intercessors agreeing together in our petitions. Jesus said, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19, 20).

I encourage you to keep pressing in to the Lord until we receive the results He intends. God is eager to answer, as we place our confidence in Him and pray His purposes into our nation and the earth.

teaching on intercession

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Bible promises for intercessors

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam