Recently, world events overwhelmed me. I became weak, unbelieving and fearful. It seemed that I lost hope and my desire to move forward and attempt things for God. What can God accomplish and do in times such as these. Can I be used to bring healing and change to this world? During these tumultuous days, I am reminded of a request Mordecai made of Queen Esther concerning the fate of their nation in captivity in Persia: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your Father’s house will perish” (Esther 4:14a) We must not remain silent. Esther chose to use her voice and to speak into a dangerous situation facing her nation. God has a plan and during times of duress we need to listen to His voice. Mordecai continued to exhort Esther: “And who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b) We are needed. Esther did not want to rock the …
A 2011 study conducted by researchers from universities in America and Europe concluded that prayer helps a person calm their anger. The study conducted by Brad Bushman a psychology and communications professor from Ohio State University, Sander Koole of Holland’s VU University of Amsterdam and University of Michigan’s Ryan Bremner found that prayer quelled a person’s anger even if they were not particularly religious. There were various stages to this study. In one session, the researchers asked the participants in the study to to write a paper that was then evaluated by a partner who purposely and aggressively criticized the paper. They were extremely negative about what the participant had wrote. They then had some participants of the study group think about what their partner had said and others spend five minutes praying for them. Once they had gone through this process, the participants then played a game with their partner. If the participant won, they were allowed to blast their partner with loud music. The participant also determined how loud the music was and …
Last year, I was praying and seeking an answer and intervention for a particular situation that was very troubling to me. As I desperately sought the answer, I suddenly began to envision it happening right down to the exact details — what would it look like, sound like and feel like if it actually came to pass. After picturing the scenario in my mind’s eye, I spontaneously began to thank and praise God for the answer. My response surprised me. I realized because it had been so real in my mind as I prayed, that my spirit responded with thanksgiving and praise before I even knew what was happening. It was the same response that I would have felt seeing my prayer answered and fulfilled in the flesh. But in this instance it hadn’t happened yet. The incident reminded me of a verse: “Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the non-existent things that (He has foretold and promised) as if they (already) existed.” (Romans 4:17 AMP) I had meditated and contemplated on …
Just a brief write-up about a few stories that caught my attention this past week: Lord’s prayer banned in England The Lord’s prayer is a regular part of services in the Church of England. This year, the church produced an ad with each line being prayed by a different person. It starts with the leader of the Anglican Church, The Right Honourable Justin Welby. Welby who is the archbishop of Canterbury is part of the evangelical wing of the Anglican church. Other participants included a police officer, weight lifter, farmer and others. However, when the church approached Digital Cinema Media (DCM) to buy time for the ad to be run in movie theaters, the company refused stating it might cause offense. DCM sells 80% of the advertisements sold on England’s 2,929 movie screens. The controversy over the refusal generated great publicity for the ad now shown on YouTube and as well a strange ally. In an interview in The Guardian, atheist Richard Dawkins said: “I still strongly object to suppressing ads on the grounds that …
This past year I realized I was receiving noticeable answers to prayer and I believe it was tied to thankfulness. I could keep praying, pleading and asking God for what was on my heart but I knew at some point I needed to start thanking Him for the answers as well. Although I did not understand it at the time, I believe the reason for my prayer answers was a result of consciously including thanksgiving in my petitions. Gratitude acknowledged my faith in God for answers I had not yet received. “Who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” (Romans 4:17 NKV) Thankfulness calls into being that which does not yet exist. It gives life to our requests, creating the movement that brings answered prayer forward to the present. Being thankful for answers yet to come is the springboard to faith, the catalyst that gives life to our prayers. By being thankful, I was believing instead of doubting. An expectancy accompanied me throughout the day. The spiritual atmosphere …
When you look at police reports of Edward “Doc” Amey, you will find several pages listing his crimes from everything from felony convictions to misdemeanors, including several drug related charges. He has been in prison three times. In an interview with KHOU TV, Amey said: “I haven’t always been a friend of police. Know what I am saying.” But a recent photo of Amey in action has been circulating on Facebook, it is an image of him praying with a police officer. Not just any policeman but Officer Salvador Chapa from the Texas City, Texas police department. Chapa had actually arrested Amey years back on gun charges and he actually did time for that crime But something happened to Amey several years back — he found God and the encounter transformed his life. With all the news in recent months of unprovoked attacks on police throughout the US, God began speaking to Amey about praying for police. Amey said: “The last week-and-a-half God has really been giving me the urge to pray for police officers.” …
Entertainment Weekly called it a “sleeper hit” and when a Christian movie catches the secular media’s attention you know its shocking everybody, including Hollywood. Refusing to follow Hollywood’s script of sex and violence, the name of the movie aside, the Kendrick brother’s, Alex and Stephen, latest movie is on a record-setting pace. War Room sold an amazing $11.4 million worth of tickets this past weekend, blasting through the brothers’ belief that $10 million would exceed their wildest expectations. The movie was second only to Straight Outta Compton a profanity laced hip hop movie that grossed $13 million. War Room, with only a PG rating, managed to exceed $11 million without swearing, violence, sex, and a star filled cast and while only showing in 1,100 theaters across the US. Meanwhile, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation starring Tom Cruise was in over 3,000 outlets but only earned $8 million that same weekend. The Christian movie is on course to surpass Fireproof, another faith movie the Kendricks’ released in 2008. With sales of $33 million, it was the …
There are times when I enjoy solitude. With no distractions, I can get lost in whatever I am doing and time just flies. Simply defined, solitude is the state of being alone. I always feel more refreshed and peaceful after such times. But I believe there are benefits to solitude other than just having ‘alone time.’ Author, Sue Monk Kidd has been writing books since 1990. In her early years of writing on contemplative prayer, she wrote ‘God’s Joyful Surprise.’ In it she says: ‘Solitude is a time for ‘God and God alone’. Who knows what can happen when we focus only on God. In solitude we sense our deep oneness with God and keep company with him. Solitude is breaking through my isolation into sharing and being in touch with my Creator. In fact we can begin to heal our loneliness by transforming it into solitude.’ Even Jesus practiced solitude during his life and invited his closest friends to do the same: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He …
[by Dean Smith] Shaquille Hairston, 21, works the late shift at a hotel in Euclid, Ohio. On June 3, he caught the bus home late that night, as he usually did. When Hairston got off at a stop near his home, a man who was also on the bus slipped off as well. After the bus departed, the man approached Shaquille on the dark, deserted street, pulled out a gun and demanded money. In an interview with Cleveland’s Fox News, Shaquille said when he told the man he didn’t have any cash, the robber hit him on the head with his gun.
[by Dean Smith] Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is considering seeking the Republican nomination for the American 2016 Presidential elections. Speaking to the National Religious Broadcasters in February, Walker confided he is still trying to decide God’s direction on this decision. Walker said: “I’m still trying to decipher if this is God’s calling. You’ve got to be crazy to want to be President of the United States … To look at what it does to a person and a family you have got to be crazy. But you should only do it if you feel God’s called you to get in there and make a difference. We’re still trying to decide and we’re going to ask you for your prayers in that regard.” This statement was picked up by a number of media types, including the Wallstreet Journal. But perhaps the most odd response came from a series of tweets made by Political Wire publisher Taegan Goddard.
[by Dean Smith] In an earlier post, I discussed Jesus’ parable on prayer. It involved a woman’s run-in with a corrupt judge (Luke 18:2-8). It was an interesting passage as the Greek words portrayed intercession as little more than a street fight. As Jesus wraps up this teaching, He clearly wants to separate our Heavenly Father from the character of the Judge and says: “Now will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry [boao] to Him day and night, and will he delay long over them.” (v 7 NASV) Where the judge was selling justice to the highest bidder, God wants to bring justice to those who cry out for help. Where corrupt judges delay justice as a subtle hint money is needed to open doors, God wants to answer quickly.
[by Dean Smith] We all struggle for answered prayer. Sometimes we wonder if God even heard us. When we look at the Gospels, Jesus used a variety of parables to teach on prayer. One found in Luke 18:2-8 — involves a widow who was taken advantage of by an unscrupulous person and went before a judge seeking legal help. We are told the judge did not fear God and did not respect man (v 2). It was a simple way of saying he was corrupt. Justice was for sale in this town.
[by Dean Smith] Attending emergency physician, Dr Jeremy Garrett, called it a ‘bonafide miracle.’ On Martin Luther Day (January 19, 2015), John Smith, 14, along with two friends were out on the frozen waters of Missouri’s Lake Saint Louise when the three fell through the ice. According to KDSK TV, by the time rescuers from the St. Louis Fire Department arrived, one of the two friends had dragged himself out and the other was hanging on to the ice. John, however, could not be seen. After being under water for about 15 minutes, rescuers found John and dragged him out. With no pulse, paramedics performed CPR as they rushed the boy to the hospital but believed there was little hope of recovery.
