How to Pray-Read Scripture

You search the Scriptures [Bible study], for in them you think you have…life; these are they which testify of Me. 40You are not willing to come to Me [talk to Me] that you may have life.” (Jn. 5:39-40)

  • Jesus called us to abide in Him. The foundation of this reality means talking with Him. We do this best as we pray-read the Word, which is simply speaking its truths back to Him as we read it.

5He who abides in [talks to Me] Me, and I in him [I abide or talk to you], bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…7If you abide in [talk to Me] Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (Jn. 15:5-7)

  • I offer the following suggestions as a method of “prayer-reading.” As you read through the Bible or teachings notes on the Bible, I suggest that you pray the Bible passages back to God. This will help you to practically give your heart to God and to receive from Him.

There are Two broad categories of Scripture for to pray-reading the Word:

  • Scriptures that focus on promises “to believe” in God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that declare that God loves, forgives, leads, protects, or provides for us, etc.
  • Scriptures that focus on exhorting us “to obey” God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that command us to bridle our tongue, serve others and give time and money to God, etc.

I.

We actively dialogue with God by praying promises from His Word that we are to believe.

  • First, we thank God for a particular truth. We turn these truths into simple declarations of thanksgiving or trust. For example, say: “Thank you that You love me, that you forgave me.” Or declare: “I trust that You will lead, provide, and protect me.” When the Lord says in Song 4:9, “You have ravished My heart,” we respond by thanking Him for this truth.

II.

  • Second, we ask God to reveal (release) particular truths to us. Ask God to release a spirit of revelation (Eph. 1:17).
  • For example, pray: “Father, reveal to me the certainty of Your provision; how much You love me, forgive me; how I have ravished Your heart.” Or, “Father, release Your promised guidance, provision, and protection,” etc. When Lord says in Song 4:9, “You have ravished My heart”, we respond by asking for more insight.

We actively dialogue with God by praying truths back to Him that exhort us to obey His Word.

  • First, we commit ourselves to obey God in the specific way set forth in a biblical passage. Make declarations of resolve to obey the Word as you read passages about obedience. For example, declare: “I set my heart to love You and obey You with my speech, time, money, etc.” Or “I set my heart to love you like David, to endure hardship like Paul.”

37You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart… (Mt. 22:37)

2If anyone does not stumble in word, he is…also to bridle the whole body. (Jas 3:2)

  • When the Lord exhorts the bride in Song 2:8-10 to arise in order to follow Him to the mountains, leaving the comfort zone behind. Take time to speak the intent of your heart to obey this passage. These sweet resolutions to obey will strengthen our heart.

“I set my heart to pray like Daniel or do miracles like Paul in the Book of Acts.”

  • Second, we ask God to empower us to obey a particular truth seen in Scripture. Ask God for help to give you wisdom, motivation, and power to obey in specific areas. For example, pray: “Father help me to love You, to bridle my speech, to use my time and money in full obedience.” “Father, strengthen me by your grace to love you like David.
  • When the Lord exhorts the bride in Song 2:8-10 to arise in order to follow Him to the mountains, leaving the comfort zone behind. Take time to specifically ask the Lord to empower your heart to obey this passage.

“Father, lead me away from temptation” (Mt. 6:13), or “deliver me from the works of the evil one” (Jn. 17:15).

III.

Two ways to focus our mind in seeking God: God on His Throne (Rev. 4) and God in our spirit

14The love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14, NAS)

38Out of his heart [belly, KJV] will flow rivers of living water… (Jn. 7:38)

Methods of going deeper:

  1. Linger in God’s presence: in dialoging with God in the Word. Take time to linger as you speak slowly to God (include declaring your love and praise, praying with your spirit and being quiet).  This is ‘devotional prayer.’
  2. Journaling: take time to record thoughts and prayers as you “pray-read” through Scripture. This helps us capture the truths that the Spirit gives us and to grow in our prayer dialogue with God. The anointing of the Spirit in you is your best teacher. When you pray the Word in spirit and truth, you and the Spirit work together to provide you with a tailor made teaching in the Word.

27 The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things… (1 Jn. 2:27)

Examples of Pray-Reading the Word

  • Jesus promises to reveal the Father’s personality to us as the way to impart love in us for God:

26 I (Jesus) have declared to them Your name (Father’s), and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn. 17:26)

  1. Pray: “I thank You for Your commitment to declare (reveal) the Father’s heart to me, release more.
  2. Pray: “I thank You for imparting Your love to my heart, please release more.
  • God promises to show His power to those who are loyal to Him.
  • Pray: “I thank You committing to show Yourself strong in me, release it. I set my heart to be loyal to the Spirit’s leadership in all that I do with my speech, eyes, actions, time and money. Help me to walk this out.”

9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chr. 16:9)

  • Jesus promises to manifest His presence to those who obey and keep or ‘treasure’ His commandments:

21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him… (Jn. 14:21)

  1. Pray: “I thank You for committing to manifest Your presence to my heart, release it more. I set my heart to keep (obey) Your Word in my speech, time, money, etc. Holy Spirit, help me to do this.”
  2. Note: the Father loves everyone in the sense of valuing, caring for and pursuing them. However, He only loves the lifestyle, choices, sacrifices and fruit of those who pursue 100-fold obedience.
  3. We are called to obey the Holy Spirit’s leadership in what we look at. Pray: I set my heart to not look on anything that quenches the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, help me to do this with consistency.

