Sunday, October 19, 2014

When Relationships End

         
           Recently I was a bit discouraged over someone that just sort of walked out of my life without notice. I found myself going over and over in my head if I had said or done anything that could have been misconstrued. Going in circles in your mind always ends up back in the same place. Unanswered questions.

            I realized though, on a late night dog walk, (that’s when I do most of my heart-to-heart conversations with God and prayer time), that I, too, have been guilty of walking out on some relationships at times, and no doubt have left others with the same unanswered questions. Conviction set in and suddenly my understanding took on a whole new level that resulted in grace rather than feeling hurt. The Holy Spirit is great at bringing us to a level of compassion we didn’t have before.

            As I reflected upon past events of my life, I understood my own reasons for backing up on some relationships and making that quiet departure. Sometimes, because I no longer felt the relationship was mutually beneficial; at other times simply because we were not going in the same direction spiritually, but most often simply because I didn’t really know the best way to handle the communication end of things. There are some things best left unsaid at times because it carries the potential to do more harm than good. The quiet departure is the only way to give God time to work in both sides of relationships, but even when people think they are being careful not to bring discouragement, the lack of answers that they fail to provide to others, and the fact that someone has walked away from the relationship does bring discouragement anyway. In those cases, all we can do is give people space and time to work through whatever is causing them to feel that they need to withdraw, and at the same time, also ask the Lord if there is something He wants us to understand.

            There are the obvious reasons for doors closing in relationships. People move, or they grow apart, or perhaps there is serious issue that causes the relationship to break apart, for example. We need to accept the fact that some relationships run their course and just run out of steam to carry them further. Many relationships end due to offense. But I’m not here to state the obvious. Some of the less obvious reasons are worth reflection. Sometimes people are in your life for a specific reason, and a specific season. You’ve probably heard that before, but it’s true. Perhaps they were a lesson, a message or a messenger.

            The lesson: God uses people to show us something about ourselves, or perhaps we are there to show them something about themselves that He is working on in their life. Perhaps they are there as sandpaper to smooth out some rough edges in our lives. The friction we encounter in relational problems is there to teach us to have Christlike responses when our flesh doesn't want to! There are times when we may hear a person talking and know exactly how they are feeling when they are expressing themselves because we have gone through something similar. That's when we can help one another through an issue with Biblical counsel and our own testimonies, but don't just sympathize. Sympathy gives people encouragement to get wrapped up in self-pity and rehearsing their pain and problems. Also, I've noticed that when you have more than a few things in common with someone else, you might want to question whether or not that person is there to teach you something about yourself. When we are not listening to God or somehow cannot seem to grasp what He wants us to understand, we should examine our relationships for often there is a powerful spiritual reality in someone’s life that serves as a mirror into our own life.

            Years ago I became friends with a woman and we simply hit it off right from the start. We had so much in common we could have been sisters. We quickly became very close. Oddly enough, our lives began to mirror one another’s in some very strange ‘coincidences.’ Nothing is coincidental, of course. The reality is, we had the same demonic spirits working in both our lives. I couldn’t see my own faults because they were my blindspots, so God sent me someone that was literally living some of the same realities in order to show me things I couldn’t or wouldn’t recognize any other way. I didn’t like everything I saw, but the light came on and I knew, this woman wasn’t a healthy person to have in my life. Actually, none of the common friends we shared were healthy, and when I lost her, I lost several other friends at the same time. I did what I could to apologize for areas of wrong on my part, and I know she thought the relationship was mended and we could be friends again. I’m sure it probably hurt and confused her when I no longer picked up the phone or returned her calls. It was a lonely time in my life, but the reality is, the demons in her life and the demons in mine were keeping me stuck and unhealthy, and she just wasn’t at a place to understand without the truth causing an even greater offense. Was I sad? Yes. I felt like I lost a sister. But had that relationship remained, I would have continued to allow those demonic spirits to be active in my life rather than realizing that relationship was there to serve as a mirror so that I could recognize truth about my own life. I needed deliverance and I needed to spend more time with the Lord to heal and get free. I simply couldn’t allow that relationship to hinder me further.

            There have been other relationships, too, that I’ve had to let go of over the years. Some people are not willing or ready to change and grow with God, and I value my future, my family and my calling greater than I value a person that isn’t willing to grow with God. There is a deeper reality for all of us in that we should never allow ourselves to be unequally yoked with those that don’t have the same spirit. Relationships are not just friendships; they act as a compass. Show me your relationships and I can tell which direction you’re going. Or not.

