Saturday, September 23, 2017

Pressing into blessing

I would like to share some words of encouragement that I have received personally while studying the Old Testament part of the Bible recently.
When getting near to the Promised land, Israelites complained: "Why is the Lord bringing us to this land - just to have us die in battle? Our wives and children will be taken as prisoners of war!" (Numbers 14, 3) Humanly speaking, we may understand them - after all, they had mainly seen slavery and oppression, and a difficult journey so far in their lifetime. Still, it was a grave mistake from their part - especially because they had already seen the mighty hand of God on their behalf. The Lord replied: "You said your children will be taken as prisoners of the war. Instead, I will bring them to the land you rejected, and they will enjoy it." (Numbers 14, 31) Maybe you find it difficult to hope today. Perhaps, for most part you have only experienced slavery to sin or suffering under unfortunate circumstances, and the difficulties on a journey of life. Be assured this is not all there is! God has something better ahead, so let us press on to enter His promises! Let us keep our hopes up to be able to see and take hold of what He has prepared! See and envision yourself and your loved ones coming out in glorious light, freedom, and joy!
As stated in a quote that was recently posted in  a Christian WeChat group (author unknown): “Don't settle for mere talk about God's power - or books and songs about His power. Ask Him to show you for yourself. If God had given you a task that looks impossible, do it anyway; then you can experience His power accomplishing His will through your life. Don't consider your own inadequacy. That's irrelevant. Remember, nothing is impossible with God! "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.“(Jeremiah 32:17)
In Numbers 22-24, we read a story how Balaam who is hired by king Balak to curse Israel, ends up blessing them three times instead, and prophesying their victory. Reading into context of preceding and following chapters, these rich words of blessing on Israel come somewhat as a surprise, as we can find quite serious problems in Israelite camp, and God dealing with them both before and afterwards. True, they had first few victories already, but likely they went to battle still only with manna in their stomachs. You may have various internal struggles and challenging outward circumstances today. But I want to tell you, if you stand in Jesus, YOU ARE BLESSED! You are blessed nevertheless! YOU ARE BLESSED BEYOND THE CURSE! AND YOU WILL INHERIT THE LAND AND GOD'S PROMISES! Maybe to someone from aside it is much more apparent than to yourself. "How beautiful are your tents, o Jacob, your dwelling places, o Israel! Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness - who dares to rouse them? May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!" (Numbers 24, 5-9)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Releasing bitterness

Recently, a friend shared with me a book “Chaos beneath the shade” by Tracey Bickle. Featuring a dark cover with a tree having impressive root system, the book addresses how we all have experienced loss and injustice at the magnitude that God never designed us for. Bitterness may result, manifesting as certain kind of wisdom, cranky moods, critical words, cynicism expressed through witty jokes, being on guard, disappointment, and even feeling burnt out. Bitterness is like a fatal poison in our spiritual root system, lurking within and causing chaos. Like Cain, our bitterness leads us to disconnect not only from God, but also from our brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is a vulnerable place to be and right where Satan wants us. Eventually, we face the valley of decision where we can make victorious choice toward God and toward relationship. We need to be on guard against bitterness in our heart, because most of the time, at first it goes unnoticed. The Bible warns: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12, 15) Our bitterness affects those around us, especially our children, and can be passed down through generations. Parents need to go ahead and step on the head of the snake of bitterness before it devours their children.
In my own study of the Old Testament, I have found one cause of the bitterness can be that we don’t always get justice and recognition of our efforts from people. In Genesis 31, Jacob said to Laban: ”I have been with you for 20 years. Your sheep and goats never miscarried, and I never ate any rams from your flocks. I paid for the ones killed by wild animals by myself. The scorching heat during the day and the cold at night wore me down, and I lost a lot of sleep. I worked for you 14 years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times.“ However, Jacob’s hope is in God’s justice: “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would have sent me away empty-handed by now. God has seen my misery and my hard work, and last night He made it right.” When leaving Laban, Jacob is heavily pressed between a rock and a hard place – Laban is running after him, but in front is his estranged brother Esau, who also may harm him upon return to homeland. To enter the wonderful promises of God, he faces a lot of wrestling, but finally it is said about him in Genesis 32: “you have struggled with God and men and won.” May we have the same persistence and courage in face of difficult circumstances, pressing though bitterness and difficulties towards something better!
This summer, I got to listen to beautiful meditation on how to release your prisoner to Jesus, which can be found at, starting at about 0:57:35. I listened in the dark room with closed eyes, and it was a truly a vivid encounter; the background music also makes for a wonderful experience. While holding bitterness against someone, at times we may not know how to release it. I love that in this meditation, we are invited to tell Jesus all that someone did to us, and He is even asking: “Is there more?” To truly release something, first step is to recognize the offense; if we deny and continue to suppress it, we will not be free. Jesus looks to you with so much love in His eyes, and says: “Tell me what they did. Don’t leave anything out, tell me also the effect that it had on you.” He says He needs to know everything. We need to empty ourselves of it, speaking honestly about our feelings to Jesus, and then surrendering the person to Him and what He wants to do with them. And afterwards, He says: “I am SO sorry. Your pain matters to Me.“ He nods at you, and you know that He completely understands. He takes your prisoner into His custody and relieves your burden, saying: “I love you so much! I want you to be free! Enjoy your freedom!” This meditation and co-operating with it brought much release and light, so I sincerely recommend listening to it, and probably not just once.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I am here for you

