Monday, October 21, 2019

Blessed Beyond the Curse

Exodus , which is the dispensation of the Law or the Law age the lasted for 1500 years. During this time God gives man a greater revelation of Himself. Not only does He reveal Himself through a visible manifestation of a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud (Exodus 13:21) and as a Law giver (Exodus 20:1-17), but one of the greatest revelations that God had given to man during this time, is that He reveals His very nature to him (Exodus 34:5-7) This is very important to understand because the LORD does not change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8) The Apostle Paul tells us that the purpose of the Law is to show a sinner their guilt before God and stops them from justifying themselves (Romans 3:19), it brings the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20) and it defines sin (Romans 7:7). The Law does not give the knowledge of or define God, but only sin.

God sets up a temporary system to deal with mans sin (Leviticus 1 - 7, Hebrews 9 - 10) but we see something revealed that shows us God's true nature even though the Law had been given. In Deuteronomy 28:1-14 we see that God is the one who blesses not the one who curses or causes bad things to happen. However, in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 it seems to indicate that God does cause bad things to happen to His people. This is where many people have learned to believe that bad things come from God. After all God does not change and bad things are happening to His people so it must be true for today also. But let's take a closer look at what the Bible reveals.

"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:" (Deuteronomy 28:15) The first thing we need to note is that this does not say that God will cause all of the curses to come upon them, but the curses are a result of their decision to disobey God, sound familiar doesn't it (Adam and Eve). The curses would come upon them due to their CHOICE to disobey. It was the same thing that happened to Adam when he chose to disobey God and become the slave to sin and Satan. The same principle that applied to Adam also applied to Israel. However, God in His true nature of being merciful, gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth, gives Israel the principle to live in His blessings and not the curses of sin and Satan.

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

All Israel had to do was choose God rather than sin and Satan to live a blessed life on earth free of bad things happening to them. However, if we look through Israel's history we see that they repeatedly rejected God and became slaves to sin which opened the door for Satan to have his way with them. Remember, Adam had forfeited his perfect life and all his authority to Satan and in doing so took himself out from under God's freedom and blessings to become Satan's slave. It was the same for Israel. They did not choose God's authority, protection and blessings to flow in their midst which would bring health, wealth and long life (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) but chose to reject God and let sin and Satan have their way bringing curses and ultimately destruction upon them. We see this very thing occurring throughout Israel's history as recorded in the Bible (Deuteronomy 28:15-68 the curse for disobedience)

We must see things from a correct perspective. God created man in perfection and gave him choice. It was man who chose to reject God and accept Satan as his master and all the evil that came with it. It was Israel that God chose and wanted to bless. It was Israel who chose sin (Satan) to rule over them through their rejection (disobedience to) of God. God does not choose bad things to happen to man, He permits them to happen because He will not encroach man's will to choose. If man chooses sin and Satan then he will reap the destructive nature of that choice. However, if man chooses God, he becomes a benefactor of all the blessings that God has promised, it is just that simple.

There are many believer that might say, "I am a believer and I did not choose this sickness, disease, financial problems, etc. so it must be God's will." However, when you look closer you will find that a statement like this is made due to one of two thing. First, many believers let their body and soul have rule over their life and therefore open the door for sin and Satan to exploit them. The other is because many believers live their life in a natural type of faith that every person has. It is called sense knowledge faith or mental assent. It means that ones faith is based on ones mind and or senses, that is, seeing is believing, (John 20:24-25) and not revelation faith that emanates from the heart (recreated spirit) that is, believing that you have received even though there is no tangible evidence (John 20:29, Hebrews 11:1) These things prevent believers from understanding the fullness of redemption which God has provided through Jesus Christ.

For many believers, redemption has been reduced to accepting Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior for the purpose of eternal life only, rather than seeing that redemption has completely restored man to what Adam was and had before the fall. This can only be realized through faith in Christ and in the integrity of God's Word. When believers come to realize that bad things do not come from god they we begin to understand that they no longer have to live in defeat nor will they have to live a life constantly trying to defeat the devil, because he is already defeated. (Colossians 2:15) They will rest in the LORD because their faith has brought them to know that it is "God who ALWAYS leads us in triumph in Christ..."

