Posted by: Rina | November 9, 2008

This following is a summary of the book, Who Do You Think You Are?  Discovering the Power of the Kingdom Identity, by Jon.  We will be posting several sections each week.  To see the newest post, please scroll down to the next entry.  To read the book by chapter, click on the chapter links to the right of the screen.  We hope you’ll be inspired and edified by what you read here and we welcome any suggestions you may have for us!

There is a desperate need in the church today for the Children of God to stand up and recognize who they are in Christ. Unfortunately many of us have been raised with the belief that we’re not good enough. Even in Christianity there is a tendency to view ourselves as unworthy. There is a tremendous need in the body of Christ for believers to stop seeing themselves as “sinners saved by grace” and to start seeing themselves as holy, justified, saints. As Bill Johnson puts it: “Apart from Christ, we are unworthy. And it’s true that without Him we are nothing. But I’m not without Him, and I never will be again!” (1) Proverbs 23:7 tells us: “As a man thinks in His heart, so is he.” We will never rise above who we think we are. If we continue to view ourselves as sinners, we will never be able to access the grace to live as saints. If we continue to see ourselves as unworthy, we will forever attempt to merit favor with God through our works. If we continue to see ourselves as powerless, we will never fully grasp all that Messiah purchased for us on the cross. Who am I, according to God?

Posted by: Rina | November 29, 2010

Inner Healing and Deliverance

As much as these two topics have been mentioned in the last few chapters, it would seem that a section describing them is essential. It is not the intention to delve into every aspect of these two broad topics, but to familiarize the reader with them. (1) Whereas, if the reader is in need of them, they will be familiar with them and be able to contact the resources needed for obtaining healing and freedom. This is the commission on the ministry of Jesus and the commission that has been, subsequently, passed to us. (Isaiah 61:1)

Inner healing is a healing that takes place “on the inside” as opposed to a physical healing. Much of this field owes special thanks to the Charismatic Catholics who pioneered this healing ministry. The basic theory is that, just as one needs healing in their body, one can also need healing in their emotions and in their soul. It is my belief that anyone suffering from an addiction needs this type of ministry. Furthermore, just about every human being alive has some inner wounds from childhood that need to be healed. As one psychiatrist friend of mine used to say, “You spend 18 years of your life growing up and the rest of your life trying to recover from it.” This is the essence of the inner healing ministry. “The basic idea of inner healing is simply this: that Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, can take the memories of our past and: 1) Heal us from the inner wounds that still remain in our memories or subconscious and affect our present lives; 2) Fill with his love all these places in us that have so long remained empty.” (2) Inner healing is indicated when the false identity is rooted in some emotional wound from the past. “The idea behind inner healing is simply that we can ask Jesus Christ to walk back to the time we were hurt and to free us from the effects of that wound in the present. This involves two things: 1) Bringing to light the things that have hurt us. Usually this is best done with another person; even the talking out of the problem is in itself part of the healing process. 2) Praying to ask the Lord to heal the binding effects of the hurtful incidents of the pasts.” (3) The premise is to walk the person back to the point of injury and pray for healing at the moment. There will be a need for forgiveness of the offending party on the part of the one needing healing. There will be a need to receive healing from Jesus regarding the event, and there may be a need for deliverance.

Deliverance

Deliverance, at its essence, is simply, casting out demons. The biblical evidence for the existence of demons is to numerous to mention here. Suffice it to say, that the bible never seeks to prove the existence of demons, it only describes their activities and the fact that part of Jesus mission was to “destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8) A great summary statement of the mission of Jesus is found in the book of Acts. It says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth, with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 NIV) Jesus was constantly setting free people who were under the influence of evil spirits. They constantly recognize who He is, and He constantly defeats their activities in the lives of wounded and hurting people. It is a foregone conclusion that if the Kingdom of God is at hand then the Kingdom of Satan is being defeated. Evil does exist in the form of invisible spirits that have various levels of function and activity.

Evil spirits affect humanity on different levels. Some of them are from without (outside of us) and some are from within (inside of us). Let us begin by identifying the ways we are affected from without. There are two basic mechanism, that of thought and of emotions.