            The message: There are times when others are introduced into our lives because they are there to deliver a message that we need to hear. God brings us those people because of His love for us. It is His desire to help us learn and correct something that He sees has the potential to do great harm to our future. We don’t always understand that people have been sent by God to give us a message. A long term friendship may not be God’s purpose for some relationships, and that’s ok. I think we need to accept that and not hold it against someone else if that was God’s assignment for them. Though it can be disappointing to lose people out of our life, and though we don’t usually understand until later that that seemed to be the important aspect of that relationship, learn not to hold the departure against someone else.

            The messenger: We are there to be the messenger and deliver a message that God wants someone else to hear. We may be sent to release a word of knowledge or a prophetic word, or simply to pray for that person. My husband and I find that is how God seems to work in us. It might be with an individual or even a church. Prophetic people are often just God’s messengers sent on an errand with an assignment. Sometimes the messenger doesn’t even realize he is being used that way, until suddenly, they know very clearly that their time in a certain place or with a certain person is over. It doesn’t mean the relationship has to end completely, but it is not as close as previously. The mission has been completed and the message delivered. Then it’s time to go. It often occurs quite abruptly but we are getting used to Him using us this way. God does not always want the messengers in the way. Elijah was one such messenger that delivered a message and was told to get away to a safe place away from the king whom he made angry once the word was delivered. Messengers also come with words intended to bring correction of something that is causing a person pain, heartache or something that will continue to trip them up if they don’t adjust their behavior. Sometimes a person is not ready to receive that word, or perhaps they are convicted and embarrassed and end up putting distance between themselves and the messenger because they do not know how to handle their emotions. How others respond to God’s messenger determines whether or not they will reap the reward or blessing He has in mind for them, or continue on in their behavior and reap a different kind of response from God. If a person is not open to receiving the words of the messenger, or has received the message but is not open to change, then God will tell the messenger to step back or remove themselves while He continues to work in the situation.  I am going to throw in one other factor to consider as well. Toxic relationships. Those are faith strippers and dream killers. You must know how to pull the plug on those, and if you can't, often times God will. Sometimes God needs to shut the door to relationships, especially if they may be hazardous to our spiritual and emotional health.




            There are times when relationships end due to no fault of our own. It's just that people complete whatever they need to do for that particular season with the relationships God gave them for that season. When that season is over, it's time to go because God needs them somewhere else. These are all cycles that everyone goes through, and we must learn to have mature responses that love people and at the same time, release them to God. We don't own them, after all. God has lessons, assignments, messages to deliver and messengers to deliver them, and He moves us all around like pieces on a chess board as needed.

         Sometimes we will never understand what we might have been spared from had particular people stayed in our life. God’s protection works in a variety of ways and closing doors is one of them. The closed door can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Even though we may feel disappointed, let’s resist the urge to feel offended. We never know what someone else is going through. Perhaps they are feeling convicted of something going on in their own life and they don’t feel comfortable disclosing it. Perhaps they just need space while God is at work preparing their heart and life for change. There have been times when we have needed space, too. Sometimes we may never know why another person is just suddenly unavailable, or unwilling to open up to us like they used to, or just plain absent from our life altogether. Just because we are the one feeling rejected doesn’t necessarily mean that we are the one at fault. What it does mean is that one or both of the parties in that relationship are in need of transformation and healing, so extend grace. Revelation precedes transformation. God’s processes take time, and can only move as fast as people allow themselves to be ready for change. You never know when that door might swing open again. The same God that closes doors is the same God that opens them, too. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Entering His Rest

In as much as we need to be delivered from our past, the old mindsets, failures and moral weaknesses; we also need to be delivered from our successes. Successes are wonderful, but when God is looking for someone to promote He empties them of themselves. Only when we are completely empty of self can we be filled. We must rest from our works, lay down our accomplishments, and be emptied of the desire to boast upon ourselves. Humility and trust attract the Holy Spirit to overshadow those whose heart belongs to God.

And when we do, when we really truly let go of all the striving, frustration and unrest in our soul, what we will encounter is revelation. And rest. Understanding comes, that all our efforts are in vain when God isn't after us just to be busy doing stuff for Him. He's after our heart. He doesn't want to just give us orders or promote us when it might jeopardize losing our love and affection to Him in the process. In His grace, He waits until we settle down and realize there truly is a big difference between service in order to fulfill something in us, and service out of love for Him.