[by Dean Smith] A recent article in the National Journal reports that Harry Flynt, the founder of the porn magazine Hustler, has been sending unsolicited copies of the publication to American politicians in Washington DC since 1983. It arrives every month in an unmarked manilla envelope. And every month staffers open it. Who knows why Flynt does it? We can only guess. But many assume he is trying to influence them.
[by Barb Smith] Lately, I have been thinking back to the days when my husband and I looked to adoption as a way to have children we could not produce on our own. We had gone for prayer and then went through a battery of fertility tests and procedures to no avail, because God had a different plan. After two years of pursuing adoption through private and government agencies, our hopes for a child faded. As a final option, we considered international adoption and pursued various avenues.
[by Dean Smith] When Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro, 40, entered Boca Baton Regional hospital in Boca Raton, Florida, for a typical C-section she was not expecting a few hours later that her name would be broadcast across the country because of a miracle. According to a report in the Sun Sentinel, after her baby’s safe delivery, Ruby stopped breathing and then a short time later her heart stopped beating. A medical team, numbering over 12, frantically worked to revive her. Team members alternated doing CPR as they tired, others applied shock treatments to restart Ruby’s heart. But after 45 minutes doctors realized there was nothing more they could do. Ruby had died.
Several years back, my wife and I attended a camp meeting in the U.S. God was moving in the services through the Toronto revival and both of us were impacted by God’s Spirit. One night, I felt the Lord say He wanted me to stay in the tabernacle and pray for three hours after the service. The meetings were going late, so it would be about three in the morning before my head hit the pillow. My preference was to go to bed. But it seemed like God, so I decided to do it. Now to be honest, I was very legalistic about the time and I looked at my watch every 15 minutes or so to see how much time had passed. I was a true watchman. God was going to get three hours and not a minute more.
When the pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 NASV) Can anyone be commanded to love God or love anyone for that matter? Yet we are told this is the greatest commandment for a believer. How do we do it? The Apostle John provides the answer: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NASV) The key to being able to love God is first understanding and believing that God loves you and this is our “great” struggle to obeying the “greatest” commandment. A study by Baylor University, published in the journal Sociology of Religion, concluded that understanding God loves us is even an important key to successful prayer.
A few year’s back, my wife was talking to a woman who told of struggles with her oldest son. He was having problems at school and teachers were constantly asking his mother to come in to deal with behavioral issues. As they discussed what was happening, the woman shared that the boy was her only child from a previous marriage. Divorced, she had remarried and now she and her new husband had children of their own. However, the step-father was finding it difficult accepting the oldest son. He found it hard to praise him and easy to criticize. My wife heard the story, saw the need and decided to pray about it. For the next two and half weeks, this became the focus of her prayers.
Researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute in Murray, Utah have concluded there are health benefits to fasting. In particular, they pointed to its benefits with those struggling with diabetes. The researchers said an occasional one-day, water-only fast, can help those in a pre-diabetic stage. This is the stage where people have high glucose or sugar levels, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. They stated by occasionally fasting a person can lower their glucose levels. It should not surprise us an important spiritual activity comes with a physical benefit.
Why doesn’t God answer my prayer? This question plagues many Christians. We pray and not only are there no answers, we wonder if God even heard us. When we look at the Gospels, we read a number of parables Jesus used to teach on prayer. I want to specifically look at one of them and draw out a key principle to successful prayer. The account is found in Luke 11:5-13. This parable– following on the heels of Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s prayer –is about a man who unexpectedly had visitors show up at his home late at night. Without food to offer them, the man pops next door to a friend’s place to borrow some bread.
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26 NASV) In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel peering into the future saw a day when God would give people new spiritual hearts. This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2, when God poured out His Holy Spirit on the early church. That move was accompanied by many miraculous healings. But for Jon Funderburg, this promise of a new heart took on a very literal meaning. On February 2, 2006, Jon, 32, went to his doctor in Hot Springs, Arkansas complaining of a flu. With his symptoms worsening and an added complaint of stomach pain, the doctor ordered tests.
This is the last article in my series on the Hebrew word “paga” — translated intercessor or intercession in the Old Testament. The word is used in many ways and each I believe describe a unique aspect of prayer. In my earlier article I talked about the intercessor as one who negotiates with God. In this article, I want to discuss how intercession is a burden that God wants us to carry. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, one of the meanings of the word “paga” is “‘to lay, burden’ (Isa 53:6, ‘the Lord has ‘laid’ upon him all our iniquity’).”
