Category Archives: Christian living

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 tell 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

Tips for Hearing God More Clearly

hearing God

Do you want to hear God more and with greater clarity? We should all seek to grow in hearing God more frequently and more accurately than we currently do.

Maybe you don’t think you hear God much at all — yet. It could be you are hearing Him, but not recognizing how much He is already speaking to you!

Here are a few tips for better hearing:

Value the small things God says to you.

Limiting our expectation for hearing God’s voice to only monumental revelation can really hinder our ability to hear Him. We want to know about the future, we desire a word of guidance, or we look for an entire blueprint for the next five years of our lives. But those aren’t the only ways God speaks — in fact, they will be in the minority.

Most of our everyday conversations with loved ones are not made up of pivotal, life-changing discussions. We talk about the day-to-day events, and we enjoy doing it. God doesn’t only speak about the big stuff, either.

Gentle thoughts such as “Don’t be afraid; I’m here,” or “I love you, and I will always stand with you,” or “Just trust Me and I’ll take care of you,” are God talking to you. These are the kinds of things He says most of the time. He is delighted when you treasure the little things He speaks.  Respond to them gratefully, record them in your prayer journal, and allow them to bring you into affectionate conversation with the Lord.

God’s voice is not like the opinions and speculations of man.

What He says has a different tone from what we hear and see in our natural world, because He knows way more than the “experts” in the media. God never has to speculate on how things will turn out. He’s always out in front of current situations.

God never projects anxiety over the future. It is finished, and Jesus already has secured the victory, remember? He’s not nervous and worried, wondering whether His people will pray enough or do all the right things to make life on earth go well. Because He isn’t wringing His hands, He doesn’t speak anxiety into us, either.

Sometimes Christian leaders temporarily get off in the flesh and say things like, “People of God, it’s all going down if we don’t pray harder / preach louder / get more involved. God won’t win this one if we don’t get out there and DO!” That’s a spirit of fear speaking, not the Spirit of God.

God’s voice will inspire awe of Him, but not fear about our circumstances. He will show us what steps to take. He will prompt us to pray earnestly, but from a position of being confident that He will answer, not from a place of panic. “For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rearward” (Isaiah 52:12).

God’s voice does not feel like a club beating us over the head.

The Spirit will convict us of areas where we are not aligned with Him — sinful thinking, speaking, and habits. But condemnation, shame, and accusations are the devil’s tools, not God’s. The Lord’s reproof carries with it a sense of His sorrow over our wrongdoing, but also His assurance that He still loves us. There is hope attached to His correction.

Shut down the background noise.

We need periods of undistracted quiet if we hope to hear the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit. That might mean shutting off even the Christian music at times. Some people are uncomfortable if they don’t have background sound. Really, it’s all about habits. Just as you formed the habit somewhere along the line of always having sound going on around you, you will have to accustom yourself to the “sound” of quiet. Try it for a short period of time, and then increase the silent time gradually.

In addition to turning off physical background noise, we must learn to shut out the clamor of too many voices pouring into our heads through news and social media. We are bombarded with opinions coming at us from all directions. Deliberately cut out, or at least limit, what you read or listen to in the way of people’s ideas. When our ears and eyes are constantly absorbing what others think, our brains become overloaded. Our thoughts swirl out of control. When the mind is overstimulated, it is difficult to hear the Lord deep down in our spirit. Learn to reduce the barrage of your natural senses, so that your spiritual senses can gain the upper hand.

When we shut down distractions, we make way for the Lord to speak to us about His eternal perspectives.

Ask the Lord questions.

Ask them one at a time. Then wait for His answer. This is one of the best ways to begin hearing Him more clearly. Our Father loves conversation time with His children. We do well to give Him the opportunity.