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Good, Good Father (Part 2)

Now that God had placed Adam in the garden, gave him authority, specific direction and even a companion, a wife that was comparable, that is, equivalent in quality, we will begin to discover the actual root of the bad things that afflict mankind. We continue, "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:1-5)

One of the unique attributes that God had given to mankind was the freedom of choice. Adam was a spirit with a soul encased within a body. His spirit was perfect because as we saw, God breathed His Spirit into him. Due to this, his soul and body (flesh) were under full submission to his spirit. We do not know at this point in scripture why Satan chose to whet the appetite of the woman with his deception, but his false truth claims cause her soul to reason between two claims of truth, God's and Satan's. Next, we see her response to Satan's words. "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6)

Unfortunately for mankind she chose wrong, but that is not the whole of it. Notice that when the woman ate of the forbidden tree she also gave it to her husband "with her" and he ate. Against some popular teaching that says Adam was not around when his wife was being seduced is not an accurate account. In fact he was "with her" and watch the entire deceptive work of Satan unfold and did nothing to prevent it. Remember, he had the authority, not Satan, and did not use it against Satan's attack. Think about it, all he had to do was to speak and Satan would have had to obey. He could have said, "Satan get off the earth and never return" and that would have been the end of it forever. However, he chose to disobey the command of the LORD and by this act of disobedience, forfeited his God given rights and authority to Satan. (Luke 4:5-6) Now instead of Satan being under mans authority man was now under Satan's authority. Man not only gave up his authority but also his connection with God because he was now spiritually dead. God is Spirit and relates to mankind in spirit. (John 4:24)

With Satan in charge of mans affairs, so to speak, let's look at what the Bible reveals as his nature. He is adversary, hater, opponent, enemy, accuser, slanderer, whisperer, enchanter, beguiler, tempter, liar, thief, murderer, do we get the point? His activities are to slander God to man and man to God; oppose God's ministers; pervert the Word of God and hold man captive through oppression, deception, possession, torments, vexing and buffeting. Because man is spiritual dead, Satan manifests these things through the soul (mind, will and emotions) and the body (the flesh). Even though there is much more evidence in the Bible that bad things do not come from God, we could actually stop here and logically conclude that all the bad things on earth are the result of the fall of man, that is, the destructive nature of sin and Satan. Adam's lack of keeping his focus on the Creator and using the authority that he was given, caused him to fall prey to the creation and become a slave to sin and Satan, who was now his new master.

Unfortunately, many believer's today fail in the same way. They have been taught that God let's bad things happen to them which paints a false picture of who God truly is. Christ has restored man and in that restoration has given him authority once again. By faith in Christ, man is no longer a slave to sin and Satan (Romans 6:14) and yet many time believers fall prey by allowing their soul and body, the very place where Satan makes his attack, to rule over them, rather than exercising their recreated spirit where the believer has the power to overcome the soul, body, sin and Satan. Jesus paid the price for man's disobedience (Romans 5:17-21), He defeated Satan (Colossians 2:15) and has given the believer authority over Satan (Matthew 28:18, Mark 16:17-18, Luke 10:19, 24:49). It is a lack of faith and poor teaching concerning God's will, nature, character, purpose and plan that promotes this unbiblical doctrine in the church.

Think about it. If sin and Satan are the product of all evil and Christ has saved humanity from these very things, then why would God still allow bad things to happen to His children? (Romans 8:16-17) He wouldn't! Bad things are still the product of sins destructive nature and the wickedness of Satan as it was in the beginning of man's history. However the good news is, Christ has delivered man from all of these things. (Isaiah 43:25, 53:4-6; Romans 6:14; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 2:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; these are but a few Scripture concerning this) However, we must keep in mind that man still has the right to chose concerning these matters. It comes down to choosing to place faith in the Truth of God's Word, not the false truth claims of faithless teachers and the deceptive lies of Satan.

Remember, Satan came with his claims of truth in the garden that opposed the real Truth of God. His tactics and the destructive nature of sin have not changed. Believers must have an active faith in God's Word. The Apostle Paul tells us, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) It is only through faith in Christ and the integrity of God's Word that believers will truly know that our Heavenly Father is a good, good Father.

Monday, October 7, 2019

A Good, Good Father (Part 1)

For centuries, and even today, many Christians are unsure of the trials they face in this life. For many, it comes down to these questions. "Does God permit bad things to happen to His people." Does God use bad thing to chasten His People." Is God behind all the bad things that happen in the world." When I use the expression bad things, I mean sickness, disease, poverty, premature loss of life, wars, and what we call natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, etc). It will certainly take some time to thoroughly address these questions, but I do want to give you the answer to these questions up front now, emphatically NO! Bad things do not come from God!