One evening quite recently, I lied down to rest and had a special experience with Jesus. In my spirit, I saw myself in the apartment of my paternal grandma, reliving a moment in my early teens. At the bedroom of that apartment, my grandma had a big mirror, and there was also a big closet of clothes in the room in dark wood. In the shelves under the mirror, there were some jewelry pieces and fragrances of grandma which I always loved to look at. One of fondest memories of the time was me playing in that room in big emptry TV box, imagining it as a house. Jesus brought me back to a moment in that room which I have not thought of recently. I was standing in front of the mirror and put on a new piece of clothing, which, looking back, was one of my favorites during my early teens. It was a purple summer onesee of shorts at the bottom and strap top, made from very soft and stretchy material; I could almost still feel the touch of that material in my hands. I relived that moment with Jesus and then heard Him say: I AM HERE FOR YOU. I could experience now that this piece of clothing was His special expression of love to me at a time, though I did not recognize it yet then. Indeed in those days it was difficult to get something interesting and colorful like that. Then I saw Jesus lifting me up in his arms, as a young teenager I was at a time, and turning around in the air, as we both were laughing. Later, I saw myself standing in front of the mirror again, and saw Jesus wrapping His arms around me from behind and saying: NOTHING CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM MY LOVE. That moment, sun rays from the window of the bedroom from the left were coming right to us and He was repeating:“Nothing… nothing… nothing can separate you from my love.” I also saw Him sitting on the side of the bed, holding me in total security and acceptance, and saying again: “I am here for you.”  Some other memories resurfaced, Jesus again assuring me that He is there for me, though it all. This experience in total went for about two hours. A deeper stability and assurance of His love throughout my life time was being worked into my spirit in the meantime. The experience somewhat resounded with the message at the website of Sue Bohlin, which I had listened to some weeks ago called “My precious bride”, available in full here Here some meaningful quotes for me from that message: “How beautiful you are, my darling, you are altogether beautiful, and there is no blemish in you. I want you to revel in my love for you, a love which is bigger and deeper than you can possibly understand, so you can let Me fill you till you are overflowing with the delight of being loved and cherished. I wove your inward parts in your mother’s womb, I watched you grow as I skillfully fashioned your body and soul, and when you were born, I smiled and said: “Oh… I did a very good job!” I think about you all the time. I know you better than you know yourself. I know every habit and every idiosyncrasy about you. You are my eternal companion to sit with Me on my throne. You are precious and honored in My sight and I LOVE YOU. No one and nothing can separate you from my love. Nothing… nothing…nothing can separate you from my love.“

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Truly stepping out to follow

