Thursday, December 6, 2018

Heavenly Possibilities: Part 2

I am so glad that Luke included the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth and the birth of John the Baptist in his recounting of the coming of Jesus to earth. He relates to his readers the agony and ecstasy of a life of faith—the struggle that often accompanies walking with our God of Promise to realize fulfillment that only God can bring about. It is included to help those of us who may find ourselves in the middle of such a struggle, not understanding why our hope is deferred, trying to cope with what appears as a death of a dream or vision.

We read that before the angel Gabriel appears to Zacharias to announce good news about fulfillment of his desire for a son, he and his wife were already in the stages of defeat and hopelessness. They are now too old to have children and Elizabeth's womb is now beyond just barren. We can see that Gabriel's announcement of Heaven's plan is met with pain, bitterness, and unbelief. This is a very real place in our human experience that can rob every son and daughter of God of their future destiny yet reserved in heaven to come into play for their inexpressible joy and God's glory. Unfortunately, many who started out with a vibrant hope in God's goodness and promises have been caught in this tar pit, never to move forward, living in a reduced version of the purpose for which they were born.

Sometimes the seemingly insignificant words of the Bible carry hidden treasures if you know the ways of God. How about these in verse eight? "Now it happened...." Other more literal translations of this text say it this way: "And it came to pass...." Why am I making a big deal out of this? Because it reveals how our breakthroughs and fulfillments come about historically in our lives—our "What ifs" become reality.

The Greek word translated "now" or "and" in this verse is used to reflect that a change is about to be released from Heaven, regardless of what has been happening up to that point and the normal earthly flow of events that define our normal. Something new is coming from the Lord of Hosts. The Greek words for "it happened" or "it came to pass" used by Luke reflect that the change is being birthed or breaking through by God's creative power to shift our normal into alignment with His prepared plans that override our earthly limitations and previous history.

While that right there excites me and stirs my hope, it is even more important to note that Luke is telling us that while God was setting this up for Zacharias and Elizabeth, they did not know it! Zacharias was just in the flow of his priestly duties, which included the opportunity to offer up incense in the temple once in his lifetime. He was chosen by lot to be the one that year to do this. But he did not know the greater life-changing event that was about to take place that day when he entered into the holy place to offer incense to God. He was stepping, without knowing it, into the kairos time of God for his life and the fulfillment of fathering an amazing son that was to be born to him in his "beyond fruitful" years. Kairos is the Greek word used in the Bible for heaven's timing that carries divine purpose when it intersects with our earthly historical time.

If you have the eyes of faith to see beyond the normalities and limitations of this life that so often suck the life out of us and leave us with hopelessness and living a life accepting lack of fulfillment, you can look beyond to something greater reserved in the heart of God's good plans for you. This is how the Bible defines faith—seeing the unseen, not walking by sight, a mind set on things above, not trusting in our own understanding or perceptions of current realities but in God Who is always working on our behalf.

Zacharias had given up and was living in reduced expectations for his future. So he was not perceiving that God was changing things. He was not ready to receive the word of God's fulfillment from the angel Gabriel on that heavenly appointed day. Contrast that with his wife Elizabeth who would go on to say, "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord" (v. 45).

In Genesis 28 we read that Jacob, as he was running in his own strength away from his negative circumstances, stopped for the night to sleep. But he awoke from a dream in which he saw the Lord operating over His life with awesome heavenly power. His waking words reflect our common experience: "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place!" Jacob would never look at his life or future the same way.

Point to ponder: What might the Lord of Hosts, your Heavenly Father and His angels, be up to right now in your life that you cannot see or have imagined? Have you asked Holy Spirit to give you eyes of faith to see the unseen in your limitations and struggles? Are there signs of "heavenly possibilities" moving around you right now that you may not have attributed to a breakthrough and fulfillment of your dream from God? This Christmas season is a good time to start praising the Lord in advance for what He is doing right now and begin to prophesy your fulfillment! Angels are waiting....

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Heavenly Possibilities

If your heart has been awakened to God's love and activity in your life, the Christmas season—and the story behind it—can capture your attention afresh each year with new expectations of blessing and breakthrough. All of us need a fresh dose of hope because we all need breakthroughs and blessings that take us beyond where we are living right now.

When I read the accounts written in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke of how our Heavenly Father sent His Son into the earth wrapped in human flesh and the incomprehensible way He did it (angelic visitations, supernatural conception, a star appearing, etc), my imagination gets stirred for my present circumstances of life. Heavenly possibilities begin to overlay what I thought were limiting earthly realities. This is where, with Holy Spirit, we can dare to dream and embrace the "what if's" of God. And such dreaming and pondering has been known to lead to believing that you can receive what you had never previously imagined. As Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is "at hand."

