The Soul Under Siege

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Recently I took part in a conversation with a Christian apologist from New Zealand. He was asked if he would consider moving to the United States – his answer was no. He has deep concerns about the instability of our current political situation. He also sees the real possibility of a civil war breaking out in America. And he understands how fragile our political and economic situation is. A pandemic or any of the above-mentioned scenarios would collapse our economy.

There is no doubt that we are living in both politically and spiritually dark times.

I also share this man’s concerns. I was a boy during the Vietnam war, and at age five, I vividly remember the assassination of JFK. I was deeply troubled by the murders of Martin Luther King, Robert Kenndy, and the shootings at Kent State. Those of us who are baby-boomers have seen our share of political upheaval in America.

Our country has been under siege from outside forces, both political, and spiritual, since the birth of our Republic.

But, my greatest concern is the spiritual condition of the Church. Many believers are experiencing high levels of anxiety – which is a symptom of prayerlessness. ( See Philippians 4:6) The seeds that were sown by the counter-cultural movement that began in the United States during the sixties, are bearing fruit today. The sexual perversion and lawlessness that characterized those days, appear to be consuming our nation today. And those who profess belief in Christ, have not been immune to this darkness.

Our souls are under siege by dark forces, but sadly, many are seeking political solutions, rather than spiritual ones.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – ( John 16:33 NIV)

Jesus promised both tribulations in this world, and peace for our souls during times of testing. Believers must learn to “practice the presence of the Lord.” This is what Jesus was referring to when he taught his disciples to abide in him (John 15:7.) Which is: living in a state of communion with God, through prayer, and total dependence on him.

God raised up the “Jesus Movement” in the late sixties and early seventies, to counter the spiritual darkness of that time. Let’s ask God in prayer, for a fresh move of the Holy Spirit today. It is our only chance for survival.

 

 

Engaging The Unseen Realm

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“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – (John 4:24 ESV)

Every time we pray we are engaging the unseen realm. God is Spirit and we worship him in spirit and truth. We worship the unseen God who has revealed himself in the man Christ Jesus. Jesus is Lord and Maker of everything, in both the material and spiritual worlds.

“…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” – (2 Corinthians 11;14 NASB)

The fact is, all world religions are not equal. It’s a dangerous thing to engage in spiritual activities apart from Jesus. Satan masquerades as an angel of light, so we must beware of deception.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”  –  (Ephesians 2:6 NIV)

When we pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, we are approaching God based on a covenant relationship. If you are “in Christ” you have been spiritually seated with him in heavenly places.

Sometimes we fail to realize that our salvation experience is much more than a ticket to heaven. Our redemption, by Christ, allows us to experience the love of God now. And to be overcomers, in this present evil age. Therefore when we pray in Jesus’ name, we are asking God to do for us and others, what can’t be done by human power.

Prayer itself is an act of spiritual warfare. We find deliverance from spiritual attacks from God in our times of prayer.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” – (Matthew 6:13 NIV)

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus is giving us a heads up about the spiritual battle raging around us. We ask the Father to keep us from temptation and to deliver us from the evil one. This warfare is our present reality, whether we like it or not.

God has given us the Holy Spirit, the word of God, and access to his throne (prayer). We have been given these benefits for both worship and warfare. To be effective in both, we have to believe that we are accepted by God and loved by him.

I find that many believers live their lives feeling unloved by God, because of personal failures. If you are a parent, ask yourself this question, do I still love my children when they fail? The answer is yes. And God desires to restore us when we fail, so that we can enjoy our friendship with him. And so that we can push back the darkness, through prayer in the life of others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Path To Spiritual Transformation

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“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”  – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 ESV

The death of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from the dead provided humanity the path to spiritual transformation and eternal life. A new life in Christ is not some academic theory to be studied by biblical scholars. The cross of Christ was meant to be the starting point of our spiritual journey into wholeness. The spiritual path Jesus leads us on must not be confused with other paths of false peace and euphoric experiences. All religions do not lead to the one true God.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that the Christian life doesn’t work. They say that they have tried it – but I beg to differ. Sadly, most who fall away never learn perseverance in prayer and daily repentance of sin.

Jesus said that his way was narrow and that not many would be able to find it. He promised a life of persecution for those who embrace him.

Knowing Christ and experiencing him requires a personal death to our old self which leads to a resurrection of new life in him.

This is more than a prayer of accepting Jesus into our hearts. Christ demands total trust. This commitment is carried out by God’s power and our willingness.

What’s the catch? We don’t get to live out our lives as we choose. We have to learn to die daily (which is not easy) and live according to his Word. It requires a new ethic – a Kingdom of God ethic. Situational ethics must go.

How you live your life matters, if you are professing to follow Jesus. The moral law found in the Old Testament and reaffirmed in the New Testament is still valid today.

God’s moral law is not legalism. Asking Jesus to save us doesn’t mean we can use him as an add-on to our self-centered lives. To experience genuine spiritual transformation we must prayerfully and humbly give up our rights and embrace the Kingdom of God.

So what is the result of this dying to ourselves and losing our lives? We begin to live life to the fullest even though we are broken and flawed people. And we can find joy and hope during times of testing that Jesus never promised to take away.

Love, Fruit, Fear and Gifts

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“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – (Hebrews 4: 14-16 ESV)

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” – (Romans 8:26 ESV)

During a time of prayer recently, I came to realize how significant that the four words mentioned in the title of this post were. I believe that praying Scripture or turning the Word of God into prayer is the most effective way to pray. The Bible reveals the Father’s heart and the mind of Christ to us. We also see how the Holy Spirit operates in prayer. The Spirit himself prays and groans for us. And Jesus Christ himself intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. The Father hears us because Jesus is our high priest that stands in his presence on our behalf. The work of the Trinity in prayer is evident when we look closely at Scripture.

If we pray the Psalms, the prayers of Jesus, the apostolic prayers we will cover in detail much of the will of God for our lives, and those we are praying for. The four words that I mentioned above are easy to remember and can become part of our daily prayers.

I pray for the love of God because his love is unselfish. And we glorify Him when we love like him. (Romans 5:5)

I pray for the fruit of the Spirit because that is how the love of God is demonstrated throughout my life. (Galatians 5:22)

I pray for the fear of God because that encourages me not to sin and to show proper respect to the Father. This also enhances my love for God and my neighbor. God is Holy and he has called us to be holy also. (I’m a work in progress!) (Psalm 86:11)

I pray for the gifts of the Spirit because I need supernatural power to minister to others effectively. Loving God and loving my neighbor requires me to believe in the present-day power of the Holy Spirit. As a friend of mine teaches; ‘spiritual gifts are God’s power tools’ to get things done. (Sadly, some spiritual gifts are neglected or viewed with skepticism in much of the western Church.)  (1 Corinthians 14:1)

In conclusion: we can only love God and our neighbor by embracing the supernatural power of God to change us into the image of Jesus.

 

Christ Is Our Light And Shield: A Celtic Prayer

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I find this to be a powerful prayer to pray when natural storms are approaching. As we let our request, prayers and supplications be known to God – don’t forget the spiritual warfare aspect of prayer, also.

Canticle

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The Emancipation Proclamation: A Prophetic Experience

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(The following experience happened to me on, January 1, 2001. Since then, my friend mentioned in this story has been going through a process of restoration and is presently pursuing God. I wrote this experience down shortly after it happened.)

I was talking on the telephone with a prophetic friend, just a few days before New Year’s Day 2001. And during our conversation, he said that his wife had a word for me. She simply said; “Emancipation Proclamation and Abraham Lincoln.” In the past, I’ve felt like God has given me spiritual insight through my studies of the Civil War.

I believe God can speak to us through historical events in such a way that we can apply them to our present circumstances.

During that time, I was doing a study on deliverance from spiritual bondages. I felt like God was conveying a message to me through my friends phone call. But little did I realize at the time, just how important those words would be.

I woke up on January 1, 2001, to see beautiful snow on the ground, and it would certainly proved to be an eventful day.  A new day and a new year with the possibility of a fresh new start. So, I put my coat on and thought it might be nice to take a walk around the neighborhood. As I was walking through the snow a friend of mine came to my mind. My first thought was to walk to his house which was not that far away, but I decided against it. I thought it would be fun to walk the mountain trail near my home and enjoy the beauty of the day. I went back into my house, got my Bible, and began my walk.

As I was thinking about my friend, I remembered that we had climbed that same mountain a couple of years earlier, back on Jan. 1, 1998. As I started up the mountain, I decided to look for a stick, because I always like to carry one while I am walking in the woods. I broke off a limb, and I had a funny thought, that my stick looked like the type of staff that Moses might have used. And, I began to think that I might see my friend on the mountain today.

Well, believe it or not, there he was, walking straight down the mountain trail in my direction. You see, my friend had been in a spiritual wilderness, he was a man of God-feeling like a sheep without a shepherd. He told me that the stick I was carrying looked like Moses’ staff. And by the way, I’m not comparing myself to Moses!

But, I do think God has given authority to ordinary believers to pray for, and to proclaim freedom to those in captivity.

So we talked for a little while, and as he made his way down the well-traveled path, I walked on up to the top of the mountain, alone. When I got there and began to pray, I soon sensed that the Lord had led me there to speak to my heart. I felt His presence as I opened my Bible with no particular scripture in mind – I was amazed to read the following Old Testament passage.

“My people have been lost sheep;
their shepherds have led them astray
and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill
and forgot their own resting place.
Whoever found them devoured them;
their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty,
for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture,
the Lord, the hope of their ancestors. – (Jeremiah 50:6-7 NIV)

Jeremiah Chapter 50 is about judgment on Babylon. I believe that much of the church in the west is presently in Babylonian (spiritual) captivity. I read the whole chapter out loud. I prayed the Beatitudes over the shepherds (Pastors) in our county, and also prayed the Model Prayer, that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. And I proclaimed the words, Emancipation Proclamation, from the top of that mountain. (I know all that sounds weird but prophetic experiences are quite often VERY strange!)

I believe God’s heart is to set the “Bible Belt” free from a cultural Christianity, which lacks a laser-like focus on genuine discipleship. I was amazed to find out later that; The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863! Three of my friends reminded me that Abraham Lincoln only freed slaves in the slave-holding states. One of those friends didn’t know about my experience on the mountain but just brought it up in a random conversation soon after my experience.

Jesus wants to set his people free, and I think he wants to start with his under-shepherds (Pastors), giving them, and his sheep, his nature. Let’s all seek to humble ourselves, and repent of a critical spirit, and to pray for and serve one another. So that God may bring renewal to his Church.

(Could 2020 be the year that we walk away from the things in our lives that are hindering our spiritual growth? Those things that are keeping us in spiritual chains? I pray that it will be.)

Pursuing Power

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“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the bondage of iniquity.’ But Simon answered and said, ‘Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.’” – Acts 8:18-24

Beware of those who are pursuing power for the sake of public ministry, but are secretly  motivated by greed and fame. The Bible says that you will know believers by the fruit that they bear. True prophetic voices are marked by the fruit of the Spirit and spend a significant amount of time in their prayer closets.

Also, watch out for those television preachers who promise you a short cut to obtain a special anointing and wealth, through giving to their ministries. America is full of carnal ‘apostles’- ‘prophets’ and ‘teachers’ who are both economically and politically motivated.

There are no short cuts to obtaining spiritual power in the Kingdom of God.

And while we can be filled with the Spirit through the laying on of hands, the fullness of God is maintained by our ongoing fellowship with Jesus.

Having said all that; God wants to empower his people for the work of the ministry. Jesus will manifest himself to those that who are seeking to be with him, not to those who seek his power for selfish motives.

Pursing power is a good thing if we are seeking to honor God by living lives that demonstrate his holiness.

I believe God is emphasizing our need to discover the fear of the Lord in our day. And He is raising gifted ministers up to equip us to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who have been tested by fire and refuse to compromise God’s will, word, and his ways.

God has a remnant of believers who haven’t bowed their knees to cultural Christianity.

Our main concern as we walk out our faith and minister to others should be to live in a manner that brings the ultimate honor and glory to God.

