Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Encounter With Love

Christianity can be a lot of things, but if we don’t have love, it’s pointless. If we're going to church, trying to witness to others, volunteering in service, or any number of things we do in the name of Christianity; if we're not doing is out of love for God or others, we are pretty much guaranteed it's wasted effort. People know the difference.

How often we try to run ahead of the Lord! We can get so caught up in the thought of being busy for God we run off without Him. Yet, we can do nothing without Him. We cannot witness in our own strength. We cannot get people healed, saved or delivered in our own strength. We can barely get through the day without the anointing that comes to give us grace and strength. It's tiring! We cannot even love those we already love without God's love flowing through us. I know. I've proven it more than once!

We forget sometimes, that God stepped out of heaven and manifested as a human being, so that we could see with our own eyes a demonstration of Divine Love. The world was in such a need of an encounter with Love, that He decided to come to earth and show us how to love others properly. Divine Love took the form of humanity so that when the time was right, it would communicate the Father’s love in a way that mankind could comprehend. Love took on the role of Defender, Protector, Redeemer of the Lost, and Teacher of all things right and good. He took on the role of Healer of our hurts, Deliverer of the oppressed and tormented, and Supreme Authority over heaven, earth and the underworld. Then, when the world was convicted of such a pure and holy Love, we said, “Enough! We can stand no more of this conviction! Leave us with our cold love! Leave us with our judgments!” So we crucified, in the most painful way possible, the One who loved us. We mocked Him, spit at Him, whipped Him in our anger and accused Him of things that weren't true, in order to keep from having to feel the deep conviction that our own ability to love selflessly was seriously flawed and in need of an overhaul.We could not stand to have Him around anymore, but Love took it all without complaint. All the beating, through his flesh was pierced with nails, and He even carried His own cross to His death. Once again, Love demonstrated to the world His selfless devotion to us, even when we did everything possible to show Him we were unworthy of his loyalty and acted as His enemy. He took it, and wore a crown of bloody thorns as payment for our sins.

A disconnect occurs when people lose their love. You see, judgments, criticisms and fault finding come from hearts that are cold and lack love. Those that feel hurt, rejected, abandoned or offended by the harshness of life often have a hard time receiving love. They don’t trust it. They have taken their heart into their own hands and resist vulnerability towards God and others. Real love makes them suspicious. The love-starved heart will run away from the very thing that is needed to heal them, simply because people construct walls out of self-preservation. I'm not just talking about the people who haven't accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. I'm talking to those who are His. When life has worn us down, our strength is depleted, and so is our ability to love. If we're not careful, we can become just as cold in our love towards the Lord as those that don't even know Him.

Our efforts to be helpful to others or our good intentions to offer advice are often shunned by those that we seek to heal, simply because they do not yet understand this great Love. Their eyes have not yet been opened to receive spiritual truth because they lack an encounter with God. How often we get the order backwards, and want them to receive truth before they've ever encountered Love! It can only come through revelation. A heart that is distrustful of others does not know how to truly give or receive love. It sees everything through a filter of suspicion, criticism or judgment rather than realizing there is such a thing as pure, unconditional love and acceptance, and it's found through Jesus Christ.  

A heart that has wandered away from Truth becomes a mocker of all that is authentic and divine. All we have to do is turn on the TV and look at how mainstream America has adopted rebellion, debauchery, and evil as the new normal. We look to vampires, devil worship, sexual exploitation and witchcraft as our sources of entertainment. Not because we are necessarily in agreement with all of it, but because we find the supernatural realm fascinating and enticing. A heart that fills itself with darkness can only ever become darker, colder, and less and less in touch with Truth. It will reject Love and Truth because of being immersed in worldly philosophies that say, “Anything is acceptable. As long as it feels ok, justify whatever you want. After all, you are in charge of your own life, right? Don’t you have free will to do whatever you please, and live however you please?” Yes...we do. God will not violate our will. Father will not force us to love Him. But do we really, really want to live estranged from Love? Do we want to live estranged from Mercy and Forgiveness? Are we really asking to live apart from His blessings, healing and the kindness of a Father who loves us? Is THAT what we really want? If it is, then we may certainly have what we insist upon, but if we give it some thought, I don't think that is what anyone really wants. 