I am writing a series of articles on the Hebrew word “paga” commonly translated intercessor or intercession in the Old Testament. It is an unusual word that has a wide-range of meanings and each describes a particular attribute of intercession. In my earlier article, I discussed how “paga” referred to claiming territory for the Kingdom of God. In this post, I want to discuss the word “paga” and its meaning of negotiating with God on behalf of others.
This article is part of a series I am doing on the Hebrew word ‘paga’ translated intercession in the Old Testament. The word has a broad range of meanings that offer unique perspectives on intercession. In my earlier article, I discussed how the word was used to describe the spiritual warfare associated with intercession. Another one of the unusual ways ‘paga’ is used in the Old Testament is in staking out and claiming territory. After Israel entered the Promised Land, God gave each tribe an inheritance of land. In Joshua 16:5-7, we have a record of the territory given the tribe of Ephraim described as “the border of their inheritance.” “It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached (paga) Jericho and came out at the Jordan.” (v 7 NASV) The word ‘paga’ is used in this passage to mark the territory or boundaries of each tribe’s inheritance. In almost every instance “paga’ described the outward border (see also Joshua 17:10, 19:11, 22, 26-27 etc). Paga is translated in this context as …
I have been doing a study on the Hebrew word ‘paga’ translated as intercessor or intercession in the Old Testament. This word has a large range of meanings and each of these help us better understand intercessory prayer. In my previous article, we saw ‘paga’ meant hitting the mark and discussed how God wants to guide the prayer of the intercessor. In this post, I want to look at a third usage of the word ‘paga’ — it means conflict or war. The word is used 15 times in the Old Testament to describe battle. In fact, it became synonymous for “falling upon” people or attacking them. (1 Samuel 22:17, Judges 8:21; Judges 15:12, 2 Samuel 1:15).
In my previous article on the Hebrew word “paga,” translated intercession in the Old Testament, I discussed one of its primary meanings which is “making contact” with God. This is what differentiates prayer and intercession. While prayer is one way communication — us talking to God, in intercession we make contact with God which leads to Him communicating with us. In the Old Testament, “paga” has many usages which give us different understandings of intercession. In this article, I want to look at the unusual way the word is used in Job 36:32.
Prayer warriors have written many books on prayer, but this statement was not from any of these writers. It came from the driest of all — The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament . Yet, this quote from an article written by Dr. Victor Hamilton is extremely profound: “An intercessor is one who makes contact with God as opposed to many who simply dabble in prayer.” He made it while discussing the Hebrew word “paga” often translated “intercessor” or “intercession” in the Old Testament. I want to talk about intercession as defined by the word “paga.” It has a wide range of meanings and usages. Each of these shades serve up a fuller understanding of the word.
Taking a page out of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror flick, The Birds, a seagull and a crow attacked two doves released by the Vatican on January 26, 2014 before tens of thousands of people in Vatican Square. Referred to as the Pope’s caravan of peace, two children, a boy and a girl, released the doves as part of the Angelus Prayer. The Pope was calling for peace in the Ukraine where violence has erupted from people protesting the countries growing ties with Russia. The dove often portrays the Holy Spirit in Scripture and the two were set free from a window in the Vatican as a symbolic gesture of the prayer. Almost immediately, the two doves were viciously attacked.
In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, German psychologists Malte Friese and Michaela Wanke state prayer helps an individual with self-control. The two researchers said, “a brief period of prayer buffered the self-control depletion effect.” They added, “These results are consistent with and contribute to a growing body of work attesting to the beneficial effects of praying on self-control.”
Was a potential mass murder at a McDonald’s restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas averted because of a mother’s prayer? I will let you decide. 24-year-old Jestin Anthony Joseph called his mother saying he was hearing voices. He said that people were trying to kill him and Jestin told his mom he was going to die tonight. His desperate mother did the only thing she could do for her distraught son — she and friends began to pray for her son.
When Hal Hart was told in 2012 his cancer was inoperable by an oncologist in Jackson, MS, Hal turned to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas — a renown specialist in cancer treatment — in one last desperate attempt for a cure. Though he never smoked, in 2008 Hal was diagnosed with Lung cancer. He immediately had surgery, but by 2011, the cancer had returned and was rapidly spreading through his body. In 2012, doctors told Hal to prepare for the worst. At this point, Hal was was diagnosed with