Friendship with God

abrahamI have been praying a lot lately about being the friend of God. I long for the day of Jesus’ return. I want to see Him “receive the reward of His suffering,” as the Moravians put it — multitudes of believers being caught up to Him, and then the day when He rules with complete honor upon the earth as the Supreme King of Kings. But in the meantime, I hunger to know Him, as much as I can, as close as I can, for Who He is.

The Bible says that Abraham was “the Friend of God” (James 2:23). I prayed, “Lord, I want to be Your friend, like Abraham was.” But then I backpedaled. Who was I, to ask to be like the great patriarch Abraham, the special friend of the Most High? So, I said, “God, I know I can’t be as close to You as Abraham. I’m not that special, but I still want to be one of Your lesser friends.”

He stopped me there, and showed me how wrong that thinking was. You see, we humans are limited in our love, our time, and our preferences for people. We feel a greater affinity for some than we do for others, and those are the ones we give our time and deepest affection to. However, God is unlimited in His love, time, and preferences for His children.

It is true that Abraham played an extremely pivotal part in history. Most of us would probably feel insignificant by comparison. But God does not base His friendships on people’s accomplishments. He does not invite those who bear seemingly more important roles to have a closer place in His heart. He does not parcel out His affections in pieces or percentages. Each of us can be His dear friend — and there are no lesser levels in His eyes. All it takes is desiring Him, pursuing Him, loving Him with all our heart.

This is hard for me to grasp. We’ve been told repeatedly in the Church, sometimes overtly and sometimes in subtle ways, that God has “haves” and “have-nots” in His family. But that is naturalistic thinking, a holdover from how our fallen world operates. The truth is, if we have not, it is because we ask not (James 4:2). The Lord longs to give every one of us so much more of Himself than we could possibly imagine. We can each be “the Friend of God,” on just as deep a level as Abraham enjoyed.

What does that look like? I suppose it is unique for each one. It definitely involves obedience. Abraham was obedient, in that he did not even withhold his only son from the Lord (Genesis 22:1-18). Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Friends don’t do things which they know are hurtful or hateful to the one they love. Friendship also involves intimate time with Him, where He has our full attention. It means we trust Him, thinking the very best of Him — believing Him to be and do what He says of Himself.

I am so thankful that the Lord is giving me greater revelation of what it means to be His friend. I hope sharing these thoughts will inspire you to pursue friendship with Him, too.

Priorities for 2016

As one year comes to an end and another begins, my usual habit is to ask God what He would like to say about what lies ahead. Sometimes I hear things for the Body of Christ as a whole, but this year, I mostly heard the Lord speak about priorities I need to have in my relationship with Him. Even though I am filing these in my “personal” cabinet, I thought I would share them with you, just in case what I have been hearing might resonate with you or be confirmation to solidify what you are already hearing Him speak.

First of all, this is The Year of Invitation. (Actually, I do think this one is for the whole body of believers, not just me.) God has left His door open, and He’s saying, “Come in. I am waiting for you.” I am reminded of Revelation 4:1, which is an invitation into His Presence, into seeing from His perspective: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as a trumpet talking with me, which said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter.'”

I am asking the Lord to help me become more focused on Him — less wandering in my thoughts during prayer, less distraction, more discipline in keeping my thoughts attuned to Him. I want more than ever to make a concerted effort to wait quietly upon Him and to ask, “What is on Your mind, Lord?” (Staying focused is really hard for me. My mind is prone to flitting about, hither and yon. The Flight of the Bumblebee could easily be my theme music, so getting where I want to be in having a quiet mind and heart is going to take a lot of grace and dependence on Him!)

I have always taken comfort that my life is transparent to the Lord. I am so glad that He knows it all, that nothing about me is hidden from Him. That way, He can bring things to my attention which need to go. Strongholds (mindsets not in alignment with His truth) can come down, and I can become more like Jesus. This is the desire of my heart — to be conformed to Jesus’ image, as He is the express image of the Father. So, the removal of even more strongholds is a goal for this year.

Praying the Scriptures is something He wants me to make more of an effort to do. When we are fairly familiar with the Word, it is easy to pray the concepts we know are in the Bible, without actually opening it to particular verses and then speaking them directly as prayer. I feel the Lord wants me to grow in wielding specific verses in petitioning and prophetic declarations over my life and the lives of my loved ones (or the nation, or world events, or whatever the Spirit is prompting me to pray into), so I’ve been more deliberate about this. The result so far is delightful! The glorious Presence of God seems to fall like a blanket about me as I launch my prayers with the Word, and the Spirit leads me along a path from one verse to the next in a way beyond what I could think up on my own.

