Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Lions, and Tigers, and Bears . . . Oh my!"


Some days I can really identify with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I think if I could just get a face-to-face audience with the Wizard (in my case, Jesus) I know He would help me make my dreams come true.

How about you? What do you do when your dreams, hopes, and expectations unravel? Do you fall into despair? Get angry? Shrink back in fear? Lash out and blame others, or circumstances, for your lack of success?

We’ve all had dreams that died, lofty ideas that never got off the ground, hopes and aspirations that remain unrealized. The “Good News” is that those of us who believe that Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God, but God incarnate, that He came to Earth, walked among mankind as one of us, died, and was resurrected have a powerful advocate in Heaven. We also have access to the same resurrection power the raised Jesus from the dead.

“What!” you exclaim in astonishment. “Are you saying that I can move in the same power of resurrection in my life that Jesus did in His?”

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Leviticus tells us that the “life of the flesh is in the blood.” The word “life” in this passage is the Hebrew word nephesh and is often translated as soul. Perhaps the best biblical definition is found is Psalm 103:1 where nephesh is defined as “all that is within a person.” We know from Hebrews 13:20 that Jesus was raised from the dead by His own blood. And it is a clear and unquestioned

Biblical principle that when we accept Christ as our Saviors we do so because of the power of His Precious Blood and because Holy Spirit has drawn us unto Him.

This means that there is nothing--that is no thing in Heaven and Earth--that can stand against the power of the Blood of Jesus! When we call upon His Name, and invoke the Blood through the power of Holy Spirit, we have a mighty weapon of spiritual warfare. Sadly, most of rarely employ this awesome weapon with authority, and then, typically, we do so with unskilled hands.


Because we really don’t understand the life-changing power of His Blood and His Resurrection Power.

James 5:16 tells us that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous [person] avails much. Even though the context of this passage is healing, it is applicable to any prayer we engage in.

Let’s break it down.

We are made righteous and justified by the Blood of Christ (Rom. 5:1-11). Psalm 24 assures us that if we have clean hands and a pure heart we will see God manifest. We often cry out fervently, but still no change.

What’s going on?

We’re missing the third essential piece—effectiveness.

So, how can we be more effective in our prayers and see God move mightily in our midst more often?

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is John14:221. In it we are promised that if we love Jesus, we are loved by Father, and that Jesus will visibly manifest Himself to us. That’s what the Greek says. Visibly demonstrate. Our first requirement to be effective is to “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind, and strength.” (Mk. 12:30) We are to put no other gods before Him. (Exodus 20:30) He alone is the source for everything we need and want.

Next, we need to believe that our life (soul) is hidden with Christ in God. (Col.3:3). That we can hide ourselves in the shadow of His wings (figuratively the Ark of the Covenant where His Glory rests), and that if we’ve made Him our dwelling place “no evil shall come nigh our dwelling,” because He will give His angels charge over us. (Ps. 91) (The context of Psalm 91 is not that Christians will never suffer, but that the Lord will protect us and bring us through all of our trials and tribulations. Think of Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, and the Apostle Paul throughout his walk as a Believer.)

Scripture tells us that we have not because we ask not, that when we do ask we often ask for things that feed our flesh. (Jas. 4:3) Jeremiah 1:12 tells us that God “watches over His word to bring it to pass quickly.” This means that when we pray we need to be certain that, through Holy Spirit, we have “the mind of Christ,” that we are praying in accordance with both Scripture and the heart of God, and that what we are asking for is not simply to satisfy our soul. This may seem a daunting task, but with time and discipline it is possible to follow in footsteps of Jesus as we endeavor to do only “what we see our Father doing.” (Jn. 5:19, 30; 12:49-50; 14:31)

Is there sacrifice involved? Yes. We must invest time reading the Word. We must invest time sitting at our Master’s feet, as Martha did, learning about His character. We must ask, and keep on asking, until we know in our heart that He has answered our prayer. (As Winston Churchill once said, “Never . . . never . . . never give up.”) When we know He that has given us what we’ve asked for in the Spirit, we must then enter into praise and worship and stay in that place of thanksgiving until we see the manifestation of our prayer(s). That is how faith operates. Faith has two major components: substance and evidence. (Heb. 11:1) This means Faith is tangible to our spiritual senses, and ultimately produces its own evidence of existence.

There is well-known Southern saying, “It’s hard to remember that your objective is to drain the swamp when you’re up to your neck in alligators!” Many days it seems like there are more alligators than when we first started out, and that the water isn’t draining as fast as we hoped. Dorothy faced a similar situation when she purposed to seek out the Wizard of Oz and began her journey along the Yellow Brick Road. At one point, she is talking with Scarecrow, bemoaning the fact that the forest is dark and foreboding, and he tells her of some of the many dangers she’s likely to encounter on her quest. Her response was, “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears . . . Oh, my!”

Whenever we encounter lions, and tigers, and bears on our faith walk, or it seems that there are more alligators and water in the swamp than when we first started, the most powerful thing we can do is head for deep water.

And that brings me to the last piece of our effectiveness puzzle.

When you need God to move mightily—launch out into the deep.

In Luke Chapter 5, we learn that Peter and some other fishermen had been fishing all night on the Sea of Galilee. They were in the process of cleaning their nets, perhaps with heavy hearts, because this was the only way they knew to feed their families. Keep in mind when you read this account that Peter and the others were generational fishermen. They knew how and where to fish. Yet, after fishing all night, the best time to fish, they had nothing to show for their hard work. Jesus is nearby, surrounded by a group of people clamoring for Him to teach them. Now Jesus is a carpenter, not a fisherman, yet He boldly commands Peter to “launch out into the deep,” promising a great catch of fish.

Peter’s first thought is to inform Jesus that they’d already tried that for the entire night, with no luck. The subtext here might very well have been, “Jesus, you work with wood. What makes you think you know better than we do how to catch fish?” Fortunately, the future Apostle doesn’t stop there and adds, “Nevertheless, at your command, we will let down our nets.”

As a result of Peter’s obedience, he and the others reaped a “multitude” of fish. That means they caught a lot of fish. A boat load of fish!

Sometimes we behave as if we know more than Jesus about our situation. In those moments, we need to stop telling Him what we’ve already done and how hard we’ve already worked--with no satisfactory results. We need to forget about our presumed sacrifice, and simply obey Him. (1Sam. 15:22)

So, if you want to see God manifest more often in mighty demonstrations of His Power and Glory, be willing to launch out into the deep, plead the Blood of Jesus, cry out to Him fervently according to His Word and command, keep asking until you have the assurance in your heart that what you ask for is yours, do not doubt in your heart, and finally, offer up your praise and worship until you see the evidence of the substance of His promise manifest.

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