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Posts tagged ‘Father God’

Homosexuality: Tammy’s Story (1)

SOURCE:  Living Free/Dr. Jimmy Lee/Tammy Webb-Witholt

 

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20-24 NIV

Dr. Jimmy Lee interviewed Tammy Webb-Witholt on several of our radio programs. [These] devotions are taken largely from the thoughts expressed in those interviews.

Twenty years ago, Tammy moved out of a lesbian lifestyle into a walk with God. Today she is ministering to people struggling with homosexuality and to churches who want to minister to these individuals. 

“One of the first things I learned,” began Tammy, “was that the love of my life that I had searched for so diligently could only be found in a personal relationship with Jesus.

“During my eight years in the gay world, my quest for security and lasting love became an endless cycle of relationships that I hoped would bring healing and perfect love. I proudly displayed my gay relationships to the world, but not one relationship filled the void that remained in my heart.

“Early one morning after leaving a party, I realized I had been looking in all the wrong places for love and security. When I called out to God, it seemed as though a dam broke in my heart. I confessed my sins and told God that I needed him, but he should not get his hopes up because I could not change who I was. I promised to do two things: read the Bible and attend church once a week.

“Though this was a small step toward God, he—like the father in the story of the prodigal son—ran toward me with open arms. And so began my journey from homosexuality to holiness. Along that journey, I have learned beyond a doubt that there is only one place of complete love and security—Jesus.”

Are you looking in wrong places for love and security? Perhaps you too are struggling with homosexuality. Or maybe you are looking for love and security in an unhealthy heterosexual relationship, or in striving to be a people pleaser. Tammy discovered that Jesus is the only place to find total love and security. And as she came to him in total honesty and repentance, he ran toward her with open arms.

 His open arms of love are waiting for you as well.

Prayer
Jesus, I am beginning to realize that I have been looking in all the wrong places for love and security. Please forgive me for all I have done wrong. Thank you for opening your arms of love to me. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Lessons Learned: Moving from Homosexuality to Holiness by Tammy Webb-Witholt. This group study offers biblical tools, along with an abundance of hope, to anyone struggling with homosexuality.

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The Prayer of Jesus: How to Talk to God

Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4

by Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., RPM Ministries (www.rpmministries.org)
 
 

Learning How to Pray in Christ’s School of Prayer

– Prepare to Pray: Meditation—“Our Father Which Art in Heaven”

1. Meditate on the perfect fatherly character of God: Our Father in heaven.

2. Contemplate the nature of God’s fatherhood: Our Father of holy love.

3. Reflect on the Body of Christ: Our Father, not only my Father.

4. Enjoy God the Father’s full attention and acceptance: Bask in His fatherly grace.

– Commune with God: Adoration—“Hallowed Be Thy Name”

1. Praise God for Who He is: Worship, magnify, exalt, and glorify your heavenly Father.

2. Thank God for what He does: Express your gratitude for all His grace-gifts, for His works.

3. Pray that the whole world would be in awe of God: All the earth grasping, enjoying, and exalting the character (name) of God.

4. Set apart God as the supreme desire of your heart: Let your daily mission statement be to exalt God by enjoying God.

– Honor the King: Intercession—“Thy Kingdom Come”

1. Pray for a deepening of God’s rule in your heart: Surrender to God’s governance.

2. Pray for a widening of God’s rule in all people’s hearts: Salvation.

3. Pray for a deepening of God’s rule on planet Earth: Christian living (make a difference).

4. Pray for the soon return of Christ: Second Coming.

5. Pray that you will live for God’s kingdom and not for your own: Total allegiance.

– Radically Commit: Submission/Direction—“Thy Will Be Done”

1. Pray for the right pleasure: That everything you do is motivated by the desire to bring God pleasure.

2. Pray for calm assurance: The understanding that God’s glory and your good are inseparable, that the Father’s will is always good and best.

3. Pray for clear discernment: That you will know God’s will for your personal life, family, church, work, community, country, and world.

4. Pray for radical obedience: That God would grant you the courage to do His will.

5. Pray for supernatural power: That God would empower you to obey His will.

6. Pray with brutal honesty: Share the desires of your heart, any confusion, doubts, and perplexity with your heavenly Father.

7. Pray with other-centered focus: That family, church, community, national, and world leaders would know and do God’s will.

– Invite God-Rescue: Supplication—“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

1. Confess humbly (Give): Acknowledge your spiritual poverty, admitting that without God you are and have nothing. Pray for the faith to believe that all you need is God and what He chooses to provide.

2. Asks unselfishly (Us, Our): Pray for others and for yourself.

3. Request wisely (This Day, Daily): Pray for today’s needs. Trust God for today’s supply. Ask God to give you nothing more and nothing less than exactly what you need and can handle.

4. Entreat practically (Bread): Pray for physical, material, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual needs. Pray for freedom from worry as you trust God to supply your every need.

– Savor the Savior’s Grace: Confession—“Forgive Us Our Sins As We Forgive Those Who Have Sinned Against Us”

1. Seek enlightenment: Specifically confess known sins and ask God to reveal hidden sins.

2. Repent humbly: Your debt is immeasurable; His grace is infinite.

3. Enjoy forgiveness: Claim Christ’s forgiveness and acceptance. Your slate is wiped clean!

4. Grant forgiveness: Forgive all those who have hurt you/sinned against you physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually.

5. Seek reconciliation: Go to anyone who you have sinned against to restore the relationship.

– Triumph Over Temptation: Petition—“Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil”

1. Seek protection: Ask God not to allow Satan even to tempt you to sin.

2. Seek boundaries: Ask God to keep you from situations where you are most prone to sin— your besetting sins, areas of vulnerability, temptations, etc.

3. Seek victory: Ask God to defeat sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil in your life.

4. Seek faith: Ask God to help you to trust His awesome power as your only hope for triumph.

– Confidently Trust God: Glorification—“For Thine Is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory Forever, Amen”

1. Trust God (For): Believe that since God is the Almighty, Eternal King that He can answer.

2. Glorify God (Thine): Pray that God will be glorified by your prayers.

Listening and Guidance

(Adapted from The Disciplines of The Holy Spirit by Siang-Yang Tan)

We have been created to be in a listening relationship to God. As we draw near to God, we begin to hear His voice and receive affirmation, encouragement, correction, and direction for our lives. Jesus says, “�My sheep listen to my voice�(John 10:14-16). We listen in order to receive guidance! The outcome of a close relationship with God is guidance and invitation into partnership with Him.

Jesus didn’t get up in the morning and say, “What great thing can I do for God today?” He said, “Father, what are you doing today? Show me what you are already doing so I can do it with you. I will do only what I see what you doing” (see John 5:19, 30). Jesus’ secret of guidance was His relationship of dependence on the Father – listening for God’s voice, being observant of His Father’s work, paying attention to His Father’s leading in every circumstance of His life.

Do you believe God talks to people? That He wants to talk to you? Do you think it strange or unusual to hear His voice or to receive regular guidance and direction form Him? Jesus believed that listening was fundamental to the Christian life and a natural consequence of deepening relationship with God. He encouraged believers that if they belonged to God, they should expect to hear from God. He rebuked the unbelieving religious leaders of His day saying, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47). As we draw near to the One who comes to us to draw us to Himself, we enter into the disciplines of listening and guidance. We learn to hear the Shepard’s voice, to distinguish it from the many voices that compete for our attention, and to know and respond to his wooing and guidance.

Hearing from God is the work of the Holy Spirit, who makes God’s will clear to us as we engage in the discipline of listening and guidance. Jesus promised us His own guidance through the gift of the Holy Spirit. “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). When the Spirit of Truth comes, Jesus says, “He will guide you into all truth�He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you: (John 16: 13-14). The truth John speaks of here is not an idea, concept, or doctrine, but a true relationship. To be led into truth is to be led into the same relationship with Jesus that Jesus has with the Father.

G. Campbell Morgan encourages the believer to wait for guidance:

To the individual believer, who is, by the very fact of relationship to Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit�.there is granted the direct impression of the Spirit of God on the spirit of man, imparting the knowledge of His will in matters of the smallest and greatest importance. This has to be sought and waited for.

The Apostle Paul emphasized that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the deep things of God to us. We are so affected by our sin and rebellion that we cannot understand the things of God unless the Holy Spirit reveals it. He is our teacher. In reading the Scripture, we must sit before the Holy Spirit and respond to His leading. As we pray, we must expect that answers will come as the Holy Spirit guides us to Scripture, or through circumstances or wise counsel, or through personal words or a divine encounter.

