“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Father, as Deeper Still grows, we ask for unity in the teams. We ask for the leaders of the teams and the team members to understand the power of unity and understand the importance of fighting to keep the unity of the Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Unity doesn’t just happen. If it did, Paul wouldn’t have had to write Ephesians 4:1-3. When he says, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace“, there is an understanding that acquiring and maintaining unity must be intentional.
How many churches have split over minute issues? How many divisions have there been in ministry over mishaps? The power of unity is to be sought for and fought for.
Earlier this year, I had a misunderstanding with a friend who served with me in another ministry and offense entered. It wasn’t my intention to offend, but offense does not care if it was invited, it will just come and try to crash any Kingdom party.
Knowing I had offended my friend, I asked for her forgiveness. She admitted she had been offended and forgave me easily. The Lord had already begun speaking to her about the offense and revealed to her I did not intend harm. Prayer had been the catalyst to all this misunderstanding being resolved and all was well. We were able to easily move forward in serving together with unity. It was a beautiful resolution and we both grew in the process.
Later on, another friend we served with in this ministry asked me about the situation and how we were able to resolve it so quickly and move forward. I answered her, “The mission is too great. The mission is greater than any small differences or misunderstandings. We cannot afford to be offended and lose unity when there is a mission as great as the Kingdom of God.” There were ladies who needed to be loved on. They needed to hear about freedom in Christ. Disunity would have hindered the work of the Lord and that just wasn’t acceptable.
The mission is too great.
What if we applied this mantra to other areas of our lives? Our marriages? Relationships with our children? Relationships with others in our church family? The power of unity is vital. There is no limit to what the Lord will do with a team that is unified. Friends, the mission is too great. Let’s endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
“Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’” Mark 16:3
Father, I pray for the Deeper Still team and participants to have faith like Mary and Mary. I pray they would just go in faith trusting you to roll away the heavy stones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
At the Deeper Still Team Meeting last week, Karen Ellison taught from this scripture in Mark 16.
Jesus had been in the tomb three days. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, set out early in the morning heading toward the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. On the way, they were talking among themselves and wondered, “Oh yeah, there is this big boulder in the way, I wonder how we are going to roll it away.”
What I love is that they kept going. They had everything they needed and they went on in faith that somehow the stone would be rolled away.
Participants come to the Deeper Still retreats, not with their spices, but with their suitcases, clothes, makeup, and other things they need for the weekend. Physically prepared perhaps, but one thing they may not know is how the stone will be rolled away.
“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.” (V. 4)
The stone was very large. Most likely the stone was too heavy for the ladies to move on their own. It took faith for them to press on to their destination.
The abortion-wounded participants come with a very large stone that seems too monstrous to move. Many fear that they will come and nothing will happen. However, God knows how to move a stone.
It is not only the participants that must come in faith believing for God to move stones, the Deeper Still team members must also go in faith believing that no stone is too big for our God.
Deeper Still team members come prepared, also not with spices, but in the power of prayer. Peppered in prayer, the team members are going in faith, knowing they cannot roll away the stone on their own. The stone is way too heavy to move. There is only One who can move the stone.
Huge stones are nothing for our God. One word from our Divine Creator and stones are smashed into pieces, hearts are changed, and captives are freed.
We just need to come, the participants and the team, in faith. We go in faith even when we don’t know the how.
And on Sunday morning, we too, like the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, look up and see the stone rolled away and we are in awe—for it is always very large. God is able to move the stone.
“Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amaz, prayed and cried out to heaven. Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria…Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 32: 20-22
Father, we thank you that you fight on behalf of Deeper Still. We thank you that you send your angelic armies out before us and cut down every enemy scheme and tactic. We thank you that you protect Deeper Still, the Deeper Still Team and deliver your people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Hezekiah was a king who honored the Lord by tearing down the high places and all alters and images of false gods. It says in 2 Chronicles 31 that he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. In 2 Chronicles 32, it says, “After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities thinking to win them over to himself.”(emphasis added)
The enemy came to attack after Hezekiah was so faithful. We have an enemy too who may try to attack after we have done what is good, right and true. We need prayer warriors like King Hezekiah and Isaiah who will pray and cry out to heaven.
And I love how when they cried out and prayed, the Lord fought for them.
They had prepared for battle. In 2 Chronicles 32:3-7, it describes all the extensive ways they had prepared and fortified themselves to stand up under attack. King Hezekiah encouraged his armies stating, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and fight our battles.”
The enemy “called out with a loud voice in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten them and trouble them.” Our enemy also tries to call out in a loud voice in a language we understand to frighten or trouble us. When our enemy calls, we need to cry. Not cry tears, but cry out. Our cries should always be louder and greater than the enemy calls.
