This week, as we Bostonians celebrate Patriot’s Day and the Boston Marathon, I hear the Lord speaking about the spiritual races we are running. He’s saying:
Click to watch the 2017 Prophetic Update on You Tube!
(To view or print a copy of the original Prophetic Word for 2017, please click here.)
To believe God for greater things requires that we know God in greater ways. Asking boldly in prayer means we must move beyond superficiality. God's compassion is stirred by those who attend to Him daily, listening to His words and seeking His face. God is looking for deep friendship with His people, and for those friends, He has great promises. Here are some of the promises He is making for this season.
God said something unusual to me in a quiet time this week. He said: “Unusual miracles will happen when the church at large begins releasing people to do unusual things.”
"Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them." (Acts 19:11, NKJV)
We are living in a time of great acceleration. In speaking about the coming New Year, God reminded me of scriptures from Amos 9:13, Leviticus 26:5, and Joel 3:18. Through both scripture and some amazing practical confirmations, He is revealing that 2017 is to be a year when “the plowman overtakes the reaper.” Scarcely will your seed be sown before you see the harvest from it! You will have a thought in your heart and almost immediately see the provision of the Lord for it.
In prayer this week, I felt the Lord's desire to know His people - really know us, intimately. Sometimes we think this isn't possible because it seems so hard to hear Him. Into this difficulty, God desires to speak hope, because from His perspective, things look VERY different! The following words are what He gave me to share with you.
Malachi 3 contains a wonderful promise of abundant blessing for those who "bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house." (Malachi 3:10, NKJV.) Israel (in context) and the church of God (by extension) are promised that the windows of heaven will open and there will not be enough room to contain the blessing God gives us economically. I know this to be true, and have seen God bless me personally as He has changed me from tightwad to tither! (You can read some of my financial testimonies here.)
As I prayed recently, I saw in the Spirit a sleeping army, like an army of dry bones in the valley (Ezekiel 37:1-14). I believe I heard the Lord say, “It is time to wake up those who sleep, to activate those who slumber.” I felt His desire to reassure you of His friendship with you. He wants to call forth creative abilities in the Spirit!
God is calling forth latent creative gifts within you and calling you to come to the forefront. It is time for a great army of creative worshipers to arise like dry bones out of the valley. God is going to cause the brittle and broken dryness of your lives to disappear, and to be rubbed with a salve that takes away all pain. Those who cannot see or envision what God is doing will have their eyesight restored. Those who need creative input will receive anointed ideas, not just techniques, to impart LIFE.
Sometimes God hands us a spiritual “Key:” a sign or token of our mastery of a gift we have or a role we play in the Kingdom of God. For example, you might realize, as I did one day, that worship is your key to the throne room, and that when you praise Him you find breakthrough, peace, and renewal. Our strategies for the future come from this place, and our function within His Kingdom is often tied to this key. When we “turn the key” by using this gifting, others are mysteriously drawn to us, and enter into the Presence of God along with us.
Growing up, I remember my parents repeating the phrase, "Knowledge is power." My mother insisted I get a college education because she never had one. My father was a well-educated Wharton grad who ran the family business. My grandmother used to corner me at unsuspecting times and tell me I should become a teacher, so that I'd always have something to fall back on if things "didn't work out." In our family, knowledge was VERY important; it seemed so essential to survival!
In the family of God, I've found that knowledge is still seen as power. We Christians relentlessly educate ourselves in the things of God: through conferences, seminars, books, degrees, and videos. We are thirsty for understanding, especially for the knowledge of what God might be saying about us. We don't want to miss anything!
God speaks in the most unusual and unexpected ways! Sometimes we dream, and a person in our dream imparts wisdom to us. We don’t realize until we wake that it was Jesus, and we wish we had known it was Him at the time!
Sometimes, He shows up in human form, in a conversation that leaves a mark on our minds and causes us to realize something deeper or receive something we need.
And sometimes, He speaks from the mouths of babes…
"It is time! It is time! It is time to rise up and fly! The season of flight is upon you, to stretch your wings and fly. In flight you will gain a new perspective, one you were always intended to have. You started on the ground but you'll end in the air! You begin in the flesh but you soar in the Spirit. Rise up, rise up my dove, and come away with Me into realms of the Spirit previously unknown to you.
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!
This week, instead of my usual blog post, the Lord asked me to share a special announcement with you concerning this ministry. Please indulge me as I try to sum up in a short letter what God has been saying in the past few weeks! I believe this vision will inspire you - and perhaps confirm some things He might be saying to you, as well.