I hope some of these tips will be useful to you in your quest to hear the Lord more clearly. Would you like to share tips you have found helpful in hearing Him? By commenting, you may provide just what someone else needs!

how to hear God's voice

 

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God
A short, no-nonsense tutorial by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Jesus: Architect of Your Future

God's blueprint for your lifeThe Bible tells us in 103 places not to be afraid. And yet, many of us struggle with fear, especially about what the future holds. It’s something I personally battle, although I have been gaining ground against it through the years.

Because it’s still a struggle, the Lord often speaks to me about fear. Recently, He said to me, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Jesus is in your future.” This was a joyful reminder to me!

Jesus is with us in the now. He is our Immanuel, God with us. But at the same time, He has also gone before us, preparing the way. And, He is already waiting for us there in our future. We just need to catch up to where He already is.

The primary reason we fall into fear is that we have not yet fully grasped God’s nature — how good and utterly faithful to us He is. But another major reason we fear is because we so easily forget that He has a definite plan for each of us with specific purposes He is committed to helping us fulfill. In 2 Timothy 1:9, He says that He “saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

Before the world began, He had already called us. Before the world began, He had already designed a life blueprint for each one of us. He is the master architect, Who has meticulously thought out and planned for all of our life events. Not only is He the architect, but He is also the project manager, overseeing the building of our lives from beginning to end. He will see us through to completion. He is both the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Philippians 1:6 expresses it this way: “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Recently, the Lord led me to meditate on Psalm 16:5, 6: “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: You maintain my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage.”

The “lot” spoken of is the destiny He has planned for us — our lot in life. The “lines” are boundary lines defining that lot, as with a plot of land. So the Lord is telling us that He has given each of us a certain territory which is uniquely ours. He maintains it and carefully watches over it. He has not given us a desolate plot of land, either, but a “goodly heritage.” He has planned for it to be pleasant, a delight to us.

Now, sometimes we have to see our lot through the eyes of faith. It won’t always look pleasant from a human perspective. Circumstances — sometimes for extended periods of time — can be very hard. It’s difficult then to see through the murk to where it will ever get better. Temporary troubles tend to becloud the long-term picture.

When life looks bleak, if we determine to look at it through the Lord’s eyes, we will gain a higher perspective. Meditating on and declaring verses such as these in Psalm 16 are practical ways to attain to His viewpoint. We begin to see, believe, and speak with conviction, “He truly has given me a good life, a great destiny, with a great future.”

Verses 8 and 9 of Psalm 16 take us a little deeper into seeing the good plan our Architect has for us: “I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also shall rest in hope.”

The inheritance our Architect has planned for us includes a glad heart, a soul which rests in hope, and a satisfying destiny. If we purposefully keep our focus on Jesus, knowing He is right beside us, we will not be shaken with fear. Truly, “the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage.”

Here’s a classic song from Steve Green to encourage you along the same lines:

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

nature of God

 

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

Sword, Shield, Reward

swordRecently the Lord spoke to me via a gentle thought, “God’s Word is a sword and shield to me.” Immediately, my intellect went to work correcting me, “No! The Word is the sword of the Spirit, but faith is the shield!” (Ephesians 6:16, 17). I recognized, though, that this was merely my mind trying to misuse Scripture to steal from me what God wanted to implant in my heart. (How many of you ever have this happen to you? I think it is probably more frequent than we realize.)

I asked the Lord to help me recall whether there were verses in the Bible which would connect the Word with a shield. And what came to mind was that Jesus and His Word are one, because He is the Word. John 1:1 and 14 reveal Jesus as the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….”

Jesus is also our shield: “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me…” (Psalm 3:3) and, “Behold, O God our shield. … For the LORD God is a sun and shield…” (Psalm 84:9, 11).

So, because Jesus is our shield, and the Word and Jesus are one, God’s Word can be seen as both a sword and a shield to us. Now, how do we apply that idea? Many of us are already familiar with using the Word of God as our sword. It is our offensive weapon, used to aggressively take territory from the enemy through declaring, “It is written …,” claiming what is rightfully ours and the Kingdom’s through our blood covenant in Christ Jesus.