King Hezekiah and his people may have been frightened or troubled. But, they were prepared and pressed on in prayer.
They prepared and pressed on in prayer. In the end, they didn’t even have to lift a spear. It says an angel of the Lord came and cut every single enemy down! Hallelujah!
Yes, we have an enemy. Yes, he is out to destroy us and make us doubt God will come on our behalf. He comes thinking he can overtake us. But, greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4). The numbers are in our favor. There are more with us. The Lord our God is with us to help us and He fights our battles. We just need to cry out, stand and watch Him be victorious!
“Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power…” Psalms 110:3a
Father, thank You for sending volunteers with willing hearts to give of their gifts, talents and abilities to the ministry of Deeper Still. Thank you for providing for every need of Deeper Still in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“Watch to see where God is working and join Him.” – Henry Blackeby, Experiencing God
Less than forty-eight hours had passed since I made the long ascent up the mountain to my Deeper Still Retreat. Twenty-four hours earlier, I was still wondering God’s purpose for bringing me to the retreat. Much can change in twenty-four hours.
My entire body sank deep into the soft leather surrounding me. My relaxed posture reflected the peace of my soul. Gazing out of the pristine windows, the mountaintops danced with raindrops signaling a fresh cleansing. Joy oozed from my countenance like the morning dew announcing to all a new day was beginning.
My eyes connected with Emily, my dear friend and Deeper Still Team member. My heart was alive, full of experiencing God in a whole new way, and on a level unlike anything I had ever known in the past. No words could fully express my gratitude to her for telling me about Deeper Still. Stricken of words, I signaled the American Sign Language sign for “Thank you” across the room to Emily. She understood. Tears filled her beautiful eyes.
Overwhelmed with thankfulness, I marveled at all the Lord had done not only in me, but also in all the other Deeper Still participants sitting in the room. It had only been a little under forty-eight hours. How could this be? I knew all the Lord had done in me. I was forever changed. However, it wasn’t just me. In every seat, every face was shining and radiant full of the beauty and smitten with joy.
At that moment, I knew. I knew I had to be a part of whatever God was doing in this ministry. Never before had I seen or been a part of God moving in this way. Henry Blackeby’s quote played like a symphony in my newly opened ears:
“Watch to see where God is working and join Him.”
God just shows up at these retreats. He just likes this ministry. I can’t explain it.
This ministry is special and if you are around it for any amount of time, it is evident. To see the team working together with various forms of spiritual gifts and talents all for one common purpose –seeing the captives set free—is beautiful to witness. What a blessing it is to be a part of this unique ministry where God is moving! And you, my praying friends, are a part of that move of God.
Thank you for being a volunteer in the day of His power. Thank you for joining Him in His powerful work of setting the captives free and transforming His sons and daughters into the image of His glory. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
“I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; They will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.” Isaiah 44:3-4
Father, we ask for you to pour Your waters onto those who are thirsty and flood the dry ground of those with abortion wounded hearts. Father, as You know, the Deeper Still Ministry is needed beyond our borders, in other states and nations. Father, we ask for You to pour out Your Spirit on the chapters that are emerging and bless the offspring from Deeper Still. Father, we pray for the chapters to spring up like willows by the watercourses, fully nourished and fruitful. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
New chapters of Deeper Still are in the birthing process and many more haven’t been conceived yet. God knows when and where these chapters will spring up. As these new chapters are being planted, they will need to be nurtured and watered with the Spirit of the Living God.
In verse 3 above, God says He will pour water on Him who is thirsty and floods on the dry ground. Water and floods are often used in Scripture to depict abundant blessings and are also used to denote the influence of the Holy Spirit (Bible Hub-Barnes Commentary).
God is saying that He will pour out His Holy Spirit on those who are thirsty and bless them abundantly! Amen!
In verse 4, the He says, “They will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.”
Willow trees in our western culture symbolize grief, such as in the weeping willow. However, in the places where the willow originated (China), it symbolizes vitality and growth. This symbolism comes from its ability to reproduce easily from cut branches.
Interestingly enough, I found 5 more facts about willow trees that I thought mirrored perfectly the heart of Deeper Still as it is beginning new chapters.
1. Willow trees not only sprout easily, they are fast growers.
2. Willows have medicinal properties that alleviate pain and bring healing.
3 3. Willows are used to build.
4. Willows need to have the proper soil and need an abundance of water (Holy Spirit).
5. Willows help prevent erosion.
As Deeper Still grows and becomes all God has for it to be, may the new chapters grow in vitality, may the pain of the past be shed as hearts are healed, may the ruins of many desolations be rebuilt and restored, may the roots be ever in the right soil and watered abundantly, and may Deeper Still help prevent the erosion of our culture, our nation, and the world. Amen!