In prayer this morning I heard the Lord say, “Your victory does not lie in your defense but in your offense.” He followed this with a prophetic word (below) that will encourage you to resist the temptation to trust in your defenses and instead, to advance with Him in a victorious offense!
Here is an encouraging word I received from the Lord this month for "Kingdom Creatives" - those who sing, write, dance, craft, paint, build, and worship creatively in the Kingdom of God, especially those who are venturing into new artistic endeavors. For a second, related word on creativity, click here.
I had a dream this morning in which the Lord revealed two strategies of the enemy that keep His people from entering a place of intimacy with Him. At the same time, God released two prophetic revelations for breaking these strategies: scriptural keys that to help overturn demonic plans.
In the dream, I saw people being drawn down into the depths of a medieval fortress. Everything in the dream resembled the dark ages. I saw a damp cobblestone street that led into a dreary, medieval town. On either side of the street was a walled fortress, like a long, low palace that seemed to extend forever. The scene reminded me of a rainy day in medieval England: dismal, dreary, and dark.
The fortress, or castle, bore no resemblance to the kind of fairy-tale castles our children dream of. It had only low spires and was made of cold, grey stone. It did not have the height of a picturesque castle, either, being only one or maybe two stories high, and extending lengthwise through the town instead of vertically to the sky. Inside the fortress were dozens of rooms, each laid out next to the other. The rooms were unfurnished, no more than cold stone “compartments” in which to hold people. The entire city was sunken into a valley and seemed to descend lower and lower as I walked along the street.
In the beginning, I saw women dressed in neutral-colored medieval gowns, all with long, thick hair. Their hair was the only glorious thing about them, and I noticed the different colors and textures of each woman’s hair, which they all wore long. The women would come from a slight elevation to the right of the town, and descend into the street by the fortress.
But when they reached the town, I saw from behind them that their hair had been chopped short, and they were sick – so sick as to be vomiting in the street. I was told by a voice in the dream that if they did not keep moving, they would become deathly sick. And so the rooms of the fortress were filled with those who could not move forward any longer, who were sick and dying in that cold, damp place.
The enemy lives in an evil realm full of captives. He wants to cause us to exchange our glory for a lie, to live in the “dark ages” of a past from which we have been set free. One of the ways he holds us captive is through sickness and disease. The women I saw were bent over in pain and weakness, vomiting out their insides. There seemed to be no cause for this; it was simply the atmosphere into which they had entered, the defining characteristic of this evil place.
Thankfully, there was a second segment to my dream! An unknown but beautiful woman in the deepest part of the town chose to say that she wanted to leave the dark place. Having made her decision, she was instantly granted her wish. I was amazed: the enemy did not contest her decision, but rather, allowed it.
Instantly, from the air above and to my right, an invisible angel – a supernatural being – brought her a table and three chairs, all gleaming a transparent white, and set them on the side of a hill in front of me, just above the street. The hill, amazingly, was a patch of vibrant green grass, and the woman, now dressed in a pure-white gown, sat in one of the chairs to the left.
Facing her, I saw that even as her wish had been granted and she now had the ability to enter purer heavenly realms, the voice of the enemy was still speaking to her. She was told by the voice that she could leave, as long as she promised to “stay busy” in the Kingdom of light which she was entering. I knew that although she would enter into a better place with God, she would now be driven to distraction by the agreement she would make with the enemy to “stay busy.”
The dream ended here, but the Holy Spirit woke me with revelation. In medieval imagery, the Lord highlighted the difference between two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light.
The First Strategy and its Corresponding Revelation
It is the enemy’s desire to keep us in the dark ages, and one of the primary ways he does this is by keeping us sick. In fact, as the dream shows, sickness of soul or body is one of the enemy’s signature strategies. Its only end is death, and it is one way he robs us of the glory God gave us in the beginning. Sickness transforms us into captives, and will eventually lock us, cold, shivering, and alone, into the very cell-walls of his fortress. I saw many people trapped here because they had not continued to move past the demonic doctrine of sickness into the heavenly doctrine of healing.
Yet there was one who had escaped: the woman who with her words chose to say she wanted “out.” Joshua 24:15 is the heavenly key that unlocks demonic fortresses and releases us into supernatural realms: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
God has given us free will, or the ability to choose whom we serve. The first revelation we need is this: just as God honors our free will, so the enemy cannot remove our ability to choose.
