Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wresting Matches

While others have been writing of Thanksgiving and the preparation of wonderful dishes, here I am writing once again of warfare. Believe me, I am NOT about doom and gloom. I love the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Who doesn't like to eat?! And I am very thankful for all God has done in my life, especially for my salvation which I do not take lightly. God's blessing and beauty is all around me and I revel in it, in Him. I LOVE HIM WITH ALL MY HEART. However, in the midst of the blessing is the battle and this is where I am and where He is leading me to write. So, here goes!

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Have you ever seen a wrestling match? I'm not fond of the flamboyant wrestling that takes place on television. I know a lot of it is for show and has been staged. I also believe it teaches children to be puffed up and prideful; not to mention, confrontational. This is how satan must appear if we could actually see him. All swollen up and beating his chest as he spews out threats.

In most true wrestling matches, the object is to pin down your opponent, rendering him powerless. The sumo wrestlers of Japan wrestle inside a ring. Their goal is to knock their opponent off their feet or push them outside a ring. The beginners usually step into the ring and begin to wrestle, while the more experienced will size up one another. This is done by coming to the center line in the ring where they crouch down staring at each other. They may do this several times before the actual bout. Each time they will return to their corner for more mental preparation. As children of God, we are mentally prepared by His Word. Our wrestling is not of this world.

The Word of God tells us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, our warfare is spiritual. (Eph.6:12) If you find yourself in a wrestling match with enemy forces, don't be discouraged. God is in control. I am struggling right now to keep this in the forefront of my mind. The closer I draw to God, the more of His Word I grasp, the stronger the battle becomes. I'm finding this is also true with other Christians I am close to. We may feel like we are losing, but we are not. We are being strengthened to endure what is to come. 

God doesn't use those who have a form of godliness but deny His power. (2 Timothy 3:5) Why do we not see more healing and deliverance in the church? Why do we see more sin, more lovers of pleasure than lovers of God? Because these are the last days we are living in and those who are serious about their relationship with God and living holy lives are finding themselves in the heat of the battle.

The Word tells us that there must first come a falling away, then Christ will come. (2 Thess. 2:3)  What are people falling away from?  They are falling away from Truth. The word for "falling away" is apostasia or apostasy which means defection, rebellion, abandonment, to renounce or to abandon a previous loyalty. I've heard it preached many a time that you cannot "lose" your salvation. Salvation, like Love, is a choice. You can choose to walk away from Christ otherwise the bible wouldn't say that you can.

Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits." Our lives, our actions, and our words tell the world who we belong to. Jesus speaks in Matthew 24:12 about the love of many waxing cold. That tells me they were once on fire for God, their candle was lit and burning brightly. But now the fire has gone out and their hearts, like wax, have grown cold and hard. The battle can make us weary and many will fall away from Christ. Now is the time to press in and draw closer to Him. He will strengthen you.

Take time to examine your heart. Is it on fire with passion for your first Love? Has it grown cold toward God? Are you lukewarm? Is He standing outside the door knocking or has He taken up residence within you? (Rev. 3:14-22) Allow Him to be your Fortress, your Strong Tower, your Dwelling Place. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Humility--The Last Shall Be First

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:6b
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. James 4:10
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion (appearance) as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name. Philippians 2:5-9

Being exalted, or lifted up by God, comes with a price! It is called humility. Humility is not a natural trait found in human flesh. Just look around. People long to have the best position, they want to be first in a long line, or they want to be noticed for their knowledge, looks, or possessions. A child will dive in for the biggest cookie or fight over the "best" toy; which is usually the one held by another child. And we have the tendency to be childish in our ways.

When Jesus said that we are to "become as little children" in Matthew 18:3, He was speaking of becoming childlike in the sense that children are trusting, unpretentious, and teachable. Jesus called a little child to Him and the child humbly obeyed. This little child was set down in the midst of Jesus' disciples and made an example of how to enter into heaven. This child was not intimidated or fearful, he immediately did exactly as Jesus said. How often can we say that we did exactly as Jesus said, the moment He told us to do it? I'm sorry to say, I have fallen short here. I have a tendency to question God. "Was that REALLY You?" When I know good and well that it was. Then I have opened the door to doubt and I hesitate in obeying Him. Every now and then, I'm ashamed to say, I talk myself out of obeying which means I miss out on the blessing.

