The Power of Praise

People of God, do you need a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to blow through your soul? Awake, and soak in the incomparable presence of our Bridegroom. You will find refreshment and joy!

Praise is a mighty victory, a place of pure love and power. Arm yourself against complacency, against Hell’s attacks, by having a playlist ready to pump your soul with energy and truth. Make it part of your daily life.

A recommendation from my own life: start with YouTube, and search for ‘worship live’. Then, sort the videos by number of views. You will find many to sample. Find your own perfect blend of uplifting inspiration. Then, however you purchase music, through iTunes or other, create a worship playlist from your favorites.

Just below are two of mine to get you started. May He bless you mightily, wash you clean in His precious presence, and fill you with His grace and power!

Hallelujah Here Below (Paradoxology) (feat. Steffany Gretzinger) Elevation Worship

So Will I (100 Billion X) – Hillsong Worship

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Does God Really Pour His Spirit upon All Flesh? A Review of Joel 2 and Acts 2

For years now, we’ve been hearing teachers from various halls of Christian faith quoting Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17, declaring that God is pouring out His Spirit upon “all flesh”, meaning all of humanity. They cite examples of cases where non-believers had dreams of Jesus and then came to faith.

While these cases are wonderful and awe-inspiring, they are not proof the Holy Spirit is poured upon “all flesh”. Allow me to explain why this particular teaching is a misinterpretation of the Joel and Acts passages.

Take a look at the wording of the Acts passage from the KJV translation:

Acts 2.16-18 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh*: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

Ok. So, the KJV makes it sound like the Spirit will be poured upon “all flesh”. Case closed, right?

Well, not so fast. What did the original language say? Who is the audience? For, that reveals intention. And, what is the context around the phrase or sentence in question?

First, let’s look at the definition of the word for “flesh” in Greek: “sarx”.

*Definition of Sarx from Strong’s:
(g4561) σαρξ, — sarx; probably from the base of (4563) (σαροω); flesh, i.e. the meat of an animal, or the body… as the means of kindred…
1. flesh
2. the body a. the body of a man b. used of natural origin, generation or relationship

So, “flesh” is half of the original meaning, but with the broader definition from Strong’s Bible dictionary, we see there is more to the story, a 2nd half, “the body”, which implied kindred, or relationship. This narrows the scope to people in relationship with God, His family, not all mankind. With these two shades of the same word, is it one over the other? How do we choose?

Let’s return to the passage to better understand the audience and context.

When we glance a little further back from our phrase in question in both Joel 2 and Acts 2, we see each author was addressing the people of God.

In Joel, he is addressing the nation of Israel. In Acts, Peter is addressing the new believers, the followers of Christ.

Plus, note the wording immediately following God’s declaration of outpouring His Spirit:
“…your sons and your daughters will prophesy… your young men, your old men…”. The word, “your” means those belonging to the audience, again, the people of Israel in the Old Testament and the new believers in the church.

Taking it another step further in subsequent verse, Acts 2:18, God goes even further to clarify: “on My servants and My handmaidens will I pour out My Spirit…”

God was reiterating the object of the outpouring of His Spirit – upon His servants, His body, His people.

We can conclude by translating sarx within this passage as, “the body”, either instead of, or in addition to, “flesh”. This does not contradict but rather complements the tone in the rest of each passage.

Bottom line: God’s promise of outpouring His Spirit was to His people, not to the whole world.

Originally from the prophet, Joel, this prophecy of His outpoured Spirit was fulfilled starting with the disciples at Pentecost. Remember, Jesus promised the Comforter would come to His followers after His Ascension.

And did He! He came and began filling the new believers, aka the body of Christ, from that point forward, giving them His gifts, empowering them for life and ministry. Just as He continues to fill each new believer today!

Perhaps there does appear to be a fresh outpouring of His Spirit in recent years, an awakening of His people and prophecy. If so, no doubt for the purpose of strengthening His body to once more sweep the world for another great harvest, and to face the challenges of the last days before Christ’s return.

At the same time, over decades there has been a shallowing in many branches of God’s people in America, a diluting of Biblical truth. And there is a wide and growing division between the people of God and an ever-darkening world hardening their hearts to His salvation, and even His reality! This division has swept Europe and is gaining ground in America.

What do we do? We ask His help to purify our lives, daily surrender, and pursue loving relationship with our Savior and the filling of His Spirit every day. What can God do with a child of His fully surrendered to His power and grace? Reach the world!