1 I have made a covenant with my eyes; why should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1)

3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes… (Ps. 101:3)

  1. We are called to obey the Holy Spirit’s leadership in our speech. God promises that our whole body (our human passions) will be bridled as we obey the Spirit in our speech. Pray: “I set my heart to keep (obey) Your Word in my speech. Holy Spirit, help me to do this with consistency.”

14 Let the words of my mouth…meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight (Ps. 19:14)

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may be blameless. (Phil. 2:14)

18 In everything give thanks…19 Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thes. 5:18-19)

  • God promises to save or deliver those who lay aside filthiness as they meditate on His Word. Pray: “I thank You for desiring to deliver my soul from filthiness in me, please release it. I set my heart to lay aside all filthiness and to implant your Word in my heart with meditation and meekness. Please help me to do this with consistency.”

21 Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save (liberate, deliver) your souls. (Jas 1:21)

  • God promised that we are a new creation based on giving us the gift of God’s righteousness. Pray: “I thank You and declaration my trust that you have given me the righteousness of God, please reveal it to me more by the spirit of revelation. I declare, that all things are new and the old things of my guilt has passed away in Your sight.”

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…21 For He (Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

There are atheists who study the bible and bear no fruit, there are Christians who study it and also are fruitless.  Matthew 13 reveals that our heart is a soil and the Word is a seed but there are obstacles to get the conditions right for the seed to take root.  A big one is that we would not just read the Word but to have a relationship with Jesus with the bible as our holy conversation material and means of transformation.  We want to know Him as He actually is, not who we imagine Him to be, this method helps us connect with the reality of Jesus.

It is not enough to study the Bible—we must talk to God as we study.  Bible study is meant to lead us to conversation with God by giving us the “conversational material” for our prayer life. It provides the language we use as we talk to Him. Using the Bible and speaking the Word back to God makes prayer easy and enjoyable. It “turns up the volume” in our conversation with God.

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Emotions of God

    It’s vital that we become students of the emotions of God. The revelation of the heart of God is what will equip us to bear Christ. The longer we sit before the fire of God’s emotions to encounter them and to gaze upon them, the more our hearts will be equipped in love righteousness and holiness. We become by beholding, there is no other way.
    All of God’s emotions are deep and transcendent expressions of His divine being and essence i.e. love, wrath, jealousy, joy, delight, pleasure. The emotions of God can be powerfully experience in the soul of the born again believer.
    To make time for this is such a noble pursuit.  I use the aid of Worship with the Word sets at ihopkc.org, but more than any thing the key is focusing on the one who is moved by the sound of your voice.  Also the awareness of the Holy Spirit that wants to reveal Christ to you.  You can go through the gospels, and ask, what were you thinking there, what were you feeling.  It helps to journal revelation.
    In each section consider the emotions of God and the Spirit can give you entrance into experiencing and knowing Him there.  It helps to remember that even His judgment is mercy.  He never stops being merciful when He judges, and the wake up calls he gives are to judge sin, keep it from spreading, in hopes of turning hearts toward Him.
    His wrath is not toward the sincere believer, we must repent and walk in full wholeheartness, but we are His Beloved and His delight.

A man or woman after God’s heart is in reference to a person whose single focus, passion and vision is to pursue and understand the emotions of God. God is not a stale stoic. He is the author of the realm of emotions because He possesses powerful transcendent emotions within Himself.

A people after God’s own heart are a people who pursue and encounter the emotions of God that fuel abandonment in their spirit and soul.

Outline of the Gospels

The book of Matthew is not as Chronological as one might think.  I hope you can use this outline to study and meditate on Christ’s life so it becomes real to you by the aid of the Holy Spirit.  Its important to note that Jesus wasn’t randomly traveling but there was a purpose of His ministry seeking the lost sheep of Israel and revealing and even sometimes hardening the hearts of Jews, revealing the Father to all that they may turn repent and be saved.
Early Galilean Ministry

  1. Rejection in Nazareth & Transition to Capernaum (Luke 4:16-31; Matthew 4:13)
  2. Feast of the Jews (John 5:1-47)
  3. Calling of the Disciples & Miraculous Catch of Fish (Matthew 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20, Lk 5:1-11)
  1. First Sabbath in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:31-41)
  2. Second Circuit Through the Cities of Galilee (Mark 1:39; Luke 4:43-44) & Healing of Leper (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16)
  3. Return to Capernaum & Healing of Paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17- 26)
  4. Calling of Matthew & Feast (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-31)
  5. Bridegroom Fast (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39)
  6. Second Sabbath – Grainfields (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)
  7. Withered Hand (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11)
  8. Prayer and Calling of Twelve (Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:6-12)

GALILEAN PUBLIC MINISTRY

A. Healing of Multitudes (Mark 3:7-12; Luke 6:17-19)

B.Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29; Luke 6:20-49)

C. Faith of Centurion in Capernaum (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10)

D. Calming of the Storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)

E. Gadarene Deliverance (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1- 20; Luke 8:26-39

F. Jairus’ Daughter and Woman with Issue of Blood (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-34; Luke 8:40- 56)

G. Second Rejection at Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6) M. Sending of Twelve (Matthew 10:1-15; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6)

