THE BATTLE BEFORE THE BATTLE… [Part II]

Spiritual Blog - Faith

Luke 21:7-36…  Key Verse: 26 – FEAR.

Last time we began laying a foundation for understanding and consideration of Covenant.  Today, we will pick up where we left off and continue.  The Problem, as we saw last time is rooted in FEAR and that demands a question be asked and answered.  How do we control something we cannot control, in the natural?  I don’t mean to be confusing but if you go back to the beginning, to the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Adam you realize that we participated in Adam’s sin, the Cosmic Rebellion.  No, we were not there but through the inherent doom that came upon the race through sin we are participants through Disobedience.  It was in the Fall that man became the Center of his Universe. 

The snake came to Adam and Eve and suggested, “you shall be as God…”  Simply, Adam & Eve fired God as God and installed self on the throne of their lives and we do the same in our rejection Him.  That was and is the Ultimate Rebellion.  Romans 6:16 informs us “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”   By Disobeying God, they obeyed the devil and through that act became his slaves.  The Dominion was lost.  Spiritual Authority was lost.  Power was lost.  Relationship was lost and Covenant was lost.  In that sense, man was born-again backward.  It was not simply eating the fruit of the tree that plunged the race into depravity but DISOBEDIENCE.  It could have been a bridge over a stream that God said, “Don’t Cross”.  It was DISOBEDIENCE!

I would never lessen the reality that the devil is a supernatural being and we are natural beings, therefore when he, as with Job, brings things into our path, in our natural strength we are no match for him.  It is there that FEAR rushes in like a flood.  As long as we occupy the throne of our lives we are a target for Fear.  However, if our focus is God and on God – FEAR IS BANISHED! 

There are two approaches or ways to handle Fear.  In Psalm 56:3, David said, “When I am afraid I put my Trust in Thee…”  Isaiah said in Isaiah 12:2, “Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid…”  Both are good, but which is better?  Would that not be to TRUST first and not fear rather than FEAR first and then trust.  Both bring us to a place of victory but one eliminates some of the pain.  Jesus promised and assured us in Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for our Father has chosen to gladly give you the Kingdom.”  The writer of Hebrews declared in 13:6, “…so that we can confidently say, The Lord is My Helper, I will not be afraid.  What shall man do to me?”  John said in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”  The Psalmist, in 27:1-3, spoke of God and His promises, power and purpose in life and how that assures us so that fear cannot grip us.  Likewise, in Psalm 31:13-14, 20 does the same.  The writer of Proverbs challenges us in 1:33, “But he who listens to me shall live, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.”  The Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power and love and discipline (soundness of mind).”   One of the most powerful challenges with regard to Trust and Fear is in Proverbs 10:24, “What the wicked fears will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted.”

I am not speaking of a momentary bout with FEAR but becoming FEARFUL and thereby becoming wicked.  We need to remember that it is a “Spirit of Fear.”   I love Hebrews 12:14, where the writer speaking of the work of Christ on the Cross said, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render POWERLESS (unemploy) him who HAD (past tense) the power of death, that is, the devil.”  HALLELUJAH!  Then in verse 15 he says, “and might deliver those who through FEAR OF DEATH were subject to slavery all their lives.”  There are two groups of people on earth.  Those enslaved by the Fear of Death and those who have been delivered.  Which are you?  Isaiah 8:12 urges, “…you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.” WHY?  We have Hope in Christ.  We have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.  We are BORN AGAIN and our names are Written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  WE ARE SAVED and have become New Creations in Christ Jesus!

FEAR is rampant in our world and Jesus spoke of the end times in Luke 21 and warned that men’s hearts would fail them from fear, and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world…  If we are to overcome Fear, understand Covenant, and become ALL that God wants us to be we MUST learn the method and means of overcoming FEAR.

I will pause here and pick up next time and hopefully, we can discover how to dispel Fear in our lives and walk in full victory in Christ Jesus.  God bless you richly on this wonderful day!

 

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THE BATTLE BEFORE THE BATTLE…

Spiritual Blog - Battle

Luke 21:7-36…  Key Verse: 26 – FEAR.