In closing, I will say we can agree with the teachers referenced at the start with one caveat: All mankind is impacted by His outpouring upon His body. For, it is when His people are fully yielded into His mighty hands that He can then use us for maximum reach to “all flesh”.

Jesus, fill us anew today, as we trust You and give ourselves into Your capable hands. Strengthen and use us to reach every last person on earth before You return! Amen.

Scripture and Definition taken from:
Strong, James. A Complete Bible Reference Study Library (4 in 1): [Illustrated]: KJV Bible with Strongs markup, Strongs Concordance & Dictionaries, Lexicon Definitions, and Bible word index (Kindle Locations 104192-104209). Bestbooks. Kindle Edition.

The Language of Dreams

Have you ever had a dream you knew was from God? What about a vision? Are you aware you should be expecting dreams from God every night?

If you are not aware of having dreams and visions from the Lord, you are not alone. While I have not taken a poll, I would venture to guess the majority of God’s people today have not been taught to expect dream messages or visions from God.

I grew up in a very traditional church environment, and I can guarantee you I never heard the first word about dream fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

In fact, between you and me, when the concept was first presented to me, I recoiled in unbelief. But then I started listening to Biblical reasoning, examined the Scriptures and found the plain and clear precedent.

“I will reveal Myself in visions, I will speak in dreams.” Numbers 12:6

“I was asleep but my spirit was awake, listen my Beloved is knocking.” Solomon 5:2

“For God speaks once, yes twice, [yet man] perceives it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumber upon the bed; Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.” Job 33:14-16

Ok. So God expected His people to know He would talk to them in dreams in the Old Testament. And those ancient saints understood the language of dreams. Listen in to this passage where Joseph shared his (unwelcome) dream with his family:

“And (Joseph) dreamed another dream: I have dreamed the sun, moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me. He told [it] to his father, and to his brothers: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What [is] this dream that you dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow down to you to the ground?” Genesis 37:9-10

Jacob immediately understood the symbols in his son’s dream! He knew the language! The passage goes on to say he made note of the dream and watched for it’s significance with expectation.

How did so many of God’s people lose this understanding over the centuries? I can hear the scholars now. “Well, in ancient times God needed to use dreams because we didn’t have the written Scriptures.” That sounds reasonable.

But in the New Testament, when they did have the Hebrew Scriptures (and were taught them at temple), He continued to speak through dreams.

In the Gospels, He spoke to Joseph and the Magi (Matthew 2), and to Pilate’s wife (Matt 27).

You say, ok, but what about after the death and Resurrection of Christ? Surely, we didn’t need dreams then, because we had His Spirit in addition to the Scriptures.

That is what I am trying to tell you. His Spirit apparently likes to communicate to those of us whom He indwells, among other ways, through dreams! Keep reading.

After the Resurrection, God continued to use dreams and visions. He spoke to Saul and Ananias in Acts 9. He spoke to Cornelius and also to Peter in Acts 10, to Paul (formerly Saul) in Acts 16.

It doesn’t take much research to realize God continued to use dreams in the New Testament church the same way He had before Christ! The last book of the New Testament, the entire book of Revelation, was a dream/vision revelation of God to John for His people.

Dreams and visions from God never stopped. He spoke through them to the ancient Hebrews and to His followers in the New Testament. They are still valid today!

But, wait, you say, are Holy Spirit dreams for everyone, or just priests, pastors and leaders?

In Judges 7, Gideon only overheard the dream of a random villager in a town where Gideon’s army was planning to attack, and he understood it to be a promise of victory from God (and it was)! God used an ordinary person to deliver that dream message.

Both Old and New Testaments tell us, in the latter days the Spirit will pour Himself out upon “all of His body, and ‘young men will see visions, old men will dream dreams’” (Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17)! And beloved reader, He isn’t just giving dreams to men, but as the verses literally mean, “to all of His body”, to women, children, to all of His people!

Dreams are a method God uses to help us work through our thoughts and emotions, our life challenges, and most importantly, to deepen our trust and relationship with Him.

Honestly, when I first began realizing what was happening in my dreams, it felt like a loving psychologist was giving me insight into myself. That gave me pause because I’ve come on so many levels to disrespect the secular field of psychology, perhaps ironic since I am a trained counselor with a Masters degree.

In learning about dreams, I thought, could God really be acting like my personal counselor every night? This feels self-indulgent, and too much like ‘psychology’. Most often, I’m trying to control my emotions during the day and not dwell on them. And I thought that was pleasing to Him.

Then the Lord reminded me of one of His names right out of Scripture: Wonderful Counselor!

