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12:00 PM   [26 Jan 2020 | Sunday]

The Real Enemy (Part Four)

 Your confession, that is the things you say which are from the heart, can work against you; and of course, the opposite is true as well. This is one subject that has stirred the proverbial pot in the church, because of misuses. Much of which is the result of ignorance or lack of understanding. Confession is certainly real, without it, none of us could be saved (see Romans 10:8-11). The Bible also makes it clear that we should choose our words wisely. Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Our words affect whether our minds are renewed, which in turn affects our lives as a whole. So, let’s break this down step by step. How does this all work?

   1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (speak the utterances) of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

   “Any” means any, and that includes you. This idea is new for some, so how is it possible to speak the words or utterances of God? Does this mean we are to run around reciting the Bible all the time? Reciting the Bible does play a part, but it’s not the whole. Jesus said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), which He quoted from Deuteronomy 8:4. So, we have the written and the spoken Word. We will not go into great detail on hearing at this stage, but hearing from God requires Holy Spirit. John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (Read John 7:38; chapters 14-17; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 for starters). The children of God are led of Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:14-18). In short, we begin by submitting to Him.

   Paul makes a very important statement, which begs our attention: For God is my Witness, Whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers (Romans 1:9). He understood that in order to properly serve God, he had to do it with his spirit. Why? Our connecting point with Holy Spirit is our spirit (see Romans 8:16; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16). We have a spirit, heart, soul, mind and body(see Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The shortened version of this is spirit, soul and body (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23). When everything is in correct order, we function at our best. Holy Spirit connects to our spirt, which in turn connects to our heart, then our soul, to the mind and finally, our body. Another way to look at it, if you want the abbreviated form, is Holy Spirit connects to our spirit, which connects to our soul and manifests in or through our body.

   Of course, there is great deal said about the heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). He goes onto to say, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35 [see also Mark 7:18-23; Luke 6:43-45]). It’s for this reason it is important to pay attention to what you put in your heart. What you put into it, is what comes out of your mouth. From it will come either words of life or death, along with all the nuances attached to them. If you want to speak words of life, then fill your heart with the Word of God. John 6:63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

   Interestingly, while we serve with our spirits, we believe and obey from the heart (see Romans 6:17; 10:8-10; Ephesians 6:5-6; Colossians 3:22; 1 Timothy 1:5; Hebrew 10:22, etc.). What we say is one of the things that enters our minds, which in turn influences our actions and the functions of our bodies in a number of ways. What software is to hardware in a computer, is what our minds are to our brains. And of course, it’s our brains that run the body on the physical level. In short, proper confession brings our entire person into harmony with God. For the sake of brevity, we will go in greater detail about confession in the next blog (Lord willing). There’s still a lot to unpack.

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12:00 PM   [19 Jan 2020 | Sunday]

The Real Enemy (Part Three)

It’s important to audit your beliefs, because they are your filters through which you view everything. This pertains to more than theology or doctrine, which we will touch on in more detail shortly. It concerns what you believe about yourself, others and of course, God. This is deep work, and requires prayer along with a lot of thought. This is the stuff people generally don’t verbalize very often, if at all. Along with what you believe, examine how you reinforce those beliefs. And there are a myriad of ways to do just that, especially when dealing with strongholds. Some of these methods of reinforcement make them appear impossible to tear down, but they’re not!

   One of the most stalwart underpinnings is the misuse of Scripture. A person can pretty much make the Bible say what he wants, simply by using partial and out of context verses. Essentially, he is using truth to reinforce a lie. Even though the Bible is 100% true, verses used in this fashion turn truth into error or heresy. Error is just that, something taught or believed incorrectly because of insufficient knowledge, wisdom and understanding. There’s no intended deceit involved. Some of those who misuse the Word in order to strengthen their stronghold(s), are self-deceived; or perhaps, deceived by others. Heresy on the other hand, is intentional. This is a case where the person knows better, but opts to continue with a lie, instead of repenting. If you are going to renew your mind and allow the right changes to take place, you must desire the truth. There is only one Doctrine of Christ, and numerous doctrines of men and demons. Without getting off into a tangent, it would serve the Body of Christ well to seek only the Truth the way God intended us to know it. All the bickering over doctrine has actually reinforced strongholds, because pride got involved. The need to prove oneself “right,” only strengthens them. Incidentally, using Bible verses to get your way is manipulation, not disseminating truth. Instruction is one thing, but using it like a weapon has turned many children away from the love of His Word.