The Lord has been speaking to me for some time not to look at the events taking place around me, but to look at Him. Colossians 3:1-4 has been huge for me:

If you, then, are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory.

I think on those verses a lot. They help me to endure in peace, and to keep what’s happening around me in the right perspective.

The Lord surprised me by telling me several times that there are good things yet ahead in the days to come. It surprised me because our world seems to be unraveling at such great speed, and so many Christian leaders are constantly talking about the extreme seriousness and increasing darkness of our times. Although I don’t understand what God means by “good things yet to come,” I believe what He says. I suspect He has a few things we haven’t even thought of in store, which could turn everything around, upside down — or better yet, right-side up. We’ll just have to see how that unfolds. But these days, I’m looking for a Romans 8:28 ending for all sorts of seemingly bad happenings: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Perhaps the key will be in what perspective we hold to — having eyes to see what others can’t.

Quite a few prophets have been saying that this will be a year of radical change for many of us.  One person put it that if last year was like a new chapter, this year will be a whole new book. That resonates with me. Several of my dear ones are already on the verge of that kind of extreme shift taking place in their lives in a very good way.

Those are my thoughts as we enter the new year. What has God been speaking to you? I’d love to hear about it!


Your Intercession Questions Answered

Lee Ann’s newest book, Coming March 1, 2016 …

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Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann RubsamWhether you are new at intercession or have been at it for quite some time, no doubt you have some questions. Perhaps you have mentioned them to your pastor or other prayer warriors, but haven’t received the answers you were searching for. Maybe you’ve been too embarrassed to even ask, because you feared others would not understand.

In Your Intercession Questions Answered, I tackle questions intercessors commonly have, from basic terminology to more complex issues we all face as we walk out the ministry of prayer — questions such as:

  • How to “flow with the Spirit”
  • How to keep from burning out
  • What kind of supernatural experiences are normal in the course of prayer
  • How to know when you have “prayed through”
  • What to do to avoid word curses and witchcraft prayer
  • Why there are tensions between you and your pastor — and how to fix or avoid them
  • How to handle spiritual warfare wisely — and many more.

Table of Contents:
The Basics
Intercessor Terminology
The Prayer Language
Practical Know-How
Challenges Intercessors Encounter
Spiritual Warfare
Prophetic Experiences
Things to Embrace and Things to Avoid
Additional Terminology

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Self-Preservation and the Christian

Hiding Under the Bed, by Stuart Pilbrow, via FlickrIn case you haven’t noticed, there has been a war raging between Christians over the Syrian refugee crisis. On one side, we have people concerned about national security issues. On the other side are those who are saying, “What about compassion?” Somewhere in the area between are those of us who are asking, “What does God want to do in the midst of this?” (I suspect He is placing a mission field on our doorstep, and, like it or not, we had better not miss the opportunity.)

As I followed the arguments, I noticed the anti-refugee side quoting Bible verses about the virtue of prudence. That was a springboard for the Lord to speak to me about the much broader issue of self-preservation in the Christian life. I do believe that prudence should be a thread throughout walking out a Spirit-led lifestyle, but I wonder if sometimes we use the prudence concept (not just concerning the refugees) as a thin veneer to cover an underlying lack of trust in God.

Let’s examine some unwholesome ways self-preservation can manifest:

1.)  Fear for safety. It’s not a safe world, and it’s easy to fall into this, if we don’t stay in the Spirit. Proverbs 21:31 tells us, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD,” while Proverbs 29:25 asserts, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

2.)  Fear of being taken advantage of. Nobody likes the feeling of being used by others. However, Jesus told us how to handle it when people take advantage: “Give to him who asks of you, and from him who would borrow of you, do not turn away” (Matthew 5:42).

We have to use discernment in walking this concept out. Our motivation should be, “What is the most loving response toward the person who is drawing upon me? Is it better for him if I simply give, or can I serve him more effectively in another way?” But the motivation for how we respond should not be, “I am not going to let anybody walk all over me!” That’s where self-preservation takes on an ugly tone.

3.)  Fear of losing material possessions. There is a Kingdom principle that the more we sow, the more we reap (2 Corinthians 9:6-10; Luke 6:38). Some of us harbor a secret fear that God will not really take care of us and give us good things. We think we have to hug our material possessions to our bosoms and hang on for dear life.

Meanwhile, God says, “Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). We tend to be way too preoccupied with the pleasures of this life and how to accumulate even more. At the same time, being the loving Father He is, God promises, “He who has pity upon the poor lends to the LORD, and that which he has given He will pay back to him” (Proverbs 19:17).