Our Part in Listening and Guidance:
* Let the Spirit build in you a desire to be yielded and obedient to God’s will and plans.
* Starting where you are, seek after God with your whole heart, striving to know him intimately.
* Resolve to want to glorify God and bring honor to His great name in all things in your life.
* Be alert and sensitive at all times for the Spirit’s promptings. Seek guidance from God; watch for it, expect it. Remember that the Holy Spirit is your teacher.
* Take time daily to listen and be in conversation with God. Get in the habit of asking questions like, “What are you doing, Lord? What do you want me to see and understand in my current   circumstances?”
* Wait for confirmation. “Test everything” (1Thess. 5:21). God isn’t in a hurry. Trust that He will confirm His will through Scripture, wise counsel, and circumstances.
* Take steps to respond obediently to the guidance you receive; trusting that God will provide confirmation and blessing (See James 1:22; 2:17).

Means of Guidance:
* The Bible, God’s Word – God speaks primarily through His Word, as we read and meditate on it. The Scripture is our standard of measure for all other forms of guidance. What the Spirit guides us into will always be consistent with the teaching of the Bible and will never contradict it. In addition, we must be careful to interpret the Bible accurately.

* Prayer – Conversation with God – Prayer is not just talking to God, but dialogue with God. We listen for, and hear, God’s voice in the midst of prayer.

* Godly Counsel – God often speaks to us through the wise counsel of mature Christian believers – pastors, church elders, leaders, accountability partners, counselors – people who walk closely with God and who know Him intimately.

* Providential Circumstances – God can work through even our most difficult circumstances to guide us in a particular direction.

* Sanctified Common Sense – As we think and engage in theological reflection, and weigh the pros and cons of options open to us, God works through our reason in bringing us to a decision. Even when it seems God has not spoken clearly, there may be times we have to choose an option because it is not possible to wait further. In such cases we need to use our best common sense to choose the alternative that will bring glory to God as the Holy Spirit leads us (1Cor. 10:31).

* Inner Witness and Peace – Generally, the Holy Spirit confirms God’s will to us by giving peace in our hearts (Col. 3:15). However, this does not mean we will always – or immediately – receive peace regarding God’s guidance. There may be anguish or struggle, such as Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane in the process of obeying Gods’ will to go to the cross and die for a sinful world. Jesus prayed and was obedient to God’s leading, but experienced peace only later (Mark 14:32-36; Luke 22: 39-44).

* Inner Promptings of the Holy Spirit – Based on 1Cor 12:8, 10, the Holy Spirit can guide us through factual truths we did not know before and through wisdom or the specific applications of God’s Word or Truth to a particular situation. Such words generally come in the sense of a subjective inner voice, but at times they can seem to be audible words (1Sam. 3:2-14). God has spoken to His people through visions and dreams in the past and certainly can do so in the present (Dan. 2:19; Acts 9:10-16; Acts 10:9-23; 18:9-10).

* Nature – God has revealed Himself generally through nature and His creation. However, there are times when God touches us afresh and guides us through some part of the beauty of His creation – the grandeur of the stars on a clear night or the colors of a sunset.

* Heavenly Visitation, or the “Hand of the Lord” – There are times when God reveals Himself by an angel or special manifestation of Himself (Acts 8:26, 29; 9:3-6; Dan. 9:20-23).

We are meant to be in a listening relationship with God. At any moment, anytime, day or night, in the midst of ministry or the most mundane tasks of living, God can and will speak to us.

Increasingly Aware of God’s Presence
We can grow in listening and guidance until we are “practicing the presence of God,” increasingly aware of His presence and gentle leading in all the circumstances of our living. This kind of living does not happen effortlessly. We must desire it and seek it with all our hearts. It requires choosing a course of action that will draw us into constant communion with God. It means entering strongly into the disciplines of listening and guidance as a crucial means of experiencing deeper intimacy with God and receiving His transforming power. Listening becomes a launching pad for effective service and ministry in partnership with God; guidance brings confidence and peace that we are indeed in relationship with the living God; and hearing God’s voice brings events of the Bible alive for us and allows our faith in the Truth of the Word to rise beyond abstract conviction to heart knowledge of the truth.