   The best way to determine if you’re dealing with a stronghold is allowing Holy Spirit to show you. However, if you have a difficult time connecting to Him because of emotional turmoil or a stronghold itself, here are a couple indicators: anger and confusion. Anger is a stronghold’s enforcer. When truth starts to penetrate its walls, it springs into action to repel “the attack.” One quick to way to discern a stronghold, is when you or others to whom you’re talking, reverts to anger when logic or truth is punching holes in your or their argument. Often, this is when one tries talking over the other. It’s like the one who puts his hands over his ears, and starts singing, “La-la-la-la-I’m not listening.” In essence, he’s saying, “Don’t confuse me with the truth, I’ve already made up my mind.”

   When you know the truth, you cannot be confused. If you or others are confused by something, it means you or they don’t know the truth concerning the issue. Don’t be disheartened by that statement. God has given us what we need to address confusion, and everything else in life. Jesus said, “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Freedom from confusion comes with truth, which means it is important to be in agreement with God, so you can be truly free. Agreement means humility on our part; otherwise, one will never receive to the truth; he’ll keep rejecting or twisting it.

   Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. 

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12:00 PM   [12 Jan 2020 | Sunday]

The Real Enemy (Part Two)

 We’ve all heard it said, “Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy.” To some degree that’s true. It’s the enemies within we must contend with, they’re just as subtle as the serpent at the Garden of Eden. These would have you believe you’re a victim, because they know if you stay focused on everyone and everything else, you’ll never zero in on them. These are the strongholds found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, mentioned in Part One. One of the things they do is trigger people into self-sabotage where they get stuck in destructive patterns. How many started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and bam, the tunnel collapses? Maybe some of you felt like you just crawled out of one pit, only to fall into another one, or it seems like someone pushed you into it. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another!” How do we break these cycles? How do we pull down the strongholds? Before going any further, be encouraged, you don’t have to do this alone. Remember, the weapons of our warfare . . . are mighty through God (2 Corinthians 10:4)! He will help you walk through this, wield the weapons, and help you realize the victory that’s already yours. Look at it from the standpoint of already having won the fight. 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

   As we begin, it is vital to be extremely honest with God and ourselves. This requires getting rid of the victim mentality. As long anyone plays the victim card, he or she will remain stuck. Everyone has been wronged by others. There’s no question about that; however, your decision to remain a victim is up to you. It’s time to take responsibility for yourself, and do things God’s way, which includes forgiving those who wronged you. If you’re going to ask God for help, He may show you things about yourself you may not like. Honest assessments are fundamental to moving forward.

   Secondly, as we move into renewing our minds, it is important to come into full agreement with God, which includes believing what He says. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:17). It’s quick, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates the very depth of our being, and brings to light the thoughts and intents of the heart (see Hebrews 4:12). Furthermore, it works like a mirror in that it reflects back to us what we need to see (see James 1:23). Another very important aspect of the Word is it actually heals our souls.

   James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

   The word, save in the Greek text means to deliver or protect; to preserve, and to heal or make whole. It pertains to the whole person (spirit, soul, mind and body). This means the Word of God can heal the mind and emotions, which includes bringing our thoughts and imaginations under the control of Jesus. Of course, it also pertains to being delivered or saved from the wrath to come. Reading your Bible and sitting in the presence of the Lord are not mere religious, pious acts; they are lifesaving!

   Let’s start addressing some strongholds, and from where they came. Keep in mind they affect the way we believe, think, and behave as a result. For example, a deep seated hurt can trigger fear or resentment. Have you ever found yourself resenting someone you’ve never seen before? It may be he or she in some way reminds you of someone who hurt you. It could be his or her physical appearance, speech or mannerisms. Something about that person triggers you. It’s not him or her personally; it’s who they remind you of. That indicates you haven’t fully addressed the issue. That’s just one way relationships are affected; in fact, it could end a wonderful friendship before it could even begin.

