Category Archives: Encouragement

In Defense of the Elijahs

Oh, here we go again. Another sermon on Elijah’s failure and how God never used him after that.

I don’t know how many times the story has been spun from our pulpits: “Elijah scored his biggest victory ever at Mount Carmel, and then he blew it. He gave in to discouragement, ran for his life, and that was the end of his ministry. God was so displeased that He immediately chose someone to replace Elijah. And Elijah never did anything important for God again.”

The moral of this concocted version of 1 Kings 19 is, if you allow fear, doubt, or discouragement to get in, you’re done — so don’t ever do that. (Like we haven’t all already done the same thing a time or two!)

In actuality, Elijah continued to have a powerful prophetic ministry after his brief lapse into discouragement. He prophesied to Ahab about the consequences of seizing Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:17-29). He prophesied to Ahab’s successor, demonstrating his prophetic authority by calling down fire from heaven on the king’s soldiers. And he was still around during the reign of the king who came after (2 Kings 1). Furthermore, he established training camps for young prophets in Bethel and Jericho (2 Kings 2:2-5).

Perhaps most importantly, he spent years pouring himself into Elisha, raising him up to be a mighty prophet like unto himself. Jewish historian Josephus indicates in Book VIII of his work, Antiquities of the Jews, that Elijah continued 13-15 years after he anointed Elisha to take his place (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-8.html). Other Bible scholars estimate anywhere from 10-20 more years passed before Elijah was carried up into heaven.

I’m glad that the story as it has been told from too many pulpits is untrue. You see, through the years, I have identified with Elijah a lot. I have repeatedly prayed that God would help me to hear Him with pinpoint accuracy like Elijah did. I’ve desired to be persistent and effective in prayer, as he was.

But I’ve also felt a kinship with Elijah in his temperament, leaning toward the melancholy side, sometimes taking myself a little too seriously, and having a tendency toward despondency if I don’t rigorously guard against it.

I take comfort in the apostle James’ tribute to Elijah (James 5:16-18). He held him up as our example for effective prayer. Apparently, James did not regard Elijah as a washout, and God didn’t either. Besides giving him a nod in James’ epistle, He chose to have Elijah appear with Moses on the mount of transfiguration to encourage Jesus concerning His impending death for mankind (Luke 9:28-31).

Elijah’s story does not end there. In truth, his greatest ministry is yet to come. We are told in Malachi 4:5, 6, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers ….”

This prophecy was foreshadowed, but not completely fulfilled, in John the Baptist. Some Bible teachers spiritualize the Malachi passage by saying Elijah will not literally come again. They think it will be carried out by a last days’ generation who will collectively carry “the spirit of Elijah.” That may certainly take place, but seeing how Bible prophecy consistently is fulfilled quite literally, I believe we will see Elijah himself accomplish this on the earth, perhaps as one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11.

What can we take away from Elijah’s story? 

Perhaps you’ve failed. Maybe you got your eyes off Jesus, became afraid, and “ran for your life” when you were supposed to stand in your victory. It’s a lie that God is now finished with you just because you didn’t do it right.

In spite of those sermons, God did not throw Elijah on the garbage heap. (Neither was He done with Peter when he failed to keep walking on the water or when he denied Jesus.) God knows our failings and has compassion on us. “Like a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13, 14).

If you have grown discouraged and have run from your calling or your circumstances, don’t buy the lie that God has permanently put you on the shelf. Put your hand back in the Lord’s and keep going. Your most fruitful days can still lie ahead of you.

Christian foundations and the nature of God

 

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

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All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World

inner peaceMy newest book, All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, is now available!

Thank you so much to those who took advantage of our pre-order sale! If you enjoyed All-Surpassing Peace, please help us spread the word by recommending it to your friends! (Rating it at the site you purchased it from also helps, and is so appreciated.)

Book Description:

All of us long for peace: for the world, in our relationships, and most importantly, inside ourselves. Why is peace so elusive, even for those of us who are Christians? How do we manage to achieve true peace — and then hang onto it?

