Archive for the ‘spiritual warfare’ Tag
We could have been born in any generation. But God chose us to be born in this last day generation, to have the honor of fighting in the last battles and to be worthy to usher in the Kingdom of God. Obviously most of us would call ourselves unworthy and unqualified to fight such a battle. But the choice was not ours. It was His and He always chooses rightly. Receive this as hope. He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. ( Phil. 1:6 ) He will finish what He started, not only in the earth but also in each of us personally … if we remain faithful to Him.
So in addition to placing us in this time period, He has also poured out grace and gifts that the former generations knew little of. Not only did He save us for this time but He also saved specific anointings and giftings because we need them desperately now. We have also been gifted with advanced technology to send the gospel around the world in a moment by common every day people through the internet. And to whom much is given, much will also be required. (Luke 12:48b)
Take courage. The days you were born for are upon you. Courage is already within you, in the form of the Spirit of the Lord, the Victor, the Champion. Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world. (1 Jn. 4:4) Courage is not necessary when we are sitting by the fireplace drinking tea. In fact, it’s difficult to muster much of it in that instance. But when the battle comes, it will be activated and we will find there is more within us than we knew. This, of course, is not for the purpose of pride. Pride goes before a fall. (Prov. 16:18 )
It is very difficult to write a blog post of this nature and not refer to “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit”. Jesus often speaks clearly to me through movies and Tolkeins writings are full of prophetic significance for this present hour and that which is to come. Those of you who know these movies will agree. But for my purpose here I will simply refer to the general underlying theme that it is often the small people, the unlearned, the insignificant in the sight of the world who find great courage, become great heroes and end up saving the world in these stories. And as a side note, it also requires those at odds with each other to finally join together to fight and defeat a common enemy.
In our day it comes down to this: There are only 2 choices … for God or against Him. We choose to be for Him when our thoughts and beliefs and attitudes agree with His. This will require our knowing what He actually did say and not just what we thought He said or what we were taught by others. The Word of God just became even more important.
Don’t make survival your goal. You are destined to be an over-comer. Much of what you have to overcome is on a personal level and it counts. Without that you would never make it to the higher levels of the battle or the higher ranks of the army. Hopelessness must be defeated. There is always hope in Christ. The fear of man must be defeated as well and replaced with the fear of God. In fact, the fear of God is a positive cure for the fear of man. Just ask Isaiah or John in the book of Revelation. This is a time to arise in intercession and also make a strong stand for God and righteousness. He is with you.
There is much more that could be said but I will refer you back to a previous article in this blog called Stand and Be Strong from Feb. 24, 2014. https://comeawaymylove.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/stand-and-be-strong/
Recently I have had questions from readers which helped me to remember that many people struggle with the same feelings. They also reminded me of my own struggles in certain areas and how God brought understanding and deepened my relationship with Him in those times. I’ve been through many things that may be of help to you. Often the Lord has reminded me not to forget the frustration and pain of certain portions of the path so that I may help others who lose their way in the same places I did. Obviously I don’t have all the answers. But I can share with you what He has taught me.
Most Christians have experienced times when it seemed that God was very far away or perhaps He just didn’t care at all. I have been in that place so many times where I thought I would just die if God did not “show up” and come to be with me.
First, let me point out that these feelings are actually a sign of great hunger and thirst for Him! You are sensitive enough to His Presence that you realize there is a distance and you are trying desperately to close that gap. Most people in the world have no idea they could even have a close relationship with God and have no desire for that. Jesus said “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst … for they shall be filled.” (Mt. 5:6)
There are several reasons why we may feel distance between us and the Lord. Let’s deal with the obvious ones first.
Disobedience creates a wall between us and God. “The hand of Jehovah is not shortened from saving nor His ear heavy from hearing. But your iniquities are coming between you and your God and your sins have hidden His face from you, from hearing.” (Isa.59:1,2 LITV) Ouch! Yes, it is true and it happens to all of us. We have wrong thoughts which lead to wrong actions. We leave doors open for the enemy to enter and exploit us and then wonder why God didn’t protect us! Sometimes He is waiting for us to wake up and repent. But “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Just ask God to show you where you are wrong. Go through a short checklist of what you have read or watched on t.v. or online, review your own attitudes, thoughts and reactions. Then sincerely repent, receive His forgiveness and cleansing and get back up again. Run back to Him and not away from Him. Once we realize we have sinned, the enemy loves to set a trap of condemnation to catch us in. He tells us we are so bad that God can’t love us or have any relationship with us. Don’t listen to those lies. Crush them under your feet and keep climbing.