A heart that is out of touch with their heavenly Father looks for a new version of truth that is not based on love, acceptance and a Holy God that died to take away the penalty of our sins; but seeks to establish a reality based on the lies, deception and rejection they have accepted as truth. And so, because people desperately lack an encounter with Divine Love, they reject the One that came to heal and save them. 

We forget sometimes, that it is the kindness of God that leads people to repentance. Abba Father, open our eyes to realize we need more of you!! It’s not all our advice, telling others what they need to do, or what they should do. It’s not an invitation to join us at church, or the fact that we may feel we have the counsel that someone else really needs. That’s going to change their mind about what they think about God. It’s not the form of Christianity, a fish on a bumper sticker, a church program or the size of a church that leads people to seek out this sinner-Savior relationship. It’s Love. Pure and simple. Until we have more of it, we fall desperately short of being the kind of witness that really truly changes a person’s mind about wanting to get to know the God we say we know. It starts with us. You. Me. Because we’re the gospel people see. If our love has grown cold and stale, how can that ever be attractive to someone else? If we have lost our passion, how can anyone else fall in love with Someone that no longer captivates us? 

When we have had a long, dry season, it can become easy to become disillusioned to the things of God. He wants to come and refresh us again and give us hope for our future. How often people have asked, "What is my assigment, Lord? Why are we still just sitting here?" Yet, during the trials and the testing, one thing you may not have understood is the fact that the Lord deliberately disconnected one of your battery cables so that your battery would run out of charge. It's a lengthy process as the anointing wanes and your well runs dry. But that too, can be the design of the Lord. You must be emptied before you can be filled. You are like those empty clay jars at the wedding feast of Cana in John chapter 2. Sitting on the sidelines waiting to be used, but in order to fulfill your purpose you must first be filled. The emptier you are, the more He will fill you - when the time is right. He wants to give you a NEW anointing, and He doesn't leave any of the old wine in the vessel. He completely empties it so that what is poured in is brand new wine!! New power comes with a new anointing. The Lord gave me an illustration in a dream about how we as believers keep taking used batteries out of various remotes and things and put them into our controllers, thinking they will keep working. We keep trying to get enough of a charge out of old used batteries to string us along for a little while, when God is saying, "You need a brand new battery, not a recharge!" He has a new anointing for us in this season, and it's an anointing of Divine Love. Only Divine Love is powerful enough to break the stubborn resistance of a hardened heart. Only Divine Love is powerful enough to break the hold of the enemy's grip. Only Divine Love is powerful enough to work miracles like we've never seen before! We cannot give away what we lack. We can only give away what fills us. (That is really food for thought, isn't it?!?) We have to be filled with Love before we can leave such a remarkable witness behind that people will be running to catch up with us and breathlessly ask us, “Wait!! What just touched me? There is something different... about you. HOW do I get that??”

Love is what turns the enemy’s camp upside down. Love is what changes minds and challenges hearts to want to make a new judgment. Love never fails because Jesus never fails. If we do it His way, hearts WILL turn. Love is what causes people to want to receive that Forgiveness and Acceptance for themselves. Love is what draws others closer so that they can change their mind about what they once believed. That is what real repentance is. Only Love can change a heart that has rejected Him and exchanged Truth for a different philosophy. We can’t do it in our own strength. We need a fresh anointing! We need Love to come down and fill us once again with a life-changing encounter that reconnects us to the heart of our Father. Love has a name and He is called Jesus Christ. This is the love that will change the world.

Father,

I thank You for showing me that I need a fresh encounter with You. You said that everyone who asks will receive, and everyone who seeks, will find. You said that everyone who knocks, the door will be opened to them. I come this day seeking You. I seek an encounter with the living God that will fill me with Divine Love. I ask for a new spiritual battery! Let a new anointing and a fresh anointing come over me and reveal new things about you, Lord Jesus. I thank You for meeting me where I am and answering the cry of my heart for more of you. In Jesus name, amen.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cannibalism in the Church

Cannibalism in the church. Really? It sounds odd, doesn't it? Yet, the Lord has given my husband and I several dreams on this subject recently so I know it's on His mind. And He has a lot to say about it.