In All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, you will discover why peace is the covenant right of every child of God, and how you can access it. I share practical keys from Scripture and my personal experience to help you enter into a greater peace than you have yet known.

Discover:

  • How to enter into a covenant of peace with God
  • How to overcome hindrances to your peace
  • Your calling to be God’s agent of peace to others
  • How peace can be a tool to guide your life
  • Ways to maintain or restore your peace in times of turmoil

Read a Sample

Available at:

Thanks for taking a look! I hope All-Surpassing Peace will be a blessing to you!

 

 

Safe Passage — A Parable

girl-hiding-pixabayHave you struggled with feeling embattled, constantly harassed by the enemy of your soul? Perhaps you have even felt on the verge of losing your personal spiritual war. Many months ago, I had a dream and a vision, which I hope will encourage you.

In the dream, a very powerful bad man was trying to get me, to enslave me. His many loyal henchmen were constantly after me, and I could never outsmart them. I ran from one house or building to the next to hide. Whenever I tried to escape out in the open, sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another, my pursuers spotted me. They always seemed to know where I was and what my next move would be, so I couldn’t get away, and I always had to hide again.

The dream ended with me entering still another house to hide, and the people who lived there were willing to help me. They planned on disguising me, so that the bad guys would not recognize me. But by this time, I was pretty skeptical that even disguising myself would be successful, as nothing had worked thus far.

That’s where it ended — not a happy conclusion. What was also disturbing was that I had experienced similar dreams in the past. So, I prayed that God would reveal to me what was going on, hoping that I could then apply His truth and avoid having such a dream again.

Instead of the Lord explaining the issue to me, I entered into a vision, which was a continuation of the story. Jesus, Who bore the title, The Ultimate King, showed up at the front door of a house where I was hiding. He took me out by the front door, right into the street, in broad daylight. He wrapped the full-length cloak He was wearing around my shoulders and held me close by His side, so that we were both covered by His cloak.

All the bad guys who wanted to capture me were standing around in the street, staring at us, but they did not dare touch me, because I was with Jesus. They had to let Jesus pass right through the midst of them and down the street, because they knew He was The Ultimate King, Whom no one dared to touch.

Together, Jesus and I walked slowly and steadily through the enemy’s streets. I was safe, a “hidden one” (hidden in His cloak). I was not invisible, but I was hidden, in the sense of the bad guys not being able to harm me. Jesus and I had safe passage together. I knew that He was unafraid, and I didn’t have to be afraid either. They could not touch me, because they dared not touch The Ultimate King. They knew Jesus held the position of supreme authority through His victory on the cross, His subsequent resurrection, and because He had taken back the keys by which the devil once imprisoned mankind.

************ 

This dream addressed a particular issue I have often struggled with — shame over past events where I had not acted with the maturity I have since grown into. I tend to be quite the perfectionist when it comes to the standards I hold for myself. Sometimes the enemy reminds me of long ago failures, and if I’m not immediately vigilant to reject those thoughts, I end up kicking myself all over again, instead of remembering that Jesus bore all my shame and imperfections on the cross, and that they are mine no more.

I think that is why, in the vision, Jesus came to the front door. My inclination would have been to slink out a back door, but He boldly took me through the front door, into the sunshine, and down the street in full view, acknowledging me as His own.

Perhaps you also struggle with shame — or perhaps your issue is something quite different. Whatever it is, God wants you to know that you are not at the mercy of the enemy. It’s time for the endless game of staying one step ahead of spiritual defeat to stop. Jesus wants not only to help you escape, but to take you out unashamed, safe and secure under His protection, in full view of the enemy. He wants you to know that He is committed to you, and that you are valuable to Him. He wants to walk you through enemy lines fearless and unscathed.

The Word says, “He Who is begotten of God keeps him, and that wicked one cannot touch him” (1 John 5:18). It also says that Jesus “is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

So, stop hiding in the shadows. Let Jesus cover you with His own cloak. And let Him walk you through the enemy lines unharmed, because you are hidden in Him (Colossians 3:3). He is your safe passage.

