A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

earthquakeWe are living in exciting, but turbulent times. God is opening up new doors of opportunity for His people to embrace His call to be the salt and light of the world. Our nation is going through a major shaking. This is causing a ripple effect in the nations of the earth, many of which are going through their own upheavals. And, without a doubt, the Church, especially in our country, is also going through a shaking. There is more to come, for sure. Just as in the natural, a building’s foundations are often exposed and laid bare in an earthquake, so, in the spiritual, the Church’s underpinnings are quickly coming to light.

God’s purpose in allowing these convulsions is manifold. His primary interest is always the human heart. The heart is the foundation of our relationship with Him. He always knows the heart of every person, but we very often do not realize the condition of our own hearts. We easily deceive ourselves by claiming to believe certain things yet our actions prove otherwise. Sometimes, we are in need of a rude awakening, so God offends our minds to reveal what we truly believe in our hearts.

Scripture tells us no one but God is capable of knowing the heart (Acts 15:8), but Jesus also said that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). We can gauge where our own hearts are if we will listen to the words we speak. The same goes for what we post on social media. It has been glaringly obvious that so many people, believers included, have a lot of anger, hatred, prejudice, rebellion, pride, and deception in their hearts. God is not ok with that, and if we truly see Him as our Lord and Savior, neither should we be. He is committed to showing us what He sees, not to shame us, but to set us free.

In addition, many of us have turned our focus from God as Savior, to trusting in a man, a political party, or certain ideology to solve our problems. No human being, knowledge, or system can fix what is wrong in our nation or the Church. If we don’t already know that, we are in the process of learning it now. Not only have we misplaced our allegiance, but we are allowing it to divide us from one another. We have taken on the offenses of our culture,   when we should be displaying the love and mercy of Jesus to those who don’t know Him. Many have displayed great passion when defending their particular political beliefs; do they exhibit the same or greater passion for their Lord?

I am reminded of this passage, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”  God is shaking everything that can be shaken so that our foundations can be restored, both in our nation, and in His Church. The end result will be His glory, His kingdom, on earth, as it is in heaven, and a bride worthy of His Son.

 

 

 

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The Two Battles We Face in Life

saint-georgeLast week, I wrote about the basic truths, or keys, of spiritual warfare. If you didn’t see it, you can read it here. Today I want to expand upon these truths so that we can learn not only how to get free, but also, how to stay free. These are the two battles we must deal with throughout our lives – getting free from bondage, and staying free. Then we can walk in victory and the abundant life Jesus died to give us. Both battles require several things: 1) we must first recognize our need, 2) we must be willing to get help from trusted friends and/or leaders, 3) we must realize that we have to do things differently than we did before, and 4) we must be determined to persevere and not give up. Getting and staying free requires work, but if we are willing to do our part, God will always be faithful to help us in our weakness.

In my twenty plus years of ministering to people in bondage, I have often seen those who come for ministry expecting a quick fix. Our human nature, or flesh, wants to get out of pain as quickly and easily as possible. Unfortunately, God didn’t set it up to work that way. He works through process, and we must learn what that process looks like and how to cooperate with Him in it. The whole point of the process is to conform us into the image of Christ. That is always His will for everyone. This is why it’s impossible to by pass or cut short the process; He simply won’t allow it. He is fully committed to completing the good work He began in us. Therefore, it would be to our benefit to learn to cooperate with Him.

The greatest challenge in these battles, I have found, both in my own life, and in the lives of those I’ve ministered to, is changing the way we think. If we don’t learn to do this, we will never get free. Jesus’ predominant message when He walked the earth was “Repent!” To repent means, to change the way we think. Most, if not all of our problems, stem from this one issue. We do not think the way that God thinks. (Is. 55:8-9) We are not even close! To truly repent, we must learn to renew our minds.