God uses some pretty graphic dream language to convey spiritual significance. A cannibalistic church is unhealthy. Galatians 5:15 in the NIV says, "But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another." Other versions of this scripture warn, 'beware lest you are consumed by one another.' Gossip. Slander. Evil speaking. Suspicion. Backbiting. Blaming and complaining. This is the spiritual reality of modern day cannibalism. The warning to every person is that these ungodly habits and behaviors release destroying spirits. They also release a curse into the lives of those that partake of the table of demons. Spirits of death and hell become attached to those that allow these habits and behaviors to take hold of their tongue.

God wants to heal families, but He wants to heal church families, too. 

Not only does it effect individuals, it affects churches, too. A church that has this going on is full of dead men's bones. It is full of spiritual immaturity, death and decay. The ungodly habits of evil speaking are like vampire spirits that suck the life out of the church and it's leaders.  These things cause offense, division and discord, competition, jealousy, and brings in every evil thing, according to James 3:16,17. A church in this state will never prosper. Evil speaking will cause the death of churches and ministries. It literally has the effect of undermining unity, love and leadership to the point of spiritual decapitation. It resists and rebels against the authority of God. It is sin to complain against leaders and the body to the point of wearing people down and causing them to break. In Numbers 20:10-13, we read the account of Moses being disciplined by the Lord for his failure to uphold holiness to the people. The long and the short of it is, the people complained and blamed the leadership God had given them - so much so, their leader broke under the strain of it. Moses, in his anger, sinned. He sinned against the Lord because he was worn out and upset with the constant pressures of an unruly and insubordinate group of people. He snapped. Wouldn't you? Listen, I know how I dislike hearing my own kids complain and get an attitude, so I can't even imagine how Moses felt dealing with a million or more people! We all slip at times and lose our cool. Sometimes poor decisions come out of the stress and strain of what people feel at the moment. Aren't you glad God is so merciful? Still, God held them all accountable anyway. Moses was banned from the promise land and many of the people were bitten by poisonous snakes and died in the wilderness. A whole generation of people were so filled with unbelief that they refused to obey God and take the promise land. Disobedience is costly. Here we learn of the dangers of evil speaking once again. It produces bitterness of soul, unbelief and eventually, rebellion to the Lord. Those are guilty of this type of wrongdoing are taking into captivity and under the dominion of the enemy until they repent. God has a standard according to His word. Repentance MUST and always WILL precede restoration, healing and revival!

Your family and your church can be healed and restored.

The only way to correct and heal what has become defiled is through personal and corporate repentance. Pray for God to bring separation between those that are spiritually dead and unable to receive spiritual truth, for those influences are like leaven that will permeate the entire congregation. It is hard to tell sometimes who those individuals are. I'm not asking you to judge others. Only God is fit to judge. The right thing response is to pray. God can move those scoffers, mockers and evil speakers out of the way. Pray for God to separate those that truly want to grow and be healed from those that are planted by the enemy in order to hinder the plans and purposes of God. Pray the scoffers, the gossips, the mockers and those with unprofitable conversation would either have a change of heart and genuinely repent, or God remove them as He sees fit. These things must be confronted. "Cast out the scoffers and contention will cease." Proverbs 22:10.

The NIV says, "Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended."

NASB says, "Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out. Even strife and dishonor will cease."

The Aramaic Bible in plain English says this: "Destroy the evil one and cast out the contentious; abolish judgment and shame, lest he sit in the assembly and shame all of you." Wow. now that says it all.

A church that gossips, complains, and generally participates in destructive speech brings shame and dishonor upon themselves, and reproaches the name of the Lord. People often don't stop to consider the seriousness of these things, but it's not a laughing matter. God takes the subject of honoring His name, His children and His servants seriously. Never forget that the Holy Spirit lives inside of others! Speaking against other people is not wisdom, no matter what you may feel about them. Take heed to yourself and don't let your mouth sin and get you into trouble! God has said in 1 Sam. 2:30 that those that honor Him, He will honor; but those that despise Him will be disdained.

