Still Learning My Way Around

Recently I was encouraged to put an index to some of my more useful blog posts, on this site. I have placed links to similar posts within posts, but I was not sure how to accomplish what was requested.

After I got on my site the next time I decided to check out the “Categories” and the “Tags” links (if you put your cursor over the words that follow either of these two, you will find they change color, meaning if you click on one you will be provided every entry that deals with a specific category, or every one that mentions the tagged topic. So the categories is sort of like a topical table of contents and the tagged words are sort of thematic indexes. This is what you get when you read the blog of a novice–I keep learning more of the features that are built into this blog format.

If you go to the top of this article you will see that just below the title, “Still Learning My Way Around,” there is a box that has “Category:” followed by several items like, “Bible Studies, Communication, Community Development, etc.” Click on any of those and you will get all of the posts I have grouped under than category.

In that same box, just below “Categories” is the option of “Tags:” which is followed by words like “Discovery Bible Studies.” If you click on that you will get the 10-11 articles that mention these.

Hopefully this is old news to most of you. But just in case you are still sort of new to this whole blogging scene (like I obviously am), I want to be sure you know how to use this feature. While I listed all the categories, I only gave you a few of the tags since there are more than 40 of them.

Let me know if any of these posts prompt questions. Some of my best writing happens when people ask good questions.

Spiritual Warfare (continued)

Felicity Dale posted a link to my most recent blog on her Facebook page. One of her friends raised some good questions and we had the following dialogue:

[Question:] Enjoyed the article, John… thanks for (re-)posting it, Felicity. I too have had first-hand experience of spiritual opposition (and deliverance, for that matter), so I agree that a disciple must engage in spiritual warfare.

However, could I be (potentially) controversial? Ref. for example, “Mobilizing intercessors is essential for disciple makers.” Now, I may be showing my ignorance here, because I wouldn’t call myself an ‘intercessor’! But are there really certain gifted people with ‘special’ access to the Throne for the purpose of intercession? Don’t we all have access to the Father (i.e., Eph. 2:18)? Is not intercession just part-and-parcel of being a disciple, rather than an exclusive role in the Body (i.e. 1 Tim. 2)?

[Reply:] Great question! Jesus has given every single one of us special access to the throne. While there are not “certain gifted people” there are those who will pledge themselves to the role. There are people who will take up Paul’s request, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20). Those who will storm the gates of hell need to know they are being lifted up to heaven by people who will persevere in the heavenly battle. Jesus wanted that in the garden.

[Question:] I see and respect your point, John. However, was Paul addressing Ephesian disciples, or Ephesian intercessors? I see no subtitle, ‘and to you intercessors in Ephesus I write…’. Again, all Jesus’ disciples were with Him at Gethsemane, not just a few intercessory ‘experts’.

My point is this: we’re all called to ‘make disciples’. I cannot say, “I am not called to make disciples… I’m an intercessor.” I would argue that we’re all both / and.

[Reply:] I am not speaking of roles in the sense of titles. I am speaking of those who take up the responsibility with diligence and perseverance. With you, I disciple people to pray—to plead God’s promises. I disciple them to intercede. While I encourage that in all of them, I learn which ones will persist in prayer. These are the inner circle (like the three that Jesus took deeper into the garden) upon whom I lean more heavily.

[Question:] Yes, I see now. Thanks John. May He bless your work in Him.

[Reply:] Have a great day. I love the dialogue!

I really do love the dialogue. One of the things I dislike about preaching is the absence of interaction. I allow questions and comments on my blog because I want dialogue. It is hard to know whether or not you are addressing the challenges and needs people have without giving them the opportunity to discuss.

Knowing that people are serious about interceding on my behalf is a tremendous blessing. Being confident that I can send out an email and the situations I raise will be lifted into the throne room is so meaningful. Paul noted, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12). Satan is a schemer. We are in a battle in the heavenly realms. Our greatest resource there are our intercessions.