One of the reasons why many believers have fallen prey to believing that God uses bad things, for whatever reason, against His children, is due to church leaders having a lack of understanding God's true nature and character which effects their understanding of His will. They use the statement that "God is sovereign" but in saying so they insinuate that God in His sovereignty permits Himself to operate outside of His Word. God certainly is sovereign, but He does not operate outside of His Word. Several times in John's gospel we see statements from Jesus such as, "Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:34) "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." (John 5:30) "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (John 6:38) 

So, the words and actions of Jesus are God's will. There is no account in the ministry of Jesus as revealed in the gospels, that God used Him to promote bad things upon people because it was His sovereign will. On the contrary, "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." (Acts 10:38) The reality is, God always did and always will do good. Of course the end will eventually come where those who oppose God will pay the price for their rejection and hatred toward Him and Jesus Christ.    

Another thing that we need to look at concerning this, is that many church leaders have a gross misunderstanding of creation. These two together have promoted a false image of the Living God. Genesis records, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"..."Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was VERY GOOD. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day." (Genesis 1:1, 31) and "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (Genesis 2:1-3) Note that after God had created everything, "God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from ALL His work which He had done."

In other words, everything that God would ever do was set in motion in the six days of creation and after the sixth day, His work was completed. This means that everything that would happen from this point forward to the end of time in the mind of God was very good. There is no indication in creation the God meant, desired or even purposed that He should use something to foster bad things. Remember, God is the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the End. He is not bound by time and space and therefore He saw the end at the beginning. If we can comprehend this, we will begin to understand many wonderful things concerning God's will, nature, character, purpose and plan.

In chapter two of Genesis we see in great detail what God had created on the sixth day specifically those things pertaining to man. First, we see that God formed man of the dust of the ground, but it wasn't until God breathed His Spirit into man that man became a living soul, he was made alive in God. There is not one other created being or thing in all creation that God gave such special and intimate attention to other than man. We see this as He Himself breathed His Spirit into man. We also see that God had created the earth, water and vegetation which means that the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were present before man was created. We also see that God chose a specific place called Eden where He place man and gave man specific direction. In those directions, God gave Adam authority over all things on the earth. Basically, from God's perspective, if anything on earth got out of line, Adam did not have to ask God to deal with it, but he had the power, the authority, to put it back in line. All things were subject to Adam.

The only one that had more authority than Adam was God Himself. King David reveals, "For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas." (Psalm 8:5-8) In the Hebrew, this indicates that God had made man a little lower than Himself. This is very significant to the believer today when we begin to look at what redemption truly means through Jesus Christ.

Next, we see that God gave Adam one command that required his obedience, "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17) And finally, we see that God made Adam a companion whom he called woman. Keep in mind that the creation of man, God's directives to man and His placement of man in Eden had all taken place on the sixth day of creation. At the end of the sixth day of creation, everything was set in motion by God. Believers must understand this if they are to truly understand that bad things do not come from God. As we proceed, I pray for the Holy Spirit to give us a greater revelation of our God, for He truly is a good, good Father...

Monday, September 30, 2019

Settle Down

The Apostle Paul reveals some interesting news concerning dealing with his flesh. He tells us, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:27) To bring something into subjection means to rule over; to take authority over; to bring under control; to have dominion over. Paul considered his body, his flesh to be and enemy with which he must contend. He brings a level of discipline to his life for the purpose of subduing his flesh, that is, all of the corrupt and carnal inclinations that the flesh can exhibit. He did this to show that he was not a slave to his body or under the dominion of evil passions, but that he is fully under the dominion of Jesus Christ. Because Paul was an Apostle does not mean that he was more saved than any other believer. It does not mean that he had more authority over his body than any other believer. Every believer has the ability to bring his or her body, the flesh into subjection in the Name of Jesus. This is not based on shear determination, but an act of ones own will submitting to God and exercise faith in Christ.

