Incensed…..

What is the difference between using sage in prayer or other sources of incense? Why would it make a difference?

Many religions use incense in prayer. In God’s dealings with establishing traditions with the Israeli people, incense is crucial. Working with Moses and Aaron and crafters of perfumes and incense was exact for God. He is most particular in the beginnings of establishing rituals of worship in the wilderness to distinguish His people and their practices from the practices of other religions in the area. The smell of worship is important to God as much as the color and surroundings. So, is there a difference in using incense in prayer to the Creator from prayers to other deities?

A popular practice today is to use sage, a Native American practice, for removing evil influence from a location. Sage is readily available in the plains nations and has a distinctive aroma. Some might posit that this is the same as the distinctive use of perfumed incense of the Hebrew and today the Catholic Churches of Orthodox and Roman and Anglican. Even the full gospel or Pentecostals use perfumed oils in prayer if not incense. So, is there a difference in using sage or perfumed incense or perfumed oil in prayer?

Another practice with Biblical roots is anointing oil. James instructs us to pray the prayer of faith and anoint with oil. Jesus and His disciples lay hands on the sick and use oil. These practices are common today and many miracles, signs, and wonders occur. Some years ago, when holding a small group meeting in a motel meeting room, we used oil to pray for the sick and anoint for service. After a meeting one night, a group was gathered at the adjacent restaurant. One of the women held the oil bottle with a look of wonderment. Apparently, I had left it behind and she in helping made sure it was retrieved. It intrigued me, so I asked about her fascination. It is important to not focus on any instrument of practice and keep our faith in Christ, our Lord, not an amulet or object. She handed the bottle to me and told me that is was warm and had been warm all the time. Indeed it was almost hot. Certainly, this was a sign for the moment and a touch point for faith though not the object of faith. So, is there a difference in what touch points we use in prayer and why would there be?

““You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭30:1‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/114/exo.30.1.

And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭30:25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/114/exo.30.25.

For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭40:38‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/114/exo.40.38.

In these defining verses in the Old Testament, the Lord, Creator, makes a distinction for Himself among His people. The focus is to remind Israel that they did not serve the gods (little g) of the area, but THE GOD of all heaven and earth. The cloud, the fire, the perfume, the oil, the incense, the altar, and more put their focus to Him and away from other influences. It also let the other nations know that the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY lived with His people and protected them.

In this time of the the New Testament in Jesus, the Christ, the focus is taken away from the ritual and the Holy Spirit of God lives inside of each believer not the building or tent.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/114/1co.6.19.

Yes, we still use altars and buildings and incense and oil in our prayers. The focus is on the one to whom we pray. That is the difference.

It is not the sage or the consecrated water or oil or incense, but the object of our faith. The object of our faith should be THE FATHER. The Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, is the object of our faith. These items are helps, but not the object. The give us tangible connection points, but they of themselves contain no power to help us.

There is a big difference in sage prayer practices and Christian prayer. It is not the sage, but the object of faith. In New Age and Native religious practice, sage is a form of prayer to a demonic entity not the FATHER GOD. That is the difference. Yes, our Bible is clear. When we make prayer to some other god (little g), we are praying to the demonic. And when we pray to the demonic, we invite their power and their influence into the situation. Jesus was most clear. You do not drive out evil with evil or demonic with demonic. It is through the GOOD GOD that evil is removed and His presence is invited. That is the whole of the book of Exodus. It is about inviting the presence of the GOOD GOD.

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭10:38‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/114/act.10.38.

Don’t get incensed about incense. Do teach. Jesus directed us to lead people to Him and then teach them. We need to teach the consecrated life in Christ. That means understanding what is happening in our world and approaching it with wisdom that is from above that is open and instructive. So the next time you see someone using sage or they ask about using it to clear their mind or home or a location, teach with wisdom. Direct them to solid faith in Christ that is more powerful than any instrument of prayer, though incense and oil are certainly Christian practices of value, it is faith in Christ that does the trick. It is better to chase out evil than to invite more.

