Personal Devotions: Wilderness Protocol


Luke 4

The Temptation of Jesus

1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’[a]

5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[b]

9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written:
” ‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

12Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

This blog post was started on February 9th, but has been sitting in my Drafts folder for a while.  We’re now in the season of Lent, where traditionally Christians stop and ponder Christ’s sufferings 40 days before the Easter celebrations – where we focus on His death and resurrection.

I find myself wanting to study this portion of Scripture, as I have a profound understanding of how Jesus must feel during this time. This happened directly after he was baptized and after he was publicly filled with the Holy Spirit – as in Luke 3:21-22 and Matthew 3:16-17.  Here is Matthew’s account:

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

In the next chapter in both books he is driven into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted.  Now, what are the nature of his temptations?  Normally, it is portrayed that Jesus was in the wilderness and had Satan come to him in bodily form so that he could tempt Jesus – I guess I always had that in my mind based on the amount of accounts I read about this.

But what if it was more natural? I mean, no ethereal spirits materializing, no flashing lights …. just a man trying to do God’s will, and being attacked by thoughts? Still Satan attacking, don’t get me wrong, but attacking Jesus the same way he usually attacks us – by planting thoughts directly into his mind.  How would it look then?

A hungry man, who suddenly gets the thought of using the anointing of God to do something supernatural for his own benefit.  Turn stones into bread.  Ok. That’s powerful, right?  Jump off a building?  Ok no normal (or sane) man would have that as a temptation…. but this isn’t any normal man. This is Jesus.

Right?

But take it out of the story context.  I am in the same position – I’ve been asked to stay away from ministry, while I get my foundations strengthened.  God has endorsed the position of the assembly by supernaturally revealing through his word that I should stay hidden and build up my foundations.  But yet the temptation to use the anointing God gave me is still there.  As I told someone recently, praying for people is like breathing for me.  And the temptation to do what God has called me to is there every time a need presents itself in someone who wants prayer, someone who evidently wants deliverance …

I remember this Scripture because, when asking for prayer from one of my friends, he mentioned this phrase in his prayer: “God, help; him resist the temptation to turn stones into bread….”

It hit me.  God has asked me to hide away, to build my foundations.  And yet, here I am, wanting to use the anointing on my life for what?  Personal gain?  Ego building?  Fame?  Isn’t this the same thing Jesus struggled with?

Every time someone gets helped they heap praise on the one who helped them.  Is that my level of personal gain?

Every time someone is in need, I want to assist, like if God needs me to do this.  Isn’t that egotistical?

Every time someone is helped, they want to go and tell what Jesus has done, and how I was the one that God used. Am I seeking to build my own kingdom? Am I seeking fame?

As I ponder these questions, I struggle, but I will continue to fight my temptations.  I want to be in a position like Jesus, who fought the enemy with the Word until he was released to minister.  I heard a preacher say that Jesus, when he at first refused to help his mother at the wedding in Cana, was exercising great patience, because he was not blowing his own horn, but waiting for his Father to endorse him.

The end result of waiting for the Lord’s timing is in the end of the passage we started with – Luke 4:14:

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

May I have the same patience, and continue to fight the temptation to push myself forward.  Father, where I have  failed, forgive me.  Help me.  I want to be attuned to your timing.  I do not want to false-start at the beginning of this race, and thus be disqualified.  May the Word sustain me.   AMEN.

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Supernatural Stories: Radiance!


Exodus 34:29-35 (New International Version)

The Radiant Face of Moses

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

I remember one time, while at a former job, I felt led to intercede for one of my colleagues; I felt the Lord wanted me to speak to him.  After a while of prayer, I sensed the Lord prompting me to go and confront him about the sin in his life.  I went to him, and told him what the Lord showed me in a vision and entreated him to come to know the Lord as his Saviour.  He listened and told me he’d think about it – but then mentioned that while I was speaking, it had seemed as though a light was shining from my face!  I was like, “What? Really? I didn’t see anything!”  – but I knew I was in the presence of the Lord as I was prophesying to him.

Isn’t God awesome?

Another awesome thought – I actually achieved a short post! WOW!

What amazing things have you seen God do in your life? Share your testimonies!

Welcome to the Hand of God!