H. Raising of the Widow’s Son in Nain (Luke 7:11-17)

I. Jesus & John the Baptist (Matthew 11:1-19; Luke 7:18-35)

J. Woman at Jesus’ Feet (Luke 7:36-50)

K. Encounter with Mother & Brothers (Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21)

L. Parable of the Sower, Explanation, and Parables (Matthew 13:1-52; Mark 4:1- 34; Luke 8:4-18)

Continue reading

Bride without Spot or Wrinkle

Rev 19:7 speaks of the church as a bride made ready, spotless.  But the question here is how will the bride make herself ready???  We do know this will happen in the end times, for the church is ready and tested in the end-time events, and then Jesus comes back and then it is time for the marriage.  But how will Jesus contend with our sin and compromise, and cultural excesses before then?  How will break through minds and hearts almost fully given over indulgence in television and technology etc.,  the American church today?  Part of the answer is the shaking of everything that can be shaking that wakes up the church.

But critically, part of the answer is also in Isaiah 33:17 “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty.”   God’s beauty is infinite, but we must pursue it.   This is why the prayer movement is so being established with the mandate to call the church to regularly pray Eph 1:18 that the eyes of our heart would be enlightened, and 1:17 for a Spirit of Revelation of Christ.   The prophesy to see the King in His beauty will be ultimately and finally fulfilled in the generation that Jesus returns to.  Part of the answer is causing the church to have a larger appetite for immersing themselves in the things of God and prayer.  In Mark 4:18 Jesus warned of a Christian heart getting snared by the things of the World causing it to become unfruitful (seed falling among thorns).  In the End times Jesus will have a bride alive in love, fascinated by the Spirit and Word and a heart that is free and bearing fruit.  Bold, uncowardly, and victorious.

In this last few decades, prophetically the Holy Spirit was really highlighting and emphasizing the Father Heart of God.   He is still seeking us to “root us and ground us in the reality of His love (Eph 3:17).  However I have no doubt that what the Holy Spirit is highlighting to the bride in this hour to aid in the process of nourishing and washing with the water of the Word.   Eph 5:26 reveals the process of the washing of the water of the Word related to the experience of being nourished and cherished by God.  Take some time to look at that passage if you haven’t yet.

The Bridegroom Revelation

I believe Matthew 9 speaks of our current time period and generation.  It speaks of generation where there is a new understanding, or ‘paradigm,’ of seeing fasting and prayer as desirable above earthly things, because of seeing the Bridegroom face of Jesus.  It is no coincidence that every time Jesus talked about His return He called Himself the ‘Bridegroom.’  Look at Matthew 25.  The issue at the end of the age actually will be ‘do we have intimacy (oil) with the Bridegroom?’  Bridegroom is just a bible word for Jesus as He relates to the church.

The Holy Spirit is likened to wine that makes the heart glad and imparts to us the love of God.  The Holy Spirit also leads Pastors and Teachers to different Scriptural emphasis, or ‘wineskins.’  It is the wineskins that hold the wine, it is the different Scriptural paradigms that open the heart to experience the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus talked about this, He gave the revelation of the Bridegroom face of Jesus, or Bridal Paradigm, as the premier ‘new wineskin.’

14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. 17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved’ (Matt 9:14-16.)

The disciples didn’t need to fast, they were already with Him.  But He was taken from us at the cross and now sits at the right hand of the Father, but we can fast to be with Him!  Fasting to encounter Jesus does not increase how much God loves us, which is always infinite, but it does increase our experience of it.  Now fasting with out praying is just dieting.  Im talking about praying Song of Solomon and the many scriptures that highlight His affection like John 15:9 and John 17:26, Eph 3:16-19, etc.  Song of Solomon has always been taught about being about Christ and the church, though also the man and woman interpretation is valid.  But there is no Scripture that doesn’t exalt Jesus and even rabbis before Christ taught this book as being about a love relationship with the coming Messiah.  The Song of Solomon experience in praying it, is being led into the wilderness of prayer and broken down to the place of full dependence on God and being ruined for any other passion.

The church is called a bride in this context as Rev 19:7-9 details the Marriage supper of the Lamb where every Christian who has ever lived receives a new holy heavenly body (Mat 22:30), and the reality/concept of marriage changes but what it stands for and represents (union/communion) stays the same. There is nothing sexual or impure about loving the Bridegroom.  The “kisses of the mouth” are the same as when Jesus said “I live not by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.”  At Ihop-kc we sing ‘Kisses of the Word,’ to stop confusion.  We were never intended to picture an actual kiss, but we ask for the embraces of the Holy Spirit of the love of God on our innerman when we ask for the kiss.

Eph 5:18-19 says that we are not to be drunk on alcoholic wine, but rather be filled with the Spirit by Singing to Jesus the Scriptures.   This message of singing the Word is being spread all over the world through the prayer movement, and it needs to be a part of our prayer life.  God created the human heart so that singing opens the heart in a way that nothing else does.  Singing the Word is the main biblical prescription, the premier way, to be filled with the Spirit and set on fire for God.  Jesus was the Living Word before He became a man, and now we encounter Him by singing and praying/dialoguing the written word.  I just feel such a strong emphasis on this, WE MUST TAKE THE WORD AND MAKE IT PRAYER TO ENCOUNTER GOD, HEAD KNOWLEDGE IS NOT ENOUGH.  But we must grow our hearts in praying the Word.