If God has not revealed anything that requires repentance, don’t go digging for things. He will show you the things He wants to work on, usually a little at a time so that you are not overwhelmed. I used to agonize over the scripture that says, “Be ye therefore perfect as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect”. Then I received some revelation through Hannah Whitall Smith’s little book The Christians Secret of a Happy Life. She points out that the Greek word ‘perfect’ in Mt. 5:48 actually means ‘complete’. When God looks at an apple tree in June, He calls the apples perfect. They are small, green and sour, but the best apple that June can produce and perfect for that season. However, an apple on the same tree in September is red, ripe and sweet. So shall we be if we stay in the process with Him.
There are other reasons why we find it difficult to feel His Presence or experience Him. There are actually times when He plays hide and seek with us for the purpose of drawing us deeper into Him where we might not be inclined to go on our own. (Job 23:9, Song of Solomon 2:9) I had a beautiful experience with Him in this regard that I have written about in a posting which can be found in the archives under August 2012 -” Created for Both Realms – Don’t give up, Keep trying”.
There is also this to consider. We are soldiers in training for the last battle. One day we will rule and reign with Him. Sometimes the training here is intense and would overwhelm us if not for His grace. But we must be trained in all areas so that we are strong in faith and endurance against the enemy. “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tm. 2:3) There are times when we train together in quarters that seem much too close and crowded. There are other times when we train alone in solitary and lonely conditions. Jesus Himself was even tempted by the devil in the wilderness alone. And He cried out from the cross “My God, why have You forsaken me?” Paul reminds us in Heb. 12:2-4 that “You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin”.
But God never removes His Presence from us to teach us anything or to punish us. In fact, He never removes His Presence from us at all. Never! He promised to be with us always and He always is. (Heb. 13:5) Most often, our feelings of distance and even rejection come from a wrong perspective which is contrary to the truth of Who He is.
We will deal with this issue further in the next posting. For now, here are some other archived teachings on this subject that may be beneficial as well.
April 2012 – Intimacy with the Lord – The Secret Place
March 2012 – Intimacy with the Lord – Satisfied Yet Longing Still
January 2012 – Intimacy with the Lord – Face to Face
I don’t usually re-post other things on this blog but this newsletter from Rolland and Heidi Baker in Mozambique addresses some vital issues. They mentored me in intimacy with the Lord for several years, especially during our time in Africa with them. I realize this is lengthy but if you read it to the end you will find some stunningly simple answers to many difficult questions.
From Rolland and Heidi Baker, Iris Global, Pemba, Mozambique
16 June, 2014
“Our years in Pemba, Mozambique have been tumultuous, intense, filled with demonic attacks, violence, threats, opposition from the government, discouragement, theft, loss, disappointments, failures, staff turnover, and the constant, unrelenting demands of extreme poverty and disease all around us. It almost always seemed that our capabilities and resources were no match for the challenges we faced every day, resulting in a level of chaos and stress that literally threatened our health and lives. Intense witchcraft and a lack of exposure to familiar standards of right and wrong made our work in this very remote part of the world seem all the more impossible. Heidi and I remember many times when we did not know how we could continue, often wondering if we really had good, lasting fruit that was worth the sacrifice.
We are often asked what the overcoming key to our ministry and growth is. We don’t think in terms of keys or secrets, but of the simplest truths of the gospel. We have learned by experience that there is no way forward when pressed to our extremities but to sacrifice ourselves at every turn for His sake, knowing nothing but Jesus and Him crucified. We must die to live. It is better to give than to receive, and better to love than to be loved. We cannot lose, because we have a perfect Savior who is able to finish what He began in us, if we do not give up and throw away our faith.
In years past we did not think we could identify with Paul like this, but now we understand more of what he meant: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8–9).
Heidi and I get overwhelmed by our awareness that we are only jars of clay, very fragile and finite, capable of only giving out so much, and with very limited understanding and strength. But we have come to be encouraged by this very state of affairs, because God’s power and glory will become obvious in our weakness: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 4:7–10).
In Pemba we just started another three-month Bible school session with new student pastors from the bush, many of whom are barely aware of any Christian doctrine and still confused about so much. But three of them have already raised the dead and given their testimonies in class! The Holy Spirit is opening hearts and bringing in the harvest more than ever, in spite of our weaknesses. Our churches are monuments to the grace of God. We are asked how we keep them all together, organized and feeling like a unified family, but we can offer no adequate human explanation, in spite of all our efforts. We have learned that He is able to melt hearts and keep people connected in spirit by His own power, and build a hunger for the Savior that conquers every obstacle. This is His revival, His church, His display of glory, and He qualifies us to do His work.
