God’s Knitting Project

It was morning. Quietness filled the house. I was praying for an individual and a difficult situation she was encountering. My friend had strengths and weaknesses. There were pros and cons regarding her situation. I cried out, “Lord, knit their hearts together.”1

The Lord immediately began showing me mental pictures in my spirit.  I sensed the Lord holding two balls of yarn – one in each hand.2 Each ball was unique. However, God was knitting them together. The knitting needles were the Holy Spirit. Sharp needles were piercing in truth and cutting out lies – like the two-edged sword of the Spirit.3 The colorful yarns were being knit together. A new creation was being made.4 

Sometimes there were knots in the yarn. A weakened thread in one of the yarns could have caused a knot. Or, tension between the two yarns could have created a knotty spot. The knots had to be removed before knitting could continue.  If a person tried to get a knot out with one’s fingers, it was harder to remove than if the Holy Spirit’s needles were used. The pointed end of the knitting needle was like the point of the sword of the Spirit.5 When the sharp needle was poked into the tangled yarn, the knot was removed. It certainly was easier for yarn to become entangled than to get it untangled!6 Human hands could have caused the tangles, but God was the Untangler. The knots had to be untied – set free of entanglements and bondage.7

Knitting and unknotting continued. A new creation was emerging. It was beautiful.8

My day progressed and I tucked away the images of my spiritual knitting project. Later, I heard the word “unraveled” whispered in my spiritual ear. I asked the Lord how this applied to His knitting project. To me, both knots and unraveling appeared to be hindrances to what was being made. What was the difference? God reminded me that the knots were in the individual yarns while unraveling occurred where the yarns were knitted together.

God showed me that yarn unraveled when there was a snag – when it caught on something.9 A snag could be repaired but it involved tedious work. It took time to weave the threads back together.  No new progress was made while the snag was being mended.10 However, once the snag was fixed, the Knitter continued His project.11

That evening, I was reading scripture. I do not think it was just a coincidence that I read Colossians 2:2 NLT,I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.The New International Version uses “united” rather than “knit together”. Whatever the terminology, love was a secret strand that was integral to the resolution between my friend and her situation. The Holy Spirit was knitting together, uniting, two balls of yarn that were held in God’s hands. Love was a part of the new creation.

God heard and was answering my morning prayer! Through mental images, a whispered word, and His written Word, God showed me He was at work. I have not yet seen the fulfillment of my prayer in the natural realm, but I have been encouraged. We walk by faith, not by sight, so I keep believing and lifting up this individual and her situation in prayer.12

Endnote Scriptural References:
(all scriptures are New International Version unless otherwise noted.)

1. In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3

2. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

3. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

4. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – II Corinthians 5:17

5. the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God – Ephesians 6:17

6. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us fee, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. – Galatians 5:1 NKJV

7. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36

8. He has made everything beautiful in its time. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

9. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. – Galatians 6:1

10. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9

11. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

12. Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1 NLT

 

 

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Presents of His Presence

Yesterday was Christmas. Most of us gave and received gifts. No longer are there brightly wrapped packages under the tree. All the presents have been exchanged. So, how are you today? Is your heart feeling as empty as it looks under the Christmas tree? Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Material stuff does not satisfy the heart indefinitely. I wonder if we gave and received the most meaningful gift possible yesterday.

John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We may say we give Christmas gifts because God gave. This is good – but do our gifts reflect what God gave? I want to think about this more deeply.

What did God give? He gave His Son. He gave of Himself. He gave Emmanuel – God with us.

What are we to give? We are to give Him. We are to give His presence – not just store presents.

Our goal should be to present (offer) to others the present (gift) of His presence (God with us). God is omnipresent – so He is present everywhere. Jesus assures us in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” However, when there is a manifestation of His presence, there is a greater awareness of His nearness.

We are not required to wrap the present of His presence in holiday paper or put it in a Christmas gift bag. However, we can give this gift in two unique ways.

First, we are actually God’s presents to those around us. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.” Galatians 2:20 NLT says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Since Christ lives in us, we share His presence with whomever is in our presence. His presence radiates from within us. The presence of God is often described as His glory. Colossians 1:27 says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Secondly, our prayers are presents to those for whom we pray. Psalm 145:18 says, “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” We give the present of God’s presence when we ask God to intervene in people’s lives. Philippians 4:19 NLT says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Answers to prayer are provided when the Lord is present. His presence is manifested.