We are family

I love you. Jesus loves you.

The Holy Spirit is a Great Guide and Wisdom in All Things.

Pastor Phil, thethinkdirector

Target

The word of the Lord for the moment is: Target

“Among Benjamin’s elite troops, 700 were left-handed, and each of them could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth without missing.”

Judges 20:16 NLT

Consider a fighting force with 700 hyper accurate, trained, focused soldiers on target.  Now, consider that they are only 10% of the soldiers as left handed are only 10% of the population.  A fighting force of 7000 spot on soldiers good at what they do because they are targeted and trained.  What can you do if you are on target?

““For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.”

Isaiah 50:7 NKJV

The aspect of being set on a task, a skill, a direction and not being easily swayed is called targeted.  Jesus was like that.  He set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem and the cross of sacrifice that we all might be accepted.  Paul was like that.  He set his target on the Gentiles whether it meant prison or persecution.  Moses was like that.  He set his target on the land on the other side of the Jordan and pursued through pain and problems for 40 years to see it done.  David was like that.  Determined to build a temple, he insured the finances and plans were ready for his son, Solomon, to carry through.  Get a target.

“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do. ” —Norman Vincent Peale

A goal is a target.  A worthy goal is worth honing a skill, stepping away from distractions, sacrificing to become excellent not just good, and developing the value out of the pursuit.  Good is the worst enemy of great.  Yet, it does not take great to be great.  A good goal with a good pursuit with a good energy with a good skill produces a great result.  Every piece does not need to be great, but the focus and the targeted character through persistence produces great. The word is target.

Countless calls for prayer and counsel come to me for jobs.  When I ask what type of job, the answer is usually in terms of money, prestige, or anything that pays well.  That is a useless pursuit and a useless prayer.  Why spend a major portion of life with no goal in mind? 

My career has taken many twists, but the goal has always been the same.  My career target is to support my family and have enough to be generous to help others.  My target has been to do that in a way that develops others and gives value back to a company for which I work.  And throughout my career in management, I have done that. 

My life target is to worship the Lord with all my heart and all my soul and all my might and be a faithful disciple.  And throughout my life in Christ, I have done that.  Every time I am discontent, I find someone has added to my goals and disguised the target for their own benefit so that I sway off target.

In my latter years, my sight on the target sharpens and others want to use my skill but not assist the call and character of the Lord in my life.  It is not that they are wrong or selfish as much as they do not wish to support the target the Lord has given me.

Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong.  Abraham Lincoln

When Lincoln spoke those words, I believe he looked to his target and found others had distracted him to a different path.  It is time to get back to the path the Lord sent you to walk.  Walk with good partners.  But, If they veer to the right or the left too long and keep you off the Lord’s path, you must get back on target.  They might have good intentions and a good path, but is it your path in the Lord and the Lord’s intentions?

Lifelong Dads. Forever families. Kids Need ‘em.  Delivering Solid Life Foundations. Developing Healthy and Safe Relationships. Distinguishing Generations of Greatness.

There it is in a short, sweet nutshell.  If it builds that, then that is what I do.  If one more family moves in that direction, my target will be achieved.  I hear my Father say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s joy.” Every day that I work on the target that affirmation of my Father is mine.  If I am doing something that isn’t working to achieve that target, then I need to part with it as soon as I see that it goes wrong.  Good counsel, Abe.

What is your target?  Can you state it in simple format? 

These last weeks have been wonderful.  For months, I have labored to cut away distractions to get down to the essentials my Father wants for me.  I’ve allowed too many good-hearted voices to distract.  Constant pain and problems lessen my grasp on the target.  My throws seem a little off.  My strength is tested.  That is the time to begin cutting away and honing skill to get to the target.  With the slowing of the economy there has been a slowing of voices distracting.   Target.

