Romans 1:16

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…

     In Romans, Chapter 1, Paul is speaking of the exalted power of the Gospel, and when properly understood, I believe it speaks to an even bigger concept than the Church has realized up til now.  We have all been taught that Jesus came to die for our sins, so that we might escape the wrath of God by receiving Him as our Savior.  The benefit of that decision is exchanging a life of sin that leads to Death and the eternal absence of God for a life lived in Jesus’s imputed righteousness and the gift of spending eternity in Heaven with the Father and Son. Does that do a pretty good job of what the Body of Christ is believing?  It is all correct, without a doubt — but there’s so much more!
     For those of us who are willing to hear and see what the Word of God is actually saying, that picture takes on new dimensions and significance.  If you read the first few verses of Romans 1, you see Paul laying out the foundation of our faith … the Gospel of God prophesied [through the prophets] that the Son of God would be born as a descendant of David in the flesh; that Jesus Christ was declared the Son of God [as a result of] power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Holy Spirit; that we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all people for His name’s sake.
     I’m afraid we might have reduced the real magnitude of these verses to a simplified “salvation message”.  And I believe that is borne out by our limited understanding of verse 16, in which we don’t see the big picture of what “the power of God for salvation” really means.  Let me see if I can explain …
     Are we guilty of reading this verse from the standpoint of the Reformation, which preached God’s mercy to bring us into freedom from sin and His wrath?  In other words, are we interpreting this word “salvation” as strictly meaning the escape from eternal damnation in the Day of Judgment, and only seeing the work of the Holy Spirit as He relates to conversion?  
     If you are seeing with newly opened spiritual eyes, I hope that you are discerning salvation in the larger scope of its purposes for the Kingdom.  As I have continually written, it is my opinion that the Church has lost the sense of God’s Power in us, and doesn’t have a very good sense that Jesus came to preach the Good News about the influence of that power [through us] in this dimension called earth.  Furthermore, we don’t have a clear grasp that those Kingdom purposes are about forgiveness, and about having the ability and the authority to communicate with God (as Jesus did) so that we can actually be in communication with God’s enabled power to heal the sick, for instance.  We don’t understand that He desires to use us by releasing His power through us to cast out demons, and even raise people from the dead, if He tells us that is His will.  
     We have not been taught that the Holy Spirit [in us] enables us to see in the spirit, and hear in the spirit so that we can implement our Father’s plans and will — just as Jesus did in His incarnate state.  He showed us that is possible!  And this is the fullest sense of that word SALVATION which includes forgiveness, healing, deliverance and the redemption of “the poor in spirit.”
     For too long, we have believed that the power of God worked independently from us, and we saw Him as some distant Benefactor or Judge [depending on our circumstances]. Remember, God identifies Himself as the “I AM”. He is not the “I WAS” or the “I WILL BE”.  The same actions of healing and deliverance from demons that He exhibited through the Apostles are to be acted out in faith and obedience by us. 
     When we proclaim the Gospel Message, are we making sure that we know the full extent of that Good News?  That it is not limited to eternal life in Heaven, but extends to daily healing and deliverance in the here and now?  We are called to proclaim that Gospel to the ends of the earth and until Jesus returns. But can we truly say we are fully proclaiming that Gospel if it does not include the signs and miracles that Jesus modeled during His preaching?  
     I know that this is probably outside the purview of mainstream Christianity, but it is precisely because this message has been neglected that the Church is powerless today against the forces coming against our families, the culture, and our government.  It is time that the Body of Christ quit trying to come to terms with the Enemy and go back to the fundamentals of Jesus’s message… He clearly tells us that He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him.  All we have to do is read the Scripture through spiritual eyes and see what He did.  That is the true Gospel and the full sense of how the Father views salvation.  That is the power Paul is talking about; it is the length and width and height and depth of God’s power and love to deliver us all from every kind of evil. That is the picture of His Kingdom and Power and Glory that He wants us to see and to do!

Now, Let’s Get Started!

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     If you’ve been following the last few blog posts then you know where I’m going.  Hopefully, you have dived into the Word and really studied all that Jesus had to say about what the Kingdom of God looks like on this earth. And if you truly believe that the Power of the Father resides in you, and that you are a Son or Daughter, Prince or Princess of the Kingdom, then all the deceiving lies of the Enemy will be eliminated. These are the lies he has told you to make you afraid, and caused you to deny your position in the Kingdom.

     So, if you can step out from behind the wall that Satan built between you and the Power and Authority you have been given, you should be asking, What’s the next step?  All I can do is tell you the path that God took me down.  Your path may look a little different, but we should all end up at the same destination … being bold in declaring ourselves as witnesses of another world; in other words, demonstrating what it looks like when the power of Heaven invades this earth through us, the ambassadors of the King!
     There are many modern-day pastors and leaders who are rock solid in their Biblical understanding of our relationship with God, and our commission from Jesus to do the works He did.  I have no problem in recommending studies by Curry Blake or Bill Johnson on how to follow Jesus’s instructions regarding our Commission and His model for destroying the works of the devil. Others such as Dr. Charles Kraft and Dr. Kurt Payne offer exceptional models for Deliverance.  Taken together, it all adds up to HEALING, a word that encompasses all that Jesus did to alleviate the human condition: Preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people; and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them (Matthew 4:23-24)   
     Search those names on YouTube and watch every video you can of their teachings on both physical and inner (spiritual) healing. Scripture is the foundation of their teachings and they will help you overcome any of your “religious sacred cows” that are blocking you from stepping out in faith. Once you have spiritually discerned that all this is God’s Truth, then I would recommend that you make an appointment to get delivered.  You don’t want anything between you and God that the Enemy can exploit. THEN, just start!  Begin with your family and friends.  I guarantee that there is someone you know who is physically in pain. Ask them if you can pray for them and lay hands on them to release the power of Heaven into their pain.  Just step out in faith and obedience and watch the Father work.  If nothing happens, do it again.  It is your Faith that will make their healing a reality.  If you believe that what the Father did for Jesus, He is also willing to do for you, then the power will be released.  God wants to work with us and through us!
   

 
     If you have a family member struggling with a spiritual issue, both Dr. Kraft and Dr. Payne offer easy-to-follow models for Inner Healing and Deliverance.  As long as you step out in obedience, knowing that it is the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who are doing the work in the person (not you) and that you are Their instrument to see the person spiritually healed, then God will guide you to success.  He wants to use you (just as He used Jesus, and then the Disciples) to see people healed. He will not give you more power than you can handle, and if you will listen for His voice and His instruction, He will give you more authority and more power as you proceed.

     The bottom line is that in pursuing our Biblical Commission, we are really seeking more of our God.  At some point, we have to let go of our fears of deception and our personal safety and chase after Him with abandon, willing to lose ourselves in order to gain Him.  As Bill Johnson says, “We must believe that our God is big enough to keep us safe in our quest for more of Him.  Practically speaking, many Christian’s devil is bigger than their God… It’s an issue of trust. Our hearts must be turned completely towards the One who is able to keep us from falling”. 
     And I know that recommending watching YouTube videos or reading books other than the Bible may not be the normal route for growing our faith and obedience, but I think we learn best from people who are actually doing the works Jesus did and bearing fruit from their labor.  I mean, what have we really learned from the theories of classroom Christians who never walk out their faith?  If you are convinced (and I hope you are!) that we should be doing what Jesus did, then it only makes sense to study how those who have had success in these areas are doing it.
     I don’t know about you, but I want to work in the Father’s miracle realm like Jesus, and experience what He experienced.  I want those personal encounters with God and the Holy Spirit! I want to see the lame walk, and the blind see, and the dead raised!  And I want the power that can make that happen flowing through me!  I want to see in the Spirit the way the Apostle John did, and I want Paul’s “Damascus Road” moment in my life.  I want the deepest intimacy I can get with my Father, and I want to share it with others and see their lives impacted in the same way, so that they can go out and share it with more people.  I want to see Earth overlaid with the fragrant atmosphere and scent of Heaven. I believe that was what Jesus was walking out during His short time in this world.  And look what He started!  Now it’s our time and our turn!  Are you willing to follow His clear Biblical instructions? Then, what are you waiting for?
Psalm 119:10    “With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments!”

It’s Not Enough!

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     Today I’m going to be very bold; actually blunt and honest more accurately describes my attitude.  And I’m going to start by pointing the finger at myself.  I have been writing this blog for nearly six years, all with the purpose of directing people towards God.  The first few years I was still focused on this world, combining a message of how to survive the tactics of men and the schemes of the Prince of this world to destroy us.  The last couple of years, I have clearly heard God’s instructions to focus on Him and His will to see His Kingdom be realized on earth as it is in Heaven.
     I have listened to the Holy Spirit and spoken to you about our Power and Authority; and shouted that we serve a Supernatural God. I have desperately wanted both fellow Believers and the Unsaved to grasp the magnitude of the God we serve and what He expects from us.  And, yes, I know that I have been moderately successful in getting that message across — and maybe there are some people who have had those “Aha!” moments, or even began examining their theology and Biblical worldview.  But, I know that I’ve not done enough!!!

      It’s not enough to provide you with food for thought, if it doesn’t result in a manifestation of God’s Power here on earth.  Just as it’s not enough for my husband, Mark, to do in-depth Bible studies whereby he teaches people in Colorado and Ohio about what Jesus meant when He spoke of the Kingdom of God.  And it’s not enough for teachers and preachers in the Church buildings to “make a difference” in their classes or sanctuaries for one hour on Sunday mornings.  Yes, in all these instances people’s minds are being expanded about what the Bible tells us about our God; they are receiving new concepts of the Bigness of God and new ideas about who He is.  But is that what Jesus demanded His disciples to do after He was gone?  Is it what He demands of us?
     In Matthew 28, we receive our Commission from the Lord:  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe [do] all that I commanded you.  So, now comes a very important question that I had to ask myself … Where is the fruit from my labor? Are the people who I might have influenced through this blog doing the things that Jesus did and taught His disciples to do?  Are the people who my husband is leading in Bible study, or the students in that Sunday School class, Small Group, or members of the congregation sitting in the pews going out and converting people? Are they baptizing people in Jesus’s Name? Are they laying hands on the sick, or casting out demons, or raising the dead, or discipling others in this Kingdom work?  If the answer is “No”, then are we doing what Jesus commissioned us to do? Even our “home church” group is not measuring up to Jesus’s instruction.
     I will concede that there is a real need to be educating and teaching people in the Truths of the Bible, and the Gospel of the Kingdom. “Teaching” is specifically mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 as a gift from Jesus to build up the Body of Christ, and to bring Believers to maturity in their knowledge of the Son of God.  But we seem to have skipped over one very important reason that the gift of teaching was given — to equip the saints for the ministry; a ministry that is exemplified by the fullness of Christ; that is, the full measure of all His powers. Teaching is supposed to result in Believers doing the things Jesus did, not just knowing about them! To that end, teaching is not enough!
     I will tell you that God is making that point very clear to me — head knowledge is simply not enough! I agree with American Evangelist, D L Moody, who said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives”. If we are going to make an impact [and change] our cities, our neighborhoods, our communities — why stop there? — change the world, then we need to be doing more than educating people.  We need to be exhibiting the Power of God.  That’s what Jesus did.  He brought Heaven to earth with signs and wonders, and He said that signs [and wonders] would accompany those who believed His message about the Kingdom of God.  And those signs would include healing, casting out demons, and raising the dead.  If we, in the Body of Christ, are truly making an impact in our labor for the Lord, then we should be seeing this evidence among those we are influencing.  So, why aren’t we seeing it happen?
     Timothy says in these last days we will have the appearance of godliness, but will deny its power. That’s what I’m seeing.  The Body of Christ has either been convinced that signs and wonders stopped with the Apostles [which makes this belief akin to cessationism], or they fear signs and wonders because of the possibility of being deceived.  So, in their fearfulness, they deny the power of miracles, healing, and casting out demons, and replace them with religious traditions, church activities, and even Bible study. They become satisfied with knowledge alone, instead of a genuine encounter with the Power of God Almighty.

     We are all created for greater exploits than expanding our minds and being able to explain our Bible.  After all, I think we would all agree that there are very real powers of darkness in this world who aren’t holding back from the authority they’ve been given to exhibit their influence.  I have seen God’s Power first-hand in the Deliverance Ministry that the Lord has brought me and my husband.  But think about this — if we would seek an anointing of the Power and Authority that the Father gave Jesus, and which He then gave the Apostles and all who would believe, we could actually encounter the presence of God [just as they did] and defeat the ruling influence of Satan and hell.
     I believe that my husband and I have witnessed the Power of God on only a small scale. Yes, we have seen people’s lives changed as they encounter Jesus in a Deliverance session and allow Him to heal their spiritual and inner wounds. And we have partnered with Jesus to cast out demons from tormented souls.  We have witnessed to people and seen real conversions, and baptized new believers in His Name.  But it’s not enough!  Our discipleship needs to result in these Believers then going out and exercising God’s Power and doing all that Jesus commanded.
     We need to end the powerlessness of the Body of Christ and make God’s signs and wonders the focus and ambition of our lives.  Head knowledge only takes us so far.  When we can effect real change in a person’s life by showing them God’s love for them and the salvation message; by baptizing them; by healing their infirmity, or casting out a demon — and yes, even raising someone from the dead — then we can reflect the true image of Christ to the world, and God’s will is truly being done.  We have long been told that we represent Christ; but what if we did as Pastor Bill Johnson suggests, and actually re-present Him? What if we returned to a gospel of God’s Power, as well as one of His Love?
     I no longer want to simply know that I have the Power and Authority from Jesus.  I want to exhibit it in my life every moment of every day.  I want the fullness of what it means to be a child of God.  I want the full manifestation of the Holy Spirit so that I can truly co-labor with Christ. I want God to be glorified through His power that is evident in me.  I want His power to be released in the works of my life so that repentance, change, and the desire to do the works of Jesus come into peoples’ lives through real encounters with God.  As Jesus was, so I want to be!

Matthew 9:8     But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.


     

Resurrection and Rebirth

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     You might notice something different about my blog today… the Holy Spirit has been showing me that it is time to be my authentic self and reveal my real name.  Back when I began writing this blog in December of 2011 (it’s hard to imagine that it’s been that long ago!) I was writing from a different spiritual perspective.  Although I have always written for God, then my focus was on the experiences of this world and how my faith in God affected my interpretation of my worldview. Therefore, at the time, I thought it best to write under a pen name that invoked my self-proclaimed purpose [to awaken the sleeping masses and “ring the bell”] to get their attention. After all, who would be drawn to read a blog by a no-name woman, with no credibility. Thus, I came up with a name that described what I was trying to accomplish, and Belle Ringer was born.
    Now, more than five years later, my focus is on the spiritual realm, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and my higher calling to be a true Child of God.  What happens in this world is secondary; although it still very much influences how I serve my God and fellow man — I am in this world to reflect the image of Christ and to continue His works; but I am not of this world. It is time to speak in truth and genuineness… and therefore, time to be my real self … Pam Kohler.  Granted, to the world my name still holds no credibility.  But to my God, who has known me since before the foundation of the world, it is who I honestly am; and I am not ashamed to proclaim Him to this world, using my legal name.

     But I also wanted to honor all the people who have trusted me and my husband, Mark — people who have come to us in their true identities as hurting souls; people with spirits so low and tormented that we were often their last hope of getting free.  Make no mistake — these people came to us not because they thought we could save them; but because somehow they knew our faith could support them until they could find Jesus on their own.  And we always made it clear that it is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who do the redemptive work — not us!
     We are no different than anyone else. We have our own stories of sin-filled lives and emotional traumas. We still have to fight to keep from believing the lies that the Father of Lies would like to dump on us.  But God took us from our ordinary, worldly lives into an extraordinary spiritual relationship with Him, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  It has been a step-by-step process of seeing Them unpeeled like an onion; layer after layer bringing us into newfound freedoms from the bondage of the devil. And it is work that needs to be done in the lives of everyone Jesus created.
     It is rewarding work, yet at times exhaustive. We have seen people rise from the depths of torment to live new, resurrected lives of joy in the Lord.  We have also seen people slide back into torment when they don’t take responsibility for keeping their freedom.  We have seen Unsaved people grab hold of Jesus, weep at the presence of the Holy Spirit, and soar like an eagle with their newfound faith.  At the same time, it has been our experience that lifelong Christians are the toughest ones to let Jesus heal their inner wounds.  The years of Church doctrine, man-made traditions, and flawed theology must all be broken down before the Saved are willing to let their spirits meet with Jesus. And we have, sadly, lost a young man who loved Jesus so deeply, accepted Jesus’s forgiveness, yet could not forgive himself because he believed the devil’s lie that he was unworthy of the Lord’s sacrifice for him. We just ran out of time to help him. That day, Jesus wept, and so did we.
     The Enemy may think he scored a victory, and that we will be convinced that we are waging a losing [spiritual] war — that we can’t get to enough people to introduce them to the healing power of Jesus — that the numbers of hurting souls are too great, and the scales are balanced in his favor.  But it is in honor of that young man, who trusted us enough to reveal his true self and allow us to help him pour out his pain to Jesus, that we will continue to battle the Darkness until our last breath.
     Because with every one of the people God has brought into our lives, we know without a doubt that Satan is real and spiritual attacks are genuine.  Whether you are Saved, Unsaved, or Ambivalent you are a target of the roaring lion who is looking for someone to devour.  But you only have to receive Jesus, the Son of the Living God, into your heart, believing that His death on the Cross paid for your sins, and you can have the hope of a resurrected life, just as He was resurrected to sit on the right hand of the throne of God.  There is no sin that cannot be covered by His blood!
     So, it is with extreme humbleness that I offer my authentic self to you, the readers, and I thank you for sticking by someone whom you did not really know through all these years.  I pledge to you that I will continue to reveal the Truth as my Lord and the Holy Spirit reveal it to me, and that I will always be here for those who need a listening ear and a willing heart. The [Spiritual] Harvest is plentiful, and the Lord can count on me and my husband to be faithful workers in the field of souls … right to the very end.  God Bless You All!

Colossians 1:29    “For in this I also labor and fight with the help of the Power that is given to me”. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

John 15:1-5

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“I am the true vine, … I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing”.

     These are the opening words of John 15, a chapter that is very likely familiar to most Christians.  It speaks of Jesus as the vine, and our Father as the vinedresser; of branches — both those that bear fruit, and those who don’t.  It presents the image of pruned branches that grow to produce more fruit, and branches that dry up and are cast into the fire where they are burned. And throughout it all, Jesus talks about abiding … He in the Father; us in Him, and He in us.  Yes, we are familiar with this Chapter, but do we know what He was really saying, and why He picked this particular imagery?
     First of all, I wonder how many discern that this metaphor of the vine, vinedresser, and branches is part of the discussion Jesus has with His disciples during His last Passover supper?  And that ultimately, He is disclosing to them the desired relationship of Believers to Himself and the Father?
     When I researched the attributes and the actions of a Vinedresser, it began to be clearer to me why He used these symbols. A vinedresser is more than a mere farmer. Grapes are more than an annual crop. The vinedresser’s grape vines remain with him for decades. He comes to know each one in a personal way, much like a shepherd with his sheep. He knows how the vine is faring from year to year and which ones are more productive or vigorous than others. He knows what they respond to and what special care certain one’s need. Every vine has its own personality. And the vinedresser comes to know it over the years. The vinedresser cares for each vine and nurtures it, pruning it the appropriate amount at the appropriate times, fertilizing it, lifting its branches from the ground and propping them or tying them to the trellis, and taking measures to protect them from insects and disease.
     But it becomes even more interesting when we note that the nation of Israel is often symbolized as “a vine” in the Old Testament.  Psalm 80:7-19 pictures Israel as the vine “God brought out of Egypt”; depicting the Father as the gardener, and picturing Israel in a state of judgment and destruction, calling to God to be restored. Isaiah’s “Song of the Vineyard”, in Chapter 5, verses 1-7 clearly identifies the house of Israel as “the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts”, and the “men of Judah as His delightful plant”. Once again, Israel is depicted with great optimism and potential, but ultimately judged because of moral and spiritual failure. 
     Moreover, being in Jerusalem during the Festival of Passover, Jesus and His disciples would have observed the unmistakable imagery of the vine when they visited the Temple. I found it interesting that Josephus, the First Century Jewish scholar, wrote of this great golden vine that hung over the entrance to the Jerusalem temple. Josephus describes it: “The gate opening into the building was, as I say, completely overlaid with gold, as was the whole wall around it. It had, moreover, above it those golden vines, from which depended grape-clusters as tall as a man.”
     Further evidence in the Old Testament of this imagery can be found in Hosea 10:1-2, where Israel is depicted as “an empty vine”; throughout Ezekiel (Chapters 15, 17, and 19) as a rebellious vine, whose root was plucked up, and fruit devoured; and in Jeremiah 2:21, as a once “choice” or “noble” vine, which has turned into a wild, degenerate, and foreign vine. So, when Jesus refers to Himself as the “true” vine, His meaning would have been unmistakeable to these original hearers. 
     They would have been very familiar with the idea of the house of Israel as the “choicest” or “chosen” vine of God. But they also would have caught a specific use of grammar that escapes our 21st Century understanding.  To begin with, He uses the definite article to describe Himself. (The definite article, in grammar, is used to refer to a particular member of a group or class. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned or it may be something uniquely specified). Thereby, Jesus is saying, “I am the vine, not a vine”.
     Jesus’s use of “true” to describe Himself as “the vine” God cares for, is pointing to the nation’s failure, but also to the fact of His own good and authentic, genuine relationship with God. Where the nation failed God, Jesus was the complete embodiment of everything they were supposed to be. This same concept is evident in the first chapters of Matthew. There, Matthew describes Jesus’ early life and experiences before beginning His ministry as a parallel to Israel’s history … Israel came out of Egypt to the Promised Land; so did Jesus. Israel was tempted for forty years in the wilderness, and failed. Jesus was tempted for forty days, and did not fail. He was clearly proclaiming His Messianic identity.
     But we cannot fail to understand the rest of this parable of the vine and the vinedresser, and how it pertains to us.  While the Old Testament passages I have noted tie the image of the vine to the nation of Israel, Jesus changes the perspective. He doesn’t focus on the nation of Israel and what it should have been; on the nation’s sins and responsibility. Instead, He shifts the focus to His disciples bearing fruit.  He wants to emphasize the relationship Believers have with the Father and the resulting fruitfulness that brings. Thus, His real focus is on the nature of the vine. 
     And since He is the vine, what is His nature? I believe the most concise description that Jesus gives us of His nature, is found in Matthew 28:18 … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  That word “power” is the Greek word exousia and is defined as “in the sense of ability, and privilege; force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery, superhuman, delegated influence; the power of authority”. That is what the Father gave to Jesus, so that He might be endued (empowered) to accomplish His Father’s work here on earth. 
     And since we are the branches that are supposed to grow and produce fruit from that vine, what is our nature to be?  Jesus tells us in this analogy of the vine … He abides in us; He and His nature are present in us.  We abide in Him; we press into Him until we become His nature. And the result? We bear much fruit!  But let us not get too full of pride. He makes it very clear that this exousia power and authority is only available through Him.  Apart from Him, we are unable to accomplish anything. But by acknowledging and exercising His nature within us, we have the power and authority to help grow the vine by producing more fruit — “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
     We can do that because He is “with us always”; abiding in us. We are the branches that grow from the vine; branches that the Vinedresser nurtures, cares for, and prunes, and protects. We can perpetuate “The Vine” and His nature by demonstrating His nature that is in us — doing the things He did and accomplishing the works He achieved for the Father’s Kingdom. This important passage in the Bible is more than an interesting allegory.  It is showing us who we are to be!
     
     
     


     

Power and Authority; Signs and Wonders

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     A couple of days ago, I was deep in my Bible, studying all the places that Jesus talked about Power and Authority — His and the Father’s, and ours.  As usual, I always end up back at Luke 10:19, one of the most compelling verses in the New Testament … Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you (NASB).
     Depending on the version of the Bible you use, you might read, Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you. (Amplified), OR, Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you (KJV). See the differences? The NASB and Amplified versions tell us that Jesus has given us authority over the power of the Enemy.  The KJV version says He gives us power over the power of the Enemy.

     Since I want to understand Jesus’s Truth, and the implications it has for me in acting out my Faith, I needed to determine what words were used in the original manuscripts and what their meanings were at the time the Word was first translated.  As I followed the word trail, I received some surprising revelations.  Let me share…
     My first question was, are our English translations equating authority and power? Are they the same? When determining what the Bible is telling us, it is not enough to read our modern translations. We must discern the meaning and context at the time it was written.  In this case, I wanted to know why “authority” and “power” seemed interchangeable [among the versions] when it came to our rule over the serpents and scorpions; but all versions were in agreement that the rule of the enemy was always called “power”. Since there is so much doubt and unbelief in the Body of Christ as to what our spiritual abilities are, it seems important to me to understand the original intent.
     Since the King James version, along with the 1599 Geneva Bible, and the Douay-Rheims Bible (1582) are the versions that use the word “power” in referring to the abilities Jesus gave us over the rule of the devil — and they are the oldest — I wanted to find out if there was any difference between our power to tread on serpents and scorpion, and the power of the enemy.  Here’s what I discovered…
     The power to tread on serpents and scorpions is the Greek word, exousia. It’s meaning (not surprisingly) is “authority”… but there’s more.  That “authority” includes: having been given leave or permission; the ability or strength with which one has been endued (endowed or provided with an ability); the power of authority; the right to exercise power.  So this explains why some versions use the word “authority” when it comes to treading on serpents and scorpions, and some use “power”. It appears that they are interchangeable.
     But there is more to this word exousia.  It is the power of one whose will and commands must be obeyed by others; the power of rule or government (as in a Kingdom).  When used, it implies that which is the subject of the authority or rule — in this case, the serpents and scorpions. It also conveys the impression of one who possesses authority; a ruler. (In a sense, we can compare the power of our U.S. Ambassadors to represent the authority of our nation, to our power as representatives of God’s Kingdom to use the Heavenly power bestowed upon us).
     So this is what we need to grasp from this particular use of the word “power” as it pertains to us.  Jesus has given us His authority — the same authority given to Him by the Father — to command the serpents and scorpions to be subject to us.  The Greek New Testament tells us as much in Luke 10:20.  After telling us we have the authority/power, Jesus goes on to say, “Nevertheless, do not continue to rejoice, namely, because the spirits marshall themselves in subjection under your orders…”.  Nothing could be clearer!  They must do as we command [because we wield the power of Heaven]!     

