2 Steps Closer to God

676331_66801405If I could give only two keys to getting really close to God I’d give these steps right here…

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Psalm 100:4 NASB

Why do I choose this single scripture? Because of the great impact that thanksgiving and praise has on our relationship with God. Not only does it align our thinking but it also positions us for explosive favor! Let me explain…

Thankfulness

Psalm 100:4 says that we enter His gates by way of being thankful. So what does a gate have to do with this? Well first off a gate is obviously an entrance. We get that. We see that. That’s the easy part. As we look further in though we can see an interesting facet of what a gate represents. See in the time of the Bible a city gate was also a meeting place for the elders of the city. If you were invited to a meeting at the gates then you were a favored individual. The Word has all kinds a great things to say about someone who is thankful but obtaining favor with God is just another one of them.

Now just imagine yourself walking into the gates of the Lord’s house. You’re starting to sense His presence. Things just seem to be getting better ever since you went through that gate. There’s favor here…and it’s much harder to complain. His testimonies are healing you now even in the midst of trials! Yes, this is one of those special places where you find rest in the battle.

Praise

It’s really hard to be negative and thankful at the same time so thanksgiving opens us up and gets us in the door. Once we’re in the door and enjoying His presence though, now it’s time to start proclaiming who God is on Earth as He is in Heaven. When we do this we are reminding ourselves of His promises and loosing the Word into the Earth. All of this is generating a lifestyle of faith and ya know what? The Word says that it is impossible to please God without faith.

So you want to be close to God? Please Him with faith.

Now all of a sudden you start pleasing God and His favor is just multiplying over you! Praise is a way to draw near to God and it is a way through which He draws near to us. It’s funny how much the things of this Earth grow strangely dim when He is so big in our mind and speech. When we walk into His courts we then have access to His justice and in the closeness of worship He starts aligning our life.

So maybe you’re low on faith and feeling trampled. Start thanking and praising Him. Even if it’s for things He’s done for others; start thanking Him that He’ll do it for you too. Just decide to fill your mind and your mouth with thankfulness and praise and you will soon find the Lord lifting you up closer and closer to Him.

Don’t let better be the enemy of best. Keep climbing higher and more of the Lord will be discovered. Jesus loves ya!

 

How to write a resume… to God.

It’s easy to find resources all over the web on how to write a perfect resume. No matter what employer that you’re applying for, these strategies that they offer will supposedly give you all kinds of advantages over the other applicants, right? I mean that’s at least what they propose.

Here’s the thing though… Jesus said that He went about doing His Father’s business. He literally worked for His Father. He was in the Family business. No matter what you may do whether you wear a white collar, blue collar, or even a camo one, you work for your Father.

The name of our Family business is the Kingdom of God. We may have many different dreams and many different avenues by which we operate in our Father’s company, but at the end of the day our Boss is God Almighty.

Do you realize what amazingly awesome news that is? No matter how high on the totem pole your boss is, he or she isn’t as high as your Father is. When you’re being mistreated or ignored by them it doesn’t matter. Your Lord thinks the world of you and is always watching. If the head of your company sits in an ivory tower all day and is unreachable, God still loves to hear about your ideas and dreams. Remember that promotion comes from God (Psalm 75:6-7). All authority comes from Him and all power comes from Him (Matt 28:18). I understand that we are told to respect our authorities, but who should we endeavor to please and honor the most here?

So… Think about this. We have all this access to God to the point of boldness (Heb 4:16) and we have all this favor from Him. Why don’t we offer our resume to Him? He’s the one that’s hiring us after all. I use that word “hire” loosely seeing as it’s service to Him, but the Lord does reward for faithful service. He is our first Employer. The Bible says to commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established (Prov 16:3). It also says In Deut 28 that everything you set your hands to do will be blessed (according to His will).

After realizing this I decided to submit my resume to God based upon his Word instead of what the world deems important. I base it upon His Word because all of His promises are yes and amen to those who are under the blood of Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).

In a common resume you will see listed a number of credentials. You will usually have past education, past experience, interests, referrals, and usually volunteer experience. So we’re going to list these out before the Lord and submit it to our Employer in an act of prayer for His preferred employment in His Kingdom. Ya ready? Here we go…

Past Education – I submit to You Father all that Your Holy Spirit has taught me and I submit to His ongoing tutoring to make me an excellent five talent servant for your Kingdom.

Past Experience – I submit to You Father all the wilderness times and the character transformation I’ve been through. All the times that you’ve shown me that You were always there and had me in Your hands. I also submit to You all the testimonies I’ve accrued over my time with You as well as the testimonies of those who have gone before me. I do not forget what You have done for them and myself and I claim them as current and “up and coming” in my life. I expect Your Word.