In Matthew 18:4 Jesus goes on to say, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." As I meditated on this scripture, others began to come to my mind. Such as:
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov.16:18
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly (humble) is wisdom. Prov. 11:12
Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty; and before honor is humility. Prov. 18:12
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit. Prov. 29:23

It is better to humble ourselves than to stand in our foolish pride. Therefore God teaches us humility, often by the things we suffer. When we attempt to place anything before God, it won't be long before we stumble right over top of it and land on our faces. Yet, if we begin on our face before God, He stands us on our feet and we will not fall. Those things we look at as "small decisions" that we can "handle on our own" are often the very things that cause us grief in the end. God will use our situations, wrong choices, and even other people to bring us to a place of humility before Him.

Humility crucifies the flesh and causes us to decrease so that Christ may increase in us. Satan fell because of pride. He thought to exalt himself over God and all that God created. God doesn't want us to fall so He teaches us humility. I have to wonder if that is why God gave us free choice. Satan and the fallen angels were given free choice. And their fall was a long way down from where they tried to exalt themselves.

Perhaps God created human beings to fall BEFORE He lifted them up into the heavens. He decided to allow
sin, evil, pride, and disobedience to tempt us here on this earth so that we can experience the effects in the flesh. God is allowing us to see the result of satan's reign here and now. We see the evil all around us and how the darkness is intensifying. We are touched by sickness and death. There is famine and pestilence, earthquakes and floods. There is abject poverty all over the world. People are being sold into slavery, young children are abducted or sold and forced into prostitution. Satan is an evil taskmaster.  

We have already had "a taste of hell" here on earth. We know by experience what it feels like to be separated from God. However, when we are able to be with Him forever where He is, we will never want to turn away from Him. Instead we will have already chosen to give Him ALL the glory, honor, and praise due His Name.

One man, Adam, made the choice for all humanity to suffer the curse of sin. Adam literally sold us into sin by his disobedience to God. Perhaps this was a lesson to us that we should NOT, EVER follow a man. Then came Jesus. He redeemed us. He paid the price with His life. He shed His own blood to purchase us back from the devil. He humbled Himself when He came to this earth. The King of Glory was born in a stable and laid in a manger. His parents were poor. His friends were considered low-life. He ate with the sinners and walked among those who knew their need for Him. He chose fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and the demon possessed. It was the poor and humble who recognized Him as the Son of God.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 20:28 that He did not come to be ministered to (served), but to minister (serve) and to give His life as a ransom for many. He also said in Matt. 20:16 that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. And again in Matt. 23:11-12, He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased (humbled); and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (lifted up). We are told not to think of ourselves more highly than we should, to prefer others before ourselves, and to condescend, or lower ourselves, and be humble toward others. We are to forgive others, even if they were wrong. We are to always bless others with our words, even if they turn and curse us. (Romans 12) These are examples of humility. This is how the last become first.

I thank You, Father that You chastise those whom You love. I know You love me as You have allowed me to be humbled before you.

Still Dwelling In Him

Friday, November 11, 2011

More Than You Can Bear

There is a scripture that I have been misquoting for years. Actually, it isn't even the entire verse, just a portion of a verse. It goes like this, "God will never give you more than you can bear." This is not true. Let me repeat, this is NOT TRUE!!!

So, to anyone I've ever said that to, I apologize. I have a sweet, special cousin in Ohio who is more like a sister to me. I know I have said this to her. And I am sorry. I never meant to mislead you. I love you dearly and this you know.

The misquoted verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13--There hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

The truth is God allows, in this life, more than we can bear so that we may depend more fully upon the One Who is able to bear all that we cannot.  Sin brought sickness, death, and suffering into this world. God doesn't put suffering on us but I wondered why He allows it when we believe on Him and serve Him.

I can only come to the conclusion that God allows, in this life, more than we can bear so that we may depend more fully upon Him Who is able to bear all that we cannot.  Sin brought sickness, death, and suffering into this world. God doesn't put suffering on us, but He does allow a certain amount of it into each life. I wondered why. Our flesh is always what is being tested in our trials. It's our flesh that rebels against God. When we turn to God, trust in Him, and rely on His strength it always proves that HE IS. It also teaches us more about Him as we seek Him and draw closer to Him.