He is the greatest Counselor in existence! He wants us to bring our emotions, thoughts, all of it, to Him, not to deny or avoid them. He then offers us His wisdom and guidance, His wise counseling, not only through His Word, but directly from His Spirit, and often in our dreams! What a deal! Free of charge!

Well, the price was actually His Son on a Cross and our trust in Him for forgiveness and salvation, right? With that profound purchase came this amazing, intimate walk with Him that continues even when we sleep! His promised Comforter comes alongside us and walks us through every challenge, every experience, thought and emotion. Yes, He wants that close of a friendship with you. He wants and deserves to be your Everything.

The time is now. It is time God’s people once again learn the language of dreams from Him. Daniel understood the language of dreams. Jacob understood dreams. Peter, Paul, John, and other New Testament followers understood the Spirit’s involvement in their dreams. We must follow in their footsteps.

Take comfort, dreams do not replace Scripture, and dreams from the Lord will not contradict Scripture. Dreams are most often personal for the dreamer and not usually revelations about other people, except as may relate to our areas of responsibility in ministry. Sometimes they are prophetic. Under and above all, they are always wise, because they come from the all-wise God.

I pray all of my traditional brothers and sisters, like me, will allow the Spirit of the Lord to whisper truth into your soul. Review Scripture and recognize the presence of God’s use of dreams throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Then, allow Him to begin your dream education.

For those black and white traditionalists (as I once was) who stubbornly think God only speaks through the written word, recognize: It is the written word telling us that our Creator talks to us in dreams! Will we continue to doubt?

To offer all wanting more information a solid, trusted resource, I want to recommend a book I’ve recently come across, Hearing God Through Your Dreams: Understanding the Language God Speaks at Night, by Dr. Mark Virkler and Charity Virkler Kayembe. It is an excellent primer to learning how God communicates in dreams, for deciphering the very personal symbols He uses in the dreams of each of His children.

The Virklers are ‘charismatic’, though their book on dreams barely acknowledges it. Remember, God is pouring His Spirit out ‘upon all flesh, i.e., literally, the entire body’ (Acts 2:17) No matter our church denomination, we must open our eyes and ears to Biblical truth from all Spirit-filled corners of Biblical faith.

For the body to be strong and ready to meet the challenges of the future, we must accept each others’ place and gifts as part of His plan and purpose, and work together to encourage and train His people.

Finally, when I began learning to interpret His symbolic dream lessons to me, this powerful truth hit me: God spoke to His people in ancient Israel through dream symbolism. When Jesus taught in symbolic parables, those who had always known His Spirit must have recognized His style. They followed Him, in part, because they already knew His voice! “My sheep know My voice, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

Are you ready to continue the journey? You won’t be disappointed!

Purposes of Dreams and Visions in the Bible

God used dreams and visions many times in both Old and New Testaments, for many purposes. He gave them to rulers, prophets, apostles, and to ordinary people like you and me!

In one sense, all dreams or visions are a source of knowledge and revelation, for different purposes. The most important of all, to identify His Son. Among the other reasons He used them were to give promises, calling and anointing, comfort, direction, and visions of heaven.

While not intended to be an exhaustive list, see references below with many of the ways visions or dreams were used in Scripture.

Genesis 15:1 God uses a vision to give Abram covenant/promise of protection and reward, that he would be a father and the father of many nations. Promise/Revelation (of Future Events)

Genesis 20:3-7 Through a dream given to King Abimelech, God protected Sarah and Abraham by revealing her identity to the King and telling him not to touch her. Knowledge (of current situation)/Warning

Genesis 28:10-17 God reveals to Jacob in a dream that Abraham’s blessing would be carried on through him. Promise

Genesis 37:1-11 Joseph dreamed of his future success and ministry. Promise/Revelation

Genesis 40 Joseph, in prison, had dreams of the fates of Pharoah’s cupbearer and baker. Knowledge/Revelation

Genesis 41:1-7 God gave Pharaoh a prophetic dream about the future difficulties of his nation. Warning/Revelation

Genesis 46:2-4 God called Jacob/Israel thru visions. Calling (to ministry)

Exodus 3:2-22 God revealed Himself and His plans for Israel within a burning bush to Moses. Direction/Knowledge

Judges 7:13-15 God gave a dream to a man Gideon met, (the barley loaf tumbling into their enemies’ camp and knocking a tent over flat) a symbolic promise of victory in battle. Promise/Revelation

1 Samuel 3:2-15 Samuel had a vision of the coming judgment upon the sons of Eli (Samuel’s mentor). Samuel proclaimed the info to Eli, and continued to hear from God the rest of his life. Knowledge/Revelation

