Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thess. 2:8.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8.

When Jesus comes at the end of the age, He will come in great power and glory. In fact, when He comes, His glory will be so brilliant that it will totally annihilate the antichrist. That is why Paul told the Thessalonians, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thess. 2:8. After time runs out for the antichrist to do his work on the earth, Jesus will come again. Paul declared that when Jesus returns, He would consume the evil one, the devil, with the Spirit of His mouth.

The Greek word “consume” is “anairo,” which means to “kill, to murder, to slay, to slaughter, to do away with or to abolish.” The meaning is very clear. Jesus is going to wipe him out permanently. How will He do this? The Word says He will consume him with the spirit of His mouth. That word “spirit” comes from the Greek word “pneuma,” where we get the words “lungs, speech, wind of words.” This word “mouth” is the Greek word “stomos,” which means, “mouth or opening.” God created the earth and all that is upon it by speaking it into existence.

Words speak life or death. It will only take one verbal order when Jesus commands the enemy’s destruction. Great power will be released on the day of the enemy’s demise. This word “destroy” is the Greek word “katargeo.” Paul used this word twenty-five times in his writings. The word means “to bring to nothing, to reduce to waste, to render totally impotent, to abolish, or to put out of commission.” Satan’s time on earth shall be over. Before anyone realizes what is happening, God’s glory will fill the sky and the world’s systems will crumble in the blink of an eye.

But until that day we are to “occupy until He comes.” That, my friend, requires steadfastness, courage, and faith. And it requires an expectant, faith-filled prayer life, an ability to control the words of your mouth, and a decision to love. God doesn’t hear or act upon how short, long, eloquent, or simple our prayers are. The Lord says He doesn’t hear us better or faster if we are long-winded with lengthy prayers. Peter said three words, “Lord, save me,” and was immediately rescued from drowning. (Matt. 14:30-31). Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks before receiving the revelation for which he prayed (Daniel 10:3-12).

What is our part in these last days? I wouldn’t trade the experiences of the past decade or two for anything because of what I have learned about myself, others, life, and the true agape love of God and of the Father Himself. I ruminate back upon my extremely early, youthful days, being taught about Jesus in Sunday School in the Midwest where I was raised. The tiny wood chairs. Glue, construction paper, glitter, crayons, yarn, stories, songs, and mini-sermon handouts all filled my shoebox through which I literally and figuratively crafted, fashioned, and formed my “picture” of exactly who this Jesus was. I have no doubt every teacher and helper gave it their best shot. I must confess, however, that the chasm between who I believed Jesus was back then verses now – 60 years later – grew deeper, wider, and in many ways unrecognizable. It was no one’s fault. We are blessed and fortunate right now to live in this era which was ordained before the foundations of the earth — the era which will unveil, uncover, and manifest Jesus Christ, our Lord and King, and the simplicity of the gospel to every man, woman, and child upon this earth.

The Lord has provided us the previous three weeks of teaching regarding 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, for a reason. In these last days the Bible says it won’t matter if a person understands every mystery, every prophecy, or can sing like an angel. It won’t matter if that person sells all they own and gives it to the poor. If they have faith to move mountains, give their bodies to be burned, it will mean nothing if they don’t have love. Agape love. Love never fails. I truly believe the Lord is in the process of breaking dividing walls between denominations, cultures, ages, socio-economic groups, causing His Body to join in unity to love one another as they love their own selves. This is how the harvest will be reaped. This is how the sheep shall be separated from the goats, the wheat from the tares. How prodigals will return home. By love.

Love moves. Love does. Love acts. Love provides. Love surrounds. Love sacrifices. Love bears all, hopes all. Love refuses to give up. Last week I suffered another bout of pneumonia. It just so happened my husband was gone, my children were gone, and I was home alone. Tears ran down my face so many times as I had two beautiful friends checking up on me every couple of hours. One made chicken noodle soup. They had me checking in before I went to bed, and when I awoke because my blood oxygen had been running so low. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. All it cost them was a little time, but their actions renewed, encouraged, and built me up in a priceless, incomprehensible way in my most holy faith. They validated my worth and my part in the Body of Christ. Never underestimate the value of love. They expected nothing in return. That was God’s real, true, agape love.