I can't help but think of Job. He never pretended he wasn't suffering. And just like the rest of us he tried to figure out why all these things were happening to him. After all, he was a righteous man. The bible even tells us that God pointed Job out to the devil. Why would He do that?

Satan assumed that Job loved and served God because God had blessed the work of his hands, increased his possessions, blessed him with children, and protected him. Satan asked the Lord, "Does Job fear God for naught (nothing or no reason). Have You not made a hedge (of protection) about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land."

I looked up the word substance, it relates to anything tangible, material, or physical. It pertains to those things that can be touched and felt. Satan wanted to remove every physical evidence of God's love, care, and provision for Job. We are God's children and he desires to do the same to us. Sometimes he does. But God has put limits on what satan can do to us. Remember, God told satan he couldn't take Job's life.

Was it more than Job could bear?  Look at his reaction in Job 1:20-He tore his clothes, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground...but then he worshipped. Most of us are more like Job's wife. In her despair and hopelessness, she wanted her husband to curse God.

We often don't respond the way Job did. Many of us don't have to be urged to "curse God and die" which was the response of Job's wife (Job 2:10). I can see where she was being used by the devil as she was in agreement with what he was trying to accomplish against her husband (Job 1:11, 2:5). Satan wanted Job to curse God to His face so he enlisted someone Job loved. He used Job's wife to goad him.

Job did not listen to his wife. In fact, in the midst of his pain, he blessed God (Job 1:21) In all he suffered, he never sinned with his lips. (Job 2:10) Hmm, how often we sin with our lips when things go wrong in our life.

Can I just be honest here? This isn't the way I intended to go with this post. God continues to bring me back to the words of our mouth. I see so much in Job that pertains to this. Our enemy wants control of our words so badly!! Everyone around Job misspoke; his wife and his friends. Those who were supposed to lift him up, encourage him, and pray for him only increased his suffering. God have mercy on us and forgive us for our horrible words toward one another.

I am writing this last part with tears. Our words are such a powerful weapon. Instead of turning it on our true enemy, we so often attack each other with them. Why does there seem to be such a desire in us to speak evil of one another? We are deceived by foolish pride into believing that if we cut someone else down then we look better and are lifted up in the eyes of others. The bible says the opposite - God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up (James 4:6, 10).

We think if someone speaks evil of us that this gives us the right to retaliate. All this goes against what the Bible tells us to do. Again I have ended up in James 3 and 4 about the mouth. Chapter 4 goes into why we war against one another. In chapter 5, James tells us in verse 9-Grudge (grumble) not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned...and verse 11 even speaks of the patience of Job. Verse 12 warns us not to swear. Verse 16 tells us to confess our faults to one another, that ye may be healed...

What? Confess my FAULTS??? You may as well tell me to walk down the street naked. YIKES!! But that is exactly what God tells us to do. It's hard to be full of pride when others know your shortcomings. But there are benefits. When we know each other's weaknesses, we know how to pray for one another. And then we are healed. I don't believe that is only physical healing, but soul healing.

So many people have deep emotional wounds, overwhelming guilt, and condemnation over past sins. God's children need to be able to trust one another with their confessions so that they can seek prayer from one another and begin to heal. Can you be trusted? Will you help someone else heal?  Examine what comes out of your mouth and you will know. I am also challenging myself here. I know my words aren't always pleasing to God. Will you pray with me today?

Father, I humbly ask You today to forgive me for every negative word I have spoken over others, whether directly or indirectly. Forgive me for sinning with my lips. Your Word says that what I loose in earth is loosed in heaven and what I bind in earth is bound in heaven. Therefore, I pray and bind every negative word that has come forth from my mouth and any that will attempt to come forth in the future. I declare crop failure on every negative seed I have planted. I yield my mouth to You as a weapon for righteousness, to loose blessings and bind curses. I pray your Holy Spirit will stop me from speaking anything contrary to your Word and that I will be a fountain that issues forth the sweet living water of Your Word. I thank You, Lord, that You have heard me and for the change that is coming as I begin to speak to mountains and loose blessing into the atmosphere....In Jesus Name. Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sifting and Shaking

Early Sunday morning I received a text from my friend Stephanie of Daily Victories. There had been an earthquake in Oklahoma which was felt in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and down into Texas where she lives. It woke her up as her bed was being shaken. Even her bedroom door was shaking and banging in the door frame. Our Lord spoke to her in the midst of it to get up and pray. He urged her to share what He said to her, you can read it here: Many are sleeping.

