About Evan Olsen
“[T]he testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10)
The Bible has some amazing accounts of prophetic musicians who cast out demons and won military battles through melodies and songs.
Young David played his harp and caused King Saul to be set free from a terrorizing spirit:
"And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.” (1 Sam. 16:23)
I’ve spent the past year studying Daniel. I believe there’s a lot of valuable life-lessons to glean from his life. When he was young—around 17—he was exiled to Babylon. Being a smart kid, he was taught the language and customs of the Babylonians so that he could teach it to others. This brought him before some of the most important people in human history.
168. That’s how many hours we all have in a week. If you average 8 hours a night for sleep, it leaves you with 112 waking-hours. In that amount of time, you could do a lot of things. Like: make 12,320 vinyl records, quilt 5.5 quilts or read the entire Bible roughly 1.6 times.
Needless to say, we all have a lot of time in life. Yet, the most common complaint is, “There’s not enough time in the day.” I’m guilty of this complaint, and it is usually an excuse for my poor planning. The issue at hand is that we don’t schedule and prioritize our time according to our life vision and goals.
It’s great to write out a life-vision and life-goals, but if they don’t translate into every-day-action, then they are useless./p>
When the way we spend our time reflects what we ultimately want to achieve in life, we don’t feel aimless and distracted, our morale is built up by a sense of achievement, and strain is reduced on our relationships.
While laying out my schedule, I am forced to evaluate which activities are really important to me. Once I prioritize my activities, I find my schedule to be full, but with gaping holes. How can this be? I ay out everything I wanted to do, but there is always still lots of time open.This makes it a great idea to make small tweaks to your schedule at least once a month.
The basis for our relationship with God is in God’s ultimate happiness and contentment in Himself. Before we even desire to seek God, we must first know that He is happy and good, righteous and holy, and is fully satisfied in Himself. Thinking about God being fully pleased in Himself makes me confident that I, too, can be fully pleased in Him. It’s a curious thing, but we need affirmation from God’s delight in Himself to know that we can delight in Him, too.
“If God were not infinitely devoted to the preservation, display, and enjoyment of His own glory, we could have no hope of finding happiness in Him.” – John Piper, Desiring God
God, being the only true anchor in our lives, gives our ship a strong and unmovable line by the truth of His love, holiness, and goodness. If God doesn’t find complete satisfaction in Himself then we have no true anchor to hold on to, for God would not be God! Thank God that God loves God.
“…He delivered me because He delighted in me.” Ps. 18:19
God loves unbelievers (John 3:16), yet He likes and enjoys believers (John 15:9). Jesus rejoices over us when we turn to Him in repentance (Lk. 15:4-7). His smile is seen as a believer embarks on the journey towards mature obedience and love. Our repentance elicits a compassionate response in Jesus’ heart (Lk. 15:18-22), even though we still have immature areas that need transformation.
Everything you see Jesus do—every emotion or action— shows the Father’s character and demonstrates exactly how He feels. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). A read through the book of John (or the other gospels) will give you immense insight into how the Father feels about believers. Many times it says that Jesus was moved with compassion.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love.” John 15:9
“…so that the world may know that you…loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:23
God loves us in the same way that God loves God. Think about that. God feels the same way about Jesus as He does about you. So, when Jesus stands before the Father, and the Father looks at Jesus with extreme delight and enjoyment, we can be assured He looks at us the same way. Look in the Bible at how God feels towards Jesus, then meditate on the fact that He loves us in that same way.
I believe that God is mostly happy when relating to us, not mostly angry or sad (though these emotions are definitely displayed in the Bible). God’s primary disposition is gladness; His love is ever-real.
It can’t be said enough: we love Him only because He first loved us, and made a way for us to be His favorite ones.
“There is no light in the planet but that which proceeds from the sun; and there is no true love to Jesus in the heart but that which comes from the Lord Jesus himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring. This must ever be a great and certain truth, that we love him for no other reason than because he first loved us.” C. H. Spurgeon (emphasis added)
Psalm 91 shows us that when we set our love upon God, He will bless us with eight spiritual and natural promises. These promises affect our hearts, minds, bodies, and emotions. God will give us these promises as a response and a gift for our love.
