Tapping Into God’s Power

I’ve always been a sucker for super heroes. The kid version of me used to wonder if I could invent a pill to make me strong like the flying cartoon hero, Mighty Mouse.

And Superman! You can have your Batmen, Spidermen, Aquamen, and the whole kit and caboodle. For my money, Superman was the man. To fly! To have muscles like that! To be the ultimate good guy. That’s who I wanted to be.

Of course, I knew the Super guy didn’t exist. And to be honest I get very nervous when I fly without an airplane, which I’ve done a few times in my dreams. When something seems too good to be true, there’s a little alarm that goes off inside me.

That’s why I do a double-take when I read things like, “…to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

More Than You Can Ask?

More than I can ask? Or IMAGINE! C’mon now. My imagination conjures up all kinds of wonderful things. And “according to his power that is at work within us,”? Now, I know that God dwells in me by His Spirit so theoretically His power should work in me.

But practically?

Paul wrote this verse. If God’s power worked for the apostle why did he spend so much time in prison? Why did he get beat up by his foes? If I was him, I would have pulled a Captain America and whapped them back to wherever they came from with my shield. Why did the apostle have periods when he was cold, hungry, or shipwrecked? Tradition says he was beheaded.

Hey Paul, your “imagination” must have been broken. Where’s that power?

He Was Powerful

Why doesn’t your mind’s eye picture a Mercedes camel, a Mediterranean villa, perfect health, and a long, happy life without a lot of complications? Isn’t that what God’s power and faith are about?

Truth is, Paul didn’t worry about the difference between a Toyota camel and a Mercedes camel. He just wanted to get there so he could preach.

He used his faith to change the world, not to pad his bank account.

The Encyclopedia Britannica asserts that Paul was, “…often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity.” We remember little of what the Roman emperors said. Paul is quoted millions of times each week! He planted assemblies that fueled early Church growth.

Healings and miracles marked his ministry. Something worked within him. It was the same presence and power of God which resides within each believer. Which brings up the question: Why isn’t this power of God working within me like that?

It is to some extent, but if you’re like me, you’d like to see more evidence of God using us and changing us. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this verse and those surrounding it to see if we can discover how Paul unleashed God’s power in his life.

Keys For God’s Action In You and Me

Ephesians 3:14-21 reveals how we can tap into the power of God’s Spirit living in us.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, (If you want God’s strength living and working within you, you must yield to His Lordship. He’s the Boss, not us. We pray with Jesus, “Your will be done, not mine).

15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (If you want to be strengthened with God’s power to meet every challenge in life, ask Him for it. Pray! Be constantly filled with His Spirit).

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Simple childlike faith opens the door to Jesus’ presence in your life).

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Root all your actions in the life-giving soil of love for God and love for others. Then you’ll have the power to see how incredibly vast Christ’s love is and all that God is will fill you. That doesn’t mean that you become God but it means that His character and His life infuse all that you are).

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… (Realize God’s potential to act through us goes way beyond what we can even think. At times we’ll be surprised how God uses us).

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (When we realize the Source of that strength and potential, our heart overflows with praise for this powerful God who loves us so. Glorify Him with your lips, your heart, and the way you live your life. Keep on doing it from the moment you come to know Him all the way to and through eternity.

That sounds like a superhero story but turn off the alarms and simply strive by faith to let God work in and through you. You’ll be surprised at what happens. Expect something unexpected.

Image by diapicard from Pixabay

Hmmm …. “If the mailman stopped to kick every dog that barked at him, he’d never deliver the mail.” Roy Williams, recently retired University of North Carolina basketball coach. “Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” Michael Hyatt’s friend

Growth Helps

Meeting God In “Thin Places” –I like to meet the Lord at a spot where I have memories. At the moment it’s the back deck of our house (it’s really the back porch but I said “deck” so that you younger readers would know what I’m talking about). Before I get my work day gets started, I love to sit out there. The quietness soothes me. Note, “quietness,” still includes birds singing and crickets cricketing. We’ve got a couple of Robins who think they own the place and we are their renters.” CLICK to read

Stop Communicating Like a Two-Year Old!–Have you ever noticed that when a little one is not happy he has ways of letting you know? He screams, turns red, throws a fit and keeps it up until everyone else around him is wondering why that woman was allowed to give birth (except we’re patient because we’ve all been there. It’s happened to us, too). Now unhappy adults communicate their emotions more subtly. They scream, turn red, and throw a fit. Some of them anyway. We’ve got our grown-up ways of throwing tantrums that are even more uncomfortable for others, don’t we? For instance: CLICK to read the rest of the story

Talking Heads–Mama had a look that she shot at me when I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to. It was guaranteed to curdle milk at ten paces; absolutely no words were needed. The message was, “Quit that or you’re dead meat!” At least that was how I interpreted it. Young lovers seem to say whole libraries of meaningful things as they look in their sweet thing’s eyes. Wriggle through the crowd into His presence. See His face. Hear Him speak with His eyes. A lot gets said in a look. CLICK to read

Run! Stand In the Gap!