But the Word is also our defensive shield. We use it to wrap protection around ourselves and our loved ones. We use powerful verses like those found in Psalm 91, or Psalm 140:4: “Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.”  Again, we might use it in an “It is written” declaration, or we might simply petition the Lord for His deliverance from evil, by praying the Word back to Him.

You may already be using God’s Word as both a sword and a shield, but sometimes an image such as this can solidify for us what we are doing, so that it becomes a more settled truth in our hearts. We increase in confidence in using God’s Word when we can picture it as our sword and shield.

crownThe next day, another of those gentle thoughts came to mind: “God is my reward. He is my exceedingly great reward.” I knew that was somewhere in the Bible, and sure enough, when I searched, Genesis 15:1 was the spot: “After these things, the word of the LORD came to Abram [Abraham] in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceedingly great reward.'”

We often focus on the rewards we will someday receive for our faithful service to the Lord, but do we realize that He, in and of Himself, is the greatest reward we will ever have? Compared to the reward of Himself all other rewards are paltry.

Because he believed the Lord, Abraham was called the Friend of God (James 2:23). Jesus said of us, “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. From now on, I do not call you servants, … but I have called you friends…” (John 15:14, 15). Abraham was God’s friend; we are His friends. He was Abraham’s exceedingly great reward; He is our exceedingly great reward. How amazing that we can participate in this blessing!

May these precious truths sink deeply into each of our hearts:

  • God’s Word is our sword and also our shield.
  • And He Himself is our shield and our exceedingly great reward.

nature of God

 

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

 

intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Discerning the Principles of God

Christian ethicsKnowing which principles in God’s Word to apply to given situations can be tricky. If we do not get our application from the Holy Spirit, we can end up speaking or acting in the flesh.

We see conflict over how to walk out the Word all the time. While some things are very clear-cut in Scripture, others are not. Hence, people frequently misuse the Bible to support their opinion or what they want to do. Believers really seem to struggle with this. It comes out loud and clear in real-life conversations. People are willing to fight to the death over their opinion, using Scripture to back it up – often erroneously.

An example recently in the news was the issue of separating children from their parents at the border. Somehow, that became a fight between those who wanted to apply the Romans 13 “obey the law” principle and those who were more concerned about the “compassion and caring for the helpless” principle.

How do we figure out which principle to apply and when? Like with so many other things, it is about discernment — in this case, discovering God’s heart case by case. That may sound like situation ethics, but it is not.

Situation ethics, as defined at Wikipedia, “takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards.” Sympathy toward so-called mercy killing is one example of where situation ethics will take us. God’s moral standards, however, do remain eternally absolute, so we can’t bend those for our convenience or personal desires, no matter how convincing our logic may be.

Many decisions and viewpoints do not involve violating an absolute moral standard. For those, there can be multiple principles in Scripture to be considered. We need to find out, for each set of circumstances, which principle is the correct one to apply.

The apostle Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 gives us a clue as to how this works: “And this is the trust we have through Christ toward God: we are not sufficient in ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament — not of the letter [of the law], but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

We are not competent through our intellect alone to discern how to apply the written Word of God. When we try to do that, we will often miss the mark. Instead, we must ask the Holy Spirit to illumine His Word and lead us to correct solutions. This is certainly part of what “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is about.

Jesus frequently shocked the religious leaders of His day by doing and saying things which they viewed as flagrant violation of God’s commands. He took them to task about their rigid understanding of the law and showed them what God’s intent was in it. In the process, He challenged them to look into their heart attitudes. The religious leaders, not understanding that they were contending with God Himself (Who certainly would have known what His own Word said), thought Jesus was a dangerous heretic.

So, how do we correctly discern and apply God’s principles? It requires asking Him for His input, which can take time to receive. We need to be careful not to express opinions too quickly, but to seek His counsel first. We can consider what other believers are saying, and ask God to give us His input on whether their take is correct. I often ask, “Lord, what about this? Will You give me something from Your Word which speaks to it?” Then I wait for a thought from the Scriptures to come to mind.

