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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Between Heaven and Earth: You, the Ladder

My spirit stirred with joy and excitement as Holy Spirit downloaded the truths to me that I am about to share with you. I scribbled so much into the margins of my Bible that day, that there was virtually no white space remaining on the page. If you want to fully understand this article, however, make sure and read my previous post. It is a critical introduction to this revelatory teaching.

In it, we talked about how Jesus both inhabits the high and holy place of Heaven, and dwells among us in our hurting world. We explored how His Spirit groans with the human pain in which He is immersed here. Today, we are going to delve into how He longs to channel His prayers for humankind through us, and how He will bring Heaven to earth through our surrendered lives when we partner with Him for this purpose.

Jesus Our Ladder

Jesus did not become our Intercessor when He ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father. He occupied this office well before that point. In fact, His intercessory role underscored and saturated His entire mission as incarnate Savior.

The book of Hebrews describes His passionate lifestyle of prayer while here in the flesh: “During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears… and he was heard because of his devotion” (Heb. 5:7, NET). The gospels tell us of His frequent habit of withdrawing for hours of time alone with Daddy God for this purpose. Spending all night long in intercession was not uncommon for Him.

It was during this window of His time on earth that Jesus became the fulfillment of Jacob’s supernatural encounter at Bethel. Centuries earlier, God had revealed to Jacob His vision for connecting Heaven and earth: “And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!” (Gen. 28:12, AMPC).

Jesus became that ladder. He Himself became the connection between the celestial Kingdom and this physical world. By acquiring a human body, He submersed Himself completely into the reality of the darkness and pain that had overtaken our planet since the fall of man. This is to say, He took up residence at the bottom of Jacob’s ladder, the earthly realm. From this position, He took up His ministry of intercession. He moved into place as the living bridge between us and all the fullness of Heaven.

At the very commencement of His ministry, He announced this intercessory function to his brand new disciples: “I tell all of you the solemn truth - you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51, NET).

They immediately recognized His reference to Jacob’s ladder. With these words, He was proclaiming to them, “I have come to fulfill what has been promised for so long. I have come as the living portal to Heaven. Through Me, the glory of My Father’s dwelling place will collide with Earth’s suffering. Starting now, My Kingdom will come, My will be done, here at the foot of the Ladder, as it is at its top, in Heaven.”

The Ladder Begets More Ladders

Those men did not realize it at the time, but in that moment, He was inaugurating their training. He immediately began modeling for them the role that He would soon pass onto them. After three and a half short years of ministry, He would be handing them His intercessory baton. He would be declaring to them, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12-14, NIV).

Of course, those words were not just for them, but for you and me as well. I am confident that you have heard this Scripture before, along with teaching that we will do more extensive, more mighty exploits than Jesus, as His representatives. However, did you ever notice the verses directly following? They are about prayer. The “greater things” that we are called to do have everything to do with our partnership with Him in intercession.

As He demonstrated for us how to become the connection between Heaven and earth, He has now beckoned us into that very role. He has now poured out His Spirit on us, to empower us to fulfill this commission on the earth, just as He showed us. We are to become living ladders, bringing the power of Heaven to earth’s vast needs through prayer. The activity of Heaven is to move up and down through us as we stand in the gap on behalf of the hurting and the broken. As we surrender to the Spirit of God, He will flow through us, connecting the high and holy place with the plight of the lowly:

“For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15, NIV).

Vessels of His Prayers

Holy Spirit has often pulled me into His powerful responses to the hurting world around me. The other day, it happened again. When I opened my phone to read the news, my eyes fell on a story of a public figure who lost her three-year-old daughter in a tragic accident. Even though I had never before heard of this individual, I burst into tears.

Someone observing from a natural perspective might have looked at me and assumed that I have an overly emotional personality, or was extra tired and on edge that day. However, I wasn’t. And I know better. This type of thing happens to me regularly, and I have learned to recognize it as the Spirit of Jesus interceding through me.

Holy Spirit aches with this woman’s pain, and not just with hers alone. Every single day, He hovers and broods over this world, involved intimately in each and every personal story. Every stab of emotional agony shoots through His heart. As such, He looks for willing Ladders who will allow Him to flow through them in prayer. As He experiences human pain acutely, He pours it out at the right hand of the Father in intercession through those of us willing to be His channels.