Be sure when you commit to pray for someone that you do. Discipline yourself to pray kingdom passages and promises for these people. It was in this vein that I wrote several articles about praying Scriptures a couple of years ago. Check them out:

https://johnkking.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/praying-luke-10/

https://johnkking.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/colossians-19-23/

https://johnkking.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/praying-galatians-5/

Thoughts on Praying Scripture

Earlier in 2009 I lead a men’s class that focused on building deeper prayer lives. We began by noticing that Jesus taught his original disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom. In the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, Jesus explained this by praying that the Father’s will be done here on earth just as it is in heaven. Our world desperately needs this prayer answered today.

We spent time each week exploring a passage that carried kingdom significance. Our goal was to compose a prayer that was based on the passage for the week. All of these blogs about praying specific passages are the prayers I wrote as a part of the class.

I offer these in the hope of encouraging you to pray the Word of God. Years ago, a dear friend told me that at its best prayer is pleading God’s promises. He was correct and this class gave me the discipline to examine some promises worthy of pleading.

In the simple S.P.E.C.K. method of biblical application, the letter “P” prompts us to answer the questions: Is there a Prayer to pray? A Praise to give? or a Promise to claim?

Many passages contain doxologies–sections that break out in praise. Others teach us to lament from our faith. Others intercede for boldness. Such are worthy of imitation in my life. I urge you to deepen your prayer life by praying more and more of the Word of God!

Praying 1 Corinthians 14

Father, you are love! You are wise! You give your Spirit. You give gifts—special abilities empowered by your Spirit. I praise you for who you are. Glory be to your name for what you do and how you work in our lives. Lead us more and more into your likeness—let us bear your image.

Give us the gift of prophecy. Empower us to speak your truth—your insights, your vision for our lives clearly to one another. Guide our kingdom gatherings. Rebuke us when we make them about our selfish preferences. Convict us when we focus on ourselves rather than what blesses others. Heal us of our self-centered individuality. Transform us into a power-filled kingdom community. Give us words of truth to speak into each others lives. May your will flow through our mouths and shape our hearts, both as speakers and hearers.

Yes, Lord, we are open to tongues. We long for times when our spirits experience the ecstasy of being in your presence. But more than those times of being filled, equip us to bless one another. Make us a conduit of your presence into each others lives, and our collective life as people gathered in the name of Jesus. Forgive our pettiness, our jealousies and our wrangling over greatness and positions of rank.

Grow us up! Get us out of ourselves and wake us up to the joy of serving others. Give us a passion for clarity. We long for the gifts that will give your people the greatest blessings. Focus our desires on seeking those things that build others up and strengthen the whole community. Please give us an interpreter when we speak in tongues so everyone can receive the blessing of hearing from you. Don’t let us be a distraction from you. Give us the capacity to speak true blessings into the lives of those who gather with us.

Make your presence so apparent among us that even unbelievers are overwhelmed by your glory. Show yourself in our midst. We want them to experience you through us. We long to be agents of your grace. Yes, we want to be built up, but we want it so others can be built through our experience of you. Let your light shine through our obedience and our true love for one another. Let our worship be such that they say, “God is truly here!”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Praying 1 Corinthians 12

Father, fill me with knowledge about spiritual gifts. Correct my small, feeble thinking. Impress me with the fact that only your Spirit can lead people to say, “Jesus is Lord.”

Unify us in yourself. Protect us from focusing on our differences.

Teach us to use all our gifts to bless your whole family. Whether wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues or interpretation—we long for your Spirit to empower each of us, just like he wants.

Coordinate us. Give us all a sense of teamwork. Fill us to overflowing with your Spirit.

Guard us from de-valuing our function. Remind us that you created man’s body and you have arranged us all, too. You give us our place and meaning. You put us together for the praise of your glory!

Lead us to value one another. Teach us to value each member. We need to recognize the great worth of each person. Protect us from the spirit of division. Lead us to truly empathize—to suffer with broken hearted and celebrate with those who are honored.