God searches for gap-standers.

Don’t you just hate bubble busters? Or is it bursters? Anyway, hang on because I’m going to pop one. You know the story about the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike to plug a leak and save the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands?

Didn’t happen.

It wasn’t even a Dutch person who wrote the story but an American lady, Mary Mapes Dodge. Most Dutch people don’t even know the tale. There. Disappointed aren’t you? Me too.

According to genealogist Yvette Hoitink, there was a brave Dutchman whose quick thinking saved many lives when a Dutch Dike gave way in 1953. “Skipper Evergroen drove the ship parallel to the hole, and then turned it to lock it in place. The gap behind the ship was quickly filled with sand bags. The torrent slowed to a trickle and three million people kept their feet dry.”

People in Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, Holland had no Captain Evergroens or even a little Dutch (figment-of-an-American-lady’s-imagination) boy. Some 1800 of them perished in the floodwaters when the dikes broke.

Standing In the Gap

Did you know that God searches desperately for gap-fillers in our generation?

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them …” (Ezek. 22:30, NKJV).

We’ve got lots of gripers, grumblers, and pointers-out-of-what’s-wrong. We don’t have a lot of people on their knees pleading for God to send revival and save the lost. Don’t get mad at me, but it seems there’s a lot more people excited about elections than winning the war in heavenly places on our knees.

In Ezekiel’s time, God didn’t want to pour out His wrath on that disobedient people. He looked for someone like Moses. When Moses descended from the mountain with God’s commands in his hands, he found his people in a wild orgy, cavorting around an idol.

God threatened to destroy them but Moses pleaded with God, “But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Exodus 32:32, ESV).

Paul’s Jewish compatriots spent quite a bit of time beating on him, threatening him, and lying about him. But, the apostle felt towards them the same way God did, “O Israel, my people! O my Jewish brothers! How I long for you to come to Christ. My heart is heavy within me, and I grieve bitterly day and night because of you. Christ knows and the Holy Spirit knows that it is no mere pretense when I say that I would be willing to be forever damned if that would save you.” (Romans 9:1-3, Living Bible)

“Standing in the gap” means you fill the breach with your body. That costs you. Maybe in fasting and time in prayer. Maybe some midnight hours of prayer. Time when you could be doing other things.

Standing in the gap means you love those behind you as much or more than yourself. Your family, your church, your friends, the lost that you don’t even know.

Standing in the gap means you’re cooperating with God’s plan and God’s love for the people. God’s mission for you is more important than your life. God didn’t want to pour out His wrath. There was war in heavenly places and He was looking for spiritual warriors to win the fight against his enemies.

It’s ironic that’s Israel’s downfall didn’t seem to only be because of the sinners in the land. It was the lack of intercessors to fill up the gaps in the wall. When there are no more gap-fillers righteous judgment falls.

How can we pray with fervor and compassion? The Holy Spirit helps us.—“ Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.” (Rom. 8:26, 27, the Message)

We Remember the things that hurt us so that we can identify with someone else’s pain.

A Changed Young Man

At the start of our ministry in Luxembourg, a young German man was invited to an evangelistic meeting in our coffee house. Albert started to come regularly but then he returned to Germany to visit his parents. They convinced him that he had fallen into a cult, so he stopped coming.

One day as I prayed for him, I felt like I was “seized” by the Holy Spirit. I found myself praying earnestly, “Lord, save him whether he wants to be saved or not.” I’m not sure that’s a good prayer, theologically speaking, but it worked.

He went through a difficult period in his life. A lady from our church saw him in town, told him the Lord about the Lord, and encouraged him to resist the work of the devil. He returned to church and God did a wonderful work in his life.

He testified on the day of his return: “I feel like I’m reborn! “

Jesus was the ultimate gap-filler. “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. 17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” (Isa. 59, ESV)

Let’s have the heart of Jesus. Stand up… on our knees. Seek the heart of God for lost people, lost situations, and a real move of God in our world. God is looking for gap-standers. Will you be one?

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How Do You Grab God’s Joy?

