This is in no way meant to be a guilt trip or sound heartless, nor is it something said because numbers are low or offerings are poor because neither are the problem here. But as pastors we often observe how people feel obligated or compelled to tell us why they miss church or meetings as if we are The Judge in the matter. It seems that some believe that by telling us reasons why they miss it in some way appeases their sense of regret and they've been excused as if they missed school. But we're not God. We do not judge but we as shepherds are heartbroken at times to see what people miss in God's Plan by making excuses to be MIA. We as pastors are not offended when people come 2 times a month because our joy and peace are in Christ alone. What do people miss? Answers. Peace. Wisdom for this weeks' problems and pain.They miss the encouragement by a group of people that are so excited to see them. They miss everything that they need. God waits to be gracious to you in the Body of Christ. There are things God will tell you in private without the Church but there are things He will only tell you in Church through His Body on earth. He has answers for you! Stop being a victim of your circumstances, stop living in what people have done to you in the past, stop complaining about your job, marriage, & personal situations. Stop being familiar with God, stop staying away because of people - draw near to Him, God is bigger than people - His Plan is bigger than your failures and unbelief. Expect great things from God for your life & come to be a part of the greatest and hottest thing happening on planet earth today - CHURCH!
"If thou art running to Christ, He is already near thee. If thou dost sigh for His presence, that sigh is the evidence that He is with thee. He is with thee now: therefore be calmly glad." - Charles Spurgeon
It is of great comfort to read the words penned “from the first day...thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Be glad child of God for our words are heard “from the first day”! This should cheer the wavering saint who labors in prayer!
When we think of international communication and how back in the day it used to take weeks to have a painstakingly written letter delivered to it’s eagerly awaiting addressee, we can truly appreciate the fact that there is no distance between the seeking soul and the listening God. We tend to think of God naturally, in terms of distance, that He is far away in the heavens on a throne, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the sphere of prayer there is no distance, no interference, no walls, no obstacle to catch our rising prayer and cast it to the ground. God is closer to the believer than the believer is to himself. As a matter of a fact, before we pray He knows our prayer altogether - Psalm139:4.
In warfare it is critical to know that there is no distance that our prayer must travel. A whisper of a prayer can be more powerful than a prayer of shouting and pleading with God. Often due to a delay of the answer, we assume there is distance, but contrary to appearance, He instantly hears and He instantly acts.
Yet there are times of a hindering of the execution of that prayer as we see in Daniel’s case. Though Daniel did not immediately know of the delay of an answer due to warfare and hindering, Daniel continued to fast and pray. It is of utmost importance that we cease not in prayer, that we knock until the door is opened. Because the answer is coming and your constancy in prayer is part of the warfare being waged. All too often answers to prayers in transit are halted due to the breakdown of prayer.
When a person begins to discover the power of prayer, the Prince of Persia, the unseen authority of Ephesians 6:12, will begin his hindering program. He will use feelings, pressure, circumstances, people, or personal distractions to get the praying warrior to stumble in his prayer and stop. He will project impulses, fears, bad news, or whatever he can send to stop the prayers.
Were Daniel’s prayers a part of the victory in that Michael the Angel was sent to help get the words to Daniel of the vision? I think so. For when we read the disciple’s prayer of Matthew 6 we read “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The distance between the will of Heaven and the will of God accomplished on the earth is only a prayer away. When we pray, God's will is accomplished. When we abide in prayer, we are an acting agent, an ambassador, that becomes a conduit of the accomplishment of the things of God on this earth.
!We must remember that the devil is the "Prince of the Power of the Air" so he has authority in the air, but not absolute authority. When believers live in their flesh, in the wisdom of this world, they become conduits of the air giving place for the devil, even speaking his mind about God’s people and God’s work. That is why when we are Spirit-filled we can detect demonic activity when we enter certain locales of entertainment, carnal activity, or territories given over to sin.
Be ever aware of the words that you speak and what you put out into the air. Negativity and fear, carnal comments, natural deductions, and personal opinions devoid of truth actually give the devil a stronghold to traffic in the air causing pressure and oppression over people.
It can be clearly observed when we travel to certain countries, and cities that are ruled by corrupt Godless political leaders, how the atmosphere of the country is heavy and oppressed. It is a great joy that when we pray, the atmosphere in which the Prince of the Power of the Air dwells, cannot stop or slow our prayers. Actually when we pray, the atmosphere is confronted and is cleared. Nothing was more effective in clearing the air in the Bible than the spoken Word of God and the prayer of the saints. Just as the air in a lightning storm is ionized and purged, so is the thick atmosphere of Satanic activity in warfare when the prayers of you and I arise.
I've been meditating and digesting A. W. Tozer's book "Fiery Faith" recently and noted for my personal study a series of quotes from his book. I hope you enjoy these and are as blessed as I was reading this spiritually meaty book
• Before there can be any faith there must be enlightenment first - Jn 6.44
• Faith is not abstract and is to be for the immediacy of the physical life - see the words that reflect the physical: "taste & see that The Lord is good" Ps 34.8
• Imagination tries to create - projects unreal images out of the mind and seeks to attach reality to them
• Faith creates nothing but simply reckons on what's already there.