We want to do Jesus proud! We want to be his hands and feet here in Middle Tennessee. Raise up apostles who will take the gospel to people with no Jesus option. Create prophets—men and women who speak your heart beat into our lives. Show your powerful miracles. Heal the sick and broken. Help through us. Produce your strategy in us. Speak through our mouths. Give us the greater gifts. Lead us to use them with love—just like You!

Remove our fear of drawing near to you. Remove our fear of being filled by you. Mould us, shape us, transform us! Stamp your image on our lives. Stamp your image on our community.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Praying Luke 1:46-55, 67-79; 2:14, 29-32

Father, glory to you, oh God! Glory!

I praise you for the awesome gift of your Son, Jesus! You are high and holy, but you have stooped near us because of your amazing love and grace.

I praise you for answering so many prayers. You’ve fulfilled the needs of people. You’ve fulfilled the predictions of Israel’s prophets. You’ve shown yourself through the gift of Jesus. You are the ultimate promise keeper. You have delivered us from our enemy.

Bring to pass your will for my life. Accomplish in me and through me all you wish to do. Send your Holy Spirit to bring to fruition all your plans for my life. Make your mercy flow upon us in wave after wave. Show your strength and power through your people. Use the Stones River family to bring your purposes to pass. Set your people free through Jesus. Set the power of salvation in the center of our lives.

Free us to worship you without a care in the world. Make us holy before you—as long as we live. Send us as messengers of your salvation. Shine the light of your goodness into our dark world, through us. Let people see the light of your salvation as you work powerfully in our lives! Shine this light into all the people groups of our world.

Shine, Jesus, shine! Through you I pray, Amen.

Praying the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)

Father, how could you trust us to take up the battle? The Dragon is here, waging war against those who are obeying your commandments and holding on to Jesus’ testimony. We see that our struggle is not against human beings, but spiritual forces in high places here on earth.

Carry out your kingdom advance through us. Transform us from sleepy Christian clubs into delta strike forces. Give us a clear sense of how long this battle has been going on and how many have entered the fray. Let us see ourselves as standing with Joseph and Mary against the powers that be. Produce a faith in us that knows the enemy cannot succeed against your Son.

Praise God! Jesus reigns! He does rule the nations with an iron scepter. He is there at your right hand, right now. You protected him until the perfect moment. He kept saying, “It is not my time…” until it finally arrived.

Give us the clarity to realize the battles that are raging around us. Let us never rest in our fight against Satan and his angels. Use our testimony to overcome him. Make your salvation and power—kingdom authority—manifest among us. You’ve cast him down from heaven and he no longer accuses us there. We praise you!

We know his fury is great because he knows his time is short. Give us endurance. Use us to take this fight to him. Keep us from loving our lives so much as to shrink from death. Free us from that last power he holds.

Protect us, Father. You know how to provide all our needs. Cause the earth to swallow the torrents he would spew at us. Accomplish your purposes.

Even as you dwelt among us through Jesus, dwell in us through the Holy Spirit. Show yourself within our lives. Impact our world! Win victory for your name.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Praying Revelation 12

Father, how could you trust us to take up the battle? The Dragon is here, waging war against those who are obeying your commandments and holding on to Jesus’ testimony. We see that our struggle is not against human beings, but spiritual forces in high places here on earth.

Carry out your kingdom advance through us. Transform us from sleepy Christian clubs into delta strike forces. Give us a clear sense of how long this battle has been going on and how many have entered the fray. Let us see ourselves as standing with Joseph and Mary against the powers that be. Produce a faith in us that knows the enemy cannot succeed against your Son.

Praise God! Jesus reigns! He does rule the nations with an iron scepter. He is there at your right hand, right now. You protected him until the perfect moment. He kept saying, “It is not my time…” until it finally arrived.

Give us the clarity to realize the battles that are raging around us. Let us never rest in our fight against Satan and his angels. Use our testimony to overcome him. Make your salvation and power—kingdom authority—manifest among us. You’ve cast him down from heaven and he no longer accuses us there. We praise you!