The moment we choose life, angels are released to assist us. The table I saw represented a place of rest and covenant in the Trinity (three chairs). The Lord sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies, and causes us to rest in green pastures. (Psalm 23). And although this place of peace should be the happy end of our dreams, it is not.
The Second Strategy and its Revelation
The second strategy of the enemy is deception. For the enemy can still speak to us, even as we sit at table with the Lord. Until He comes, we will always be “in the presence of our enemies” (Psalm 23:5).
The second revelation is that we must choose NOT to enter into demonic agreements while we are seated at the Lord’s table.
While I rejoiced that the woman had sat down, clothed in white, with her long hair restored and her hope renewed, I saw also that her eyes were still turned toward the dark city. Her right hand was extended towards the voice. She was still listening to the voice, believing the lie that she must serve endlessly, tirelessly, in this new Kingdom she entered. In fact, she believed that the only way she would escape the darkness is if she made this covenant to work for her salvation. God’s intention is to bless, but the devil’s goal is to stress and oppress.
Historically, we see that the church has progressed along this same path. We left the dark ages through Luther’s Reformation and entered into a glorious new understanding of the accessibility of the Kingdom of Light. But we also maintained covenants with the enemy to “keep moving,” to earn our salvation, to stay busy and distracted, so that we would be prevented from enjoying the intimacy of the table God has prepared for us. Like Martha, instead of eating the meal, we are serving it.
I believe the deception of a “works” mentality is still affecting the Body of Christ, keeping His Bride from entering into the relationship of intimacy she should. True service flows out of a place of rest and fellowship with God. It is not the way into intimacy, but rather, an outgrowth of it.
An Appeal for Change
If you have made a covenant with the enemy to serve stressfully or endlessly in the Kingdom of God, I urge you to renounce that agreement today. Service is not your ticket to heaven, nor is a works mentality your guarantee of good standing with God. You are called to be the Bride of Christ, not His slave.
Your decision to choose Christ, to serve Him, is a marriage vow. As it was for the woman in my dream, the moment you choose God, all of heaven is released to usher you out of the demonic realm and into the Kingdom of Light. Your transference is immediate. The enemy does not have the power to stop you from choosing your deliverance. But he will continue to tempt you and try to enslave you with your own words of agreement to a lifetime of hard labor in a Kingdom that is known for freedom and rest, not slavery.
I urge you to renounce the slavery of a works mentality today, and to sit down at the table He has prepared for you. Spend all the time you need in fellowship with Him. Eat as much as will satiate your hunger for spiritual things. We need far more nourishment at His table than we allow. Enjoy the feast He has invited you to! It is a feast of intimacy and knowledge of Him! (See John 6:35)
Then, when you are full, you will have all the energy and stamina you need to get up and go out again. At His request, you will invite others to come to the table with you. You will serve joyfully, not under compulsion, so that others can enjoy Him, too.
Your seat is reserved for you. There is a placecard with your name on it, waiting. You have only to choose. Are you coming to the feast?
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions.
My husband and I attended a wake this week for a young man who died in the prime of his life after a long struggle with addiction. He leaves behind a wife, two brothers, and parents who are also struggling, with questions like: “Why? Why him and not me, Lord?” Despite a wonderful show of support from family and friends, the situation is heartbreaking. No one should have to lose a child, and no words can touch that kind of pain.
I took a walk yesterday after visiting the boy’s family. Although I have known his parents for many years, I had met the boy only once, in their church. On that day, the Lord had given me a prophetic word for him, which I shared with his mother and then with him personally. At the time, I did not know the extent of what he was going through.
The wonderful thing about prophecy is that no matter how rough life is at the time, a word from God almost always conveys hope. I felt the love of God for this boy and knew that God envisioned good things for him – saw him as complete, competent, and strong in Him.
It is hard not to get excited about prophetic words when they come; they are like Jeremiah 29:11 in living color, with specific and personal applications for us. We feel God’s pleasure; we know that He is unquestionably for us. It is like the feeling we have when a teacher gives us a good grade on a test, tells us he believes in us, that we will become something great someday. Something in our soul responds deeply to this kind of encouragement, longs to become that wonderful person that has been described; could that really be me, we wonder?
I and this boy’s family believed that what was prophesied to him could really be him. That he could overcome the challenges he faced and turn his life around for the better. I know that his mother has stood her ground spiritually and prayed that word over him for many years since. In fact, when I saw his mother a few weeks ago, she told me how much she had appreciated the word I gave her son, and that she was still believing for those good things God had promised to manifest in her son’s life. Her words greatly encouraged me.