• There is no difference between the spiritual and the real - one does not contradict the other - the spiritual is the real
• Faith is present - living in the present of God - people live in their past with God and they're in the future hope in God and the work but live lonely in the present because they live with out present of God in faith
• Christian rationalists, Christian moralists, vs Christian mystics
• Faith never goes contrary to reason - it just ignores the reasons and rises above it
• The original sin was not disobedience but it was unbelief. Unbelief always proceeds sin
• Faith cannot use tangible worlds like "mountain, star, lake" if it could it
would become pagan. Faith uses words that are intangible "love, forgiveness, promises"
•Unbelief is a moral thing. Living in unbelief is demoralizing because it assumes the immoral condition of the heart before it can exist.
• There are things reason cannot do that are beyond it's capacity, for example - “wonder” - "they all wondered at Him" leads to marveling - faith moved forward supernaturally and reason follows wide-eyed in amazement - this is the way it should always be
• A believing Christian is a miracle - the moment you can explain him he is no longer the wonder of a Christian but a religious idealist or religious philosophist
• Faith must rest on not the promises but on God's nature first or the promises are taken out of context and misapplied - promise follower vs Christ follower
• Ps 116.11 we are brought up in an environment of lies Jer 17.9
• Satan’s ﬁrst attack upon the human race was his sly eﬁort to destroy Eve’s conﬁdence in the kindness of God. Unfortunately for her and for us he succeeded too well. From that day, men have had a false conception of God, and it is exactly this that has cut out from under them the ground of righteousness and driven them to reckless and destructive living.
• Much Christianity since the days of Christ’s ﬂesh has also been grim and severe. And the cause has been the same - an unworthy or an inadequate view of God. Instinctively we try to be like our God, and if He is conceived to be stern and exacting, so will we ourselves be.
• They continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42) So says Luke of the thousands who received the Word and were baptized following the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost. Conversion for those ﬁrst Christians was not a destination; it was the beginning of a journey
• Came the revolution, quietly, certainly, and put another construction upon the word faith. Little by little the whole meaning of the word shifted from what it had been to what it is now. And so insidious was the change that hardly a voice has been raised to warn against it. But the tragic consequences are all around us. Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of God and the cross of Jesus.
• Such a faith as this does not perturb people. It comforts them. It does not put their hip out of joint so that they halt upon their thigh; rather it teaches them deep-breathing exercises and improves their posture. The face of their ego is washed and their self-conﬁdense is rescued from discouragement. All this they gain, but they do not get a new name as Jacob did, nor do they limp into the eternal sunlight. “As he passed over Penuel..." Limping Gen 32.31
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear
the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut. 10:12)
The word translated “fear" in many versions of the Bible comes from the Hebrew word yirah (יִרְאָה), which has a wide range of meaning in the Scriptures. Sometimes it refers to the fear we feel in anticipation of some danger or pain, but it can also can mean “awe” or “reverence” inclusive of the idea of wonder, amazement, mystery, astonishment, gratitude, admiration, and worship (like the feeling you get when gazing from the edge of the Grand Canyon). Thus at times yirah ought to be translated as “awe" - "The awe of God is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10)
Some Hebrew Biblical scholars link the word yirah (יִרְאָה) with the word for seeing (רָאָה). Exod. 3:2-5 Moses “turned aside” to see the wonder and awe of the burning bush. When he saw the bush and heard the Voice he trembled with awe and the inner awareness of the sanctity of the Lord and His Calling. Such awe is not the goal of wisdom (like some state of nirvana), but rather its means. We start with awe and that leads us to wisdom - (Heschel). This wisdom ultimately is revealed in the love of God as demonstrated in the sacrificial death of His Son and his resurrection for our justification.
According to Jewish tradition, there are three “levels” or types of yirah:
- The tormenting fear of unpleasant consequences or punishment (i.e., yirat ha’onesh: יִרְאַת הָענֶשׁ) We anticipate pain of some kind and want to run from it. Note that such fear can also come from what you subjectively believe others might think of you. People will often do things (or not do them) in order to buy acceptance within a group (or to avoid rejection). Social rules are adhered to in order to avoid being alienated or rejected. One application of this type of fear is as Plato said in his writing "Republic", that people are "too weak to do injustice with impunity". A provoking question that could help us understand if you act or do not act under this type of fear is - would you act differently if you were able to become invisible? Would the "freedom to do whatever you like with impunity" lead you to consider doing things you otherwise wouldn't do?
- The type of fear concerns anxiety over breaking God’s laws (sometimes called yirat ha-malkhut: יִרְאַת הַמַּלְכוּת). This kind of fear drives people to do good deeds because they fear God will punish them in this life (or in the world to come). Even though the fear of God's punishment may deter us from sin and wrong doing in the short run, by itself it is deficient karma spiritual life, since it is based on an deficient idea about God. This is the foundational concept of (the cycle of moral cause and effect). This kind of fear is founded on self-preservation, though in some cases the heart's motivation may be mixed with a genuine desire to honor God or to avoid God's righteous wrath for sin (Exod. 1:12, Lev. 19:14; Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5).
- The third (and highest) kind of fear is a profound reverence for God that comes from rightly seeing. This level discerns the Presence of God in every detail of our life and is sometimes called yirat ha-rommemnut (יִרְאַת הָרוֹמְמוּת), or the "Awe of the Exalted." Through it we behold God's glory and majesty in all things. "Fearing" (יִרְאָה) and "seeing" (רָאָה) are linked and united. Thus "the pure in heart shall see God". We are elevated to the high road of reverent discernment, sacred affection, and genuine communion with God's Holy Spirit. This love for divine good creates a spiritual distaste toward evil, and thus, the hatred of evil to fear God
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self- control." - 2 Timothy 1:7amp