1 Kings 3:5-14 God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked what blessing Solomon wished from Him. (Solomon asked for wisdom.) Anointing (to rule)/Blessing

Job 4:13-27 Job sees perhaps an angel of the Lord pass in front of his face in the night. The being brings him much wisdom and promise of long life from God.  Promise/Wisdom

Isaiah 6:1-13 Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord on His throne surrounded by angels, being worshipped and receives a revelation of the future. Revelation/Vision of Heaven

Ezekiel 1 and 8 Ezekiel sees visions of beings coming from the heavens in fire and of God’s glory, visions of future things… Revelation

Ezekiel 11:24-25 God took Ezekiel in Spirit by vision to speak to the exiles in Chaldea. He told the exiles all the Lord showed him. Ministry Direction

Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Lord showed Ezekiel future events. Revelation

Daniel 2:19 Daniel was given interpretation of mysteries in night visions. Knowledge/Wisdom

Daniel 2:28 Daniel reveals the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of future events. Revelation

Amos 7:1-9 God showed Amos the coming destruction of the nation in the form of locusts swarming toward the crops of the King, devouring all the vegetation. Warning/Revelation

Amos 8:1-3 God showed Amos He would spare His people no longer, that the end had come for them. Warning/Revelation

Amos 9 Amos saw the Lord declaring the beginning of the destruction upon His people. Warning/Revelation

Zechariah – The prophet was given many visions of the future in fantastic, symbolic analogies. Revelation

Matthew 1:20 God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to convince him to stay with Mary. Direction/Wisdom

Matthew 2:12 God warns the Magi in a dream not to return to Herod, to leave another way for their country. Warning

Matthew 2:13 God warns Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to avoid Herod’s decree. Warning

Matthew 27:19 Pilate’s wife has a dream that Pilate should have nothing to do with the condemnation of Christ. Warning

Luke 1:11-17 God tells Zacharias in a vision that he will have an important son (John the Baptist). Promise/Revelation

Acts 9:3-6 Saul has a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus that brings him to salvation and begins his ministry. Calling

Acts 9:10-12 God instructs Ananias in a vision to go visit Saul/Paul. Ministry Direction

Acts 10:3-6 God spoke to Italian centurion, Cornelius, telling him to find Paul. Cornelius obeyed and his whole house was saved. Calling/Direction

Acts 10:11-16 Peter sees a vision and God gave him instruction about killing animals, even those formerly considered unclean, to eat them, that God had cleansed them. This represented a big change in God’s rules to His people, a removal of Kosher law and indication the Gentiles coming to Christ would be considered clean. Direction/Revelation

Acts 16:9 Paul has a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come help them. Ministry Direction

Acts 18:9-10 The Lord comforts Paul in a vision urging him to not be silent, nor afraid to speak, to keep preaching in Corinth. Comfort/Ministry Direction

Acts 22:18-21 God warns Paul to leave the town for lack of acceptance of his testimony, and gives him new direction for ministry. Warning/Ministry Direction

Acts 27:23-24 An angel of the Lord appears to Paul and reveals he will appear before Caesar and his shipmates will be with him – which also lets them know they will all survive the tempest they were suffering aboard ship. Comfort/Direction/Revelation

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 God shows the 3rd heaven to a man, per Paul’s testimony. Vision of Heaven

Revelation 1-22 God gives John an extensive vision about future events to come for the world and God’s people! Revelation

 

Sources used for compiling list of verses:
1. How did God use dreams and visions in the Bible? https://www.gotquestions.net/Printer/dreams-visions-Bible-PF.html
2. 39 Bible verses about Visions and Dreams in Scripture  https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Visions-And-Dreams-In-Scripture

The Solution

Often, I catch myself fretting over the continual cultural slide and division in the United States. The fabric of our American soul is being pulled so hard at both ends, it is thin and close to being torn to shreds in the middle. At least, it seems that way sometimes.

One sleepless night recently, I lay in bed pondering the condition of America. This time I was listening more than whining, earnestly seeking His comfort and wisdom.

In this quiet, honest reflection, He reminded me the American people, including me, too often think politics, political leaders are our hope, the solution. We fight and argue and try to persuade others to agree with us, yet end up feeling powerless as we watch disharmony continuing to grow.

We wear political hats and t-shirts, hold rallies and wave signs and flags. And maybe we convince a few. But violence increases, attacks grow, divisions form widening chasms in our worldviews, and we despair of seeing our beloved nation come together in peace and unity.