    And just what was meant by “serpents” and “scorpions”?  Here’s what was understood by those who heard Jesus’s words:  Serpents referred to the characteristics of evil, concentrated in the arch-adversary of God and man, the Devil. It was understood that his characteristics included not only his evil, but his treachery, his venom, his murderous proclivities; the origin, hatefulness and deadly effect of Sin.  Those hearing Jesus speak understood that Scorpions produced a venomous sting and pain.  The fact that Jesus declared these two to be under our jurisdiction conveyed the thought of our victory [through Him] over spiritually antagonistic forces; the powers and forces of darkness.
     The Disciples understood what Jesus was telling them!  The power and authority was Jesus’s, given to the Disciples! The 70 that Jesus sent out even declared it themselves in Luke 10:17 …  “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” How frustrating it must be to Jesus to see that His 21st Century Disciples have lost this knowledge… and with it, the power and authority He has given to all who believe in Him [to subdue the spiritual forces coming against them]! But it is important for us, in this Age, to realize that the demons were subject to those early followers of Christ because the Disciples believed! It is not enough for us to try to command the dark spirits to leave if we are just using our human authority as part of our spiritual “medicine cabinet”. We must believe that we have the very power of Jesus in us! If doubt and unbelief exist anywhere in your spirit, then your authority or power will have no effect!
     Now, let’s look at the original meaning and context when it comes to our authority/power over the “power” that is the enemy’s.  Not surprising, this is not the same Greek word, exousia.  In this instance, “power” is the Greek word, dunamis. The meaning of this word points to new and higher forces that have entered (and are working) in this lower world of ours; namely, supernatural power.  The Holy Spirit possesses dunamis power, and His power is in us. We see that picture in Luke 24:49, And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” We also see the this dunamis (supernatural) power in Luke 22:69, But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  This is the supernatural power of Heaven that enabled Jesus to perform signs and wonders. And to no surprise of mine, dunamis is one of the Greek words used to describe “wonders”.  In fact, “signs and wonders” is defined as “indicating dunamis (supernatural) power”.
     But guess what?  Satan possesses “dunamis” power, too. Because the Greek word dunamis also connotes power, strength, and violence, we see the exercise of the devil’s “dunamis power” in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders.  Yes, his miracles will be false, but they are supernatural signs and wonders, nonetheless. But we should not fear!  Jesus, Himself, tells us very clearly in Luke 10:19 … With the supernatural power (dunamis) that He has given us, and the authority (exousia) to use it, we can command [in His Name] that the powers and forces of Satan’s darkness (the serpents and scorpions) leave us alone; and furthermore, that power [in us] defeats all the supernatural power that Satan commands!  He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world!
     So can you see how important it is that the modern Church come to the full knowledge and counsel of Jesus and the Father? The Bible tells us that darker days are ahead, and it should be clear, by now, that we cannot defeat the forces of evil under our own power.  We must believe that we have been given the abilities and strength of Heaven and the right (authority) to exercise that exousia power by His Name!  But that’s not all!  Our exousia power will defeat Satan’s dunamis power because his power is inferior to the dunamis power of Heaven that backs us up.
     I don’t know how many of you have made it this far in reading my post — you may have quit due to boredom or lack of interest. And to some, this may all seem like a useless exercise in semantics, but until we unpack the original meaning and context of the First Century in which this Scripture was spoken and written, we remain ineffective in our Twenty-First Century doctrine and theology. We will continue in our captivity to Satan’s lies, and in our fears and self-doubt. And by not exercising our authority over the power of the Enemy, the Kingdom suffers — we bear little fruit, we are unable to help Jesus set other captives free, we do not reflect God’s glory and power in the midst of all the nations, and we are not readying the earth for His triumphal return.
     Jesus’s words in Luke 10:19 were not only for those 70 Disciples who returned, declaring their victories over Satan’s demons.  They were meant to inspire all generations that followed.  His words were meant for us — to believe them and to live them! It’s time the modern Church began proclaiming its own victories in the Name of Jesus!

Matthew 9:8   When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God and praised Him, who had given such authority and power to men. 
     

Is Your Faith A Verb Or A Noun?

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     That’s really a very important question if you are going to be effective in God’s Kingdom on earth. Is your faith inactive or passive; something you say you “have”?  Or, is your faith a working, functioning part of who you are; something you “do”?
      I think first, we must come to an understanding of what “Faith” is, which involves unpacking the definition until we get to the very core or root of its meaning.  So bear with me for a moment, while I open up this gift of Faith from God and see what it’s made of.
     I’m pretty sure that all Christians can agree that Faith involves trust, belief, and confidence in God [that He exists; is our Creator; is the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ; and that Jesus defeated the power of the devil at the Cross]. And “Belief” and “Faith” are often interchangeable in regard to our opinion of God. So, what does it mean “to believe”? I will submit to you that to believe something, one must be persuaded that it is true.  It is this persuasion of the truth that results in faith — we believe because we are persuaded that God is real; that He sent His Son to pay the debt we owe; and our reward for being obedient to Christ is our eternal salvation.  But there’s more!

     The Bible has a lot to say about Faith… Faith comes from what is heard [what is told], and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.  This verse illustrates what I meant by “persuasion that comes from the Truth” (God’s Word). The Bible also says Without faith it is impossible to please Him. That implies obedience, doesn’t it?  In other words, obedience is produced by our faith, and is an observable act or manner of conduct that is a result of having faith.
     Put in very simple terms, Faith is one way for God to recognize us [who belong to Him] apart from those who don’t. And how is He able to do that?  By our actions! Yes, He is able to see into our hearts, but when we take action and obey God, it is visible evidence [to others] that we believe Him; that we trust Him.  Even more importantly, if we have true Faith in God, He has promised that we will receive His Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14). And with the Holy Spirit comes the power of God. And that power is not to sit idle!
     Let me present a series of thoughts around which we “ran a rabbit” at our Home Church this past Saturday… Can you agree with me that we receive the full measure of the Holy Spirit at the time that we come to Faith; in other words, that we get the full measure of His power when we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior? By that, I mean that God doesn’t give us just a little bit of Himself to see if we can tolerate the power; or to say, “As your faith grows, I’ll deposit more of my Power in you”.  No, He gave each of us the identical amount, and we are completely filled with the Holy Spirit. If your faith is growing, you are trusting more to call upon the Power within you.
     Now, let’s consider how we use that Power; or if I may — if how we apply it is, in any way, in relation to how much we trust and believe [or exercise our faith] in God.  We know by the examples of Hebrews, Chapter 11, and other stories in the Bible, that there are people who by their faith, do great things for the Kingdom of God... Abel offered a greater sacrifice than Cain; Enoch was taken to Eternity; Noah built an ark; Abraham left his ancestral lands for a land promised to his descendants; Moses answered the call of God to deliver the Israelites out of bondage; the Israelites celebrated the Lord’s Feasts; Joshua led the people in bringing down the walls of Jericho; Rahab helped the Israelite spies to escape; Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego entered a fiery furnace; the Apostles were persecuted and martyred; and the early Christians went to their deaths in the Roman Coliseum.
     What do each of these people have in common? They received power from God to work on His behalf!  In the Old Testament examples, it was God taking action to work on behalf of His people by sending His Holy Spirit to accomplish His purpose. Now that we are part of a new covenant with God, He has put His power IN us that we might use it to accomplish His purpose on behalf of the Kingdom Jesus came to establish.  God took back the power that man gave to Satan in the Garden, and Jesus returned it to us through the Holy Spirit, so that by our faith we could keep the devil in defeat.
     So let me ask you this … are you using that power that Jesus deposited in you?  Can you see that the measure by which you use that [full] power might be a measure of your faith?  Do you remember that Jesus said, if you have faith and do not doubt … you [could] say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ [and] it will happen. Do you think you could do that by your own power? Do you believe that the Holy Spirit has enough power to do it? If you believe you have the full measure of the Holy Spirit in you, is it conceivable that you could accomplish this seemingly impossible command? But, if you doubt, then you will fail.
     Now consider the Apostles who we know received the full measure of power from Jesus. It was their faith that carried them through their trials and persecution, and through their horrendous deaths.  We must remember that they would not have been able to endure the suffering if not for the power of their faith, which was manifested in the power of the Holy Spirit in them.
     Paul told us this:  My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. It is very clear from this passage that our faith and God’s power are connected through the Holy Spirit.  In fact, I would be willing to say that a primary aim of Paul’s ministry was to point to Faith in [and by] the Power of God.
     So, can you see why it is so important that I keep hammering home the concept of our Power and Authority [given to us by Jesus Christ]?  We have His authority to use the Power of the Holy Spirit [in us] to continue the work He began.  And that can only happen if we have Faith in who He said He was, and who He said we are.  If you are having a difficult time believing this concept, then chances are your Faith is a noun.  You pray to God and wait for Him to do something.  But if your Faith is a verb, then you are likely exerting your Authority to call on the Power of the Holy Spirit to heal people, defeat their demons, and take the message of God’s Kingdom [on earth, as it is in Heaven] to disbelievers. You know that God is glorified when you put your faith in action.
     But here’s what often happens … People of active (working) Faith scare and offend those who are stationary or ineffective in their Faith. They are threatened by us, because they are suspicious of our claims of Divine Power and Authority; and they are too frightened that the devil might defeat them if they try to use theirs.  If they could just understand that until Jesus returns, we are God’s ambassadors; and He has given us the gift of Faith to use His Power to challenge the power of the Enemy!
     The last thing I want to leave you with, is this … I promise you that it is just as Jesus told us: if we have even the faith of a mustard seed, nothing is impossible for us.  Even the smallest amount of faith has the power of the Holy Spirit attached to it.  But you have to do something with it!  You have to use it! A person with little faith has as much of the Holy Spirit as a person who has great faith.  The difference is that the one who displays greater faith has done the works that Jesus did … anyone who believes in Me will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach].  
    We believe because we have been persuaded by the Truth of God’s Word.  And that believing results in Faith; and with Faith we receive the Holy Spirit and His Power. And with that faith and power we are to demonstrate God’s Power.  It’s all about action; all about doing something to achieve a goal — to stand against the wiles of the devil, thereby glorifying our God who gives us eternal life.  Here’s the reality — Faith is the bold, committed act of your will; your determination [and single-mindedness] to act on behalf of God and His Kingdom. Faith requires us to take action. Let your faith be a verb!

Romans 4:20   “But he did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and empowered by faith, giving glory to God”

Women Warriors Unite!

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     Yesterday, I shared what the heart and soul of men who are Spiritual Warriors looks like. They are the front line of God’s army of mortal saints, determined to help establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. They are our husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers who love us, protect us, provide for us, teach us, and encourage us.  At the basic level, it is part of the Warrior make-up to fight for what is righteous and good, and defeat what is evil. And men who are Spiritual Warriors display the strength, courage, determination, and relationship with God that makes them so valuable to the Kingdom and a formidable foe to the Enemy.