             I believe in Covenant in every dimension of life.  I believe in Covenant Relationships, Covenant Marriage, Covenant Business, and Covenant with God.  The Bible is filled with various Covenants and aspects of Covenants and it would be impossible to conduct a cursory reading of Scripture and not see Covenant, the blessing, and curse thereof.  If Covenant is such a major part of Scripture surely it is important enough for us to consider and pursue, in our walk with God.

However, it is my contention that before we can look at Covenant, which is a 12-18-month study at a minimum but in reality, is a lifetime adventure and journey.  Covenant is far too great a topic to tackle in a short devotional so my hope is to whet your appetite and encourage you to become a diligent student of the Word of God in this an all areas.  Covenant is at the Heart of God for His people and KEY to our BECOMING what He is coming back for, a GLORIOUS CHURCH, without spot or wrinkle, walking in the fullness of His Victory.  We are COMPLETE in Him and without Him, we can do nothing.  It is Christ IN US that is the Hope of Glory.  If through understanding God’s Covenant(s) we can better understand God and more fully enter His Rest, is it not something that is worthy of our consideration?

In considering Covenant it is imperative that we have an understanding of what HAS happened, what IS happening, WHO we are, and the TIME(s) in which we live.  We are in, what I would call, “The Battle Before the Battle.”  I believe we are living in the most exciting and crucial time in human history, not because of politics but because of God’s timetable and Covenant(s).  If we are to be effective soldiers of the Cross we must learn to redeem the time and know the time of our visitation.

I suggest that no matter what stage you are at in your spiritual development, this is important for you personally. If you are a “babe” in Christ, a “seasoned” theologian, or a “fully matured” man or woman in Christ Covenant is important because you CANNOT WALK in the fullness of God’s Covenant and Purpose if you do not understand both the Covenant and the Foundation of that Covenant.  I do not have time to go into the elementary principles of basic Christianity but God wants us to BE ALL WE CAN BE in Him.  I know that is the U.S. Army’s slogan but it belonged to God before the Army and the Army cannot make you ALL that God wants you to be, so this is far more important to grasp and understand.

In Matthew 10:26-28, Jesus instructed His disciples regarding their mission and ministry.  He gave them authority and power and warned them of the dangers and problems that lay ahead.  He told them where the danger would come from as well as how to respond to it.  Discerning the Times is part of God’s personal covenant with each of us.  In verse 36, He said, “And a man’s enemies will be members of his own household.”  The word “household” originates from the word “oy-kos” which means family (kin) and could include the spiritual family as well as the natural.  He warns that if there is No Covenant there will be no loyalty.

We learn, in Scripture, that one of if not the greatest weapon of the devil is the creation of DOUBT.  However, if we dig deeper we learn that doubt is the by-product of the real problem and that is FEAR.  The fearful make irrational decisions.  They can only see the problem (real or perceived).  They can only see the danger or potential danger, not the solution.  FEAR creates a sense of hopelessness and convinces the heart and mind that the situation is hopeless and from that fear springs the plant of Doubt.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to walk in Faith and Fear at the same time.

Faith has Hope but Fear is Hopeless.  

           Faith has Vision but Fear is Blind.   

            Faith Trusts but Fear Doubts.

            Faith has Joy but Fear is overflowing with Depression

            Faith has Patience but Fear is Impatient

            Faith produces Life but Fear produces Death.

             Therefore, the opposite of FAITH is not DOUBT but FEAR.  Doubt is only a by-product of Fear and Fear springs from Wrong Focus.  Fear comes when we view or face something that we perceive to be bigger than we are and is beyond our control.  Most things are, but if our Focus is God and His Promises or Covenant(s) then Fear is banished and Hope springs eternal in our hearts.  The Psalmist said it powerfully, “I will look unto the hills from which comes my help.  My help comes from the Lord.”  (Psalm 121).