We know his fury is great because he knows his time is short. Give us endurance. Use us to take this fight to him. Keep us from loving our lives so much as to shrink from death. Free us from that last power he holds.

Protect us, Father. You know how to provide all our needs. Cause the earth to swallow the torrents he would spew at us. Accomplish your purposes.

Even as you dwelt among us through Jesus, dwell in us through the Holy Spirit. Show yourself within our lives. Impact our world! Win victory for your name.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Praying Matthew 4:1-17

Father, I praise you for Jesus! To think of him leaving heaven, leaving you, leaving his security from Satan’s attacks is mind-boggling. I marvel at his devotion to your will, your fame, your glory. I praise you for Joseph and Mary teaching him your Word. I praise you for his faithful practice of gathering with others to handle your revelation and to put it into practice. I praise you for his perfect obedience to all that it teaches. I praise you for his complete intimacy with you! Transform us into his image—day by day.

I praise you for the ways you continue to love and protect your children who walk in your ways. I praise you for your Spirit bringing to our minds your Word so we too know how to answer the enemy. Teach us to hear your voice. Lead us to surrender to the Spirit’s nudges. Accomplish victories in our lives, today.

I praise you for ways you are blessing your children. You’re pulling back the veil and we see the spiritual realities behind struggles most only feel. We hear the threatening voice. We see the dark form. But that is not all you’ve allowed us to see. We see the protecting angel. We know his name. We see victories won. But most of all we hear Jesus’ words of promise that he knows what we are experiencing and he will get us through the difficulties. I praise you that our experiences confirm the promises of your Word. I praise you that the angel brings comfort after seasons of testing. I praise you for all your provisions for your children. Teach us all to worship you only!

Give us clarity for how you are preparing us for ministry. Help us to see that there is always responsibility that comes with blessings. Lead us to bless others as we have been blessed.

I praise you for sending Jesus to that crossroads where there were many Gentiles. I praise you that from the start of his ministry we see our part was to come in your plans. Oh, God, give us a vision for all the people-groups on the outside looking in—stir us up out of our comfort and ease. Fire us up to your heartbeat for the world. Ready us for kingdom advances. Lead us forward into victory!

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Praying Galatians 5

Father,I praise you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Jesus did not leave us alone—what a mess we would be if he had. He sent the Spirit to convict us, comfort us, and transform us into his image. As we become like Jesus we reflect your glory into our world. Oh, it needs to see you.

Forgive us for the time we waste living out of our self-centered thinking. We make such a mess of things. We spoil beautiful gifts you’ve given us. We cheapen sex. We argue and fight. We act like spoiled children in a toy store. We choose up sides and work hard to destroy one another—damaging our homes, our friendships and all our relationships. We damage good things and they come out warped and unfulfilling. We become lonely and fearful—afraid of being alone and alone because we are afraid.

You sent teachers like Paul to warn us. They have called us to kingdom living, but cautioned us that our self-serving ways are contrary to our kingdom calling. Their warning resonates in our hearts when we really know Jesus. He did not live that way. He loved people and served them. He put his desires behind their deepest needs. Transform our hearts into surrendered living. Give us a growing awareness of the reality that Jesus is on his throne and everything is being brought into submission to him.

We need Spirit-shaped character. Others will be blessed by our love. Their spirits will be lifted by our joy. Tensions will be lessened by our peace. Frustrations will be avoided by patience. Tears will be wiped by our kindness. Promises will be fulfilled by our faithfulness. Hearts will be touched by our goodness. Sin will be avoided by our self-control. Reign in our daily living. Rule in our work and our play. Redeem every aspect of our thinking.

We pledge to live Spirit-led lives. We choose to be holy because you are holy! We march to the Spirit’s cadence—He is the drummer who sets our beat. We want to be cross-shaped every day of our lives. Complete in us the good work you have begun.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.