     And that is why I am beginning to see all the ways that Satan is attacking the stature of our men in order to diminish their power and authority, and shatter any chance of the Kingdom of Heaven being established on this earth.  The Enemy knows the importance and significance that God has placed on His male creation. If Satan can destroy the reputation — and, more importantly — the position and identity of men in this world, then he can greatly decrease their spiritual power on this earthly battlefield.  He knows his time is short to win souls, and I’m certain that he recognizes there is a new generation [and renewed force] of spiritual warriors being raised against him.  That means he is determined to defeat them in anyway possible. And that’s why I see the need for us women to get in the fight!
     Now, before you think this is going to be a post on women becoming co-equal to men in their roles as physical and spiritual warriors, I’d like to show you what the Holy Spirit is revealing to me. As I listened to the three men with whom I spent precious time with this last week, I gave thanks to God that they had won their battles against the Enemy; that they had defeated the works of the devil to keep them from their victory in Christ. But the Holy Spirit whispered to me that the attacks of Satan have done tremendous damage to men in our society, and that we women need to get in the fight to spiritually protect our men!
     I realize that God designed our half of His creation to be the helpmate and nurturer, but He has given us His authority to use His power, too. And when it comes to defeating the spiritual battles that our men face, then we need to put our armor on and battle beside them.
     I received that message loud and clear from the Holy Spirit, and then He began downloading all the tactics that Satan has used to remove our men from their God-given place in the Kingdom.  Here are just a few that immediately came to mind:  Pornography, Radical Feminism, Pedophilia, Sexual Molestation, and the Welfare System. Think about it … each of these practices has undermined who God made men to be. Each constricts their identity as Godly men and weakens their relationship with God.  They are all effective schemes by Satan to remove men from the spiritual battlefield.
     Pornography leads to sexual immorality which disgusts God.  It becomes an obsession for men, thereby taking their focus off being holy and changing how they see themselves. Whether they see themselves as unworthy of God [or] above His moral laws; either way they aren’t interested in getting on the battlefield.
     Pedophilia and Sexual Molestation are among the most wicked of the devil’s schemes. I believe that both practices are designed to destroy the spirit of both men and women.  But Satan uses it most cruelly among men, attacking their sense of power, control, and confidence — all of which are needed to be effective Kingdom warriors. And I remember well, the singular voice of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who in the early 1990’s waged a media war against NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) who lobbied the public on the notion that children (boys) were sexual beings who should be given rights to have consensual sex with adults. My spirit tells me that when Jesus says, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea”.  That is how strongly Jesus hates these works of the devil.
     I also believe the Welfare System is the handiwork of our Enemy, too.  It’s not hard to see how the last 50 years have destroyed the place of men within the family unit. Coupled with radical feminism, the devil has whispered to women that they don’t need men.  The Government has replaced the husband and father as the Provider of the family; Science has replaced men as the sperm donor; and the Medical field can even help them get rid of the product of an actual sexual liaison. And all you have to is look at advertising to see how men are celebrated in our culture today.  They are being feminized; and the rugged, strong, muscular man has been replaced by the thin, skinny-jean wearing, soft, wimpy guy who likes to watch chick flicks.
     SIDE NOTE: Would it interest you to know that in Matthew 4:23 and 9:35, that the Bible speaks to this very perception?  The Bible says, Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
     When recently researching all the Scriptures about the healings done by Jesus, I wondered why there were several instances where “sickness” and “disease” were listed as if they were different entities.  Weren’t they the same, I asked myself?  But a quick look at my Strong’s Concordance revealed that “sickness” referred to a malady; an infirmity; while “disease” was defined as softness; bodily weakness; and came from a root word which meant effeminate; not simply of a male who practices forms of lewdness, but persons in general, who are guilty of addiction to sins of the flesh; voluptuous.  Interesting, isn’t it?
     But, now that I have laid out all these methods of the devil to deprive a man of his male role and identity (especially those men who are destined to become spiritual warriors), I am inviting us women to wake up and come to the defense of our men!  It is their inherent nature to be warriors, not weakened, ineffective men.  We wives and mothers must become warriors in our own right; guarding our sons from predators and social temptations, and fighting in the spiritual realm when our husbands are attacked by the Enemy — when Satan tries to kill that Warrior Spirit by whispering a lie about who he is. Because when men see themselves through these dirty veils, then they don’t see the Light of Jesus in themselves.
     As the women in their lives, we can go to battle against these lies and break years-old cycles of bondage in our men; we can let our men know that we are not only a spiritual refuge for them, but we know their true identity, and we are willing to put on our armor and go to battle for them.  We can be just like Deborah, the only woman Judge of ancient Israel. She was a simple homemaker; a woman of simple faith, and her role was that of a keeper of the tabernacle lamps.  When Israel suffered 20 years under evil King Jabin of Canaan, the men were oppressed by weariness and fear.  Deborah burned with indignation at the abuse and injustice heaped upon the men of her nation. She refused to concede to King Jabin and through the authority given to her by God, she waged a military campaign that resulted in 40 years of peace for her nation.
     And here is what we modern women need to apply from Deborah’s example: Like Deborah, we need to recognize that we are in a spiritual battle for our men.  We need to trust God and obey the insight He gives us about the exact struggles and bondage that our men may be experiencing.  We need to focus on God as our strength; and we need to exercise the authority and power He has given to us to wage this spiritual battle — Focus on Him; do not give the Enemy any credibility.  Do not be intimidated by the Enemy’s tactics and do not compromise with him.  Declare in a loud voice that you will not cede ground to him … that your loved one belongs to Jesus Christ and he (the devil) can’t have him! Shout that the enemy has no power over your loved one and that they are sealed by the Holy Spirit with the promise of eternal life! Picture yourself in full armor battling the demons that threaten your son, brother, father, or husband. See yourself tearing down the wall, brick-by-brick, that Satan has erected around them to keep them in captivity. And know that the battle is the Lord’s; Jesus is beside you and you have nothing to fear! And last, but not least, we need to tell our men that we see them as Jesus sees them, and nothing less than that. We celebrate their Warrior spirit and have full confidence and trust in them; that there is nothing the devil can do to change who they are in Christ, or in our eyes and hearts.
     In summary, Deborah is not unique in her leadership role in the Bible.  We have plenty of examples of women who displayed courage and a willingness to serve the Kingdom of God.  From Mary, the mother of Jesus; to Mary Magdalene, who was given the honor of being the first person to see the risen Christ; to Jael; Judith; Phoebe; Priscilla; Junia; Euodia and Syntyche; the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah in 2 Samuel 20; King Lemuel’s mother, whose oracle in Proverbs 31 guided her son; the Shunamite woman in 2 Kings 4; the prophetess Hulda in 2 Chronicles 34; and many more named and unnamed women.
     I believe that God has made us women extra-sensitive to the spiritual realm, and that He has given us the strength, courage, and endurance to wage the spiritual battles necessary to support our men and help them to reclaim their identities. I know without a doubt, that I have the authority, and God’s Power, to go to battle for the men in my life.  I pledge to serve them – and God’s Kingdom — believing and trusting that I can partner with Jesus [in the spiritual realm]. And armed with the strength of God, I will be successful in defeating any oppression coming from Satan. Will you join me in the spiritual war before us, and partner with Jesus to deliver our men from evil? All we have to do is be willing and obedient, and Jesus’s victory is ours!

Ezra 10:4   “Stand up, for it is your duty, and we will be with you. Be brave and act.”

In The Presence of Warriors

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     Have you ever looked forward to a meeting of a group of people, knowing in your spirit that it was going to be an appointed time of the Lord’s?  That is what happened to me these last few days.  A seemingly random text about what was on our calendar turned into three days of renewing old friendships, making new ones, and all of it exalting the Lord.
     But this post is about more than relationships built on common faith.  For me, the lone woman in the group, it was about being in the presence of faithful men who embody what it means to be a Spiritual Warrior.  It was about observing strong men who are seeking the heart of God; men who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable if it means their lives can have an impact on this world for the Kingdom of God.  These are men who have found renewed purpose in their lives; who have made a commitment to put God first above all else, and to unpack the truths of Scripture while uncovering and exposing the lies of religion and false doctrine.  In other words, these are men of character, determined to press into God and know Him fully, and to know who they are in Christ.  And, oh yeah, they aren’t afraid to stand against the spiritual darkness that might threaten them and their families, nor to take back territory from the Enemy.
     The definition of a warrior is this:  One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.  The cause of these men is the Kingdom of God, and they are aggressively pursuing it in their lives and energetically advancing the message of that Gospel. Each has fought his own spiritual and demonic battles, and come out victorious on the other side — because they knew that Jesus had already defeated those demons; they just had to partner with Him and be in agreement that they are Overcomers.  They are now equipped to lead others into the battles for their lives, and to model what it means to have a new identity in Christ.
     I had the privilege of listening to Godly men claim their authority to use the power of God [that is in them] to manifest His presence on this earth. They are warriors who no longer desire to cling to the powerless doctrines of men that instruct us to accept unanswered prayers, or to assume that all suffering and persecution is God’s means of revealing our areas of weakness and wrong attitudes in order that we might humble ourselves before God and He can accomplish His purpose in our lives. We do not serve a God who condones cancer or poverty or shame or guilt in order to cause us to seek Him. He has given us His authority, as Believers, to use His power to conquer the schemes of the devil, thereby glorifying Him in the spiritual realm.
     These are men that believe that concept and who no longer accept the lies that Satan tells them; truthfully, they know who they are … men seeking holiness and righteousness in the image of Christ. And they know that the authority given to them by the Word of the Lord is not power unto their flesh.  It means they’ve been given the right to give commands and take action (as Spiritual Warriors) against Satan; against sin; against sickness, infirmity and disease; against themselves [by just saying “no” to temptation and sin]; and against any situations or circumstances in which they or others find themselves.  But perhaps, more importantly, they know that this authority they wield is backed up by the Power of the God of the Universe, through the Holy Spirit.  In fact, they are on intimate terms with the Holy Spirit and dependent on His power to back up their authority.
     They have no qualms about following what Jesus has taught them through His Word, and they are ready to do whatever the Holy Spirit leads them to do on a daily basis.  It was so edifying and encouraging to hear them proclaim their total dependence on Jesus; listening for His instructions in their lives.  They know, without a doubt, that it’s not enough to KNOW what Jesus desires of His followers; they must be committed to DO IT! 
     In short, as women of the faith, they are what we would want in a faithful man who is willing to take on the role of Spiritual Warrior: fearless.  They don’t ignore Satan or his demons; nor do they go looking for a fight — but they resist him when he comes calling.  And for them, that means submitting to God and listening to Him like a sheep that follows its Shepherd … but resisting like a lion, confident that the enemy will flee. And they understand [that at times] the battle will be won easily and swiftly; while at other times, they may have to stand for awhile, and then … continue to stand until the enemy leaves the field of battle.
     And perhaps the most enlightening aspect of spending time with these warriors was the overriding desire to be obedient — it was the realization that Jesus has already defeated our Enemy; by dying in their place, and accepting the punishment for their sins and those who sinned against them, Jesus has satisfied God’s righteous anger against them, men who believe. They are covered by His blood and healed by His stripes.  They don’t just know the meaning of Propitiation; they live it.
     In wrapping up my experience this past week with these inspirational warriors, I want to borrow from the words of Andrew Wommack, who is a well-known proponent of our Authority and Power. I believe that he accurately describes the theology that is represented by the lives of “my” Spiritual Warriors.  They are authentic in their belief that “[Jesus] deposited His resurrection power inside every believer. He’s done His part, and now it is up to us to do ours. We need to take the authority He has given us and become commanders instead of beggars”.  My warriors will not beg God to deliver them from every sling and arrow of the devil.  They will step up and be the Warriors that God made them to be, and use the authority they have been given by their Creator to call upon His power [inside them] to establish this world as His Kingdom.
     They are battle-tested and battle-ready.  And even more precious to us women, they protect, shield, guard, encourage, and love their families. And I’m proud to call them my husband, my “spiritual son”, and my spiritual “brother” in Christ.  May God strengthen them, nourish them, and sustain them in their purpose for His Kingdom.  I know that crowns await them in heaven.

Ephesians 6:10     “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.”

   

Is There A Change In The [Spiritual] Air?

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     I had just finished writing Wednesday’s post, and having no clear word from the Holy Spirit on what I could write on behalf of the Lord, I began perusing some of the Christian websites to see if I received any kind of prompting.  I will admit that there are days that I find it difficult to write.  I never want to write for myself, but there are some times when I have a hard time hearing from God, and I struggle with making sure that what I write glorifies Him.  After all, I know that is why I have been given some degree of writing talent; it’s not about me!