I realize that what I have said thus far does not seem to address Covenant or understanding of Covenant, so I ask you bear with me.  I’m talking about the Battle Before the Battle and Before we can truly and fully move into Covenant.  So, I ask that you hold this though and join me in the next devotional as we address the Problem of Fear and how we can regain control or move into the Power of the Holy Spirit enabling us to walk out of Fear and Doubt into Faith and Hope.

May the Lord richly bless you and make this day prosperous and profitable for you!

 

THE PROMISE IS AND IS NOT…

Spiritual Blog - Promises

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  NASU

             I’ve heard people quote this passage as say, “God will make everything good.”  That is not what that says if you examine it carefully.  It does not say that EVERYTHING is going to be good but that EVERYTHING will be used (good and bad) to work together for your good.  Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and the goodness or badness of an event in one’s life does not reflect their piety or lack thereof.

The Promise is – “God will cause all things to WORK TOGETHER for good to those who love Him, those called according to His purpose.”  The Promise is not – “All things will be good.”  I am reminded of Joseph in the Bible when his jealous brothers sold him into slavery and he ended up in Egypt.  He went from managing Potiphar’s house to prison and then ascended to a place of rulership in that land.  His words to his brothers when they came and bowed before him was, “You meant it for evil but God meant it (or took it and worked everything together) for good.”  His words were similar to Mordecai to Queen Esther, “Who knows if you have been brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this.”  The events of life, for the believer, may be bad individually but God takes them and blends those experience and events with all the other events and experiences to produce the finished product that is GOOD.  His Promise is not to take every bad thing in life and make it good but to use it to produce, for you, GOOD.  You are the finished product He is interested in not just the individual events or encounters in life.

I’ve used the illustration many times of baking a chocolate cake from scratch.  In that process, you have the baking chocolate (bitter), baking soda, flour, butter, eggs, sugar, milk, etc.  Some of those are good and some, if eaten alone, would not be very tasty.  The baker takes the individual ingredients and blends them together into a mixture.  The eggs are beaten, whipped together into the flour, baking soda, sugar, milk, etc. In life, we often feel we are being BEATEN by events but that beating or blending is melding every experience into a mix that can produce the finished product.  Then, once everything is blended it is poured into a baking pan and placed in the oven had heated for a specified period of time.  In life, we not only experience the blending which feels like a beating but once we are sufficiently beaten and blended we are placed in the oven of life and the heat is turned up.  It is here that the complaints of most of us reach a crescendo and some even become angry with God over the plight they are experiencing.  But, in baking, once the mix is cooked or heated for a specified time it is taken out of the oven and the wonderfully moist and tasty chocolate cake is produced.  The baker then puts on the icing and serves that tasty morsel to the delight of chocolate lovers.  In life, when God pulls us out of the oven he puts the icing on the cake through the Holy Spirit and produces a life that is drawing and appealing to the seekers of Life and Truth.  He takes the good and the bad in our lives blending them into a mix that produces the finished product.

I have stood before families to tell them of the loss of a child, a home, or something terrible and I would never have said to them THIS IS GOOD.  I told them that God has not forgotten or forsaken them and that He takes the bad things of life and blends them with the good causing them to WORK TOGETHER for our good.  He is focused on the FINISHED PRODUCT, not the individual experience.  I recently watched a TV show with my wife and in the show a young boy had cancer and he told the doctor he was not afraid to die.  The doctor asked if it was because he believed he would go to heaven and the boy said, “No it is because I believe I won’t.  If I believe in heaven I’d have to believe in God and then I’d have to believe God gave me cancer.”  God did not give him cancer.  His family was struggling with their child facing a health death sentence and they could see nothing good in this nor should they.  It would be ludicrous, in my mind to blame God for the disease in light of the Bible’s revelation that Jesus bore the stripes in His body for our healing.  The Bible says in James 1:17, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…”  If God is the one putting disease on people then why would Jesus bear the stripes for healing, give power over the powers of hell to His followers to heal, and say in Mark 16, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” 