We Will See What the King Will Do

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“My Wonderful Tiara Again!” by Taku, via Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Many years ago, while in the midst of praying into a serious situation, a distinct snapshot picture came to my mind. It was a vision, but I didn’t know it then, not yet having been taught how seeing in the Spirit works.

In the picture, a king was seated on his throne. Next to him sat a beautiful, black-haired young woman, with a simple tiara circling her head. Her hand rested on the king’s arm, and her gaze was fastened on his face. It was a picture of quiet trust and confidence in him.

And I heard the words, “We will see what the King will do.”

The vision, of course, was a picture of King Jesus and His bride. It was also a picture of my relationship with Him. It was a great comfort to me, and it helped me to put the problem I was praying into in a better perspective. Through the days and weeks after that, I repeatedly thought, “I will see what the King will do about this.” Eventually the trial was over. Everybody came out of it OK. Jesus made a way where there was none.

Through the years since then, this vision has continued to live and breathe its truth deep in my spirit. Many times, as I have prayed with others about their desperate situations, I have told them the vision and have encouraged them, “Let’s see what the King will do.” Many of them have also come through their fiery test. The King has acted on their behalf, too.

We live in difficult times, and many in the Body of Christ are experiencing very distressing circumstances. I am praying with several loved ones right now who need the Lord’s miraculous intervention. There is no way out for them, other than His supernatural provision and direction. The ability to fix things through human logic and practical maneuvers has come to an end for them. And after praying with them, I have once again said, “Now we will see what the King will do in this.”

The messes we need help with are not always our own fault. Other people’s actions can create a lot of trouble for us. But even when we have no one to blame but ourselves, the King is still eager to fix our problems for us. He is in the salvage and restoration business.

Some of us have damaged our relationships, our churches, and our personal destinies because we have tried too hard to fix impossible circumstances ourselves, rather than bringing them to the King, Who can fix all things. We’ve been unwilling to wait for Him to work, and have made foolish mistakes from a position of panic, when rest in Him was what He was really after.

The Lord often deliberately takes us to the end of our abilities so that we will lean on Him, much as the young woman leaned on her king’s arm in my vision. He lets us wear ourselves out and do all the screaming, kicking, and crying that we tend to do in our flesh. Then, when there is no more fight left in us, He leads us to the place where we give it all to Him, broken and beat up though it may be.

Isaiah 30 talks about the place God wants to get us to: “Their strength is to sit still” (v. 7), and, “In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (v. 15).

If you’re fighting one of those no-way-out, beating-my-head-against-a-wall types of battles, the King wants you to come to Him. Sit down next to Him as His Beloved. Put your hand confidingly on His arm, and fasten your gaze on Him. Remind yourself, “I will see what the King will do for me in this impossible situation.” He will refresh you and give you new expectation for better things to come. He may open your eyes to a solution you had not thought of before, or He may put things in motion to clear up the problem without you having to do a thing. However He chooses to do it, He will certainly act on your behalf, for nothing is too hard for the King.

Angels in Charge

Today, I’d like to share a story which illustrates God’s supernatural intervention on behalf of ordinary people who belong to Him.

My family and I were on our way to an eagerly anticipated revival service at our church. We stopped at a busy intersection with a particularly blind corner — a light pole on one side and a fence on the other. In order to see the traffic coming from both directions, it was necessary to pull a few feet past the stop sign.

As we waited our turn to cross the intersection, to my sudden alarm, a driver turning left onto the street where we were stopped cut his turn way too sharply. He had not noticed until it was too late that he was turning directly into the path of another vehicle, and he was making a last-second, desperate (but futile) attempt to avoid a collision. Of course, there was no time for us to back up and get out of his way. We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The oncoming car did not have time to stop, and smacked the left-turner broadside, spinning him around. As they crashed and spun, I tensed and shut my eyes, fully expecting that we would be caught up in the accident as well.