     Then after discerning that we Christians need to offer up intercessory prayer on behalf of our nation, I find two seemingly small stories, but both having the potential to have a huge impact on how God might view our nation.  The first may seem as if it serves a political interest, but there is a much deeper implication. At a rally in Melbourne, Florida, First Lady Melania Trump was on stage to introduce her husband, the President.  But before fulfilling that duty, she simply stated, “Let us pray”, and then recited the Lord’s Prayer. No fanfare; no long, winding speech paying homage to a picture of a “universal god” acceptable to all religions … this was a humble and reverent prayer to the Christian God, Jehovah.
     At first, this may seem as if I am blowing the importance of her prayer out of proportion.  But if you regard the recent efforts of the Ecumenical Movement to bring all religions and ideologies under one umbrella, then what the First Lady did made a very powerful statement.  You may not know this, but at the first Ecumenical Assembly held in Amsterdam in 1948, the motto ‘ONE WORLD — ONE CHURCH’ was adopted. Since then, we have seen a disintegration of the supremacy of Jesus Christ and Christianity in our national dialogue. Recent Inaugural prayers have invoked the “name of the Almighty”, instead of “in the Name of Jesus Christ”, and “under God” was often left out of the Pledge of Allegiance.
     By praying the way in which Jesus instructed us, Melania Trump established very clearly that she was praying to the One True God, and that she is a Christian.  Of course, there were the same old detractors, calling for separation of Church and State, but where in the Constitution does it say that our elected officials cannot be Christian? And then there were the pathetic people on social media who bashed her for her accent and “butchering” of the Lord’s Prayer. Do you think that any of these people are the same ones who are screaming loudly for the acceptance of immigrants into our country? The hypocrisy is not only revolting, but deceitful.
     And I would like to say that I actually prefer this prayer over the intercessory prayer that I wrote in yesterday’s blog.  It says all there is to say … It declares that His Name is Holy; separate and set apart from other “little g” gods. It asks for God’s Will to be done here on earth, just as it is fulfilled in Heaven. It speaks of repentance and forgiveness; and asks that we be delivered from temptation and evil. And it finishes with the declaration that this earth belongs to Him — It is HIS Kingdom, and all Power and Glory belong to HIM, and Him alone.  No, what Melania Trump did on that stage may not have meant much to the millions who criticized her, but I can guarantee you that she struck a mighty blow for YHWH in the spiritual realm!
     Now, the second piece of news that I discern of great significance was barely covered by the news outlets. It came and went, with little interest by the designers of social commentary.  It was the death of Norma McCorvey, better known as Jane Doe in the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion in this country.  The importance of her life was not that she became the symbol of Pro-Choice advocates, or that she represented modern feminism, or even that she was a picture of protecting women from the consequences of rape.  The truth is that she was never raped, nor did she have an abortion.  The truth is that she was at times both a sympathetic character and a foil for those who could use her troubled past for their purposes — to push abortion as a matter of urgent importance to American women.

     And she was an easy target for the devil.  According to one article written about her, “Her grandmother was a prostitute and fortuneteller. Her father was a television repairman, her mother an alcoholic. Part Cajun, part Cherokee Indian, and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, Norma Leah Nelson was 10 when she took money from the gas station where she worked to run away from home. After that, her education came from reform schools until the ninth grade. By the time she was 15, she had been sexually assaulted by a nun and a male relative of her mother’s. At 16, she married an itinerant steel worker, Woody McCorvey, who, she says, beat her. She left him and returned to her mother’s house in Dallas with plans to raise her unborn child alone”.  There is so much legal authority for the devil to use her as his pawn that she made a perfect scapegoat for his diabolical scheme.
     There followed another out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a foray into lesbianism, and finally, the third pregnancy, which resulted in an abominable alliance with Lawyer, Sarah Weddington, who had had an abortion, herself, but who needed a down-and-out “victim” to push her case all the way to the Supreme Court.  In fact, McCorvey’s only real contribution to the case was signing the initial affidavit without even reading it, and she “was never invited into court. I never testified. I was never present before any court on any level, and I was never at any hearing on my case . . . I found out about the decision from the newspaper just like the rest of the country”.  Furthermore, McCorvey alleged that she didn’t really understand what was involved in an abortion; she did not understand that it resulted in the end of a life. She claimed that her lawyer, Weddington, told her “it’s just tissue”. But Norma McCorvey suited the purposes of Weddington and the devil, and the rest is history.  Through her initial compliance, over 59 million babies have been aborted in this country since 1973 … and still counting.
     If there is any victory in the life of Norma McCorvey, it is that she reportedly had a sincere spiritual conversion in 1995, repented for her compliance in Roe v. Wade, and became a fierce opponent of the abortion movement.  Although, her pro-life stance and attempts to have the case reopened and overturned never resulted in undoing the sacrifice of millions of unborn babies, at the end of her life, she stated that “no woman had the right to act as her own God”, determining whether a baby lived or died.
     So I am left wondering if these two events involving these two women will have any real impact upon the spiritual battle that wages over the United States. Will the death of Norma McCorvey, a tragic figure manipulated by the spirit of Molech and his willing human accomplices, signal a shift in the spiritual winds?  With her premature death at the age of 69, might we hope for the death of the abortion rights that carry her name?  And does the invoking of the Biblically-endorsed Standard for Christian prayer by the First Lady of this nation, indicate a rebirth of Christian power and authority? Can we look upon this simple gesture as the willingness of those put in positions of Leadership at the behest of God, to honor and follow Him in the administration of this nation? History will tell. Until then, let us never lose sight that there is a battle on earth for men’s souls and spirits.  The battle is the Lord’s and He has already defeated Death. Let us stand firm, looking forward to the Day He returns to defeat evil once for all.

Proverbs 10:28     The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

   
 
   

A Prayer For Our Nation

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     It goes without saying that our nation faces critical times. There is blatant strife and conflict in all the arenas of our life: social, political, racial, cultural, and religious. People are divided like I have never seen them in my lifetime… and I can remember the Vietnam War, the political assassinations, and the racial riots. But now, if you wear the wrong T-shirt into a crowd, you are inviting violence. No one trusts the media; and we find it difficult to trust each other. And if all this discord and dissension weren’t enough, now we hear that witches, satanists, and occultists are joining forces for a planned ritual in which they intend to destroy the President of this nation. I kid you not!
     They plan on invoking “demons of the infernal realms” in order to bind President Trump and all who encourage, promote, or assist him. I want to be very clear, this is not a blog about Donald Trump.  This is a post about the very real spiritual war that is being waged on our country, regardless of who you voted for. It is about the false gods that this nation serves. And it’s about how far off the rails we have come; about all the various religions that we follow that do not worship the One True God. And it’s about the chaos that has ensued because of these ungodly and sinful influences.
     To bring it all into perspective, I want to share a new insight I received yesterday as I pursued a new study I am doing on The Lord’s Feasts.  Next month will begin the holy Passover week, which the Lord instituted so that the tribes of Israel might commemorate Him bringing them out of 430 years of enslavement to the Egyptian false god system.  Throughout their ancient history, the Egyptians worshipped as many as 2,000 different gods at different times and in different places.  But in the story of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, we encounter the ten plagues that God brought against the idolatrous Egyptians.  The number ten is significant in the Bible, signifying “a fullness of quantity”.  Therefore, God is telling us that the ten plagues means Egypt was completely plagued with sin and idolatry.  Furthermore, each of the ten plagues God brought against them was a spiritual battle against a specific god.
     In particular, here are the gods or goddesses of Egypt that correspond to the type of plague God pronounced in this spiritual battle for the Israelites: the plague of the Nile turning to blood (Hapi – Egyptian god of the Nile); frogs coming from the Nile (Heket – Egyptian goddess of fertility, water, and renewal); lice from the dust of the earth (Geb – Egyptian god of the earth); swarms of flies (Khebri – Egyptian god of creation, movement of the sun, rebirth); death of cattle and livestock (Hathor – Egyptian goddess of love and protection); ashes turned to boils and sores (Isis – Egyptian goddess of medicine and peace); hail rained down in the form of fire (Nut – Egyptian goddess of the sky); locusts sent from the sky (Seth – Egyptian god of storms and disorder); three days of complete darkness (Ra – the sun god); death of the firstborn (Pharaoh – the ultimate power of Egypt, and a symbol of an anti-Christ spirit.
     As you will notice, each of the plagues increases in severity along with the increased power of the corresponding gods.  The Lord names His demand in these series of spiritual battles: “Let my people go, that they might serve ME!” But the spiritual forces of evil do not relent, and God pronounces that He will execute judgment against ALL THE GODS OF EGYPT.

Ra, the Sun god

     Here’s what we need to understand… this is not some metaphorical fairy tale of the mythological gods of ancient Egypt.  These gods were real and they practiced their power and influence among all the people living in Egypt — even the Israelites.  The people of Israel had been crying out to the Lord for centuries for release from their bondage, but even in their misery, their relationship with the Lord had suffered. There is now a battle between God and these other gods over the very people God has called His Own. And you know what?  The same could be said of the chaos, division, and corruptive ways we are now seeing in our nation.
     So, we have to ask ourselves: is the same thing happening in America today? Are other gods battling with the One True God for the heart and soul of our nation? We have always prided ourselves on being a melting pot; a nation where all faiths are welcome and no practice of religion is forbidden. And I know that I will receive condemnation for being exclusive, but how does our God feel about that, and are we due His judgment for participating in worship of Allah, Buddha, Shiva, the Angel Moroni, the Pope, or any other spirit behind men that proclaims they are “from God”? And what are we to do about it?
      Now, I know that this nation is our temporary home. But it is also territory that we, as Christians, are to claim for the Kingdom of God.  So it is in our interest, and the interest of God, to get in this spiritual battle, which is no different than the one waged in ancient Egypt. And one way that we can do that together is intercessory prayer; it worked for the prophets Ezekiel and Samuel; and worthy role models, they are.
     First, let’s understand what intercessory prayer is.  It should go without saying that intercessory prayer is the action of intervening on behalf of another by praying for them. We petition God for mercy on their behalf. And I believe that God honors intercessory prayer because it shows a heart that seeks God’s good and perfect will for another; a heart that pleads for the sake of another.
     And a benefit of intercessory prayer is that it brings us into communion with Christ, who is the Son of El Elyon, the Most High God, and who is Intercessor for all men. As Charles Spurgeon so eloquently put it, “When we pray for our fellow sinners we are in sympathy with our Divine Savior, who made intercession for the transgressors.” We also walk in the shoes of Samuel and Ezekiel, Israel’s devoted Prophets who prayed for the wayward nation of Israel. And if any nation can be described as wayward — perverse, disobedient, rebellious, defiant, erratic — it is the United States of America. I believe the division, discord, and defiance we are seeing in our nation is a result of the influence of other gods. And should someone want to put forth the argument that allowing everyone to worship the god of their choice brings about an all-embracing, all-inclusive and universal understanding of our differences and can actually promote unity in our acceptance of each other, let me ask you this … how is it working for us?  I see more animosity, prejudice, and hostility than ever before; and combined with pornography, sex-trafficking, illegal drugs, and pedophilia, we are seeing the strategic battle plans of other gods who wish to defeat God’s Ultimate Plan for reconciliation with the world.
     So, I would like to propose an intercessory prayer on behalf of our nation; a prayer in which we can join together to plead before our Father in Heaven.  It is not the perfect prayer, but a starting place for each of us to petition God for His mercy upon this land:
    

     Father God, we boldly and confidently come before your Throne today, to plead our spiritual condition as a nation.  Father, we know that the Blood of Christ is always before your Throne, interceding on our behalf, but we want to take responsibility for the state of this nation, and to repent for not turning away from the world and following Jesus with our whole heart.
      Father, we are guilty of bowing down at the altar of Molech, legislating the shedding of the innocent blood of millions of babies.  We have profaned your Church by allowing the sinful practices of the world to infiltrate your sanctuary, and the conspiracies of false prophets to blaspheme your holy laws.  We have allowed the Leaders of this land to practice extortion and commit robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy through political systems, and have taken advantage of those seeking refuge, without maintaining the protection of the righteous — all without godly justice.
     We see the increase of sexual perversion in our land, and the cost it is enacting upon our families, our children, our marriages, and the truly vulnerable. We admit that we have not always treated our bodies as a holy Temple for Your Spirit, and that grieves us. 
     Father, we recognize that Your Judgment is due upon this land; that we have made no distinction between what is Holy and what is common or evil in Your eyes.  We acknowledge that we have made the worship of other gods equal to the worship of You and Your Son.  Father, we repent of these sins and plead the blood of Jesus upon all our transgressions.
     So, now we come before Your Throne, asking for forgiveness and that you release Your Power and Fire to burn up the works of darkness in this nation.  And because we have been given Power and Authority by Jesus to carry on His work of destroying the works of the devil, we release that fire of God [within us] to burn up the idols of this land.  Let the works of witchcraft and occultism be burned in Your fire.  
     We release the Sword of the Lord against the powers of hell, in the Name of Jesus. Let every altar erected by the Enemy, and the idols and images of the land be broken by Your Power, Oh Lord.  And, in the Name of Jesus, we bind the principalities and powers in the regions where we live, and we ask that you pour Your contempt upon these demon princes.  Break their strength, and bring down the proud and the arrogant, cleansing this land of all unholiness and unrighteousness.
    And Father, we ask that You release Your flood waters of Holy justice to rain down on this land, returning us to a righteous and godly people.  LORD, we know that the day will come when You will come in a flood of Godly Power, and all the floodwaters of sin and ungodliness will give way to fresh floods of Your Glory. Father, we pray that that Day will come soon; a Day when we will see Your Kingdom fully established on this earth, and the Prince of Darkness and his demons judged and defeated.  We thank You for the Grace and Mercy You have extended to us, and humbly ask that You bless this land, causing Your face to shine upon us, and that Your Way may be known upon this land and upon the entire earth. We pray for Your Salvation among this nation unto the ends of the earth. May You yield favor and increase upon us as we pray that Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.