Understanding this, I have learned to pause when He begins to move in me this way. I let the tears come. I start to pray in the Spirit, allowing Him to well up in me with those groans that words cannot express. Once I give space to His expression, after a window of time (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter), the burden lifts. At that point, I know that He has accomplished in prayer whatever He needed to. Actual healing has been released into the earth through His intercession. My emotions return to completely normal, and I resume my usual activities.

Do you see that I did not have to “come up with” that prayer assignment? Holy Spirit coordinated, initiated, and executed the entire thing. All He needs, to bring Heaven’s answers to earth, is a surrendered, available vessel. He will do absolutely everything else.

He doesn’t need us to bear the weight of the world on our shoulders. He’s already doing that. He doesn’t need us to keep tabs on all the sorrow and grief happening in every corner of creation. He’s already on that. He doesn’t need us to become the savior and fix the world’s problems. He’s already doing an astounding job moving the cosmos forward in His flawless plans for her complete redemption. He doesn’t need us to carry any of it. All He needs is vessels. As we lean completely into Him day to day, He will accomplish mind-boggling progress with His purposes through our yielded hearts and lives. He will do it, and we will have the breathtaking joy of being intimately involved!

Do you want to be His prayer channel? He is so eager to pour His redemptive life through you into the pain and suffering around you! You don’t need any special qualifications at all; not eloquence, not smarts, not charisma, not years of experience… only willingness. If you will offer yourself to Him today to be His intercessory conduit, He will take you up on the offer. He will begin to train you in the intricacies of recognizing and following His lead. Some indescribably wonderful adventures lie ahead as He begins to do new things in and through you, His living ladder!

Don’t miss the next installation of this series. I will be sharing some exciting specifics, addressing the “how to” aspect of partnering with Holy Spirit in His intercession for the world around us!


Does this teaching stir your spirit with hunger for more of Jesus? I'd love to send my posts to you regularly! Look for the "Subscribe by Email" button on the desktop version of this blog to receive them in your inbox :)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Responding with the Spirit of Jesus to Human Pain

Sorrow hung heavily, like a shroud, over my soul that day. It had become painful to push through each task at hand. That’s when Jesus broke through to me. Suddenly, I felt His gentle hands on my cheeks. He ever so tenderly tilted my gaze upwards as He held my face. My eyes saw His. They were full of pain. My pain. He was feeling my pain.

Mercifully, that troubling season has come and gone, but the truth of that moment remains with me. Jesus is here in our suffering. His emotions are wrapped up in our heartache. Walking through the pulsating, stabbing agony with us, He feels it more keenly, more sharply, more deeply, than we even do. He identifies with us so closely in our anguish that He calls us “My brothers.” When someone ministers to us, alleviating our distress, He experiences great personal relief. Through the sound waves of eternity, His voice cries out gratefully to that person, “As you have done it unto My brothers, so you have done it unto Me!”

Jesus does not stop with feeling and identifying with our grieved emotions. He responds to them. His indescribably profound compassion is inextricably woven into the flow of His power on our behalf. Specifically, as He is touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He channels His lion’s roar of passion into intercession on our behalf. He is our great Intercessor, gone through the heavens to make unceasing prayers on our behalf to the Father. Through this post and the next, I will be unpacking both the principles of His own intercession and His invitation to us into partnership with Him as He stands in this role.

(Important note: Intercession does not need to be one of your main spiritual gifts for this article to relate to you. If you desire to know how to be a part of releasing Jesus’ power into your world to bring healing to its brokenness, read on!)

Soaring Joy and Searing Pain, Simultaneously?

If you have some understanding of how gloriously peaceful the heavenly places are, it may be confusing to think of Jesus as sorrowful. If the atmosphere around His throne is alive with joy inexpressible and resplendent with light more brilliant than the sun… then how could any sadness exist there? Especially since the book of Revelation tells us there is no weeping in Heaven?

I asked Him this exact question. In response, He breathed a Scripture from Isaiah into my spirit:

“For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15, NIV).