   Here’s one more before we close. Not to worry, we’ll continue to address strongholds and how to deal with them in the next blog. Unfortunately, numerous people have had parents who didn’t know how to love their children. Many were critical or even outright abusive. Children learned performance-based affection. If they didn’t perform well, they didn’t receive love or affection. In time, they believed themselves to be of no value. Several grew to become perfectionists. If mom or dad didn’t love them, they couldn’t see how anyone else possibly could, and that includes God. Most know this already, but the way some view their parents, especially the dad, is the way they view God. It makes it very difficult for them to trust anyone. A number of them put people on trial. Because they already have passed sentence on them, they’re already guilty before it begins. Any legitimate acts of love are rejected, because they decided no one loves them. They don’t believe it’s possible. The reality does not match their narrative, and their narrative is their reality. These people are very good at sabotaging relationships. They also tend to enter unhealthy ones.

   If that’s you, change the story you tell yourself. Review the evidence with an open heart. Start with God. He is an amazing Father unlike anyone on the planet. If He didn’t love you, He would have never sent Jesus to die for you. That is not cliché: that is true! Stop and think about all the good things you take for granted -even the oxygen in your lungs. You may feel like someone should pay for what you’ve experienced in life. Maybe even God. Well, He did pay for it. Jesus endured the Cross, so you wouldn’t have to face a torment far beyond your imagination. He made provision for your pain. It’s up to you receive it. If you reject it, that’s on you. If you refuse a helping hand, that’s on you! Once you reject true love, you’re no longer a victim; you’re the perpetrator. Jesus is worthy for you to receive His love, which includes the love through other people. If you get honest, you’ll find a number of people of reached out to you. You simply slapped their hands, instead of taking hold of them. Read the Bible and see what God really thinks of you!

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12:00 PM   [05 Jan 2020 | Sunday]

The Real Enemy (Part One)

 It is so easy to blame the devil for everything; in fact, he gets far more credit than he deserves. Moreover, in some circles, he gets more glory than God. Part of the problem for some is they haven’t really taken the time to study their Bibles to find out what Jesus actually did for them at the Cross and Resurrection. Sure, they understand their sins were forgiven, but that is far as it goes. What they fail to understand is the devil was disempowered, and doesn’t have the authority he once had (see Colossians 2:8-15). Moreover, Holy Spirit lives in the disciples of Jesus Christ, which leads to a simple question: who is greater in power, Satan or Holy Spirit? It’s a rhetorical question, and yet some will say things like, “If you start doing something for God, the devils going to come after you.” So what? What’s he going to do? The reality is he is after everyone.

   1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

   Many know this already, but it bears repeating: the devil is not a roaring lion, nor can he devour anyone at will. Notice, verse eight says, “who he may devour.” It’s a permissive statement. In other words, only those who come in agreement with him are whom he may devour. This passage of Scripture also reveals everyone faces affliction, but don’t take that too far. It means you’re not alone in your struggles. Afflictions serve a purpose, and it’s not to destroy you, which will be addressed later. How do we resist the devil in the faith?

   James 4:6-8  But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

   We resist by humbling ourselves and submitting to God. In humility, we find God’s grace at work. Grace is His favor that enables us to do what we cannot do in ourselves. As we submit, His power goes to work, which is why verse seven says, “he will flee from you.” The devil isn’t the real problem; it’s being double-minded. It would be beneficial to read the entirety of chapter four to get a fuller context of these verses.

   2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

   By definition, a stronghold is a castle or fortress used to fortify, protect or hold safely. Metaphorically speaking, it’s a strong point, or an argument in which someone trusts. This verse is the only place in the Bible where this word is used. So, by biblical definition strongholds are imaginations and arguments. Where are these found? In the mind. That’s right, your battlefield is found between your two ears. Here’s a quick example of a stronghold: some believe a stronghold is some demonic bastion over a city, which afflicts people, and keeps our prayers from getting answered. Again, Jesus disempowered the enemy, they don’t have that kind of authority. Sure, there is demon-possession in non-believers; but again, that too requires permission. The enemy only has power in your life if you give it to him. See what happens if you stop mentioning him in your conversations. Yes, he is still real, but he’s limited. Enough about him. The issue is our thinking. It’s the reason we are implored to renew or renovate our minds (see Romans 12:2).

   The way we think or view things influence our decisions and behavior (see Proverbs 23:6-7).  The way we were raised and the things we consume in terms of what we put in our minds, greatly affect our thoughts. In part two, we’ll go into greater detail on how all this works in relation to the various areas of our lives. There is far too much information to cover in one blog.

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