It took a few seconds to realize that the impact never came. We had heard the squeal of the tires and the screech of tearing metal, and thought we were part of the collision. When I opened my eyes, one of the cars was resting just a few inches from our front bumper. My husband got out and walked about, looking for damage to our vehicle. We were completely untouched.

It was then that I noticed our position. Before the accident, our car had been nosed out in front of the stop sign. Now we were resting about fifteen or twenty feet behind it. We gazed at each other in amazement, realizing that we had just experienced God’s supernatural protection. If our car had remained where it had been, the driver’s side of our vehicle would have been struck with violent force, and we could have been hurt badly.

We realized that there was no logical explanation for our deliverance other than that God’s angels had moved in, picked us up, and put us down just far enough back to keep us out of harm’s way. Truly, we had experienced firsthand the promise in Psalm 91:11, 12: “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, so that you do not dash your foot against a stone.”

Do you have a story of God’s miraculous intervention in your life? Why not build the faith of others by sharing it as a comment?

Knowing Your Seasons of Prayer — Obtaining and Letting Go (Part 2)

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. — Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6

four-seasonsLast time, I said that God may require us to let go of our cherished desire in the process of obtaining it. Or, He may allow us to briefly obtain, and then ask us to give it back to Him, as a test of whether He has our whole heart. The letting-go process requires great trust in the Lord. 

God is not in the business of giving us things just so that He can cruelly snatch them away from us again. When He gives a promise, He means it, and He keeps His word. When the test is complete, He rescues, restores, or resurrects the promise He has given us. The test itself serves to build our character, strengthen our faith, and build our love relationship with the Lord even more, so it is entirely for our good. 

I believe prayer is intended to bring forth answers in our earthly life. I believe in supernatural healings, and I’ve seen many. Both of those are the norm, not the exception. But some of you have experienced the loss of a loved one for whom you diligently prayed for healing. Or your spouse left, and you prayed for the marriage to be restored, but he or she married someone else. You believed and prayed diligently, and then you faithfully gave it up to the Lord, but the answer did not come. That’s been on my mind throughout writing about the obtaining and letting go season. 

You may have been told you didn’t obtain a desired end because you or your loved one sinned, you did something wrong in prayer, didn’t pray enough, or didn’t have enough faith — which is a lot like what Job’s friends said to him, and in his case, they weren’t correct.

Ideally, healing comes, or the marriage is restored, or whatever else the need is gets resolved, as we pray it through. Diligent prayer, trust, and relinquishment obtain the desired deliverance within our natural world. But even the greatest men and women of faith, seasoned in prayer and in wielding the promises of Scripture, have not always seen it work out “right,” so to speak. Among those who suffered personal family tragedy in spite of prayer were intercessor E. M. Bounds and healers John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, and Derek Prince. 

There are things that happen for which we do not have answers — yet. Eternity will provide a better ending to the story. I don’t have a pat answer. Those who think they do usually end up adding to the wounds. But, in praying this article through, I think the Lord showed me a perspective which I hope will help bring relief to some of you who are suffering under deep disappointment. 

We tend to see our breakthroughs, restorations, and resurrections as being confined to our present earthly age. There is a dividing veil in our minds between the time spent in our mortal bodies and the eternal life to come. But that veil does not exist in God’s perspective. He sees our life now, and He sees our future, immortal life. He sees our time on earth, our time in heaven, our time during the coming millennial reign of Christ on earth, our time in the future new heaven and new earth age. As we pass through these various stages, it is all one continuous timeline for Him. But because we know so very little about anything beyond our current life on earth, we don’t see it the way He does. 

When we pass through into eternity, that dividing veil of the mind will no longer hinder our understanding. We will discover that our breakthroughs, restorations, and resurrections were a reality all along. We will find that all which seemed lost has been reserved and stored up, completely intact, for us. Our loved ones in the Lord are not really lost to us; they are waiting for us, alive and well, and our separation from them, although it seems so very long now, is a brief moment on our entire timeline. 

