The Simplicity of Abiding in Jesus

In January of 1989 a dream came to me from the Lord.

In the dream our children were walking single file through a deep canyon, and I was watching them from the plateau above as they slowly moved along.

Today in my mind, I can still see the cliffs and the well worn path winding through the large rocks that were scattered around the narrow bottom of the canyon.

Then with no prior hint of danger, a group of lions approached from behind and overcame the last child in the line. There was no gory struggle, just a sudden pounce. The canyon provided no protection and nowhere to hide, and it all happened too suddenly to avoid or stop.

Then the scene instantly changed. I saw one of our children sitting in a hospital bed and a word came to me from the Lord. The word was, “growing better day by day.” Then the dream ended.

I was startled awake, but everyone else was still asleep. I went immediately to the bedroom to lay hands on and pray for the child I had seen in the hospital bed. There was nothing else I could do, and in the months that followed, the dream was completely forgotten.

Then one day almost a year later, our eldest daughter complained of an ear ache, and within a very few days experienced severe swelling in her neck and cheek. After several hastily arranged visits to doctors and specialists the diagnosis was cancer, a very aggressive tumor in her jaw and ear, called a large celled lymphoma. Chemotherapy needed to start immediately.

My wife and I were stunned by the sudden news, to the point of speechlessness.

So we did the only thing we knew, we went to the Lord in prayer as soon as we arrived home from the hospital and put our children to bed. All we could say was, “God, we don’t know how to pray.” And that was sincere. We honestly did not know what to say.

It is amazing how tragedy reduces a person to nothing, but even more amazing how God reveals himself in that moment.

I only remember a few words being spoken in prayer that night when suddenly the Holy Spirit took over. My entire body snapped to attention and I was speaking in tongues in the most commanding tone I have ever experienced. This gift of tongues seemed to go on for about 15 minutes and the sense of power and assurance was remarkable. I do not know exactly how things transpired in the heavens, but firmly believe that our daughter’s healing was commanded by God that night.

Despite the power of that evening, we went through some very difficult days when our daughter’s life truly hung in the balance. But about one month into her treatment I remembered the dream from the Lord and the word he gave to me. We held onto that knowledge tightly, it led us in prayer, and in the end everything worked out exactly as God said it would.

For eight months we watched as our daughter grew better day by day, until there was not a trace of cancer left anywhere in her body. The medical attention she received was excellent, countless Christians prayed for her during that time, and today she is a strong, healthy person in a very robust profession.

God has miraculously preserved, protected, and healed her on many other occasions, and has also given her a wonderful hunger for righteousness. She’s had challenges like anyone else, but is now a living testimony of someone who loves God with all her heart, despite suffering inexplicably at a very young age through no fault of her own.

And this is the simplicity of abiding in Jesus.

We bring our uncertainty about the past and the future, our lack of understanding, our weakness, our tiny grain of faith, and our failures to him. And in exchange we receive his wealth of knowledge, his power, his great faithfulness, his triumph over every enemy, and his assurance that everything is alright.

No matter how long you have been a Christian, abiding in Jesus is a simple exchange of your corruption for his perfection. It is no more complicated than that. That’s how it was at the cross, and that’s how it still is today.

And if you do not know Jesus, all it takes is a simple prayer, because one step in his direction and he will make sure that you find him!

I don’t care what anyone has told you in the past, stop trying to solve your own problems. And even more importantly, stop striving to please God!

Simply look to Jesus in faith for every physical, emotional and spiritual need. If you truly want to please God, trust him fully by abandoning your life to him. Over and over God promises in his word, “I will plant you, I will nourish you, and I will ensure that you bear good fruit.” No obstacle is too stubborn and no circumstance is too grave. The Holy Spirit will deliver the goods to you when you pray in Jesus’ name.

Remember, Jesus was not afraid to be weak. In fact, the Son of God became a man and suffered all of our infirmities to prove that he is not hindered in any way by our weak estate. In the flesh, Jesus depended completely on the Holy Spirit. And now in glory, he is the one making sure we get the help and strength we need to follow his footsteps.

Do you see anywhere in the Bible where it says that he forged his own way? No you don’t, because Jesus committed his life into his Father’s hands and was led throughout his life by the Holy Spirit.

Yes, he was crucified in weakness. But then in return he was raised in power, glorified, and given the name above every other name.

According to Psalm 32, when we pray, confessing our sin and our need to the Lord, we will be forgiven and experience the same abiding presence of the Holy Spirit that Jesus experienced. And according to John 15:16, when we abide in Jesus as I have described, whatever we ask our Heavenly Father in Jesus’ name will be done for us.

So be very encouraged. God has you in the palm of his hand no matter how weak or unsure you may feel. Confess your need to him and he will do the rest!

He wants to heal, and deliver you today. Simply pray… Jesus is closer than you think.

Work Out Your Own Salvation

After six months in our new apartment, we needed to move again. This time God provided a house in the country. We lived there for about three years, but were not well off and only had one car. This left my wife alone with our children and no transportation while I worked very long hours away from home, often six days a week. They were not easy days for her, but she gave herself for our children, God blessed her in many amazing ways, and through it we learned that he is our portion.

