“God, create a pure heart in me, and renew a right attitude within me” (Psalm 51:10 ISV).
Last night I had a vivid dream. It felt more like a visit from God. If you have ever had a visit from God in your sleep you would know that no words could describe the feeling. I dreamt that it was an overcast day. Reminded me of the days I worked at my uncle Sam’s Tomato Repacking Plant in the North End in Boston back in 1962. I was working at a produce stand when an unkempt man appeared out of nowhere. Can I help you, I asked? He replied with a speech impediment, “I pray for the rats.” Excuse me, I said. He repeated, “I pray for the rats, but I’m not very good at it.” “What do you mean, your not very good at it?” “My tongue doesn’t work so good,” he said. “It’s not your presentation that counts, it’s what’s in your heart that counts,” I replied. Your grammar can be over looked, but your heart can’t. Do you know what I think? “No I don’t,” he replied. I think when you die and go to heaven Jesus is going to say, I am well pleased with you, here’s your house and these are your gifts. “I’m going to have gifts in heaven?” He asked. I said, yes. “I don’t understand” he replied. You see, God’s not concerned with our vocabulary, our grammar or even our outward appearance, He’s only concerned with the condition of our hearts, and I can see that you have a pure heart. Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your heart” (Luke 16:15a NLT). Then for some reason I asked him if he took showers. He said, “yes.” Confession, forgiveness and repentance is like taking a shower, I said. Then I asked him, why do you shower? He said, “To take the dirt off of me, and taking a shower makes me feel clean.” I asked him if he showered often? He said, ”yes, I need to, I’m always getting myself dirty.” Sin makes us dirty too, but when we confess our sins, repent and ask for forgiveness we feel clean, don’t we? “I never looked at it that way,” he replied, “but you’re right, it does.” Then we walked into the produce stand and I asked him if I could help him, and that’s when I woke up. The second I woke up I heard God asked me; “Phil, is there something on your mind?” To tell the truth there were lots on my mind but all that came out was, “can You give me a pure heart?” I want a heart just like the man in my dream. “I will give you what you ask of me,” He said, but you must continue to pray for the rats. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28 NIV). Rat is slang for a person who does not keep secrets or sell secrets for money or power. In my dream, the rats that the man would pray for are more than just “Rat Finks.” They are people who try and destroy your name. They slander, steal, lie, manipulate, control, murder, betray, cheat, and gossip. They can’t be trusted. They have two faces. They can also be evil. You get the picture? These are who he prays for. Even if they destroyed him or a loved one, with a pure heart he would forgive, love and pray for them. As strange as it is, that’s my dream.
Praying for the rats in my life
My name has been slandered and I never once defended myself. I have been cheated on, deceived, manipulated and betrayed, and not once did I seek retribution or complained. On the contrary, I loved them and prayed for them, and when possible spoke truth into their lives. Some may see me as weak and/or a doormat. They may laugh at me and think I’m a joke. Emptying yourself, being poured out, and being filled with the Holy Spirit is what following Christ is all about. It’s an honor to serve Jesus. This is the least we can do, for we can never ever repay Him for what He has done for us. I’m not perfect but my heart is progressively changing. When I’m faced with a rat that continues to persecute or take advantage I will put up a boundary so they can’t continue their bad behavior towards me, but I do it with a pure heart. I give them truth with grace hoping they will receive it, and if they don’t I will separate myself from them for protection only. Remember this: God wants His children to love their rats but He also wants them to protect themselves. If you allow a rat to continue their bad behavior you are not loving them, you are hurting them. Jesus never defended Himself but spoke truth. But spoke it out of love. He never did anything without asking His Father first. Always pray before you act, and always act out of love. Seek the counsel of God. It never fails.
Love the Rats in your life
To turn the other cheek. To walk another mile. To love your enemy. For me it’s not allowing people, circumstances, or even my own thoughts to separate me from God and my destiny, or to give them the power to dim my light. I try never to allow anything or anyone that kind of power, especially the rats in my life. The only power that is strong enough to overcome the temptation to sin is the power of “truth and love.” Together they are unbeatable. The man in my dream knew the truth and humbly walked in it. He prayed earnestly for the rats. “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43,44 NIV). Pray for those who persecute you. In the man’s language it’s, “Pray for the rats.” He knew how to love his neighbor both kind and mean, for he was walking in Spirit and Truth. He wasn’t young. He wasn’t eloquent. He wasn’t intellectual. He wasn’t attractive. He didn’t speak well. He didn’t have much. And he wasn’t in bondage. He had peace. There’s something to be said about that. Just opposite, the “Rich Young Ruler” who had everything according to Scripture was young, rich, kind, giving and had authority. He claimed he obeyed the laws. He seemingly had everything but was poor. On the other hand the man in my dream seemingly had nothing but was rich. The Rich Young Ruler was still searching, while the man in my dream needed to search no more. The Rich Young Ruler filled his life with pride and wasn’t willing to give it up. The man in my dream was willing to empty himself and fill himself up with Christ.
“God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8 NLT).