There are three areas we need to renew our minds in – 1) our thoughts about God, 2) our thoughts about ourselves, and 3) our thoughts about others. This goes along with our ability, (by God’s grace), to fulfill the greatest commandment – to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. When we renew our minds to the truth of who God is, we will see ourselves as He sees us, and we will see others as He sees them. This must happen before we can love anyone. To know God is to love Him; to love God, is to love ourselves the way that He does, which then enables us to love others as He does.

Think about how different the Church would be if we all had our minds renewed! This is precisely why the enemy’s greatest weapon against us is deception. For when our thinking is distorted by lies, we are unable to love God, ourselves, or anyone else. Love is our greatest weapon;  without love, as Paul said, we are nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2) Having an unrenewed mind is like looking through a window that is severely cracked. Everything on the outside looks skewed and awry; we cannot see anything clearly. This is our hardest and most important battle, and God won’t do it for us. If we are willing to put forth the effort, He will certainly help us!

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to renew the mind is simple, but it does require time, effort, and patience. First, we must recognize and break agreement with the lies that we have believed, and receive the truth, as God reveals them to us. We must meditate on the truths every day for 30 – 60 days, until they become real in our heart, not just in our head. Head knowledge will never change us; it must be experiential, revelation knowledge that Holy Spirit reveals to our spirit. This comes from daily meditation. Meditation is simply thinking about, pondering, contemplating, “chewing on,” praying over, repeating the truths until they become second nature to us. It is similar to a cow chewing on its cud. The cow eats, regurgitates, and chews its food several times before finally digesting it. We must do this mentally, which requires disciplining and training our minds, literally.

We can do this as part of our quiet time each day, picking a Scripture verse, and journaling our thoughts and what God reveals to us. I won’t go into detail here about how to do that, but if you want to know more, you can read an article I wrote about this here. Learning to renew our minds is one part of the battle to get free. It is also a life-long habit we must practice to win the battle to stay free. It is God’s command to us (Rom. 12:2), and He never commands us to do anything He doesn’t give us the grace to do. We can do all things through His strength!

 

 

 

 

Keys of Spiritual Warfare

26033-thinkstockphotos-100176797-1200w-tnMy first introduction to the subject of spiritual warfare was around 1990. The church we were members of at the time held a conference called Resolving Spiritual Conflicts. Little did I know at the time that God would use that seminar to open my eyes to the reality of the spirit world, and the forces of darkness that occupy it. Because I didn’t grow up in church, I had no prior understanding of these things whatsoever.

Over the next several years, my understanding grew as I studied and read books on the subject, went through several phases of inner healing and deliverance, taught and ministered to women in addiction recovery, in church, in support groups, went through extensive training, and used all of this in my own ministry for over 10 years. It certainly wasn’t something I would have chosen to do, but it was part of God’s assignment for me and He gave me the grace I needed. Below are a few nuggets that may be helpful for those who haven’t gone down this same road. Far too many believers are still bound up, including pastors and leaders, and need to be free to be effective witnesses for the Kingdom.

Since the beginning, the enemy’s strategy against man has been to call into question God’s Word and His nature. This is clearly seen in his conversation with Adam and Eve in the Garden. In Genesis 3:1-5, the enemy questions what God said, and then lies about why He said it, implying that 1) He didn’t really mean what He said, and 2) He is trying to keep something from you. In other words, God’s Word can’t be trusted and He is stingy and withholding good things. We know our ancestors believed the lie, and to this day, many still believe these same lies. I was once one of them.

Satan’s greatest weapon against us is deception, for the nature of deception is that you don’t know you are deceived. In order to get free from deception, you must trust someone else (who is telling you that you’re deceived), more than you trust yourself. Not many are willing to do that. But there is another weapon he used before they got to the stage of deception, and that is temptation. We see this in verse 6 – “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Here, we see the three most common ways the enemy tempts us, 1) the lust of the eyes, 2) the lust of the flesh, and 3) the pride of life. This same strategy is seen in Jesus’ encounter during His forty day fast in the desert. It is also mentioned in 1 John 2:16. If we can learn to recognize these three types of temptation, we can resist them, and he has to flee. (James 4:7)

The third weapon the enemy uses against us is accusation, for his name means “accuser” (see Rev. 12:9). He is said to accuse God’s people day and night, before God’s throne. (Rev. 12:10) Unfortunately, he also works through God’s people to accuse each other. He first deceives us into believing that other Christians are the enemy, then uses us as his pawns to bring strife and division to the body through false accusations. We must learn to discern and confront this in ourselves if we are to bring in the great harvest of souls God is longing for!