The target seems more in view than at any time.  My obstinate pursuit takes me into hours of prayer a day.  I’ve thrown out four large trash bags from my office this week and carted out boxes of books no longer needed.  The target is tightly in view.  I called my marketing group and told them to cancel distractions.  I called support groups that have similar targets and made new agreements that fit.  All of this happens as the world spins off target, the economy crashes, disease explodes, and people weep.  Target.

Target is a verb. It means get focused and pointed toward the goal.

Target is a noun. It means the item to which you are pointed.

Are you targeted? That is where God wants you. Some are targeted early in life like Solomon. He was targeted to wisdom as a young man. Some take decades like Moses, who only understood the target being the nation free beyond the Jordan after 80 years of processing. Some get the fine points of the target like Elijah, spending a life as a prophet, to become targeted to train other prophets not just be one in his last years. Elijah was mostly a loner until the Lord targeted him in his last years. Paul was a murderer until the Lord targeted him at the peak of his life to be a disciple maker. Are you really targeted? Maybe you are just now getting to be targeted. Maybe all the years you have had bring you to a sharpened focus. Target.

Jesus’ core ministry on earth was less than four years.  In those years, He built a team, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit.  Thirty years were taken to get ready for the Target.  He is still working on the Target, the Church, 2000 years later.  Targeted. Immovable. Unshakeable. Targeted.

The Lord wants us targeted. 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

James 1:5-8 NKJV

There is no value in having a good target. There is value in having a God target. My mind goes to a friend, who has built a solid business producing significant profit. The profit is buried back in the business to build capital. He smiles and claims no profit and gives no honor through tithe or offering to the Lord. Why? Well there is no profit. Bigger and bigger barns are built that one day will have achieved nothing of value. The Lord will call for his life and the barns will be given to others. It is a good thing. It is not a God thing.

Another friend takes of his meager earnings and gives back to God.  He will never amass millions of dollars, but he stacks memorials in heaven that will stand for eternity in changed lives.  One lives the letter of the law and profits himself.  The other lives the life and spirit of the law and profits all.  Get a good target that is also a God target.

In the end there are no moving vans in the grave yard. But there is great treasure laid up in heaven. Targeted.

Settled

Then God said, “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I’m about to do? Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God ’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.”
Genesis 18:17‭-‬19 MSG
https://bible.com/bible/97/gen.18.17-19.MSG

When God chose you to be His and your responded, it is settled. Get that! It is settled. He selected and settled on you. There is no more decison to be made. Walk it out and enjoy the settledness.

Change Psalm 30 #8

Change can bring you to your knees.

Psalm 30

I called to you, Lord;
    I begged for your help:

There is nothing wrong with begging, when you have been brought to your knees following God.  All moments in following God are not fun.  You may experience deep contrition and even despondency.  Elijah despaired and wanted to die.  Jonah become morose.  Jeremiah cried out in anguish.  Moses struggled.  Jesus sweated drops of blood.  God will take you to your breaking point.

Some teach that peace is the indicator of God’s will.  Really?  Have you read a Bible.  Men and women went through great anguish when following the voice of God.  He means to change us and change can rattle our souls.

It makes me laugh, when I think of the times God has completely thrown me into an unwinnable situation with my strength but a miraculous solution on my knees.

A major shift in which I am going today leaves me nowhere to go but my knees.  Every attempt I have made to advance the cause of Christ and move the vision forward failed miserably.  I don’t mean a little bit, I mean with embarrassment, misery, pain, consternation, frustration, lost dollars, pitiful results, humiliation, and humbling.  The humbling is God.  The rest is my human flesh mess.

It is hilarious.  He has brought me through all my attempts and all my understanding to a point of total dependence on Him.  I cannot do anything right. He will not let me fail.

He has intervened miraculously on every front of my life, where my efforts have failed.

This is not new.  This is deep training.  He and I have walked through other situations like this, where He intervenes and teaches me to trust and obey when all seems lost and flawed.