God began speaking to me about the spiritual side of what is happening. His people are being sifted as wheat. God's shaking is going on all around us, not only in the physical realm, but also in the spiritual realm. His shaking is going on in His church. 1 Peter 4:17-For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

I have noticed how people are running from one church to the next and back again as if they are in a giant sieve. I feel our enemy, satan, sifting us. I am aware of his spiritual onslaught against God's children. And I've even sensed  the people of God "fall back" from the battle instead of pressing through.

During morning worship at church, I looked up at the ceiling. I try to avoid looking at the people's faces, it can be very discouraging. I had already observed that many were distracted by other things and their own conversations were more important than the worship of our Lord. As I looked up, I saw cracks running through the ceiling. A thought came, "The church is cracked and fragmented."  Fragmented means broken or detached from a bigger piece. Cracked means to break without complete separation of parts.This is the result of the shaking. God always has a remnant, which is a small remainder of what once was. This is all throughout the Bible and will occur again soon. 2 Thessalonians 2 and 1 Timothy 4 warns us there will be a falling away before Christ returns.

 When things are being shaken, something is going to break loose. Monday morning my Lord spoke to me as I was thinking of the church praying for a breakthrough. He asked me, "What do you think the breakthrough is?" Then it occurred to me, it's breaking through the enemy lines. We usually consider it something in the natural to obtain or overcome. Not so!! Our warfare is spiritual.

Jesus told Peter, "Simon, Simon, behold satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not..." (Luke22:31-32)  I couldn't help but think, our faith is the substance that remains.

In Hebrews12 we read (26)...Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. (27) And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (28)Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved (shaken), let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (29) For our God is a consuming fire.

The sifting process and the refining process are very similar in that, what is of value is separated from that which is not. In Numbers 16 we are told of Korah's rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Moses told Korah, "Tomorrow the Lord will show who are His..." And it happened that the earth opened up; Korah, all his family, and all they owned went down into the pit and the earth closed up. (Is it possible this was an earthquake?) Then a fire came out from the Lord and consumed those who had sided with Korah and had rebelled against God.

This is already long, but there is more God spoke to me. As I drove to work yesterday morning, I was praying for our church and pastor and those in need.. Then I began to cry and repent before God. When I had finished my Lord said to me, "I have reserved you unto that glorious day. You have only just begun to see what I have for you. Stand strong, do not be deceived. Your enemy the devil is very busy collecting souls for the final day. He shall not overcome (prevail). I am victorious already, as are you, for you are in Me and I am in you. Stand strong, wield the sword. Be brave. Fight the battle but remember it is Mine. Do not fear. Stand strong. Like-minded shall join like-minded all across this nation, of good and of evil. Stand strong IN ME. Do not fear. Speak the Word, be courageous. The end is soon, but not yet. Time is so short. Be aware, things are coming on the earth and will intensify; earthquakes and pestilence, signs and wonders. You have the truth, speak it forth and do not fear. I AM COMING! Guard your heart. The world will seek to fill it with lies and deception. The news will be full of falsehoods and deceptions. Keep My Word. NOTHING over-rides the truth of My Word. Dig deeper. Stand firm for the days are evil."

Things are already beginning to intensify. I read in one article on the Oklahoma quake that they have already gone from 50 earthquakes a year in 2009 to 1,047 last year.  (Fox News)

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:28

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Power In Us

First of all, I want to thank each of you who have left me comments. I'm aware of the people that I know who read, but I have wondered if anyone else is reading or even finding this little blog. I have prayed that our Lord will send those He chooses to My Dwelling Place which, by the way, is Him. But I'm sure you know that!!

This morning I sat down with my bible, journal, and devotionals. I meditated on Romans 8:26-We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. I believe God is showing me certain things because He wants me to intercede.

The Spirit of God spoke to me in church Sunday morning. I wondered if it was for the church or just for me. His word was, "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, the power to loose and to bind. Why do you bind My Spirit when you should be loosing Him into your life, into your circumstances? You wave the palms and shout Hosanna, then nail Me to the cross. I have risen, I am on My heavenly throne, I have given you power over all the power of the enemy. Today I loose you to move; to come to Me. I declare you are free."