Self-preservation gone amok becomes a “Me” idolatry, which brings the advancement of God’s kingdom to a standstill. Let’s look at the cost of a self-preservation mindset:

1.)  It causes us to be unwilling to share the gospel. We fear rejection and abuse if we offend others by speaking about Jesus. The truth is, the gospel is offensive to the natural-minded person. Jesus told us ahead of time it would be (Matthew 5:11, 12; John 15:18-20), but we tend to easily forget this.

2.)  It fosters an understanding of missions as something to carry on far away — not here. We can feed money into others going to “the field,” and maybe take a short jaunt overseas ourselves, but it is temporary, and we get to come home again to a nice, safe place. I like my safety as well as the next person — but we may not have the luxury much longer.

3.)  The spirit of withholding sets in. We protect ourselves by holding back our time, possessions, and affections. The withholding attitude affects how we relate to those we should care about the most — our families and our local church family. Because we’ve gotten hurt in the past, we withdraw from serving others and putting them first. Yet, the Lord tells us, “… In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3, 4, NKJV).

4.)  It stops up the wells of the gifts of the Spirit. This is particularly true of the revelatory gifts. Self-preservation causes us not to release prophetic truth for fear of repercussions. We end up squelching the word of the Lord which is burning in our hearts. Consequently, others are not aided in growing closer to the Lord.

5.)  It hardens our hearts against the suffering of others. Self-preservation leads us into a continual mentality of minimizing or obliterating risk. We look the other way so that our comfort zone remains intact. Real compassion goes beyond “I feel bad for you” into doing something to alleviate distress, but we can’t do that without accepting some level of risk. I John 3:17 puts it this way: “But whoever has this world’s good, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart of compassion from him, how does the love of God dwell in him?”

Each of us is prone to an idolatry of protecting self at all costs. The antidote is to recognize self-preservation for what it is — an enemy of the dying to self which Jesus told us we must do. He said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Does dying to self mean we might have to physically die? Well, maybe. The early Church did plenty of dying. So does a good percentage of the modern-day Church around the world. But there are lots of lesser levels of dying to self which are already a big stretch for most of us. Even if we don’t have to give up our physical lives, if we’re going to serve the Lord the way we are meant to, the self-preservation mentality will have to go. It’s a challenge for each of us, but the Holy Spirit will help us to get there, if we ask Him.


Grace for America

The Chase, Paul Walsh via Flickr.comAs we look around our nation and the world, things are getting darker. Behavior which was once universally thought of as evil is now labeled healthy and good. Those who stand for what the Bible defines as goodness are now called narrow-minded bigots. As a result, many Christians are giving up hope for America. Instead of continuing to steadily pray, they are focusing exclusively on building up their survivalist supplies. Others have adopted an “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” mentality.

While resting in what I fondly call my prayer chair, I dozed off and had a dream. I saw on the wall in front of me five framed pictures, all colored photos of racehorses running. In the dream, I immediately knew it was a message of grace to America. I felt as if I had dreamed this dream before, at another time when I had been sleeping in my chair, but had not recorded it.

I awoke and went back to sleep, and I dreamed that I saw the pictures again, but this time, they were not on the wall. They were either in my hands or laid out in front of me. They seemed to be black and white photos this time, which I did not get a good look at, but I knew they were close-ups with details of the earlier racehorse pictures on the wall.

I then heard, “Thus saith the Lord,  ‘With grace will I restore America.'”

Here is my interpretation:

Both in this dream and in the recollection of having the same dream before, I had been in my prayer chair — my place of prayer authority. God gives intercessors authority to receive answers to prayer according to things which He reveals to us.

The sense that I had dreamed this scene twice means it is confirmed. (Joseph said Pharaoh’s dream was “doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” — Genesis 41:32)

As I prayed about the dream, I felt that I knew the racehorses running in a race meant that this grace was coming quickly.

Five pictures — Many prophets agree that “five” usually symbolizes grace. (See Ephesians 4:7-12, where God is giving grace to the Church in connection with the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who equip and bring the saints to maturity for the work of ministry).

Holding the black and white pictures in my hands or laid out in front of me — In the dream, as an intercessor, I symbolized intercessors in general. It is the job laid out before intercessors, and it is in our hands, to pray in the grace of the Lord upon America.

The detailed pictures were black and white, because it is a black and white promise that if we will do our part in praying it in, God will do His part in restoring America through His grace.

The black and white pictures were close-ups, with details which I had not seen in the pictures hanging on the wall.  This indicates praying out the details, specific things God shows intercessors to pray, as we listen to the Spirit and flow with Him in prayer.