But he died.
And as I walked, I couldn’t help but ask God, “Why?” Why, when parents who are prayer warriors have battled courageously, do children still fall? Why, when a powerful word is given, do we miss it? Why, when we do wage warfare with the prophecies we are given, do we still sometimes suffer defeat?
This is what He said: “Prophecy is not a guarantee; it’s an opportunity.”
In other words, when God releases a prophetic word to you, it’s an open door. He lets you take a look at your future from His perspective, and promises that if you walk through that door with Him, He will do everything in His power to back His words to you. There are some things He will do, and there are some things we must do. It’s a bit like the cutting of a covenant: each party has responsibilities to fulfill. When you receive a word, you must ask: what is God's part? What is my part?
There are prophetic words for all of us in scripture (See Exodus 19:6 and Revelation 1:6), and there are personal prophecies that we receive through His people as we walk with Him. All are meant to encourage, exhort, and edify us – to help us envision a life of peace and fruitfulness when we do what He is doing. (See John 5:19).
Words of correction and direction may also come, with the intended goal of getting us back on track spiritually - always for our good. (For example, Jonah’s prophetic warning to Nineveh didn’t sound very encouraging on the surface. But it resulted in repentance. God’s heart is always for relationship, not destruction.)
However, most prophecies are not guarantees. They are conditional, based upon our acceptance of them by faith and by our willingness to yield or to seize the opportunities we’ve been given. I believe many of us are quick to accept prophetic words by faith – we even run after prophetically gifted people to get them – but not all of us act on them. Just as faith without works is dead, so prophecy without action becomes a missed opportunity. We have a part to play.
Though we pray, prophesy, disciple, give, and encourage others, the one thing we can never do is take away their right to choose, to make their own decisions based on the promises they are given. Sometimes people choose not to walk with God. Sometimes they walk with God, yet don’t take the steps needed to walk into the better future He invites them to experience while they are here on earth. This is a hard thing to watch from the sidelines, like a dropped catch on the football field or a wrong note in a concert. We cringe inside, we wish it had been different, we wish we could go out and “catch” the ball for them, run the touchdown, correct the mistake.
But we can’t.
In the end, I must both believe and act on what I receive. This is the way the Kingdom of God operates.
Overcoming our own fears, weaknesses, anxieties, or addictions is not an easy task. We need each other more than we care to admit. We need the encouragement that comes through the prophetic gifts, the pastoral gifts, the counseling, teaching and discernment gifts, and all of the other wonderful gifts God has made manifest in His Body. We need each other because without that encouragement, we do make wrong choices sometimes.
We’re at war, a war so evil and intense that precious lives are lost along the way. The enemy meant for me to be discouraged when things didn’t go the way I had hoped for this young man. He meant to quench my hope, to make me doubt God and question His wisdom. But he only strengthened my resolve. I cannot choose for another person what he should do. But the losses challenge me to encourage more, to prophesy more, and to pray more, because I see that our resolve must at least match that of the enemy’s. We must remain as committed to life and hope as he is to death and despair.
We serve a great God whose plan is unfathomable, whose Kingdom is eternal. In Him, nothing is lost, nothing is wasted. We will see this young man again in heaven. We celebrate all the ways he did acknowledge God. And we will pray, prophesy, disciple, love, and encourage as many others as God leads to us, in the hope that they will choose to accept their prophetic destinies and live the fruitful lives God is calling them to. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions.
Deborah Perkins is passionate about connecting others with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at His Inscriptions. To subscribe to her free weekly blog, click here.
My spiritual mother has a favorite maxim for raising children: "Do what's important to them at the time." When you invest in what's important to your children at different stages in their lives, they come to know the love you have for them. We have a Father who parents us this way, too. What's important to us is always important to Him, because His goal is always to show us how much He loves us. I pray these tender words from our heavenly Father will lead you deeply into His Presence.