I began to understand. He lives in “a high and holy place” – which is Heaven – and with the lowly in spirit – here on fallen, dysfunctional Planet Earth. It’s not either/or. It’s both. He inhabits eternity, exulting in endless bliss… and He is right here in our mess, weeping with us. Because He is God, He has infinite capacity within Himself to experience all of this at once. He has room for joy inexpressible, full of glory and for the searing pain of unspeakable loss, simultaneously. It all fits within the immeasurable space of His exquisitely beautiful heart.

From the moment that Jesus stepped out of the eternal realm and into Mary’s womb, He brought fulfillment to the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. God had announced from before the beginning of time that the Savior’s name would be Immanuel, God with us. He came to take up residence in a human body. He came to walk in our sandals, to find out what all of our sorrows tasted like. He came to drink them to the last drop.

Holy Spirit with Us… With ALL of Us

Everything that He experienced would then become fuel for His intercession when He had conquered death and sat down at the right hand of the Father. When He knew that new role was fast approaching, He invited His close friends to a private dinner to prepare them for the coming transition. There, He earnestly explained to them, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7, NKJV).

When Jesus returned to Heaven and the Father exalted Him to the highest place, He kept His promise. He poured out His Spirit on those waiting disciples. The Helper came and indwelt them far more intimately than even Jesus’ presence had been when He lived among them physically. The power He poured out over and through them was exponentially greater than what they had experienced by living in close proximity to Him in the flesh. A new era had begun.

That new era was and is marked by Holy Spirit’s inundating, saturating presence in the earth. He is everywhere. Tragically, so many people are unaware of His nearness. Even some of us Christians have an erroneous concept of Him that perceives Him as elitist. Often we imagine that He limits Himself to visiting and blessing church services. We think of Him as exclusively gracing believers in Jesus Christ with His nearness. This could not be farther from the truth.

Holy Spirit is right now hovering over forlorn prison cells and forgotten hovels. He is immersed in the anguished moments of distraught family members waiting by silent hospital beds. Wherever someone is brokenhearted or crushed in spirit, He is there, exceedingly close. He is the Spirit of Jesus. He is weeping with every grief-stricken soul on the planet. Every single one. His dwelling place is with the lowly; His longing, to revive and restore each heart.

Summoned Into a Holy Partnership

As Jesus incarnate was Immanuel, the Spirit of Jesus in the earth now carries on His Immanuel mission. He executes this charge in a way that is multiplied gloriously beyond what Jesus would have been able to accomplish if He were still in a human body. From His omnipresent position intertwined with humanity’s suffering, Holy Spirit is uniquely positioned to partner with Jesus in intercession. As the book of Romans expresses, “…The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26b, NKJV).

A few verses earlier, we see the concept of groaning associated with the world around us: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (v. 22). As we study this passage as a whole, we gain insight into the Spirit’s work. He is here with us. He is keenly, intensely experiencing the pain and the groaning of the world He brought forth. In response, He cries out in fervent intercession for His creation, with inexpressible groanings of His own.

And this is where you and I come in. This description of Holy Spirit’s guttural groans is actually in the context of our own prayers. To look now at the entire verse, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Left on our own, you and I would not know how to pray adequately. God here is very plainly calling us “weak” in prayer, when it comes to our own resource and ability. We just plain have no idea what needs praying for.

However, we are not left on our own! The Spirit of Jesus, intimately in touch with every problem on the face of the earth, is inside of our bodies, one with our spirits. He knows exactly what to pray, and He is summoning us to join Him on His intercessory quest. Yes, dear one, this includes you. He will pray through you and me, as we allow His passionate supplication to pour through our spirits and out of our mouths. He will bring fulfillment to the purposes of God into the earth, as we lean deeply into Him, following His lead in prayer!

He has been stirring this message in me for months, and I have much more to share with you about it. Please stay tuned for my next post. Together we will explore this partnership into which He is beckoning us – and how He desires to release His thoughts, intents, and redemptive plans through us into His beloved, hurting creation!


Does this teaching stir your spirit with hunger for more of Jesus? I'd love to send my posts to you regularly! Look for the "Subscribe by Email" button on the desktop version of this blog to receive them in your inbox :)