That last point is driven home here: Jesus said “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)  We can’t make the same mistake the Pharisees did.  The Word only enters the heart by prayer, not memorization.  The relationship with Jesus comes alive by the Word and the Spirit, and dialogue.  What is a relationship without talking?  Studying and hearing men preach are great but are no substitute.

So very many Scriptures come impact us when we pray them directly, or depending on the verse, ask for revelation on them, or thank God for the truth in them, or ask for power to obey them.  The Scriptures are living and active (Heb 4:2) and are so powerful as we pray them.  They rewrite the code of our inner man until Christ dwells within us.

A lot of people think of prayer as simply asking the Father for things we need like finances and favor.  That is important, but there is also prayer that seeks to spend time with God.  God created man to have fellowship with God.  In heaven will we esteem those who saw spending time with Jesus as what we were created for, as wise.

Prayer is the place where we are transformed into the image of Christ, by the renewing of our minds (Rom 11.)  To be transformed into the image of Christ, we must behold Him, through the Spirit, by prayer with the Scriptures.  The prayer movement is ministering to the church and in abandonment and extravagance, we are fully following and obeying God with our lives and hearts, and the first Commandment is being restored to first place, You shall love the Lord, your God with all of your heart soul and mind.

Additionally, Christian communities must redefine what they are reaching toward.  Community in the church has become about friendship and movies, where relationships are the end game.  Community without prayer the Word will end up in people devouring one another without being touched by the tenderness of God.  “The fellowship we crave with one another flows from the deep love and joy we find in Jesus in secret. Community is fruit of this communion.”-Dana Candler

The Yoke of Meekness

“COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN”

-We really want to get the revelation on this verse. Matthew 11:28 really is the clearest teaching on how to have a vibrant spirit, a happy heart. Jesus says, “Come to Me” (Mt. 11:28). He says, “I’m the source of the instruction, but I’m also the power source. Come to Me. Connect with Me and I’ll teach you about meekness; and I’ll empower you to walk it out.” It’s the all-important, “Come to Me.” He uses that invitation several times through the Gospels.

He says, “Come to Me, all that labor and are heavy laden” (Mt. 11:28, paraphrased). And of course it’s the whole human race. To be heavily laden means you have a heavy spirit. You’re weighed down in your emotions. You’re weighed down with things. He says, “I will give you rest” (v. 28b, NKJV). Now rest is a term that involves many things. He’s talking about our emotions. He’s talking about giving us the power of a vibrant spirit, a free spirit. He’s talking about a joyous, happy spirit. And He said, “Now I will tell you how to enter into rest. I’ll tell you how to get free from the heavy spirit.” And there are many different expressions of a heavy spirit. We all know them. I mean, we’ve all experienced a heavy spirit many times throughout our life.

“TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU AND LEARN OF ME, FOR I AM MEEK AND LOWLY”

But Jesus says in verse 29, “Here’s the way to freedom. You have to take My yoke. You have to yoke yourself to Me. And you have to learn from Me because I’m gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt. 11:29, paraphrased). “Lowly in heart” is translated in other Bible translations as humble or meek. It’s lowly of heart. And He says, “If you do this, you will find rest for your souls” (ibid). He repeats the promise that you’ll enter into rest. You’ll have a vibrant spirit. The spirit of heaviness will lift off of you over time.

HIS YOKE IS EASY, HIS BURDEN IS LIGHT

Then He goes on in verse 30 and He gives an encouragement: “Stay with the process, because if you stay with it, you’ll find out that My yoke is easy” (Mt. 11:30, paraphrased). Now the illustration of a yoke is very, very important. It’s central to this teaching of how to live in freedom and liberty. In the ancient world, as today, the farmer would put a pair of oxen or another pair of animals inside a yoke. And sometimes there would be two and sometimes there would be many oxen yoked together with a wooden yoke. And the yoke would be around their neck—both the lead oxen and the newer oxen that was just being broken in and trained in how to plow the fields. They would be yoked to an experienced ox, and that ox would lead the yoke.

We’re the new; and when we put that yoke on our neck, that yokes to Him. In the agricultural world, the “beginner ox” would tend to go either to the right or to the left. But they couldn’t get off the path because they were yoked in this wooden yoke next to the experienced ox that remained on the path. Jesus said, “Put that yoke on you,” because we’re chaining ourselves, we’re yoking ourselves to His pathway of meekness.

He says, “I’ll walk the path. Yoke yourself to Me. And when you want to go right and left, the yoke will keep you in the center. And that yoke is your commitment to learn from Me and to walk with Me in this pathway.”

Now it’s the yoke of meekness. And no one will put that yoke on you. God won’t put it on you; we have to put it on ourselves. We put it on ourselves by making a commitment to learn from Jesus in the realm of meekness and to follow it through with Him. And so we put that yoke on us and we begin the process of learning from Him.