Interests – I submit to You Father the dreams that You have given me. I submit to you my talents, my skills, and my aspirations. Whether they be fleshly or truly from You. Weigh them and let my true inner motives be Godly so that You can use them. Let Your blueprints be manifest in my life.

Referrals – I submit to You Father my one and only referral – Jesus Christ. The Son of God says that I am holy and unreproachable. He said that I’ve gained a seat in the heavenlies. I ask for all that He has afforded me to be and have on Earth as it is in Heaven; that my condition would match my position by the blood of the Lamb.

Volunteer Experience – I submit to You Father that I do more than what I’m paid to do so that I may be considered a steward over more than I have now. I submit to your promotion and thank You for it!

We seal this prayer in the name of the Referral – Jesus Christ. The One who is anointed to preach the gospel to the poor. The gospel which IS the power of God according to Romans 1:16. Amen!

Restitution Plunder

When I was a little boy the most interesting thing to me about the Bible was all the battle stories. Nothing got me more into listening to the Word than hearing a tale about these amazing heroes that just did these ridiculous feats that no one else could do. They were real super heroes! Not the fake kind on the cartoons but ones that actually existed and if God empowered them, then He could empower me too! All I ever really wanted to hear about was David’s mighty men, or Joshua, or those crazy battles in the book of Judges where Samson would win against impossible odds. I can’t forget about the hail that would fall from the sky to destroy the enemy too. That was the icing on the cake.

Well today I want to talk about another awesome battle of supernatural strength. This one isn’t usually heard about though because it’s nestled right in there in the middle of a bunch of those “begats” in 1 Chronicles. You know… that book you ignore and then go and read 1 Kings instead.

I see you…

Jesus sees you…

Anyway, I just want to point out 1 Chronicles 5:18-22. Real short and sweet, but powerful –

18 The sons of Reuben and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, consisting of valiant men, men who bore shield and sword and shot with bow and were skillful in battle, were 44,760, who went to war. 19 They made war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. 20 They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him. 21 They took away their cattle: their 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep, 2,000 donkeys; and 100,000 men. 22 For many fell slain, because the war was of God. And they settled in their place until the exile. NASB

Here’s the thing that makes this fight for the promised land different. This is not the days of Joshua. Quite some time has gone by since the days when all the tribes were supposed to get their allotment of the land of Canaan. These folks had been waiting a long time. Their portion had been postponed. If this sounds familiar, just wait because I hear the story ends well.

Think about this though… All the cattle, camels, sheep, and donkeys were never raised by the Israelite. These soldiers didn’t tend any of those animals. Nope; not one. Not a single day did they have to heft out the feed bag or fight off predators to protect them. All they had to do was become valiant and skillful in battle with the sword, shield and bow. All the days that they were sitting outside their rightful portion God just had the Canaanites raising that plunder for them.

When the time came for breakthrough, all of the character development and training paid off and God walked them in and gave them the farm. God has plunder for each and everyone of us that grants restitution for our time spent in the wilderness. This truly shows that even when the enemy tries to offer us a “shortcut” to success, it’s not really the quickest way. The alternate path will have us meander about to and fro until we finally end up in true poverty. God’s way is quicker. He’s just waiting for the right time and a few valiant soldiers.

So let’s take these heroes as a testimony for what God can do through us and be heroes for our God, our families, and our nation!

Keep your sword down on the whetstone, your shield polished, and your fletchings dry. You have a farm to inherit.

Used Mantle for Sale. Great Condition – Only Dropped Once.

So you’re walking along in life, praying for revival, and for God to heal the land you love. All of a sudden you come across a crumpled up piece of cloth laying on the ground. It’s old. No telling how old actually…

You get closer to inspect it – there’s a singe around the edges and it seems to still smell like the fire that burned around it long ago. Another whiff and your mind is filled with someone else’s memories. Memories of tireless nights of prayer and fasting. Something about it just feels like hard work.

Was that sawdust?

Maybe it was the smell of the morning catch floating down the cobbled streets of a renaissance harbor city. Or, even older still, as dreams of eldritch peoples who stood watching the Messiah ascend into heaven are painted onto the easel of your mind.

You feel a tightening of the senses as the air grows still…

Another passerby has stopped to gaze at the abandoned mantle and again they wonder, “Will you pick us up?”

Some prayers and missions from the Lord are for our time and some are for the future generation. No one knew this better than King David who was tasked with preparing the supplies for the building of the temple which his son Solomon would later do. One of the key candidacies of inheritance and possessing the promised land that we find throughout the Bible is that of generational transfer.