1 Samuel 12:20, 22     “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart … For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself”.


   

We Aren’t Fooling The Devil!

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     Today’s post goes hand-in-hand with my thoughts and opinion on Sunday’s Scripture, Mark 7:13.  When we follow the traditions of men, instead of the Authority of the Word, then we are, as the Apostle Paul expressed in 2 Timothy 3:5, having a form of godliness, but denying the power of the faith [we] claim to embrace.
     He is writing from prison to encourage Timothy that he will soon face growing opposition, yet great opportunities to witness of the Power of God in a person’s life.  The same holds true for us today, even as Paul’s forecast of what mankind will become reflects our current society: lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God.
     Yet what is the response of Christians?  Are we coming together as one Body to counter these influences of the Enemy in the world? Do we put the stability and advancement of the Kingdom of God [on earth] before our own security and peace of mind?  Or do we sit silently in our church buildings, cleaving to the belief that we are saved, are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and just have to keep waiting expectantly for Jesus to appear in the sky and whisk us to heaven?
     That train of thought has been prevalent among Christians who reject any thought of preparing for “a worst-case scenario”.  When the Prepper movement gained momentum a few years back, there were those among the faithful who denied the need to make any kind of provision in case of catastrophic emergencies, whether it be political, social, or natural disaster.  Their theology convinced them to think like this: “I trust God to take care of me; If this is the end, I will be raptured out of here, and all that prepping will be for nought”.  But here’s the thing … the Bible doesn’t promise that. In fact, it presents a picture of the world sinking into pandemonium before Christ’s return.
     Furthermore, the Bible states explicitly that it will be the Body of Christ; the Believers; the Church who will suffer the most. It will be necessary for us to cry out to the Lord to endure the coming troubles and times of persecution.  And I don’t think we Christians in the West have any idea of how that will look. You see, I’m not sure we adequately understand that we are, first and foremost, a spiritual creation in the form of a flesh-and-bone body. We are too comfortable in the body and we wrap our materialism around us like a protective shield, while not doing enough to fortify our spirit. We are ignorant that our power lies in our spirit, and not in what we have in this world.

     And that pertains to the practice of our faith, too.  As Christians, we tend to practice our faith in formulas or methods that give an appearance [which can be either sincere or insincere] of trying to please God.  But this is just an outward expression of faith, often resulting in little fruit for the Kingdom.  The true power of our faith lies in the communion of our spirit with the Holy Spirit, as evidenced at Pentecost, of which Jesus told the Apostles, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. That is the same power that indwells you and me when we accept Christ into our hearts as our Savior. And without the Holy Spirit and the power He brings, we experience spiritual death, and the works of the body are dead, too.
     So, what does it mean to have “a form of godliness”?  I would submit that it is attention to the details God has asked us to do in acting out our faith; the ordinances He has commanded us to do.  Scripturally, that is Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But does every person who gets baptized or partakes of the Lord’s Supper godly? Are they God-fearing? Do they exhibit a spirit of the power of God that produces fruit for the Kingdom?
     Another form of godliness is answering the Lord’s call to associate in worship.  We have church buildings full of people who congregate together in the name of Jesus.  But is the power of the Holy Spirit felt in those buildings?  Or are they just “the form” without “the power”?  You can have two or three gathered together in His Name, or you can have thousands, but if the house of God is only full of outward religious talk and empty activities; devoid of “heart faith”, then the Holy Spirit and His power have left the building.
     I fear we have become too casual about accepting the appearance of godliness.  It is easy to put on that form of which Paul speaks: we tell ourselves we come from generations of Church-goers; it’s almost a hereditary right to call ourselves godly. Or we find ourselves with prestigious titles of Pastor, Deacon, Elder, Sunday School Teacher; all forms of influence which can take on the appearance of godliness.  And how many people who have “walked the aisle” or answered an altar call, did so because others did, or it was expected of them by family, or they felt pressured by a well-meaning Church member or teacher?  That constitutes a “form” of godliness without the true power of God.
     After all, a form of godliness brings respect and a feeling of belonging; and the Enemy whispers to us that it’s okay to pretend we’re godly … Jesus won’t turn us down at the Pearly Gates because we fit all the outward requirements. Well, we may fool men, but Jesus and the Devil aren’t fooled!  Without the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling our hearts, we don’t exhibit the life and the force of Jesus in our daily walk.  He tells us in Matthew 7:22, Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’  Certainly, they were doing what Jesus had commanded them to do, and could be called “godly”, right?  And yet, Jesus says He will deny them when He returns.  They were exhibiting a “form” of godliness, but lacked the power of the “heart relationship” with Jesus; that’s where the power resides.  Sadly, today, we don’t even measure up to that form of godliness — we don’t follow His commands to do those things He did, and we don’t even know we have the power to do them!
     I want to conclude by giving us a picture of what godliness with the blessed power of the Holy Spirit looks like. A truly Godly man recognizes his state, repents and asks for forgiveness.  A Godly man seeks God with all his heart and desires to serve His Kingdom above all else.  A Godly man partners with God and the Holy Spirit to see His power manifested on earth.  In short, True Godliness incorporates spiritual power, not just external “forms”, or outlines, or appearances of godliness.  When we add the “power of Jesus” to our godliness and obedience to His ordinances and commands, we are unstoppable.  We literally have the power to heal the sick and to cast out demons; and the gates of hell will not prevail against us! The Enemy recognizes that we aren’t just a shell of religious devotion; that we actually have the power of the God of Heaven in us and behind us. We need to stop denying who we are and the power we have been given!

2 Timothy 1:7     “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”.

   
     

Who Do You Say You Are?

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     I have been listening to a series of podcasts by Dr. Curry Blake, a leading authority on Divine Healing.  I have been greatly moved by his no-nonsense, down-to-earth preaching on the fundamental truths of the Bible. His teachings on both spiritual and physical healing, spiritual warfare, and our identity as children [sons and daughters] of God are quite thought-provoking.
     One of the statements he made really caught me off guard, and has taken me on a Scriptural hunt to discover just who I am if I say and believe that I have given my life to Christ.  Dr. Blake said that [after we come to faith in Christ], “We think we’re still only humans, and as humans we are still going to fail and have faults because we’re still sinners.”  He went on to say that most people continue to think of themselves as “just sinners saved by Grace”. He responds with an emphatic NO! And he says we need to change how we think of ourselves. After seeking my own understanding of his premise through Scriptural search and discovery, I have come to agree with him, and see myself in a new light. Let me show you what I have discerned…
     We can all agree that Scripture tells us that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are a new creation: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). So why do we keep identifying ourselves as sinners?  We were sinners, but we have been saved by God’s grace, and the Bible tells us that we are now the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ: I have been justified (completely forgiven and made righteous) and am at peace with God (Romans 5:1).  God no longer identifies me as a sinner.  I have been transformed — not just cleaned up on the outside, but completely transformed on the inside, too.  And what does that look like?  Romans 12:2 tells us: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. That means that this new creation I have become is a total and complete transformation from my former state; and I, in fact, have a new nature and now have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
     So why do we continue to identify ourselves as sinners and expect to sin?  Is it because we have believed the lie from Satan that we are unable to NOT sin?  Because that’s not what the Bible says!  The Word clearly tells us that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ [who] lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life (Galatians 2:20). Since Christ was sinless — and the life I am now living is Christ’s life — shouldn’t I expect that I, too, could live a sinless life?  So why don’t I [we] believe that?
     It all comes back to renewing my mind to have the mind of Christ.  God has done His part.  Now I have to do mine.  God has promised three gifts to every true Christian: His spirit of power, His spirit of love, and His sound mind.  We can all understand what His power and love are, but what does He mean by a “sound mind”?  Strong’s Concordance says that “sound” infers discipline and self-control; which characterizes the mind of Christ.
     It can be a challenge to separate God’s truth [that the old has passed away; that we are a new creation; that we are transformed to live the life of Christ; that we are no longer identified as sinners] from the deceitful lies of Satan [that we are unable to stop sinning].  Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit, who would guide us into all truth. God and Jesus have done their part.  It takes discipline and self-control for us to do our part.  And it starts with taking responsibility for renewing our minds every time we are tempted by Satan to believe his lies. Believe me, I understand that no one said it would be easy!
     And I can hear some of you saying right now, “But what if I am unable to resist the lie I hear in my mind and I DO sin? Haven’t I then become a sinner?”  Perhaps we need to differentiate what the Bible tells us about sinners.  In the Old Testament, a sinner was identified as someone who missed the mark; a person who followed a path or lifestyle [or committed an act] deviating from God’s direction; forfeiting goodness in favor of moral failure.  In the New Testament, the definition of sinner is similar:  missing the mark so as not to share in the prize; but unlike the Old Testament, it is not simply the committal of the act, but a continuous practice of sin that would label us a “sinner”.
     Make no mistake, Sin has always been unacceptable to God, but if we know Jesus as our Savior, we now have an Advocate should we be unable to apply discipline and self-control to our minds when Satan tempts us.  We can go to Jesus, confess our lack of discipline, repent, and we are cleansed of all unrighteousness.  We may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
     But here is the important thing to realize.  If we stumble, that does not mean we return to being a sinner, as before our transformation.  We have a new nature: I have been given God’s precious and magnificent promises by which I am a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). By nature, we are now children of God, not a child of the devil! Because of our new nature, it should be easier for us to be righteous than to sin. It is no longer in our [new] nature to desire to sin, so why are we still identifying ourselves as SINNERS?
     There are so many Scriptures that tell us who we are in Christ, and not one of them says we are still sinners!  1 Peter 2:9,10 tells us We are a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession! 1 Thessalonians 5:5 proclaims that We are children of light and not darkness.  Colossians 1:14 declares, We have been redeemed and forgiven of all our sins. The debt against us has been canceled.  What part of any of these verses insinuates that we are still sinners?  So, the next time you hear the whisper of Satan’s lie that you are “[still] a sinner saved by Grace”, renew your mind and rebuke that lie.  Speak boldly and confidently:  I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and I am righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24). And then believe it!

Romans 6:6   “We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin”.

 
   
   

Do We Even Know What It Means To Be “The Church”?

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     Yesterday, I expressed my concerns and frustrations regarding the institutionalized “Church”, and how my spirit senses that we are stifling the full image of Jesus and His ministry.  That got me to thinking … What did Jesus expect of the Church?  How did He envision it? And is it what He intended it to be?
     There have been 20 centuries since our Savior walked this earth and the Church came into existence. As we are well into the 21st, I think it’s time we take a good hard look at ourselves and determine if we even resemble what He began, and if we are serving His purpose for the Kingdom of God.
     First of all, you can scour the internet and find all kinds of commentaries and discussions on what the Church should be, and more often than not, it seems that it is from man’s perspective — it is what we have decided the Church should look like from hundreds of years of internal deliberation and analysis.  But is that what really matters — what we have determined? Because, I would venture to say that if you asked ten Christians what Jesus intended The Church to be, you would probably get ten different answers, depending on their denomination and generational biases.  If you had to find the common denominator among those varying opinions, you would probably come up with a checklist describing the Church as something close to the following:  1) a community of prayer based on the Word;  2) we are to worship God;  3) we are to make disciples;  4) we are to be in genuine fellowship with one another; encouraging each other in our walk with Christ; and finally, 5) we are to proclaim the Gospel to the rest of the world.
     All of those are good descriptions; no one could deny their importance.  But do they represent what Jesus conveyed as His charge to those who would follow Him? Consider this … Did you know that there are only two instances that Jesus even mentions the word church in the four Gospels?  The first is in Matthew 16:15-19, where it is my opinion that Jesus describes the spiritual aspect of what “Church” means to Him.  In this passage, Jesus acknowledges Peter’s confession of faith in Him as the Son of the Living God, and tells Peter that on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.  Peter is also told that he will be given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
     I would like to encourage you to read my post on this passage, as it will clear up what I think is a mistaken image of establishing an “organized” church model, with Peter as the head.  Here is a quick synopsis of what I think Jesus meant (and I hope you will read the entire post to get the full context):  Where this talk took place, and what Jesus said, would have made Peter and his fellow disciples very uneasy.  They knew they were standing on the ground where the Fallen Angels landed on their descent to earth (in Genesis 6:1-4), and it is ground that the Nephilim had inhabited.  In Jewish theology, the spirits of these dead warrior-kings were demons.  Jews believed that this area, with its connection to Fallen Angels and temples dedicated to Zeus and Baal worship, was the entryway to the underworld — the gates of Sheol, which simply means “the place of the dead” or “the place of departed souls/spirits.”  (The New Testament Greek equivalent is Hades, or in English, Hell).  In this case, with its history involving Fallen Angels, this was a place of evil departed spirits, or demons.
     Therefore, Peter clearly understood what Jesus was saying — that when He referred to “the rock” on which He would build His Church, He did not mean either Peter or Himself.  Peter and the other Disciples knew Jesus was talking about the very rock on which they were standing — the foot of Mount Hermon, the demonic headquarters of the Old Testament and the Greek world. So when Jesus declared His plan to start His Church on that very spot — on the top of the gates of hell — He is saying that He would crush both Evil and Death, and bury them!  He is saying that He intends for the power of His Church to be like a huge rock that will smash the rocks upon which the gates of hell rested — and He intends His Church to take the fight to the Enemy!