Enter In! Enter in to the fellowship of the gospel! It is fellowship with Me that you seek above all, and it is fellowship with you that I desire. My heart is satisfied in your presence just as yours is satisfied in Mine. A Father delights in being with his children, because they are a reflection of who he is. His children bring him joy each time they come. To see their faces, to kiss their cheeks, this is how I feel about you, child. No one understands you better than Me, because I made you. I spend time with you. I know you intimately, and you do not challenge or threaten me. I am bigger than you are - stronger - ready to handle whatever you throw My way! Even your accusations fall short of Me, for I know what is truly in your heart, says the Lord. Do not be afraid to enter in to My Presence. All the way has been cleared. My schedule is free. My arms are open. There is nothing more important on my agenda than to meet with you. In fact, I don't have an agenda when it comes to you. My goal for you is to make you know the depth of My love, at any and all cost. When you change direction, I will follow you, overtake you, restore you. You cannot escape from the love of this Father! My heart is open wide to you, completely free, completely at peace. You have nothing to fear in My love. Enter in, child - enter in.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions
One of the benefits of walking with Jesus through this life is that we gain the advantage of perspective. My husband likes to picture it this way: imagine that you are walking along the “timeline” of life: a horizontal line with both a starting and ending point. The starting point would be Genesis and the ending point, of course, is the end of time, as pictured in Revelation.
God, however, lives outside of time. He is the Creator of it, yet is not bound by it. Picture God as residing somewhere above our imaginary timeline, seated on His throne, and able to see both beginning and end at once because of His “omniscient” position.
When we connect with God as believers, our spirits are no longer bound by time or distance because of the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit within us. God steps into our world through the Spirit who now dwells within us. The distance between us and God has been eradicated, and God now walks with us. He enters time.
Yet we also have the ability to ascend, in the Spirit, to a place that is outside of time. The Bible says that in Christ, we, too, are “seated in heavenly places,” and from this new position, we gain God’s perspective. (See Ephesians 2:6). It might be likened to the view the astronauts have when they soar into space and see the earth from afar.
Suddenly, we can see the “big picture.” The puzzle of life now has shape, definition, and form. We see how it all fits together, how it really looks.
A Prophetic Example
Seeing the big picture, however, has both blessings and pitfalls. In this highly connected digital age, it is easier than ever to see the big picture. And on a personal level, our newly-acquired perspective sometimes confuses us.
Suddenly, we are overwhelmed by the needs we see – the gaps in the “ministry” puzzle which so obviously need to be filled. There is no way that one believer can meet all the demands of the worthy ministries we come into contact with. Where are the laborers, we ask? Should I be stepping in to fill this gap? Many pieces of the puzzle seem to be lost or missing. Leaders, especially, can be tempted to yield frantically to the search for missing pieces in a valiant attempt to complete the puzzle.
Just as God expands our vision prophetically to release strategies for Kingdom growth, so the enemy tries to stretch us to capacity as we seek to fill ministry needs we are not called to fill. Whether at a local or a national level, we are forced to see that there are gaps (still!), and also that we cannot possibly fill them ourselves.
Fortunately, this is a good place for us to land. Our new perspective shows us both the greatness of the mission task and our utter inability to fulfill it alone. The solution, as always, is to do things God’s way: to ask Him for His strategies, so that others might be enabled to find their places in the big picture, too.
A jigsaw puzzle must be completed piece by piece, in a certain order, before the placement of certain sections will be revealed. Without connecting preliminary pieces, it will not be known how others are to fit in. Only God can show us what’s next and where we belong.
Many of us have prayed, “Lord, show me where I fit in. Show me which piece of the puzzle I am. Should I be in this section, or that one? Am I at the top or the bottom? Where are the pieces I should be connecting to?”
I prayed a similar prayer not too long ago. Faced with mounting pressure from ministry needs and gaps I could see in the divine puzzle, I felt confused. There were simply too many needs for me to fill - needs I could fill and had even been prepared for – in other words, too many viable options. Like a puzzle piece suspended over a work in progress, I couldn’t see where I should fit at the time. God’s answer surprised me.
“Despite how you may feel,” He said, “you have already been placed within my Kingdom puzzle. I have divinely ordained the place where you live and the Body you are a part of. Based upon your true colors and your personal design, you have been set into a section of My puzzle where you can snugly connect with others around you. You have only to reach out and explore those connections. Like interlocking tabs and slots, you are made to work with those around you, holding larger sections of the puzzle together. Start where you are locally and your reach will extend globally.”
It can be tempting to try to “fit in” somewhere that we don’t belong – somewhere He has not created us to be. Even more so when the gaps seem overwhelming and the needs pressing. By all means, meet the needs you can meet. Reach those within your reach. But don’t allow the enemy to use the perspective you gain to pull you out of your God-given position in His overall plan.
What, then, of all the gaps in ministry? Jesus recognized them, too. Even as a man like us, walking our timeline, He saw the big picture. The fields are white for harvest, He said. Pray for laborers to be sent out. (See John 4:35; Luke 10:2).