What motivates us to keep going? What puts energy into our spirits when we run out of answers and resources? How do we stay patient and upbeat when the outlook seems bleak, yet again? Where does our power to live, serve and give come from? The question is important, because missionaries do get tired, discouraged and down. Christians of all kinds run out of motivation, no matter how much they have. Leaders with huge responsibilities lose their peace and joy. Ministries become more like businesses, and preachers more like sales managers. But what makes the Kingdom run? What is the fuel that fires us effortlessly? What is the real thing?
Every day we find out more of the answers to these most fundamental questions, and every day we learn that what used to motivate us is no longer enough. We are going higher, pressing on to what lies ahead. We keep learning what Jesus is interested in, and lose interest in what we used to pursue. And we learn that unless Jesus is interested in what we are pursuing, the going gets tougher than we can bear.
But there is a secret place, a hiding place, a lower place, a holy place that exceeds our dreams. It is not found in anything external and impersonal. It is not found simply in activity, sacrifice and dedication. It is not found in goals, projects, productions and progress. It is not found in finances and growth. It may be missed entirely even when preaching, teaching, training and discipling. It may be forgotten completely when evangelizing and praying for the sick. The greatest and most powerful gifts don’t necessarily contain it. Even ministry to the poor may become an impersonal effort that misses that greatest and most intensely motivating creation of God, that supreme display of His glory: relationship!
Love is a gift of relationship, not just self-sacrifice. The secret place is not necessarily found in a prayer closet or a posture of soaking, or in battling for a just cause, or in a massive prayer and fasting effort. Even the most amazing miracles can leave us lonely and without relationship. We can run out of motivation advancing the most noble ideals and working at all levels to transform society. We can minister until we have no more strength, and still go home and lie in bed without the relationship for which our hearts are made.
Everything is okay with relationship. It is all that Jesus cares about, all that motivates Him. He could do many more amazing miracles and dazzle the world with His powers, but He is interested only in relationship. The entire creation, all the grandeur of the physical world, and all His works are designed to serve one thing: relationship. Revival has no content without it. Renewal and manifestations are pointless apart from it. Miracles only find their meaning in it. Joy is shallow and groundless unless rooted in it. Without relationship we are the living dead.
There is no pressure in genuine relationship. When it turns into work, it is gone and finished. It is effortless to maintain. It is not the goal of struggle, but the fire of life. It brings the utmost peace, and washes away all tension. It is the point of living, the substance of existence, the atmosphere of heaven. It motivates to heroic heights, bringing out our best. In relationship we know we are alive, we have arrived, we are satisfied. When we turn away from relationship to pursue anything else, we lose. We have no strength to give and love without it. It is a haven, a rock, a river of living water, the perfect source of motivation to keep going.
As our Perfect Savior, Jesus provides us with relationship. For this He died and rose again on our behalf. He provides not only His Word, His promises and His gifts, but also freely fills our lives with relationship in response to the desire He has put in our hearts. No guilt and condemnation can keep us from drinking in all the relationship with Him that we desire. Nothing in our past can block us. No attitudes in others can prevent us from tasting and seeing that He is good. And from this tree of life that is our Savior, we can branch out into more and more relationship with those all around us. He takes away our loneliness. In Him we end our search and find our destination.
So in this experience of revival in Africa, our values have been refined in the fires of pressure, opposition and disappointment. Thousands of churches and testimonies of supernatural power do not keep us motivated. Huge feeding projects are not enough for us. We need more of a goal than to target people groups and disciple followers. Education and development don’t keep our hearts alive. Mobilizing world-wide support still falls short. Academic missiology lacks the energy that Africa needs.
No, our hearts must have perfect relationship, a perfect union between us and our Savior, in the Holy Spirit. We were never meant to be alone for a moment. Our whole motive is to live life and do everything together with our God, to take pleasure in His company always. Our power to live comes entirely from our satisfying relationship with Him, and to stay there is to stay in our own private revival that cannot be disturbed by anything else. Only when that relationship is golden, incandescent and pure enough do we have the power to delight in all that God has richly provided for us to enjoy.
Therefore in Him we do not pursue revival, but rather revival pursues us! Church growth and miracles pursue us. His presence pursues us. He Himself follows us, responds to us, and takes pleasure in making us happy, for we make Him happy. We care how He feels. We satisfy His longing. To stay close to Him is no effort, but a relief, a release, a door to freedom.