Jesus was accused of healing through the power of the devil and He said asked how Satan could cast out Satan,  He declared that He was working against the powers of darkness in His act of healing.  Cancer, disease, loss of job, home, family, etc. are not good things but GOD can and will meld the experiences of life into a mix to produce a finished product that is GOOD.  It is not the individual parts but the finished product that is the focus.  Every experience in life has brought us to the place we are today and made us what we are.  If we recognize and believe that God will take ALL THINGS and cause them to work together for our good we can face the good and the bad we a quiet contentment and confidence.  NO, we are not to passively accept everything that happens and say, “Well, it’s God’s will.”  The devil wants to destroy you, not God.  The devil wants to hurt you, not God.  The devil brings temptation to you, not God.  The devil seeks to get you to turn your back on God, not God.  Fight the good fight of faith and resist the devil and the Bible says HE WILL FLEE from you.  The converse is also true if we do not resist the devil HE WILL NOT FLEE from us.

You are not what you will be.  You are more than you once were.  You can be more than you are.  Cooperate with God and look for what He is doing in your life and rejoice.  He has never failed and He will never fail.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

CAN WE STOP THE THIEF??? (Continued)

Spiritual Blog - STop Thief

John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  NASU

Picking up where we left off and attempting to put it in a package, let me remind you of what we’ve discussed.  The devil operates a two-pronged assault on the Church and believers.  He uses Deception and Fear.  It is imperative that we know the Word of God and God’s Law so that when something is stolen we can go to the Court of Heaven and seek retribution and restoration.  Also, the devil uses what I call PERCEPTION DECEPTION.  Through perception, he deceives and does his dirty work because we do not understand we have authority over him and he is illegally trespassing on God’s Property.  Additionally, the Thief of John 10:10 is not the devil but according to the context are the False Teachers, Prophets, and Shepherds that are not warning us of the Wolf (the devil).  Rather than telling us of our authority, they are telling us of the devil’s power.  I am not saying they are doing so with malice but more likely through misguided perception and deception.

So, what do we need to do to enforce the Victory of Calvary and Live the Abundant Life that Jesus came to give?  Where is the real battle?  I suggest that it is in the mind.  No, I am not teaching mind over matter or anything of the sort but, “As a man thinks in his heart…” and the “Power of a Renewed Mind.”  As long as we THINK the devil is all powerful and THINK we do not have power and authority over him, he will operate.  James 4:7 tells us to RESIST the devil and he will flee.  The converse is also true if we DO NOT RESIST, he will not flee.  So, what do we do?

We need a Renewed Mind and have a Change of Thinking.  Too many suffer from a defeatist human mentality.  We need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He RENEWS our minds and TRANSFORMS us.  We need the mind that was in Christ Jesus in us and learn to think God’s thoughts and think with God’s mind.  What is it that God cannot do?  The God of the Impossible lives in and operates through us.

Secondly, we need a Transformed Walk.  As we begin to walk in His likeness and in His footsteps imitating Him we are transformed from Glory to Glory.  As we walk in His Presence and experience His power others begin to SEE the Gospel we proclaim demonstrated in life and rather than being words and theory it is a reality.  It is in that condition and position that we MANIFEST Christ through the Power of the Holy Spirit.

I am convinced that the world understands something that too often we in the church have failed to grasp.  The world understands that when you give something recognition and attention, you give it strength.  One of the ways Psychologist treat depression is by getting the patient’s mind off that which is depressing them.  They tell them to act as if they are not depressed and as they act out of a state of good mental health the depression begins to weaken.  Ceasing to give recognition and attention to depression weakens it.  But if that patient continues to declare, “I’m so depressed, I’m so depressed.  Why am I so depressed?” They do not defeat depression but empower it.

In John 16:8-11 – “And when He (Holy Spirit) is come, He will reprove (convince) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  Of sin, because they believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; of Judgment, because the prince of this world is JUDGED.”   The word Judged means to “separate or put asunder” and to Put asunder means to “break in pieces.”  Therefore, the prince of this world (the devil) is broken into pieces by the Power of the Holy Spirit through the Victory of the Cross.  THE DEVIL HAS BEEN DEFEATED! 