Now the challenge of being yoked is this: in the earlier days of being yoked, the beginning stages of being yoked, the new ox feels the sores and the blisters of this new yoke. And it’s uncomfortable; it’s awkward. The new ox wants to get off the path and resist it, and so he kind of bucks the system and doesn’t like it at first. But over time, he gets into a rhythm. And the new ox adjusts to this new pathway, this new way of life. And so it’s a process. It takes time. There’s a resistance. It’s awkward at first. But Jesus is telling us in verse 30, “My yoke is easy” (Mt. 11:30). In other words, “If you stay with it: if you’ll stay yoked to Me in this pathway of meekness, eventually your heart will find rest. You’ll carry your heart in a new way.”

EXCELLING IN HUMILITY SHOULD BE ONE OF OUR HIGHEST AMBITIONS

Now here’s what the process of being yoked to the Lord is about. We start off being aware that humility is an important virtue. But our natural response to humility is to dodge it, to find ways to escape the yoke of humility. We’ll use Bible verses or the grace of God or social maneuvering to get out of having to face the issue of humbling ourself in relationships with people. We don’t like that yoke. But once we decide to take it on and wrestle, then over time, it becomes a primary life goal. I mean, it’s not just something we’re enduring; it’s not something we’re trying to escape. It’s actually something we settle in on. Our life goal isn’t just comfort or more blessing or more honor; our life goal is to excel in humility. And when that happens, the yoke becomes easy and we carry our heart in a different way.

THE MEEKEST MAN EVER TO WALK THE EARTH

Something happens on the inside when one of our primary life goals takes hold of meekness. Because it’s not natural to any of us to make that a primary goal in our life, but it’s the Lord’s agenda for our life. He’s the meekest Man that ever walked the earth, but He also had the freest and the happiest spirit of any man that ever walked the earth. And the two are related to one another.

Now this is the only characteristic Jesus ever proclaimed about Himself. He gave Himself titles; but He never, ever described a character trait about Himself, except here in verse 29. He said, “I’m meek,” or, “I’m humble,” or, “I’m lowly.” Use whatever word you want. The Lord commits Himself to training us in meekness if we will go with Him. He says, “Take the yoke; sign up for the class.” He won’t make you take this yoke. And again, putting on that yoke means we’re training ourselves or binding ourselves to a life of meekness according to His terms. That is what it means to take the yoke. Taking the yoke doesn’t just mean we ask the Lord to forgive us for our sins; we’re born again and we’re taking the yoke! No, that’s only the beginning of the beginning. The yoke of meekness is the call to discipleship.

As a matter of fact, in this very chapter, Matthew 11, earlier in verse 12, Jesus talked about spiritual violence: this radical abandonment to God. This is actually the yoke of meekness that He’s talking about. He described it just a few verses earlier referring to John the Baptist. He’s laying out the spiritual violence of the forerunner ministry. It’s living the yoke of meekness: not the occasional expression of humility, but humility defined as one of the primary goals of what we want to attain in this life. It’s violent, but once we settle that, it becomes easy. This doesn’t mean that the life externally is easy. But our heart comes to peace. There’s an enjoyment of God. There’s a vibrant spirit in coming to peace with this new alignment of our life, when our goal is to walk in the meekness and the yoke of humility that Jesus walks in.

THE GRAVITATIONAL PULL OF OUR HEARTS IS TOWARDS PRIDE

Well, we never graduate from this class. Sign up for the class, the yoke of meekness. And it’s a seminary course. It’s an internship that you’ll be in all your days. We need to assume that pride is strong in our being. Some folks have the opposite opinion. When someone suggests they’re proud, they’re scandalized. It’s exactly the opposite. Of course we’re proud. Continue reading

Antichrist’s Political Aggression

First Seal: The Antichrist’s Political Aggression

Preface: The first seal is quite an interesting study.  Now I have been drawing strongly here from Mike Bickle’s Study of the Seals Trumpets and Bowls. A strictly scholastic approach won’t work here, that usually ends with people making it mean something less offensive or symbolizing it away. I want to lean on the teachers of the body throughout the centuries, but also seek His guidance. The Lord will give revelation and understanding to those who ask for it, especially as we get nearer to His Return. There are many interpretations of the book of Revelation, but only one Holy Spirit. I have sought to ask Jesus what His plans are, more than read into the book a denominational view. Even as you read this, you want to keep asking for the Spirit of Truth to guide you into truth, even beyond the page here.

First Seal: The Antichrist’s Political Aggression

  1. And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (Rev. 6:2)

The first seal is unique because it signals the beginning of the final three and a half years. This is after the first 3 1/2 years of false peace. After the time of false peace there are the 7 Seals, the 7 Trumpets, the Rapture and then the 7 bowls.

The first seal is the release of the Antichrist as a political leader on the worldwide stage with authority. The Antichrist begins as a regional, political leader who is not taken seriously by many other leaders around the world. They do not know who he is. He knows who he is, but they do not. He is a regional leader.

He puts together a series of covenants and peace treaties among the nations creating false peace. That is one of the key events that thrust him onto the world stage. It is more than that, but that is the beginning of the events that put him on the world stage.

When he comes on the world stage at the first seal, then it signals the final three and a half years before Jesus appears in the sky to rapture the Church, establish His throne in Jerusalem, and take over all the nations. When the first seal is released and the Antichrist takes a world stage, it signifies the last three and a half years. It is forty-two months, the Bible says, until the Lord’s appearing in the sky, landing on the earth to take over the earth.

A CHANGE IN PRAYER TYPE

The prayer life of the Church changes focus starting with the first Seal. Right now the way that we pray is, we see sin in the nations, and we ask God to shine His light on the sin and change it.