Paul also tells us, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." (Romans 7:18) "In me" refers to the entire man in whom sin and righteousness struggle, in whose unregenerate condition sin is victor, having its dominion in the flesh. Another element introduced here is "the will." Though the will may be there, the flesh, if left unchecked, will hinder the ability to do good, which is also present in the believer. It is called "grace." "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while 
effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMP)  

Next, the Apostle James gives us a powerful message along these same lines. "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh." (James 3:1-12)

A look at Proverbs we also see what power the tongue has, "You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth." (Proverbs 6:2) "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21) In other words, you and I are the rulers of our bodies. We must let the spirit man on the inside rise up and take charge. One of the ways we do this is putting a watch over our words. Smith Wigglesworth said it this way. “If someone asks, how is Smith Wigglesworth feeling today?” I tell him, I never ask Smith Wigglesworth how he feels, I tell him how he feels.” Speaking to or making decrees from God's Word over our bodies through lips of faith will release the power of God's Word and at the same time we will be exercising discipline by not permitting our flesh to run amuck with its passions. Yes, releasing God's Word from the lips of faith is that powerful. Isaiah tells us, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)

You might think, "Well God said that about His Word that goes forth from His mouth." The Bible tells us, "Then God said, let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him" (Genesis 1:26-27) To be created in the image and likeness of God is to have His very nature and character. The Apostle Peter tells us, The Apostle Paul tells us to, "be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1) The Apostle John tells us, "...because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17) The Apostle Peter also tells us, 
"For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:3-4 AMP)   

As you can see, we are to act like our Father God because believers are like Him. So, if the passions of the flesh try to dictate to you, simply reject them in the Name of Jesus and remind yourself of these wonderful words from the Holy Spirit for you, and speak them aloud through the lips of faith, "I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20) Amen...

Monday, September 23, 2019

Continuing the Ministry Jesus Began

 The Holy Spirit through Luke tells us, "The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." (Acts 1:1) Notice closely, "all that Jesus began both to do and teach." When looking at the ministry of Jesus as revealed in the gospels and the ministry of the early church as revealed in the Book of Acts, there is not one account that either went into a town, village, city or any other geographic area to wage warfare against stronghold, ruling spirits, principalities, powers, might and or dominions by praying them down. In fact, there is no direct scriptural support of either Jesus or believers in the early church doing such. However, they did deal directly with specific demonic forces in which they came into direct contact with.

The reality is, and this is not to offend anyone, trying to battle with evil spirits in heavenly places is an effort of the flesh. Again, there is no scriptural evidence of such in either Jesus' ministry or the early churches ministry. However, we do see in Ephesians, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12) and these things do exist over geographic areas. Nevertheless, believers need to understand their position and the realms of their authority, as revealed in scripture, concerning these things or we can get over into the flesh.

So, how did Jesus and the early church prevail over these forces in heavenly places. Let's look at some examples from the scriptures, "And Jesus was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (Luke 4:18-19) This was the ministry that Jesus lived out as we can clearly see throughout the gospels.

Again, there in not one reference in the gospels concerning His ministry of battling evil spirits in the heavenly places. The only time we see Jesus in a spiritual combat if we can use that term, was during his direct contact with Satan as revealed in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. The fact is, rather than spending time praying down demonic strongholds, He made direct contact with them by ministering to the people and as recorded in Hebrews 2:4 "God also bearing witness through Jesus Christ both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will." The ministry of Jesus was not focused on tearing down strongholds over cities or nations. It was preaching and teaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God accompanied by signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit that brought strongholds down in peoples lives.

Concerning the early church, in the middle of persecution, the early church did not gather to intercede in attempts to tear down strongholds over cities or nations as we will see. Upon the release of Peter and John from custody the Bible records, "And being let go, they went to their own companions and re rted all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord." (Acts 4:23-24) We see they raised their voices to God. They did not raise their voices against demonic stronghold over a geographic area in an effort to chase them away, bring them down or to have them stop working through people. Look at how they prayed, "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29-30) Again, they did not pray down demonic strongholds but prayed to the LORD and asked for boldness to preach the gospel and that signs and wonders confirm the Word. Here is God's response to their prayer, "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:31)

If we were to continue through the Book of Acts, we would see that they went through more persecution, but again they did not pray down demonic stronghold but went out and preached God’s Word and the LORD confirmed His Word with miracles, signs and wonders. The results, “The word of God grew and multiplied." (Acts 12:20) We see in Acts 19, the Apostle Paul goes to Ephesus and it tells us, "Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them." (Acts 19:11-12)  We also see the event of the seven sons of Sceva trying to cast a demon out of a man, but they were overpowered by the evil spirit in the man. The conclusion of this event shows us, "This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed." (Acts 19:17-20)

Finally, the Apostle Paul speaks to us concerning his ministry. "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient, in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel." (Romans 15:18-20) His aim was to preach the gospel in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient, in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God. Think about it, how many years have believers been hold up in the church building praying down spiritual strongholds over their towns, cities and even nations and still see no results after years of this type of praying? Not only are they not seeing improvements for good, but things seem to be worse.