Disdained - Unworthy of one's consideration. Synonyms: scorn, deride, regard with contempt, sneer at, sniff at, look down one's nose at, despise.

Is that how you would want God to treat you? Hardly. I would be more that a bit frightened if I brought on that kind of response from the Lord. I would be on my knees repenting and really meaning every word of it. Only a fool refuses to get right with God! But you see, people do this sort of thing all the time and fail to understand that scorning the things of God is more serious than they may stop to think about.

I do not give this word to be harsh or hard towards anyone. Rather, this is a very clear word to those that may feel convicted by what is written here so that they can return to the Lord with an honest evaluation of their heart that leads them to repentance. The fear of the Lord must return to His church and to every believer! Not fearful of drawing close to the Lord, but 'fear' in the sense of showing honor and reverence towards Him and having a right heart towards others. I pray that you do not warrant judgment or correction from the Lord because that can be a quite painful experience. If this article has spoken to your heart, simply pray and ask the Lord to forgive you. His promise in 1 John 1:9 is to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness! He is so merciful and kind, even when we do not deserve it!

God wants more than anything to restore our losses and help us break free from those things that allow the enemy into our lives. He wants to help us break free from demonic entanglements and leave us open and vulnerable to the destroyer.

An individual that's been healed will bring healing to a family. A healed family can bring healing to their church, community and beyond. 

Father God,

I ask your forgiveness for anything I have said or done to participate in gossip, slander, backbiting, evil speaking, blaming, complaining or rebelling. Forgive me for speaking against You when I did not realize I had done so. Holy Spirit, forgive me for grieving You and speaking against the Spirit of God inside other believers. Please forgive my sin and let the blood of Jesus cleanse me from all unrighteousness. In Jesus name, amen.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Feed My Sheep


No one I know likes trials, emotional pain or the testing of our faith; yet, it's in the fiery trials of life that give us experiences that others can relate to. It's what makes our testimonies and our character authentic. Would you want someone who hasn't gone through some things to counsel you or give you advice on how to get through your mess? I wouldn't, and I'm guessing neither would you! 

Some times we experience the pain of loss and grief so deep we feel that no one else knows what we are feeling. God allows us to go through those things knowing that it will produce compassion and an ability to minister to others that He will bring across our path in due season. He wants us to have answers that give others hope and encouragement, and ultimately so that they can hear the testimony that God is able to be trusted during their difficult times.

Never be afraid to share what God has brought you out of, because it's your experience and testimony that makes your life authentic in Christ. You have been given an incredible gift to be able to minister hope and healing to others that are hurting. Your testimony now belongs to God and others in need. Humility is love in action, giving away what no longer belongs to you. To you, it is proven experience with the Lord; to others, it is fresh manna from heaven.


In John 21, we read the account of Jesus walking on the beach with his followers. He asked them, "Children, do you have any food?" The people responded, "No." And immediately they went fishing. 

I thought about this in light of the fact that there are so many people that are afraid to be transparent about the painful parts of their life. When we refuse to share the embarrassing or awkward parts of our past, not only does it rob us of authenticity and a witness to others, it actually robs others of food. When we refuse to feed others from the experiences, trials, and difficulties of our lives, we rob them. We are actually participating with the thief in order to deprive others of spiritual nourishment, because those things can help give them strength to get through their own painful experiences in life. We call it fear, but God calls it pride and selfishness, because we're really thinking more about ourselves than others.


Back to John 21. After the people were fed, Jesus turned to Peter, one of His beloved disciples, and asked him, "Peter, do you love me?" Peter of course was mortified that the Lord would ask that, and convicted as well. Peter said, "Yes, Lord! You know that I do!" 


Three times Jesus asked Peter the same question and three times Peter affirmed that he did indeed love the Christ. Each time, Jesus reminded Peter, as He reminds all of us, to take care of His little ones and feed them in love. Remember, we don't all have to be standing behind a pulpit, but we are all ministers. Take the leap of faith and unlock your heart. There is a hurting world out there and someone today needs to hear YOUR story.