There are parts of this my Lord has been speaking to me over and over. It's like He's saying to me, "I want you to really grasp this." As I've read this time after time, I began to realize how often I pray for someone or ask God for something, then I turn right around and speak negative words because my thoughts and feelings are negative. Somebody, please, put a bit in my mouth so I can turn this horse around!! We tend to walk by sight rather than by faith. Lord, how I need to turn that around.

James 3:3 speaks of putting a bit in the horse's mouth to control the direction they take. He goes on to tell us just how powerful our words are. They can direct our lives. How much differently we would speak if we really got hold of that truth!! I have the power to encourage or discourage, to bless or curse, to build up or tear down, to speak life or to speak death. That is an overwhelming responsibility but it belongs to every believer.

The second part of what my Lord spoke to me was connected to what He is trying to teach me. "You wave the palms and shout, "Hosanna." I am a very exuberant worshipper. I prefer to wave the banners (more on that later), but lately can only wave my hands, thus "the palms." Hosanna is the cry, "Lord save" or "Lord help, I pray." And is also interpreted as, "Praise to You." We know that some of those who cried out and worshipped Jesus as He entered Jerusalem, also cried out to crucify Him.

 As I prayed about what this was saying, He revealed to me that this too is a result of our words. We pray and cry out to our Lord over our circumstances, we worship Him openly, then turn around and crucify Him by speaking out negative or unbelieving words. WE tie His hands, so to speak. Our words hold the power of binding and loosing. He then reminded me, "I have risen, I am on My heavenly throne, I have given YOU power over all the power of the enemy."

Jesus has given us authority and power because He has given us His Name and His Word. His Word is the two-edged sword coming out of His mouth in Revelation 1. This is confirmed in Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12. Our power is God's Word. So apparently the enemy's power would be his words which we know are nothing but lies. Yet we often get in agreement with him by speaking what he is saying to us rather that believing what God has said.

Well, I keep saying "we" but there may be some out there who aren't in my boat, if you don't have this problem, please pray diligently for those of us who do!! That means you never ever speak anything contrary to the Word of God or believe any lie of the enemy. I only pray that I could obtain that in this lifetime.

The last thing my Lord spoke to me was, "Today I loose you to move, to come to Me. I declare you free." I just had to look up the definition of LOOSE--to free or release from anything that binds or restrains, having freedom of movement. Oh, and the definition of FREE--not imprisoned or enslaved, having liberty because where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (freedom), not being controlled by obligation to or the will of another/others, not being controlled or dominated by another/others... (These are some definitions I chose and worded my own way.) I have so been bound up and restrained by the opinions and judgement of others.

The church is supposed to be setting people free, yet, I am finding more and more that they are binding and putting restrictions on those whom Jesus has loosed. There are many in the church who are bound up by religious mindsets and their own ideologies. They attempt to force what they believe or don't believe upon others, mirroring the Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus' day. Jesus said they "strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel." In Mark 7 Jesus chastises the Pharisees over the way they forced their traditions upon others. They considered their traditions to be equal to the writings of the Old Testament.

Our pastor began his sermon Sunday night with the words, "You are coming out!!"  2 Corinthians 6:16-18-And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We are the temple of God, He dwells IN us and we dwell IN Him. His Holy Spirit lives in our temple and prays in us and through us. Even when we don't know what to say, He is searching our heart and the heart of our Father and weaving it into spirit prayer because our minds cannot grasp all God desires for us or all God wants to do for us. He is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all we could ask or think according to the power that works in us. (Ephesians 3:20)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Letting Go

 Autumn comes and goes each year in a whirl of activity and falling leaves. I have always enjoyed the changing of the leaves. But this year, the fall leaves have captivated me. I don't remember them ever being this vibrant. I have tried to capture it on film but, unfortunately, I'm not much of a photographer.

I am ready for this change; this new season. I need a refreshing in spirit, mind, and soul.  I have been aware of a weariness and if I'm not careful discouragement can set in. Toward the end of the year, I look back over my shoulder and see the unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and even some unanswered prayers. But fall reminds me of the harvest of God's goodness, and His provision and care for me. I have SO MUCH to be thankful for. If I were to weigh the good and bad of my life in the balances, the good would by far outweigh the bad. But we all have our weaknesses.

