Category Archives: Spirit-filled

A Decade of Expectation and Preparation

2020 ProphecyAs one year winds down and another is on the doorstep, prophetic people often seek God for a fresh word for the coming year. Many diverse prophecies had already been given, so I really hadn’t sought the Lord to hear one myself this year. I was surprised when He did speak to me a couple of weeks ago about the coming decade. Here’s what I heard:

In 2020, we are entering a decade of expectation — expectation of the coming of the King. It will also be a decade of preparation — preparation for His coming.

I remembered Hosea 6:1-3:

Come, and let us return to the LORD: for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth.

He is calling us to prepare for His coming by returning wholeheartedly to Him. In Revelation 2:4, 5, Jesus chastised the Ephesian church for leaving her first love. He exhorted her to remember, repent, and do the first works. Revelation 19:7 says, “…The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.”

In Hosea 6:2,  we see that first He will revive us, and then He will resurrect us.  Jesus arose on the third day. We will experience a “third day” resurrection into our glorified bodies as well. (We are now in the third millennium since Jesus returned to heaven. Since “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8), there is a possible correlation between the third millennium since Christ’s resurrection and our “third day” resurrection.)

Finally the Lord said, “Throw the nets out one more time.” The accompanying thought was that this time we will receive a great catch of fish. I believe this is about a last great harvest of souls before Jesus returns. (See Luke 5:4-6.)

I want to clarify that I am not saying Jesus will delay His coming for His bride for another ten years. Nor does He have to return for us by the end of the decade. Jesus made it clear in Luke 12:35-40 that we should always be watching and waiting for Him. He will appear when we aren’t expecting Him to. It could be tomorrow, if the Father so chooses. I believe He will come very soon, and I yearn for Him to do so. But until He does, we are to be in expectation of Him and preparing for Him as a bride readies herself for her wedding day.

In this next decade, let’s eagerly

  • Expect the coming of the Lord Jesus,
  • Prepare our hearts for His coming, and
  • Throw our nets out one more time, to receive that final harvest for His glory.

 

prophecy, books, audiobooksWould you mind taking a look at
my resources page?

I have books, audiobooks, and audio workshops for you on prayer, prophetic teaching, and more.

 

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 8) — Conclusion

balanced churchWe started this series by looking at what “church” (ekklesia) means — a called-out assembly. We are called out of the darkness of this world into God’s family and kingdom, not as individuals only, but as a united body of believers, meant to live and carry out our purpose together.

I also gave you a core job description: The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

Throughout the series, I emphasized that healthy church life means we function as the family of God. When we forget that we are family, some of the other components of who we are — an army, discipleship center, or even a house of prayer — can get out of whack. But if we stay in the context of family, the many purposes God has for His Church work beautifully together. When we overemphasize one aspect of the Church to the exclusion of others, we become like a wheel out of round, or one missing some spokes, but properly balancing who we are and what we are supposed to do causes us to thrive.

There is one more element of the Church that I would like to mention. Really, I’ve saved the best for last:

We are Christ’s bride.

It is definitely a “now, but not yet” part of who we are. We are betrothed to our Bridegroom Jesus, but the wedding celebration will not take place until He returns for us. While we wait for Him, we are in a two-fold preparation time. We are already spotless in the sense that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, blameless and pure through His atonement for us at the cross. But Jesus is also bringing us through a wedding preparation process, “that He might sanctify and cleanse [His bride] with the washing of water by His Word, so that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26, 27).

We have our role to play as well. Just as an earthly bride goes through much preparation to look her most beautiful on her wedding day, we are to give great attention to readying ourselves for Jesus. Revelation 19:7 says of the marriage supper in heaven, “for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

In this present hour, the Lord is doing His part to cleanse His Church, even sometimes through the painful, public exposure of sin. We must do ours as well, in setting aside every encumbrance, every distraction, which would keep us from looking eagerly for our Bridegroom to come for us. We must get our attention off the temporary pursuits and cares of earth, and firmly fix our gaze on Jesus. He is coming. Let us be eagerly anticipating Him.

Summing things up:

The expression of love, mercy, and compassion should always be prominent in the Church. We carry out the practical functions to which we are called as Christ’s body on earth, but forever in the context of these three attributes. This is why the Spirit led the apostle Paul to insert “the love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) between the the gifts and church order chapters (1 Corinthians 12 and 14).

We must also remember that our Sunday morning services are only a slice of what it means to be the Church. If that is all we ever experience, we are missing out on a great deal. The early Church not only met together in large gatherings; they met “house to house” informally, eating and fellowshipping with one another (Acts 2:46), receiving teaching (Acts 20:20), and praying together (Acts 12:12) too. We can do the same in our day. They also lived out the life of Christ in the world around them, including showing forth the power of God through miracles, signs, and wonders, which are supposed to “follow those who believe” (Mark 16:17). “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

I hope you have enjoyed this series and that it has provoked some new ideas for you. I would love hearing any additional thoughts you have!