So as we “occupy until He comes” and spread the Lord’s love wherever we are able, God tells us there are a couple things we need to make sure we understand if we want our prayers heard and answered. There are several biblical laws that guide us as believers, which must not be broken in order to have our prayers answered. First, lack of forgiveness toward another person can block the answers to your prayers. (Matt. 6:14-15). Too much tossing to and fro creates uncertainty and mixes faith with unbelief. Should I forgive? But it’s not fair. Lord, will You please remind them of just how merciful I am being? It sounds silly but you’d be shocked at how common those thoughts are. How easily we forget the great grace and mercies extended toward us throughout our lives. We should be grateful the Holy Spirit keeps no ledger of wrongs in our spiritual human resources file. That would be like a wife crying out to God to save her marriage at the same time she’s driving to the courthouse to file divorce papers. When we waver, we sit on a fence of hope with one foot positioned on the side of belief and the other on doubt’s side. When a person prays while wavering, they can’t expect to receive anything from God (James 1:6-8). “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”

There are two different Greek words translated as wavering. The first is found in Hebrews 10:23, where we are told to “Hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering.” This first one means putting all our eggs in one basket—believing and leaving no room for doubt. Translated as “without blending or mixing.” If we could just grasp the gravity of this truth, our lives would be so different and our prayers much more effectual. God hates mixture of any form. Our God is a God of purity and He desires purity in our hearts, minds, desires, emotions, and our faith. It is a battle to “hold fast your faith without wavering.” To do so we must be willing to believe God’s Word (which is unseen) above the circumstances surrounding our situation which, by the way, can be seen, heard, touched, and felt. Easy? Not hardly. Hence the lack of so many to truly forgive — only to then find themselves without forgiveness.

The second word translated as “wavering” is found in the Book of James. This word is also critical to our understanding the outcome of our prayer requests. It commands us to ask in faith and “not withdraw, stagger at, or begin doubting regarding receiving our crucial requests.” A double minded man will not receive what he asks. This does not mean that there aren’t times when we feel afraid. That is precisely why we are told to “hide the Word in our hearts.”

One act of agape love can change the world

Part Two

When I was pregnant with one of my daughters, I went into labor three months early. I cried out to God, and He heard me. Immediately a scripture came out of my mouth — a verse I hadn’t read in a long time. “What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.” I grabbed hold of that verse as I was medivacked to Anchorage and ruminated on it over and over. My daughter is 29 now with a family of her own. God is faithful! He will hear your prayers as you pray in faith, standing firm on His promises. That’s the only way. When we pray directly in faith, followed up by comments such as, “I don’t know if God heard that” or “I’m about to give up — I just don’t see any change,” then our double-minded wavering has moved from our heads to our mouths, cancelling out our petitions. It becomes a lack of expectation.

God never plays games, word games or not. But the Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Our words are creative. Good or bad. But if you lose your expectation, you are no longer “impregnated” with the answer, no longer expecting it to come to pass. Remember when the early saints prayed all night for Peter to be released from prison? The angel unlocked his chains and the prison doors and the gates to the city — and Peter was free. But when Peter knocked at the door for his own prayer meeting, those praying went into shock at hearing Peter’s voice and couldn’t believe their eyes. They had wordy words—but lacked expectation. They weren’t expecting God to do anything that time. They were going through the motions. As we pray for our needs and the needs of others, we must not waver. We have to refuse to open the door when fear and doubt are knocking. We need to pray in faith and expect our answers to arrive right on time. That my friend is faith. Faith is substance. It is evidence admissible in court at the trial of your or another’s faith. It just isn’t visible yet—but it will be—right on time.