I have learned that some people are more comfortable with a strong devil than they are with a defeated one.  WHY?  Because if the devil is super strong and they are weak and frail, THEN when they mess up they can blame it on the devil.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard believers request or pray that God would get the devil off their backs.  If we have authority over all the power of the enemy and we can resist the devil and he has to flee – WHY ARE WE PRAYING AND NOT TAKING CHARGE?

I long for the Church to begin living and walking in Radical Christianity which is Normal Biblical Christianity and REALIZE Who we are in Christ, REALIZE the Power of our LORD, and REALIZE the enemy is a defeated foe.  God is not building an army of babies but warriors who will trust Him and are willing to exercise the power and authority of His Word and enforce the Victory He won at the Cross.  He wants Mighty Men and Women who will boldly launch out into the deep and BE what God has called them to be.  What has He called you to do or be?  GET TO IT AND DO IT…  You have the Commission, the Authority, and the Power through Him!

God bless you as you Stand in the Gap and make up the hedge.

CAN WE STOP THE THIEF??? (Continued)

Spiritual Blog - Stop Theif

John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  NASU

One of the problems we have in dealing with the devil is PERCEPTION DECEPTION.  That is an effective strategy used against us.  He seeks to get us to PERCEIVE him as a vicious, roaring lion with great power and to be greatly feared.  1 Peter 5:8 informs us of a great truth, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, AS a roaring line, walketh about, seeking whom he MAY devour.”    I hope you caught the two words I emphasized, “as” and “may.”  The only true power the devil has is to manifest himself, in your mind in images or created perception.  He presents untrue and deceptive images of his grandeur, power, strength, and fierceness.   Please understand, I am not telling you to ignore him or turn your back on him or brazenly say, “Take your best shot, devil.”  NO!  What began as a snake in the Garden of Eden has grown into a dragon in Revelation.  Don’t you find that amazing?  How did he grow that much?  Let me shake up your world – WE DID IT! 

How did we enable the devil to morph into such an imposing figure?  One of the ways is that in the Church we have spent an enormous amount of time telling him, ourselves, and others how strong he is.  In that sense, we have given him his power.  Jesus defeated Him and we are in Christ and Christ in us is the Hope of Glory, so why have we elevated the devil to a perch he does not deserve and should not have?  In Mark 11:23, Jesus speaks about our SPEAKING to the problem and in that emphasized the power of our words in life.  What I’m saying is that in our preaching, teaching, talking, and thinking we have created that perception and he is getting as much mileage out of it as possible.

In a very real sense, we have ignored truths such as Luke 10:19 which informed us that we have been given authority over the devil and Romans 16:20, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”  I assert that it is high time that the Body of Christ REALIZE who and whose we are and begin to Defuse, Defang, and Defeat the Defeated devil.  We need to stand up and say to the thief – STOP!  Devil, you have no authority here and you have been defeated by the one who lives in me, so I have authority over you!  The Bible says in James 4:7 that we are to RESIST the devil and he will flee.  The converse is also true if we DO NOT RESIST he will not flee.

I sense an urging from the Spirit of God for us to EXPOSE DECEPTION and I want to focus on one of the devil’s major deceptions and hopefully arm you with the truth so you can be free.  He is a master manipulator and manipulates Scripture, twisting it for his purposes.  He tried with Jesus and he assuredly does so with us.  If we have the Eyes of our Understanding Enlightened we will not fall prey to his deceptive tactics.

Let’s consider John 10:10 our text verse, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  What is the Deception that I am referring to?  Let me present it this way, “Who is this Scripture referring to?”  I am serious, if this is referring to the devil then he does have the power to Steal, Kill, and Destroy and he is a Roaring Lion!  I know that will take a bit of explaining but when Christians speak of the devil in that way, he receives power and is able to operate in deception and STEALS.  If we believe he has power over us, he is able to exercise power over us illegally.  If we believe he has the power to steal, he steals.  If we believe he has the power to kill, he kills.