In July this summer, very powerful experience for me has been watching the movie The Last Reformation: The beginning (available on youtube,, which is about wonderful transformations in street evangelism with signs and wonders following. I highly recommend watching this movie, and there are training opportunities organized by this movement in some locations as well. It started with Torben Sondergaard’s heart’s cry to be fruitful and to truly reach people for Jesus. While doing my readings in the Old Testament, I found some powerful confirmation to what I saw in the movie. In Exodus 4, God sent Moses to Israelites to set them free from slavery in Egypt. It is possible to draw some parallels between how Moses was sent and how the disciples of Jesus were sent out in Mark 16. Moses was given the sign of shepherd's staff turning to snake and then back to staff; disciples were given power over demonic forces. Moses was given sign of skin disease and it disappearing; disciples were given authority to heal. Moses was given a sign of water turning into blood; disciples were baptizing in water and overcoming by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12,11). That is the true flowing Christ and stepping out of the boat; I slso love the boat scene in movie The Shack ( The aspect of speaking and testifying is important regarding both Moses and disciples; something Moses felt hesitant about and was given Aaron as a help. Help of disciples is the Holy Spirit; Jesus assures He will give them what to say (Luke 12,11). In response, this prayer arises in my heart: “Lord, help us to respond to your call and to be true followers willing to step out! Enable us to walk in your authority, open our mouths, and let signs and wonders follow!” Some claim that signs and wonders are not for today, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13,8). Interestingly, the verse of the month in my German Christian calendar was about Jesus making us a fisher of men (Matthew 4,19).
I believe in many cases, we need more than just the Word; we need to touch people to the depth of their need with the power of God, and not just when reaching out, but also the people who are already in the church – so many need physical and inner healing. We don’t want to just have the shape and form of godliness, but God’s power in our midst. I personally connect best to people who hunger for seeing more of God, want to go deeper, and are not satisfied with just regular activities and seeing God in some small ways in their lives. I recently made a new friend who has health issues and it amazed me that though she has been part of fellowships, she has not been joined in prayer for healing. We need to go deeper than just superficial talks and lunches, notice the needs people are having and step out in faith to reach out to them. We prayed with this sister and continue to proclaim her healing. Sometimes stepping out can be starting to proclaim instead of just praying to God, because it is possible to pray from position of unbelief, but by proclaiming we learn to align with the position of faith, hope, and expectation.
However, we also need God's guidance in stepping out. At times we may respond from fight or plight reactions, which are quite human - we either passively bear and avoid something too long, trying to run away, or  - confront and fight with some problem aggressively in our own strength. These responses may be destructive and unhelpful to actually change situation for better. In Exodus 2, Moses demonstrated both of these. He killed Egyptian who was beating Hebrew slave, and then ran away from Egypt. This did not achieve much to change the yoke the nation was bearing. The change came when Israelites cried out to God, He heard and sent Moses to deliver them. We need to pray and be in the presence of God, cry out and receive God’s guidance rather than act upon impulses of our human nature. At the right time, God’s way of delivering Israelites was effective, eliminating the whole system of oppression and letting them to take out the riches of Egypt as recompense. The quote that recently also spoke to me, sent to a WeChat list (author unknown) states as follows: “Witnessing is not something we do for God; it is something we do in response to what God is doing. Real witnessing doesn’t involve selling Christ as though He were a product; it involves learning to recognize the Spirit of God working in someone’s life and joining Him in this activity. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day."(John 6, 44)”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Encouragement for open opportunities