While Matthew's account kicks in with Joseph and Mary as the central story, Luke begins with the "story behind the story." And this is where I want to begin my Christmas journey this year. In Luke 1, we are introduced to a couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth, relatives of Mary. We read that when God began to open up heavenly possibilities ("what if....?") into their lives, they were already in the grip of "hope deferred," "dreams have died," "just surviving," disappointment and shame. All they had wanted in life was to have a son who would carry on the family name and priestly ministry of the father. They had served God faithfully according to all His commands, especially the ones that carried promises of blessing. But the fulfillment of the promise of the blessing of children was beyond them, for they were now too old in body and Elizabeth's continued barrenness had become deadness.

Just like you and I, they had no idea that their dream was too small and that their Father, who had regard for their faith and obedience, had kept in reserve something greater than they thought was available. It is not that He had no regard for their pain or disappointment (hope deferred makes the heart sick), He just had a more glorious outcome to overlay onto their impossibilities that carried a joy in fulfillment beyond their imagination. And the heavenly Kingdom assignment for their son required a more than ordinary birth to provoke the hearts of all who heard of it that something marvelous was about to break into the earth and change history forever. "Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matter were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, 'What then will this child turn out to be?' For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him" (Luke 1:65-66, NASB).

Ponder with me: What if my present "hope deferred" and the limitations/impossibilities that seem to dictate my future are only the stage God has set for His glorious entrance into my life circumstances to unfold His glorious plan that was far greater than I could have imagined? Is there reserved in heaven for me right now a blessing, a breakthrough, a fulfillment that will blow my mind when it comes to pass in His prearranged time? And would you welcome an extraordinary, unexplainable miracle breakthrough to shake things up around you? Here is the pathway to receive it, found in the words of Elizabeth herself after she became pregnant: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord" (v. 45).

Dare to dream again with God this Christmas. Your ponderings and prayers could attract some angels to your impossibilities, which could lead to something marvelous!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Three Keys to Understanding Dreams

Did you know that the God who flung the stars into space longs to communicate with us? He is a good Father, and His desire is to share His heart with His sons and daughters. One of the most profound ways that He communicates with us is through dreams. 

For far too long God's people have literally been in the dark when it comes to the subject of dreams. Scientists tell us that everyone dreams but not everyone remembers their dreams. Whether or not this is true, we do know from the Biblical record that God speaks to His people through dreams. Joseph had dreams and interpreted others dreams long before he became second in command in Egypt. In fact, one could say that dreams paved the way from his homeland to ruling in Egypt and saving his family and his nation from starvation. Another Joseph, in the New Testament was given dreams which saved the life of the Messiah, little baby Jesus. This baby went on to save His people and all who would come to Him. There are many, many examples of dreams in the Scripture which were given to guide, warn and prepare the people of God.

So, if God is speaking to us in our dreams, how can we know what they mean? I hope to give a few keys that will help you discover what God may be saying to you. But, first I will tell you what I repeatedly say to my students who come through the prophetic classes I teach. The number one reason God gives revelation is to cause us to pray! The heart of God is longing to connect with those who love Him. He is not just speaking in dreams in order to give us information. His desire is for encounter and intimacy. In other words, He wants us to know Him. That is what every lover desires: to be known by the one we love. The first key to understanding your dreams is to understand that He gives us revelation so that we would seek Him. Dreams are a means to cause us to pray and seek His face. So, this is the first place to start. It may seem elementary, but we often overlook this most important key. We much more easily turn to others to discover the meaning of our dreams, but God holds the answers if the dreams are from Him.

The second key to understanding your dreams is to determine the source of any dream you might have. Dreams can come from our own minds processing the events of the day or the season we are in. They can be influenced by physical factors such as pregnancy, what we have eaten, hormonal changes and many other factors. I also believe that whatever we have allowed our selves to be influenced by can affect our dreams. By this I mean that if we have filled our minds with ungodly images from some form of media, we open our souls to be influenced by the enemy. Dreams can come from different sources but if a dream is from God we want to pay attention. So, it is vital that we learn to discern when a dream is from God. Some clues might be that we sense God's presence while are dreaming, we hear or see Scripture in the dream or the dream contains Biblical symbols. Another indication might be that we are awakened suddenly or if we can recall the dream vividly days or even weeks later.

The third key to understanding your dreams is interpreting the message. What do the symbols or people in our dreams mean? Unless the message is clear, our dreams will not benefit us. Remember, if the dream is from God, He is wanting to communicate something with us. So as always, I remind you to go first to God and pray, asking Him to give you further revelation. Then, you can look up any symbols in Scripture for possible meanings. If there are other people in your dreams you might ask yourself what these people might symbolize to you. Dreams are usually very personal and God will speak in language that makes sense to you. So, what one person in your dream might mean to me may be different than what that same person means to you. As with most things, experience is a great tool for understanding dreams. Keeping track of your dreams can help you to understand their meanings more easily. I always encourage people to keep a journal for their dreams.