I must press on lest I lose you and you reject any possibility of what I’m saying and if I am right, you can receive something that will liberate you!  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  No, I am not teaching you can say anything and have it regardless of what God says.  What I want you to see is that if we read the entire text and context of John 10:10 you realize that this passage is dealing with THE FALSE Teachers, Prophets, and Shepherds who were among the sheep.  It was those FALSE Teachers, Prophets, and Shepherds who were Killing, Stealing, and Destroying.  I know that is challenging but stay with me.  If you look closely you will find that the devil is not described as a thief in this passage but a WOLF.  The wolf that the hireling is supposed to be guarding against and warning the sheep.  Too often those who should be warning us of the danger and telling us of our power and authority have been of his power.  I do not believe that was malicious but misguided and is the result of deception and perception.

We need to consider the Word of God and stop giving the devil power he does not legitimately have and assume the power and authority that God has given us.  We need to be liberated from the FEAR of Death and the FEAR of the devil.  In Hebrews 1:14-15 we read, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that HAD the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through FEAR OF DEATH were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”  (Emphasis mine).  The Power of Death has been taken from the devil and we are supposed to enforce the Victory of the Cross and Resist Him and He MUST flee from us.

The only thing the devil can steal from you in his own power is THE WORD OF GOD and when he does he takes the rest of your belongings with him.  If he can steal the Word of God from you he has defeated you.  If you live in the Word of God – You Live in Power.  If you live in the Word of God – You rule not the devil.  If you live in the World – You Live in Defeat rather than Victory.  If you live in the World – You Serve and he Rules. 

I want to address this just a bit more so we will take it up next time and wrap it up in a package and tie a bow on it and hopefully, all of us will walk forth in Victory in Jesus.   God bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him.

CAN WE STOP THE THIEF???

Spiritual Blog - STop Thief

John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  NASU

             I would ask that you read John 10:1-18 for this discussion, study, and devotional.  I believe it will give you a strong foundation for what we are trying to communicate.  Of the things in life that trouble me and anger me are the ravages of the devil upon mankind and his seeming ability to intimidate believers causing them to live beneath His Promises and Provisions.  I am troubled that frequently we (the Body of Christ) are either unable or unwilling to assume our rightful inheritance and see the fruit and reality of life in the Kingdom experienced in everyday life.  It is irritating to witness the enemy stealing from God’s people, myself included and see believers accept that as a normal part of life.

Realizing that I may upset some, I suggest that we have been lied to and ripped off.  No, I am not targeting variations of belief and teaching about what God does or not do today but the devil has lied to the church and the church as believed the lie as did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Not only have we, at times, believed his lies we have helped him to perpetuate those lies.  That is incredibly disturbing!  It is something that I have and am praying for the LORD to help me overcome and to find a way to communicate liberating truth to believers.  I want to live the Abundant Life and help as many others live there as well.  We are, according to the Bible, MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH JESUS.

I believe the devil has launched a two-pronged attack and it has been successful.  He has DECEIVED multitudes.  I am not simply talking about the lost, but the saved as well.  He uses DECEPTION as a tool and tactic astutely.  He desires to have us believe that we are ‘victims’ of our circumstances, environment, times, the system, etc.  He desires to have us direct our focus in the wrong direction and on the wrong things and thereby lose sight of the Real Thief.  In Ephesians 6:12 we are told, “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Sadly, too often we fight the wrong enemy with the wrong weapons for the wrong reason and fail to achieve spiritual victory. If I can help God’s people REALIZE that we have suffered theft, RECOGNIZE who the real thief is, RECLAIM the lost possessions and help believers to see and believe we can have FULL RESTORATION I will have served my purpose.

The second pong of the devil’s attack is FEAR.  He uses fear to gain an edge and intimidate us.  Too often we play into his hands.  I would never suggest that the devil has no power but sometimes we seem to present a devil in our preaching that is mighty and an all-powerful roaring line to be feared.  He does have power, but it is limited power!  He cannot do as he pleases.  He uses DECEPTION to work his work and if he can instill a twinge of FEAR he gains the advantage.  Sadly, that is an advantage we gave him not one he has legitimately.  My prayer is that we, (the Body of Christ), wake up and realize WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST!