Let us begin by defining what is meant by thoughts and emotion and then delve into how the spirit realm affects these. It is important to note that a thought is not an emotion. There is a distinct difference between the two. An emotion motivates one to action while a thought is simply an idea that comes into ones mind. Emotions are powerful and they can dictate all other functions of the soul. The word emotions is derived from a Latin word, “emotio” which roughly means “to move”. Hence, emotions are those things that stir us into action. (Shame and fear moved Adam and Eve to construct fig leaf clothing) Emotions are more than feelings, they get things moving. Emotions are defined as “an internal motion or agitation of the mind which passes away without desire; when desire follows, the motion or agitation is called a passion…This strong impression, or vivid sensation, immediately produces a reaction correspondent to its nature, either to appropriate and enjoy, or avoid and repel the exciting clause.” (4) In other words, if an emotion is pleasant, the soul is stirred to continue the action that causes the pleasant experience or to repeat the action of the emotion after it has passed away. Furthermore, if the emotion is unpleasant, the soul is stirred to repel or prevent the circumstances that brought about the disagreeable experience.

Thoughts don’t necessarily prompt one to action. The Biblical Greek word for thoughts is the word “dialogismos” (Strong’s #1261), it is the word from which “dialogue” is derived. Hence, the thought often times works in tangent with mind. It is defined as, “inward reasoning, questioning, consideration, and deliberation, turning thought over in the mind; reckoning by mental questions, opinions, designs and disputes.” (5) Hence, ideas are discussed and “tossed around” inside of ones head without inciting to action, as an emotion would. However, once certain ideas are tossed around long enough, they can evoke an emotional response. For example, an addict may have a using thought come into his mind. Initially, it is just a thought. But, if the thought is meditated upon and romanced in the mind, it will become a drug craving, which is the emotional response of the romanced thought. Once the emotional craving kicks in, the addict begins to strategize and use the intellect to plan the next use. Once a plan is decided upon, the plan is executed in the action phase. Thus, we see that our flesh can be activated by our thought life. An undisciplined thought life can trigger the flesh mechanism which leads to sin and ultimately to death. Scripture is very clear in this regard, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) And again, “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought.” (Ecc 5:2).

The spiritual realm exhibits its influence over the thoughts and emotions of humans. One can consider that human beings are composed of a body, a soul, and a spirit. They physical body is simple enough to explain. It is the outer shell, or tent, of the soul. It is the shell that the soul lives inside. The human soul has been defined as “It is the seat of the affections, will desire, emotions, mind, reason, and understanding. It is the inner self.” (6) The Greek word is “psuche” (Strong‘s #5590). It is the word that psychology is derived from. Hence, psychology is the study of the human soul. The soul is vaguely comprised of a will, an intellect, and an emotional seat. The emotional seat is at the center of the soul. The mind and the intellect function around the emotional center and the will carries out the actions and decisions of the emotions and the intellect.

The spirit is the communication link between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. One can think of the ones spirit as a cell-phone link to the spiritual realm. When a spirit wants to communicate with us, it sends a “text message“, if you will, from them to us via our spirit and it “pops” into the soul or mind, as a thought. If these thoughts are left unchecked they can have disastrous consequences. If they are caught and brought into subjection to Christ, then they can be resolved. This is one aspect of the spiritual realm communicating to us. This is how some prophecy takes place, the Holy Spirit flows with our spirit and sends messages to our mind which we speak to an individual or situation. We can speak the mind of God when the Spirit of God communicates with our spirits. Then our minds understand the message and speak it to the situation. Whereby, we become the spokesperson for the Spirit. This can work for the Holy Spirit, but it can also work for demonic spirits as well. Once, a thought is romanced and decided to act upon, an individual may begin to discuss the issue with people. Let’s take our addict again. Once a spirit of bondage (or addiction) has influenced and gained control of the thought life and mind of an addict, that addict begins to talk about using drugs. Thus, this individual becomes the spokesperson for the spirit of bondage (or addiction). A Biblical example is evidenced when one lying spirit influenced every prophet Ahab had to entice him into battle to be killed. The Bible states, “I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, ’Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ’I will persuade him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him, and prevail. Go out and do so.” (I Kings 22:19-22). Thus, once one prophet became the spokesperson for this spirit, all the prophets were brought under its influence.