I journaled my dream immediately. You must understand, this was no ordinary dream. I knew I was in the presence of God. Have you ever experienced dreams where you felt incredibly connected? This was one of those dreams and this is how I interpreted it.
There is no one on earth that is righteous
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and who never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV).
“We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest blessing spiritually is the knowledge that we are destitute; until we get there Our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us if we think we are sufficient of ourselves; we have to enter into His Kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are rich, possessed of anything in the way of pride or independence, God cannot do anything for us.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, November 28.
If you have a problem with these teachings you may be in denial. Listen to Jesus and the dialogue He had with the “Rich Young Ruler.” As He was sitting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God” (Mark 10:17 NASB). The Apostle Paul agrees. In Romans 3:10 Paul states; As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.” NIV translation. Do you read your Bible? If so do you know that when Jesus was hanging on the tree and with His last dying breath cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) that He was crying out on our behalf? Wanting to be right is the sin of pride and self-reliance. I don’t know about you but for me it is a constant battle to keep my pride out of my spiritual journey, and it’s because of this I need all the grace, mercy and forgiveness I can get. Thank you Jesus.
The single greatest decision I ever made
My heart has been broken to the point that I cried out for God; please forgive me. He answered my cry and comforted me. He was there in my darkest hour. I didn’t have to speak better or be successful. He didn’t reject, judge or condemn me because of my sin, and like the “Prodigal,” He ran to me with open arms. The single greatest decision I have ever made was the day I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life.
Following Christ cost a price
I found out early in my walk that it’s not easy following Christ, and sometimes it’s unbearable. I understand why some believers don’t completely abandon all to Him. Our journey must lead us to the cross. This entails dying to our rights. Sacrificing our desires in exchange for God’s. Being crucified (Galatians 2:20). This is a moment to moment process, but God depends on His children to surrender all. To give hope to the world, and to shine bright. Not just a flicker, but a flame.
The miracle of sight to the blind
God knows how hard it is to follow His Son, this is why He has opened our eyes. All born again children of God go through the amazing surgery of the opening of their eyes. It’s clearly a miracle. Just like the song “Amazing Grace:” I once was blind but now I see. The responsibility of every born again child of God is to walk in the Truth now that they can see it. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 NIV). It’s truly a travesty when one knows the Truth and not walk in it. When one sees the way but refuses to take it.
Stop professing and start repenting
Good fruits don’t come from our words, human effort, going to church or theology, they come from a pure heart and a surrendered life. They come from the heart of Christ. If you are a professing believer and want revenge and/or holding on to offenses and want to defend your rights or think you are a good person please stop professing and start repenting. “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it” (1 Peter 3:9 NLT). If not you’ll become a stumbling block and the rat that you despise will have power over you. This will make you no better than the rat. If you are honest with yourself and are struggling please get down on your knees, confess, repent and ask for forgiveness and mercy. This way you will reflect the beautiful nature of the one your professing to follow. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:32-36 NIV). The man in my dreams rewards will be great and they will be eternal. He put his love for Christ into action with a pure heart. Forsaking his rights to reflect God’s image. He walks in Spirit and Truth. “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:21 NIV). Maybe God’s truths are too hard for you to follow and maybe you are following God from a distance or on your own terms? Maybe you think that you’re good and have arrived? Don’t be deceived any longer. Do what the Bile says. Confess, repent and ask those whom you have judged to forgive you. Reflect God’s image on all occasions. Be a flame for Christ. Is this teaching too hard for you to accept? On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ”This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60 NIV). Please read the Parable of “The Wheat and the Tares” – Matthew 13:24:30.
I believe in angels
I believe the guy in my dream was an angel that God put in my dream to send me a message. Angel by definition simply means “messenger.” Wow! God sent me an angel. How privileged am I. No wonder I’m so excited to share my dream. Just for the record, the man in my dream wasn’t the first angel I have encountered. Some I have encountered were in daylight and were just normal people like you and me.
The Word of God is alive and powerful
The man in my dream was simple, kind, meek, gentle, compassionate, and appeared weak, but his words pierced my heart. He made me feel safe. His eyes drew me in. He was not threatening and had a sweet spirit. I now realize that I was in the presence of royalty. And yet he humbled himself before me. The man in my dream knew the secret. He knew to increase in Christ he had to decrease. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 NASB). The man appeared to be weak. But that’s where his strength was. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10,11 NIV). So if weakness is our friend, then pride must be our enemy. It’s important that we get this. This is the message God sent his messenger to remind me of. This is the message to get excited about. This is the Truth we must hold on to. When we are weak we give God’s Word authority and power. In his humility, simplicity and weakness the man in my dream “prays for the rats.” For him God’s Word was alive and powerful. God has funny ways of getting His point across, doesn’t He? The messenger He sent might have been unconventional, but his message was powerful. God’s message to me through my dream was: My Word is alive and powerful, humble yourself and let me show you. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than a two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12a NLT). Wow! What a weapon we have. Our humility, obedience and compassion for Christ will activate the Truth to come alive and set you free. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NIV).