Yesterday I was talking to my Mom on the way home from work. It was raining hard. The water droplets running across the windshield, matched those streaming down my face as I shared my heartaches and struggles with her. The past few days, I had noticed that the leaves seemed to be fading. I wasn't ready for them to dry up and blow away just yet. The rain began to slow, and as I topped one of the foothills, I saw out across the valley and it took my breath away.

In that moment, God revealed a precious truth to me. Some things are much more beautiful when they are dying. And the rain....the rain revived the brilliancy of the leaves. I realize that I am dying! I am dying to myself and as the inner rain falls from my eyes, God is healing some deep wounds that I thought had dried up and blown away long ago. They were still clinging to me and it was time to let go. But first He wanted to color those things with the beauty of love. His love, and the love of my Mother and my husband.  I'm ready to move forward. God in His wisdom knew He had to remove the old so that He could bring in the new. Now, when my season changes again to spring, there will be room for me to blossom and bear fruit.

This morning, as I drove to work, I was praying for favor to be upon my husband in a job interview.  I kept repeating, "We are blessed and highly favored. We ARE blessed and highly favored." Then it hit me, God's favor doesn't always look like we think it should.

We pray for the house to sell--it doesn't.
We pray for the new position--we don't get it.
We pray for change--everything stays the same.
We pray to move--yet we remain.
We pray to stay--yet we are moved.

And I realize, GOD IS ALL IN IT!! His fingerprints are all over my life, my circumstances, all over ME. It IS His favor because HE orders our steps. (Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 37:23, Jer. 10:23) We can pray, and plan, and obtain good Christian council on a matter, BUT GOD directs our steps.

In my very first bible, my Mother wrote this verse: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I have seen that this applies to every situation in life. Trust and acknowledge God, in all things!

So what does it mean to acknowledge God? It's much more than saying, "I know You are here." Acknowledge does mean to admit or accept that He exists and that He is real and true. But it also means to respond to Him, to receive His answer, His wisdom, His timing, etc. It also means to show appreciation and to express thanksgiving. We are to give thanks in everything: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us. (1 Thess.5:18)

God tells me in His word, "Be anxious for nothing..." He constantly reminds me no matter where I am, no matter what plans I make, no matter what road I choose it is He who orders my steps. Therefore, I can release all my hopes, all my dreams, and all my prayers to Him, even as the trees release their colorful leaves, to fall and dance and swirl at His feet.

Yes, I am letting go. But I may just grab a rake and scoop up around myself all the wonderful color of my life; all the love, and all the blessings, and all the wonders of God. Then I think I'll jump in the pile and toss handfuls into the wind, letting the Spirit spread them far and wide. And just maybe some of the love and blessings I have received will touch the life of someone else.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In The Heat Of The Battle--Part 2

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon to use against the enemy. I know that seems like a strange statement, but it is true! Read what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2. Paul is urging the church to operate in  forgiveness, restoration, and love toward someone. Paul tells them in verse 9 that these things are a test of their obedience. Then he goes on to say in verses 10-11, "To whom you forgive any thing, I forgive also...Lest satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

His devices are his purposes, his schemes, and his plans. We need to be aware of the point of his attack against us. It's easy to figure out; what is that thing or that thought that is bringing you anxiety and unrest? What is tormenting you? What are you afraid of? Fear involves torment. Therefore, if we are tormented about something, we are in fear. (1 John 4:18) ...There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear... Only the love of God is perfect and can obliterate our fear(s).

Opposition will often come through people. They are not the enemy but they can be used as instruments of warfare by the spiritual forces of evil. When your hostility is directed toward another person, it takes your focus off the deeper spiritual dimensions of your conflict. I have found that when we focus on a person as the enemy that satan is using you against one another. He is killing two birds with one stone, as he lines us up in his sights. If we are focused on  fighting each other, his evil plan is going undetected.

All the while, as you are in opposition with someone, the person you are battling may be in need of salvation or spiritual deliverance and you don't even realize it. However, if you are feeling hostility toward someone, God may be using them to point out your weakness or some deep issue and He is wanting to deal with it.

When we seem to be in conflict with someone else, the best thing to do is to immediately and sincerely pray for that person and the situation. Allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to what is real and true. Ask God to reveal what part you are playing in the situation. Don't be deceived, but be alert to the spiritual warfare going on around you and/or within you. It is real and has the capability and power to become a destructive force in your life and the lives of those you love. The enemy deceives people into siding with him in his attack against another person. Maybe even you.