My dear friend Patrick Pegues proposed another mechanism of contact between us and the spiritual world. Oddly enough, it is through our emotions. As it has been demonstrated earlier, emotions tend to motivate human behavior. This becomes a powerful means of communication. A spirit can send our soul an emotional download. Thus, in the presence of some spirits, an emotional download is given to a person and they respond with action out of this emotion. Thus, bypassing the ability to think things through. This is true when people tell us that they don’t want to do the things they are doing but they just “can’t help it.” This may be the outworking of a spirit. For example, a spirit of anxiety will produce an emotional response of anxiety in a room. This is why we are taught to walk during a fire drill. The emotional spiritual experience is much stronger than just the thought experience because emotions can move us right into action. These spirits are much more influential over human behavior. Conversely, the Holy Spirit has similar effects on individual as evidenced by the holy laughter and crying that can be exhibited in time of revival and renewal. Being able to discern the presence of these sprits is difficult. One must posses the ability to tease out their own emotions in a given situation versus an unprovoked emotional response caused by a spirit. Oftentimes, people who are untrained in the gift of discerning of the spirits, struggle with seemingly wanton mood swings and can’t figure out what is “wrong with them”. Nothing is wrong with them, they are just untrained in their giftings but are oftentimes medicated and diagnosed as bipolars. The essence of some forms of temptation come from spirits sending us emotions. We are not saying that all temptation comes from demons, but we are certainly saying, that there are times when it absolutely comes from evil spirits.

There are two levels of activity from within, inside of us. They are demonization and possession. Let us begin with demonization and then progress to possession. It is possible to be demonized without being possessed. “The Greek word used in the New Testament can best be translated as “to have a demon” or to be “demonized” rather than to “be possessed.” This correct translation makes all the difference because it is quite possible to have a demon yet not be possessed.” (7) What we are talking about here, is that demons get inside of people and influence their actions and lives without actually possessing them. An example is a man who is plagued with use of pornography. He seeks spiritual help and goes to a deliverance team. They pray and bind a “perverse spirit” and command it to leave him. It leaves, and the man voices an immediate peace and release. More importantly, he reports that the compulsion and desire to use pornography has completely left him. He is free from it. He was not possessed but nonetheless, he was demonized by a spirit that lived inside of him and influenced him in powerful ways. Once the spirit is gone, there is relief. This is how the majority of deliverance ministry takes place. Just like this. More often people are demonized but not possessed. They come for prayer and get better immediately. This is also an indicator of a spiritual problem, after prayer, the client gets better rapidly. The cause of the problem being removed with deliverance. Cindy Jacobs lists several causes of demonization, they are: Bitterness and unforgiveness, iniquity (including sins of the fathers and past generations), the occult, sin (particular sexual sin as it is a union that transfers sprits), trauma, and abuse.(8) These are all portals of entry for the demonic. Jacobs goes on to list stages of demonization. They are:

1. Regression: a person no longer has a desire for the things of God.

2. Repression: the absence of joy in the individuals life.

3. Suppression: a general sense of melancholy or lethargy.

4. Depression: a state of worthlessness and hopelessness involving loss of appetite and loss of sleep.

5. Oppression: the sense of being weighed down by an unseen force.

6. Obsession: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling. This changes the mind and calls what is evil, good.

7. Demonization: the individual has given demons the right to dwell inside of them by the sins of their flesh.

True cases of demonic possession are extremely rare. Personally, I have never seen a case. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. They are just extremely rare. Noted German theologian Kurt Koch identified eight “marks” of demonic possession. They are: 1. the demons are really living inside the individual and seem to have control. 2. Unusual or supernatural strength. 3. Visible conflict within the possessed person. 4. An opposition to the things of God. 5. Clairvoyance- Koch sites the demoniac of Gadarenes ability to identify Jesus even though they had never met before. This is a knowledge of hidden or secret things 6. Ability to speak in voices not their own and often in languages that they don’t know. 7. An immediate instantaneous improvement of the patient once the exorcism is complete. 8. Transference: Koch sites the legion that was cast into the pigs and destroyed the herd. This transference is a sign of possession. (10) Exorcism of these individuals is possible, but oftentimes, it takes longer and is much more involved. It should be noted that no novice in the deliverance ministry should attempt an exorcism without the help of trained professional ministers.

The person suffering from an identity crisis will, probably, be in need of some inner healing, if not, deliverance. Again, this section is not intended to be exhaustive but to familiarize the reader with the process of becoming whole in Christ.

 

 

 

Endnotes

1. Here the reader is referred to “Healing” by Francis MacNutt. “Healing the Wounded Spirit” by John and Paul Sandford, and “The Healing Gifts of the Spirit” by Agnes Sanford. Also, “Strongman is His Name, What is His Game.” by Jerry and Carol Robeson, “Deliverance from Evil Spirits“, by Fances MacNutt, “Demonology, Past and Present” by Kurt Koch, and “They Shall Expel Demons“, by Derek Prince. “Deliver Us From Evil” by Cindy Jacobs.