Some additional thoughts:

Some of you may think it is strange that the words I heard at the end of the dream were in King James English. I thought that was odd, too. I don’t normally hear God speak in King James — but if He wants to do it that way, He can.  :-)

You might ask, “What does that mean, that with grace He will restore America?” I don’t know exactly. We’ll have to let Him work out how He does it, and listen along the way for details He gives each of us as to how we should pray into it. I’m not going to assume that He has to do it a certain way.

I believe this dream is an invitation, not just for me, but for anyone who is willing, to participate in God’s desire to restore America. Its fulfillment may be conditioned upon our responding to it with fervent intercession. He is willing. Are we?

In closing, I’d like to remind you of one of our time-honored national songs, America the Beautiful.  It has a line in it which is sung as a prayer, “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.”

Let’s not give up hope. Let’s pray in faith for God to restore America by a work of His grace upon our land.

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Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 4)

NOAA Lightning Strike 2In recent weeks, some fairly well-known Christian leaders have urged the Church to pray for judgment to come to America. A few seem to feel that they are partnering with God’s righteous indignation by taking this position. Some have reasoned that only severe judgment will cause the people of our nation to repent and return to the Lord. I think such a viewpoint might end up as a “You know not what you ask for” kind of prayer philosophy.

One problem with the “pray for judgment” approach is the assumption that what worked to get people’s attention in Old Testament times will still work exactly the same today. It is argued that when catastrophes struck ancient Israel, or when their enemies invaded, it caused the Israelites to repent. Among the people of that time, not just the Israelites, the common understanding was that bad things happening meant God (or a god) was not pleased, and that to regain His favor, they had to change their ways. In our day, with humanism and intellectualism having made such inroads, people are more likely to attribute weather or geologic catastrophes to scientific explanations.

The people of ancient Israel had a biblical framework ingrained in them. They understood that there was a direct correlation between being obedient to God and being blessed, while disobedience brought a curse. The Scriptures laid this out for them quite clearly. In our secular society, a biblical framework has not been a part of many, many people’s background for several decades.

Between the  prevailing intellectual, scientific mindset and the lack of scriptural understanding, I doubt if most people in our nation, outside of devout Christians, would connect hurricanes, earthquakes, economic collapse, terrorists, or even an out-and-out enemy invasion with a need to repent and turn to God. Hence, catastrophic events are not likely to bring them to a desire to repent and embrace the Lord.

Another problem with the “pray for judgment” reasoning is that the people encouraging it are trying to apply Old Testament principles, based upon the Law, not recognizing that God’s methods of interacting with mankind have shifted since Jesus died, rose, and sent the Holy Spirit to be actively at work in the earth.

Let’s be clear that God’s nature never changes. But His methods do. He has always been completely just, but He has also always been merciful, bearing long with the wicked and holding back judgment to give people time to repent. He says in James 2:13 that “mercy rejoices against judgment” and in 2 Peter 3:9 that He is “long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

In the Psalms and other Old Testament books,  the writers sometimes prayed what are called “prayers of imprecation” — prayers which curse or call down judgment on others. However, when Jesus came, He began to shift people’s thinking to align with a new and better covenant. When James and John wished to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village which had slighted Jesus, He rebuked them, saying, “You do not realize what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56).

Old Testament believers depended on the rigid code of the Law to guide them. The Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon the general population. They heard God speak to them through the Scriptures and through the prophets, but most were not able to hear Him speak clearly into their own hearts. But when Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be at work among men. In John 16:8, Jesus said of the Spirit, “When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” We can now depend on the Holy Spirit not only to guide believers, but also to be poured out wholesale, according to Joel’s prophecy of the end times: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28).

Rather than praying for judgment to fall, I believe we should diligently intercede for the Holy Spirit to be shed abroad across our land. We can pray for Him to prick consciences, soften hearts, remove deception from people’s thinking, and bring awakening to them. All of these changes can only come about by people embracing Jesus — but they can only receive Him as the Holy Spirit enables them to do so. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to come down in a fresh Pentecost upon America.

Do I think that some of the bad things already happening are due to rejection of the Lord? Yes. When a nation turns from honoring God, His protection and blessings begin to be pulled back. Do I think greater judgment will come? Yes, the Scriptures assure us that in the last days it will inevitably happen. But our position should not be to pray in that judgment before its time, but to pray in a huge harvest of souls before that final day.

Next time, I will share with you a dream I had, which gives me a great deal of hope for America’s future.

Previous: Praying Concerning National Judgment (Part 3)




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