Children of God, followers of Christ, our true power is not in sign-waving politics. It is in surrendered relationship with Him. Real power is in giving ourselves up to His Holy Spirit. It is found when we invite Him to fill every inch of our personal temples and give Him control, every hour, every day.

More, real hope and change for our nation is found when the people of God, the ‘Israel of God’, in this land unite in surrender to His Spirit and in seeking Him for their nation, His nation. This land belongs to the Lord, having been dedicated publicly to Him by George Washington in its founding days! No amount of white-washing our history or denial intending to erase our Biblical founding will remove who we are to God.

So, as I lay in surrender and restful listening to the wisdom of His Spirit, the quiet voice of inspiration whispered the Solution:

Pray for the youth of this nation to have another Holy Spirit-led awakening. Pray for the young of My people to fall deeply in love with Jesus, to claim their schools and universities again for Christ! To take their youth groups, neighborhoods, clubs and community groups, by storm! Pray, Holy One, sweep this land for another harvest of young souls. Begin with the children of Your people, raise up a generation, two generations, three generations, of surrendered, Spirit-filled young people! Through them, usher in a great revival that restores Your Spirit and Your values to every corner of this very divided land.

Friends, instead of fretting over the divisions, the degradation of our culture or political landscape, instead of having one more argument with friends on social media about party politics, pray today for the people of God to awaken to His Spirit and fully surrender to Him. Pray for revival to begin in the lives of His children, our children. As II Chronicles 7:14 reminds us, when we are fully His, humbly, purely seeking Him, He heals our land!

Watch and see what the Lord will do!

God bless you today, and God bless America!

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14

We Need a Movement to Fast and Pray for American Colleges and Universities

An inspiration today in the middle of fasting for America: We’ve got to take back our public college campuses for Christ. For truth! If America is to remain strong going forward, her people must raise and nurture youth to carry on who understand Whose nation we are, and the Biblical principles that made her strong.

Atheism, relativism, and radical liberalism have spread like a virus in recent decades, streaming out from so many Professors and draining the conscience from the young people they influence.

Understand, if God does not exist, then there is no absolute standard of morality. There is no meaning behind anything. We are an accident and our lives ultimately have no value. Environmental and evolutionary science teach us we are on a collision course with the destruction of earth and nothing we have ever done here will last.

How desperate it must be to be godless. Empty.

But, our campuses did not begin this way, teaching hopelessness! Our first colleges in America were built upon Biblical truth. They gave us foundations for morality and meaning.

Let’s fast and pray for a fresh wind of truth and see it become a hurricane through every American college and university campus! We need another mighty movement of God, of Christ, led by students and joined by their families and Professors!

May this reach the eyes and ears He intends. May it reach those who can make a difference. Take this wherever You will, Lord. Amen.

Fasting on Election Day 2018

For us at Faith and Fasting, today will round out 50 hours fasting for the American election on this day, November 6, 2018. God said the prayers of the righteous are very effective (James 5:16), and Jesus revealed praying and fasting is the way to rid a stubborn evil spirit (Mark 9:29), making it the true, secret weapon of the believer!

God bless every one who develops this ancient discipline. It isn’t easy at first, but the rewards are to unleash all of Heaven’s power against the enemy. Now, let’s pray for the election today.

Prayers for the Election:

Dear Jesus, we praise You, Holy One! Thank You for the blessings You pour out on us every day! We surrender to You now and ask You to fill us with Your Spirit.

We come before you now to lift up the American elections. Please surround Your people with Your angels today at every polling place. Prevent all enemies from attacking or intimidating Americans from exercising their right to vote.

Lord, please prevent and expose fraud and cheating at the polls. Let their efforts come to nothing.

Lord, favor Your loyal followers in every race! Choose each leader to bring blessing and peace to America, to keep her safe for Your people and a beacon of hope to the world.

Please reward those candidates who will safeguard law and order in order to protect Your nation. Also, promote those who have Your heart for people, and who seek Your wisdom in setting policy and agenda.

We place our precious nation in Your mighty hands and trust you with the results this day. Thank You for loving us, for taking our sin upon Yourself on the Cross, for giving us Your Spirit to love and guide us.

We praise You, in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Isaiah 41:9-13

I took you from the ends of the earth,

from its farthest corners I called you.

I said, ‘You are my servant’;

I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

11 All who rage against you

will surely be ashamed and disgraced;

those who oppose you

will be as nothing and perish.

12 Though you search for your enemies,

you will not find them.

Those who wage war against you

will be as nothing at all.

13 For I am the Lord your God

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, ‘Do not fear;

I will help you.’