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Part 7 — Other Church Attributes

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nature of God

 

 

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

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 2) — We Are Family

familyIn our first post, we said the Church’s core job description is to be the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth. We also talked about the meaning of ekklesia, the Greek word which is translated “church.” It is an assembly of called-out ones.

The Church is referred to in the Bible using several different metaphors, but I believe the Scriptures reveal that the Church’s primary way to function is as a family. This is true of the universal church, but its best practical application is within the local congregation.

God’s people as family shows up already in Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve. We see the idea woven throughout Noah’s, Abraham’s, and Israel’s story. It is a continuous, consistent thread flowing through centuries of Old Testament history.

Mankind was originally created in the image of God. “And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness'” (Genesis 1:26). Family is God’s very nature, with two of the Persons of the Godhead being Father and Son. Since we have been made in His likeness, it should not surprise us that functioning as family is part of the Lord’s plan for His people.

In the New Testament, it becomes still clearer that God’s people are to follow the pattern of family. Believers in Jesus are referred to as the “sons of God” six times, including 1 John 3:1: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God….”

Romans 8:15-17 explains that we have been adopted by God the Father. As His adopted sons and daughters, we enjoy the same privileges and inheritance that Jesus does:

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

Throughout the New Testament epistles, members of the Church are referred to as “brethren,” “brothers,” and “sisters.” Those terms are used approximately 190 times in the apostles’ letters to the churches. Paul reminded the Corinthian church, which he had founded, that he was a father to them (1 Corinthians 4:15). He called Timothy and Titus his sons, although they were not biologically related (1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). John repeatedly referred to the Church as “little children” in 1 John. Paul also instructed Timothy in how to treat fellow believers: “Do not rebuke an elder, but entreat him as a father and the younger men as brothers; the elder women as mothers, the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1, 2). The portrayal of church as family is clearly primary.

You may already be thinking, “My church experience is not very much like family. I wish it were.” Sadly, that is often the case. It is one of the things which needs to shift, in order for our congregations to be healthy.

Or, perhaps you are thinking, “My family life growing up was a total mess! Why would I want my church experience to be like that?” You wouldn’t. None of us would. But, because we are made in God’s image, each of us has some understanding of what family should be, even if we have not had the opportunity to enjoy it growing up. There is a knowing in your heart what family done right should look like, and you long for that. And that is what God wants His church family to demonstrate to each other and the world.

In a properly functioning family, children are not valued for what they do, but for who they are. All the sons and daughters have equal value in their parents’ eyes. Younger children do not have the same responsibilities and options as the older ones, not because they are less important than older siblings, but because they do not yet have the maturity to handle those responsibilities or choices well. In larger families, older children often help care for the little ones, even teaching them some of the basic skills they will need to possess.

In the same way, God values all His sons and daughters, not for our deeds, positions, or functions, but simply because each of us is His own dear child. In the Church, we must learn to see each other as God sees us. Yes, there will be mature members who pastor or mentor newer believers. Some will have more visible ministries than others. But their position is not a measure of their importance. Neither maturity nor individual function within the congregation has anything to do with value, so may God help us to stop acting as though they do!

In our coming posts, we will examine other biblical aspects of what the Church should look like. We’ll also see how each of them can, and should, fit with the family model.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 3 — We Are One Body

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prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Your Most Important Accomplishment (and an Announcement)

finishing the raceWe will fight many battles in this life and, with God’s help, win many victories, both for ourselves and for others. But the most important victory we will ever achieve is to finish our race well. This is about our character and learning to depend upon Jesus.

There will be those who accomplish mighty feats — prophecies which accurately come to pass, healings, deliverances, and miracles. These are rightfully impressive, but we must never forget what Jesus said:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And in Your name done many wonderful works?” And then will I profess to them, “I never knew you: depart from Me, You who work iniquity.” — Matthew 7:21-23

In Matthew 24:13, Jesus also said, “But he who endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” Not, “He who does the most miracles,” not, “He who prophesies the best,” and not even, “He who wins the most souls.” Just, he who endures: staying faithful to the Lord, obeying Him, acting like Jesus would, and not denying Him when things get tough. To Jesus, enduring while keeping His testimony is far more important than anything else we do.

As the days we live in continue to darken, it is excellent to press in for miracles, to heal the sick, to set the captive free, to participate with Jesus in destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). But to faithfully confess His name right up until the end, testifying well of Him through a life of pure, Christ-like behavior — that is priority.

Don’t stop. Don’t grow weary in well-doing, including the well-doing of prayer. Keep your eyes always on Jesus, Who waits for you at the finish line, cheering you on. Finish well, with Jesus’ character so much a part of your inner fabric that, as you run your race, you leave His distinct aroma in your wake.