The Process of Guidance

Here’s how George Muller sums up the way he entered into a “heart” relationship with God and learned to hear and discern God’s voice:

I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusion. I seek the Will of the Holy Spirit through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

Next, I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit. I ask God in prayer to reveal His Will to me rightly and fully. Thus, 1) through prayer to God, 2) the study of the Word, and 3) reflection, I come to deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly.

We open ourselves to mistakes if we allow the opinions of others to sway us from the clear instructions of Scripture, or if we are impatient in waiting for God’s timing, or when our own wills are so strong we cannot get our hearts ready to respond to the guidance He gives. Guidance from God is seldom a simple occurrence; it is almost a process of listening, testing, and discerning that leads to confident obedience. F.B. Meyer describes the process of guidance as follows:

God’s impressions within and His words without are always corroborated by His providence around, and we should quietly wait until those three focus into one point.  If you do not know what you ought to do, stand still until you do, and when the time comes for action, circumstances, like glow-worms, will sparkle along your path, and you will become so sure that you are right, when God’s three witnesses concur, that you could not be surer though an angel beckoned you on.

The Holy Spirit seldom uses all the means of guidance, but usually does bring several together in a process that brings conviction to an individual or group along with confidence to respond in obedience.

Meditating on God's Word

(Adapted from The Disciplines of The Holy Spirit by Siang-Yang Tan)

Without meditation, the ways for appropriating God’s Word will be futile and unfruitful. Prayer, as well, can be empty and devoid of the Holy Spirit’s power without meditation on the Bible.

George Muller made a significant discovery about the critical importance of meditation and the crucial connection between meditation and prayer that revolutionized his spiritual life.

Now, I saw that the most important thing was to give myself to the reading of God’s Word, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warmed, reproved, instructed, and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord�.Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God, and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water passes through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it and applying it to our hearts.

Meditation is pondering over Scripture verses or passages in such a way that the written Word of God becomes a living Word of God applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The two primary words for meditation in the Bible mean “to murmur or mutter” and “to speak to one’s self.” Meditation is a process of thinking through language that takes place in the heart or inner life. The truth being meditated upon moves from the mouth (murmuring), to the mind (reflective thinking), and finally to the heart (outer action).

This process is sometimes referred to as lectio divina (divine reading) where we listen to Scripture deeply with the ears of our hearts. We are like Elijah, listening for the still, small voice of God, the faint murmuring sound that is God’s Word for us, the voice of the Holy Spirit touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an attunement to the Presence of God in Scripture. Once a word or passage in the Bible speaks to us in a personal way, we can take it and begin to ponder it in our hearts, soaking ourselves in the passage. We can ask, “What is happening here? What are the sounds, smells, feelings? Why is God focusing me on this verse or idea? What does He want me to understand? Why do I need this word from God? How do I respond? Is there an example for me to follow, a sin to avoid, a command to obey, a promise to claim?” In meditation, we seek to enter into the Scripture and live in it. As we move from detached observation to active participation in the Scripture, our imaginations become active. Some have objected to using the imagination out of fear of its “subjective” focus and potential for self-deception or use by the enemy. But Jesus appealed to the imaginations of His listeners as He taught and told parables. While there is reason for caution and safeguards, we believe God can sanctify the imagination, just as He does our human reason, and work His good purposes through it.

Here are some simple steps we encourage for meditating or “living into Scripture”:

1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to you and guide you as you read a passage of Scripture.

2. Read through the passage you are meditating on several times, listening for the still, small voice of God and waiting upon the leading of the Spirit.

3. Ponder the verse or two that grabs your attention or touches you in some way. Picture what is happening.

4. Put yourself in the picture. Ask questions. Allow a dialogue to unfold inside of you; let your imagination and senses be instruments for revelation from the Holy Spirit.

5. Be open to the ways God may want to speak to you directly through His Word through a personal encounter as you ask questions as you place yourself in the scene, even perhaps as Jesus comes directly to you in the scene in which you have entered.

6. Take time to share what God has said to you with an accountability partner or wise friend. This provides protection by checking what comes from your time of meditation, helps to reinforce God’s Word to you, and encourages and blesses others in their journey of faith.

The Holy Spirit can speak the living Word of God to your heart. The Holy Spirit is the One who enables us to understand the thoughts and things of God. Without His ministry as Teacher of truth and Revealer of God’s mind and heart to us, we will not be able to know or understand God or spiritual things (see 1 Cor. 2:6-16). With this in mind, always begin your reading, study, and meditation by asking for the Spirit’s illumination and guidance, and throughout the process of getting into God’s Word, be sensitive to His voice speaking to you!

