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

 

 

Discerning the Political Spirit

political protestIf you have not yet noticed, it’s time to pay attention. A political spirit is having a field day in America. It is stirring up strife and anger to levels we have not seen in many decades.

Sadly, Christians are not immune to its influence. Many in the Church are listening to the political spirit, all the while thinking it is the Holy Spirit. As a result, we see much bickering back and forth, even within Christ’s Body, as we mistakenly try to fight battles in the flesh which can only be fought adequately in the spirit.

Let’s start by identifying some signs the political spirit is affecting us:

  1. If it’s my political party’s stance, it’s right, do or die.
  2. Being a Christian and being a patriot are synonymous to me. (Patriotism is usually honorable, but since we are citizens of two kingdoms, an earthly one and a heavenly one, the time may come when we will have to choose between the two.)
  3. If my guy is in office, everything he does is right. He’s God-appointed and God-anointed, so he never takes a wrong turn.
  4. If it’s not my guy in office, he is open game. Start blasting.
  5. Key words trigger a dig-my-heels-in-the-ground stance, so that I cannot see any middle territory. I cannot hear a different viewpoint or see a perspective in between.
  6. If my favorite news outlet says it is so, it is. If I am a conservative, I cannot believe anything from a liberal source could be accurate. (If I am a liberal, I cannot receive anything from a conservative viewpoint.)
  7. I feel and exhibit anger and pride over where I stand. I argue with anyone of a different perspective until I win my point (or until they quit responding).
  8. I am afraid of any truth which conflicts with what I want to believe.
  9. I have an “us vs. them” mentality.

The political spirit can lead us into idolizing a particular government figure. It deceives us into replacing Jesus with human saviors. Once we have entered into this idolatry, anytime anyone voices a concern that the one we idolize may be wrong in a specific area, we get defensive and perhaps abusive in our rebuttal. We may twist the Bible to justify or minimize wrong — because the person we have on a pedestal must be viewed as always right in order for us to feel comfortable with our idolization of him or her.

On the other hand, the political spirit can also lead us into hating a particular government figure. We spend our time criticizing his or her every move. When anyone suggests we pray for that person instead of criticizing him, we make excuses or get defensive.

How do we become influenced by the political spirit? It gains our agreement by pandering to our soul. It manipulates our fears and selfish desires, so that life becomes all about making sure our comfort comes first.

It uses us by taking hold of principles we deeply ascribe to and twisting them for its own purposes. We bring those deeply held principles into how we pray, firmly convinced that we are on God’s side – when in actuality our understanding of the principles may be flawed. We may be misusing them for our own soulish desires or opinions.

Other spirits work in partnership with this spirit, but the Holy Spirit never does. We cannot follow the political spirit and the Holy Spirit at the same time.

The political spirit is nothing new. It was at work in Bible times with those who wanted to make Jesus a king so He would overthrow the oppressive Roman government. The Jewish religious leaders who were opposed to Jesus also exhibited it when they said to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). It is not only at work in secular government, but also in church government. Wherever power can be wielded over people, it will try to work.

Combating the political spirit’s influence:

The most effective way to deal with this spirit is through prayer. We must always remember, “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” (Ephesians 6:12). If we don’t stay aware of the real source of the problem, we end up in futile contention with people who are merely tools of the enemy.

That does not mean we never engage in discussion or other activism. If we don’t speak up when the Lord is prompting us to, we allow evil to gain ground, but we must know the appropriate time and place. We can only know these things by the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Find out which battles the Holy Spirit is calling you to, and leave the rest alone.

Our battle must first be engaged by searching out God’s perspective through inquiring of Him in prayer. I might start by gathering information from news sources. (Keep in mind that both left- and right-leaning media distort or withhold information for their own purposes.) But then I ask, “Lord, what do You say about this?”

While we wait to hear from Him, we can begin to wage war by praying in tongues, which keeps us from praying fleshly prayers stemming from our own reasoning.

We can petition the Lord to break the political spirit’s influence off of our nation. This may involve asking Him to expose its influence over ourselves first, followed by repentance for our personal cooperation with it.

Discerning when the political spirit is at work in our own lives and in those around us is a first step in dealing with it. We can be set free, and through prayer, we can help to weaken this spirit’s hold on our nation as well.

intercessory prayer

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

intercession questions

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
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

 

Recent Things God Has Shared with Me

prophecies for CaliforniaGod has big plans for the senior generation:

In a recent dream, I was reading Tales of the Kingdom, a book by David and Karen Mains. (It was a favorite in our family while our children were growing up.)

I noticed there were many silver objects appearing in the book, as well as a lot of references to silver. Then, an old man (silver-haired) hobbled toward me. He pointed his finger with classic prophetic emphasis, as he announced that the silver was appearing in the story because older people are going to play an important role in God’s kingdom in the days ahead.

It is common for the younger generations to be spoken of as having great potential (which they do). But the not-so-subtle implication has often been communicated that those of us who are older have had our chance, and it is now to time to hand over the baton, shuffle out to pasture, and let the younger people do marvelous exploits for the Lord. Many of us who are older have gradually resigned ourselves to never seeing the dreams which God planted in our hearts fulfilled, because our bodies’ clocks are winding down.

God does not see us that way, however. He is mindful of us and still has plans held in reserve for us. How He uses us could take many forms. One of the ways He will do it involves drawing on the wisdom He has imparted to us through the years. He will use this older generation to restore sound biblical foundations to the younger people who have not been well discipled. We are to be repairers of the foundations and walls of God’s kingdom, which have been neglected for a few decades.

While the seeker-sensitive movement and the motivational message, “You can be successful!” have become the centerpieces of our churches, the foundations have fallen into disrepair. Sound doctrine is sadly lacking. But in the wings, God has long been preparing people who are about to change all that – if we are willing to take up our mantle.

If you are older and you are well-grounded in the Bible, look for opportunities to be a spiritual father or mother to younger, less-grounded people. Maybe you can teach them about God’s character and principles, or maybe your gift is to show them how to know His voice. Perhaps you can help them discover their spiritual gifts and how to mature in them. Maybe you are an encourager – one who knows how to inspire people to press on when the going is tough and to be the best they can be for Jesus. Whatever it is, it’s your time. All you have to do is make yourself available to the Lord by saying, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”

______________

For those who pray for Israel:

The Lord led me into prayer for Tel Aviv, which some would view as the “sin city” of Israel. He showed me that Tel Aviv would become a “hot spot” of awakening for the Jewish people. The seeds which have been sown into this city by evangelists and worshipers through several decades will germinate and spring up into sturdy plants of salvation.

______________

California:

I have been praying into California here and there for several years now. While many prophesy judgment and destruction over this state, God is not finished with her.

Recently I heard the Lord say, “God has an appointment with California.” I sensed that this was an appointment with awakening and a radical shift into seeing things God’s way.

The rumblings of God are taking place in California – spiritual rumblings of a good nature. I have felt more than once the prompting to pray for the homeless camps to become seedbeds of awakening.

California is the Lord’s, and it is truly a “promised land.” We will see it shift from being a place of great liberalism to being a place where righteousness is the order of the day for a majority.

“Can anyone hold back California? No!” says the Lord. “This land is Mine, and I will heal it. The sighs and cries going up from there have been heard.”

Growing in the Prophetic

 

Growing in the Prophetic, mp3 or CD set

 

 

Christian dream interpretation

 

Hearing God Through Your Dreams, mp3 or CD set