I also measure whatever principle I am weighing against 1 Corinthians 13 — the love test. If we are applying the Bible correctly, it will not violate other parts of itself, such as this chapter.

The Lord is most willing to help us discern His principles correctly. He has promised, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Our part is to wait upon Him patiently, expecting that He will truly help us. The more we are willing to do this, the more we will become skilled at correctly discerning and applying His Word.

 

The Names of God, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

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More on Discerning of Spirits

discerning of spiritsI’ve mentioned before that since the beginning of the year God has been impressing upon me the importance of the gift of discerning of spirits. It’s not a gift for just a few, although some will move in it more keenly than others. All believers need to operate in it at greater levels than we have thus far, if we are going to navigate life well.

A few months ago, I shared with you the series, Discerning Between Soul and Spirit. If we do not pursue the Lord for the ability to know the difference between these two, we can easily be fooled into thinking our emotions (which are part of our soul) are the Holy Spirit’s promptings. While our feelings do often align with the Spirit, not all emotions we experience — even positive ones — indicate God’s leading. Many in the Church are operating entirely out of emotional impulses. We need to change that.

For example, sometimes we may feel “righteous indignation,” but it is really only anger fueled by our flesh. Compassion is a Christ-like quality, but we can also experience misguided compassion, coming only from our human emotions. A sense of personal justice (or injustice) might really be selfishness wearing a mask.

Every day, hour by hour, we must discern whether what is propelling us is truly the Spirit of God or our soul — or even something worse! If we listen to our soul too much, our defenses become weakened to where we could begin to be influenced by an unholy spirit, which we then mistake for the Holy Spirit.

As we commit ourselves to listening to the Lord and staying sensitive to Him, we can develop a much keener sense of what is from Him and what is not. Here are some ways I try to do that:

1.)  I ask God for His perspective on events happening around me, both in my personal life and relationships and on a national / international level.

2.)  I ask, “Lord, is what I am sensing from You, or is it just my own emotions?”

3.)  I ask the Holy Spirit to bring Bible verses to mind which address whatever I have questions about and to help me rightly apply them.

Applying biblical principles correctly takes wisdom only the Spirit can impart. It’s easy to find a verse to support whatever position we want to take. But without the Lord’s help, we can end up misusing Scripture for our own soulish purposes.

4.)  If I am concerned about something and feel an urge to speak into it, I check my peace barometer. If I’m churned up inside, I try to take a step back and ask the Holy Spirit for more understanding.

Colossians 3:15 advises us, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are also called in one body; and be thankful.” That word “rule” means to act as a referee. So, if I feel an urge to jump into a debate, but I have no peace, I know I need to find out why before acting or speaking. (To my regret, sometimes I don’t do well at this, but I am learning.)

5.)  When possible, I delay responding to people or situations, giving myself time to gain wisdom. Waiting can save us a lot of unnecessary turmoil and discord. It’s a good thing not to be in a hurry!

There are battles which God has called us to speak into publicly and battles which are meant to stay in the prayer closet. We need to know the difference. If we fail to speak up in key moments, we might miss opportunities to advance the Lord’s purposes. If, however, we speak without the Spirit’s go-ahead, we can do damage to His cause.

Ephesians 6:12 is really easy to forget, so we should endeavor to keep it in mind constantly:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

When we enter into spiritual battles by taking them on in the natural, we always end up on the wrong side. We cannot serve God’s purposes through fleshly attempts to fix things.

Truly, God is calling His people into higher ways of thinking. Romans 8:5, 6 is a key passage:

For they who live according to the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they who live according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Let us pursue the attitudes of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to take us into His thoughts and ways. As we relentlessly do so, we will come into a far greater ability to discern the spirits and to align with Him alone.

personal prophecy

 

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