The Spirit Filled Life

(Adapted from The Disciplines of The Holy Spirit by Siang-Yang Tan)

The Spirit-filled life is the Christ-directed life by which Jesus lives His life in and through us in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His followers they would have powerful, loving, abundant, and fruitful lives as the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

First, it is important to understand that a person initially becomes a Christian through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8). From the moment of conversion, or spiritual birth, the Holy Spirit dwells in a person. In this sense, all Christians, at the point of conversion, receive “the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” or as Paul says, we are all baptized by one Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). However, though the Spirit is present in all Christians, this does not mean all Christians are filled – empowered, released, guided, and controlled – by the Holy Spirit.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing reality. Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit.” In the original language, this verse actually means “continually be filled with the Spirit.” Renewal and a release of the Spirit’s presence and power are needed on a daily basis.

Most of the time, the filling of the Spirit is experienced in a quiet way, with a deep sense of peace or joy, perhaps bringing clarity of insight or understanding regarding present circumstances or future plans. These times of filling may not involve intense emotions, and there may be a few days or weeks of “lag time” before it is apparent that the Spirit is at work in new ways. Other times the filling of the Spirit happens with dramatic power and can include outward manifestations such as laughing, crying, feeling warm all over, or even experiencing a power surge like electricity. Dramatic manifestations in and of themselves are not necessarily signs of the Spirit’s Presence. God created us as unique personalities with different needs, so the Spirit touches us and empowers us in ways appropriate to our uniqueness. What is most important is to be filled with the Spirit and to leave the manifestations to the sovereignty of God and the work of the Spirit.

The apostle Paul, who encourages us so strongly to be continually filled with the Spirit, also cautions us not to grieve the Holy Spirit, especially by sins of the flesh such as bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, and every form of malice (Eph. 4:30); and not to quench the Spirit or put out the Spirit’s fire by our unbelief and evil (1 Thess. 5:19). When we are open to the Spirit – continually filled and seeking to be filled – we are less likely to quench or grieve the Spirit in our daily living.

Some of the blessings of the Spirit-filled life are:

*greater love and intimacy with God
*exaltation of Jesus as Son of God and Savior
*power and boldness to witness and preach
*greater wisdom and faith
*deep joy (singing and worship)
*release of spiritual gifts for ministry
*victory over sin and temptation
*effectiveness and power in prayer
*quiet confidence during opposition
*deeper trust in Scripture as the Word of God
*renewed zeal for evangelism
*fresh love of Christ and others

The blessings of being filled with the Spirit are tremendous! That’s why God tells us to be filled. He gives us the power we don’t have, so that we can become more like Jesus and do the work of Jesus.

How then can one be filled with the Spirit? By asking! God is a good and generous Father who desires to give good gifts to His children.

First, confess your sins and receive God’s cleansing and forgiveness by the Blood of Christ (1 John 1:9). We are lost, needing to come to ourselves, to repent and confess our sins and return to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.

Second, yield every area of your life to the control of the Holy Spirit, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Rom. 12: 1-2). We must give up the things we hold so close: known sin, anger, brokenness, rebellion, control, and pride so that God has authority over everything in our lives. As C. S. Lewis puts it: “Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.”

Third, ask! In obedience to the command in Ephesians 5:18, ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. God’s purpose is to give you Himself. “For everyone who asks receives,” Jesus says. It is the will of our Father in heaven to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:10, 13).

As you ask for the Spirit’s filling, pray specifically for His power and the release of His gifts so that you can live a more Christlike life and be more effective in building up the Body of Christ and reaching out to a lost world with the Gospel.

Fourth, give thanks! Thank God by faith for His answer to such prayers because they are in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14-15). We live in constant dependence upon the love and mercy of God, and our thanksgiving is a constant response to His help and guidance that comes to us at every moment through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fifth, expect great things to happen. Anticipate that the Holy Spirit will work deeply and powerfully, whether in dramatic or in more quiet ways. God wants you to let Him do through you whatever He purposes. He is able to do anything He pleases through any ordinary man or woman who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. If you feel weak, broken, limited, or ordinary, you are just the kind of person through whom God likes to work.

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