It is a positive prayer. We say, “Lord, stop the sin. Shine Your light. Change the situation. Send revival.” That prayer for the release of light and glory releases light and glory (but side note, it also usually releases judgment on darkness).

We do not pray that way; we pray for light to touch where darkness is, and judgment is the byproduct of it. When there is a final decision for darkness, when the hearts are reprobate (that is a fancy word for when they have made a decision for darkness), there is no turning back. That is the key issue. This begins at the final three and a half years, at the first seal.

PARTNERING WITH THE LORD IN RELEASING HIS JUDGMENTS

From the first seal to the second coming, people take the mark of the beast and they make decisions of which they cannot reverse. Their conscience is fully seared. The mark is complete agreement with the man of sin and is a statement of worshiping him as God. Our prayers then go from, “Lord send light,” to “Lord, release your judgment on the reprobate.” Because this empire will be oppressing all who resist it. And because they will be in places in the government where it is clear that there is no possible repentance for them. We do pray specifically for judgments in very rare situations today if the Lord revealed it and confirmed it by a prophetic word.

But I do not know of many prophetic words that I would have confidence in today if someone said, “Hey, the Lord told me to pray for judgment against this or that.” There are not too many situations I would have confidence in. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the prophets of old, the Lord actually visited them for that kind of thing. It is rare. It is unique, but it is a Biblical reality.

That is not the rule of how we pray today. We do not pray for the release of judgments today. We pray for the release of light that causes judgment, but it is in God’s hands with the judgments. We do not know. We are not asking for the judgment in specific ways. From the time of the first seal to the second coming, we have clarity and confidence to pray for judgment. Moses had confidence to call down judgment on Pharaoh, the church will have confidence in the face of horrible oppression of the Antichrist’s world empire.

THE FIRST JUDGMENT IS THE RELEASE OF THE ANTICHRIST

It is interesting. The first judgment that is released is the release of the Antichrist. It is the Antichrist judging the Harlot Babylon of Revelation 17 who has been murdering the saints for some years before this point. This is actually a positive thing, in a way. The release of the Antichrist is actually in part a fruit of the prayers of the saints against Babylon. God raises up an evil force to judge Babylon and all the nations that are aligned with her.

Then, our prayer focus shifts after that to praying against the Antichrist himself. That is a point of introduction to make the point that from the first seal to the second coming—the final three and a half years — the prayer focus of the Church shifts in a dramatic way.   We know that when light is released, it does bring judgment to darkness. But as a rule, the Church does not have the details, even prophetically, of how that is going to happen.

THE STRUCTURE OF THE SEALS, TRUMPETS, AND BOWLS

A. The structure of the seven seals, seven trumpets, the seven bowls. That is called the three judgment series. It is three series that brings judgment with seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. These three judgment series, they are structured in a similar way, all three of them.

The first four events belong together. Then the next two go together. Then the final event stands alone. Knowing this helps us understand the interpretation of the judgment events.

DISTINCTION ON SEALS

B. The first four seals are distinct from the next two, which are separate from the last one. The similarities are a horse with a distinct color (white, red, black, pale).

The four horses parallel the color of the horses (red, black, white, dappled) seen by Zechariah (Zech. 1:8-11; 6:1-8).

As we look at the seals here in Revelation 6, the first four seals are clearly distinct from the next two, which are very distinct from the final one. The first four seals, they have a similarity—quite a few similarities. Number one: there is a horse with a distinct color. There is a rider on the horse, and that rider is released by a decree from one of the living creatures. The result is judgment. All four of them have those similarities. Which is very different than the next two seals, the fifth and the sixth ones.

GOD LIFTING HIS RESTRAINING HAND OFF EVIL MEN

The judgment of the seals is actually God lifting His restraining hand off of evil people. There is much blessing happening in the earth today because God is restraining the evil in people’s lives, hearts, and governments. There is a lot of evil happening, but God is restraining much evil.

The great judgment of the seals is God letting human beings have what they want. They want sin. He says, “I will take My hand off, and I will let you have that which you are pursuing and you will find it, it will judge you.”

He takes His hands off of human beings in a certain way. He is still in control, but He lets sinful people let their fill of sinful people. Then they find what they do is they destroy each other.

In the seals God takes His restraint off the human realm. In the trumpets, He takes His restraint off the demonic realm. In the bowls, He takes His restraint off His judgments. His judgments are fully released in the bowls.

In the seals, humans are released fully to do their will. In the trumpets, demons are released fully. In the bowls, God’s wrath is fully released upon the earth.

There is an element of restraint being lifted in each one of these judgment series. Again, I am making the point of how the first four go together. I am going to apply that point below (the first four seals).

FIRST FOUR SEAL JUDGMENTS INVOLVE NATURAL ACTIONS ON EARTH
They all involve natural actions of events that occur on the earth. Whereas the fifth, sixth, and seventh seals involve supernatural actions with events occurring in the heavens, or in the sky, or in the heavenly realm—whether the sky or around the throne, etc.

The seal judgments are actually the raising up of the Antichrist. It is a judgment against the harlot Babylon religion that will have existed for some years.

We do not know how long the harlot Babylon exists in a formal way that has power to kill the saints. The harlot Babylon will not only be a religious system; it will actually have the political ability to kill the saints.