This is a special welcome to every new member of the Hand of God, especially those personally invited by my new family at the Daily Audio Bible community.  I have made a whole new set of friends on the chat rooms there, and want to shout out AmariNanny, Calico, Dennis, Servant-Ken, Newme, Jai, Southampton and all the others that I’ve started to connect with.

So, if you’re new, you’re wondering what this blog is all about, right?  Right?  Well, according to my About page (didya see that coming? Didya?…):

The purpose of the Hand of God is to chronicle God’s hand in my life, and testify of the things God does when I pray for others.  Here you will see slices of heaven on earth, where the miraculous meets the mundane.  I also share parts of my life and try to be as open online as I am in person.

Here there are several testimonies of God working supernaturally in my life and in the lives of others around me:

My Supernatural Stories series

Here is my series on deliverance teaching – Deliverance Foundations

Here’s another series I’ve done – Life Together series

Ok! That’s a lot!  I’ll post another links page for more forays into the innards of the blog.

Please comment in the blog if you find something you like, or contact me at handofgod.blog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Gestation


Coming off of my last post and the thought of being hidden away in the secret place, I found a chapter in this book I’m reading that resonates along that line.  The book is “Living Water” by Brother Yun – the second book from this author.  He is a Chinese Christian who detailed his testimony of being persecuted in his home country in his first book “The Heavenly Man”.  This, his second book, is a collection of his own teachings which, as the book says, “have evolved from his life experiences of persecution and revival in China.”

This book is deep. So much so that I can only take it in small doses!  In fact, I’ve gotten this book as a gift (thanks Phillip!) since January 13th this year, and I’ve only just gotten to chapter 6.

I have been stuck for a while on chapter 5 – “The Pregnancy of the Holy Spirit”.  Yun starts off with the account of Jesus’ incarnation – of him taking on human form to be our example.  He comments how God the Father orchestrated this event and protected his Son from the evil Satan was throwing at him in Herod’s murder of thousands of baby boys to get rid of him.  Yun mentions the shepherds on one end of the social scale  and the Magi on the other – all come to worship Jesus.  Next, he recounts the meeting of Mary with the angel Gabriel.

After this account, he states this:

Do you realize that God wants all Christians to be pregnant with the Holy Spirit today? He wants to give you a vision of His kingdom that originates from heaven, not from yourself.  He desires that all of His children would be overshadowed by His presence in such a way that they are changed and give birth to something in their lives that brings many into His kingdom.

He also comments that, “The message I want to share with you is that you must be willing to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. When a heavenly vision comes to dwell inside your innermost being, the entire direction of your life will be changed.”

This is the season I am in.  I am crying out to the Lord for his birthing in me as I stay in his secret place.  I’m in a period of gestation.  I am seeking God to be formed in me, so that I can express his life through mine!

Brother Yun next speaks to the effect of people allowing themselves to be pregnant by the Spirit.  He starts of by speaking of the persecution of the Chinese Christians after the Revolution in 1949, where churches were destroyed or turned into “gymnasiums, granaries or government offices” and where all of the foreign missionaries were expelled.  The Christian church was forced underground.

Then God started to move in the 1970’s.  Yun used the analogy of seeds scattered on the ground and growing into thousands of trees as a few believers became many.  He said, “Thousands of believers became millions as revival swept our nation, and millions turned into tens of millions, and now even 100,000,000!”

He comments that, “This great revival happened after God found people who were willing to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  They were available and willing to preach the Gospel to every part of China.”

He complains that much Christian activity “seems to originate with our human plans, and it is then carried out in human strength, with human results.”  He mentions that “God is only interested  in His work, not our work. He oversees and empowers those things that originate in His heart.”

This is why I have come to a place of peace concerning this season in my life. Where I was champing at the bit like an over-eager stallion, now I am learning to rest in him and let him do the work in me.  I am not wanting another thing to spring up that is “our work.”  I’m only interested in “God’s work.”  I’m seeking his rest, as he builds me and forms me in the secret place.

I like what he says here:

If you become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, it is very important that you go and visit someone else who is also pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Only people who are going through this experience can provide encouragement and comfort when others are attacking you.

Mary visited Elizabeth, who was also pregnant.  And what happened? Elizabeth blessed her, and the unborn John the Baptist leapt in the womb at the sound of her voice!

