In a charismatic church I attended a couple of weeks ago, the pastor asked this question: "Be completely honest. How many of you read your Bible on a daily basis?" Fewer than 5 hands went up.
Alarmed, I decided to ask the same question in a second church where I preached the following Sunday. Again, the same response - just 6 or 7 hands this time. I was amazed.
Not coincidentally, the same week I received Lifeway's "Facts and Trends" magazine in the mail. One of the articles contained this statistic: 66% of Christians (including Evangelical, Mainline and Black Protestant churches) believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life." Among Catholics, that statistic jumps to 79%.*
The Bible teaches that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life. " (John 14:6) No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. For a Christian, then, this belief in many roads leading to heaven is, quite simply, untenable. How did we get here?
No one was more skeptical of the supernatural than I. Raised in a world governed by the intellect, I was trained from an early age to focus on learning and self-development while rejecting emotionalism and spiritual “fanaticism.” Truth was limited to what could be discerned through science or the five physical senses alone.
In fact, when I finally discovered the Holy Spirit, the very first “label” my family put on me was that of a “fanatic.” Never mind that I hadn’t actually done anything worthy of that label yet; my confession of faith in the third person of the Trinity was enough to worry them!
“Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” -Philippians 2:12, NKJV
This week, I woke up early one morning to the unmistakable musing of the Holy Spirit. As I opened my eyes and peered into the darkness of our bedroom, I heard Him saying, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling!”
This seemed a strange sort of thought at first. Until I padded my way downstairs, where I could pray and write without disturbing anyone, I wasn’t sure why this fragment of a verse from Philippians 2 was reverberating in my spirit. It was as I sat with the Lord and listened further that He began to clarify…
Everyone struggles with some aspect of their life that doesn't measure up. We all feel inferior and inadequate at times. For me, the partial deafness I experienced since childhood was a "thorn in my flesh" that reminded me continually that I was less than perfect: damaged goods. And yet God turned this disability in the natural into an ability in the Spirit: I learned (from John 10:27) that everyone can hear God. Silence helped me focus better. It was my encounters with a God I could hear that changed me from being fearfully insecure to being full of "holy boldness."
Isaiah had a similar transformation in God's throne room. (Read Isaiah chapter 6 for the full story.) He moved from being "undone" in God's presence to saying, "Here I am, send me!" Insecurity, weakness and sin were all removed when a coal from the altar touched his lips.
Too often we want God to agree with us in prayer, when the real work of prayer is to agree with God! We see in scripture that we are to pray with “all kind of prayers and supplications,” and jump joyfully into prayer, asking God to agree with our human assessments of life’s difficult situations. Then we wonder why our prayers didn’t work. I know. I’ve done it!
Here are just a few of my not-so-fruitful prayers: “God, would you take that difficult person out of my life?” Or, “Can you please (I even said please!) get me out of this trial?” Or even better: “Make my children (wife, husband, etc) obey you!”
I’ve found that God is not interested in agreeing with my flesh. My human nature. Nor will he override someone’s free will to get them saved! While praying through our emotions can be cathartic (David did it in the Psalms), it’s not the most fruitful way to pray. So what really works?
It’s easy to be excited about prophetic words, especially when they promise growth, expansion, restoration, or blessing. The prophetic word I released at the beginning of 2017 contained all of those. God is speaking about Kingdom expansion in the coming year. Yet God also gave us a prophetic mandate to re-examine Nehemiah’s “growth strategies,” found in the scriptures. This post on discouragement is the first in a series I will write on combating the enemy’s attacks during a time of growth.
Encouragement is a rare commodity. Strife and division abound in today’s culture, so much so that it seems things have never been worse. Even within the church, we find sharp divisions between believers over politics, doctrine, gifts, and personalities. Despite our call to love one another, Christians often doesn’t look much different from the world.
If the lack of encouragement and unity makes you wish Jesus would simply come and rapture us now, you might be surprised to know that two of the most respected leaders in the early Christian church encountered the same problem, just a few years after Jesus walked the earth! The source of their division was a man named John Mark.
"The more you rely upon the Anointed One (Jesus) and His anointing in you, the more life you will impart to others through your creations."
This is what God whispered to me this week. He is looking for people who rely fully on Him as they live, work, minister and create things for Him. I believe He wants us to move beyond the quick prayers we send up at the beginning of our projects or events ("Bless this, Lord...") and move deeper into a place of total reliance on His Holy Spirit. Listen to what He shared in my prayer time:
Summertime and the living is… NOT always easy! If you’re a parent with kids, you know how *challenging* summers can be! Between long work hours for my hubby and an increasingly busy schedule feeding and caring for my family (think weekly sleepovers, the constant geographical shuttling of children to and fro, doctor’s appointments, and - oh – did I mention we are scraping AND painting the house ourselves in this heat wave?!), I was distracted from my usual routine and beginning to feel exhausted. And there’s still another month until the kids go back to school!
Thankfully, through the generosity of a friend, the children and I escaped to the mountains for a few days this week, bringing one of their friends along. Here, they could swim and play with less supervision on my part, and I could relax and perhaps write. The words of David in Psalm 119 came alive to me: “Revive me, Oh Lord!”
Studies show that only 1 in 5 Americans reads their Bible on a regular basis, even though 88% own a Bible.* If you're like most people, you want to connect with God - and even have what you need to do so - but life gets in the way. Distractions, necessities, and even emergencies pull you away from your scheduled time with God, and by the end of the day you feel frazzled, empty, and guilty. There's got to be a better way!
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It's here! Deborah's new Bible Study, How to Inherit Your Spiritual Promises: 5 Steps to Success, is now available on Amazon.com in Kindle and print formats. Click here to order!
At 24 years old, I embarked – alone - on a journey to Africa. Feeling frustrated with corporate America, I longed to dedicate myself to a more altruistic cause, especially one that benefited the Kingdom of God. Because I spoke fluent French, I chose to go to Niamey, the capital of Niger, to serve with a team of teachers and evangelists through Sudan Interior Missions. It was a life-changing decision, one that would launch me into full-time ministry when I returned.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.