To get a miracle is never the point, but in our relationship with Him miracles are a delight for Him to perform on our behalf. In fact, we cannot live without miracles, and in the normal Christian life we recognize that everything is a miracle, “for in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Love in Jesus, Rolland and Heidi”
God speaks to us any way He can get our attention! We are wise to learn to listen to His still, quiet voice so that He doesn’t have to shout. Sometimes people say to me, “Everything is not prophetic.” And my reply is usually , “Most things are, if we can only hear or see them.”
Our family has made a cross country move this week. Part of that journey took us through the mountains of Western Canada. Amazing! Spectacular! I have loved these mountains for the last 7 years that I have lived among them. So often I find myself thinking of the words that David penned about lifting my eyes to the hills where my help comes from – from the Lord who made Heaven and earth. And I often hear the voice of the Lord as I gaze on His handiwork. Being in the mountains on this trip was no exception.
Many mountain roads are on such a well planned grade that it looks as though you’re on a somewhat level road. It’s difficult to see that you’re actually ascending. The clues are that the RPMs are increasing, the speed is decreasing and it’s hard to hold your neck in an upright position since it’s being pulled backwards as if you’re on a roller coaster! Another clue is that the outside temperature is dropping and there is snow on the ground. All those waterfalls and rushing streams you passed half an hour ago at the lower levels are now frozen and glistening in the sun. Suddenly you come to a place where you can look down and see how far you’ve climbed. The view is spectacular and there are eagles flying overhead, calling you ever upward to the higher snow capped peaks still ahead.
Life in the Spirit is this way as well. There are times when the incline is so gradual you don’t even realize you’ve been climbing. But there are other times when you suddenly realize that you have just passed a particular test that you had failed many times before. This time something was very different and you hear Him whisper “Well done” with a smile in His voice. You have not only passed a test but graduated to a higher level. The testing now will be more difficult but you will be able to handle it. It doesn’t get any easier but you get stronger, so it seems easier and you begin to look forward to the challenges.
We cannot rightly judge ourselves or our fruit here in this realm. It is only there in Heaven after the final term when we really find out what our marks were. But if we live to love Him instead of just trying to make the grade, our lives will be so full of Him that the marks won’t matter so much to us here. We live to love Him and spend so much time with Him that we simply absorb and reflect His glory.
“In the midst of the chaos of your life when you cannot seem to find My presence, stop and quiet your soul. Listen for My still, small voice within you. I am here. I promised to never leave you and I never will. Stop and quiet yourself as David did. (Ps.131:2) You will need to consciously dial down the noise of the outside world and step out of your realm and into Mine. I have given you this ability. You are not of this world even as I am not of this world. (John 17:14) (See archived postings under “Created for both realms”)
I hear you saying, “I can’t do this … it’s too hard … I don’t know how … I’m not strong enough.” And I agree! In fact I have already told you this long ago. Without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) Ah, but beloved you are not without Me. I dwell within you. The good news is that I have already conquered all that you come against and all that comes against you. Since I am in you and you are in Me, you can do all things through Me because I strengthen you. (Phil.4:13) Let Me fill you with the peace of God and set you in the middle of chaos where My peace is needed. Stand back and watch as My peace flows out of you and into the people around you. You are plugged in to the power source of Heaven. It’s not about you or your strength but only the strength of your relationship with Me.
Many of My people question Me when they go through testing and training. They wonder if they have done something wrong and think I am punishing them. But this is an incorrect mindset. You haven’t done anything wrong – you are doing something right! You have passed the primary tests and now you can go on to the next level. You must be trained as a good soldier (2 Tm.2:3) so that you can become stronger and able to not only stand but overcome in the battle that is yet ahead. I would not be a good Father if I allowed my children to be lazy or disobedient and then elevated them to a position of responsibility that they were not able to handle. Children must be trained. No child likes the training (Heb.12:11) but the mature begin to understand and look forward to the challenge, knowing it will produce strength. You are being conformed into the image of Christ. There is nothing greater than that.
I am with you, beloved. I am for you. I will not allow you to be tested more than you are able to bear. (1 Cor.10:13 – the word ‘temptation’ in the King James can also be translated ‘discipline’.) You have given your life to Me. Now will you trust Me to know the best way to mold you into My image? Look ahead and see the final result of a spotless Bride who will rule and reign with Me for all eternity. You are preparing for that now. The Bride is making herself ready.” (Rev.19:7)
This will be a great part of our testing in these last days: to overcome the lies of the enemy against God and His goodness.