He continues:

When you become pregnant with a vision from the Holy Spirit, seek out your Elizabeth.  Such a person will not mock or condemn you for obeying God’s call on your life…. Spend as much time with others who are pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I know that each time you see them, something will jump in your spirit!

Brother Yun warns next that birth is a very painful process, but he encourages us not to be afraid, for “God will sustain you and complete the birth of that which is inside of you.”  He says that for the “joy of being pregnant by the Holy Spirit, I have been called to endure persecution and torture for the sake of the gospel”, but “[a]ll of this was worth it for the great joy of seeing God glorified as he blessed and saved people through that which He placed inside of me.”

This gives me encouragement, and I am ready to go forward – whatever the cost.

He ends his chapter with a challenge:

Our loving heavenly Father is looking for people who are willing to become pregnant with His presence, vision and power.

Are you willing to surrender control of your life into the hands of God?

Will you be like Mary, and pray, “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me as you have said”?

You will never regret such a prayer.

Lord I am willing.  Make me pregnant by your Holy Spirit.  May it be unto me as you have said.  Hear my heart’s cry, Lord JESUS! As you have hidden me, I submit to your hand upon my life.  I pray for all those reading this as well, that they will be moved to cry out in the same manner – Be it unto me, according to your word!!!!! May those that read this also become contagious, so that the revival fires will continue to rage, and many more will know the Saviour of the World!  AMEN

Personal Devotions – Hiddenness


The Wise and Foolish Builders

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

God led me to this passage as I was asking him whether I could be released from my sabbatical from ministry in order to intercede for one of my best friends, who’s going through a rough patch. God was talking to me about my foundations – that they need to be on the solid rock.  The ‘rock’ represents the revelation of Christ – see Peter’s confession ‘Thou art the Christ….” and Jesus’ reply, “… upon this rock I will build my Church….”  Matt. 16:15-18

The lady helping me through this area in my life said to me that ministry attracts attack from the enemy – every time I pray for someone or even encourage them prophetically it invades enemy territory – and he won’t take that lying down!

The reason for the sabbatical’s extension, even although I have repented of my past sins, is not to punish me. (I was starting to feel that way, honestly!)  What was revealed to me was that every life that carries ministry must have firm foundations.  I am in a season where I am rebuilding my walls and re-laying foundations.  If I take ‘pot shots’ at the enemy by continuing to minister while being restored, then Satan can use the weaknesses in my defense to take me out! She said that the frustration I feel at not being free to minister to others like I want to is a motivator to get out of my broken state and be completely set free.

While in prayer with a new intercessor friend today,  as I shared the details of my sabbatical, I felt that God was telling me about being hidden for a purpose.  The Scripture was dealing with foundations. Foundations are hidden things.  The foundation is under the earth, and it anchors the building that is resting on it.  God was telling me about the foundations of my faith and my life, but I also heard him say, “Hidden for a season.”  The thought came of being formed in the Secret Place, like a baby being formed in its mother’s womb – Psalm 139:15-16

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

So, I’m now settled.  I understand what I need to do.  God has me hidden. It’s time for me to seek his face again.

Please – pray for me.

Father, I thank you that you have answered my prayers.  Thank you that you have explained your will to me. I love you so much.  Please help me to make the most of my hiddenness… I want to be completely hidden in you!  Help me to be patient, and not to chafe at the bit wanting to run out of the racing stocks. I want to be complete in you, and when you are ready, you will release me to do what you have called me to.  I ask you to draw people to pray for me and your work in my life, so that I will be able to get your will done through me.  Thank you for your hiding place! AMEN

Table Churches


Stumbled onto this blog post Fulcrum Express, and this post,  Improbable Church, where the author starts off with

The church that meets together at my home each Friday evening to share a meal, encounter God and minister one to another is an improbable assembly of believers and even not-yet believers. We cut across races, cultures, nationalities, social status, and so many other lines — producing a rich tapestry of interwoven lives.

I love his explanation of how the church meets in his context – share a meal, encounter God and minister to one another.  That is so simple, yet so profound!  A mottley crew of people of all walks of life – even people who have not yet committed to the faith… that’s so awesome!

It makes me remember my friend Archie, who’s starting a whole new expression of the body of Christ called Fresh Connection.  He told me the first time people are meeting is this Wednesday – I told him I’d love to be there online.. maybe we can see how that can work.  God’s doing some great things!

