Sunday, July 27, 2014

Getting Out of Transition

Transitions occur in many phases of life and for multiple reasons. Some are based on relocation, employment changes, relational changes or other things. Transitions occur when the timing of a sequence of events has reached that ‘appointed time’ in our lives. Our lives and the lives of others are inexplicably intertwined much like gears in a clock.  One gear slips into another and so on and so on. One gear cannot move unless another moves. The enemy will attempt to ‘stop the clock’ in one way or another, but it’s our job to make sure that we pray for the lives of those that are on the road ahead of us, intertwined with us (even if we don’t know who they are), and our selves. Though we often do not understand the significance of unseen circumstances,  they all have impact and significance of how our lives move forward to get us into that next appointed place. So, what is it that we must learn where we are, and who or what are we waiting for? What event(s) need to occur before we can be released?

One of the ways the enemy tries to get us out of God’s timing is to delay our time of transition so that we miss a door of opportunity. It’s important not to make our own transition by trying to get ahead of God’s timing, or get impatient and take matters into our own hands. We can get ourselves in a real mess by doing so. We can find ourselves on some crazy side road and not know how we’re supposed to get back onto the freeway, into the flow of God’s will.

I am also reminded of the wilderness testings of Jesus. Jesus was tested in three specific areas. God permits the test, and the Holy Spirit is the one that leads us into the situation. It’s God’s test to see what we’re made of, but He allows Satan to do the tempting. It’s important to understand that before Satan is allowed to tempt us, the stage must be set to make the test really a test. The enemy takes his time in doing so, because the central point of the test is that it’s disguised so that we don’t know we’re in a test.

The tests will always come, but with each generation the enemy adapts the temptations to the individual, the culture and the era in which they live. Tests are uniquely designed to appeal to the individual’s personality, tastes and weaknesses. In this day and age you might not be tempted to melt down all your jewelry and make an idol to worship, but you might not notice that you have something else in your life that God considers an idol. Modern day idols can be anything that captures our attention, focus and time that crowds out our commitment, time, loyalty and relationship with the Lord. It’s what has our heart, outside of Him. An idol can be the work of our own hands, according to Is. 2:8. Many times it is the thing that we have put all our time, energy, and labor into. It’s something we’ve birthed in our own strength, not something that was birthed by God.

The other aspect of the testing is that even when we may pass one test, we may not  realize the other tests are still in process. Tests may happen simultaneously, or there may be some space between them, but we are all eventually tested in the same areas as our Lord. Even if you’ve been in ministry for some time, sometimes when God is changing doors the tests come again to see if you are adequately prepared for what’s ahead. 

One of Jesus’s wilderness testings had to do with doubting his identity and purpose. The day of the Lord is near when you are in the valley of decision. This is where the lights go out and all of a sudden you’re wondering whether or not you really did hear God. Your faith may be assaulted and you may wonder if your prophetic promises will ever come true. When you’re sitting in darkness and the enemy is firing darts of discouragement and depression, loneliness and isolation are magnified. When all the lights go out and there’s no revelation about your current situation, it’s natural to begin to question many things you thought you knew. You begin to question which words were really from God. Once again the tempter poses the question, “Did God really say…?” If you listen to the whispers of the enemy you may be left wondering what God said and what was a figment of your imagination. The only thing you can know for sure that while you are waiting, all you can do is remain faithful to God. A double-minded man receives nothing from the Lord.

The temptation is to break faith with God and allow doubt and discouragement to make a person feel as though God is unfair, or that they are working for a hard taskmaster. It can tend to make one feel as though they can never fully please God and lead to resentment, bitterness or despair. These are all lies from the enemy intended to derail a person and turn their heart away from God. Resist the urge to complain and sound ungrateful. Sometimes it can seem unbearable to be where you’re at and no known reason for why you’re there. It feels like you’ll never have the answer to what will release you from your time of waiting. You may be most vulnerable when God hits the ‘pause’ button simply because you lack understanding. This is where the metal is tested. The person you are in the unknown place of obscurity is the person you really are. Who you are in your prayer closet is who you are. What words do you hear yourself speaking? Yes, you are a child of God. Yes, a born-again, blood-bought believer. Even more than that: Are you a worshiper? The enemy is always after our worship and he will try to rob God of it any way he can. Remember that worship is the door to revelation.  Rev. 4:1.

The enemy’s attempt to get you to question your identity is often the very first thing he attacks. He knows that you cannot fulfill your purpose if you are insecure about who you are! Sometimes you need to learn to see yourself the way heaven sees you before you can get out of transition. The gifting that rises up as your more dominant gift is more than likely the one that God is bringing into maturity and will use to open the next door, but it all hinges upon you knowing who you are and how it works together with the gifting, anointing and calling of God. Sometimes, when seasons change, God gives us a new mantle of authority. He ‘re-purposes’ our purpose! He gives new direction. He prepares us to do something we have not done before. You may find yourself fulfilling a different role in the body of Christ than you have in the past. It’s kind of like trying on a new set of clothes while you’re in the wilderness. You need to see yourself wearing a different mantle, but it’s not just to admire yourself in the mirror. You also need to get comfortable in it, too and know how to walk in that new area of authority. 

When Satan tested Jesus’ identity he was also challenging the authority of God. Every temptation is designed to test our allegiance to God and our dependence on Him. The answer is not to guess or proceed upon our own assumptions, but to refuse to operate independently of God's revealed will and instruction.

Another one of the wilderness temptations Jesus went through had to do with appetite. The spirit doing the tempting is lust. Lust will try to convince you to fulfill legitimate needs and desires outside of God or apart from His will. It may even be trying to fulfill what you think is the promise, but it comes in a way that you just know it's more flesh than God. It's more you making decisions rather than God initiating and moving supernaturally. Now, this is a tricky area, and it can be different for everyone. Tempting God could be putting ourselves in situations where we feel that God has to prove His love or His ability to care for us. It could also be something as simple as going back to something from which we’ve been delivered, thinking we won't get burned again. It could be anything from a bad habit, to an addiction, a religious environment or something else. It is to remain in agreement with compromise in some form or fashion just to please our flesh. It may be a door from the past that the enemy uses, something that your flesh has a weakness for. Lust is not always sexual. It may be a drivenness to fulfill your purpose that strays outside of God’s will. This is how the enemy uses a good desire but leads a person to try to fulfill it in the wrong ways. Satan can use the desire for recognition, affirmation, or even relationships. The temptation is to fill that need or desire with something other than your relationship with God. Whatever it is, you will probably recognize it as an area that your flesh fights to keep while rationalizing it in terms of scripture. Lying spirits will tell you that what you want is not sin. Maybe for some people it wouldn’t be considered wrong, but sometimes, depending on the individual, it’s not so much the thing itself that’s wrong, but the independent spirit and stubbornness of the will that is involved in trying to bargain with God. We can’t  keep what He says ‘give up.’ We cannot expect the blessing of being released from the test and released from transition while we try to retain stubbornness of heart. An independent spirit is set against God to try to fulfill a desire apart from Him. That kind of test can take a very long time indeed, until a person wakes up and understands that they are really fighting a losing battle against God.  It may not feel like it at the time, but an independent spirit is really trying to put self in place of God to make your own decisions and decide what is good for yourself, rather than trusting Him to fulfill your needs and desires in His own way. It’s saying no to the temptations when we don’t have anything to fulfill that craving or desire except God alone. Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

The other wilderness trial Jesus had to pass was whether or not He would serve God, or Satan by compromise. The temptation of who we will serve depends on whether or not we accept power by the wrong means. At times, the position you think you have been waiting for is offered, but you get a check in your spirit that there's something that doesn't make it a perfect fit. It's really important to know whether or not you're aligning yourself with others that have the same spiritual DNA. It's not always easy to describe, but the right fit is like a marriage. You don't want to marry yourself to someone that you aren't in love with, or can just 'get along with.' You make a choice to pick someone that 'gets you' and your hearts are connected with a sense of loyalty, commitment to the future and have each other's best interests at heart. At other times, a person may find themselves facing power struggles at work, or in a ministry or church, and a person is tempted to take the opportunity to throw someone under the bus in order to grab a strategic opportunity. This lacks moral integrity and is not God's way to promotion. God’s ways of promotion don’t come by worldly method; it comes by grace. Promotion is His gift. Remember David, who, when given the opportunity, refused to harm Saul – even though Saul sought to kill him! Let God be God over your enemies and remember that promotion is always His to give. It just may not be where you think it is, or where you are currently aligned. It can feel like a big disappointment and sometimes it makes you wonder if all the exit signs are written in a foreign language. How DO you get to your destination? 

The enemy will always try to suggest that a person can obtain power without the humiliation or the work of the cross. It is the offer of position, authority or power without paying the price. There are many people who apply for positions for which they are unqualified. They may look good on paper. They may have a great resume, a strong education, many apparent qualifications in the natural, and even have references of people willing to speak well of them, yet be completely unqualified in the eyes of God for promotion or the position they seek. There can be no rightful authority without first passing the tests. The tests are there to prove integrity. The tests prove to whom we are submitted. The tests prove whom God has chosen, and who is chosen by man. It is imperative to know the difference because it makes all the difference in the world whom we submit ourselves to, and to whom we ask others to submit to. All authority is not good authority. Nor is it God’s best for our lives. One is marked by a kingdom devoid of power, prone to misuse and abuse of authority, controlled and built around man, with man being elevated and celebrated. The other is a kingdom of humility where servanthood is key; validated by signs and miracles that serve to authenticate the message and the messenger of the kingdom for which they testify.  There is no crown of promotion without first the death of the cross. The cross, in all its humiliation, crucifies the flesh and puts to death the dreams, desires and importance of self-will. It is the qualifier for resurrection life and THEN promotion. There is no easy way to power in the kingdom of God.

As it was said of Joseph, before the promise came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. God always tests the metal to see what we’re made of, but they are a necessary litmus test to determine whether or not we will take a stand, or compromise. Impatience will tend to compromise just for the sake of wanting gratification of a desire. Let patience have its perfect work and thus secure the blessing of God that adds no sorrow. Amen. Once you make up your mind to serve God in purity of heart, the battle is won. The battle must be won in your heart before the door to transition will open and you will find yourself entering a new day. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Overcoming A Spirit of Compromise

In my previous article, I wrote about the necessity of coming back to the heart of worship. Returning to the heart of worship involves many aspects of being able to recognize where our lives, the life of our family, the life of a church or even the lives in our cities and communities have gone astray. It is shaking out the irritants in our soul that get between us, the Lord, and others. Spiritual compromise is deadly. It's a slippery slope, and backsliding can happen quickly. When people leave the lover of their souls, they stray onto roads of compromise, and those many roads of compromise lead to destruction. It may not happen overnight, but eventually all compromise comes with a cost. We lose out on God's best. One of the hardest things is figuring out how to break that spirit of compromise so that people can return to the Lord with all their heart. Until people can actually recognize where they have bought into a lie or cooperated with the enemy in some way, they remain stuck in captivity. They may realize they are stuck, but remain frustrated, disappointed or angry that the answer seems to be out of reach. Many times there are powerful spiritual forces at work to keep people blinded and captive to their own need for deliverance or a change in their ways. This is applicable to entire churches, also. The same reasons can apply to a body of believers just as much as they can to an individual. There are reasons why people and churches get stuck and do not produce kingdom fruitfulness. It is called compromise. The anointing gets choked out when the enemy has a place to operate. The following is a prayer written for those purposes and can be used in a corporate setting just as much as it can be for an individual seeking release from spiritual constrictions.

Heavenly Father,

I lift up myself, my family, my neighbors and those in my community, city and state. I ask Your forgiveness for the many ways we have allowed compromise to turn our hearts away from you or allow our love for you and others to grow cold. Forgive me for:

·         Lost convictions of moral and spiritual purity

·         Losing a sense of the fear of the Lord

·         Having hardness of heart towards You and others

·         Lost fellowship with You

·         Lost faith and allowing unbelief and double-mindedness to make me waiver in my beliefs

·         Trusting in my own strength

·         Cold love and rebellion

·         Allowing pride and mediocrity to take up residence in my heart

·         Discounting my own need  for repentance

·         Thinking I could have your blessings while living in stubbornness of heart

·         Walking in false humility

·         Embracing religious traditions and the empty forms of religion more than I desired Your presence, power, and intimacy in relationship with You

·         Getting caught up with my own reputation and desires rather than desiring You above all else

·         Pretending to be more than I am for the sake of gaining the attention and approval of others

·         Exalting the leadership of mere men rather than elevating and desiring Your leadership

·         Making decisions and making plans that not approved nor appointed by You

·         Embracing immorality, self- sufficiency and other worldly ways

·         Embracing a lust for power and control

·         Being willing to injure the lives and reputations of others for selfish gain

·         Attempting to manipulate, dominate or control others

·         Attempting to reduce, restrict or quench the Spirit of God

·         Grieving your Holy Spirit

·         Allowing myself to be controlled, manipulated or intimidated in order to make ungodly peace treaties and place myself in subjection to demonic spirits

·         Failing to seek truth through the Word of God, and rejecting the truth that I know

·         Embracing the lies of the enemy

·         Becoming comfortable with things You call sin

·         Allowing intimidation and fear of man to rob me of confidence, boldness and leadership qualities in my life

·         Allowing religious works and traditions to replace Your power and passion for Holy Spirit

·         Self-deception

Therefore, I decree a severing and a breaking away from all spirits of control, the Jezebel spirit of witchcraft, fear and intimidation, pride, self-will and self-sufficiency, rebellion, unbelief, lying spirits, religious spirits, Python, Baal and Divination, the spirit of Compromise, a spirit of preeminence, the spirit of tradition, a perverse spirit,  spirits of death and poverty, self-deception, false boasting and false humility, and cold love. I renounce these spirits and the ungodly covenants and agreements they demand in order to remain in compromise. Forgive my sin, Lord. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness and renew a right spirit in me. I declare Jesus is Lord of my life. I declare Jesus is Lord over me and my family, my city, and my state. Come save us from our sins, Lord Jesus. Deliver us from evil. You are the Son of God and there is power in your name! Create in us a new heart, with new  desires, and give us a desire to pursue You, to love You and to know You. Let the blood of Jesus cover our sins and restore us to You, and to one another in right relationships. Show us what we need to do to break the power of spiritual compromise in our home, our personal lives, in our churches, in our cities and communities. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Returning to the Heart of Worship

Have you ever wondered why God chose to favor a young shepherd boy named David above his brothers? What was it about David that captured God’s heart and made him select David to become king? How was it that the very lineage of Christ hinged upon David’s life? God could have done it through someone else, but there was something about this young man that marked his destiny for royal authority. What was it exactly that caused God to prefer David ?

David was said to be a man after God’s own heart, in 1 Sam. 13:14. Now, in order to fully grasp the significance of this, we need to take a look back into history to understand what preceded David coming on the scene. The book of 1 Samuel details many things about David’s life, but it begins with several important factors. To begin with, the priesthood was defiled by the house of Eli. Eli had been a priest in the temple for a long time, but he didn’t have control over his sons, who sinned against the people and the Lord with their selfishness and lust for control. Scripture tells us in 1 Sam. 2:12-17 that the sons of Eli were corrupt; though they were raised with the customs of temple worship, they had no personal intimate relationship with God. They knew about him, but did not know Him.

It is a tragic thing to have much knowledge about the things of God, yet never be truly saved or walking in a personal relationship with the living God. These young men transgressed against God in a serious way, because they acted presumptuously against the Lord and the responsibilities of the temple service. Priests were in a position of teaching and instructing the word of the Lord, and leading people into a correct understanding of worship. They were to stand as mediators to atone for the sins of the people before God as they offered sacrificial services. It was a solemn responsibility reserved for the priests, but Eli’s sons offered profane service to the Lord. Because they were unbelievers, they were not entitled to occupy that position; neither were they qualified to take offerings for themselves as compensation for the priesthood duties. They arrogantly took the best for themselves, demonstrating irreverence and disrespect for God, the people they ministered to, and the priesthood that they professed to serve. Their sin was so great that God killed the sons and Eli lost his life as well because he chose compromise over the preservation of the priesthood of which had been entrusted to his care. (Read chapter 4 of 1 Samuel). Not only that, but the ark of God, which represented the presence of God Himself, was captured and taken into captivity by the Philistines, Israel’s enemy. The wife of one of Eli’s sons, (who had just lost his life) gave birth to a son in distress after hearing that her husband was dead. She named the child Ichabod, which means, “No Glory,” and she said, ‘for the glory of God has departed from Israel and the ark of God has been captured.’

It is an equally tragic thing for a church, an individual, or perhaps a family to realize that they have entertained compromise so long that they have transgressed against the Lord and His presence is no longer able to be felt. The glory has quietly left and no one noticed. The problem in Eli's family existed long before the actual judgment against him and his sons, for we see in 1 Sam. 3:1 the proof the glory had departed long before their death. “The word of the Lord was rare and there was no widespread revelation.”

One of the first indicators of a life of compromise – whether in an individual’s life or in the life of the church – is a lack of fresh manna. God withholds revelation when obedience is compromised or sin is present. It is one of the ways that God disciplines His people and shows who is approved and those that are not. It is the evidence of inspired, divine revelation. One cannot expect additional revelation where they are not obedient to what they already know. This is also one way to help distinguish between those walking in the Spirit of God and those that are walking by their own will. It is the evidence of life in the Spirit. The flow of the Spirit is not stagnant, dull, heavy or oppressive. If you encounter a place of worship where there is no freedom, joy or movement of Holy Spirit, that is a sign that something is not right. Pray about whether or not you should stay there, for if you remain in that sort of place too long, the spirit that is trying to control and hinder worship will try to control and hinder you, too The Holy Spirit is a well spring of life! Revelation or ‘fresh manna’ is one of the truest indicators of whether or not there is actual life in the body. This life either flows freely, or it is restricted in some form and in the process of drying up. When the flow of anointing is drying up or not evident at all, then there is death attached to it. This allows for ungodly, demonic, controlling spirits to enter in and bring defilement. Divination is the counterfeit of the Holy Spirit, and it's so important to discern the difference! Where the presence of God is, there will be activity of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of prophecy, healing, and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit will be evident in the place where God is welcomed, honored and esteemed. There will be godly order, but not religious control that restricts or binds the Spirit of God from freedom of movement. God is not worried about us losing our composure. I often think He would like us to lose it just like David did when cast off the restraints of composure and didn't care what others thought about him. If we're prone to caring what others think about us, it will always restrict the flow of the Spirit in our lives. Fear and control produce religious spirits that constrict and bind the Spirit of God. People may try to rationalize it and call it something else much more pleasing and palatable, but it is sin to try and restrict or restrain the Holy Spirit. When people are hungry for the presence of God and man tries to restrain Him, it grieves the Holy Spirit. People should not be left hungry and disappointed. Jesus said the hungry would be filled and the thirst for His presence would be satisfied. This is God's desire for His people. That we would experience Him in a satisfying way and gain our fulfillment from relationship with Him, not try to satisfy that need through worldly ways. Alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, lust for power or control or the many other things people use to fill that empty void simply do not satisfy the craving of the soul to worship our Creator or to be known by Him. We are wired for worship. When Holy Spirit is not allowed to flow freely, it is a sin against God and the people who desire Him, to try to constrict God so that it fits with people's plans, schedules and their own personal comfort zones. God will not be boxed in!  David understood this about God, he delighted himself in letting God be big in his life. David needed a big God because David had big problems and big enemies! David found true liberty through unconstrained worship. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

From a defiled priesthood, to a defiled kingship, we see there were many years of King Saul's reign that were trademarked by disobedience and poor decisions. These things led the nation into decline and a loss of the glory of God. We’ve taken a look at the corruption caused by compromise prior to David coming into the story, and we can learn a lot from those things. Spiritual decline precedes any loss. Spiritual decline leads people into compromise, and a life of compromise always leads to sorrow and a loss of God's presence and glory. Now let’s go back to David and examine something vital about this young man’s life and why God called him a ‘man after His own heart.’ The key thing to understand about David is that he wasn’t a perfect man. He was human and prone to weaknesses just like any other man. He had some serious mistakes in his life, but in spite of all his flaws, God chose David to be in the line of royal authority. The Christ would come from David's lineage. David had a heart that was sensitive to God’s Spirit. When he did the wrong thing, David was quick to confess his sin and get right with God. He wanted to please God with his life, and the outflow of that desire was not just a heart to follow God, but a heart that knew what it meant to truly worship God in Spirit and in truth.

Obedience is key, yes, but obedience alone out of a sense of duty or obligation does not produce revelation. Worship produces revelation, for revelation only comes through connecting with the heart and Spirit of God. Worship is the bridge between us and our Father, through Holy Spirit. Worship draws us into God’s presence where (as we see in 1 Sam 5) our idols cannot stand. Idols are toppled in the presence of the Lord! God’s hand is harsh towards our idols because He is a jealous God. He will not share our affections with the things of the world or the many ‘other lovers’ that contend for our affections. It is the cares of the world and the desires for other things that pull us away from the heart of God and inhibit our ability to connect with Him in worship. “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy. Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12). Real worship will always bring us back to the place of the cross. Returning to the heart of worship means toppling our idols, repenting, and coming back to a place of genuine repentance so that we can seek God in Spirit and in truth. It's seeking Him in worship until our heart is restored to a place of divine order, and then receiving answers to our prayers. If we proceed on our own assumptions, we proceed in our own strength, and not divinely guided by God. It can make all the difference between success, staying stuck, or complete failure.

David was a God lover. When he worshiped, prophetic words and spontaneous songs emerged. He praised with all his heart and he rejoiced in the freedom that he found in throwing off the restraints and letting his heart delight in God. When David led corporate worship, he encouraged others to delight themselves in God and enter into high praise. Praise is such an important element of worship because it has the power to elevate the name of Jesus and break off heavy yokes. We need both high praise as well as the intimate, introspective worship. David understood the power and anointing that was released through worship, and that it was the anointing that broke the yoke of oppression, sin, and unbelief. Heartfelt praise and worship breaks through our fears and insecurities and releases  a Spirit of Faith. It releases a Spirit of Overcoming! There was great joy and thanks, but out of that also flowed divine revelation that was both encouraging and humbling, and inspired true repentance. This is the power of Davidic worship!

There is a big difference between being a song leader and a worshiper after God’s own heart. There is a difference between a professional musician, or one that is just a performer, and a God lover. Both may love the object of their desire, and both may worship what they desire, but what they desire may not be God. One may simply crave the worship from performing, while the other craves the presence of God from the worship they offer Him. This is a reality that holds true regardless of whether or not we're talking about being on stage or in front of others, leading worship or worshiping God in private. The things we crave and the desires we have may not glorify God at all, nor draw us any closer to Him. Knowing the difference makes all the difference in the world as to what sort of environment is established - in our home, family, or church - and what sort of worship is offered. It can make all the difference between offering God an unacceptable sacrifice, or pleasing Him with a sweet smelling aroma of true worship that delights His heart.

Worship comes in many forms. Giving is worship. Loving others is worship. Sacrifice is worship. Repentance is worship. Whatever releases the presence of God is key to entering into worship, but it is the presence of God that releases breakthrough. If we want breakthrough in our families, we need to restore worship. If we want breakthrough in our church, communities or cities, we need to restore worship. Earlier I asked the question, "What was it about David, that the very lineage of Christ hinged upon him?" David came from the tribe of Judah, which means "praise." Prophecies concerning Jesus' birth and ministry made 1200 years before his birth announced that He would be from the tribe of Judah, and from the 'root of Jesse.' (See Gen. 49: 8-10; Is. 11:1; Is. 9:7; Zech. 6:12). Jesus brought breakthrough, but it came through David's ancestral line. It is interesting that when David's grandfather, Obed, was born to Ruth, the women of that city surrounded Ruth and her mother in law, Naomi, and prophesied into Obed's future. They prophesied that the house of Obed would have the same ability to produce breakthrough as one of his ancestors, a child named Perez that had been born to a woman named Tamar many years earlier. "Perez" means breakthrough. Perez' life left a legacy of anointing that produced breakthrough for generations to come. It was the legacy of worship, coming from the tribe of Judah, and the Davidic line. The breakthrough of prophetic anointing  and kingly rulership from the life of a worshiper (David) was a result of the Spirit of God coming upon him in a powerful way. It was evidence of royal authority.

God wants to restore this sort of Davidic worship to our lives. He wants to restore worship into the heart of the family, release it into our communities, and in our churches. Worship is where the heart of God connects with others and releases a word of healing, a prophecy that can change the direction of a life, or an inspired word that brings wisdom or guidance into a personal situation. Part of God healing our families and our future is to bring worship, real worship, where it has been lacking. This is how God can change a city, a destiny, and the future. Worship is the key to power and authority with God, where strategies to outwit the enemy and blueprints for the future are released. Need answers? Return to the heart of true worship. The answers you need are in the presence of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Do You Feel Trapped By Your Circumstances?

What do you do when you face an impossible situation? Whether it is financial, physical, emotional, or something else, everyone has situations that make them feel like they’re boxed in on every side, lacking the necessary answers and change that they need. Physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion can begin to make one feel drained of vitality, faith and hope. What do you do when life becomes unbearable?  What is the answer when hope is asphyxiated and people feel trapped by their circumstances? Pray to the Lord of the Impossible.

There are so many variables in each person’s life and circumstances that it is difficult to address them all, but there are things one can examine to help diagnose a problematic situation. Sometimes people get so caught up in trying to deal with the difficulties of life that they forget to ask the important questions up front. Scripture gives us guidelines for many of the things we may encounter, but we cannot presume to know God’s will about every situation unless we seek Him. When we find ourselves struggling with renegade thoughts, difficult circumstances or situations that seem determined not to give us a break, we must pray and ask the Lord, “What is Your will in this situation?” Perhaps a couple other very good questions are, “What do you want me to learn from this?” or “What action would you like me to take?” More often than not, when things aren’t going well figuring out whether we are trying to enforce our will or God’s will can make all the difference. We need His perspective, His leadership, and His directives. Without them, we will end up struggling unnecessarily, lose our peace and joy, and feel completely frustrated. When we understand God’s intention and we sense His leadership in our life, our spirit can find a place of rest.

In order for hope to find an anchor in our soul, it must be grounded in something steadfast, immovable and proven. Hope will turn to faith when it’s anchored in something that has a proven track record of success. We have a rock in Jesus Christ; a solid, trustworthy person whose character is proven.  

If a person is not a born again believer in Jesus Christ, they may well become a victim of circumstance. A person that confesses their faith in Jesus Christ, however, always has hope because God is bound by His covenant to honor His promises. When people look at their circumstances and feel that they are too overwhelming, they may feel it is impossible to change or break free from such limiting situations. It can be easy for a person in that state of mind to succumb to self-pity if they are not alert to that possibility. When life doesn’t go as we hoped, it can be very easy to feel sorry for ourselves, but staying in that place too long can be dangerous. Complaining and bitterness provide an open door to the spirit of self-pity, and if the enemy finds it, the spirits of poverty, death and ruin come right along with it.  

This might not be easy to read, but it does need to be addressed. Sometimes people enjoy the attention they get from their problems more than they actually want to receive a breakthrough. The sympathetic responses of others can feed a need to feel validated, recognized or affirmed. The person bound by self-pity and unbelief has actually traded in the truth in exchange for a false belief system built around the deception of the enemy. These things reinforce negative emotions that feed unbelief. We are all entitled to our emotions, but we must also guard our heart and mouth lest we drown ourselves in bitterness and misery. These things work together to cripple a person’s faith. As unbelief grows stronger, life becomes a downward spiral that continues to paralyze the individual and make them completely trapped in their circumstances. The result is a person that has broken faith with God, and they may not even realize they have done so. The spiritual reality is that unbelief is aligned with rebellion towards God, and He cannot bless us when we are in agreement with the wrong things. He blesses faith and obedience. It is dangerous to adopt a victim mentality. Don’t do it! The person that has their hope anchored in Christ, however, must make a choice to fight that lie and embrace the war cry of an overcomer: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Nothing is impossible with God!"

·         Faith believes in God’s ability.

·         Faith declares the promises of God.

·         Faith is a confident expectation that God will move on our behalf.

·         Faith trusts the covenant relationship established by God.

If you are feeling trapped by your circumstances, one of the first things to understand is the need to surrender every bit of it to the Lord. A need to control others or the way we feel circumstances should go indicates the presence of fear and a lack of trust towards the Lord. If you have broken faith with God in some area or have spoken the wrong things, confess them so that they can be forgiven. God waits until we realize our own limitations and weaknesses and let Him have control. People often experience pain and frustration because they have not yet learned to let go and surrender control. There will be times when God wants to close doors or redirect us to something different. A person may never experience God’s best if they insist on trying to stay where they are or keep doing what they’ve been doing - even though their best efforts fail to produce a desirable outcome.  One definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Friend, it’s time to get off the merry-go-round! No matter what you’re facing, you must be willing to trust God and surrender your storm!

Generational curses or spiritual blocks to prayer can be another reason why people often feel stuck in their circumstances. The spirit realm sees things much differently than we do. Demons know if they have a legitimate entry point into a person’s life and thus are able to prevent answers to prayer from coming forth. Perhaps the best course of action is to ask God to show you if one of these issues could be a reason why answers to prayer are withheld. Blocked prayer is not necessarily the same thing as a generational curse, or an unbroken curse of some sort, but both are important to address. This is not an exhaustive list of spiritual blocks to prayer, but some of them include: bitterness or unforgiveness, an attitude of unbelief or double-mindedness, slander or speaking against others in the body of Christ, personal sin, expecting God to move on our terms, misplaced faith, no personal relationship with God, asking for the wrong thing, murmuring and complaining, and idolatry. God has said in His word that His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. The responsibility falls on us to determine where we might be missing an important truth. In one form or another, all sin comes from separation from our true identity, separation from others (broken relationships) and separation from God. These things can cause us to stay stuck in our circumstances until we address them properly – not according to our own feelings, opinions or beliefs - but according to God’s word. Generational curses also keep people trapped in old cycles so that they cannot seem to move forward. When we are unsure of the reason why we are stuck or feeling trapped by our circumstances, if we will seek God for answers, He will send the answer we need.

God is not daunted by the things that are beyond our control. He works outside the norm. It is not up to us to figure out HOW our prayers will be answered; simply to trust that He will. When life seems overwhelming and you feel frustrated, remind yourself that it’s not your job to figure out the details. We have to trust Him to work in ways we do not always understand. God’s ways are infinitely higher than our ways. He knows people we don’t know, and He works with pieces of the puzzle we don’t know even exist! As we trust Him to work out the details, He causes us to cross paths with those that He has chosen to bless us. His favor towards us is what compels others to release the things we need.

Part of getting ‘unstuck’ from your current circumstances is to have an understanding of your identity in Christ. Do you realize that there are some doors that will not open until you see yourself the way God wants you to see yourself? It is easy to feel defeated or unable to see a way out of your present situation if you don’t know who you are or how to utilize what God has made available. A child of God has the same DNA as their Father. We are made in the image and likeness of God. Because the Spirit of God lives within us, the power to create with Him resides within us. Romans 4:17 reminds us that we have the ability to ‘call those things that are not as though they were.’ Truth displaces lies and has the power to restore faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Faith assures us in our ability to use the authority God has given us. The authority of God in the believer often times has the ability to create the breakthrough that is needed. As we speak forth the promises of God, the way opens up before us. Sometimes we think we are waiting on God but perhaps He is waiting on us to get a revelation and run with it. Our pressing needs and a sense of desperation are not always what releases answers; faith and obedience moves God’s hand.

Whatever your circumstance, God can make a way where there doesn’t seem to be one. My husband and I have experienced many, many breakthroughs. It’s when we thought we had nothing to work with that God moved. When we didn’t have a job, God gave my husband a creative idea that led to work. When we didn’t have any money in the bank, God had us start our own business. When we didn’t have a ministry, God launched one off of a little tuna casserole. When I miscarried and was told I wouldn’t have any more children, my husband prophesied into an empty womb and it brought forth our son. We have so many testimonies of God breaking through difficult circumstances. Every one of them seemed impossibleuntil God showed up. When you place a demand on the anointing, your faith pulls the answer out of the unseen realm. Your circumstances can change in a moment.

Never give up on the brink of a miracle! God delights in difficult situations because it creates a new story the world is waiting to hear. Your story could be next! All things become possible to him who believes. Would you like to encounter the Lord of all your impossible situations? “Call on the name of the Lord and He will show you great and mighty things you know not of!” Jer. 33:3.

**Please browse the many prayers on this  site. The Breakthrough Prayer is great for getting people 'unstuck!'**

This article was recently published in the premier issue of Godspeed magazine.

#Doyoufeeltrappedbyyourcircumstances? #Getunstuck, #Prayingforbreakthrough