This third key, interpretation, is perhaps the most challenging aspect of understanding dreams. So I caution you with this fact: many immature believers have found themselves off track because of misguided interpretation. If God is the source of the dream then the interpretation belongs to Him. Both Joseph and Daniel acknowledged this and God used them powerfully to unveil revelation through interpreting dreams (Genesis 40:8, 41:16, Daniel 2:26-28). I would caution you to avoid interpretation of your own making. We can be good at deceiving ourselves when we want to! Instead of just interpreting your dreams alone, especially over very important relationships or decisions, I encourage you to share the dream with more seasoned believers. Tell them what you think God might be showing you, but allow them to offer their own insights. Their experience and history walking with God can offer you a better opportunity to understand the true message of your dream. Again, I recommend submitting any revelation to your leaders if you feel that it would require a substantial life change. Wisdom and timing are key essentials in following the will of God.

These are just a few keys for understanding dreams, though it is just scratching the surface. If you're wanting to know more of what God may be saying to you, I invite you to check out the resources and messages we have available for free on our website, And if you're in the area, come and join us for one of our meetings at The River. We are a people that love to hear the voice of God, and we welcome you to seek God with us.

Focus 2018 - Post 12

As we mature in our relationship with the Lord we will grow in our understanding of how He is the author of all life and everything good. He has the master plan of what real abundant life looks like and how it will flow to us and through us. And even though the very life we have pulsing through our finite bodies is completely from Him at every moment, He sets before us opportunities and choices to align ourselves with His life flow as it is in heaven. And so He comes in His mercy to speak in various ways into our hearts to direct us into the "paths of life" (Psalm 23:3). Because we find ourselves so often in a weakened, sick, depressed and broken-down state, His word of life comes to us as a remedy to what ails us. But unlike medicine we take to restore our health, His instructions reveal what we have not known before to walk in paths we have been blinded to or ignorant of. The beauty of the instruction of the Lord is that if we will align ourselves to it we become transformed and live differently from that time forward. Our path gets brighter, our load gets lighter, and life increases in us and through us to others who know us. 

In Isaiah 58, Father God addresses the mess they are in, and the futility of their choices, which are sucking the life out of them and their nation, because no new transformation that sets us free from cycles of death can take root in us without seeing our broken-down state in some measure and owning our past choices in our words, thoughts, attitudes and deeds. And our God is good enough that He will not offer just a bandaid or drug to mask the pain. He goes to the root of our problem and offers a true remedy. And once we embrace the remedy in obedience and trust, no matter how much it may challenge us, we connect ourselves to His wisdom and light. "For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light" (Psalm 36:9). 

As with the Israelites in Isaiah 58, our way forward in 2018 is to have the eyes of our hearts open to the One Who is "The Fountain Of Life" and has all the answers. King David made it clear in his psalm that God's life will become our life when we are "with" Him. Every instruction of the Lord (and rebukes) that we align ourselves with cause us to be "with" Him. Suddenly light increases by the Holy Spirit and new life springs forth. Righteousness is established and the blessings that come with it.

If you believe that our Father wants to give us great restoration and success in this year ahead of us, let us ask Him to give us a heart that is hungry for His light, ready to follow His directions/corrections. Let us ask, as the apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17, that the Father of Glory may give to us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Focus 2018 - Post 11

Are we prepared this year to have our Lord ask us questions? This is what we see in Isaiah 58. This is part of our relationship with Him. We know we are called to listen to His voice and read/heed His word to us. But sometimes the questions He asks us can be more instructional and transforming as we ponder what He is asking. And when He asks us a question it is not because He needs information. It is for the purpose of awakening something in our thinking or perspective.

Each of us have come to believe things and draw certain conclusions that seem right to us throughout life. We have developed a mindset, a set of lenses by which we look out at the world and make our choices, with a hope of certain outcomes. We have adopted certain values that influence our priorities and practices. And, mostly hidden to our conscious awareness, we have built defenses and fortresses within our mind and emotions to compensate for the insecurity and inferiority we deal with every day. Left to ourselves, we live handicapped and deceived, never questioning the realities we hold to for living and surviving.

Hence, when we hear and entertain questions from God, it creates an opening for us to look at what we have been holding onto and practicing everyday. His questions can stop us dead in our tracks to consider our ways and plans: "Is this the fast I have chosen?" (Isaiah 58:5). His questions can reveal our unbelief toward Him or wrong understanding of His heart: "Who made your mouth?" (Exodus 4:11). Sometimes His questions will awaken a new level of faith and possibility that we were blind to: "Is there anything to hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:13).