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God's promises are yes and amenUPDATE: After a two-year break, I am working on two new books. One is a Bible promise book, with all the promises from Genesis through Revelation. (This is something I have wanted for myself for a long time, but couldn’t find one done the way I had in mind.)

The plan is to do it in both the KJV and a modernized KJV (the same text without the thees and thous, with modern spellings and punctuation, but still completely faithful to the KJV, my favorite translation). I’m currently in the Psalms, which will take a while, I think. Just working on this book has been drawing me into the Lord’s Presence, and I hope it will do that for you, too!

The second project is a Christian dream interpretation book. If you are a regular reader at Out of the Fire, you know I write a lot about dreams and how God speaks to us through them. In the past year, Paul and I have presented several extensive dream workshops.

This new book will be much more detailed than the article series and even than the workshop materials. It will include a dream dictionary, which particularly emphasizes symbolic imagery found in the Bible. The dictionary will no doubt be the hardest part of the book to accomplish.

With the Lord’s help, I hope to have both projects completed sometime in 2020 or early 2021.

dream interpretation

 

If you want to learn a lot more about understanding your dreams now, we still offer our audio dream workshop, Hearing God Through Your Dreams, in mp3 or CD form at our website. I think you will enjoy it!

 

 

 

What About Contemplative Prayer? (Part 4)

In our previous three posts, we talked about the elements of biblical contemplative prayer, as well as nonbiblical things to avoid. Let’s recap and add to what we’ve already discussed.

 

Things to embrace:

  1. Meditate on the Lord — His nature, as revealed in His Word.
  2. Meditate on His Word — Savor it, repeat it aloud, pray it back to Him, declare it as your statement of faith. Again, if you need a plan for how to begin, go here.
  3. Meditate on His mighty deeds — as told in the Bible, from personal experience, or from the testimonies of other believers who have seen the Lord’s intervention on their behalf. Rehearsing testimonies of His previous faithfulness in your memory (and with your mouth) strengthens you to overcome your current challenges.
  4. Recall / meditate on / pray the personal promises the Lord has spoken to you. In 1 Timothy 1:18, the apostle Paul exhorted his young protégé, “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the previous prophecies regarding you, that you by them [those personal prophecies] might war a good warfare.”
  5. Converse with the Lord. Ask Him questions and give Him space to answer. Carry on a dialogue with Him.
  6. Ask the Lord what He wants to say, and then quietly listen. Invite Him, as young Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
  7. Write down whatever God speaks. This includes conversations you’ve had with Him and any other insights you receive from Him. Expect Him to expand on your revelation as you write down what you already have seen or heard. (See 1 Chronicles 28:11-19.)

Things to avoid:

  1. Eastern meditation practices, such as yoga, transcendental meditation, various Eastern relaxation and breathing techniques. These are purported to bring peace, through the emptying of the mind and by inducing an altered state of consciousness. Remember, peace is already available to you through the Holy Spirit, without these techniques. Peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit, not something achieved by our efforts. Ask the Lord to work peace in you. An empty mind is an open door to evil spirits. The Bible doesn’t speak of emptying our minds, or of employing special breathing disciplines. Instead, it talks about fastening our attention on the Lord and putting our trust in Him.
  2. Do not attempt to bring on a trance, vision, or altered state of mind. Trances are biblical — when God is the initiator (see Acts 10:9-16). But trying to induce a trance or vision for yourself will open you up to deception. You can ask God to give you these types of revelation, but from thereon, it is His prerogative, not yours. This goes for out-of-body, heavenly experiences, such as John experienced in Revelation and Paul received in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5. God initiated it; they did not.
  3. Do not try to reach a higher spiritual state by praying words or phrases repetitiously. Religious or mystical ritual will not bring you closer to the Lord. He is all about relationship, not ritualistic formulas for trying to reach Him. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus said, “But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Notice that He calls them vain (meaningless; empty; useless) repetitions.

Is it always wrong to repeat a prayer request or worship / praise phrase? No, not if you are sincerely engaging with the Lord. The ritual is what we want to avoid. Sometimes in our worship or intercession, we go a little deeper each time we tell the Lord we love Him, or each time we plead a point. It is when we try to use repetition to achieve a different spiritual zone, or to coerce God with much speaking, that we cross over the line.

A good measuring stick of all spiritual practices is, if it’s not in the Bible, don’t do it. Stick with what we have good evidence of in the Word.

I hope this series has helped clear up some of the fear and misconceptions surrounding contemplative prayer. I have probably missed covering some spiritual practices which should be addressed. If you have questions or suggestions, please comment!

Contemplative Prayer (Part 1) — Meditation
Contemplative Prayer (Part 2) — Listening to God
Contemplative Prayer (Part 3) — Journaling

 

names of God

 

The Names of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

inner peace

 

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