Whenever the children of Israel didn’t pass on a good relationship with God to their children, bad things always pursued. Peruse through both of the Book of Kings and it tells the story. It’s called passing the baton and it has to be something that we do on purpose. What about the other way though? The Bible says that God turns the hearts of the sons to the Fathers too.

When Elisha picked up his spiritual father’s mantle, he walked over to the Jordan and called upon the God of Elijah. Not “My God”, but “Dad’s God”. Why did he do that? Elijah was gone. He’s in heaven now. He’s bye-bye. Does God answer the prayers of former generations? Absolutely. Through us, that is.

Just think about this. You have Elisha standing there with what has been used many times as the example of an empasse (the Jordan River) standing in his way. The rest of his life was on that other side; everything he was called to do and to use the double-portion anointing for.

He then calls upon the God of Elijah, or the God of the previous generation. He was calling upon God to answer and finish the work that He started in Elijah and to remember any unanswered prayers that were supposed to happen through Elisha. That power is what split the Jordan river and propelled Elisha into his ministry. What an awesome weapon!

Just know that the total fulfillment of your call is beyond you. It will always require the next generations to fully reveal the gigantic and grandiose vision that God has for you. On the flip-side, we all need to be locked into the previous generations so that we can be propelled with all the backup that’s available. Otherwise, we are stuck to reinventing the wheel at every new generation.

The key is to get connected backwards and forwards. In other words, get mentors and also people you can pour into. We have all this power and there’s so many mantles laying around (or brand new ones from Heaven) that no one has picked up because it costs something. Some anointings can only exist within certain lifestyles. If we want the results of Daniel, then we gotta pay the lifestyle price.

So get connected at the local church and find yourself some mentors. Read their books, listen to their teachings, and get to know some of them on a personal level. Then, be a river and not a reservoir. Give out to others what you receive!

It’s calling to you. The drumming in the deep. The heat of the fire. Let its weightiness drape over your shoulders and strike that Jordan! New lands await.

The Sickle and the Sword

Have you been tithing and giving but haven’t quite seen the breakthrough that you’ve been praying for? There’s a lot of principles to nail down like maturity, being a cheerful giver, making sure the core motives are right, sowing into good soil sources and so on. Then there’s the whole “right season” thing that we have no control over. Needless to say, it takes soaking into the Word to really get it. It has to become our true profession. The reason for that is because obtaining God’s abundance requires that we change more than our circumstances change. I mean, that’s the easy stuff. One angel on assignment from God can change everything around us. The thing that takes time is us, right?

Let’s say you’ve done all those things though. I’m not bringing forth a hypothetical perfection here. I’m just saying…hey, you’ve been working on and doing everything you know to do… and still no dice. What gives? Does it really take this long to get to harvest season? Well I can’t answer that because I’m not the sovereign God. Here’s the thing though… there’s a lot of great Word speaking people using the principles of what I’d call the sickle (the sowing and reaping principles) but just think about this; all of Israel’s blessings were about when they would obtain their promised land. While they were in the wilderness they just got charity.

Free bread falling from Heaven every day. Free bread that only came in bread form…not seed form for sowing. Why? The soil in the wilderness can’t produce a crop, so God had to give them bread. The problem is that you can’t multiply with bread. You can only consume it. You can’t save it up like seed and you can’t invest it.

That mana went bad quickly. After all, God didn’t plan on them being there next week, so it didn’t have to have a long shelf-life. Each day though, He’d look down to see if they had taken good soil from the enemy’s hands and…sigh…nope. “Well Gabriel, I guess you’ll have to wipe off some crumbs from the angel’s mess hall table onto them again. They still haven’t matured and attacked.”

Sound familiar? Perhaps a weekly check that just gets you by until next week might jar your memory. It’s kind of hard to disciple the nations if we only have grocery money for our own families. God has more available than that. So how do we get it from Heaven to Earth? I mean they pave the streets with the stuff up there!

So we use the sickle like the Word instructs us to and that’s good. What I propose is that next we need to pick up the sword in the other hand and start laying siege to what God has promised us.

Now, don’t be discouraged about all your sowing and think that you’ve been wasting it. God’s guarantee on return still stands. The obstacle that we have to get by is the fact that He’s been stockpiling it into the silos of our promised land. Within that place, there are others who are tasked with gathering it up for us. This is found in Eccl 2:26, Deut 6:10-11, 1 Chron 5:18-22, and Josh 24:13.