For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
Psalms 105: 42-44
(All scriptures from the ESV unless noted otherwise)

14 practical keys for those who want more joy in their lives

  1. Be filled with the Spirit-Galatians 5:22–But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
  2. Get into God’s presence–Ps. 16:11 (1 Chron. 16:27; Ps. 4:7, 5:11; Ps. 21:6; Ps. 43:4; –You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
  3. Be thankful for what God has given you-Deuteronomy 28:47 (+1 Ki. 8:66) “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things.” Quit griping. Count God’s blessing to you.
    Sing joyfully because of your THANKFULLNESS for what He has done for you. “Psalm 92:4–For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” And, “Psalm 95:2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
    Sing, even when it’s a sacrifice, sing songs that remember His faithfulness and give you joy. Enter His presence with joy and thanksgiving. Psalms 100:1, 4)
  4. Joy arrives when we obey the Lord (1 Chron. 12:39, 40; 1 Chron. 29:17; 2 Chron. 20:36)
  5. Sometimes we just raise a joyful sound before the actual feeling of joy comes–“…the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.” (1 Chron. 15:16; Ps. 32:11!) It’s easier to act yourself into feelings than to feel your way into acting.
  6. We rejoice over victories that God gives (2 Chron. 20:27; Neh. 12:43)
  7. We can be God’s instrument to give His joy in others (Job 29:12, 13. And because “give and it shall be given to you” is a bedrock spiritual principle, joy rebounds on us from giving joy to others in the Lord’s name.
  8. We may weep for a time but joy inevitably comes if we trust Him— “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
  9. Shout! We shout for joy because we know that He delights in our welfare!!!–
    “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” Psalm 35:27; (Ps. 66:1 also)
  10. Sing if you want joy! (Psalms 63:7. 67:4; 81:1) Even when we don’t feel like it we sing and shout our way into God’s presence. “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Psalm 84:2
  11. Remember that you are saved to eternal life in Christ, life that begins now. “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” (Psalm 71:23 , Ps. 98:8)
  12. Clap your hands! Obey the Lord. Do what is right. “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” (Psalm 97:11)
  1. If you know how, play a musical instrument for the Lord. (Ps. 98:6)
  2. Learn to intercede in prayer which leads to results which lead to great joy. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5)

Stand Up!

Is it okay if I deviate a bit from the usual format of Coffee Stains? I want to share something that’s on my heart.

Am I the only one that feels like there is a malignant fog lying over the land? Not just in the US but all over the world.

This past year has seen a pandemic that altered all our lives. Racial strife tears at our unity. Political venom has engendered hate. Instead of talking and reasoning, we’re screaming at each other. And worst of all it seems that individually people suffer as they try to find an antidote for the pain gnawing at their gut: abuse, addiction to social media, alcoholism, drugs, sexual addictions, isolation … the list goes on and on.

My Dad’s Day

Now you may say, “David, there have been worse times in history.” And I’ll agree with you. My father was born in 1923 right after a war that claimed 20 million lives and the Spanish flu that probably killed even more than the war.

When he was still a child the Great Depression ambushed the world and lasted ten years. According to History.com, “The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world.” Some say nearly one half the banks in the U.S. failed!

He fought in World War Two and came home with a life-long limp from a half-track (a military vehicle) wreck. Estimates range from 50-75 million, the number of people who died as a result of that conflict.

So, yes, our troubles seem small potatoes compared to all that. But, it would probably be accurate to say that 2020 was one of the most difficult years in the last 75.

Something Is Going On

Behind all the things we see, I think there is a spiritual attack. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12, NLT)

I do believe there has been an attack by the devil like we haven’t seen in years. Satan takes advantage of the fact that the Church often can’t meet. He’s fighting a dispersed version of the Church.

I always knew it was important to get together with other believers, but my heart cries out for the day when all believers get together freely again. (And I know that quarantine is necessary). There is power in unity, a synergy when we stand together against the devil.

Yes, we can worship individually and I thank God for YouTube and Facebook services, but it isn’t the same. We need each other. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the devil has attacked so hard when the Church can’t get together like before.

Battle of the bean patch

Is it possible to roll back the darkness so that a sense of God’s life caresses the land? Can we see one more revival? The Church has been knocked off balance. We need to grab our swords, set our feet, bend our knees and say, “Enough!” I’m not talking about politics but about seeing the good that God wants to do in hurting lives and fighting for that.

I’ve been in church services where people made decisions that changed their eternal destination, rescued their marriage, and saw God move in healing. I miss seeing believers wrap their arms around others to pray for them. How much hope and healing have we missed these past months because so much of the Church hasn’t been able to unite?

Will We React?

How will we react to the enemy’s attack?

The warrior Shammah shows us how it’s done. “The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.” (2 Sam. 23:11, 12, ESV)

I suspect that the “new normal” will be worse than before … or better.