2. MacNutt, Frances, Healing, Ave Marie Press, Notre Dame, IN, 1999, page 146.

3. Ibid, page 147.

4. Webster Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, San Francisco, CA, Foundation for American Christian Education, 2006, page

5. Hayford, Jack, The Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, page 1512.

6. Ibid, page 1557.

7. MacNutt, Frances, Deliverance from Evil Spirits, A Practical Manual, Chosen Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, page 69.

8. Jacobs, Cindy, Deliver Us From Evil, Regal Books, Ventura, CA, 2001, pages 189-190.

9. Ibid, pages 193-195.

10. Koch, Kurt, Demonology: Past and Present Discerning and Overcoming Demonic Strongholds, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1973, pages 136-140.

Posted by: Rina | November 29, 2010

The Roots of the False Identity

    The false identity that many of us have developed didn’t just form in a vaccum. It has a specific cause and a specific root, perhaps, even more than one. What is intended here is to identify some of the root causes of false identity. There may be several others; however, many will fall into the four categories that are listed here. The four main root causes of the false identity are: Curses and Curse-like judgments, self-imposed oaths and self-pronounced curses, shame of sin, and evil/demonic spirits.

I realize that much of the teaching on blessings and cursing has been lost in our modern western church culture. However, the loss of this teaching neither negates the spiritual effects of blessing and cursing, nor does it eliminate the potential harmful effects that are released when a curse is uttered. It is not the intention of this work to delve into a complete study of blessing and cursing. (1) It is; however, our intention to identify a spiritual outworking that may be wreaking spiritual havoc inside the souls of Christians. A curse is defined as, “To utter a wish of evil against one; to imprecate evil upon; to call for mischief or injury to fall upon; to vex or harass by imprecations.” (2) In essence, a curse is a spoken utterance of words that releases a spiritual force into the life of another with the intent of destruction. (We will discuss the power of words in the chapter called, A Word about Words) Our words release spiritual power. This is the essence of prayer and prophecy. When evil is spoken about a person it releases a spiritual force that attacks the individual. When the attack is successful, it can cause depression, suicidality, and an overall loss of identity within an individual. The general cause is an evil spirit that has been released because of an utterance of evil by another individual. The curse must be renounced, in Jesus names, and the general symptoms will improve.

Curse-like judgments are very similar to curses. However, they don’t operate on the spiritual level that involves a demonic spirit. They operate on the emotional level. Frances MacNutt writes, “When we were little, our parents took on something of the authority of God, and we absorbed their judgments as if these judgments were true. (Psychologist call these judgments parental injunctions.) Even when children rebel

against false parental judgments (Judgments like “You’re stupid and will never amount to anything”), something deep down the child believes it. These negative judgments -curses, really-may slice into the child like a knife and remain for a lifetime, until Jesus frees him and replaces the lie with a true estimate of who he truly is. These distortions can destroy the child’s self-esteem. (It is significant that shame, a feeling of basic worthlessness, is now seen as the root of all kinds of addiction.) And this “hole in the soul” usually results from the child’s belief that he has been rejected by the parents.” (3) This may be the number one cause of the false identity. It gives us insight into how carefully a parent should choose their words with their children. Once these judgments are believed, they become the identity of the individual. People will fight against the lies they have believed about themselves all of their lives if these are not identified and renounced. The person needs to forgive the parent and then renounce the effects of the judgmental curse. Prayer should follow asking God to restore to the individuals life all that has been robbed by the lie. Amazing results can happen. (more on this in the chapter, The Solution.)

Self-pronounced curses are the outgrowth of the judgmental curse. When an individual believes the lie, it has become their reality. Hence, they begin to speak the lie over themselves which further solidifies the false identity. Let’s take a look at a previous example. Suppose a woman was teased as a child, by her father or her peers or siblings, that she was fat. Then she believes that she is fat and begins to speak this over herself. The more she feels fat, the more she may focus on her weight. Each time she goes to the mirror, she sees areas that appear larger than they used to appear. Each time she tries on her clothes, they seem tighter than they used to be. She begins to ask her husband if she is fat. She starts to say things like: “I feel so fat!” and “I just can’t loose this weight!” If left unresolved for a long period of time, this woman will ultimately embrace obesity as her identity. Eventually the woman, who thinks of herself as “fat,” will develop a tendency to overeat and begin living a lifestyle conducive to gaining weight. This creates a cycle of weight gain that can be very difficult to break. What we speak over ourselves becomes our reality. Thus, when a lie is believed about our identity, we use the spiritual power given us through words, and pronounce curses over ourselves. These self-pronounced curses are rooted in the lie that we believed from a judgmental curse. Again, forgiveness must be extended and the lie broken and replaced with the truth of who we are in Christ.

