Thursday, May 29, 2014

Your Shield and Great Reward

How would you feel about your problems, trials and frustrations if you realized that GOD ALMIGHTY IS YOUR SHIELD? The same promise that God gave to Abraham in Genesis 15:1 belongs to those who belong to Christ. God said to Abraham, "I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward." A shield is used for protection. God is your defense!

In a recent dream, I was being chased by enemies and one threw a knife at my back. (Thank you Holy Spirit for the heads up!) I saw it coming and immediately cried out, "Jesus, You are my shield and my exceedingly great reward!" INSTANTLY the knife that was coming at me flipped in the air and began to chase down the one who threw it. He ran for his life! What a revelation, right? If you're under attack, persecution or encountering trouble, begin to declare, "Jesus, You are my shield and my exceedingly great reward!" Watch what happens next!

God is bound by His covenant with us. Your enemies become God's enemies' - but God's enemies becomes yours also. He is in it with us and He is our shield. Our defense! God has promised to do exceedingly ABOVE all we ask or think according to His promise in Ephesians 3:20. He is your shield that goes before you. He is our blessing, and His shield surrounds us with favor. What a great promise! Fear finds no place where the Lord of all our impossible situations stands between us and our enemies. The glory of the Lord comes behind us as our rear guard to keep watch against ambush attacks of the enemy. Whatever enemy it is, you can face it head on knowing that God is for you and working on your behalf to make His good plans for your life come to pass.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” – Ps. 28:7

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. “ – Ps. 18:2

“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great." – Gen. 15:1

“Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” – Prov. 30:5

I love Psalm 35 also. King David is the author of Psalm 35, and it was written at a time when He desperately needed God’s intervention to deal with his enemies. King David understood the important secret we also need to know: God is bound by His covenant with His children to deliver help in our time of need. He IS our shield and military help at the time when our enemies gather against us. David’s heart was reassured that God would rise up in His defense!
Do you need a prayer to assure your heart? Do you need a prayer that will rise up as a call for help against any enemy? Here is a prayer for you!

Lord Jesus,

I thank You that you plead my cause with those that strive with me. You fight against those who fight against me, according to Your word in Psalm 35:1. I take hold of You, my shield and buckler, and I thank You that You stand up for my help. You have seen those that pursue me and you have reassured my soul that YOU ARE MY SALVATION.

I thank You that those that wait for you shall never be put to shame. Those who seek my life are turned back, sent into confusion, and those that try to harm me in any way whatsoever bring shame and dishonor upon themselves. This is your promise in Ps. 35:4.
I thank You that the angel of the Lord chases those that come against me. Those that insist upon acting as a destroyer or accuser in my life fall into the very destruction that they intended for me.

I thank You that you are awakened to my vindication and my enemies shall not rejoice over me. Those that rejoice in my hurt are brought to shame and mutual confusion. These are my promises from Your word. You do it automatically, as a partner in covenant with me. I need not worry. Man has no power over me. The enemy has no power over me. No weapon formed against me shall prosper and every tongue that rises up against me is condemned, according to Your Word. I praise you all day long and I rejoice in my salvation. You are my shield, my buckler, my strong tower. You take up for me in the day of battle.

Therefore, I bless my enemies and ask that You bless them with a heart that is changed; a heart that can receive Your truth and revelation. Bless them by giving them an encounter and revelation of Jesus Christ. Show them Your love and your grace. Bless them in any way you desire. Let their hearts be released in humility and repentance to stop persecuting Your servant. Thank You, Father, Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit for Your love and help that protects me and assures my heart. In Jesus name, amen.

Who's on the Throne?

Life happens. It's how we respond to situations that makes all the difference. We are not meant to live off our feelings. Those that live from one feeling to another will get addicted to the emotional roller coaster and actually create their own drama because it feeds their need for attention and emotional highs and lows. A person that repeatedly confesses negativity and unbelief has chosen to live under a curse. Anyone aligned with unbelief is in rebellion towards God. His hands are tied until the person repents. He cannot bless what is aligned with Satan! He blesses what is aligned with faith. Everything will go wrong because negativity and complaints are constantly rehearsed and spoken. We will have what we confess!

I was once at that place in my life too, so please don't take this as judging, BUT -in order to set others free it requires speaking truth in love. I am not condemning anyone, merely calling attention to a problem that can keep people trapped in negative cycles. When a person creates a need for drama so that they can receive attention for their problems, it is actually a much bigger problem called idolatry. The person idolizes their problems and desires praise, attention and sympathy to feed their own need for affirmation. This is often present in a person with low self esteem, identity issues and feelings of low self worth. These things work together with a spirit of self-pity, because self-pity also elicits worship to feed it's need for attention. It doesn't care how it gets it, but it is never satisfied.

The person in bondage to these spirits is a person that does not know who they are in Christ.They feed the idolatrous spirit in their life the praise and false worship that all idols require by seeking attention for their problems and a continuous need to create drama. Those that help feed this spirit in others are actually cooperating with the demons that help keep people bound. It's a form of co-dependency. People that are bound by these spirits have actually made a decision to deny the truth of God's word. This is dangerous because they live in a constant state of unbelief. They are also a person that has chosen to take Christ off the throne of their heart and enthrone Self. They cannot grow into maturity until the make a deliberate choice to deny Self and renounce those forms of idolatry in their life.

Friend, the hard part is recognizing it within ourselves. When someone speaks the truth about our situation it can cause pain, offense or anger. That response is an indicator that truth has found it's mark and is coming against a stronghold in a person's heart and life where the enemy is protecting that lie. Once we recognize where the enemy is hiding, we can then take deliberate action to renounce that false god and allow Christ to take His rightful place in our heart. We can be consumed with ourselves, or we can allow our heart and mind to become consumed with elevating Christ and walking in our real identity. A person will never walk in the authority God has made possible until they choose to discard the lie and embrace the truth. You were never meant to be a victim of circumstance or live under a curse. You can change your mind about who you are. You can change your confession to speak words of faith. By doing so, you begin to create a new cycle that includes freedom, healing, restoration and recovery. You are ALREADY LOVED. ALREADY ACCEPTED. ALREADY VALUED. You don't have to fight for it! Your loving Father loves you unconditionally. Somewhere along the line, the enemy fed you a lie that says you have to try to earn love, attention or affirmation - but the truth is, it's already yours. In Christ. May this be your day to have that revelation of the truth that makes you free!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tearing Down the High Places

There is a testing that comes to the body of Christ prior to a move of God. God asks some questions and poses circumstances in the lives of His people to discover some of the following: "Will you lay down what's on your agenda in order to make yourself available to move with what's on His agenda?" "Can you discern between the many voices of the world, your own ideas, a good idea and a God idea?" "Are you prone to jealousy if God chooses to move through someone other than yourself?" "Can you recognize God's delegated authority?" "If God moves in a way that you do not understand or in a way that does not fit your theology, will you criticize or speak against it, or even try to hinder it – or, will you allow Holy Spirit to bring revelation?" "Are you building your own kingdom or the kingdom of God?" Many times people do not realize that they are being tested but God is in the midst of them, moving silently, presenting opportunities for each person to reveal what is in their heart. How we respond could mean the difference between being included in what God is doing or being shut out of it entirely.

As Gideon was gathering the people that would battle against the Midianites, the Lord appeared to him and said, "The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there." (Judges 7:4). God was not going to share His glory with anyone that would try to take it for himself. God IS getting ready to move in a mighty way, and I believe that God is testing the hearts of His people right now. He will not allow anyone to own this next move of God or try to control it. It is not for selfish gain, self-promotion or to build man's personal kingdoms.

God will test the body of Christ to see if people will hear and respond to a call for action. That action involves tearing down the high places in our lives where self is in control rather than God. Let me jump back to the story of Gideon for a moment. The strongman over the Israelite nation at that time was Baal. The name "Baal" literally means "owner, master, or husband." Baal worship included self-mutilation, prostitution and child sacrifice. Baal worship was promoted as the state religion during the administration of King Ahab. Now look at the spiritual parallels. We know that Satan wants ownership of the earth and wants to deprive God of His rightful worship through His sons and daughters. Satan has always contended to be our master, or our husband, and has always looked for ways to get us to come into agreement with him. He knows that wherever we come into agreement with his deception also allows an open door for him to bring other forms of deception, worldly enticement, illness, ruin or things that will rob us of the desire to fulfill the call of God for our lives. Some of the manifestations of "other masters" are alarmingly evident in the lives of the younger generation as they promote mutilation, piercing, tattooing, cutting, sexual promiscuity, and emotional detachment towards pregnancy and abortion. Life by self-rule is exalted as Baal (or Satan) becomes their master and husband. The current presidential administration and many national leaders have approved legalized abortion and even the funding of it. Child sacrifice is alive and well, we've just been deceived (and desensitized) as a nation into buying into a more liberal viewpoint that attempts to justify our own god-ship issues and the premature ending of innocent lives. We've got a modern day Ahab as a national leader, and through his agenda (which promotes euthanasia, assisted suicide and abortion among other things) a spirit of Baal has strengthened its grip over our nation. 

Satan gleefully accepts the worship that is offered to him on these thrones of iniquity. A throne of iniquity, in case you aren't familiar with the term, is a place where Satan is worshipped through the actions of repeated sin. It is a modern day "high place" that needs to be torn down. This is what causes the prince of the power of the air to be able to set up and establish principalities and powers over regions. The power of sin and darkness is strengthened where ever Satan is worshipped. In order to displace and tear down these demonic forces, we must operate in humility. We must overthrow self rule and deny what our flesh wants so that Christ can rule in our heart and life. The question is, how do we tear down what we cannot see - especially if it hides in the hidden places of our own hearts?

The first thing I suggest is for each person to ask Holy Spirit to examine their heart and reveal to them whatever may be resisting His authority to rule over their heart, life, decisions - and yes, the sacrifice He may ask you to put on the altar. I will give you a hint: it is whatever feeds your flesh, ego, pride, or something from which you gain a sense of identity outside of what God has revealed in His word. It is the thing you probably do not want to give up. The second thing is to pray to surrender the things God asks as a sacrifice. The last thing I suggest is to pray our breakthrough prayer that looses the enemy off of you and eliminates the blind spots where he has had attachments to your life. The link can be found on the main page on the right hand side, called BREAKTHROUGH PRAYER. 

Many of the enemy's strongholds live within us. We may not even be aware that they are there! The enemy hides himself in every little crevice of darkness – areas of our heart that we have not truly surrendered to the Lord. I have been at that place many times, thinking I was fully surrendered to the Lord until He started working on a deeper issue in my heart or character that I had not understood was still a "crooked place" in need of straightening. Gideon's campaign and his assignment from the Lord was to tear down the altar and the high places of Baal, overcome the Midianite army and build an altar to the Lord. It was by the destruction of the ungodly altars that put fear in the hearts of those that worshipped Baal and its ungodliness. When the Midianites saw that their god and his temple were defeated, conquering them in battle was a done deal. It wasn't the size of the army that was important; it was their commitment to the task at hand. Gideon went to battle with jars of clay, torches and trumpets. They didn't even have to do anything difficult. They did their part and God did His. He turned the enemy's camp inside out! The battle will be won with humble vessels that are passionate torch bearers for the Lord. They shed light on the path for others through prophetic revelation, and it is the decree from their mouth that will overcome the works of the enemy. God is looking for men and women who are committed to Him. He is looking for those that can discern His voice asking His army to fall in rank and follow Him into battle. He is looking for those that will take a stand. He is looking for those that will respond to a call for action. He is looking for those that won't try to take the glory for themselves, put Him in a box, or control this next move of God. Will you be one of them?

Declare: Satan, the sword of the Lord is upon you! Let the trumpets be sounded! Let the army of the Lord arise! Let God arise and His enemies be defeated, in Jesus name!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Burn the Sacrifice

There have been many people speaking of the 'new thing' that God is doing, yet the 'new thing' cannot be just something we add to the old. It requires a baptism of death. The old thing must die.

It may be a job or position we have held, a mindset, a way of doing things, doctrinal error, or simply the thing we've been doing that seems 'good enough.' When people are baptized with the Holy Spirit, they have to leave behind the old doctrine that says the gifts are not for today or a belief system that makes room for limitations. There are NO LIMITS IN GOD. All things become possible! This is just one example. Jesus said no one can put a new patch on an old wine skin. The old will tear and the new will be lost. So it is with every new thing that comes from the Spirit of God. It requires a sacrifice. We must lay down and lay aside the thing that the Lord says, "Lay on the altar. Let me burn it up." I feel like the California fires were a prophetic sign that He is about to burn up some things that need to go. A refiner's fire is coming that will burn up the works of the flesh. The things that are established by His Spirit will stand.

If you try to hold on to something the Lord is burning up, you will get hurt. It will cause pain. Pain comes when we cannot see or understand God's purpose and we try to keep things they way they were. People tend to want to tightly grip the things that make us feel secure or the things that we feel are tied to our identity and feelings of self worth. Give Him permission to burn up all that does not serve His purpose in the new season. If you give Him permission, He will redirect you. He will re-purpose you. He will restore you, and when He restores it is always better than before. Let go. Let go. Let go. The old cannot be mixed with the new!

How this applies to each person individually is the question. How often we sense the very thing God wants us to let go of, but because it painful we may want to give him something else as a substitute. It can make all the difference between bringing an offering, like Cain, and the acceptable sacrifice, like Abel. I held a dream in my heart and for many years tried to give birth to something that God said "No. This is not my will for you." Letting go seemed so disappointing. I felt like I had wasted far too long praying for the wrong thing! Regret set in. It is hard to deal with emotions that come from disappointment, but we must be convinced that closed doors are an opportunity to find the better thing God has for us. So, it may be a certain dream in our heart that He is telling us to let go and give it to him. We can not substitute a lesser offering when God is asking us for the thing that has our heart.Sometimes He gives us back our Issacs and sometimes He shows up with something entirely different - but better. Know in your heart that God sees far more than we can possibly be aware of, and if He asks us to sacrifice something and lay it on the altar, it is for the best. He cannot give us what is best if we cling so tightly to the old that we become unwilling to grow and let go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Speaking in Other Tongues

Recently I had a woman contact me and ask me if I had a prayer to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Can you believe, out of all the prayers I have on this website, I had completely overlooked that topic? Well, all I can say is THANK YOU for the nudge to now post this most important prayer!

Can you imagine sending your child off to bootcamp, knowing they will face war in their lifetime, and not send them out with any weapons? It would be unthinkable, right? Wouldn't you want them to have every weapon available to them? Yet, this is the reality of Christians that try to live without the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is MORE than just speaking in tongues.

There are SO many reasons why it’s important for the believer to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speak in new tongues. It is a power gift, and who doesn’t want more power to overcome the evil one? It gives us power to witness, inner strength to overcome temptation to sin and demonic oppression. Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, so it reveals truth to us as well. It’s a direct prayer hotline between us and our Father that the devil cannot understand. Wouldn't you like the enemy to be completely unable to understand what you are asking God to do? God gives us this gift as a strategic tool for warfare! Speaking in your heavenly language connects you to the throne room where revelation flows. It edifies the believer and fills them with increased power and anointing. It fills the internal well with rivers of living water that encourages, builds up and releases joy. The JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH! You need joy in order to overcome trials! There are just so many excellent reasons why a Christian should speak in tongues on a regular basis. If you want more information on this beautiful gift, study the scriptures in the Book of Acts. Jesus’ disciples were instructed to WAIT for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on them. Others witnessed tongues of fire upon them, which speaks of power and anointing. Jesus didn’t want them to go anywhere or do anything until they got this gift because He knew that they needed it in order to prove to an unbelieving world that the kingdom of God was real. How much more should we desire it too?

I believe this gift is for everyone. God is not a respecter of persons, meaning, if He gives it to one He will give it to others as well. We need simply to ask.

Luke 11:13 tells us that our Father is a good Father and gives good gifts to those who ask. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

The question remains, and I know some of you may be thinking this, so I’ll answer this now. 

“Why do some people receive the gift and others do not?”

I may not have the perfect answer, but I will tell you what I know. I have observed people lined up at altar calls just to receive this gift. Those who truly desired it, who had a spiritual hunger, received it. It was like, bang, bang, bang all down the row. People responded in faith and got filled just like that. God wasn't picking and choosing one person and not giving it to others. So I know the gift is for everyone. But, He does respond to those who eagerly desire more of Him. Sometimes people want the gift, but are struggling with an area of pride that tells them they will look or sound foolish, and that fear is a block to them receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe they have conflicting thoughts because of a lack of understanding. (A double minded man receives nothing from the Lord, James 1:7). He is a gentleman: He will not force himself on anyone especially if they are afraid of trusting Him. If they are exhibiting fear or an indifferent attitude towards Him, He may wait until they continue to press in and ask, for they may need to overcome their insecurities first. Ask the Lord to give you a jealous heart towards Him, a heart that is consumed with thoughts and desire for more of God! Personal desire for more of the Lord is KEY to whether or not people receive. Make up your mind you can't live without it and pursue Holy Spirit until you get it. It's that important! 

If you would like to receive this wonderful gift, here is a prayer for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Pray: Dear Heavenly Father,

I ask You to bless me with my spiritual language and baptize me in the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, I want you. I need you. I am jealous for your Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit, and possess me. Baptize me in fire. Fill me. I need to be clothed with power from on high. Please fill me with rivers of living water that is spoken about in John 7:38, where Jesus said that whoever believed in Him, out of his innermost being would flow rivers of living water. Jesus, I do believe in You. I confess You as the risen Son of the Most High God, who died for my sins and rose again to give me victory over the evil one. Thank You for rivers of living water flowing from within me, and answering my request for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

You may sense some strange new words forming in your thoughts. Just speak them out by faith. You may also feel like something supernatural is stirring from your belly and feel it rising up and out of you. Don't be afraid, just know it is God answering your request! One thing I know is that God responds to the hungry heart. He promises that everyone that asks, receives, and whoever seeks, they will find; whoever knocks, the door shall be opened to them. Go in faith and grab hold of your desire!   

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Who is on the Lord's side?

It is not a new thing for a church or minister to be under attack. Recently, I read of a well known church in San Diego that is under verbal assault simply for inviting a conference speaker that is connected to what some people feel is a controversial move of God. That particular outpouring of God's Spirit is known as the Toronto Blessing, and though it originated twenty years ago, some of those associated with this move of God became suspect because of others that were critical about how they thought God should or should not manifest His Spirit among His people. As it was then, it is now, a stumbling block and an offense to those that may not understand the Holy Spirit. What is truly sad is that there are good people, God-seeking people, who are simply searching for more of His presence. This particular church is under fire by those that are uncomfortable with what they feel may be a counterfeit of God's spirit. Association with people who carry a stigma and a controversial reputation from critics has become a stumbling block for no apparent reason. Well meaning and some not-so-well meaning people often criticize and find fault with things they are not open to discover for themselves. Why do people have such a quick response of fear towards the movement of the Holy Spirit? Do they not believe He is good?Why are they so quick to judge God's servants with a suspicious heart that looks for evil, instead of looking for what is good? Why do people judge what they don't know or understand and believe the critics without any real proof of their own, especially if they have no direct connection with what is in question? Perhaps it is because they lack discernment, faith, or love. WHY do people tend to believe negative reports rather than wait to see for themselves what is truth about a situation? WHY do people not trust Holy Spirit to show people what is or is not God? Is He not capable of leading His people into truth? That would seem a bit ironic, given the fact that He is known as the Spirit of Truth! The answer then is simple, it's fear.

People that fear loss of control, or people that are afraid others won't 'see the truth' that they think they know; people that fear change, fear looking foolish, or associating with someone or something that others don't necessarily approve...all these factors come into play and cause controversy. These things cause people to fear that they have to explain or justify everything that may not be understood, and then attempts to control what they don't understand, or bring accusation, critical spirits and much more. Misunderstandings and offense increase when offense or accusation occur, because those things invite a spirit of witchcraft to energize negativity and gives it a life of it's own. My opinion may not count for much, but I have to issue a warning: simply don't judge. You protect yourself when you refrain from unnecessary judgments. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it's just not ok to speak critically of others in the body of Christ and bring discouragement to others. People that think they are 'warning' others to steer clear of something or someone that they feel is a fraud or a counterfeit really only expose what is in themselves. One cannot 'judge' and speak out against one thing without also being held accountable to the same spiritual law. What is hidden will be brought to light for others to also weigh against the truth. Religious spirits will provoke negative behavior that partners with the accuser and unbelief; not love and faith. It's really important that we all be able to discern what spirit is influencing us and others!

We simply have no basis for judging how people should be expected to respond to the Holy Spirit. Manifestations of the Spirit are NOT doctrine. Many of the complaints about the Toronto Blessing are because people started to do some very odd things that had not been seen before. Some people barked like dogs; others were reported to have roared like lions. All I can say about that is, when people encounter the Holy Spirit, it's true that some may manifest in the flesh. Perhaps the Spirit of God has agitated a demon or the person is undergoing some sort of deliverance. Who knows...maybe the people who roared like lions were controlled by a spirit of fear and God was setting them free. I have not done that, but personally, I have encountered the intensity of Holy Spirit ministering to me where I felt like I wanted to roar and the feeling was so strong it was hard to control. It was because God was doing something powerful within me to release this sense of victory over something that had been oppressive. Jesus is known as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the word in Prov. 28:1 compares the righteous to being 'bold as a lion.' So, could that whole 'roaring thing' line up with that? I think we have to give it some latitude and say it's not out of the question. Who are we to say exactly how God can minister to His people? Who are we to judge how He chooses others to experience Him? Some may weep quietly. Some may laugh. Some may feel electricity shooting through their body. Some may be glued to the floor. Others may experience a trance like state or receive visions. And, some may manifest the spirit in ways that make us feel awkward and uncomfortable, maybe even more showy than we like. However, we cannot possibly know what others are experiencing simply by observation. The Bible clearly tells us to test the spirits for ourselves, but just because we may not have prior experience with something doesn't mean it might not still be God at work. Just as an example to make my point, I prayed for a woman who felt the Holy Spirit like strong jolts of electricity and she started shaking. She did not know what it was and was afraid it was the enemy; but, it was simply the power of God responding to her prayer for healing. After a few minutes I was able to explain it was the power of God ministering healing to her, and she felt so much better. At first she was fearful because she had never experienced God like that before. And guess what? She received her healing! So, first impressions are not always accurate. A wait and see attitude is better, don't you think? Though some things might be exposed as being in the flesh, does that mean everything is? Let's be careful, and as that old saying goes, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

Controversy causes people to make decisions about where to place their loyalties. Accusation always causes people to take sides. What people must understand is that they are either going to end up on God's side or they can end up on the opposing side, but HOW they conduct themselves and WHAT they decide is of the utmost importance and will affect them personally. Judgments always do. It is unfortunate that this is happening, but there is something positive that we can all do to help share some of that burden and be a LIFE GIVER to those that feel the weight, the shame, and the pain of the enemy's attack.

The enemy knows what people are made of. Many times God will choose to work through someone that does not have a squeaky clean reputation. He chooses the weak and undesirable things to confound those who are wise in their own opinions. If God is working to tear down religious misconceptions, you can be sure He will offend some people when He confronts their sense of propriety. Again, what it comes down to is a question of whether or not others feel someone else is worthy of being used by God to accomplish certain things. Are people human? Do they make mistakes? Will they do things at times that might seem more in the flesh than in the Spirit? Absolutely. But God still chooses who He chooses in spite of their weaknesses. Apostle Paul boasted that when he was weak, Christ was strong. God does not choose people that feel strong and capable or proud of their own spirituality because they will tend to boast upon themselves. He moves through people who have failed miserably and understand they are undeserving of any glory, accolades or desire to boast upon themselves. God will not share His glory with another! Why did Jesus' disciples all scatter when He was being persecuted? Fear. People don't like to feel like they are aligned with something or someone that could affect their reputation or relationships in a negative manner because they don't want it to feel like it is a reflection upon them personally or professionally. They don't want to be associated with someone that might bring reproach on them, so they scatter and say, "I don't have anything to do with them." That's what Peter did, right? People tend to shy away from those that are in the public spotlight and under speculation because they don't want to be associated with someone that they perceive is being shamed or condemned by others. This is more of a fearful response out of self preservation, rather than a response of maturity, faith and grace. It is important to remember that accusations are often the result of misunderstandings. Not always, but enough to caution us towards making hasty judgments and joining the crowd of negative conversationalists. Even when one of Jesus' disciples came to him and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us." Jesus responded by saying, "Do not hinder him, for he who is not against you is for you." (John 9:49,50). Friends, be very careful not to touch what God is doing or hinder His Spirit, for you may find yourself dealing with God in a way that isn't comfortable.

Every time there are people that desire more of God's presence, the enemy seeks an opportune moment to throw a monkey wrench into the mix. It would seem that these people in this church are hungry for more of God's presence, but the enemy thought he could issue a preemptive strike and stop things before they really got moving. The number one way Satan tries to accomplish his goal is through slander, accusation and negative conversation. This church will not be the only one that takes fire under enemy assault. We need to prepare ourselves now for how we are going to respond when the storms come. Don't let the enemy's smokescreen get in your face and take you off course. Satan delights in misunderstanding, offense and creating chaos. There are so many people that are seeking the Lord, wanting more of Him, and EXPECTING Him to show up and do something new. Yet, in every move of God, there have been people that do not understand that 'new thing,' or the form that it may take. He will come and rearrange the furniture. He will turn things upside down because THAT IS WHAT THE SPIRIT DOES. Lack of a previous point of reference and misunderstanding how God may choose to work can cause people to become fearful, suspicious or even accusing towards things they do not understand.

No one wants to make the same mistake of the Pharisees. When Jesus showed up on the scene, His teachings, the healings, deliverance and miracles were all new. No one had any previous point of reference to compare them to, and so they judged what they did not understand, attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to demons, and committing the sin of blasphemy in the process. They were fearful of change and loss of control. They held fast to what they thought they understood of the scriptures yet mistakenly thought they could separate the Spirit from the Word. They fact that their spirits were closed to a greater understanding of God caused them to err gravely and form their actions out of those judgments. They ended up bringing judgment down upon themselves and shutting themselves off from the blessings that could have been theirs. Judgments and pride blinded them to the Spirit of God moving among them. Friends, this is what occurs in just about every true move of the Holy Spirit. People who are not open to how God may want to move criticize what they don't understand and cite heresy or wrong spirits at work. They state it's unbiblical because they can't find a point of reference to it in scripture. In John 20:30 and again in 21:25 the word of God tells us that Jesus did many more miracles that were NOT RECORDED. He has done so many miraculous things there is a not a book large enough to contain them! Perhaps we can all agree that God can move however He sees fit because He is God!

 When God moves, we can expect controversy. New births are always a bit messy. Rev. 12:4 reminds us the dragon stood by as the woman gave birth, ready to devour the child. How does he do that? Through accusation. Satan the accuser, brings a twisting of understanding, twisting the word and accuses those that are being used by Holy Spirit to birth something new. Like with Eve in the garden the serpent said, "Hath God not said...?" and proceeded to twist the word of God in order to bring mistrust, accusation and tempt Eve to sin. The word accuser, or diabolos, means 'liar;' one who generates confusion, divides or makes someone fall. The accuser will always look for ways to twist understanding and offend our sense of what is going on. When God moves, some things will be of God and perhaps some things not, but the fruit speaks for itself, so perhaps the best perspective is to give something time to show what fruit emerges rather than rushing to judgment - especially when someone may not have any personal point of reference. Are people being healed and set free? Are they testifying of personal encounters with God? Then let them enjoy their God and resolve not to speak against their experiences. No matter how critical or even spiritual someone might sound with an attempt to negate a move of the Spirit, NO ONE has the power to make someone else's testimony null and void. If they got healed, they got healed. End of discussion. I urge others not to form judgments based on someone else's judgments or offenses no matter how influential they may be. Let us leave justice and judgment to the Judge of Heaven and Earth. Jesus had righteous judgments because he did not judge by what he saw or heard in the natural; He judged by the Spirit of God that came from a pure and holy source. When ever the temptation arises to form a judgment about someone or something, please be encouraged to err on the side of wisdom, mercy and grace rather than judgment. Jesus warned us not to judge for a good reason, because wrong judgments have the ability to boomerang back into our own life. To the extent that we model grace and mercy to others, is what we receive. False judgments and criticisms can come from unhealed wounds in our own spirit that then make room for the accuser to bring division, discord and tear apart the exact place where God wants to move in a mighty way. God wants to move in our families, personal relationships, ministries, churches and in our communities, but He cannot do so where there is division and discord. Let us be aware of the schemes of the enemy and stop him before the accuser does further harm where ever it hits close to home with us.

Holy Father,

I ask that Your Holy Spirit pour out on me and my family, my church and community, the Spirit of Understanding, and give me eyes to see others differently. Give to each person in my family, church and within the body of Christ eyes to see and a heart to understand the spirit and motive of others. If negativity is being spoken about a person or situation, help me to have heaven's perspective and not that of the flesh. Guard my heart from being misled by the enemy, false judgments and negative opinions of others. Help me to yield to Your Holy Spirit. Bless me with a new heart that is willing to yield to you and others. Heal any areas of my heart that are in need of healing so that the enemy finds no place in me. Give me that grace and anointing by which true community is built. Pour out on me, and those in my family, my church and my community, the grace and understanding that displaces all jealousy, competition, strife, ambition and pride. Supernaturally remove the differences in our hearts that lead to disunity, discord and division. Let our hearts be filled with deep respect and appreciation for one another, so that we honor one another in love. May each of us find acceptance and the love that heals as a result of You pouring out Your Spirit of grace and understanding. Give me and my family this gift from Your Holy Spirit; this grace anointing that unifies, edifies and brings us into one accord with one another. Let this be poured out on us now, that we might glorify the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Grace to Build

We are all familiar with the devious works of evil that cause discord, division, strife, accusation and much more. In our homes, in the workplace, in our communities and in our churches. Strife, misunderstanding, division, competition, and much more work to unravel good works and our best intentions. There is seemingly no end to the work of the accuser, as he plots and schemes to undermine the work of Christ in the believer.

There is a time to tear down, but there is also a time to build. (Ecc. 3:3). Enough of the tearing down. It's time to overthrow the enemy.

There will always be the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and our partnership with Him is of great importance. I believe, though, there is also a gift that we can ask for, that is a grace anointing which empowers us to change, so that we can build.

Let us ask:

Holy Father,

I ask that Your Holy Spirit pour out on me and my family, my church and community, the Spirit of Understanding, and give me eyes to see others differently. Help me to yield to Your Holy Spirit. Bless me with a new heart that is willing to yield to you and others. Give me that grace and anointing by which true community is built. Pour out on me, and those in my family, my church and my community, the grace and understanding that displaces all jealousy, competition, strife, ambition and pride. Supernaturally remove the differences in our hearts that lead to disunity, discord and division. Let our hearts be filled with deep respect and appreciation for one another, so that we honor one another in love. May each of us find acceptance and the love that heals as a result of You pouring out Your Spirit of grace and understanding.  Give me and my family this gift from Your Holy Spirit; this grace anointing that unifies, edifies and brings us into one accord with one another. Let this be poured out on us now, that we might glorify the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  In His name I pray, amen.

Friday, May 2, 2014

And Turn From Their Wicked Ways...

Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer, and as such, one of the most frequently cited scriptures is from second Chronicles. Sometimes I think we miss the message entirely though. God wasn’t addressing unsaved nations in that portion of scripture. He was addressing HIS people. Just because it is found in the Old Testament doesn’t mean that God isn’t still talking to us through it today. So what does it mean for God to 'heal our land?' It could be everything from agriculture to the economy; from individual hearts and lives, marriages and families to a sweeping revival across the nation. Healing affects the individual life, but on a larger scale, it affects society and geographic regions as well. 

It can be easy to slip into self-righteousness and feel as if God is talking about everyone but us. Sanctification is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, which means that God is always speaking to us because He wants to do a powerful work through us! The Bible is clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that God gives a promise of healing our land IF the people who call themselves His people will HUMBLE themselves and TURN from their wicked ways. Well, that got me thinking about exactly how scripture defines wickedness. How do we recognize it? Here are some references.

The wicked persecute the poor in spirit. Ps. 10:2

The wicked have unbelieving hearts and reject God’s truth. 2 Thess. 2:12

The wicked act in arrogance and test God. Malachi 3:15

The wicked rebel against God’s laws. Ezekiel 5:16

The wicked sow trouble and plow evil. Job 4:8 (To plow means to unearth and overturn; in this case, in regards to the pillars of truth and stability, the foundations of God’s word.)

The wicked have a violent nature that uses fear to make the righteous insecure. Ps. 7:9

The wicked appear righteous to others yet live as hypocrites. Matthew 23:28

The wicked are defiled with idolatry. Jeremiah 16:18

The wicked elevate man’s leadership above God’s authority. 1 Sam. 12:17

The wicked look for scapegoats for their sin rather than accept responsibility for their sin.  Lev. 16:21

The wicked are self-deceived, dependent on their own strength and the strength of their relationships. They plant seeds of wickedness in others and reap evil as a result of wrongdoing. Hosea 10:13

The wicked align themselves with rebellious leaders. Hosea 9:15

The wicked rejoice in plotting evil schemes. Jeremiah 11:15

The wicked has a mouth that is filled with malice, or ill will, towards others. They speak lies and out of their mouth comes words of death. These are disloyal people who are unable to be trusted. Ps. 5:9

The wicked are backslidden, bitter and evil. They will be punished by their own wickedness. Jeremiah 2:19.

The wicked rob others of justice and fair judgment. Ecclesiastes 3:16.

The wicked have no delight in godly wisdom. God calls them fools because they find pleasure in wicked schemes. Prov. 10:23

The wicked are sold out to do evil.  Anything is acceptable in order to gain what they want. 1 Kings 21:25

The wicked offer unacceptable sacrifices to God. Hosea 8:13

The wicked draw sin and evil along with them in life because they are self-deceived.  Is. 5:18

The wicked store up judgment for themselves because they do not repent. Joel 3:13

That is quite a list, don’t you think? But if we don’t know exactly what He is referring to, it can be so easy to think He’s not talking about anything in us. God does make a distinction to call His people the righteous. After all, Jesus bought and paid for our sin. Our Father sees us through the blood of His Son, and our debt has been paid. Yet, scripture also tells us our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Now, that’s not really good news, is it? Because if we have wickedness in our hearts and we don’t do something on purpose to deal with it, that wickedness is going to be at war with our new nature in Christ. God wants to give us a new heart that is pliable in His hands and teachable.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God directs His rebuke to His own people. They are the ones who He says must turn away from practicing wickedness if they want the healing and restoration of their land. Church, He’s talking to US!

I do not believe in being overly sin conscious and walking under a cloud of condemnation, but I do believe that we each have a responsibility to rightly divide the word of truth and examine ourselves so that we can present ourselves as workers who do not need to be ashamed. Guilt , shame and condemnation become our garments when we try to cover our sins and continue practicing them instead of confessing them and forsaking them. If we allow Holy Spirit to be the authority over our life, then we should allow Him access to our hearts at all times. It’s only when we confess our sin and are truly repentant for it that we can be cleansed from our unrighteousness. Healing takes place through revelation, not just repetition of prayer. Honesty and transparency are the keys to healing a fractured soul.  

Friend, we can pray a lot of prayers for everyone else in the world. We can send out declarations and decrees, but the enemy that truly needs to be torn down from his high place is the enemy within us. Self needs to be dethroned. Israel in the Old Testament is reflective of God's people today. They were not just advised, but warned to destroy every enemy that posed a threat to their promise land. They were to take aggressive action to make sure those enemies were completely defeated. Israel was not allowed to let any enemy live because it could cause them to become corrupt like other nations. God wanted a people who were distinct and separate in every way so that they became an example to others. We must embrace the pursuit of purity! We need to let Jesus into every place where we have been resistant to truth. We must surrender every offense and judgment, whether it is against others or against ourselves. These judgments will cause us to reap condemnation and judgment into our own lives. When we hold judgments against others, we stand as their accusers. This brings guilt into our own lives. We persecute others through blame shifting, finger pointing, accusation, gossip, slander, or other negative responses. When we are offended, hurt or angry, we withdraw love as punishment. We do these things because we have a hard time managing emotions. We're human. Many people go to church, attend Bible studies or put on a very different face around others, hoping no one sees the mess they are in private; or, the ways they may deny the lordship of Christ in certain areas of their heart and life. Yikes! How many times have we ALL tried to appear one way, yet we would cringe if people were able to see into our private life? Haven’t we all been there at some point in our life? But, all these things are hypocrisy if we do nothing to change it. We become mere actors on a stage in life, trying to please others with our performance - and friends, this does not please God.

I remember those days when I was trying to clean up my act and not getting very far. I so wanted to have the respect of others because I was trying hard to make myself into a different person. I concentrated on the outward appearance more than the inward sanctification, and eventually, you know what happened? The neglected person on the inside sabotaged all my good efforts. There was still a lot of unhealed wounds that needed to be addressed, hurts and offenses and a deep root of bitterness that continuously generated toxic thoughts. I was a bubbling inferno on the inside but I had no idea how to get that healed. I put all the emphasis on my own self effort of what I perceived to be righteousness, rather than really trying to understand my identity in Christ. I simply did not know who I was, and the enemy wanted to keep it that way!

Many years ago, I had a lot of strongholds in my heart and mind that resisted truth. The enemy had been constructing cement walls to keep truth out since I was a child. With Satan’s help, I learned how to speak lies to myself in an attempt to make myself feel better. He gladly helped me rewrite the truth so that I blamed everyone else for my sin. He put a filter over my ears so that everything I heard, I heard through rejection, anger, and hatred towards authority. I carried a lot of insecurity and fears. He made sure that people came into my life that would perpetuate more rejection, abuse or undermine my self-worth. He reinforced the lie that no one in a position of authority was trustworthy.  Satan was very seducing, and so believable in the way he suggested thoughts that felt like my own. He encouraged me to change my reality so that everyone else was at fault for the pain that I felt and I was accountable to no one. I was a victim, and victims had a right to feel justified in their anger. Psychologists told me so. They sympathized with my addictions and called them diseases, not sin. They showed me where in their psychology manuals where my issues were recorded as disease. Certainly I could not be responsible for having a disease, right? I wallowed in self-pity. They wrote me prescriptions for pills that helped me continue the blame game, avoid the truth, take the edge off my emotions and deny my sin. It was ever-so-much easier than being honest about my own feelings or take responsibility for the issues of my heart. That would involve unraveling many years of self-deception, anger and other things too painful to admit. I could not tell anyone the things I had done. Yet, all the advice, prescriptions and even prayer did nothing to alleviate the feelings of guilt, shame and condemnation. They were with me wherever I went, and I was miserable.

I drank to avoid the pain, the shame and the heaviness of all the guilt, but alcohol and drugs only made it worse. Much worse. The condemnation and guilt were suffocating. I could not live under the heavy load, yet, my pride was so strong and the rebellion so deep, that inwardly I continued to rage with unresolved anger. I did not know how to get delivered from the lies, the demons and heal the character issues that continued to drive me to wrong behaviors. Some of that was before I got saved, and some of it I still struggled with after salvation. But oh, I wanted so much to feel like a different person, and even though I was saved I often didn't feel any different. I wanted the struggles to be over! Maybe you’ve wrestled with some things too, and can identify with some of these things. If that's you, please know there is hope. When people struggle and struggle and cannot seem to get free from certain behaviors, attitudes or feelings, often there is a demonic attachment that needs to be severed. God has people that know about deliverance and they can help you get free. You don't have to live in defeat, shame or struggle with feelings of inferiority!

I mention all these things because they are some of the ways people bring unacceptable sacrifices to God. Everyone has been guilty of it at one time or another. But, if more people were transparent about their struggles, the body of Christ could really get healed. We need to humbly share our journeys, our struggles and what helped us gain the victory because it is the key to others getting free also. Pride resists sharing our vulnerabilities, but allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to a hurting world will help heal the world around us. Transformation happens one life at a time. None of us are perfect. None of us have total victory all the time. We will struggle with our humanity until the day we go home to be with the Lord, but it does get easier IF we are willing to be honest with ourselves and honest with God. James 5:16 reminds us to confess our sins one to another so that we might receive our healing. Do you know why? Because it practices humility. It’s good for us. It also helps us be accountable so that we don’t start believing we can do life all on our own. If we isolate ourselves we do it to our own hurt. We need one another. We need the love, the support, and the prayers from others who won’t judge us or break our trust by sharing our worst fears and moments of shame with the rest of the world. I don’t know what I would have done without people in my life that accepted me, mess and all. I didn’t expect them to agree with my sin, but I did learn what makes for a true friend. A real friend is someone that loves your soul enough to tell you the truth and encourage you to rise up into a new identity. A friend helps us find the answers we need so that we can be whole. Healing comes from acknowledgement of our own need for change.

If you find your prayers bouncing off a brass ceiling and it feels like God isn’t listening…

If your finances are suffering or the devourer has been unleashed against you…

If it feels as if hell is enjoying battering you and your family and the enemy just mocks your prayers…

MY people, who are called by MY name…
Will HUMBLE themselves and pray…
And REPENT from their wicked ways…
THEN I will hear from heaven…
THEN I will forgive their sin and heal their land.

You see, healing is conditional. IF we will do as God asks, restoration can come quickly – for anyone. Forgiveness has already been granted. It’s there, waiting. All you have to do is acknowledge where you’ve been in agreement with the enemy rather than God, and make a SHIFT. Turn away from the wrong behaviors. Renounce those lies and break agreement with unbelief, accusation, inferiority and other things. Pray, seek God’s face, and surrender the sin that separates you from Him. He is so gracious. He is so kind. But His spiritual laws govern the universe. He is the Lord; He does not change. Restoration is conditional upon REPENTANCE. When we bring the Lord an acceptable sacrifice, He consumes it and the healing we so desperately long for is released. He is able to make all grace abound towards us so that He redeems the time that was lost due to our own sin. Just offer it to Him. He is waiting for you now!