All of these instances show the fruit of the sword or plunder. Some harvests are won by the sickle; others are won by the sword. As you engage in spiritual warfare over your calling or region, you loose what God has tasked sinners to gather up for you. Ever wonder why the 5 talent servant got the 1 talent servant’s portion from Matt 25? This is why. As soon as someone moves from an investor in God’s kingdom to a hoarder, he reverts back to the curse laid upon sinners to gather up riches for the righteous in Eccl 2:26. If you’ve wondered about that whole “wealth of the wicked laid up for the righteous” thing, that’s what it’s talking about. It also happens to be another good reason not to be jealous when the wicked prosper. They’ve been ordered to. The real problem is that somewhere, a Christian hasn’t taken their inheritance yet.

How do you take a promise land then? How do you use the sword of the Lord? Well, that’s a broad subject and the posts on this site will continue to point towards that goal, but before we get into more teachings on it later, I just want to point out the first key. A major key to the breakthrough that Daniel received that brought wealth transfer and promised land aquisition to Ezra, Nehemiah, and many others. That key is what most call the “Daniel fast”.

The amazing thing about Daniel’s 3 week fast is that it wasn’t about quantity; it was about quality. He just decided that he wasn’t going to please the flesh. See it never actually says he planned on stopping after 3 weeks. It just says that the breakthrough came after 3 weeks. He got desperate enough to change his lifestyle to one that only pleased God. Lo and behold, it made things move.

To be put simply, a lifestyle that’s sacrificed to please only God develops character. That more mature character then is able to handle higher level anointings and promotions in the spirit realm. Finally, the higher level anointings bring with them the higher level angelic assignments that walk in and move mountains. So start loosing those angel armies and keep pressing in. Go for it! We can take the promises in the Word and declare and stand on them in our prayer times. Jesus makes us overwhelming conquerors!

It’s time. Fighting is optional. Winning isn’t.

No One Say The “G” Word!

Can I talk about the G word here? It won’t offend you will it? It can be a very offensive word afterall…and no, I’m not talking about God so you’ll have to think of something else. Come on, you can guess it. It’s something most churches in the western world rarely talk about. You’ve even probably never heard a message preached on it before.

Think you have it now? How about this… I’m going to put down the Hebrew translation first and then maybe you can guess it. The reason why I’m going to do that is because this word has been somewhat miss-defined for quite a long time now. So here’s the first parts of the definition for your clue from Strong’s Concordance…

Zalal – to shake (as in the wind) i.e. to quake: Fig – to be loose morally, worthless or prodigal.

So what in the world starts with a “G” in English that defines this? It apparently deals with immorality so, how could I say it’s not usually talked about in churches today? Well, because I’m talking about Zalal, which translates in English to… Gluttony.

Yep. Sure does! It’s not until the last parts of the definition that it gets to the eating part. Now before you shut your eyes, plug your ears, and start yelling “lalalalalala!”, did that definition say exactly that eating more than what your stomach should handle was the root sin? Did it say eating unhealthy food was the root sin either? No. Now those things can very well be outliers, but they aren’t the main problem. That’s why it’s been miss-defined. We eat a lot, feel bad about it and let condemnation come in or we’ve decided that it’s not a battle we care to take on. In other words, we ignore gluttony as if it’s an ancient, vestigial remain of a bygone Judaical philosophy. Ya know, like those kosher law things.

The root issue though is that when people make the choice to let their tongue (the flesh) decide how they are to steward the living and holy sacrifice from Romans 12, they’ve just set up an idol before God. Instant moral issue.

The infamous G word is shown here in Prov 23:20-21 which says…

20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags. NASB

Ouch! So apparently God says that the result of gluttony is the same as the result of drunkenness. At this point you may say “Wait a minute Ryan… I shout the preacher down when he gets on a tangent about Christians who drink, but pity the fool that takes my twinkies! So… where does that put me?”

I’m just going to put a space here for that timeless, single cricket chirp…

Okay, so now that we’ve paused, sat in a hippie drum circle, talked about our feelings and how hard life is, we can move on. Ya good? Awesome.

The Bible says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. We automatically assume that’s talking only about our speech, right? The tongue doesn’t just talk though; it tastes too! There are so many of us in the body of Christ that are willing to give up anything for the gospel, but it’s amazing how much the flesh is unchecked and allowed to reek havoc through our lives in this area.

I don’t think I need to list the reasons. They’re listed in the obituaries of our newspapers every day. We can talk about binding familiar spirits and generational curses, but after those are dealt with, most of the time it’s not the devil that gets passed down; it’s the cookbook.

Is God first in our stewardship of health? Are we ensuring that we give Him the maximum amount of years of service that we can? Are we speaking the Word of healing and then suffocating the angelic assignments through bad stewardship? Could it be that we are nullifying the Word with tradition (Mark 7:13) through incorrect habits?