So, let us take a lesson from Jesus and the believers in the early church and, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20) "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:17-18) And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen." (Mark 16:20) "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20)

We have the authority, let’s simply use it correctly so that the Father is Glorified, the Name of Jesus is magnified, the Word of God grow mightily and prevails and the captives are saved, healed, delivered, made whole, completely set free in Jesus’ Name. This is how strongholds come tumbling down, simply by continuing the ministry that Jesus began releasing the power of His Name, through the Holy Spirit...

Monday, September 16, 2019

Waring or Ruling

Some may remember that during the period from about 1985 until about 1995 the idea of spiritual warfare had become the focus of teaching, preaching and music in many sectors of the church. However, in the same sectors of the church many have overemphasize it and have taught it from an extra biblical perspective resulting in one of two things. First, many believers become fearful and apprehensive if one mentions the devil, demons, and evil spirits and their activities, so this group of believers believe it would be better not to ever mention the devil or evil spirits. On the other hand other believers feel that the church should take a militant posture and wage warfare against principalities, powers, might and dominions over geographic areas. Now what I am about to say may shock some who have taken either of these positions, but is either of these positions biblically sound?

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Corinthians 2:11) "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) Well if the church does not teach believers from the Word of God how to deal with the devil, the enemy will just run rampant in their lives because they won't know that they have authority over the devil and his forces. Therefore, being fearful and not talking about or dealing with the devil and demons is certainly not biblically sound. So, what about taking a militant posture and waging warfare against principalities, powers, might and dominions, especially over geographic areas?

Interestingly enough, studying the New Testament, especially the epistles, it is amazing how seldom the words war and warfare are mentioned and when they are mentioned the devil is not spoken of in connection with either of these words. For instance, "Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?" (1 Corinthians 9:7) Paul isn't referring to combating the devil. In context with what Paul is conveying to the church, he is simply making the point that ministers should be adequately paid. Next, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,  and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

This is one of the passages of scripture that has been widely used and applied in battling demons over cities and countries, that is, geographic areas. But it's clear, when taken in context, Paul is talking about something different. The casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God are not over geographic area but over believers own thoughts and imaginations. Paul is admonishing believers to take control of their thoughts so they can prevent the devil's lies from getting a stronghold in their minds. He is telling the church that the truth of God's Word is a spiritual force mighty enough to overcome the lies and deception Satan tries to bring against the believers mind to bring them into bondage.

Looking on, we see, "This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck." (1 Timothy 1:18-19) Here, Paul is simply telling Timothy to stay in the fight of faith and fulfill the call of God in his life. Again, the devil is not mentioned in these scriptures. Next, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." (2 Timothy 2:3-4) Once again, this has nothing to do with the devil. Paul is simply instructing Timothy to stay committed to the call of God in his life regardless of the cost. To be a good soldier for Christ it takes discipline and dedication.

Finally, the other main text used and applied to battling demons over geographic areas is found in Ephesians. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore…" (Ephesians 6:10-14a) (Note: the rest of verse 14 thru verse 17 talks about the various pieces of spiritual armor which I will not address at this time)

As we can clearly see, first and foremost believers are "to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" by putting on the whole armor of God. Here Paul uses the word “wrestle.” There is a vast difference between wrestling and fighting a war. First, the word wrestle not only describes a struggle, but it describes it in a figurative sense as to the spiritual conflict engaged by believers over evil. To take the thought of wrestling out further, according to Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, the word "wrestle" here is, "to sway." So, the inference here is, if we let him, the devil will try to sway us away from “Fighting the good fight of faith,” to falling prey to doubt, and unbelief concerning God’s Word. This was the very tactic that the devil used in the Garden. The serpent swayed the woman from the truth, that is, what God said, by asking her, "Has God indeed said..." This created an argument as she reasoned in her mind, "Has God indeed said." Her mind now created arguments against the knowledge, the truth, of God. Simply put, the devil swayed the woman from believing God.