Perspective should be met with prayer. When we pray, the hand of God moves ever more swiftly to scoop up the next pieces of the puzzle, setting them carefully into place. The gaps will close, and the image will be clear. The picture we are completing is the image of His glory. And the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. (See Habakkuk 2:14).
c.DeborahPerkins / His Inscriptions
Followers of Jesus have a unique dilemma. From the time of Christ’s resurrection until now, all we have to lead us are words. By words, I mean the words God has spoken to us, whether in Scripture, prophetically, or in the quiet places of our hearts. We follow Him on the basis of His Word, taken on faith, and this can be a challenging task.
After all, it is rare that God speaks in an audible voice. He is invisible to us, yet we see Him with the eyes of our hearts. He hosts no seminars and posts no YouTube videos, and yet we hear Him. When we are looking for detailed directions, His words to us might seem primitive or inadequate, too small to do us any real good in our complicated world. Why doesn’t He just tell us what to do, or how to get there?
Words are Seeds
The answer lies in a simple analogy, one that Jesus often used to help His disciples understand Him. Words are seeds. When we come to God seeking direction, He gives us what we could call a “packet" of seeds. On this packet is a picture of the finished product, with perhaps a simple description of how to plant the seeds and what the growing time might be for our location.
The seeds might represent a specific promise for our future, or a vision of the provision He intends to supply. They might be a picture of what our “promised land” will look like. It is rare that God gives us a finished garden in bloom in answer to our prayers. He’s much more likely to give us a seed starter pack and ask us to do the sowing (with Adam and Eve as the obvious exception!)
Our seed packet might come in the form of a strong desire of the heart that doesn’t go away over time, a specific scripture promise, or a prophecy. It might be a missionary call or a ministry focus. In most cases, others will confirm that they, too, can “see” the type of seeds God has given us. Biblically, it’s a good thing to ask God to confirm our gifts and callings through others. It helps us to stay focused on our personal harvest.
A seed will not take root until it is sown. How do we sow word-seeds? With our prayers and our confessions of faith. We agree that the word we have heard is good, and ask God to bring it to pass. We keep speaking in faith ("I'm growing tomatoes this year!") until we see our harvest appear.
This agricultural principle is easily understood, yet many of us feel silly "speaking faith" concerning spiritual things when we don't see immediate results. We misinterpret delay as failure, when all the while our seeds are secretly taking root underground. If we watered them faithfully instead, we would be much more productive! We must learn to apply the eternal law of sowing and reaping to our spiritual lives. (See Genesis 8:22 for confirmation).
As Bible believers, we have only seeds – or words – to go on. We are all called to be sowers, waterers, and harvesters of His Word at different times. But in all cases, we must act on what we’ve been given, and work as gardeners do to reap our harvest or cultivate our soil.
This is an obvious pattern in Scripture, and yet when it comes to our own lives, we struggle. When we see only the same dirt that was in front of us before, we abandon the garden in disgust and blame the seed for its imperfection. We lack the patience and shun the toil of the gardener.
Our Hearts are Soil
While the seed packet tells us what the seeds need, it doesn’t tell us anything about the condition of our soil. God gives us something to sow, and leaves the rest in our hands. He expects us to know the condition of our hearts, our circumstances, and all the environmental concerns unique to us. He expects us to fight off the diseases and pests that threaten to destroy our crops. He expects us to gather in the harvest instead of leaving it to wither on the vine.
Gardens, like people, require time and attention to flourish. When all we have are words from God, we must be careful not to despise the dirt that lies directly in front of us. It’s the “dirt” of our lives that must be dug up, weeded, and cultivated before the seeds can be sown to make that garden. Even a heart full of good soil requires constant amelioration through repentance, forgiveness, and healing. If we skip these steps and abandon the work, we will only end up admiring others’ gardens and never growing our own.
God may call us to till someone else’s garden for a time, to teach us how to garden ourselves. But it is my firm belief that God has unique promises for each one of us that cannot be realized until we tend to them ourselves. God gives us each the types of seeds we are capable of growing.
The Words (or seeds) God gives His people always work. They are heirloom seeds: uncontaminated and having unlimited reproductive potential. Some of us are called to grow fruit trees, others herbs, others still will grow vegetables. Each of us is unique in our Kingdom purpose. Whatever we invest in is for the nourishment of ourselves and those around us.