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name,
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
and show him My salvation.” Psalm 91:14–16
God doesn’t just promise to deliver us by setting us in safety, but He promises to take us out of danger and equip us to fight. He rescues us and gives us the power and strength to stand.
Lazarus has just died and his family and friends are devastated. We find Jesus responding differently to the grieving of Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary.
We know Martha and Mary from another popular scripture in John 10 where Mary chooses to sit at Jesus’ feet and anoint Him while Martha is busy preparing food. I think it’s a common misconception to perceive Mary as ‘good’ and Martha as ‘bad.’ But in John it says that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. I think this was a special friendship.
Martha and Jesus were friends. So it may seem odd that when Martha ran to Jesus and said about Lazarus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” Jesus simply stated that Lazarus would rise again. He also took the moment to tell Martha more about who He is as ’the resurrection and the life.’
Could it be that Jesus was showing Martha something she didn’t know about Him? He asked her “Do you believe this?” Was that to grow faith in Martha that He can raise Lazarus from the dead, or was it simply to tell her who He is?
Next, Mary ran to Jesus with the exact same words as Martha, but Jesus reacts completely different to Mary. It says that Mary fell as Jesus’ feet, weeping. When Jesus saw Mary and the Jews that came with her weeping, He was saddened, troubled, and even moved to weeping.
In this account, we get a vastly intimate look into the humanity and emotions of Jesus. His love for these siblings, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, clearly demonstrates His closeness with our humanity, and quells the thoughts that He is stoic or detached from us.
There are numerous times in the Gospels where it says that Jesus was moved with compassion. Love and compassion welled up inside of Him for humanity because we are “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14–15)
"Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matt. 9:35–36)
I guest authored this blog two weeks ago for a pro-life prayer movement for the ending of abortion: Bound4LIFE.com.
In 2007, we started a Bound4LIFE chapter and began praying at the Florida Supreme Court. Around 7 months later in 2008, we participated in Bound4LIFE’s nation-wide prayer meeting called The Mercy Seat, where 6,200 gathered to pray at every Supreme Court in the nation simultaneously. Nearly 600 residents joined us throughout the 7 hour solemn assembly outside of the Florida Supreme Court, pleading Jesus’ blood and praying for God’s mercy to turn to our state.
We often don’t understand that the timeline of intercession is commonly answered in years. At the end of 2009, Gallup Poll released this shocking data: a majority of Americans identified themselves as pro-life for the first time in over a decade. This unprecedented shift in opinion began sometime after (or during) The Mercy Seat.
Let’s fast forward. In 2010, Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist was presented with a pro-life bill that would require ultrasounds to be performed before obtaining an abortion. Gov. Crist said he would take 15 days to decide wether or not to sign this bill into law. We spent those days in fasting and prayer as we held silent prayer sieges inside of the State Capitol rotunda, directly facing Governor Crist’s office.
Gov. Crist ultimately decided to veto this bill, but again, our prayers were not in vain and our intercession would be answered a year later. Almost the exact same bill was signed into law in 2011, with four other pro-life bills. The 2011 session was a historic push towards righteousness. In contrast, before 2011, only one pro-life bill had passed the FL legislature in ten years.
In regards to the unborn, the year of 2011 in the Florida Legislature could be described as historic, unprecedented, and full of favor. God allowed our small team of intercessors favor to have some forty Representatives make the covenant of the Life band to pray, vote, and obey. There were even some pro-life legislators in the Democratic party (which is a pro-choice party platform) who wore life bands and vocally fought for the unborn.
Those pro-life praying Representatives and Senators passed five pro-life bills that were enacted this year. This led to the Sunshine State News article linked above, and the 19% drop in abortions in Florida. Though some credit can be given to state legislators for enacting tougher regulations and medical requirements, we know the true credit goes to God answering the prayers of Floridians.