Go ahead and beg.  Get on your knees and cry out to God.  Give up all you know and let Him intervene.

Ministry of Intercession Day 31

Andrew Murray’s classic on Intercession can be found online at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29296/29296-h/29296-h.htm

To spur you to pray, we are going to post the day by day helps from the end of the book .  Enjoy.  Pray along.

what to pray.— for the Spirit of Christ in His People

“I am the Vine, ye are the branches.”John xv. 5.

“That ye should do as I have done to you.”John xiii. 15.

As branches we are to be so like the Vine, so entirely identified with it, that all may see that we have the same nature, and life, and spirit. When we pray for the Spirit, let us not only think of a Spirit of power, but the very disposition and temper of Christ Jesus. Ask and expect nothing less: for yourself, and all God’s children, cry for it.

how to pray.— Striving in Prayer

“That ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”Rom. xv. 30.

“I would ye knew what great conflict I have for you.”Col. ii. 1.

All the powers of evil seek to hinder us in prayer. Prayer is a conflict with opposing forces. It needs the whole heart and all our strength. May God give us grace to strive in prayer till we prevail.

Ministry of Intercession Day 30

Andrew Murray’s classic on Intercession can be found online at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29296/29296-h/29296-h.htm

To spur you to pray, we are going to post the day by day helps from the end of the book .  Enjoy.  Pray along.

what to pray.— for the Holy Spirit with the Word of God

“Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.”—1 Thess. i. 5.

“Those who preached unto you the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent forth from heaven.”—1 Pet. i. 12.

What numbers of Bibles are being circulated. What numbers of sermons on the Bible are being preached. What numbers of Bibles are being read in home and school. How little blessing when it comes “in word” only; what Divine blessing and power when it comes “in the Holy Ghost,” when it is preached “with the Holy Ghost sent forth from heaven.” Pray for Bible circulation, and preaching and teaching and reading, that it may all be in the Holy Ghost, with much prayer. Pray for the power of the Spirit with the word in your own neighbourhood, wherever it is being read or heard. Let every mention of “The Word of God” waken intercession.

how to pray.— Watching and Praying

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; withal praying for us also, that God may open for us a door for the word.”Col. iv. 2, 3.

Do you not see how all depends upon God and prayer? As long as He lives and loves, and hears and works, as long as there are souls with hearts closed to the word, as long as there is work to be done in carrying the word—Pray without ceasing. Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving. These words are for every Christian.

Ministry of Intercession Day 29

Andrew Murray’s classic on Intercession can be found online at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29296/29296-h/29296-h.htm

To spur you to pray, we are going to post the day by day helps from the end of the book .  Enjoy.  Pray along.

what to pray.— for The Spirit of Intercession

“I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you.”John xv. 16.

“Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name. In that day ye shall ask in My name.”John xvi. 24, 26.

Has not our school of intercession taught us how little we have prayed in the name of Jesus? He promised His disciples: In that day, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, ye shall ask in My name. Are there not tens of thousands with us mourning the lack of the power of intercession? Let our intercession to-day be for them and all God’s children, that Christ may teach us that the Holy Spirit is in us; and what it is to live in His fulness, and to yield ourselves to His intercession work within us. The Church and the world need nothing so much as a mighty Spirit of Intercession to bring down the power of God on earth. Pray for the descent from heaven of the Spirit of Intercession for a great prayer revival.

how to pray.— Abiding in Christ

“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done to you.”John xv. 7.

Our acceptance with God, our access to Him, is all in Christ. As we consciously abide in Him we have the liberty, not a liberty to our old nature or our self-will, but the Divine liberty from all self-will, to ask what we will, in the power of the new nature, and it shall be done. Let us keep this place, and believe even now that our intercession is heard, and that the Spirit of Supplication will be given all around us.