What Worse Would Look Like–

            *Many forget God’s house. Just don’t go back. They say they can serve God on their own and get colder and colder. At the last, they act just like those who don’t know the Lord.

            *They continue to cope with this malaise in their own ways.

            *They continue to reap the results of forgetting God.

What Better Would Look Like–

            *Run back to God’s house but don’t take it for granted. Unite in God’s Spirit so that people see what God is like and are drawn to Him. Realize how important it is to win the lost. Together we raise our voices in worship.

            *Call out to God,

Will you be angry with us forever?

Will you prolong your anger to all generations?

Will you not revive us again,

that your people may rejoice in you?

Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,

and grant us your salvation.

(Ps. 85:5-7, ESV)

        *Refuse to set up those idols again that we had built in our hearts–massive searches for fun; mindless media consumption that destroys time to think and reflect for ourselves and keeps interrupting God when He wants to talk to us; pet sins that drag us down, etc. etc. etc. Each of us knows which idols we fight.

        Go to war against the devil, not others. Dare we stand up (as we kneel down) in prayer and say, “Stop! That’s enough pain, enough hurt. Stop in the name of the Lord Jesus.” “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them …” (Ezek. 22:30, NKJV). You may be the only one standing between disaster and protection for someone else. INTERCEDE!

        Dare we become master of our heart and turn it back to God passionately? Can we return to our first love for the Lord?

If so, that “malignant fog” I spoke of that seems to lie over the land can be replaced by the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere we stand up and take our place for the Lord.

Hmmm …

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. I never learned anything while I was talking.” Larry King

Slurped by Goodness and Mercy

Would you permit me to launch into a flight of imagination?

What’s that noise? Hunting dogs? Oh, no!

My heart pounds double time as I race through the forest, the sound of the hounds drawing nearer all the time. Branches slap my face and briars rip my skin but fear propels me forward.

They’re baying right at my heels. I’ll never outrun them so I turn to face my pursuers—two enormous hounds bearing down on me. I brace myself, eyes squeezed shut, waiting for the impact of their attack and the pain on their knife-like teeth.

Then …

Well, they stop, raise up on their hind legs, and put their paws on my shoulders. Then they start licking me! Big, sloppy, drooly licks. I look at them and see fondness in their eyes. Wiping off slobbers, I reach to read the nametags hanging on their necks.

The one on the left is called “Goodness” and the “one on the right has a long name: “Mercy and Unfailing Love.”

Hmmm, that’s not what I expected.

You’re Being Pursued

If you love the Lord, did you know that something is chasing you? “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” (Psalms 23:6 NKJV)

The Message version says, “ “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” Here’s another rendering, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (NLT)

The word translated “follow” is râdaph in Hebrew, the original language of the psalm. According to Strong’s lexicon, some of its various usages are: to run after (usually with hostile intent; figuratively (of time) gone by): – chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute (-ion, -or), pursue (-r).

Might we translate it, goodness and mercy hunt me all day?

I spent a lot of my life ducking and hoping God wouldn’t thump me if I got out of line. Look at the rest of Psalm 23. Does this sound like a God who is looking for a chance to whack you?

I’d say He’s sent his “twins”—goodness and mercy—to slurp you with His kindness. Look what He does for you: “No lack, rest, restoration, righteous life, no fear, God’s presence, God’s power for you, provision even when enemies are there, Spirit anointing (the Living Bible sees this head anointed with oil as the way people welcomed guests in that day, “You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!), more than enough, goodness and mercy, eternal life with the Lord.”

“Sluuuurp, sluuurp!”

Wow! Bring out the towels! His blessings are dripping all over us.

Here’s a song that’s been pursuing me lately:

*Goodness of God

I love You, Lord

For Your mercy never failed me

All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands

From the moment that I wake up

Until I lay my head

Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

And all my life You have been faithful

And all my life You have been so, so good

With every breath that I am able

Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now

I give You everything

Some of us are running from God’s blessings. Those blessings are revitalization “vehicles,” to renew and refill us. Sometimes it is a messenger with God’s purpose for our life we’re running from (Jonah) Often it’s just God wanting to love on us (our kids attract our hugs).

If you’re running from God maybe you ought to stop, turn and look. You might find that God’s goodness, mercy and love, have been trailing you, wanting a chance to show you how much He loves you.

Listen to the song: “The Goodness of God”

Hmmm …

“Lord, I don’t ever want to presume upon Your goodness and not ask for Your blessings.” Stormy Ormatin, Praying the Bible into your life

*Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Ed Cash; Ben Fielding; Jason Ingram; Brian Johnson; Jenn Johnson Bethel Music

Image by Roman Michael Gottfried from Pixabay __