We are entering times when mans own choices have lifted the restraining hand of God against evil in our nations. In some cases those choices are bringing His righteous and holy judgment as His Word said. Some things will be very clear. When a nation is being judged or disciplined to bring it back to God, everyone in that nation will be affected in some way.
Other things will be far less easy to understand. Why does disaster strike? Why do our friends and loved ones die or experience such hard things when we have prayed and believed? Once when I was questioning the Lord about many of these things He said to me,
“My bride will have to be so in love with Me that she trusts Me even when she does not understand.”
Of course He loves us individually and has our best interest at heart. But this is not just about us as individuals. It’s much bigger than that. It’s about His eternal plan, of which we have a part.
Fundamentally, at heart level, we must believe that God is good and just and righteous at ALL times in ALL He does. We must stop blaming God for the works of the enemy! To misunderstand this could be fatal. Since we are finite creatures, this will require an ever increasing depth of relationship with Him to bond us so closely that we cannot be separated. (Rom.8:38,39) This will require much more love than we now possess. We must ask Him for His love which cannot be shaken. ( Rom.8:35-37 )
Once in a vision the Lord encountered me on a seashore. He pointed toward a beautiful ship and said to me “That’s my ship and I’m the Captain. I make the decisions. The question is, can you sail under My command?”
If this sounds hard and contrary to the nature of a loving God, we have only seen a part of the many facets of His character. He is the lamb and He also is the lion. In the midst of the battle you’ll want the lion on your side. All of those blog posts under “Intimacy with the Lord” are true. In fact, it is that very depth of intimacy that will cause us to keep on holding tightly to Him no matter what happens. You learn to trust the One you love and love the One you trust. Because of His deep love for us and ours for Him, we know that we can trust Him and His leadership. Incidentally, in the last part of the vision I spoke of, Jesus looked deeply into my eyes and opened His hand to reveal my name tattooed on His palm! ( Isa.49:16 ) I was undone once again by His love.
There were times in my life many years ago when I was just beginning to learn these lessons. When things went from difficult to impossible I fell back into immaturity and began to blame God. I had prayed and fasted and declared and believed but still He did not answer my prayers. One day when I was literally yelling at Him He stopped me. I could hear the pain in His voice as He said to me,
“It hurts me when you publicly disgrace and dishonor Me in this way.”
Silence and shock! What did He mean by that? Quietly now He began to explain what I had absolutely no concept of.
“When you rail against Me and blame Me for your trouble it dishonors and disgraces Me. And yes, it is very public. You think you are alone here in your room. But all those in Heaven and the realms below hear what you say. You disgrace Me before the enemy and all of his hosts. And you dishonor and accuse Me before all of Heaven, the angels and the great cloud of witnesses.”
That understanding solved something for me and I repented deeply. When it hits us personally as it has so many times before, when our needs are not met or disaster strikes, the thing of absolute importance is our response to Him. Will we trust that He loves us and His will is best even when we are hurting, even when we don’t understand? There are only 2 choices here. The middle ground is running out.
Obviously I am not suggesting that we sit back and receive everything the enemy throws at us, presuming it is God’s will. We do have authority given to us from the Lord over the evil one. But what about the delays we don’t understand or the circumstances that we just cannot line up with God’s Word no matter how we try? We need wisdom to separate these things properly. However, when it comes down to the bottom line question of “Is God good or has He failed you?” our response must always be in allegiance to Him alone. Otherwise we find ourselves on very dangerous ground and create much more trouble than we already had.
Help us God! Give us Your grace to make it! Strengthen us Oh God!
By the way, there are times when He does just give us strength that we did not possess before … His strength. However, the #1 way that we gain strength is through testing and training! Paul talks about exercising to strengthen our mortal bodies to run the race and then compares that to our spiritual life. (1 Cor.9:24-27, Phil. 2:16 ) He also refers to our being soldiers in the army of God. ( 2 Tim.2:3,4, 2 Thess,1:4, Heb. 12:7 ) A General in the Army started out as a Private. He became a General through rigorous, hard training and also the battles he fought in.
These last day battles will require God’s people to be high impact and low maintenance. If we search our hearts and find that is not the case then let us run to the Lord and not away from Him. Let us repent for our weakness and submit ourselves to Him for His training. He is the only source of our strength. He is the goal and He is the reward for those who overcome.