One thing is sure. Jesus gives victory and releases us from the bondage of bad habits and soulish comfort derived from food. For any problem we have, God has a promise. Matt 11:30 states “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” We can trade our old burdens for His lighter burden. That also includes going too far the other way because of a feeling of condemnation.

Excellence in service to the Master is possible when the focus is on getting the lifestyle right, instead of just a seasonal diet. If you are doubting because of past attempts that failed, I want to encourage you that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. It’s not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God that you can mount up with wings like an eagle and run and not be weary; walk and not faint!

– Phil 4:13, Zech 4:6, Is 40:31. Who or what is stronger than Jesus?

Centurion or Plebeian

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you just went for it? I mean, like… really went for it with God. You probably know what I’m talking about. It’s that haunting thought that whispers to you in the quiet hour. When that twilight time meets your inner musings and you almost question the cost of your habits. Why don’t I run from this fence with sword and axe flailing, you may ask. Just… give it all up? The friends? The shallow activities? That box that I stare at for entertainment, or whatever the excuse is.

No. Thoughts flood back in a rush of reality. Because it’s always been this way we believe it is inescapable. I need my rest and that’s where the entertainment comes in. As for the people that drain my focus, I can’t just be rude to them. We’re supposed to be nice, right? Jesus was nice, wasn’t He? On and on the reasons pile up. In the end the limbo stays and there’s still no peace.

But why?

It’s a simple reason of design. We are made to be in the army of the Lord (2 Tim 2:3-4) and the attempt to live in such a way that tries to ignore this fact is a practice in futility. I want ya to just try to raise up your hand and grab hold of some air. Just go on doing that for the rest of your life and let me know how that’s goes.

Hmm? Don’t want to do that? Well, the sad reality is that many Christians suffer a multitude of frustrations over trying to live a civilian lifestyle in the army of the Lord. When we understand our responsibility of discipline the fence-sitting lifestyle becomes illogical and we can finally start changing for the better.

So here’s a few points on how to come out from the commoners and answer the call to be God’s centurion…

  1. War is Upon You – No person or ministry (even business) can hold onto a vision if war is unexpected and unprepared for. When we don’t expect there to be a battle for what we believe in, we don’t wake up every day to win. If you don’t wake up to win, then you cede the battlefield by your silence. Spiritual warfare needs to be normal. It needs to be daily.

  2. On-Purpose Growth – Jesus said in Matt 10:16 that He wants us to be “shrewd as serpents”. That word “shrewd” is talking about a wise acumen or practical skill. If you don’t like where you’re at right now and you can read, then READ! Being able to be mentored by people who are wiser than you that you don’t even know is an ability that most take for granted every day. Set a schedule. Make goals. Every time you choose to spend money and time on growth instead of entertainment you choose to experience the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. That’s an eternally-minded decision that’s worth making. Remember, our deeds will be judged by Christ with fire in the end. You don’t want to be that guy that brings only his treasured stamp collection before the Lord and Commander of the universe. If you don’t know which way to grow, then ask God about what you should dream about. If you stopped dreaming, then dream again!

  3. Sacrifice Liberties – 1 Cor 8 shows us a principle about choosing to forgo liberties that we might be able to enjoy so that we don’t cause our church family to stumble. Our society has a tendency to run full-boar into practicing and enjoying every liberty that is made available. Just because something isn’t exactly evil doesn’t mean it can’t siphon our focus though (1 Cor 10:23). Whatever holds your focus determines your future. So there’s two reasons why we walk circumspectly about this… Focus, and our brothers and sisters who might have weaknesses to things we may not blink an eye at. Are we our brother’s keeper? Absolutely. In God’s army we don’t leave a man behind.

  4. Accountability – Don’t run! Please! You’ve read this far and I promise it’s almost over. Accountability is a good thing. How much do you trust that flesh of yours anyway? Honestly everyone has blind-spots that we have no idea about. It takes people ahead of us that have been through some things and are a little wiser than us to tell us about them. Iron sharpens iron; it’s just how God made it to be. Get hooked in and get a hold of a mentor. You need more than just books and conferences. You need a Godly spiritual father that can model for you the right way. Some things need to be caught and not just taught.

The rewards of choosing the warrior’s path are many. You can’t weigh the value of obtaining growing, ever-curious, iron-sharpening battle-brothers and mentors. How much money can you pay for a close walk with God? Average doesn’t make it into the history books.

It’s time to live. It’s time to taste battle and take the plunder of promised lands. No more average. No more grasping for wind.

 

Swing away centurion.