THE DEVIL IS DEFEATED according to the Bible and God has provided for us the weapons and tools to ENFORCE the Victory of Calvary.  If we are going to enforce the victory of Calvary and defeat the devil in our personal lives we must KNOW God’s Word and ACT upon that word.  It cannot simply be something we quote, in rote, but something we believe and act upon.  We have Weapons that are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.

There are two principles and truths regarding our weapons and the use of them that I would like to convey to you.  First, is found in Ephesians 1:17 is that we must have the Eyes of our Understanding Enlightened.  Second, we need to grasp the principle of the Law of Retribution found in Exodus 22:1-9.  In that Law, if a theft occurs the thief has to restore and restore more than he took.  I urge you to read those verses and if you will meditate on them they will provide a liberating foundation for God to build on in your new attitude toward the things being stolen from you.

I find it absolutely amazing that in human courts it is sometimes unlawful for you to defend your own property.  In some states, if a thief is hurt in your home, you have to pay his medical expenses.  Likewise, there is seldom recourse for you to recover the damages you suffered but the thief can sue you and bankrupt you.  That’s Human Courts but not the Court of Heaven and we must view spiritual things through the lens of God’s Word and have our Understanding Enlightened.  We need to learn what God’s Word allows, the Weapons He has provided and our authority and then take the devil to the Court of God and expect restitution and restoration of that which has been stolen.  For us to accomplish that we must Know the Law and we must Catch the Thief.

I hope I have whetted your appetite and peaked your interest so that we can continue this thought in the next devotional and by the time we conclude we will be able to not only STOP the thief but take him to court and receive FULL RESTITUTION and RESTORATION of that which has been stolen from us.

Until next time, I say, “God with God and He will God with you.” 

ONE TIME TOO MANY…

 

Spiritual Blog - Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-23 – “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  NKJV

             I know some believers who are such very much literalist in life, they often come to some amazing conclusions regarding scripture.  I had to deal with a situation where a church member had gotten into trouble because during an argument someone struck him.  He followed the biblical mandate and turned the other cheek and they hit him on that cheek as well.  He then proceeded to give the other person a thorough thrashing and I had to make a valiant plea to keep him from being arrested for assault.  He could not understand the problem for he said, “But I turned the other check and the Bible does not say anything about what to do after that so I took it literally to mean I was on solid ground.” 

I remind him and others of this passage and attempted to convey that Jesus was not saying forgive 490 times and then on 491 it is open season.  Several protested that we must take the Bible literally and since Jesus said 490 there had better not be number 491st.  I laughed thinking of the ledger they would have to keep for the 490 sins and possibly in the context the same sin.  Imagine being so consumed with revenge and being allowed to retaliate that you kept such a ledger.  I cannot fathom that for by the time 491 rolled around the bitterness would have consumed the one supposedly forgiving.

Forgiveness has to have at its foundation a desire for restoration.  It cannot be focused on the offense or self for if it is it will prove to be other than forgiveness.  Forgiveness cannot be a balance sheet or scale it has to be a matter of choice from the heart that desires to restore the one offending.  If I declare that I forgive you and harbor resentment I have not forgiven.  I have only exercised the application of a faux balm on my conscience but the root is still there.

Forgiveness is to release into the hands of God and then take my hands off.  If I am keeping score I have neither released it to God nor taken my hands off.  God clearly says, “Vengeance is mine…”  Remember this question was about being offended, wounded, or wronged by a BROTHER.  He gives a directive on handling offenses between brothers earlier in the chapter and few, if any, follow that prescription. Few churches are equipped mentally or spiritually to follow that directive.  The ultimate end of church discipline, God’s chastisement or forgiveness is restoration.  It may not happen but that must always remain the objective.

We do not forget but we, as God, must make the decision to never allow that offense to come into play in our dealings with the one forgiven.  I am not suggesting that you do not guard against being taken advantage of but you cannot do that by becoming cynical and lacking compassion or trust.  If you get burned you get burned and you can turn to God for His comfort and protection.  Never allow your heart to become hardened or filled with bitterness because of offenses.  

Forgive and we will be forgiven!  What a promise and provision from our LORD.  May the Lord be with you and bless you as you go through this day!