Unforgiveness and bitterness is poison to the heart, and the soul. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to uproot these from our lives. One way to determine if you have bitterness and unforgiveness is to listen to what is coming out of your mouth. Jesus remarks, "Oh generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matt. 12:34).  It's no wonder satan is called a serpent (or viper) for poison is pumped out through his mouth. He has been named the accuser of the brethren, a murderer, and the father of lies. James 3 has so much to say about the tongue and Proverbs 18:21 tells us that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." What do your words tell you about what is in your heart?

Don't be discouraged if you feel you are losing the battle, we have the promise that, "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) Jesus has already defeated our enemy. "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Rev.1:18) AND, He has given us power... over ALL the power of the enemy.(Luke 10:19)

This is what I have been living. The battle has been intense. I told my Mom that I feel like I have been buffeted by waves of the sea. As soon as one passed over me, the next one hit before I could even regain my footing. I felt as if I were drowning in my own thoughts and emotions. It made my head spin to the point I felt I was no longer effective.  I continued in prayer and reading the Word of God, but I was forgetting the powerful force of the spoken Word. I wasn't speaking or acting like a triumphant child of God. I sure wasn't walking in victory. I'm not going to tell you everything is perfect right now. I can only tell you, I am taking the next step in my walk. And, no matter how hard things become, I believe in the love of God and that He never lets go!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Heat Of The Battle

It's not just me feeling the heat of the battle these days. I see it in the faces of those around me, I hear it in their voices and in the words they speak. We stand, stunned by the onslaught of the enemy's fiery darts of poison. He knows where to strike us to bring his desired result. He has studied us for generations, he knows our weaknesses. "So, why don't we know his weaknesses?" you may ask. The truth is WE DO!!

His weakness is the Word of God, the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony. Yet, it seems so difficult sometimes to USE the weapons of our warfare. How quickly we forget to raise our Sword of the Word as we duck and run and cry, "Why?"

We desire to be like David standing against the giant, Goliath, with our slingshot. But when the time comes, we are the Israelites hiding in the bushes behind the rocks and shaking in our shoes. All the while our enemy is roaring like a lion and laughing at us as he slings his lying threats. Yes, we read that David placed one stone in his sling and took down the giant, but what came forth first was the Truth. David TOLD his enemy, "I come to you in the Name of the Lord of hosts the God of the armies of Israel..."  He loosed the Spirit of God that was within him through the spoken word.

We are IN Christ, we have the liberty to use His Name and His Name is THE Name above all names.  Next, David spoke out what his intentions were. He told the enemy what he was about to do, not in his own power, but by God's power. Then he spoke God's Word to the enemy, "The battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." (1 Samuel 17) It is "Not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts." God enables us to do anything by His Holy Spirit.

I have a confession to make. I have been one of those Israelites these past few weeks. I kept trying to "suck up" courage, but then before I knew it, I was quickly deflated by one of those fiery darts and collapsed into a rubbery puddle of uselessness. What the heck happened?

I lost my focus. The enemy had me so focused on me that I lost sight of God. How? Through his threats. And through my own thoughts and emotions. Our thoughts create our emotions. That just came to me, but it's true!! 2 Cor. 10:4 tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the flesh) but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ.

This all concerns the mind. A stronghold is a fortified place which can indicate a way of thinking. It concerns our opinions, prejudices, and viewpoints. The imagination is the part of the mind where ideas, thoughts, and images are formed. A "high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God" are from the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and the spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph.6:12) And then, of course, he tells us to take our thoughts captive--to the obedience of Christ. Even our thoughts have to obey Christ. The only way that will happen is to get His Word into our hearts and minds. But, we all know that, right? How soon we forget. (Okay, ME, ME, how soon I forget!!)

I was struggling and fighting and crying out, "God, I can't do this,  if YOU don't do this, it's not gonna happen!!"  Do you know what He told me? He said, "I already did!"


Y'all, there is so much more I want to share so there will be a part 2 (and maybe even more).  I'll let you think on this while I go back and re-read the book of Colossians. I want to challenge you to join me, it's a short book and could have just copied the whole thing here. But hey, it's already written!!