This summer for some weeks already, I have been daily into Bible, the Old Testament, and often experienced that I was given just the encouragement I needed. For instance, on several occasions, I was given right words at the right time that contained encouragement regarding work.
This summer, I have been looking for some more work opportunities at the university as I will soon be able to round up and defend my PhD dissertation and have acquired some experience in university teaching already. In my search, I once went to a meeting where I had chance to make some personal connections regarding teaching at a different department. All was well, but on the way strangely I experienced strong eye irritation, which shook me off balance and left me struggling with feelings of defeat. Somehow the discomfort followed me into the meeting, and though I had opportunity to make some contacts, I felt low upon return home. But God gave me powerful encouragement through my daily readings: "Don't be afraid. I am your shield. Your reward will be very great." (Genesis 15, 1) In this verse, God gives Abram His encouragement and shows things yet unseen in the visible. I felt God was making me the same promise about opportunity ahead of me. Quite powerful verse was also: “Go! Walk back and forth across entire land because I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13, 17) So despite the way I felt that evening, I sent e-mails and CV’s to few persons, and eventually it resulted in another meeting and teaching opportunity. Interestingly, just before that meeting, I also had a situation that shook me off balance, but I quickly sent message to sisters in faith to pray and was able to calm down and have a good interview.
Another struggle on my mind lately has been about being able to have right balance as this year, I did not get longer holidays in Europe and have been feeling tired, wondering how to manage all areas in my life, such as raising kids, working, and finishing dissertation. These struggles were exacerbated by the fact that my youngest, Viva did not get a place in local daycare for another year, and also dissertation has not yet been possible to defend end summer as I originally hoped. God gave me powerful encouragement from the Old Testament daily readings that addressed these concerns as well. I was assured with a positive message that God wants to bless us at the workplace and bless the work of our hands so it can be a testimony to others. "The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. Joseph's master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made everything he did successful. He put him in charge of everything he owned. From that time on the Lord blessed the Egyptian's household because of Joseph." (Genesis 39: 2-3, 5) Another way God used Joseph to make Himself known in Egypt was through supernatural revelation and wisdom that saved people from famine. When Joseph was put in charge of Egypt, the pharaoh gave him a name Zaphenathpaneah (meaning – the Lord will speak; he will live). (Genesis 42, 45). All this reminded me that I do not have to accept failure in my mind; success is my share as the child of God, and also that there is great destiny for us in places God puts us. He wants us to be awe-inspiring to unbelieving world though our work supernaturally blessed by Him, by His wisdom that comes through us, and acts of saving people and nations, making them live. Moses’ prayer that has been helpful in my earlier working life and that I was reminded of again, was: “Let the kindness of the Lord our God be with us. Make us successful in everything we do. Yes, make us successful in everything we do.” (Psalm 90, 17)
In addition, as I read on in Exodus, chapters 16 to 18 addressed the way God cared for three important areas of concern of Israelites - He provided daily necessities, he gave them victory over enemies, and He protected their leader Moses from getting burned out. This is great encouragement for us as well - God is able to provide what we need, make us victorious over opposition, and give us the right balance in our work and calling so we do not get too exhausted. Let us trust Him with these needs today, He is able. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Exceedingly, abundantly, above, and beyond

In spring, while walking from metro station to university, on my way I saw big buds on a tree. I was quite happy for these signs of spring, took a picture, and put it as my WeChat cover. Sometime later, however, the buds were opening, and it turned out to be a magnolia tree. Now, the view was truly amazing as there were quite many of these trees in the park. Some of them had white blossoms, others – pink, and there was even one tree which had both kinds mixed together. I felt God speaking to my heart: “You saw only buds and were happy. You are happy already about a little thing that I am doing. But there is so much more!”
During our ladies’ retreat end April, we watched a DVD by Priscilla Shirer titled “He is able,“ which was based on Ephesians 3, 20:Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” The speaker emphasized that our God is able, and He is able to surprise - exceedinglyabundantly, above, and beyond anything we can ask or think, and way past our way past. She spoke of the fact that He can, of divine intervention and divine resources, and riches of His grace lavished upon us. In this verse, Paul prayed that the eyes of the believers would be opened to the foundational attributes of God, how enormous and grand He is. Therefore, now is the time to pray extravagant prayers and to consider the ability of God. Since Daddy is covering this, it changes the way you order. Priscilla Shirer reminded that abundant life is not when there are no impossible situations; we need to turn to God and away from what is bugging us, to bring our attention to Jesus Christ rather than worship the problem. Physical pull to focus on problem is related to the tyranny of the urgent. People mostly can only sympathize, but God has power to do something. Whether He chooses to manifest in a situation, that is His sovereignty, but we must believe that He can. Power of God is like dynamite, explosive beyond our wildest dreams. She went on to say that He is not exhaustible, so there is no need to be jealous, there will be enough for everyone – put that stuff on God’s table, whatever you need, He is able to do it for you. We can say to God: “Do that, or something better.” It says in the Bible that after the miracle of Jesus, the disciples believed - that means it is possible to be a disciple, but not to believe. All in Ephesians 3,20 means - all, since everything concerns God. God is predictable is His character, but unpredictable in His activity.
Regarding these greater things, lately God has been giving me glimpses of something He wants to do in my hometown. I saw a dream - I was driving up the stone or cement stairs by car, it was difficult, and there was huge resistance and trembling all over. At times, there were steps of stairs and then there were some places in-between with no steps as a level ground. Finally, I was up the stairs at the very top, had a heavenly, light and wonderful feeling, and I found myself at the yard of culture center of my hometown, with nobody else around. Afterwards, I was lifted up from there, up and up, and under me everything getting smaller, like zooming out in a Google map, as I continued to rise higher and higher, until I could see the whole world under. On another occasion, I was relaxing in presence of Jesus, calling on His name, and waiting on Him. Suddenly, I saw myself in castle ruins on island of my hometown, on the open-air stage. The whole stage and also front part of audience seats were under deep water. I was swimming in it, and it felt wonderful and heavenly. Later, the verse that connected to this vision was: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2,14) 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Reaching out to touch and heal