Kimgdom, Cross, Church by Simon Ponsonby 

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 “And the Lamb Wins: Why the End of the World Is Really Good News” by Simon Ponsonby –

“KINGDOM, CROSS, CHURCH The kingdom arriving with Christ creates the church. The church is the community of those who have entered the kingdom by repenting and receiving the gospel (Mark 1:15) and been reborn by the Spirit (John 3:3, 5). The Holy Spirit applies the redemption and forgiveness purchased by Christ’s blood, transferring them from the rule of Satan to the rule of God (Col. 1:12–14). This church, living in obedience and holiness (Matt. 5—7) under the kingship of Christ as the outpost of heaven, is a kingdom of kindness, happiness, and righteousness (Rom. 14:17) where, through the presence of the Spirit and the power of the gospel, lives are restored into the image of God in Christ. Armed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the gospel of Christ, the church of God’s kingdom continually clashes with the kingdom of Satan, rescuing lives from his grip (Matt. 9:2; Luke 11:19) and advancing heaven’s rule on earth, even to the center of the Enemy’s kingdom (Acts 28:31). Wherever and whenever individuals or communities live under the royal rule, doing the will of that King, the kingdom is come. The true church, the elect body of Christ, preaches, practices, prophesies, and prepares for the kingdom, which will come in all its fullness when Christ returns and joins his bride the church (Acts 1:7). When he comes, the Lamb’s scepter will stretch over every person who has ever drawn breath, over every animal or angelic being ever created, over every place in every space, every star, galaxy, and universe—that is kingdom rule.”

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The Path To Healing

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“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.” – (Proverbs 4:20-27 ESV)

A godly life is a rewarding life. Godliness or holiness of the heart is not a major focus of much modern-day preaching. It seems that being culturally acceptable is our goal instead of counter-cultural discipleship. But God has always called his people to walk the ‘narrow road’ which requires us to ponder the path we are currently on. The right path  requires spiritual discipline – not legalism. We must learn to focus our thinking on “things above.”  Thinking spiritual thoughts produces peace and joy but requires grace empowered effort. Our thoughts and words help form who we are and influence our behavior.

True spiritual transformation only happens by the power of the Holy Spirit. After his accession to heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to teach us God’s word, will, and his ways. And God’s ways are always holy.

If we are pursuing wisdom and instruction from our Teacher we must pay close attention to his words. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Pursuing God’s wisdom and healing should go hand -in- hand.

Dr. Michael Brown makes the point that healing in Proverbs 3:8, 4:22 doesn’t  just refer to spiritual healing but also our physical bodies. These verses indicate holistic healing. “Godly living and the fear of the Lord were expected to produce tangible results.” Brown quotes W. McKane saying, “Longevity and physical and material well-being…are important aspects of the man who keeps the words and saying of the teacher.”(1)

God is sovereign and we know that not every godly person is always healed in this lifetime, for a variety of reasons. But, that shouldn’t deter us from pursuing spiritual, mental, emotional and physical healing. King David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Psalm 103:2-3 said:  “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases..”

(1.) Israel’s Divine Healer, page 162.

 

 

False Prophets Vs. True Prophets

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False Prophets occupy prominent places in American Churches today. The true prophetic voices that refuse to be influenced by the spirit of the age, are few. Many preachers in America are afraid of offending their audience for fear of retaliation and rejection. But thankfully God still has true prophetic voices who are not intimidated by those who seek to silence them.

As Bible teacher Dudley Hall once said, “we can either become products of our culture or prophets to it.” If we decide to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, we will find ourselves at odds with many prevailing cultural trends.

The role of the Prophet is to declare the truth and to call the Church, and the world to repentance, even if he is misunderstood.

False prophets value fame and fortune and they misrepresent the nature of God while seeking the approval of the crowd. True prophets value the word of the LORD and embrace rejection as the price they must pay for telling the truth. They preach and live the narrow way, which is the way of holiness, not legalism.

As Michael Brown has written:

“Jesus warned His disciples against false prophets, reminding them that the way to eternal life was hard and the gate narrow (Matt. 7:13–20). He made clear that there were serious consequences for neglecting the truth (Matt. 7:21–27).

Paul warned Timothy that “a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4, NLT).” (1)

(1) “Jezebel’s War With America: The Plot to Destroy Our Country and What We Can Do to Turn the Tide” by Michael L. Brown
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