“In 2008, Florida recorded 95,375 abortions. In 2011, that figure fell to 77,166. Nearly midway through this year, 28,023 abortions had been performed. […] The number of Florida abortion clinics has also dwindled. There reportedly are now some 70 abortion providers in the state – nearly 30 percent fewer than in 2005.“ [emphasis added]
And this trend in pro-life laws isn’t limited to Florida. Sunshine State News goes on to state:
"Along with Florida, legislators in 23 other states passed 92 anti-abortion provisions in 2011, shattering the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005, according to Guttmacher.”
This isn’t only a change in public opinion; these are real lives. Real babies are being saved because of your prayers. This should both excite, amaze, and humble you. God has proven that prayers are answered and that your intercession is never in vain. Prayer works.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” 2 Cor. 10:4
Israel is important because God has made Biblical promises to her that drastically affects every people group on Earth. Historically, Israel came about when God made a promise to Abraham, which eventually led to Jacob being born in the Promised Land and developed into a nation over many years.
Biblical prophecy was fullfilled in 1948 when Israel was rebirthed as a nation.
“In that day, the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His people… and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” Is. 11:11-12 (emphasis mine)
God has tied the salvation of every nation to Israel. He promised that out of Israel the Messiah would come. When Jesus the Messiah did come, the people of Israel rejected Him. As a consequence, salvation came to the Gentiles while Israel was put on a side-track.
“…through their trespass [rejection of Jesus as Messiah] salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world [salvation]… how much more will their full inclusion mean! [acceptance of Jesus as Messiah]” Rom. 11:11-12 (my notes added)
"For if their rejection [of Jesus] means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? [Jesus’ return]” Rom. 11:15 (my notes added)
God has given Israel so much favor that even their failures are turned into blessings for the earth. I speak of their "rejection” and the Gentiles’ salvation. Jesus goes one step further and bases His return (Second Coming) on the condition that Israel accepts Him as their Messiah.
“For I tell you, you will not see Me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matt. 23:39)
Jesus loves Israel so much that His return on the Day of the Lord to restore all things is conditional on Israel’s acceptance of Him. That’s the real crux of why Israel is important. Can you see now why Israel is among the most despised nations? The Devil’s schemes throughout history has been to annihilate Israel so that Jesus cannot return. That understanding puts a whole new perspective on the holocaust during WWII and Iran’s hatred of Israel.
We partner in prayer with Israel because 1) God’s Word commands us to partner through prayer with His sovereign decision to call them His people, 2) The Day of the Lord and the earth’s restoration is dependent on Israel’s acceptance of Jesus as Messiah.
As believers, we are commanded in the Word to pray for Israel. It’s a deception to think Israel is not pertinent to our lives, or that it’s a peripheral prayer topic. Israel is arguably the most important issue to commit to in prayer.
I challenge you to pray for Israel at least 20 minutes a day. Or join our prayer room in prayer on Tuesdays from noon – 1pm.
In Psalm 139 it says God wrote a book for my life before I was born. He dreamed about what I would do, who I would be, and with whom I would spend my life with. He placed me in a family and with friends that He knew would be great for me. Yet my life doesn’t automatically follow the path that God has written for me.
I must choose His ways. I must walk in His path.
There are other paths, sure. I could blaze my own trail if I wanted to. But I know God’s path for my life leads me to places that would fascinate my heart and mind. His path goes by a beautiful canyon with tumultuous rapids and waterfalls. It even weaves through a garden that would put the hanging gardens of Babylon to shame.
His path is perfect; His ways are best. I must walk in His path.
How can I know where His path leads? Sometimes it dark and cloudy, and I can’t see it. How do I know I’m walking in God’s will?
“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Ps. 119:105
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Ps. 32:8
The best way to follow a trail made by someone in a thick forest is to keep up close to them. If you can keep them in your vision –– or better yet, you are right behind them –– you won’t get lost or confused about which way the trail bends. It’s the same with following God. Being close to Him is the best way to know which way He is leading you.
How do you follow God? Keep up close behind Him and never lose sight of which way He turns.