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of Jesus. We recognized the fulfillment of John 1:14 ESV, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Have you received the present of His presence? If not, receive it. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me.” His presence is not a gift you will ever want to return. However, it is a gift you will want to give. Remember, His presence is not a gift you can purchase at a store. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Although it is the day after Christmas, it is not too late to give this present. You can give His presence 365 days of the year.

The present of His presence is amazing! If your heart is discouraged today, unwrap the present of His presence that He offers you. Psalm 16:11 assures us, in Your (God’s) presence is fullness of joy.

The present of His presence is the greatest expression in Emmanuel, God with us. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15.

 

 

Fall Down or You Will Fall Down

A single little leaf freely fluttered to the ground. I picked it up. It had fallen from a tree. As I examined the leaf, a realization dropped into my mind. Let me share it with you.

Fall down, or you will fall down.”

Let’s explore the meaning of this leaf message together.

The first “fall down” can refer to worship and humility.

Psalm 95:6 says, Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” When we worship God, we lift Him up. We focus upon God – not ourselves. We take a lower position while elevating Him as Lord of all. We surrender to Him as we fall down.

When we give the Lord this place of honor, we allow our lives to be more about Him and less about us. Proverbs 22:4 says, “Humility is the fear of the LORD.” This type of fear refers to a reverential fear or a feeling of awe. This is worship.

I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” When we fall down in humility, God picks us up. Isaiah 29:19 tells us, “The humble will increase their joy in the LORD.”

May we follow the example of the angels in Revelation 7:11-12. “All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’”

We now move to the second “fall down”. In this case, it can be a description of moral descent – falling into sin when yielding to temptation.

Psalm 25:9 says, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.” Falling before the Lord in humility will keep us from falling into sin.

Matthew 26:41 encourages us to, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Paul says in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Finding strength in the Lord will help us not fall into sin.

I John 2:1 says, My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” The leaf I held in my hand could not be reattached to the tree from which it had fallen. However, if we fall because of sin, there is forgiveness and restoration for us.

Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” This verse warns us, “Fall down, or you will fall down.”

Joseph Prince has said, “I am falling out of love with sin and falling in love with God.” He sets an example of how to not fall into sin by falling down in humility.

Philippians 2:9-11 says, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul says in Ephesians 3:14 NLT, “I fall to my knees and pray to the Father.” May we follow Paul’s example and fall in prayer so we do not fall into sin!

ASK!


Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and he who seeks finds,
and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matt 7:7-8

While “ask” is the first word this scripture, it is also the acronym for the three verbs:
Ask
Seek
K
nock

There is a corresponding promise for each action:
Ask and receive
Seek and find
Knock and be opened

ASK

When praying, can we ask for anything and get what we want? Can each of us be like a little child and say, “Give me, give me, give me!”? No, more is involved if we are to be confident that we will receive.

In Mark 11:24, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
We must have faith in God’s ability to answer our request. We must have the kind of faith that trusts God to answer according to the way He sees best.

Jesus goes on to say in John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
First, we must ask in the name of Jesus. This involves more than saying “in Jesus’ name.” Joseph Prince emphasizes that when we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we acknowledge that our prayers will be answered because of what Jesus Christ has done for us – not because of who we are or what we have done.
Secondly, our Heavenly Father must be glorified. Ultimately, prayer is about what gives God glory.

SEEK

Seeking is not simply a verbal request. It’s action time. We seek God’s will by searching the scriptures. This helps us find out how to pray.

Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
There is something to seek. And, there is something to be found. God plays a game of spiritual hide and seek with us. Amazingly, He always lets us find Him.

Matthew 6:33 instructs us to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Seeking is looking. Looking for God’s kingdom. We are not only to seek health or wealth. We are to seek God’s will. He has a unique plan for each of us. Unless we seek to know His kingdom plan, we may ask incorrectly.

David says in Psalm 27:8, “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
To grow in our relationship with the Lord, we must seek Him rather than just what His hands can do for us.

KNOCK

Knocking is more than tapping on a door. It is a repeated pounding. When we are confident in what we ask and seek, we will knock tenaciously until the Lord answers. Knocking implies that we believe God has better and deeper things yet to be acquired.

In James 1:6 we are told, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.”
I associate knocking with believing while tapping reflects doubting. Knocking is persistent.

Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
If we have answered Jesus’ knock at our heart’s door. If we have invited Him into our life. Then, He will answer our prayerful knock upon the door of His throne room. Our answer may be just behind a door.

ASK – SEEK – KNOCK

The parable of The Lost Coin in Luke 15:8-10 is a good example of asking, seeking and knocking. The woman knocked on her neighbors’ doors asking them to help her seek her lost coin. Her need, or her prayer, was answered – the lost was found.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 is another inclusive scripture. “Then you will call upon Me (ask) and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search (knock) for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.”