His question is meant to provide an instrument by which we use faculties of our mind and heart to discover and take hold of what we did not previously see or understand or believe. New light comes with new opportunity for something heavenly to be unfolded in our lives and our walk with Him.

Questions can be more challenging to us than being given information. We more easily filter/resist new information and instruction from God with our present view of things and our reason. Questions force us to grapple with what God is asking and we will find our present understanding by which we operate to be lacking. And this sets us up for self-confrontation to deal with our lack of being in alignment with God and His heaven.

Reformation and restoration will come to us and the church as we embrace and engage the questions God will ask us this year. Can you position your heart to receive whatever He may ask you in 2018?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Focus 2018 - Post 10

When we identify ourselves as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, hopefully we are also identifying with His plans and purposes, not just His blessings to His kids. And this is a real game-changer as we stand at the beginning of this year 2018 with hopes and dreams for the year. It is part of our human nature, as God created us in His image, to look into our future with hope and desire, for our Father also operates in hope and with desire. Unfortunately, most of humanity tries to muster up a confident expectation for good things to come based in themselves, according to what they feel, think and see from their flesh and natural mind, which is connected to the world.

But you and I have received through Jesus a new nature by which we can access the heart and mind of Christ, connecting us to the very heartbeat of heaven's plans and purposes. And by the Holy Spirit we are given the ability to love what God loves and desire what He desires. And here is the game-changer as we step into 2018. I am given the opportunity to displace my own fleshly (often fear-based) desires with God's and to hitch my wagon load of needs/dreams to His all-powerful wisdom and ability, as He works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Every time one of God's people set their heart toward God's desire and purpose, giving Him an avenue to reveal His excellent and superior goodness, His glory can be seen in the earth by others.

In Isaiah 58 God invites His people to consider what they are choosing and why. Did you know that every time God comes to us and presses this issue with us, it is a gift to us. We are prone to blindness when it comes to own heart's desires and motivations. He asked of them, "Is this what I choose, is this acceptable to me?" (v. 5). He calls them to ask themselves if they are seeking/acting/planning according to their own pleasure, their own practices/habits, and their own words/thoughts, rather than His (v. 13). Is our Father a selfish, ego-centered person, wanting to control us? No! Rather, He presses us with such questions in order to open our eyes and help bring us into alignment and focus with the absolute best that heaven has already prepared for us in this year. Wow! What a blessing! But the choice is ours.

How about this as a description of your 2018: "Then you will take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken" (Isaiah 58:14). Ask yourself today, what does delighting in the Lord look like and how might I rearrange the priorities and practices of my life to pursue this with passion?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Focus 2018 - Post 9

In Isaiah 58 we can see that God's heart is not so much focused on teaching the people about fasting but to help them arrive in a place of blessing where the heaven's are open over them and they fulfill their destiny as a people. The people had wandered far from knowing what this was like and why they existed as a nation under the covenant of God. The nation that King David had built up with its foundations in worship and keeping God's laws, with the ark of God's Presence in their midst, had become just a shell of the former glory. And the glory which had come down numerous times in the temple that Solomon built was no longer a reality they knew or desired. Instead idols were throughout the land and demonic worship and sorcery had become the source of power.

So when Isaiah had his encounter with the glory of God which we read of in Isaiah 6, it was a wake-up call to Isaiah of what they all had been missing. It also was a plumb line for the nation of Israel calling them back into alignment with what set their nation apart from all others. It was not just their temple or their laws, it was the very glory of God in their midst which caused them to know that their God was utterly holy and above all other Gods. This glory created within their hearts wonder, worship, trust and sanctification.

Isaiah reminds the people again in chapter 58 that if they will align themselves again with what God is seeking, "your light will break out like the dawn... the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard... your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday" (Vs. 8-10). These are all references to the glory of the Lord coming into their midst and effecting the quality and impact of their lives. The darkness of the world that had crept into their nation and opened them up to destruction would be pushed back. They would have light again. They would become light again!

And this is what Isaiah so powerfully brought forth in Isaiah 60. As I wrote before, Isaiah 58 -61 really all flow together. What God was trying to bring these Israelites into, as well as us today, was the fullness of His glory in their midst. This would be the answer to all that they needed and hoped for.

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples. But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising!" (Isaiah 60:1-3)

And this is where Holy Spirit is leading His church again today. 2018 is to be a year of increased glory in our midst. I believe that if we will truly focus ourselves into our Father's heart, following the Son, filled with Holy Spirit, our alignment will become such that the glory will be seen again among us. We will bring about the fulfillment of our destiny that causes "the knowledge of the glory of God to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14). Let's shake the darkness and stir the nations!