I was young and not always wise, and our marriage was relatively new. Things did not always go smooth and we had many things to work on. But we prayed together constantly, even when we were upset with one another. We learned that in the Spirit it is impossible to accuse another at the throne of God. In the presence of God, one is literally caused to look inside oneself. This settled many issues that might have spun out of control.

We also submitted every decision about raising our children, dealing in business, or any issue we could not agree on, to the Word of God. In fact we did not consult any other source but the Bible for many years. We also learned the importance of digesting and knowing scripture in order to discern the safety and validity of other sources of information. Again, we were not always right, but because we threw away every “back-up plan” and depended on God completely, the Holy Spirit taught us. He truly made every crooked path straight.

God also began speaking to us about the idols in our hearts, and about the idols in our home. I remember my wife throwing a number of things out of our home after God showed them to her in prayer.

Eventually we started praying about our television, and we read where Jesus said that the light of the body is the eye (Matthew 6:22-23). In those days TV content was tame compared to now, but even then it was already clear that TV was being used to trick Christians into passively participating in murder, rape, divorce, homosexuality and every other act abominable to God.

Then one perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon, as I sat playing the piano with our eldest daughter on my lap, a single cloud in the sky with no rain in it came over our house. Lightening from that cloud struck our house so hard that it destroyed the tube in the TV set, and blew the telephone off the wall. About 20 minutes later, an electric utility service truck passed our house looking for damage to the power lines. We took that event as a cue from God and gladly disposed of that TV at the dump.

About ten years later, on another Saturday afternoon, we decided we were tired of the isolation, and took the family to pick out a new television. After purchasing and loading it into the car, we started to drive home. We did not proceed one mile before the fear of God came down so powerfully on every individual in the car that even our children were begging my wife and I to return the new TV to the store. The salesman looked at us a bit sideways when we told him God made us bring it back, but we were glad to get our money and leave it behind.

Some things God led us into seemed hard at the time, but we quickly saw the benefit, and today there are absolutely no regrets for having obeyed his voice.

Very difficult times were about to come to us. We made some mistakes (as we all do), and the enemy took advantage of that (as he always does), but eventually God helped us miraculously.

And we can say now, that God never once failed to go ahead of us. Other Christians were praying for us, and we got through it all because of the foundational lessons (and others besides) that I have described.

We stood on God’s word, it proved to be the Rock as promised, and today we’re so grateful.

God Is So Good.

What is Faith?

For a number of reasons I could not attend church until about three weeks after I was born again. By then I had read all four gospels and the Book of Acts in the New Testament. And when that Sunday morning arrived, I expected to see devils cast out and people being healed just like when Jesus and the apostles lived. On top of that I thought we would go home after church and pray all afternoon. I was really excited. I knew what God had done for me, and I could not wait to see him do the same for others.

But even though it is so clearly presented in the Bible, nothing like that happened at the church I attended that morning. I learned later that many Christians do not even believe that God performs miracles anymore. It’s difficult for me to reconcile that.

However God has never let my faith diminish. In fact my level of expectation has increased, and the more time I spend with him, the more the reality of God’s kingdom takes over in my heart and mind.

… I think that kind of faith needs to be explained.

The Bible describes faith as, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and this leads me to conclude that faith is a gift from God. How else can belief in the impossible be explained? How else could faith be described as ‘the substance?’ It is because the Eternal, Almighty God is the God who makes something from nothing… and that is the basis of faith. It has nothing to do with how strong we are, but has everything to do with the fact that the Holy Spirit has the ability to speak to the heart, and literally create faith in God.

There are many religious, mystical and moral disciplines that seek to govern the heart and mind, all claiming to bring peace, healing and order to their follower’s lives. They all require a type of faith and adherence to principles, but ultimately depend on the strength of the individuals that practice them. Have you ever been there? I have.

But Jesus taught that by seeking God, even the most undisciplined of us can find healing, peace and order in life.

First, when Jesus came to earth he demonstrated absolute command over nature, over disease, over demonic powers, and even over death, to prove that the kingdom of God exists and rules supremely. Then, when he left the earth, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit who is also called the Comforter, to “speak comfortably” to everyone that would decide to follow him.

Now the name Comforter, as it is used in the Bible, is perhaps the most beautiful word in all of the English language, because it describes the Holy Spirit’s unique ability to speak to the heart. Our tie to God is portrayed as a relationship of love, like a very tender marriage, and especially the prophet Hosea (Hosea 2:14-16) describes how God lovingly courts his ‘bride’, speaking “comfortably” or ‘to the heart’ of his people. And that literally means that the Holy Spirit tells us how much God loves us, and creates faith and love in our hearts and minds!

We all say that love is the greatest power in the universe, and we all know that we need more of it. We also know intuitively that love could solve every one of mankind’s individual and corporate problems. And when we say that, we are speaking truth and (whether we realize it or not) talking about the kingdom of God. But healing will never happen until we turn to God, because only the Comforter can create the love we need in our hearts.

So I ask you. Why would anyone refuse God’s offer of wholeness and conclude that faith in Jesus is foolish?

I honestly do not know.

Do you?