Not only does he continually attempt to stir up dissension in the body, but also in our relationship with God. As stated earlier, he deceives us into believing lies about the nature of our heavenly Father. He looks for every opportunity, especially in our sufferings and trials, to malign His character. If we believe God is angry, disappointed, fed up or disgusted with us, or that we’ve sinned one too many times, we will not draw near to Him. If we believe God judges us when we sin, that He withholds from us because He is stingy, that He is displeased with us in our weakness and immaturity, we will not learn to trust Him. If we believe we must adhere to a set of rules, perform our perceived religious duties, such as fasting, prayer, worship, etc., or act super spiritual all the time, we will become religious and self-righteous, like the leaders in Jesus’ day.

The devil will even twist Scripture to achieve his purposes, just as he tried with Jesus in the wilderness. He disguises himself as an angel of light, often in the form of a “prophet” or “teacher,” or other leader that will lead us astray. He is able to perform false signs and wonders, deceiving many who flock to see such things. One key to discerning true supernatural activity, prophetic words, dreams, visions, or other revelations is this – does it lead you to worship Jesus in a deeper way, or does it cause you to follow after man?  Does it cause you to go harder after God, or lead you to pursue greater knowledge? We must use wisdom and discernment to recognize the difference.

There is much more that can be said, but these are basic truths, keys to help you get free and stay free from the bondage of the enemy. May the Lord continue to teach us His ways, so that we can walk in truth and the freedom He paid such a high price to give us!

 

 

Walking in Truth in an Epidemic of Deception

truth-lies-signIn today’s world, we see deception growing at an alarming rate. It seems more and more people, both believers and the lost, are being duped by fake news sites, false teachers, and duplicitous leaders than ever before. For years, a growing belief that truth is relative has become widespread. Many think that as long as they are sincere in their beliefs, they can decide for themselves what is true or not. But they are sincerely wrong, because truth is not relative, it is absolute. Truth is defined by one person only – the One who IS truth, and His name is Jesus. (John 14:6)

Jesus said the devil is a liar and the father of lies, and there is no truth in him. (John 8:44) So we know that much of the deception we are seeing is a result of people who are believing his lies. But Scripture also tells us we can deceive ourselves. This can happen in several ways: our prideful hearts can deceive us (Obadiah 1:3, Jer. 49:16); sin can deceive us (Rom. 7:11); believing God can be mocked can deceive us (Gal. 6:7); believing God tempts us can deceive us (James 1:13-16); and believing hanging out with the wicked won’t corrupt us, can deceive us (1 Cor. 15:33), to name a few.

Jesus said that knowing the truth will set us free (John 8:32), so seeking after, loving, and embracing truth should be one of our greatest desires and pursuits. We have been given God’s Spirit; He is also called the Spirit of Truth, who will lead us into all truth, according to Jesus. (John 16:13) He also acknowledged that God’s word is truth. (John 17:17) It is through speaking the truth in love that we grow into maturity. (Eph. 4:15) The belt of truth, in Eph. 6:14, is symbolic of truth being the piece of our protective armor that holds all the other pieces in place. Walking in truth is indeed great protection, guarding us from the enemy’s attacks. The Father seeks worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

Truth is vital to our spiritual growth and maturity. We must not settle for mere head knowledge of it, however; we must daily apply it to our lives. Deception is the enemy’s greatest weapon because the nature of it is that you don’t know when you are being deceived. To get free from deception requires one to humbly submit to someone they trust more than they trust themselves. Believing lies will always lead to deception – always. We must know the truth for ourselves, believe it, receive it, and walk in it, no matter the cost. To not do so is spiritual suicide.