Thank you, Lord, that we can ask and receive – seek and find – knock and have it opened!

We Quit – God Doesn’t

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Earlier today, the Lord led me to several scriptures that may not necessarily be correlated. However, the Holy Spirit connected them for me. Please give me a few liberties with what I share today.

I began reading II Kings 4:1-7. This is the story of the widow who possessed only a little oil. Elijah instructed her to collect jars from her neighbors. Then she began pouring her oil into the containers. The oil never ran out until she ran out of empty jars.
Could the widow pouring oil into containers be symbolic of my pouring out prayers to the Lord?

 Next I read Psalm 56:8 NLT that tells about the Lord collecting tears in His bottle.
My prayers are often cried out to the Lord in tears.
Can I make the analogy of God keeping my prayers in a bottle? 

Finally, I read Revelation 5:8 that says golden bowls are full of incense – with prayers being the incense. Angels present these bowls to Jesus in the throne room of heaven.
I wonder if Jesus responds to my prayers by pouring out His answers to me from similar golden bowls.

Putting these three scriptures together, this is what I envision:
All my prayers are kept in God’s bottle with my name upon it. At the appropriate time, Jesus tips the bowls of prayers. He pours out His answers in my direction. The number of prayers answered depends upon the number of prayers I have prayed (how many bottles I have filled).

If this is true, why does it appear that not all of my prayers are answered?

It certainly is not because of God’s inability. Luke 1:37 NKJV says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” It must be me. The Lord declares in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.”

Sometimes I quit praying before God answers.

I am reminded of Zachariah and Elizabeth’s experience. They prayed and prayed for a child. No baby was conceived. Finally, they decided their prayers would not be answered as they desired. They were too old. They quit praying.

They gave up, but God did not.

Reading Luke 1:5-25, I find out what happened.
While Zachariah was serving in the temple, the angel Gabriel announced that Elizabeth would bear a son named John. Zachariah couldn’t believe it! How? Why at this time?

Scripture says that Zachariah and Elizabeth were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (see Luke 1:6) I believe God wanted to entrust them with a particular infant who would grow to be a man with a message.

God foreknew that He would send His Son, Jesus, to live as a human on earth. Part of His strategy included another man, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for His Son. Two baby boys had to be born during the same historical time period. God did not answer Zachariah and Elizabeth’s prayer earlier because they were to be the parents of John the Baptist.

Although Zachariah and Elizabeth may not have been faithful to continue to pray their petitions, God was still faithful to answer their previous prayers. God had the answer in His hands, ready to be released at the appropriate time.

I love this concept! God answers prayers we no longer pray.

God collects our prayers in a bottle. They are as sweet as incense to Him. God has no limit to the number of bottles He will fill. Our part is to keep pouring out our prayers to Him. At the appropriate time, He will pour out His answers – answers that will glorify God and be for our good.

Prayer – God amd Me with 2 or 3 (Part 2)

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For where two or three gather in my name,
there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:20

Occasionally, I enjoy meeting with two or three friends for coffee and conversation. We share what has been happening in our lives and then pray together for our concerns. Although the Lord may be invisible, His omnipresence is evident.

In my post last week, we looked at the importance of personal one on One prayer with God. This week we will discover the power of agreeing with others in prayer and having others pray for us. Our key verse gives us the promise that Jesus will be with us when we gather together in agreement with Him. Such a sweet promise! Once again, Moses will be our example.

Exodus 17:8-13 records the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites at Rephidim. Aaron and Hur are with Moses.

In verse 9 Moses says to Joshua, “Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Moses promises to pray while Joshua and his men fight.

Verse 11 tells us, “So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” The power of prayer is exhibited in this verse. However, no one, not even Moses, could pray indefinitely without becoming tired.

Verse 12 says, “But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.” Here is a situation where three men gathered together to support each other in prayer. Moses needed the assistance and agreement of Aaron and Hur.

The result of the three men praying together is recorded in verse 13, “So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”

Let’s look closely at the actions and reactions of Moses in this scriptural account.

On the morning of the battle at Rephidim, Moses made praise a priority in his prayers. As Moses raised his hands, I believe he was praising the Lord as well as petitioning Him for help. This is a good reminder for us when we gather in our prayer circles. Psalm 22:3, “The Lord inhabits the praises of His people.” 

As the battle continued throughout the day, Moses needed the assistance of Aaron and Hur. Moses exhibited humility as he requested these men to pray with him. One of the common temptations in leadership is to yield to the pressure of feeling like one must do it alone.  Moses may have felt like he was compromising his integrity as the Israelites’ leader if he asked for help.