That is what it states in Revelation 17:6. It states the harlot Babylon (this religion) will be drunk with the blood of the saints. They will have the political, legislative ability to kill saints who they see as a threat to world peace.

The activity of the harlot Babylon religion is the first big thing that is going to happen before the Antichrist appears. This world religion will require that religions of the world will join it.

The Harlot will be an actual, official organization which will be much more in-depth than the world council of churches. I have heard people over the years say that, that is it or that the Catholic Church is it. “A Woman rides the Beast” is a popular book on that. No, it is far bigger than that. It is far bigger than the Catholic Church. It is far bigger than apostate Protestantism. It is far bigger than anything. It is an entity that has never existed in this magnitude. That is what it emerging in the earth right now.

That will occur before the Antichrist. As a matter of fact, the Antichrist is used by God to judge this evil system. Then God judges the Antichrist afterwards.

GOD USES EVIL MEN AS HIS INSTRUMENTS TO JUDGE EVIL MEN

It is a fact of Scripture; it is always surprising to our natural mind that God will use evil men as His instruments to judge evil men. That happens all through the Bible. But when we encounter it, it often surprises us. If we take a step back, look at the Scripture, it is a principle of Scripture that God uses evil men, even evil nations. He actually empowers them and allows them to have resources in an unusual way to judge other evil men or other evil nations. Then God judges the one He used to judge the other. That is a pattern of Scripture.

THE SEAL JUDGMENTS TARGET NATIONS THAT ALIGN WITH HARLOT BABYLON


The seal judgments will target the nations that align themselves with this harlot Babylon religion. Many nations, many kings will line up and align themselves in a very practical and real way—not just in a casual way, at a distance with endorsements. They will be involved in a real way. Biblically, we do not fully know the details, but they will be. Religion is going to take the center stage on a global level. People are saying the nations are going to become more secular. Actually the truth is the nations are going to become more immoral but more spiritual. Instead of becoming more secular, the Bible makes it clear that the nations are actually going to become more spiritual, meaning spiritually aware, sensitive, but in a dark way. It will actually

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The End-Time War on the Spirit of Jezebel

I. INTRODUCTION

  1. Often when a woman in church has a leadership gift or a control spirit, people oppose her saying she has a “Jezebel Spirit.”  I do not believe that is what a Jezebel Spirit is.  We must let the Bible define our terminology.  There are two different women in the Bible named Jezebel. The first one was in the OT in context of Elijah (approx. 850 BC; 1 Kg. 16-21; 2 Kgs. 9) and the other is the NT in context to the church of Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29).
  2. I am convinced that we gain insight into the End-Time drama by understanding the intensity of “OT Jezebel’s” persecution of Elijah and the prophets of Israel and the nature of “NT Jezebel’s” seduction of the church in Thyatira. The spiritual principles seen in “both Jezebels” will be fully manifest in the End-Times. Both contribute to understanding of “End-Time Jezebel’s” persecution (murder and theft) and seduction (immorality and sorcery) as a face of the spirit of Babylon.
  3. The four primary spiritual strongholds across the earth in the End-Times are murder, sorcery, immorality and theft (Rev. 9:21). Immorality stimulates the physical body outside of God’s will as sorcery stimulates the spirit. Sorcery often works in context to mind altering substances (drugs, alcohol. etc).

    21 They did not repent of their murders or sorceries or sexual immorality or thefts. (Rev. 9:21)

  4. There is a progression in Satan’s End-Time strategy. First, he uses immorality to dull the spirit and harden the conscience. This opens the way for people to embrace sorcery which emboldens murder and theft as will be seen in persecution of the Church and Israel.

    1 The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2…having their conscience seared… (1 Tim. 4:1-2)

  5. Immorality dulls the spirit which causes the Church to stop reaching to operate in the power of God. It causes guilt which produces hopelessness so people quit pursuing the deep things of God.
  6. The church of Thyatira is affirmed for growing in their ministries, endurance in persecution and love. Yet, they lacked zeal to confront believers engaged in Jezebel’s immorality and idolatry.

    18 These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow (tolerate) that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols…22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death …. (Rev. 2:19-23)

  7. Those who sacrificed to idols did it to gain the power of demons and to interact with them.

    18 Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. (1 Cor. 10:18-21)

II. OT JEZEBEL: HER IDOLATRY (SORCERY) AND IMMORALITY

  1. Jezebel was a queen of Israel and a witch or priestess of the Baal and Asherah (Phoenician gods) who seduced Israel into immorality, idolatry (witchcraft or sorcery) and murder.
  2. She was raised in Sidon, a prosperous seaport city of Phoenicia on the Mediterranean Sea about 20 miles north of Tyre. As a foreign princess, her father Ethbaal, king of Sidon (in Tyre) gave her in marriage to Ahab to create an alliance with Sidon and Israel (about 870 BC).
  3. As the new queen of Israel, she moved to Jezreel and established a center of Baal worship there.

    31 He (Ahab)…took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. (1 Kgs. 16:31-32)

  4. Jezebel had influence through her position as queen and her strong personality. She promoted immorality and sorcery throughout Israel and stirred Ahab up to do great wickedness.