Believers do not have to overpower and overcome the devil, that is, wrestle with him in their own strength, we simply wrestle demonic forces by our faith in God's Word from a position of victory and triumph, not fear or being militant. Why? Because we are seated with Christ and have authority over them in Christ. (Ephesians 1:18-23, 2:4-10) Therefore, the only wrestling we engage in, is what Paul told Timothy, "fight the good fight of faith." Finally, Paul tells us "to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore…" This very posture is found throughout the Pauline Epistles. We see, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13),  “…for by faith you stand." (2 Corinthians 1:24) "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand." (Romans 5:1-2) "That you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." (Philippians 1:27) "Stand fast in the Lord, beloved." (Philippians 4:1)

Simply put, the believers posture against the wiles of the devil is to stand firm in faith, in grace, in one spirit, in the power of God’s might, that is, His Word, as victors, putting a stop to all the devils schemes in every circumstance that we may encounter. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fishing Sometimes Means Casting

Although John the Baptist did not perform any miracles, his message of the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God), moved in the hearts of the people. Jesus tells us,  "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matthew 11:12) There was a pressing to see the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. We also see, that after the forty days of temptation of our Lord in the desert, Matthew records, "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) Both John and Jesus were the only ones of that time revealing the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." (1 Corinthians 4:20) Although miracles, signs and wonders are the main manifestation of the kingdom of God, our focus will be on using the power or authority to deal with demons. 

The scriptures reveal Jesus and the early church believers releasing God's power and authority as they preached and presented the Kingdom. An example of this is found in the ministry of Jesus, "Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned." (Luke 8:26-33) 

Take notice, "When he (the man who had demons) saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me! (verse 28) and Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them." (Verse 32) Because the demons in the man recognized Jesus, and started the confrontation, Jesus was able to simply used His authority to defuse the situation which freed the man. We find a similar situation in the ministry of the Apostle Paul, "Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour." (Acts 16:16-18)

Notice, that Paul and Silas went to prayer and the demon possessed girl approached them and followed them around for many days. At first glance, you would think that this possessed girl was promoting Paul and Silas's ministry. However, this was not the case. We see that Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour." As we see, the demon in the girl started the confrontation against Paul, the believer. Like we saw with Jesus, Paul simply used his authority, spoke to the spirit and cast it out. In both instances, Jesus with the Gadarene demoniac and Paul with the girl who had a spirit of divination, the demons manifested and began the confrontation. Jesus and Paul had the authority to put an end to it. Think about it this way. If the demonized man had seen Jesus and the demonized girl had seen Paul and did not manifest or confront them, there may not have been a confrontation and the possibility exists that neither of them would had been delivered from demons.

Next, we will look at a situation where a demon was silent, non-confrontational. "Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him." (Luke 13:10-17)

Of course we see a typical response of religious leaders with their doctrines of man. Here they ridicule Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Jesus responds, "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, think of it, for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" We see that this woman had been bound by Satan, the source of all sickness and disease. However, the woman never asked Jesus to heal her, nor did the spirit of infirmity that held her say anything to Jesus or cause a commotion, yet Jesus saw her and released her from Satan’s grip. So, did Jesus over step His realm of authority? Absolutely not! She was in a house of God, a synagogue. Jesus had the authority and simply used it to free the woman. You better believe that if the gift of discerning of spirits is operating or a demon manifests in a church service of any kind, whether the church building, small group meeting in a house, or any place where two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name, the believe or believers have the authority and need to exercise it.

I am not trying to be critical or condescending in any way, but when was the last time, if ever, you received training in what to do if a demon manifests in a church gathering? What I am getting at, is, today, most believers, including church leaders would not know what to do if a demon manifested. Unfortunately, many church leaders and most believers have bought into modern psychiatry and all the intellectual reasoning, thereby labeling a person having a demon manifestation with some kind of phobia or mental breakdown. When reading the gospels, people would come to Jesus and say things like, "My son or daughter has a demon." I find this interesting because these people were not born again. They did not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. They were not given the various gifts of the Holy Spirit and yet they recognized what the problem really was. I say this not for believers to be demon conscience but to be God inside minded, knowing their identity, position, and authority in Christ and as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.

So, sometimes when we are fishing for the souls of people, that is, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, we may need to cast out demons, but always remember, "For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." (1 Corinthians 4:20) and also remember, if you are born again then "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) Grace and peace be with you...