     I believe that Jesus is expressing His plan that those who would follow Him in faith (that is the Church; and Peter being the first in time, not authority) would be given the “keys to the Kingdom” in other words, the power to help establish Heaven on Earth — which was God’s plan from the beginning in the Garden of Eden.  God wants His realm — His Kingdom — to be the same on Earth as it is in Heaven.  That means no pain, no illnesses, no demonic attacks, no poverty, no fear, etc.  And that is the primary message Jesus came to deliver!  By healing infirmities, casting out demons, and sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom, He is telling the world that He came to help institute Heaven on Earth — and to show us what God’s Kingdom looks like.
     I believe Jesus meant the Church to be those who would share these same goals.  He gathered around him a group of disciples who participated in His spiritual healing power and teaching.  And I believe He fully intended His disciples to carry on His work together, as the Church.  But He makes it clear that He desires that everyone who would follow Him be on the same page as to His goals for the Kingdom.  And that’s where He mentions for the second and last time, the word Church.  
     In Matthew 18:15-20, I believe we get a more accurate picture of how Jesus saw the physical image of what we have come to know as the Church.  He is addressing His disciples on how to handle a community member who has separated himself from the community and refuses to listen. Jesus said, If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector … Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them.
     Now this is where I am probably going to lose those who are well entrenched in their mega-church buildings, and those who like their image as part of a particular Christian organization or established religion.  First, we need to acknowledge that the word “Church” is not the word Jesus would have used. Secondly, we have no actual way of knowing what word Jesus used, because He would have spoken in Aramaic, and we have no Aramaic translation of the New Testament.  However, when Matthew made his own personal translation of what Jesus said in Aramaic, he felt that the best translation of what Jesus said in Aramaic was the Greek word, ekklesia, which means “a gathering” or “assembly” in English.
     But note how Jesus describes what our English Bibles call “the church” in Matthew 18 — He clearly says that where two or three are gathered in His Name, they are meeting together as His followers, and constitute a gathering, an assembly, a congregation [a fellowship], a church of Believers.  So how did we get to this “written in stone” concept of Church as a hierarchy of institutionalized religion and symbolized by an image of a building full of people?
     Perhaps when His Second Coming didn’t happen as quickly as the disciples anticipated, they set about establishing some sort of an organization to carry on after their lifetimes.  I believe the early communities of disciples and Believers tried to carry on His physical/spiritual healing and His teachings that centered on establishing God’s Heavenly Kingdom here on earth; of binding evil on Earth as it is bound [restricted] in Heaven, and loosing God’s healing on Earth as it is loosed [unleashed] in Heaven. But as the apostles and First Century disciples passed from the scene, the message of establishing the heavenly Kingdom on earth began changing to a message of personal salvation, which was a product of faith in Jesus.  “The Church” made Salvation their primary message, and sadly, I cannot dismiss the selfish implications of this thought — not that Salvation through faith in Jesus isn’t important for our eternal destiny, but the message of Salvation is all about us. The Message of the Kingdom of God is all about Jesus and the Father! Jesus clearly told us that He was sent for the primary purpose of preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43).  Furthermore, He admonished us to Seek first, the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). 
     So have we done that?  Are we, as “The Church” an embodiment of His teachings and commandments? Have we gathered in small communities and assemblies and promoted the idea that we, as His followers, are to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth — as it is in Heaven — by healing the sick; ridding the earth of the influence of Satan and his demons; teaching others what it means to have faith in Jesus and receiving the gift of Salvation and eternal life in return?  Jesus told us, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
     Again, I always feel as if I must tell you that I am not indicting the entire Body of Christ or those that choose to worship Him in fellowship in buildings.  I simply want all of us to look deeper at what Christ has chosen to reveal in His Word.  And I want all of us to consider this question, as posed by the website, The Real Truth:  If Jesus walked the earth today, and had to choose from the myriad of Churches in America, would He choose to attend your Church?  Remember, at the end of His earthly ministry, and just before His ascension into Heaven, He gave a command to the soon-to-be apostles: “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy [Spirit]: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). 

     So, do our churches observe ALL THINGS as commanded by Jesus?  If He walked into any church in America today, what would He hear, or what would He find?  Isn’t it acceptable to think that whatever Christ taught the original apostles, He would expect to find in His Church?  Would He find a Church that taught the foundational principles of His teachings, or one that extolled their own denominational doctrine?  Would He find your church celebrating the Holy Feast Days as commanded by God, or observing man-made holy days called Christmas and Easter, while rationalizing that they commemorate Him? (And then ask yourself this question:  Do you think Christmas and Easter are celebrated in Heaven — or Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, etc.? … On Earth as it is in Heaven, remember?).
     Again, if Jesus entered your church, would He find disciples healing the sick (as Peter did) and casting out demons (as the 70 evangelists did)?  Or would He hear condemnation of those acts as heresy?  Would He hear a message from the pulpit saying, “While we are to try to keep the Ten Commandments, it is not necessary [to keep them] to receive eternal life. Jesus did away with those ‘Old Testament Laws’ and nailed them to the Cross”.  Do you think He might want to stand up and shout, Remember what I told you in Matthew 19:17: If you would enter life, keep the commandments!
     These are just a few of my thoughts about how Jesus would look upon The Church today.  Are we hearing His voice?  And does He know us?  Are we truly following Him in ALL His ways?  Are we producing any fruit?  And if so, is it fruit that He recognizes — or is it the world that commends us?  My spirit just keeps bombarding me with all these thoughts because I sense that the Harvest is near. And as the Church, it is incumbent upon us that we ask ourselves if we have prepared the soil (the world) to receive the seed (His message of the Kingdom); if we have cultivated that soil (broken up the plans of the Enemy to deceive the world) so that our King might reap the harvest He left us in charge of.
     You see, I fear that we have concentrated on watering the plants in our own garden (our church buildings) instead of preparing and cultivating the fields in the outside world.  And while I see fruit being borne within the assembly, the world doesn’t seem to get to share in savoring the sweet taste of Jesus. With His return eminent, I suspect that Jesus is looking forward to a Great Harvest.  The Church was to play a part in bringing that about, both in the spiritual and physical realms.  How have we stood the test of time, and how will He judge us?

And He said to them,  The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”.
   
   

John 21:25

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And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one [in detail], I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

     I am writing this post today from a place of thoughtful frustration.  I am not writing out of anger or indignation, but rather from disappointment and exasperation.  Let me tell you what I am seeing that has me in such a state … As you know, the Lord has opened the spiritual eyes, minds, and hearts of my husband, myself, and a small [but growing] number of our fellow Christians.  We are receiving new revelations as we read His Word about just how Big He is; how He wants to work with us [through spiritual dimensions] to accomplish His will on earth; and just exactly what that partnership looks like, in terms of His power and authority which He has entrusted to us.
     We are understanding that we truly are made in His image, which means that Jesus [as God Incarnate] came to model what that looks like for us, who are spirits housed in these temporary shells called bodies.  But my frustration comes from the evidence I have seen by which the established Church wants to limit our picture of what Jesus modeled and how it pertains to us.  In other words, when a devoted Christian studies the Word as a Berean would, and tries to bring a new concept to the Fellowship of the Church, they are often ridiculed or silenced because this knowledge is not recognizable to this century’s version of Christianity.
     And for those of you who do not know what a Berean is, they were the inhabitants of a small town called Berea (in what was northern Macedonia, or Greece) where Paul and Silas preached, and the Bereans were known for “having received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things [Paul preached about God] were so” (Acts 17:11).
     It is apparent from the context of this verse that Paul was bringing new meanings or significance to their ideas about God.  And what was their reaction?  I will tell you what it wasn’t: “Wait a minute, we can’t accept this because it’s not what we’ve been taught”.  And it wasn’t, “That doesn’t fit with my theology, so you are wrong”.  And it most certainly was not, “We are just going to discount what you say because it’s beyond my ability to comprehend such a supernatural God”.  No! In essence, what the Bereans had were open hearts to receive a greater image of not only Who their God was, but who they were as people made in His image!
     They took the time to carefully study the Scriptures [that were available to them] to see if Paul and Silas were preaching accurately.  And they spent time in the Word every day, carefully examining Paul’s claims about God to see if they were true.  They didn’t automatically dismiss them out of an arrogance that their knowledge of God was complete and absolute.
     And that is where my frustration lies with the majority of “Church people”.  I am not doubting their love for God or their faith in Him.  But I am disappointed when a faithful Believer is discouraged from sharing a view of God (and/or their relationship with Him) in terms that might be unfamiliar to the Church’s experience.  And I am disappointed that instead of searching Scripture themselves to see if what is being presented expands their image and understanding of God, they are all too willing to stay in their “comfort zone” of 21st Century Christian traditions; keep God limited to their image of Him; and deny that there can be any new revelation of His Power and Glory.
     Take for instance, the verifiable acts of Jesus in the New Testament: His physical healings; His spiritual healings by casting out demons; His ability to see into the spiritual realm, and even travel in the spirit from one place to another.  If you doubt any of what I just said, let me show you where in your Bible we are given these Truths.
     In Luke 8:1-3, we see both physical and spiritual healing:  Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their means.
     In Matthew 16:21-23, Jesus sees in the spirit:  From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  Now, I’m pretty sure the Modern Church reads these verses and says Jesus was just upset with Peter for not believing what He prophesied.  And, sadly, they will discount all the times that He tells us that He only does what He sees the Father doing; showing us that He has the ability to see into the spiritual dimensions, and there’s a pretty good possibility that He actually saw Satan whispering his lies into Peter’s mind in an attempt to corrupt his thinking.  
     As far as Jesus traveling in the spirit, have you ever noticed how many times Jesus was slipping away and reappearing mysteriously?  After praying all night on the mountain, Jesus appeared to the Disciples a distance away on the Sea, walking on water (Matt. 14:25).  He also vanished from the sight of the men He met on the road to Emmaus, only to miraculously reappear to a different group a short time later (Luke 24:31-36).  
     These are just a few of the miracles and signs Jesus performed and about which the Bible records specifics.  If you would like to see the complete list and their Scriptural addresses, click here.  But I want to make my point very clear … here we have irrefutable examples of Jesus’s power and authority over the Enemy and His ability to work with the Father through spiritual dimensions.  AND, as I have pointed out ad nauseum, He told us that those who believed in Him would do the same things, only greater (John 14:12).  
     Yet, how many of our fellow Christians have read their Bible and connected those dots?  I mean, really read their Bible?  I’m not talking about sitting in the Church building and listening to a Pastor (no matter how learned or scholarly) tell them what their Bible says — but read the Word for themselves “whether those things [preached] were so?  
     Think about it!  We can’t even get Western Christians to think about what it means that He healed sicknesses, healed people oppressed by demons, could see into the spiritual realms, and could interact with Heaven [while still on earth]… and that we, like Him, are made in God’s image to do the same things!!! The Bible tells us He did those things, and He tells us we can do them, too!  But the Western Church is so constrained by their closed hearts and minds that they can’t even see it!
      So, that brings me to the verse that I have selected for today.  Can you see how the Modern Church and modern Christians have limited their perception of Jesus, God, and themselves?!? If they can’t [or won’t] even acknowledge the things clearly written about and proclaimed, then what about all the things Jesus did [and we are capable of doing] that all the books in the world cannot contain?
     Can you see how indifferent, ineffective, and incapable we have become in provoking the world to Godliness?  Jesus came with miracles and signs to shake up the world to listen to His message! But what are we Christians doing?  We are busy within the four walls we call “Church”, reassuring ourselves [and each other] that by coloring inside the lines, we are ensuring safe passage to Heaven.  But that looks nothing like what Jesus called the Apostles (or me!) to do.  
     His message was radical for His day, and it is still radical for the world today! Yet we have become too comfortable in our own image as Western Christians; and sadly, we seem not to recognize the true image of Christ; the image we are to aspire to.  
     I know I can’t expect the Church to just wake up tomorrow and the scales be removed from their eyes; or that their hearts and minds will be opened to the vastness of God and our potential to serve His Kingdom … but for goodness sake, let’s quit silencing those among us who are diligently searching the Word because they want their fellow Christian to see Jesus for ALL He is, and to see ourselves for ALL we can become! 
     As the website BibleHub comments, “Jesus Christ, Himself, is the one perfect manifestation in history of the complete work of the Holy Spirit in man”.  He wants that work to continue in us!  Why are we stifling it? God wants to do the same work in us as He did in Jesus, and it can be accomplished … if we just obey Jesus’ command to Follow Me.  Notice, He doesn’t say, “Follow man’s traditions in the Church”.  He doesn’t say, “Keep to a rigid theology that excludes what I can do in you”.  And He doesn’t say, “There are no new revelations of Me”.  He sent the Holy Spirit to us as our Helper; to reveal what Churches, Sunday Schools, Pastors; and yes, all the books in the world, cannot do … show us Christ in His fullness, and us in His image.  
     So let me finish by saying this … I am not making a blanket indictment of the entire Church.  I am simply pleading to my fellow Believers, who like the Pharisees, show skepticism, contempt, and disdain for anyone who threatens to upset their long-held belief system.  Let’s shake off our normalcy bias, and let us encourage each other and celebrate the hunger [that] those among us have to know Our Savior.  After all, God can still send forth men and women [who like Jesus, the man] can be His messengers to share a divine or supernatural disclosure of Himself.  Let us not limit God or His ability to use us!
     