Once we take the steps of digging up our soil, sowing the seeds, and keeping our garden free of weeds, God shows us what to do next. Our seedlings grow, taking on visible shape and form. When we need it, God supplies us with divine “Miracle-Gro:” ™ fresh words of direction or instruction to care for the garden we are creating. Through patient work and renewed understanding, we inherit the promises we first saw on our seed packets.
I pray that when all you have are words, you’ll recognize the incredible gift you’ve been given by God. That you’ll see His words as precious, heirloom seeds with the ability to reproduce and bear fruit. Along with that gift, I pray you’ll take to heart the promise God gave Jeremiah: “You have seen well, for I am watching over My Word, to perform it.” (Jeremiah 1:12, NASB). If you accept the challenge of sowing God’s words into good soil, you’re guaranteed to reap a mighty harvest!
c. DeborahPerkins / His Inscriptions
Just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you're fearless.
In fact, God tells us not to fear roughly 365 times in the Bible. That's once for every day of the year! Sure, there are some amazing examples of fearless faith out there, from the spies who entered the Promised Land to present-day martyrs facing ISIS. But most of us, even on a good day, battle fear in one form or another.
We know that fear is part of the curse (see Leviticus 26:36-37 for an example), and God gives us the ability to overcome our personal fears. But what of the larger-scale fears, the things that threaten to undo not just us, but our communities, our nation, and our world? These things are on the rise as Satan propels the battle between good and evil to a climax.
Luke records Jesus's words, saying that men's hearts will fail them "from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth." (Luke 21:26) Earthquakes, diseases, and famines will be the norm. He says the end times will be full of "fearful sights and great signs from heaven." (Luke 21:11).
Those words don't seem very comforting at first glance. Many Christians avoid the end-time prophecies in the Bible, not just because they don't understand them, but because they seem full of "doom and gloom" for a people who should be continually filled with joy and peace!
I believe that every word Jesus spoke is still relevant to us today. And as I began to study fear as it relates to current events, I realized that these end-time prophecies are a critical key for us as we overcome our fears about what lies ahead. The reason? A known enemy is easier to defeat than an unknown one.
The Genius of Jesus
Most of our fears are irrational, drawing their power from our emotions rather than the facts in front of us. Those of us who have been hurt in certain areas are predisposed to fears in the areas where we were wounded.
I once was horrified to find a drug addict hiding behind his shower curtain, in an apartment a realtor intended to rent to me. For a while after that incident, every time I opened a shower curtain, I did so with trepidation! Statistically, the likelihood of that ever happening again was extremely low. But the fears persisted until I dealt with them.
The genius of Jesus is that He prepares us ahead of time for what is to come. The power of the fear I had about the man in the shower came largely from the element of surprise. What you don't expect alarms you far more than what you can foresee. This is why we prepare a child, for instance, by telling him that the shot at the doctor's will hurt, but only for a minute. We want him to know how it will end and assure him that he will be safe.
In the same way, Jesus tells us that the end times are going to be difficult, but only for a while. He takes great pains to give us details about the tribulations and about what He expects from us as we face them. He gives us specific things to do that will help us feel more peaceful during a chaotic time. Click here for a free, printable download: "10 Things Jesus Wants You to Do in the End Times."
Perfect Love Drives Out Fear
Apart from the wisdom of God, we also have the love of God to help us overcome fear. 1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with torment, or punishment. In the end times, only those who are living apart from God's ways will face punishment. I know from experience that when we pray and ask God for more of His love, He is eager to comply!
So overcoming fear is a two-pronged approach. We need both the wisdom of God found in Scripture and the experiential knowledge of the love of God in our hearts. Isaiah clarifies this beautifully: "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation." (Isaiah 33:6).
Your testimony of God's love, combined with the strategic wisdom He gives you through His Word, will cause you to overcome any fears you might have about the end times. It will keep you stable when the world is falling apart. Instead of running from Goliath, as the Israelites did, you'll stand and slay your Goliath like David did. You'll be fearless in the face of fear.
c. Deborah Perkins, His Inscriptions.com. All Bible references NKJV unless noted.
"It is not My will that man be governed solely by the voice of man. Throughout Scripture I have governed man's actions, and I intend for that to continue. But the traditions of men remove Me from governance, requiring My people to adhere to rules instead of My voice. This is dangerous. Not only does this practice obliterate any direction My Spirit is giving, but this also causes a dependence on man and his structures that is unhealthy.
Sound - the very idea of it - has always fascinated me. I grew up not knowing there were certain sounds, like the sound of birds, or machines, or the tick-tock of a clock. I heard only in part, because of deafness. Childhood nerve damage to my ears left me hearing only the loudest of noises, or those closest in proximity to me. I did not know that some sounds even existed until, in fourth grade, I was given hearing aids.