    25 But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. (1 Kgs. 21:25)

  5. Jezebel’s position of influence was in being the queen. However, the passion of her heart was to operate in the occult realm of the spirit. She joined occult religion with the State government resulting in a “demonic theocracy” that will also be seen in the Antichrist’s empire.

    22 The harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft… (2 Kgs. 9:22)

  6. She used the powers of the state to established Phoenician idol worship on a grand scale in the king’s court in Jezreel. She financed 450 prophets of Baal and 400 of Asherah with state money.

    19 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah…eat at Jezebel’s table. (1 Kgs. 18:19)

  7. The conflict at the end-of-the-age will be between two Houses of Prayer (two global worship movements). The Antichrist will raise up a state-financed false worship worldwide movement (Rev. 13:4, 8, 12, 15). The Holy Spirit is raising up the most powerful worship movement in history (Rev. 22:17; 5:8; 8:4; Lk. 18:7-8; Isa. 62:6-7; 24:14-16; 26:8-9; 30:18-19; 42:10-13; etc.). He will finance it. This will be the most power, passionate and dangerous time in world history.

    8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him (Antichrist), whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)

  8. The False Prophet will function as a “Jezebel like partner” to the Antichrist in his global empire.
  9. Ahab and Jezebel named their three children after the Lord (Ahaziah, Jehoram, Athaliah). Ahab consulted the prophets of Israel (1 Kings 22:6). They embraced the “respectability of religion”.

III. OT JEZEBEL AND HER PERSECUTION OF ELIJAH AND THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL

A. Jezebel murdered and hunted down God’s prophets who opposed her. Some End-Time saints will lose their life even as John the Baptist did for confronting the spirit of Jezebel.

7 I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets…at the hand of Jezebel. (2 Kgs. 9:7)

  1. Jezebel hunted for the prophets to destroy them. They hid in caves from. Spiritually, when God’s people yield Jezebel’s immorality, they retreat in shame and spiritual dullness to “hide in cave.”

    4 Jezebel massacred the prophets…Obadiah had taken 100 prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave…10 There is no nation…(Ahab) has not sent…to hunt for you (Elijah)… (1 Kgs. 18:4, 10)

  2. Ahab, as the head of State engaged in a “propaganda” war that blamed Elijah as the one who troubled Israel because he prayed to release a national judgment of drought that lasted for 31⁄2 years due. Elijah put the responsibility on him. After Israel repented he prayed to release rain.

    17 It happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD…” (1 Kgs. 18:17-18)

    17 Elijah…prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain…. (Jas 5:17-18)

  3. Elijah called for a showdown between the “prayer movement” of Baal’s prophets and the Lord.

    19 Gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the 450 prophets of Baal, and the 400 prophets of Asherah…21 Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” …22 Elijah said to the people…23 Let them give us two bulls… 24 You call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”…26 So they…called on the name of Baal…36 Elijah…said, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell…39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God!”…40 Elijah said, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” …Elijah…executed them there…42 Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; he bowed down…45 There was a heavy rain. (1 Kgs. 18:19-45)

    13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain…or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven…and heal their land…. (2 Chr. 7:13-14)

  4. Elijah was raised up like John the Baptist to turn Israel back to God. Both Elijah and John the Baptist fulfilled God’s purpose in only turning a small number of people back to God.

    15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord…16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Lk. 1:15-17)

  1. Elijah killed all of Jezebel’s 850 prophets at Mt. Carmel with his sword. (1 Kgs. 18:40; 19:1). As God granted a great victorious through Elijah so also the End-Time will see great victories by releasing Jesus’ judgments through the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17)

    6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, 7 to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples…9 to execute on them the written judgment– This honor have all His saints. (Ps. 149:6-9)

  2. After Elijah killed Jezebel’s prophets at Mt. Carmel, she swore an oath to her gods (demons) to kill Elijah. He was intimidated by this and ran for his life to Beersheba of Judah (1 Kgs. 19:1-3).

    1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow…” 3 When he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba… (1 Kgs. 19:1-3)

    17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours… (Jas 5:17)

  3. The contest between Elijah and Jezebel will be replayed yet with a higher measure of power.

    13 He (False Prophet) performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. (Rev. 13:13)

    5 If anyone wants to harm them (Two Witnesses), fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. (Rev. 11:5)

  4. Jezebel’s theft is seen when Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to Ahab. Jezebel murdered him to take his property (1 Kgs. 21:1-16). She wrote a letter to the elders of Jezreel bribing them to have Naboth killed for blasphemy against God. She provided the initiative to do this evil.
  5. Jezebel lived 14 years after Ahab’s death as the queen-mother and continued to rule in Israel through her two sons (King Ahaziah and King Joram) and to promote evil through her daughter who was married to the King Jehoram of Judah (2 Chron 21:6). Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah married Judah’s King Jehoram, (Jehoshaphat’s son). She had the same spirit of wickedness as her mother (2 Kgs 11). Thus Jezebel also seduced Judah with her evil.
  6. Elijah prophesied that Ahab and Jezebel’s children would be killed by God’s judgment

    20 Because you have sold yourself to do evil…21 Behold, I will bring calamity on you. I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel…23 and concerning Jezebel…the dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. (1 Kgs 21:20-23)

    22 I will cast her (Jezebel) into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children… (Rev. 2:22-23)

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