But Noses was tired. We can all identify with the weariness of praying alone for a specific need. When we feel weak, we should call upon our Aarons and Hurs to agree with us and stand with us in prayer. If it worked for Moses, it will work for us. I Peter 5:6 NLT says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

The Amalekites were conquered in the battle of Rephidim. Joshua was victorious on the battlefield because Moses, along with Aaron and Hur, were victorious on the battlefield of prayer. With the Lord’s help, each of these men were part of the triumph.

Are you in a leadership position like Moses? If so, be willing to humbly surround yourself with people who will pray with you and for you.

Or, are you a helper like Aaron or Hur? If this is you, consider it a privilege to lift up others in prayer.

Are you fighting a battle like Joshua? If this is where you find yourself, graciously accept the assistance of intercessors during your time of struggle.

Colossians 1:18 NKJV says, “that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Some translations use “supremacy” or “first place”. Whatever the language, the message proclaims the priority of Christ no matter where you find yourself within the circle of prayer.

God not only surrounds us with believers who will pray for us, but He also places us with others who will benefit from our prayers. May we be among those described in Acts 1:14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Where two or three gather in His name, the Lord promises to be there as well.

 

Prayer – Just God and Me (Part 1)

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Come near to God and He will come near to you.
James 4:8

Recently, I spent time with a new friend getting to know her better. While sipping coffee, we shared our experiences and expectations, our likes and dislikes, our hopes and fears. Just the two of us chatting together! Similarly, the best way to get better acquainted with God is to spend time with Him and talk with Him. In other words, pray. Each of us should daily have one on One conversations with the Lord, not only expressing our opinions and needs but also listening for His response. He will talk with us, Spirit to spirit, if we will give Him the opportunity.

 

The primary point for us to notice is the choice the people made. In verse 27 they said to Moses, “Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.” They encouraged Moses to meet with God but they did not do so themselves. God’s response to Moses is recorded in verses 30-31, “Go tell them to return to their tents. But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you….”

 

Moses is an excellent example of a man who talked with God. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 5:24-33. The Israelites wanted Moses to act as an intermediary between themselves and God. Although they had a reverential fear of God, I believe they also had a human fear of God.  This torment prevented them from seeking a face to Face encounter with the Lord.

They told Moses in verses 25-26, “Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” Which was stronger – their fear of losing their lives or their reverential fear of the Lord?

The primary point for us to notice is the choice the people made. In verse 27 they said to Moses, “Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.” They encouraged Moses to meet with God but they did not do so themselves. God’s response to Moses is recorded in verses 30-31, “Go tell them to return to their tents. But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you….

Moses had a personal encounter with the Lord that the others were unable to experience because they chose to stay away. What a difference!

Relating the Israelites’ experience to our privilege of prayer, may we be encouraged to draw near to God. He desires to hear what is on our hearts through our words of praise and petition. Corporate prayer and support from prayer partners are legitimate forms of prayer (more on this next week), but they do not take the place of our privilege of personal one on One prayers. We deny ourselves beautiful times of intimacy with the Lord if we do not take time to personally pray.

In Exodus 34:29-35, we find the account of Moses’ face shining and reflecting God’s glory when he came down from the mountaintop.

Verse 29 says, “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai . . . , that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.” In fact, Moses had to hide his face behind a veil because he reflected God’s radiance.

Verses 32-35 tell us, “When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

In Deuteronomy 5:29, God says,Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear Me and keep all My commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” The Israelites could have reflected God’s glory if they had reverentially eared Him. However, their hearts remained darkened and their minds blinded to the very thing they so desperately needed.

I see Moses’ veil as being a prophetic picture of the tabernacle’s veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (see Matthew 27:51) No longer need we be afraid to see the face of God or to be in His presence. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from any sin that would prevent us from being in His presence. Reverential fear of God is mandatory.  However, there is no place for human fear. What a privilege we have through prayer! Let us not deny ourselves this opportunity. When we experience the Lord’s presence during personal prayer time, we too reflect His glory.

In Leviticus 10:3 NLT, Moses explained to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when He said, I will display My holiness through those who come near Me. I will display My glory before all the people.” Today the Lord still desires to reveal His holiness to us if we will come near to Him. In Psalm 37:7 NLT, David instructs us, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act.May we come into the Lord’s presence and take time to wait for His response. After all, prayer is a two-way conversation – we are not to do all the talking. May we echo the words of Samuel in I Samuel 3:10, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”