The shock of sound alarmed me beyond belief. The moment an audiologist turned up the volume for me, I screamed. Suddenly, there was sound, and a lot of it! An air conditioner outside the window, humming noisily, made me jump out of the chair I was sitting in. I remember thinking it was the hum of an aircraft invasion! Refrigerators make noise - did you know that? And birds, mice, all of God's creation has something to say - if you can hear it.
Heaven is like this, too. Not to alarm us, of course, but heaven is a noisy place! John gives us amazing descriptions of the sounds of heaven in Revelation. As one deeply intimate with the Lord, John was given access to sights and sounds that most humans will never see or hear. And it all started with sound.
Look at the first Pentecost. The disciples (including John) were gathered in an upper room, waiting for a promised encounter with God. Acts 2 says that "Suddenly, there came a SOUND from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting." (Acts 2:2). I am certain that the noise of this whirlwind made at least some of the disciples jump out of their seats, as I did when I could first hear! These believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak "as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4) What a powerful initiation to hearing the sounds of heaven!
Sound Begets Speech
From the moment the Holy Spirit opened the ears of the disciples, He also inspired them to speak the gospel. The Holy Spirit, whose job it is to amplify the sounds of heaven in our ears, filled the first believers with language, not just hearing, so that thousands of others heard about God in their own languages and became believers themselves. The amplification of the sounds of heaven brought the multiplication of men into the Kingdom of God.
And so it still is with us today. If you are listening, you will also be speaking. And speaking - telling others the Good News of the Gospel - is the primary call and commission of every believer. (See Matthew 28:18).
But the reverse is also true: if we are NOT listening, we will not be hearing either. If we do not hear the Words of God, we will not be saved. If believers do not listen daily for the sounds of heaven, those specific and personal instructions He wants to give us, we will not be led by the Spirit. And if we don't know where we are supposed to be or what He wants us to be doing, we will not be living and sharing the testimonies He wants to give us, which will lead others to hear more about Him.
How then shall they believe in Him of whom
What does heaven sound like? John's experience with the incredible sounds and sights of heaven began with the sound of a trumpet: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying: I am the Alpha and the Omega...write what you see in a book and send it to the churches..." (Revelation 1:10-11) This would be the first of over 20 times John would hear loud voices, thunderings, earthquakes, music, loud cries of angels, harps, and worship.
In contrast, only once are we told (in Revelation 8) that "there was silence in heaven for about half an hour." (Revelation 8:1). This coincided with the opening of the seventh seal. (Seven is the number biblically connected with rest and sabbaths).
The noises and voices John hears take him successively higher in the heavenly realm, until at last he is able to see the Bride of Christ and the New Jerusalem, the final destiny of all believers. Yet even in his first glimpse of the throne of God, John writes that "...from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings and voices." (Rev 4:5) The seven Spirits of God were burning like lamps before the throne. He also sees living creatures and elders worshiping day and night, speaking of the holiness of God. Their praise never ceases; they do not rest.
What can we gain from this? The knowledge that the closer we get to the throne of God, the more constant our speaking will be. The Spirit of God mysteriously abides both within us and near to the throne. What He hears, He speaks to us. What we hear, we then speak, preach, prophesy, and sing. As we draw as near to God as we can, we will be compelled, as these elders are, to speak of Him constantly, to worship Him 24/7, and to yield to the inspiration of the Spirit within us.
Jesus cried aloud when He gave up His Spirit and when He summoned Lazarus from the tomb. Angels cry loudly and trumpet the proclamations of God. Man cries out in his prayers of distress or decree. All are normal responses to the pneuma, or the breath, of the Spirit of God in us. Hearing from God compels us to speak. Sharing what we hear will cause others to hear Him also.
Hearing and speech are intricately linked in both the natural and spiritual realms. Don't let a deaf and dumb spirit silence you. Listen for the loud sounds of heaven, and then speak in such a way that you'll compel others to hear heaven, too.
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes
Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
~ Isaiah 62:7
…I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel
The apostle Paul is, next to Jesus, probably the most respected and influential leader in the New Testament. He has an almost superhuman status within the Christian faith, including elevation to sainthood within the Catholic church. Because we tend to emphasize his teachings, it is easy to overlook the essential, life-changing truth that God reveals to us through this man’s life: ministry is not just for clergy.
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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.