     
     

The Exercise of God’s Sovereignty & How It Works With Our Power and Authority

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     The concept, as laid out in this post title, has been rattling around in my brain for awhile. And now I hope the Holy Spirit will help me elucidate the complexities of this topic.  To be sure, this is a very difficult idea to understand … As followers of Christ, we believe that God is Sovereign and Supreme in all aspects of the Universe that He created.  But what exactly does that mean?
     Can we agree that His Sovereignty means He has the ability to exercise His will in unlimited power and ways?  But does that mean He always carries out His will?  It is my opinion that God’s Supremacy is unrestricted, but I also believe that the Sovereignty of God has its parameters.  In other words, ultimately God is in complete control of all things, though He may choose to let certain events happen according to limits He has established — again, a matter of His Sovereignty.  So, I believe that God is totally independent and does as He pleases, without having to answer to us.  (As one of my favorite theologians and deliverance ministers, Dr. Charles Kraft, says, “God doesn’t answer Why questions”).  Then, it is apparent that the next question is, “What might some of those limits be?”

    First of all, God cannot do anything that goes against His own character.  He can’t lie; He can’t be tempted by evil; He keeps every promise He makes; He can’t contradict Himself; and He won’t revoke what He has given or promised us… and that includes our free will. That speaks to His character trait of Immutability — He does not change.  So that inherently means that if He has given us free will, He will not take it back, nor infringe upon it.
    The Bible is full of Scripture and examples of man using his free will to go against the will of God… Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the nation of Israel (God’s favored people) chose to rebel and follow after false gods.  Do you think either of these outcomes is what God desired, or what best served His purpose?  It is just as Joshua exhorted, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…”.  We have been given the choice to obey God, or not.  Could God, in His Sovereignty, have made Eve reject the serpent’s temptation?  Or closed the hearts and minds of the Israelites to the snare of the foreign gods?  Of course, He could have! But He, in His Sovereignty, He chose NOT to!
     So, how does this connect to our Dominion, or our Power and Authority; and does this change our opinion that God is in control of everything?  Let me reiterate one idea regarding God’s Sovereignty … He has the ability to control everything, if He wants.  But does He?  Let’s look at the case of spiritual and demonic attacks upon Believers.  It is a well-entrenched idea within today’s Body of Christ that prayer is a vital part of a Christian’s life… and I totally agree!  But I fear that it is sometimes looked upon as the primary tool in our arsenal against the evil forces of this world.  As Christians, we want to be obedient to Christ, and prayer puts our hearts in the proper “frame of mind” to desire that obedience.  We cannot pursue a relationship with our Lord without communing with Him; that’s the truth.  And we are exhorted to pray without ceasing; to keep those lines of communication open.
     But somehow the Enemy has convinced us that prayer is all we can do when we are confronted with his spiritual attacks.  And when those prayers aren’t answered, then he whispers that it was God’s will that we suffer and be brought to our knees in order to gain a closer relationship with Him.  I am not disputing that God allows discipline in our lives to correct our errant ways,and bring us back into obedience, but I cannot subscribe to the theory that it is always the case that we “just have to keep praying and hoping God will answer our prayers” … that somehow we didn’t pray hard enough, or our faith wasn’t strong enough for God to answer our petitions.
     What if He is desiring that we call upon the Power and Authority that has been bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior?  What if He is wanting us to demonstrate to the forces of wickedness that they no longer have dominion over the earth; that the Kingdom of God now exists on earth and we are the stewards of that Kingdom?  Or, that the dominion and power that was usurped from Adam and Eve has been re-bestowed, so to speak, upon us by the coming of Christ into the world, so that the Kingdom of Heaven is now present … on earth as it is in heaven!  How sad, to me, that we don’t recognize that and continue to languish in bondage, when we have been given the power and authority, in the name of Jesus, to be set free!
     Let me ask you this:  When you are continuously oppressed by demonic attacks, and you pray night and day, with no results, how do you explain that?  God just isn’t hearing me; I must pray harder?  Or, maybe you tell yourself that for some reason God is wanting this to happen, because He controls everything; otherwise the attacks would stop.  But when we pray for release and rescue, asking God to take it away, aren’t we are basically asking Him to do something that He told us to do?  Didn’t He say, And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give”?  But what were we freely given?  The power and authority to do these things!  And with that authority comes the responsibility to use it — not sit idly by, waiting for God to do the work He has told us to do!
     And let me suggest this thought … Can you find any instance in the Bible when Jesus prayed out a demon?  No!  He always cast them out!  And did He ever ask His Father to do the casting out for Him?  No!  He used the Power and Authority given to Him by His Father [and now transferred to us as co-heirs] to cast the demons out Himself.
     Now, I know some of you are thinking about the verse where Jesus tells His disciples that the reason they couldn’t cast out some demons is because those particular demons required prayer and fasting.  I believe that He wasn’t saying they should’ve prayed and fasted instead of casting out the demons, but that their faith levels weren’t high enough to cast it out, and that they needed to spend more time in prayer and fasting before they could drive this particularly strong demon out:  “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief…“.
     So, to bring this full circle — in the short time my husband and I have been involved with healing spiritual wounds and conducting our Deliverance Ministry, nearly every person who comes to us has tried desperately to pray away the oppression they are under.  If God is in control of everything, and He honors the prayers of His children, why wasn’t the oppression lifted?  Could it be that He wants us to follow Christ’s example?  Just as Jesus called upon His Father’s power to cast out demons and set the captives free, we who are Believers now have that same power available to us.  We just need to use it!  Jesus promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).  If you are saved, then you have the power of Heaven on your side!  I wish I knew when and why we lost that Truth; but it sure goes a long way towards explaining why so many Christians suffer demonic oppression in a helpless state … My people perish for lack of knowledge never made more sense!

Mark 16:17      “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils…”
   

     
 
   
   

The Person of Jesus Over Doctrine

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     For the last few days I have been concentrating on studying and doing research for the Book of Acts study I am leading with our Home Church group.  I can honestly say that my time spent in this pursuit is the best part of my whole day… if I could only spend all day, every day gleaning all the extra information that is available from Scripture, ancient writings, and commentaries, I would be content and blessed beyond measure.

     But there is a concept that pricked my spirit during this preparation time and I want to share it with you.  I had finished my notes on Acts, Chapters 6 and 7, which includes the supernaturally-powered speech that Stephen brings before the Sanhedrin, which directly leads to his martyr’s death.  It is a magnificent picture of the Holy Spirit, who filled Stephen [and led him] in presenting approximately 2034 years of history – from the call of Abraham to the Crucifixion — and to represent a case for God’s deliverance of Israel and the glorification of Jesus … all in less than 5 minutes! 
     But because the religious leaders of the Jews were so steeped in their structure of institutional religion and its customs, they were blinded to the supernatural power that was affecting Stephen.  Add to that, the fact that they had made an idol out of the Temple, which they accused him of blaspheming against.  Do you see anything here that resembles the state of our modern Church?  
     During my research, I came across a quote from the acclaimed preacher, Charles Spurgeon.  He wrote, “Beloved friends, I delight to preach to you all the doctrines which I find in God’s Word; but I desire ALWAYS to preach the person of Christ above the doctrine; the doctrine is but the chair in which Christ sits as a Prophet to instruct us.”  Well, my dear friends, that struck me like lightning! I’m afraid that, like the Sanhedrin, the modern Church has developed its own institutional religion that elevates its doctrine and tenets above the sharing of the Person of Christ. 
     We have so many customs, and rules, and rituals, that the message of WHO Christ is, and THE MIRACLES He did, and THE WORDS He spoke from His Father have become lost amidst a convoluted set of beliefs that keep us ineffective, focused inward, and without authority in this sinful world.  Instead of proclaiming the POWER and AUTHORITY of Jesus, the Person, we have made powerless idols out of Him and the Church Building and our denominational laws and traditions.

     There are times I want to scream the accusation Stephen shouted to his religious leaders:  You are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit!  When we deny or ignore the Power that was exhibited in the man, Jesus, and His Authority that came directly from God, then we are limiting the Kingdom work that can be done by the Church.  By teaching that the Holy Spirit comes to live in us at our conversion, and that’s it — nothing about evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives to do the things Jesus did [heal the sick, cast out demons, defeat the schemes of the devil]  how do we ever expect to distinguish ourselves from the outside, unsaved world???

     We have lost the wonder that the Samaritans must have felt when the Evangelist, Philip, came to share the news of who this man Jesus was.  Remember, the Samaritans were the descendants of pagans who had intermarried with the lowest classes of Jews after the Assyrians had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and carried off the wealthy and middle-class citizens.  They were considered half-breeds and there was a deep-seated prejudice between them and those Jews who considered themselves religious.  They would not have particularly been interested to hear what this man from Jerusalem, who worshipped in the Temple, had to say.  And today, there is nothing that the Church has to offer that the secular unbeliever wants to hear.  
     Yet Philip’s message not only conveyed the modern Church’s representation of Jesus as the Son of God, but this evangelist was led by the Holy Spirit to do miracles; Philip showed them the Power of the Holy Spirit and his authority to act on behalf of Jesus to heal the paralyzed and the lame; and as the Bible says, “unclean spirits (demons), shouting loudly, were coming out of many who were possessed”.  I have no doubt that the people of Samaria received the wonder of the Person of Christ without being burdened by all the external doctrine of the established religion.  In fact, Scripture says these acts of power and authority by Philip validated his message.  The Holy Spirit, acting through Philip, had confirmed and authenticated the message of salvation.   Is it any wonder that the unsaved world — in this age of technological marvels and spectacles — finds no validity in the repetitive message of “Jesus loves you”?   
    And that is what I strongly feel is missing in the Church today.  God and His Holy Spirit cannot be limited to residing in houses made by human hands.  We do not need to be making idols of structures built by men, or relying on creeds and traditions to portray our image of Christ.  The Bible says that those who heard Philip share his testimony of the Person of Christ were constantly amazed.  Do we Christians, housed in our buildings dedicated to God, project amazement to those outside the Body of Christ?  Do we create in them a yearning to be like Christ?  Do they see any evidence of His Power and Authority in our lives?  Do we carry that message to far-off places, like Philip, or challenge the status quo, like Stephen?
     Besides the fact that God-fearing people are leaving the Church building in search of the Person and the Power of Christ, I am concerned that the Body of Christ is sorely unprepared for the encroaching Evil that IS evident in the world.  THAT power is making itself known and felt and experienced.  If we, as believers and followers of Jesus, don’t begin to exercise the greater power of the Holy Spirit, as did Stephen and Philip [who were men like us], then we can expect to be overcome.  If we only have the Apostles Creed and the Communion Service to take into battle against the Enemy, we can expect to be defeated.  And, my friends, Jesus didn’t go to the Cross so that we would be left defenseless.  The early Christians knew that, and they called upon the Power He had clearly assigned to them, and they used their Authority as His witnesses, to declare the message of salvation and eternal life to all those who would follow this Person, called Jesus.  Yes, the message was important, but the evidence of Power and Authority sealed the deal.  
     Today, there are segments of the Body of Christ who are becoming disillusioned with the tired old rhetoric.  They don’t want the building anymore … they want more of who Jesus was and what He promised; they want evidence of the work and power of the Holy Spirit!  How I wish that everyone could have the faith of my friend, Steve, who when diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, called my husband and me and asked for prayer.  Of course, we prayed with and for him, but because he lived in the city where our Deliverance Ministry mentor lived, we also suggested that he visit with her and let the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit heal his afflictions and cleanse him of his sins.  Now, several months later, after surgery and what the doctors thought would be a life-long regimen of chemo, his cat scan shows that there is no trace of cancer in his body.  When his physician told him, “I just can’t explain it,” Steve replied, ” I can! It is the Power of the Almighty Living God; the Great I AM!”  Hallelujah, and I thank you, Jesus, for that powerful testimony!  I also pray that many more will come to experience this amazing power in their lives… and live [spend one’s life] to tell about it!!!
1 Corinthians 4:20    “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”