Ministry of Intercession Day 28

Andrew Murray’s classic on Intercession can be found online at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29296/29296-h/29296-h.htm

To spur you to pray, we are going to post the day by day helps from the end of the book .  Enjoy.  Pray along.

what to pray.— that all God’s People May Know the Holy Spirit

“The Spirit of truth, whom the world knoweth not; but ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you.”John xiv. 17.

“Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost?”—1 Cor. vi. 19.

The Holy Spirit is the power of God for the salvation of men. He only works as He dwells in the Church. He is given to enable believers to live wholly as God would have them live, in the full experience and witness of Him who saves completely. Pray God that every one of His people may know the Holy Spirit!—That He, in all His fulness, is given to them! that they cannot expect to live as their Father would have, without having Him in His fulness, without being filled with Him! Pray that all God’s people, even away in churches gathered out of heathendom, may learn to say: I believe in the Holy Ghost.

how to pray.— Laboring Fervently in Prayer

“Epaphras, who is one of you, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”Col. iv. 12.

To a healthy man labour is a delight; in what interests him he labours fervently. The believer who is in full health, whose heart is filled with God’s Spirit, labours fervently in prayer. For what? That his brethren may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God; that they may know what God wills for them, how He calls them to live, and be led and walk by the Holy Ghost. Labour fervently in prayer that all God’s children may know this, as possible, as divinely sure.

Ministry of Intercession Day 27

Andrew Murray’s classic on Intercession can be found online at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29296/29296-h/29296-h.htm

To spur you to pray, we are going to post the day by day helps from the end of the book .  Enjoy.  Pray along.

what to pray.— for God’s People Accepting Their Calling

“I will bless thee; and be thou a blessing: in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”Gen. xii. 2, 3.

“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us. That Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations.”Ps. lxvii. 1, 2.

Abraham was only blessed that he might be a blessing to all the earth. Israel prays for blessing, that God may be known among all nations. Every believer, just as much as Abraham, is only blessed that he may carry God’s blessing to the world.

Cry to God that His people may know this, that every believer is only to live for the interests of God and His kingdom. If this truth were preached and believed and practised, what a revolution it would bring in our mission work. What a host of willing intercessors we should have. Plead with God to work it by the Holy Spirit.

how to pray.— as One Who Has Accepted for Himself What He Has Asked for Others

“Peter said, What I have, I give unto thee…. The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning…. God gave them the like gift, as He gave unto us.”Acts iii. 6, xi. 15, 17.

As you pray for this great blessing on God’s people, the Holy Spirit taking entire possession of them for God’s service, yield yourself to God, and claim the gift anew in faith. Let each thought of feebleness or shortcoming only make you the more urgent in prayer for others; as the blessing comes to them, you too will be helped. With every prayer for conversions or mission work, pray that God’s people may know how wholly they belong to Him.

Ministry of Intercession Day 26

Andrew Murray’s classic on Intercession can be found online at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29296/29296-h/29296-h.htm

To spur you to pray, we are going to post the day by day helps from the end of the book .  Enjoy.  Pray along.

what to pray.—For the Holy Spirit on Young Converts

“Peter and John prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.”Acts viii. 15, 16.

“Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; who also gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”—2 Cor. i. 21, 22.

How many new converts who remain feeble; how many who fall into sin; how many who backslide entirely. If we pray for the Church, its growth in holiness and devotion to God’s service, pray specially for the young converts. How many stand alone, surrounded by temptation; how many have no teaching on the Spirit in them, and the power of God to establish them; how many in heathen lands, surrounded by Satan’s power. If you pray for the power of the Spirit in the Church, pray specially that every young convert may know that he may claim and receive the fulness of the Spirit.

how to pray.— without Ceasing

“As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.”—1 Sam. xii. 23.

It is sin against the Lord to cease praying for others. When once we begin to see how absolutely indispensable intercession is, just as much a duty as loving God or believing in Christ, and how we are called and bound to it as believers, we shall feel that to cease intercession is grievous sin. Let us ask for grace to take up our place as priests with joy, and give our life to bring down the blessing of heaven.