What else affects how and when our prayers are answered? Spiritual authority is increased when others join in agreement. Oh friends, we must maintain this generation of prayer warriors. Because of “wavering,” prayer rooms which were at one time filled with dozens of saints, praying all night, are now holding on to a mere handful of praying believers. Spirits connected with other religions have crept into our towns, schools, and churches, attacking and taking Christianity hostage with a vengeance. These spirits impact the atmosphere like layers of pollution. Think back on what it was like when Daniel prayed. Father God said his prayers were heard the moment he uttered them, but it took 20 days for the angels to battle the evil spirits and powers in order to reach Daniel.

Stop and pause, think of what it must be like now — now that we legally kill babies in the womb. Last week the Senate adopted post-birth abortion as something to consider. Now men and women have become lovers of pleasures and sin more than lovers of God. Do not give up on your prayers if your answers seem slow in coming. The warfare must be beyond description compared to Daniel’s day. But you must not be double-minded. You must ask in faith — according to God’s Word. Expectant! Precious seed has been sown. One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. Our part is to believe. God hears you the moment you cry out to Him, in faith, expecting Him to answer and deliver you. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” 

At Jerusalem and surrounding walled cities there were “watchmen” appointed to stand watch on top of the walls to watch for any invading enemies or messengers traveling at night, because the gates were shut and locked at sunset. Watchmen provided protection for those in the cities as they slept. They also announced the arrival of the morning with the sunrise —and the coming of night at sunset. (Obad. 5; Isa. 21:12). 

The New King James version uses the word “watcher” and “watchers” to describe a type of angels: “This decision is by decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the affairs of men, and gives to whomever He wills.” Daniel 4:17. 

This section of Daniel was written in Aramaic, and the word watchers means, “to be hot and ardent, to be lively, to be awake, and to be awake at night.” Brethren, we have been given angels to have charge over us, guard us, and minister to us. We too must remember God’s command that we watch over one another, especially in their night seasons. I understand the fight we have in the flesh to keep us from praying for longer than just a few minutes. 

I’ll never forget the lesson the Lord gave my Husband and I one night many, many years ago. We received a prayer request for a young child with a fever — the mother was exacerbated, wanting help. Dwight and I laid in bed, praying a short prayer similar to, “Lord we ask that You heal little Susie of this fever, we rebuke it, and help her to sleep well, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.” Back to sleep. Then we received a call that our grandbaby had a fever of 104 degrees and our daughter was beside herself. Both Dwight and I jumped out of bed, got on our knees, praying and speaking the Word in faith over our grandchild. I jumped up, got dressed at 3 a.m. and told Dwight I was driving over to see if I could help with the other kids. Then it hit us. The difference between our prayers and their intensity and faith was shameful. I told the Lord I would never do that again with His help. And my prayer life changed forever that night. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The Word says, “The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.” In the days in which we are living, it has never been more critical that we understand the times and the seasons —and that we fight the good fight of faith. We must burn out all doubt and unbelief from our hearts and minds, because we are transitioning into the time when we “Walk by faith and not by sight.”

What are your needs today? As we thank our God for all His goodness and mercy and provision this fall and harvest, we must remember the battle continues on all fronts. Will you watch with Him for one hour, by watching with a needy brother or sister fighting a battle and desperately needing love, prayer, encouragement, or a dose of agape love and hope? Ruminate on your prayer life this week. Do your words and actions reflect your expectations from God? Pause and think about that. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Does your conversation align with what you truly believe God is about to do in answer to your prayers? He is for you and not against you. Put on your armor, strengthen, encourage yourself in your most holy faith. Your expectation, your faith-filled prayer, may change another’s life forever, just as I experienced last week. Love expecting nothing in return other than to just give hope and help. Who knows but that your decree in prayer, in faith, may release a long-awaited reply for a son or daughter of God. One act of agape love can alter another’s life and future. Possibly a community’s future. Pay it forward. Occupy until He comes! Perhaps someone is praying in expectation for you this very hour. Thank Him now as you prepare to grasp that answer. 

Ruminate on that.

Editor's Note: This column originally ran in two parts in print.