One of the scariest passages in Scripture is Romans 1:18-32, describing the downward spiral God allows in the lives of those who know, but suppress, the truth. This word, “suppress” literally means “to detain, hold back, hinder, or restrain the course or progress of.” These people knew God, but didn’t glorify or give Him thanks. They exchanged His glory for His creation, worshipping and serving His creatures rather than Him. And they exchanged His truth for lies, and did not believe knowing Him was worthwhile. They even knew that doing these things is wrong, but continued to do them, and approved of others who do likewise. We can see this happening all around us even now.

Obviously, God sent His Son to show us and teach us the truth so we can be free to know Him as He truly is, and to know ourselves as well. He has given us His Word and His Spirit to help us. It is up to us to take advantage of what He has made available, to ask Him to, “Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God, my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” (Ps. 25:4-5)

4 Keys to Prepare Our Hearts for the Coming Days

Charlene S Hughes

As a believer, if you pay much attention at all to current events in recent years, it is 4keyseasy to see that the world we live in is rapidly changing. Every day it seems, there is another headline about Christians being martyred, children being abducted and sold into sex trafficking, racial riots, celebrities changing their gender, and others. It is as if we are living in the days of Isaiah 60:2, See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,…” It can be hard, at times, to stay focused on the Lord and His promises as we watch so many sliding deeper and deeper into depravity. 

Even the Church is becoming more divided over basic biblical truths such as the institution of marriage, denying the reality of sin, hell, and eternal judgment, and claiming that all are already saved without the need for repentance. Certainly, all…

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4 Keys to Prepare Our Hearts for the Coming Days

As a believer, if you pay much attention at all to current events in recent years, it is 4keyseasy to see that the world we live in is rapidly changing. Every day it seems, there is another headline about Christians being martyred, children being abducted and sold into sex trafficking, racial riots, celebrities changing their gender, and others. It is as if we are living in the days of Isaiah 60:2, See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,…” It can be hard, at times, to stay focused on the Lord and His promises as we watch so many sliding deeper and deeper into depravity. 

Even the Church is becoming more divided over basic biblical truths such as the institution of marriage, denying the reality of sin, hell, and eternal judgment, and claiming that all are already saved without the need for repentance. Certainly, all is not lost, nor is the Church doomed to fail, but we must be aware of the signs of the times in which we live. In fact, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for being unable to discern the signs of the times unfolding before their eyes, saying, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matt. 16:3b)

The danger in not being familiar with the signs of the times we live in is that we will be unprepared to face the difficulties, and take advantage of the opportunities that the signs are foretelling, when the time of their fulfillment comes. We could possibly be among those Jesus prophesied would fall away (Matt. 24:10-11). Many people, including believers, choose to turn a blind eye and not think about what could happen. Others give in to fear and self-preservation by stockpiling food, water and other material goods, hoping to somehow avoid any coming crisis. Still others are counting on being raptured away before the real troubles begin. Do any of these choices reflect the nature of Jesus?

I believe the best thing we can do to prepare ourselves for increasing difficulties is to spend time preparing our hearts. By that I mean, spending both quality and quantity time in the Lord’s presence, meditating upon His Word. The more we do this, the greater our faith will become, enabling us to stand no matter what comes against us. We also need to seek inner healing and deliverance in order to recapture any legal ground the enemy has to attack, torment, and deceive us. It also helps break lies we’ve believed about God, ourselves, and others so we can have healthier relationships. We need to be a part of a life-giving community, whether traditional church or small group, with people we know and trust. We are called a body because we need each other. We need to spend time in worship and prayer, not just at weekly meetings, but in our homes every day. Worship and prayer help us refocus on how big and awesome our God is, taking our focus off of our situations or the latest world crisis. Whatever we focus on grows.

I’m sure there are other ways, but these are a great place to start preparing your heart. Each of these require time, and time is short. We can’t afford to put off or wait until we feel like it to begin this critical preparation. Step out in faith, and trust the Lord to meet you and help you; it will be worth it!