His post references another post on the same blog site, “Table Church, Podium Church and Facilitating Leadership” which has an interesting ‘twist’ to the New Testament church model, made popular by the proliferation of ‘house based’ or ‘cell based’ churches that are gaining popularity.

The first part of this new post speaks to the author’s having to deal with a controlling pastor and how this experience made him search the Scriptures to find Biblical evidence of leadership.  He says, in part:

“Church” as it’s come to be is now largely pastor led and podium focused, with professional “ministry” and largely passive pew sitters. We have lost the New Testament pattern of a community of believers served by local elders and other leaders, who function in a collegial framework of diverse gifts to sacrificially equip all believers for works of service as we all minister to each other. See Eph. 4:11-12 & 16.

So there’s the challenge of our day: Do we want New Testament leadership that is facilitating rather than controlling, elders who are engaged rather than pastor-centric, and ministry that is diversified rather than centralized? Are we willing to take back our churches and once again be the church?

He coins an interesting term for traditionally styled churches – podium churches.  I don’t want to beat the dead horse of traditonal vs non traditional churches specifically… I want to get to how the church is shaped in his context – what he  calls ‘table churches‘.

The home-based model for the first three centuries of church history was firmly rooted in the New Testament, where believers met, fellowshipped, shared communion and a meal together in each other’s homes. Interestingly, and contrary to our current male dominated “churches” where women are typically excluded from key roles, those home fellowships were often hosted by women such as Mark’s mom in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), Lydia in Philippi (Acts 16:15 & 40), and Priscilla in Ephesus and then Rome (Rom. 16:3-5 and 1 Cor. 16:19).

That’s the beginning of his context.  He mentions that Jesus himself orchestrated the home based model

Jesus himself established this pattern of home-oriented fellowship in Luke 10:1-11. He sent seventy disciples, two by two, to find houses of peace (likely headed by those who were not yet believers) to serve as focal points for bringing the Kingdom of God into a new town or village.

The author says that he focused this text – wrongly – on the disciples, but that the fulcrum was the homes of peace that the disciples were to use to operate from:

For too long, I wrongly focused in this passage on the disciples. After all, they were the ones sent out by Jesus himself and I thought they were the most important element for advancing God’s Kingdom. In reality, however, the key was those homes of peace, where hospitality and blessing could flow forth and draw people in. Absent such households, the disciples could do nothing and were commanded to shake the dust off their feet as they left for the next town.

Again, he says

I don’t think this focus by Jesus, Peter or Paul on using peaceful homes as the foundation for authentic fellowship, discipleship and church growth was an accident. It simply is not possible for people to feel the intimacy and security needed to open up, share with each other, develop their gifts, and minister one to another in larger, podium-focused meetings. Plus, homes of peace are the ideal setting for being the church, because the gift of hospitality naturally draws people in and fosters authentic relationships.

So how does he express the meeting of the believers? These are the points in his article that are expanded on:

New Testament churches typically met in homes where people shared communion and fellowship over a meal.

When New Testament Christians gathered together, they each were to come with something to contribute so they could minister one to another.

Table churches are not supplements or tack-on’s for podium churches. If anything, it should be the other way around!

Jesus told us to go out into the world to gather the harvest, and that’s what New Testament Christians did.

I will encourage you to read the article, but basically I will end with one more quote from this author:

Go! Find a household of peace or, if there are no households, then a person of peace — even if they are not yet believers. Bless them by asking what they need Jesus to do for them, then pray for them. If the Lord confirms his blessing by meeting them in their needs, you don’t have to “organize” things. They, instead, will call their friends and neighbors to come and share a meal at their house as they exclaim what the Lord has done for them. They will be excited and God will use their natural gift of hospitality and peace to attract people into the Kingdom.

From there, it’s easy — ask those who come (even if they are not yet Christians!) to share with each other what God is saying to them as he draws them to himself. They just sort of naturally become Christians without needing to be pushed!

In fact, I’m seeing on average about two to three people testify each week, sitting around various tables, that God met them over the prior week and they committed their lives to Jesus. Others in that fellowship will quickly come beside them to help them to find their own gifts, teach them to expect that God will continue to speak to them, and to lean that God will give them whatever is needed to minister one to another. Sometimes I jump in, but mostly I just sit back and watch ‘em take off!