I pray you understand the difference, and take the time to just be with Him today. Take time to recover anything that's been lost, or love grown cold, just between you and Jesus. When you do, you'll find that peace settles into your heart and joy comes like a flood into your weary soul. Beloved, you cannot birth the promise. Only God can, because it's His baby, His promise. If you don't get off that crazy merry-go-round you'll make yourself sick. REST in His love, and know that the birth of what you've prayed for is all in His hands. It will come at the appointed time just as surely as the sun comes up in the morning. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Leaving the Valley of Disappointment

Welcome to disappointment. Don't stay too long! In times of change, we must examine ourselves for anything that can prevent us from moving forward with the Lord. I feel that there are many people in the valley of discouragement and disappointment. Friend, the Holy Spirit is going to work through this article and lead you out of that wilderness you've been in. It's been a valley of weeping, stretching and tiredness, but God is leading the way and you're about to exit the wilderness season of your life. I feel that there are a lot of people that have wrestled with their hope deferred for so long that the enemy has taken advantage of people's disappointment and seduced them into believing lies that just aren't true. Hope deferred has made many sick, weak, and unprepared to cross over into their promise land. They feel spiritually weak and unable to regain their strength, but many don't even understand how they got there. Perhaps you feel that you have no strength to fight. Many people have felt as if even the desire to do anything new has left them. There is barely even the desire to pray or read the word and they feel worn out just from daily life. To try and muster up the faith to do more feels exhausting. They simply have nothing left to give. They are STUCK. Often times, the enemy is quite aware of upcoming seasons of change and he works to release stealth weapons that people may not identify as anything other than their own thoughts. These are the things that have actually led to people feeling so depleted, weak and unprepared for the new. It is our job to recognize those weapons and take authority over them so that nothing stands in our way and we are free to move when God opens a new door of opportunity.

            When people are disappointed that something didn't turn out the way they hoped they are at their most vulnerable. This is when the enemy strikes. He may wait for years until he launches his most cunning plan of attack. If the enemy can't take a person out through accusation, slander, or other typical warfare, he will switch tactics. The enemy’s weapons often feel like frustration, regret, disappointment, shame, judgments (whether against ourselves or others), and things that negatively attach themselves to our emotions. The enemy is very patient and will take his time to wear a person down. Python is a spirit that is attracted to our weaknesses in our flesh. It gets a stranglehold on someone and then proceeds to squeeze the very life and breath out of them. Every one of the enemy’s weapons are intended to take people’s hearts and minds into captivity so that they break faith with God and accept the lie (whatever that lie might be for you) – for when they do - they then rationalize a different outcome and accept a different plan for their life. Friend, don’t let yourself get on the road that detours you from the good plan God has intended for you! If you’re on that road now, learn to recognize it.

            What affects our emotional state is often designed to separate us from God. The enemy’s lies will always serve to separate us from our destiny in one form or another, and Satan does this by creating strongholds in our thinking. The strongholds serve to elevate the lie, the disappointment, and emotions that feed unbelief rather than the truth. Emotions are not truth and they are not an accurate indicator of what God has in mind for the future, yet people often use emotions as a barometer to gauge whether or not they feel their lives are going according to God’s plan. Impatience causes people to feel that their lives are not moving forward fast enough. Impatience can also cause people to grow tired of waiting and make themselves an idol or something else that they can serve. They may tell themselves they are waiting on God, yet, often times, they are really looking for something else to believe in. When people feel a sense of loss, or just plain lost, it can be so easy to put more and more energy, time and attention into something else because it satisfies a need to be busy doing something that gives them a sense of importance or validation. Hope deferred can cause people to eventually believe something that isn't true. They may tell themselves that they missed God somewhere, or that they must have misunderstood something about His plan for their future. They may even tell themselves that they are somehow disqualified from God’s best and that they should discard their hope in lieu of something else.  All of these things are often the furthest from the truth. It's simply the voice of discouragement that comes from the enemy sent to derail us from our future. Satan knows that disappointment disconnects us from our destiny. Sometimes we don’t even realize that is what has happened. That is why it is so important to pay attention to dreams, thoughts, and the things we dwell on. The things we meditate on will instantly tell us whether or not we are aligned with an attitude of faith and trust in God, or if we have, through some form of disappointment, regret or unbelief, formed a plan of our own that is taking us away from building the kingdom of God. What captures your time, attention and focus? Where is most of your energy focused? Knowing the difference is key to understanding whether or not we are in correct alignment with God.

            Perhaps the most difficult area to diagnose is our own heart. If we look into scripture, the Israelites were told in various places in the word to prepare their hearts and sanctify themselves so that they could cross over into the promise land. God knew they would be up against giants. Those giants were experienced at warfare, and they would be looking for any way possible to overcome this large army coming into their land. We may brace ourselves for the obvious forms of spiritual warfare but completely fail to recognize the lies that sound like our own thoughts, spoken in our heart and mind towards ourselves. In all reality, those ARE the real giants. We know them. They are the familiar voices that speak to us every day and help form our belief system.

            The enemy knows where we are most vulnerable to believing a lie, and that is where he launches his weapons. We also might completely miss the fact that GOD considers it idolatry and spiritual adultery when we have intimate communion with the wrong spirits. There is a path the enemy leads people down that has nothing to do with lust, pornography or sexual sin in the natural, yet it is still spiritual adultery. It’s the path of the thought life that begins to reject the truth and accept a lie, so that over the course of time that lie is so imbedded in a person’s belief system they have actually made a covenant with a demonic spirit. When a person rejects the truth, they begin to guard the lie, rehearse it in the mind or thought life, and they allow that lie to influence their loyalties. They make an ungodly peace treaty, or covenant, with the spirit speaking through the lie. Instead of drawing closer to God, they begin to withdraw and make excuses for allowing their relationship with the Lord to take a lesser priority in their life. The enemy knows just how to get people overly busy, distracted, over committed, and tired so that their strength is depleted. When spiritual strength is depleted, so is the person’s resolve to making God their first priority. And this, my friend, is how the spirit of witchcraft operates to pull a person away from God, ever-so-slowly into rebellion. It’s the proverbial frog in the pot. The frog doesn’t even realize it’s being cooked until it’s too late. This is how the curse operates. It causes people to join themselves to some lie (and the spirit behind it) so that they are giving permission for a different spirit to minister to their soul and spirit. These become, in the spiritual reality, a lover or a spouse. They are, for all intensive purposes, pagan wives, which is exactly the enemy’s intent, because biblically speaking, every reference to pagan wives or polygamy always led to the downfall of great men.

            An interesting point to consider is found in Numbers 22-24 where an enemy of Israel, King Balak of Moab, desperately tried to curse God’s people through a word curse from the prophet Baalam. Baalam was restrained by God and found it impossible to do so, even though he was willing to sell out his prophetic gift in exchange for money. This frustrated King Balak because he was intent on finding a way to sabotage Israel on their way into the promise land. Seeing as how Baalam was unable to curse God’s people, he incited Balak to form a different plan. He suggested the people be enticed with prostitutes and food sacrificed to idols to allow them to bring a curse upon themselves, and so they did. Because the people willingly cooperated with the enemy, the curse was upon them and that hindered them from being able to take their promise land. Instead of being positioned for blessing, they had positioned themselves for judgment. Numbers 25 describes how Israel engaged in sexual immorality and thus brought judgment in the form of a plague upon themselves.  What Balak and the Moabite men could not do, the women were able to accomplish. They invited the Israelites to a party. They ate at their feasts, then bowed to the Moabite gods. False worship opened the door to more compromise. The women enticed Israelite men into sexual immorality. The Moabites were descendants of Lot and his incestuous offspring from both his daughters, (see Gen. 19:36). The result was a spiritual mixture that God considered unclean, idolatrous and broke the covenant between Israel and God. They were to have ‘no other Gods,’ nor worship other gods, according to Exodus.20:3,4. They were also forbidden from the act of adultery, Exodus 20:14.

            You will notice in scripture that God often made reference to a powerful descriptive metaphor by saying that His people ‘played the harlot’ with various idols. This always described Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, but the end result was that because of the people’s sin, they were delivered into the hands of those that plundered them and took all their spoils. Spiritual poverty is not always what one might think. It isn’t always connected to finances. It may show up more as a state of mind that continues to tell someone they are a failure, inadequate or unqualified for the good plans that God wants to produce in their life. It could show up as someone that has made their own path and their own plan because they simply stopped believing God was going to do something new in their life. Self-deception is very difficult to recognize because the enemy targets people’s blind spots and the vulnerable places in their heart. He goes straight for their Achilles heel. If you feel this article could be speaking to you, then perhaps it would be well worth it to ask Holy Spirit to show you anything you need to understand about how the enemy is choosing to attack your weaknesses. Where have you allowed disappointment or hope deferred to form a stronghold in your heart? That is where you will find other lovers ministering to your soul.

            There are other examples I could give as references to sexual immorality in scripture. Remember that Old Testament examples serve as a type and shadow of spiritual realities. Sexual immorality, adultery and other forms of sexual sin all reference the reality of spiritual compromise and joining ourselves to other lovers. While Jesus did come to pay the price for our sin and offer us grace, we cannot also expect to leave the door open to the enemy through spiritual compromise. These things are an offense to God because we are not to prostitute ourselves with demonic spirits. Unbelief is an unholy minister to our soul and it will have a tremendous negative consequence on our faith. Our conscience will testify against us if we are in sin even if we might not know it, because sin causes us to waiver in unbelief. Sin causes us to doubt God’s good intention towards us and it produces double mindedness and confusion, among other things. Spiritual compromise is a mixture we cannot afford for it weakens our faith. A double minded man receives nothing from the Lord, according to James 1:7.

            Jesus is our bridegroom. He alone is our spiritual husband, spouse and lover. If we have taken pagan wives (or husbands) such as disappointment, anger, regret, unbelief, rebellion, shame, self-pity, or other things, then we have allowed those spirits to minister to our soul. If we allow the wrong voices to whisper their sweet nothings in our ear they will lead us away from God and cause darkness and unbelief to make us break faith with God. Breaking faith with God is serious. This is the same sin that kept Moses out of the promise land! Unbelief in any form must be challenged. I pray you find yourself challenged today. What do you believe? Do not let the disappointment of hope deferred tell you that you missed your opportunity to do something great. God’s plans for you have not changed. You do not need to qualify yourself by any human standards. Jesus’ blood has already qualified you, and that is all you need to know! I pray that you allow and ASK Holy Spirit to uncover and unravel any lie that needs to go! We must renounce those ungodly covenants and spiritual lovers. It is the only way to properly prepare ourselves for what lies in the future.  The future could be as soon as tomorrow, you just never know. Are YOU ready to cross over?


Note: To break the power of python, worship is key. Worship and prayers of renouncement to break agreement with the spirits of disappointment, regret, unbelief, double-mindedness, spiritual adultery and idolatry are important. Worship and make your declarations from a place of victory. You are not cast off or disqualified! Jesus has qualified you by His blood. You are accepted in the beloved and though God's plan may have taken longer than you thought, it is still going to come through for you. Believe and receive your promise! You have been tested but you are coming out as pure gold. God is leading you out of the valley of disappointment and discouragement and turning it into a new door of hope for your future. God has great things in store for you!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In the Quiet Place

I remember when I gave birth to my youngest daughter, and on my first hospital tray of food someone had left this poem. It spoke to my heart so deeply. All the pain and turmoil of where my life was at during that time. I knew God had someone deliver that poem to me just as certainly as He had taken me to a place far away from the turmoil so that I could heal from my brokenness. He knew what I needed more than I did. Life can get so busy and full of distractions, and we can get so caught up in just survival mode sometimes, that we can't seem to quiet ourselves in His presence so that we can heal.

Yesterday was a not-so-good day, full of troubled thoughts and a soul too tired to do anything but cry out to God and weep. Yet today I awoke with the certainty that God indeed hears our cry, and when He hears our cry, His mercy compels Him to respond. Scripture reminds us that when we know He has heard us then we are also assured that He has sent the answer to our prayer. All that remains is to quiet ourselves like a little child. Just like an infant is calmed and quieted by their mother's voice, and senses her presence..we can enter that place of trust, where our worries are resolved. It is the assurance of our Father's love and mercy towards His child. He will act on our behalf! He is our rescuer, our deliverer, our comforter, and our healer. Just worship while you wait, and know that the answer is on it's way. Take time to be quiet, for it's in the quiet that He heals your soul.

I NEEDED THE QUIET

I needed the quiet so He drew me aside,
Into the shadows where we could confide.
Away from the bustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.

I needed the quiet though at first I rebelled,
But gently, so gently, my cross He upheld,
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things.
Though weakened in body, my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when active and gay.
He loved me so greatly He drew me away.

I needed the quiet. No prison my bed,
But a beautiful valley of blessings instead--
A place to grow richer in Jesus to hide.
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside.

Alice Hansche Mortenson