In the meantime, the Lord cares deeply about every question and disappointment we suffer through. He understands that although the end is perfectly clear to Him, it is not to our earth-bound minds. And He is most compassionate toward our pain. 

He’s got a resurrection awaiting — not only physical resurrection of the dead, but also resurrection of those promised things which didn’t happen here in this life. He has not really failed you. It’s all there, and you will receive it — even with accrued interest — on the other side.

Knowing Your Seasons of Prayer Intro  
Previous: Obtaining and Letting Go (Part 1) 
Next: The Season of Faith 

 

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Knowing Your Seasons of Prayer — Obtaining and Letting Go

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. — Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6

four-seasonsOne of the mysteries of prayer is that obtaining sometimes only comes by completely letting go. God is loving and good at all times, but we often don’t like to remember that He is also exacting. He requires that we withhold nothing from Him. 

God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. After waiting, believing, and probably investing much prayer into the promise for twenty-five years, Abraham received the beginning fulfillment. Isaac was born. Abraham obtained his son through phenomenal endurance, and he loved Isaac dearly … and then the Lord asked Abraham to give Isaac back to Him (Genesis 22). I don’t like that story very much. I understand the typology. It is a picture of Father giving His only Son for us. But I still don’t like it. 

Every one of us will go through times of testing when God will put His finger on a promise, a desire of the heart, and say, “Will you give that to Me?” It may be something we have already obtained through precious prayer, or it may involve something not yet obtained, for which we have labored long and in which we have invested much love. 

To understand why God does this, we must be aware that His perfect nature is many-faceted. Although He is our most loving Father, He is also the supreme Potentate of the universe, and as such, He demands complete allegiance. Relinquishing all is a test of our fear of the Lord. He already knows whether we will pass the test before He gives it to us, and He equips us with the ability to succeed before He tests us, but the test is still presented. 

Letting go involves submitting everything to Him, knowing that He is perfectly capable of rescuing us or our cherished object, perfectly capable of resurrecting whatever dream we entrust to Him, and yet realizing we face the risk that He will not intervene to rescue or resurrect. It is a defining moment of saying, “Lord, You promised me this, and yet I give it freely to You, to do with as You like — even if You don’t restore it to me.” That takes great trust, but it is a trust that He will honor, here on earth, and eventually in eternity. 

We see Job giving God this kind of yieldedness, when he said, “Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood absolute relinquishment as well. When faced with the fiery furnace, they were aware of God’s promises in the Word to rescue His faithful ones. But look what they said: “Our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if He does not … we will not serve your gods” (Daniel 3:17, 18). They were committed to putting their very lives completely at the Lord’s disposal, and whether He helped them, or whether He let them fall, they were totally His. Now, He did help them, just as He rescued Abraham from actually sacrificing his beloved Isaac, but it was a real risk of trusting in the face of the unknown for each of them, just the same. 

Perhaps you are in a time of desperately needing an answer from the Lord. You’ve fought hard and done all that you could to obtain. You have believed and declared all the right Scriptures. Like-minded, committed prayer warriors have been solidly agreeing with you. You have prayed it through in the Spirit. Your faith grew along the way to a point of feeling unshakable. And yet you are at a real crisis point. 

Sometimes letting go removes the last barrier to obtaining the answer. You might need to say from the depths of your heart, “Lord, I’ve done all I could, to the best of my ability. Now it’s up to You. Whether I live or die, and whether what I’ve been praying for lives or dies, I will trust You.”

Relinquishment is a key to breakthrough. You may see immediate results. Or, there may be a death of your promise or petition that requires a resurrection, for which you must patiently wait and trust. God does it both ways. 

Now, I know some of you have experienced a devastating loss. You did not receive the rescue or restoration which you had hoped for, and your faith is pretty well shattered. I’d like to share a few more thoughts with you in the next post.

Knowing Your Seasons of Prayer Intro  
Previous: Breaking Down and Building Up Seasons 
Next: Obtaining and Letting Go (Part 2)

The Intercessor Manual

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam