Category Archives: Faith

Defeating Strongholds

Do not be afraid of them for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel.  You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire. Joshua 11:6

And Joshua did just as the Lord said to him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.  Joshua 11:9

Judah captured Gaza with its territory…And the Lord was with Judah, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.  Judges 1:18-19

When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely.  Judges 1:28

The people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help because Sisera had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for 20 years.  Judges 4:3

† If you followed the progression of these verses, the Israelites started out being able to defeat the northern Canaanites who had chariots of iron.  The Israelites didn’t have chariots, so it had to be intimidating. They must have been afraid, because God told them, “Do not be afraid.” In other words God was telling them, “If you trust in Me, I’ll drive them out for you.”  And they did trust in Him and it worked! He drove them out.

But not too many years later, after Joshua died, Judah could not drive out the inhabitantschariots-of-iron.jpg of the plain.  It doesn’t say because they lacked faith or because they didn’t rely on God. We didn’t get God’s commentary on this situation.  It just reports that they couldn’t drive them out. As a result, the people that they were supposed to drive out stayed in the Promised Land.  God told them in Judges 2:3, They shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.

You might not think that this is a big deal, but in Joshua 1:3-6 God promised, Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life…I will be with you.  I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

So we move from God defeating the Canaanites with iron chariots for the Israelites, to the Israelites not being able to drive them out because of their iron chariots.  Then the Israelites didn’t drive out the Canaanites completely, as they were commanded to do. Instead, they compromised and just put them to forced labor. Funny, later on the shoe was on the other foot and the Israelites were the ones put to forced labor.

Then in Judges 4:3 we see that Sisera had 900 chariots of iron.  My take on that is the number of iron chariots grew. They didn’t defeat them when the number of chariots were small in number and now they are great in number.  And Sisera oppressed them cruelly for 20 years. The consequence of not driving out the Canaanites as God commanded bore fruit. They had become thorns and snares.

The reason I point all of this out is because this is exactly the nature of strongholds in our own lives.  Strongholds are structures or fortresses that demons hide behind in our spirit man. It’s like when you decide to have a big snowball fight and you build a snow fort or wall to hide behind first.  That snow wall is the stronghold. Demons operate best in secret, because if you knew they were there you would call them out and get rid of them.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us, For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

† Just like with the Israelites, we can drive out the strongholds in our lives with faith in God.  He has given us the same promises that He gave Joshua, that every place our foot touches is ours, that He is with us and will never leave us or forsake us.  If we have faith in God, He can and will drive out all of the things in our life that are “iron chariots.”

Those things can be abuse from your childhood, addictions, sin traps that you fell into that still hang on, patterns of negative thinking that need to be renounced and replaced, a rebellious spirit, bitterness from rejection, hurts and failures, and other faulty ways of dealing with life.  

God tells us to stay away from things in the form of commandments.  We don’t do it, disobeying, thinking “I can do it, it won’t hurt me.”  Or we think, “I’ll repent of it later.” God warns us that the same thing will happen–those things we played with will become thorns in our sides and snares.  Guess what? What we sow, we reap. We have to now get rid of the residual effects of our rebellion, cleaning spiritual house.

† This is not easy and takes determination, bold obedience and humility to renounce and to repent of things that have maybe been a part of your life for years.  I have heard people say for years that it is like peeling an onion, that it comes in layers. I kind of rolled my eyes inside at that, but now I’m beginning to understand it.  That is most likely because I have been experiencing it. You would think that I am old enough to have driven out all of my “chariots of iron.” But maybe we never are.

Over the last few months God, in His mercy, has revealed several new chariots to me that have been expelled.  I have been humbled through a series of medical issues and a car accident that was not fun. This has caused me to seek God’s face in a different way for healing and emotional health.  In the process, He has given me some dreams that have led me to breaking free of some demonic harassment that has been there since my childhood.

A couple of resources that have been helpful have been Youtube teachings by Derek Prince.  He is dead now, but there are many of his sermons on deliverance, strongholds and hearing the voice of God.  They are Scriptural and well laid out. Another guy that is on Youtube is a man named John Ramirez. He was a Satanist and teaches how to uproot and cast out strongholds.  

His book Armed and Dangerous has many good warfare prayers to break any ties that Satan may have.  As John puts it, if Satan knows that he owns property in our life, he will come and collect.  He will strip and rob us any chance he can get. He teaches how to cut the rope. This teaching on spiritual warfare is valuable and is a tool for the Holy Spirit to reveal doorways that need to get cut off for Satan to no longer be able to cruelly oppress as Sisera did to the Israelites.

Galatians 5:1 declares, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Are you ready to be free?  

 

*Image from Ryan Boyer/Google Images

 


Two witness stands

For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So that they (all people) are without excuse.  Romans 1:18-20

witness stand

It would seem from these big verses that there could be two possible scenarios of putting someone on the witness stand.

⇒ The first scenario would be God putting all people on the witness stand.  God is sitting as a judge in these verses, and if He were to come down ask you how you would plead when it comes to the case of whether or not you knew He existed, and that He created the world–you would have say, if you were honest, “Guilty, your Honor.”

That tells me that deep down everyone really knows that evolution or the Big Bang Theory isn’t true.  Verse 18 says that we know it, but we have surpressed the truth through our unrighteousness.  In other words, we have pushed it down, drowned it out, or kept it from being known.  It’s like that tiny voice of our conscience that calls out inside of us tells us something we’re doing is a bad idea, or wrong. But we don’t want to hear it.  So what do we do?  We turn the music up, or we get busier, or we stay away from the people that might tell us we’re wrong.

In talking with people who have alternative theories of creation, in my experience, it seems that it they end up with more emotional rejections in the end, rather than intellectual ones.  Now this isn’t thousands of conversations, but dozens. Let me say that there are some that just want to do their own thing and don’t want to anyone tell them what to do.  It comes down to an issue of ‘what right does God have to tell me what to do?’  They deny God’s existence and creation because they don’t want Him to mess with their lives.

But the next category of people are those who end up with an emotional catch.  Here it seems that most of the discussions have led to hard personal topics where the statements begin with the question: “Well then, how could a good God let —- happen?”

⇒ That’s where I get to the second scenario witness stand.  It’s like they’re putting God on the stand.  This is what Job did.  In fact, God called him on this in Job 40:2, Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it.  Job’s question was about why he would lose his children and all of his riches, plus why he would be afflicted with boils.  Yes, that would cause me to wonder why my Friend would turn on me too.  And I would want some answers.

The whole book is filled with Job and his friends spinning their wheels, especially his friends.  But I think Job had a more genuine heart.  He was really wrestling with God, and God answered him.  God didn’t tell Job about His wager with Satan about how Job wouldn’t deny his faith in God if he took away everything.  God was proving to Satan that Job was following God because God was worth it, not because of all of his riches and blessings.  He didn’t tell Job that part, but He did show Job how big He was and how little Job was in comparison.

I love some of God’s questions to Job like Where were you when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 38:7 and Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place? 38:12 and Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or have you seen the storehouses of the hail? 38:22.

In 40:8 God said, Will you condemn Me that you be in the right?  Isn’t that what people do when they question God’s goodness or His justice?  Aren’t they putting themselves in the right and condemning God?

For those who have had hard things happen that cause you to wonder about why such hard and even horrible things could come from the hand of a good God–go ahead and wrestle with God as Job did.  But do it with a genuine heart that wants to know Him and trust in Him.  God will meet you just as He met Job.  But get ready for Him to answer you in ways that you might not expect and show Himself in ways that go deeper than you can imagine.

Just don’t put God on the witness stand with a condemning heart and expect to win.  And don’t use the line, “If God is good, then why is there suffering?” as a red herring to point a finger away from your own call to submit to God’s right to set the rules in your life.

Job ended up with a repentant heart.  In Job 42:6 he said, I repent.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.  In Acts 3:19 Paul said, Repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out, so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

That just could be the answer for all of us when we turn from trusting God and when we suppress the truth because we want to do things our own way.  When we stop trusting God because we think He has wronged us, we come up with alternative ways of living our lives that doesn’t include trusting Him and putting Him first.  We find other idols to fill our lives with that make our heart kind of crowded.

Some might hide it better than others, but if we’re not trusting in God, we’re still guilty.  And the answer is still the same: Repent.  In Job’s case, the outcome was a good one.  His fortunes were restored doubly.  God is that kind of a God.

Isaiah 30:18 says, Yet the Lords longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.

 


Experiencing God More Deeply

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  James 5:17

I’ve pretty much quit watching TV, with the exception of a football game once in awhile, and Jeopardy (one day I’ll be a contestant on there–really).  So I watch a lot of Youtube videos of sermons and get news from current event things from there.

Lately I’ve been blessed by Francis Chan videos.  They have fed my soul during some tough times.  He has encouraged me to stick to the core truths of the Gospel even when it’s tempting to water them down.  And he has given me a renewed passion for Jesus and for the Bible.  

If you’re looking for a good one to start with, here is a link to the one I’m referring to today, “Experiencing God Deeper 2018.”

If you’re like me, I always mean to get back to the link that someone shares, but it either takes me a long time, or I never do.  So I’m going to share some of his points and add some of my own (artistic license).

You experience God when you’re put in front of authorities and God gives you words when you don’t have them.  Francis gave the example of the 23 South Koreans who were missionaries in Afghanistan and were taken by the Taliban.  That was in 2007.  They were held for about two months.  The leaders of the group actually argued over who was going to get killed first: “Kill me, I’m the pastor.”  A second guy stood up, “No, I’m a pastor too and I’m older–so kill me.”  A third man stood up, “No, I’m ordained, so you have to kill me first.”  The third man was actually one of two killed, the rest were released.  

Years later, Francis met with one of the guys who was a captive and he said that he wished he was still back there because of the intimacy he had with Jesus.  Others in the group expressed the same thing.  We fear something like this, but yet we experience God in closer and more sure ways when we are put on the spot, like Elijah.  We grow.  We are no different than Elijah.  He was a man just like us.  We feel more peace when we are in danger, yet we resist danger at all costs.  

We try not to have show downs like Elijah had, but if we want to experience God more deeply, we need to know this: Do not put your trust in money or freedom.  We have Christ and He alone is sufficient.  We don’t need to go out and try to suffer, but we should stop trying to avoid it.  

Not only is Elijah a man just like us, but God is still the same God that made the altar start on fire (1 Kings 18) even after Elijah doused it with water.  

You experience God when you get comfort when you need it–not when you’re comfortable.  When we do something that scares us, we experience God more deeply, like when Peter stepped out of the boat.  

If you find yourself saying, “Remember when I did this…” a lot, then it’s time to change it to the present tense.  I did a lot of faith adventures in my youth.  But I want to be like Caleb in the book of Joshua.  In chapter 14 he went to Joshua at the age of 85 and reminded Joshua of his inheritance promise and then said, I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then…So now give me this hill country!

When God called Moses and Jeremiah, they both had excuses about what they couldn’t do.  Isn’t that our tendency–to tell God what we can’t do when called?  “I can’t speak,” or “I’m too young.”  But instead of looking at what we can’t do, we need to look at what God is calling us to.  First of all, God is the one who is calling us, and that call has been from before we were born (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4; Eph. 2:10).  

So instead of reciting what you can’t do, know that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13) and 1 Thessalonians 5:24: He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.

Whoever abides in Him ought to walk as Jesus walked.  1 John 2:6

In our rock star driven culture, we have Christian leaders who don’t necessarily walk as Jesus walked.  Maybe they are just good communicators or good singers.  Francis Chan talked about how we need to play, “Follow the Leader.”  Our leader is Jesus.  We shouldn’t just memorize Bible verses about telling others about Jesus, crossing cultural boundaries to do so, or helping those in need, or obeying Him, getting rid of unforgiveness, etc.  We just need to do it.

We need to change our definition of success.  If I know Jesus, I should just be like Him.  I’ll walk like Him, love like Him, and others will know that they’ve been touched because being around me might be a little like being with Jesus.  I don’t know if that’s the case always.

This has challenged me to read through 1 John over and over for a month.  I hope it sinks into my pours enough that it changes me to the core.  I want to not say “I love Jesus” but to “Just do it.”  This has produced some change in me already.  I wrote in my last blog how it triggered a chain of events (giving money and an unfortunate car accident on the way to do so) that was a whirlwind.  But it has also unearthed some unforgiveness in my heart that God has pointed out.  May He do much more in the weeks to come!

May you experience God more deeply as you head into the new year.  

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love  him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.  John 14:23


Those who know God’s name will put their trust in Him

And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.  Psalm 9:10

Do you know that book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?  Well, I’ve kind of had a terrible, no good very bad series of months.  Most of  it has centered around health.   The rest of it has had to do with some bitter conflicts that have gotten rugged and too close to home.  That’s supposed to be my safety zone.

As for my health things, a year and a half ago while playing pickleball, my partner at the time came charging up from the back court and rammed into my back left shoulder blade.  (For some unknown reason.)  It was quite jarring and the immediate effect was that it bruised my rib cage, hurting for a couple of months.  But since this last March, my left shoulder began going out of joint each time I played, which was two times a week.

This summer I played more, and in early August, that was one too many times, tearing my rotator cuff enough to end pickleball and pretty much sleep and productive anything.  Then I found out I have cataracts, of which I think I’m way too young to get.  So I had to wait until my deductible year rolled over to get those two things taken care of.

But then over a month ago, I started to get some other strange symptoms having to do with my brain.  That included spinal fluid draining (the doc told me at the time it was just a bloody nose) from my nose, my eyes swelling shut with furrows across my forehead (seasonal allergies, same doc), then it began to hurt when I walked deep inside my core.  Each of those symptoms got talked away by the doctors I saw.

But then I got grooves on top of my head going from the top of my head to my forehead, which I thought was really odd.  But I was way too busy at work to attend to.  But I kept getting really bad headaches, ringing in my ears and it hurt more and more to walk.  So I finally went to the clinic and they said my grooves were because my brain had swollen.  That began a series of tests that have not shown what is wrong.  Still it hurts more and more to walk, I wake up every 2-3 hours with a banging head and down my back, and my shoulder continues to hurt.

 I suspect that it is Lyme’s disease from a tick that has worked its way from my bloodstream to my cerebral spinal fluid.  I did a lot of berry picking this July in the deep thicket.  I live in a rural area and to get into a neurologist is apparently a difficult thing.  Even though I have gone to an ER twice to try to get help, this has not produced action.  My help is from the Lord!

Now, with all of that said, the long introduction, I have been turning to the Psalms.  What I want to share are verses that have been my anchors.  This has not been easy.  No one said it would be.  But if I say that I know God and trust Him, then this is where the rubber meets the road.  These verses have been my anchor when the ground is shaking underneath my feet.  Maybe they will speak to you in whatever circumstances you are in.  They are in the New Living Translation.

He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  Psalm 27:1

The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:17

God makes His people strong.  God gives His people peace.  Psalm 29:11

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.  Psalm 50:15

I wait for the LordIt is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  Psalm 18:32

God keeps an eye on His friends, His ears pick up every moan and groan.  Psalm 34:15

The Lord is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Psalm 16:8

Give your burden to the Lord, and He will take care of you.  Psalm 55:22

Those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.  Psalm 9:10

 

 

 

 

 


Full of the Spirit

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said ‘Go stand in the Temple courts and proclaim to all the people the words of this life.’  Acts 5:20

This is what has stuck with me throughout this week, along with a few other thoughts.  It was the apostles that got tossed into jail for telling about Jesus and new life in Him.  The religious leaders were filled with jealousy, which is what 5:17 tells us.  It wasn’t any complicated scheme–just jealousy.  Anyway, an angel let them out and told them to go back to the Temple court and keep teaching.

What catches me is that the angel told them to teach about ‘the words of this life.’  The whole first few chapters of Acts are flooded with the accounts of the Early Church–about how the Holy Spirit has come and landed on them like tongues of fire.  And how when they prayed the place where prayed shook with power and everyone was filled with boldness.  And then there was so much Holy Spirit power that people brought the sick and they passed by Peter’s shadow and they were healed.

Acts 5-20So when they went back to the Temple Courts, they talked about Jesus being risen from the dead, exalted to God’s right hand as a Founder and Savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses of these events and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.  

I’m sure the apostles didn’t just mumble a sorry testimony and invite them to Temple too.  No, they were convincing witnesses about the resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives.  That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Go on to Acts 6 and read about Stephen.  He was described as being “full of the Spirit,” “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” and “full of grace and power, who was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.”  Now that’s an eye catcher.

People are looking for something to fill the holes in their empty lives, something big enough to occupy the space that they’re filling with things like their fascination with technology, the NFL, materialism, sex, drinking and other addictions.  If we offer a wimpy version of the Christian life, it is no more appealing than picking up an old textbook, or visiting their grandmother’s church.

But if you show them the real Jesus, and the “life that is truly life,” as 1 Timothy 6:19 says, or the abundant life that John 10:10 talks about.  And 1 Corinthians 4:20 it says that the kingdom of God is demonstrated in idle talk but in power.  

Last Sunday night I was at our County Jail for Bible study.  There were 6 Native American women and another jail chaplain and myself.  We talked for a bit to catch up on how they were doing, and as I began the study, there was a male inmate calling out loudly the whole time.  I stopped and asked what that was.  The women said it was a man in the holding cell.  They felt bad for him and said he had been yelling out all day in about ten different voices.

I asked if any of them had been at church with me the last summer when one of the women did the same thing and we stopped and prayed–and she stopped yelling out.  The women immediately begged me, “Please stop and pray.  Please pray.”  So we stopped.  The other gal with me prayed out loud first and me second.  We prayed that the spirits that were oppressing him would be bound and that the peace of the Holy Spirit would rest upon him.  Within one or two minutes the man was totally quiet.

I said, “Hey, do you hear that?”  And they said, “Hear what?”  I said, “My point exactly. It’s dead quiet out there.  Jesus did that.  He hears our prayers and has the power to work.  He will do that in your life.”  We got back into the Bible study and the jailers were stirring up a mighty commotion out in the hallway.  I mean it was like a circus out there.  It went on and on.

Finally I stopped and said, “I’m praying again.  This circus has to stop.”  I prayed that God would silence the commotion in the hall and that it would be so quiet that they could hear a pin drop.  Again, within a minute the noise stopped.  And again, I said: “Do you hear that?  Jesus did it again.  That’s what He wants to do for you.”

Today I met with a Native American gal that just got out of jail and treatment.  She came to church and is resolute about “doing the next right thing.”  She is making a break from the bonds of meth and alcohol.  I told her the story of what happened in jail last week.  Her brother is in prison, but God has gotten a mighty hold on him and he is a living, walking evangelist everywhere he was been incarcerated.

She told me about when he was back at the County jail and was with a guy I’ve known since he was a kid.  He was telling this other guy about Jesus and the other guy kept saying that he was a Native and believing that.  Her brother was telling him that it wasn’t helping his life and that  Jesus is the only way, and that He’s real and wants to save him too.

The guy said, “Well, if Jesus is real, I’ll pray for something sweet.”  Maybe he was being sarcastic, because it was 10 at night and he knew it wasn’t going to happen.  But they prayed that S— would get something sweet and that S— would see that God is real.  Not even 5 minutes later a jailor came to their pod where 5 other guys were, at 10:00 at night and said, “S— I have a cupcake for you.  I just thought you’d like it.”

This guy S— got down on his knees and started sobbing and said, “I believe, I believe.”

Now that’s proclaiming the words of this life!  Words of power, words that aren’t just words, but are about life changing abundance that people can grab onto and say, “Yes, He is real and can do things in my life.”

Now, I have to go stand in the town courts and speak words of this life…

*Image from Brittalafont.com

 


To the God who is able and who is greater than all

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.  Jude 24

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  John 10:29

Have you ever  had bad stretches where things are just hard?  I’ve been in one of those stretches.  It’s kind of like that book, Alexander’s No Good Horrible Day that overstays its welcome.  I messed up my shoulder this summer from a pickle ball injury, just short of a rotator cuff tear.  Someone suggested I should come up with a better story than that, but in the interest of truth, it wasn’t from sky diving or fighting a bear–just a collision in pickle ball gone bad.  And it has lingered to the point where my left arm has not been useable for two months, in constant pain, and I’m awaiting a cortisone shot that will hopefully fix things a bit.

In the middle of that I went to the eye doctor thinking I needed new glasses and I found out instead that I had cataracts.  This week I go to get the first eye done, and the next soon thereafter.  I don’t appreciate getting cataract advise from people twenty years older than myself.  But apparently with computers and UV rays, younger people are getting them.  But it doesn’t fit into my busy school schedule.

Doesn’t pain know  this isn’t a good time?  I had to get a shot in the rump the other day just to make it through the day.  So the two above verses are well timed words of encouragement, cups of cold water in the desert:

God is ableGod is able, and He is greater than all.  Aren’t they good words?  No matter what we face and when–God is able.  Ephesians 3:20 starts with the same proclamation: Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.  And 2 Corinthians 9:8, And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  All things at all times for every good work.

Do you get it?   God is able.  Do I get it?  God is able.  Get my eyes off of  my issues and put them on the God who is able.

And He is greater than all.  It is one thing to boast about your                                   football  team that you God is greaterthink is better than everyone, but then that team gets beat.   God never gets beat, so you never have to go to work on Monday and eat crow.  God always wins!  We can boast about Him all the time.  So why don’t we?  We know 1 John 4:4, Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

So it is time for us/me to live like it.  What’s a little pain, or a few setbacks?  Paul said, Our light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, in 2 Corinthians 4:17.  They are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.

There, I’m encouraged already.  I hope you are too.

*Images by lovethispic.com; engageyourstory.com

 

 


Christ is our life

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Colossians 3:3-4

First of all, I read these verses over and over, trying to grasp what it means to be hidden with Christ in God.  Part of it means claiming the truths of what it means to be a child of God, like:

  • Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39)
  • Because of the blood of Jesus, I am justified, made right before God (Romans 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:11))
  • I am therefore a friend of God (John 15:15)
  • My eternal destiny is in Heaven and is secure (John 3:16; 5:24; Jude 24; John 10:28)

I could go on and on!  That lifts my spirits just thinking about all of the things that are mine because I am in Christ.  What I really wanted to write about today is that Jesus is my life, and what that means. It’s all connected.

This summer we “cut the cord” on Direct TV, which has been a good thing all on its own.  We still have Amazon Fire Stick, but the only thing I’ve really watched all summer has been Christian speakers on Youtube.  It’s been really edifying. I was watching a talk by Paul Tripp (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9S7fgW8XVw) that really got me thinking about Colossians and Jesus being my life in a deeper way.  If you get time to watch it, it is really good. So most of the thoughts of this study are the ideas from Paul Tripp’s talk.

In Mark 6:45-52 there is the account of Jesus putting the disciples into a boat to go across the Sea of Galilee.  He didn’t get into the boat with them, and a storm blew up. He put them into the boat by themselves, knowing a storm was coming.  Why? To build their faith.

“Faith isn’t natural.  Worry is, envy is, doubt and anger are, but faith isn’t.  That’s why God has to take us outside of our comfort zones to produce in us what doesn’t come naturally to us.  He has to take us where we don’t want to go to produce in us what we can’t achieve on our own. That’s grace. It’s not the grace of relief.  It’s the grace of refinement–it’s uncomfortable grace. Often the grace of God comes in uncomfortable forms because that’s just what we need.”  Paul Tripp

Then Jesus really blew them away by walking on the water to the boat.  They thought it was a ghost.  He stood next to the boat. He spoke to them and said, Take heart; it is I.  Do not be afraid. And He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded.  Mark 6:49-51  

*When you are in the middle of something terrifying, what do you say to yourself about God?  They said, “It’s a ghost.” No–it was Jesus. It showed that they just didn’t get it.

*Who do you talk to the most?  It is yourself.

Watch what you say to yourself about God, and watch what you say to yourself about yourself.  Think about it. Think about the last time you were in a jam–what did you say to yourself about you?  And what did you say to yourself about God? Were they good things? Were they faith things? Or were they things that cut like a knife, words that were so bad that no one else would ever dare say those things to you, or out loud say them about God?

Look at Mark 6 and see what Jesus said to the disciples.  He didn’t say: “Get out of the boat you imbeciles! I’m getting 12 different guys who are smarter.”  No–He said, “Don’t be afraid, it is I.” “It is I” is a variation of “I am.” In other words, “I AM” is here.  I AM has invaded your life with grace.  This is what I must say to myself. I am not in this alone because my life has been invaded by the great I AM and it has changed everything.

Don’t forget who you belong to, who has invaded your life and who you belong to.  Stop with the negative talk, the worry, doubt, anger and fear! It hurts you, and it hurts others.  You end up saying those things to others that are close to you as well, like your spouse or your children.

Suppose you got a really cool gift, but you were more taken with the gift wrapping than with the gift.  Don’t just be happy with the box and not the amazing gift of grace. Don’t be content with just a little bit of Jesus or of Bible knowledge, a small dose of worship, or a small adventure with this life of faith.  

Grab a hold of this AMAZING GRACE with both hands, saying with your life: I love this Jesus isn't a small partgift.  It is my life. I am blown away.  This is who I am and I AM has invaded      every inch of my life.  

When Christ who is my life appears, then I will appear with Him in glory.

 


What do you want Me to do for you? I want to be healed

The blind beggar called out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  And the blind man said to him, Rabbi, let me blind man.jpgrecover my sight.”  And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.  Mark 10:48-52

Have you had weeks and months that just kind of blur together and not much big goes on, and then ‘Boom!’ big stuff happens?  Well, this last week was one of those weeks.  Let me back up.  For about the last four or five months, my left shoulder has been hurting, like bad. It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t even open up my car door without extreme pain kicking in.  I suppose it was a pinched nerve or a herniated disc.  For most of the last two or three weeks my arm was numb and cold when I woke up in the morning.

I began going to the chiropractor in June two to three times a week.  I knew I should have attended to it sooner, just too busy.  In early July the chiro said, “I can’t do anything more.  You’ve got to go to the doctor.  You’ve probably got to get an MRI.”  I nodded, but thought: “No way.  I’m not going to get an MRI.  I’m not going through all of that.”

Second strand of the story:  Over the last year, my husband and I have gotten to know a Christian brother better.  He’s the kind of guy that’s full of Holy Spirit energy.  He’s into dreams and interpreting them, so we like to talk about how God speaks to us.  He went on a missions trip to Haiti about a year and a half ago.  While there, whoever was leading the group told Brian to take charge of a line of locals who were there for healing. He was to pray for them to be healed.  Brian was thrown into just doing it, and God met him.  By the end of the day, almost all of the people were healed that he had prayed for.

He came back home thinking, “If God could work through me in Haiti, why can’t he work through me here to pray for people and see them healed?”  So he began to pray for people to be healed and things began to happen.  Brian began a small group Bible study in our area.  He has been inviting us to join us, but it hasn’t been until the last month or so that we have begun to go.

Another guy has been at the small group who also has the gift of healing, Barry.  And I sit there with a shoulder that hurts so much I can’t open my car door…I’ve been reading through the Gospels and ‘faith’ seems to be the thing that just keeps jumping out over and over.  So after the chiropractor said, “Yup, your shoulder is messed up,” I guess I knew it was time to actually apply faith and open my mouth.

So I did.  At the end of the small group, when it was time to pray, Brian asked if anyone needed any prayer.  Someone else said something first.  And then  I finally said, “My shoulder has been really bad lately.  I need prayer for it.”  So Brian said, “Okay, let’s pray for it.”  He prayed for God to heal it, then asked me to move it around.  “Nothing.”  He prayed for it again.  Still nothing.  Then another gal said, “Stand up.”  Then she had me raise my right arm.    She said, “I can feel and see the knot.  It’s huge.”

He prayed again.  Then he said, “Move it around.”  The loudest snap and crack sounded and the gal standing to my right yelled, “The knot is moving!  It’s gone!”  I moved my arm, and the knot and pinching and pain was gone.  That was five days ago.  It’s still gone.

There’s more to the story.  My husband struggles with anxiety a lot.  Like my shoulder pain, it has become more and more distinct and debilitating.  He has resisted going to the small group because he’s anxious about having to go to work the next day.  My reply is that we all have to go to work the next day, but that doesn’t change anything.  He wasn’t going to go this week because of it.

There were guest missionaries there from Albania.  They had become Christians through Barry.  As Brian was praying for me, the missionary wife was singing quietly over the whole while.  I thought it was pretty, but didn’t make much of it.  Wayne left as soon as prayer was over.  We drove separately so he could do that, our compromise.  When I got home, he said:  “I wished everyone would have stopped talking when that lady sang.  It was like a wave of peace washed over me.  I wanted her to sing over me for my anxiety.”

I asked why he didn’t stay then, but his anxiety had gotten the best of him.  But he called Barry’s the next day, in an act of faith, and asked if he could come and have them pray for his anxiety.  This was even bigger than my shoulder!  This anxiety has gripped him all of his life.

So Wayne went, and Barry and his wife and the missionaries prayed over him.  The wife sang.  Another miracle happened this week.  When Wayne left, it was like a load was taken off of him.  Peace that he hasn’t known swept over him.

I am not saying that this is a once and for all deal, because fear keeps knocking.  As we processed that freedom, we talked about how Jesus is the way and the truth–Satan is a liar.  Jesus is all about faith–Satan is all about fear.  James 4:7 says to “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  I say he must flee from us when we take authority in Jesus’ name.  I rebuke you fear and anxiety in Jesus’ name.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!


On the Other Side of the Lake

A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons.  He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid.  Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed.  And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept them…

On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for Him.  Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, plead with Him to come home with Him.  Luke 8:35-41 NLT

I am struck by this contrast on the two different sides of the lake.  On one side, Jesus did something huge, setting a man free from a legion of demons.  Everyone in town knew him as the crazy man in the caves, who probably screamed out at night and scared the kids.  Now he’s clothed and in his right mind and Jesus did it.  Yet they begged Him to leave because they were afraid.

Hebrews 3:12-15 warns us about not having the same reaction: Take care lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin…Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.

Waiting for Jesus on the other side of the lake were people who needed healing, people with faith, with a welcoming heart and open arms.  One lady knew if she could just get through the crowd and touch his robe she’d be healed.  Jesus told her that her faith had healed her.  The opposite of faith is fear.  The thing that made the people drive Jesus away was fear across the lake.

One of the things that makes us drive Jesus away today is fear.  When we say that Jesus doesn’t do miracles like that today, or that He can’t fix this or fix that…or whatever it is that makes us not come to Him in prayer believing that He can impact a situation–part of our unbelief is mixed with fear.  When the disciples called out to Jesus in the boat and said, “Don’t you care if we drown?” it was fear.  He rebuked them for their lack of faith.

In 2 Timothy 3 when it says that we will have a from of godliness but deny God’s power, is it fear that makes us comfortable with a lack of power?  We are comfortable with our own power, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit, because maybe we’re afraid of where God is going to take us, or what He’s going to demand of us, or who He’s going to ask us to love…So we stick to a less-than power out of fear.  woman-at lake.jpg

Or, as Hebrews 3 calls it, “an unbelieving heart–an evil, unbelieving heart.”  And that heart condition causes us to fall away from the living God.

Which side of the lake do you live on?

This link if my graphic.  It is an infographic and it can’t be loaded on this page.  Please click it, and then pray about the answer to my question.

On the Other Side of the Lake


Oh The Places He’ll Take Us

That day when evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’  Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat.  There were also other boats with Him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat,so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?’  They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’  Mark 4:35-41

“We’re going to the other side,” Jesus announced with a grin; He knew there was a storm ahead, as He told them to get in.  He promptly went to sleep just to see if they would choke; and sure enough the boat looked like it would go up in smoke.

“Wake up Jesus! Don’t you care if we drown?  What kind of prophet are you?  We’re all going down!”  “Relax you ninnies–have you no faith?  I’m the God of these storm clouds, the wind and the waves.”

“Be not afraid!  So please stop your big whines.  I’ve got places to take you that have no confines.  Your faith now is small, but grow it you must.  Place it not on the storm, but in Me and you’ll bust–

stick people motion.pngRight out of your boxes and fears and small boats, and soon you will be preaching to thousands, and you’ll host–all kinds of events and church gatherings, you’ll see.  That there’s no end to what I can do in you through your faith in Me.

 

Don’t tell Me to wake up–it’s you that needs awakened.  I want to do things that will shake you and keep shaking.  I have places to take you so wrap your heart around it; give Me your faith and I’ll equip you–now let’s get it started!”

*Photo from Pixabay