During our study on the heart of Jesus in our women’s group, we experienced Him reaching out to us with the desire to touch and heal us. In the lesson two about the peace of Jesus, Max Lucado painted a vivid picture of the window of the heart: “Once this window was clear, and your view of God was crisp. You knew what he wanted you to do. But then, suddenly, the window cracked. A pebble of pain broke the window. A stone struck, and whatever the pebble’s form, the result was shattered window. The crash echoed down the halls of your heart. Cracks went down from the point of impact, creating a spider web of fragmented pieces. And suddenly. God was not easy to see, His figure was distorted. It was hard to see Him through the fragments of hurt.” After doing this lesson, I felt I could agree with the relevance of this illustration, but was left wondering - what is the answer or solution to that? And only hint I could find in that chapter, was - “Jesus is closer than you’ve ever dreamed.” I shared this also in the group upon meeting and continued to think about it as I lied down to sleep that evening. I imagined the cracked window of glass and Jesus behind it. But then, surprisingly, with the eyes of my spirit I saw Him pushing out one of the big shards of window and reaching out through glass straight towards me! I received an amazing insight and revelation - if there is no pain, perhaps we can see God clearly, but there is still a glass wall in-between. But when the glass breaks, however, there is potential of actually touching Him! There is no wall in-between any more, when He removes the shattered pieces! I shared this insight with other women on our WeChat list.
Around the middle of the study, another sister in our group also shared amazing encounter where Jesus was reaching out to her. In a dream, she saw her feet with deep cracks and blood lines all over their bottom. Later, during her prayer time to Jesus before going to bed, the image came back, but this time she saw her feet made whole and as tender as the feet of newborn child. As a voice in her head, she heard Jesus saying to her: "I HEAL YOU". She could not stop crying afterwards, as healing washed over her soul as cleansing rain. She felt love and was so touched. We were wondering what the feet in her dream referred to, but in any case, it was obvious that it was an image which was significant to her and a somewhat tangible symbol of inner healing that was occurring. On another occasion, this sister felt fear of allergy strangling her, as once the swelling of the neck had been so bad that she almost could not breathe. She worried what would happen with her children if it repeats and something goes wrong. Interestingly, as she prayed about this, God showed her occasions when she had been harsh to children in the past. She broke out in confession in front of God, and through this confession, her fear was released. To us in the group, it was a powerful reminder of the importance of confession for healing and that at times we pray for a symptom, but God unexpectedly leads us deeper, to the root of the issue.
Another moving story that connects to this topic was shared by a sister who stayed in Suzhou for limited time. Many years ago when this Chinese woman became a Christian, there was an intense spiritual battle and opposition going on before her baptism. As a result, she had an accident with boiling water, scolding her legs. She went to hospital, but did not get the right kind of help, and pain got even worse. She went back home and was in her room, screaming for pain. Her parents told her to be silent; they cared more for their ‘face’ and what neighbors think than her agony. She felt disappointed for lack of support from her parents, when suddenly; in her head, she heard a very loud voice of Jesus saying her: “I LOVE YOU.” That moment, supernaturally, the pain went away almost altogether. Several people have become believers when she shared this testimony.