Self-imposed oaths are the reaction of emotional pain. The basic idea is that “I have been hurt and wounded by someone I loved. In order to prevent this from ever happening again, I will never really love anyone.” This mindset of “hurt me once, shame on you, hurt me twice, shame on me” will keep us in bondage and not allow us to experience love at its fullest. Indeed, love is a risk. God knows this. It was risky business for God to send Jesus into the world to die for a race of humans that were, by nature, living a lifestyle that provoked His wrath. His love motivate Him to take the risk. Again, forgiveness must be extended to the offending party and inner healing must take place. (again, more on this in the section called, The Solution)

“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25 NIV) It is interesting to note that the first bi-product of sin is shame. When shame is rooted in the soul, is causes unrest in the soul. A restless soul is a stronghold waiting to happen because it seeks relief of the shame. When the shame is believed, the person generally feels their own worthlessness. Thus, they are not “good enough” to pray to Jesus for deliverance, so they seek rest from another form. Mainly, some type of addiction. The shame of sin when it becomes an identity causes people to believe in their own worthlessness. The Bible clearly speaks otherwise. “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes say my unformed body.” (Psalm 139: 13-15 NIV) Clearly, God created us with goodness in mind and the entire mission of Jesus was to remove shame far from us by removing sin far from us. “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as far as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for whose who fear him as far as the east is form the west, so far has he removed our transgression form us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:11-13 NIV) Shame is not part of the Christian identity. Forgiveness and reception of the grace of God into our beings eliminates this as a cause of the false identity.

Once again, it is not the intention of this work to completely discuss the role of evil/demonic spirits. (4) Suffice, for now, to say this. Evil spirits, in short, are parasitic demonic forces that prey and feed upon the souls of the wounded. They are opportunistic spirits which can cause infestations inside of people who have believed lies about themselves. Sometimes, they can be the source of the false identity when curses are involved. Oftentimes, when a father or grandfather makes a covenant with a demonic spirit it has a right to inhabit the children and grandchildren. This is extremely unfair, however, evil cares little for fairness or justice. It cares only about wrecking the destructive force that drives it however and whenever it is capable of doing so. Satan and demonic forces are driven by an extreme hatred of the image-bearers of God and desire to only destroy them. Demonic spirits need a host to inhabit and the wounded are susceptible for infestation and demonization. These oppressing spirits keep people in bondage by re-enforcing the false identity and oftentimes, even causing it. They must be cast out and the wound that allowed them in, healed to prevent re-infection.

 

 

Endnotes

1. For in depth studies, the reader is referred to Derek Prince, “Blessings and Curses, you get to choose” Chosen Books, and Frances MacNutt’s Deliverance from Evil Spirits, Chosen Books.

2. Webster Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, San Francisco, CA, Foundation for American Christian Education, 2006, page 53.

3. MacNutt, Frances, Deliverance from Evil Spirits, A Practical Manual, Chosen Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, page 121-122.

4. The reader is referred to the above quoted book by Fances MacNutt and Derek Prince, “They shall expel Demons.”

Posted by: Rina | November 25, 2009

Appendix A (Dealing with Un-Forgiveness)

A reader of my wife’s blog asked this question after reading Rina’s post on un-forgiveness.  The following is her reply:
It’s easy to ask Christ to help you forgive. But when do you know you have forgiven the person you want to forgive? Is it when you no longer get angry when you think of the things they’ve done to you? Is it when you no longer laugh at their misfortunes? Is it when you no longer want to gossip about them? Does Jesus give you “brownie points” for just trying to forgive?
After asking myself (and my husband) these questions and searching God’s Word on the matter, I have come to realize just how vital forgiveness is in the life of a believer. It is my desire to share what I have found with others, and hopefully in doing so I will be able to answer some of the questions that have been asked of me. What does true forgiveness “look like?” And why is it important? It is my hope that the study below will answer these questions…
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took [him] by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet* and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Mat 18:23-35).
“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses“ (Mat 6:14-15).
God makes it clear in these passages that forgiveness is not optional. He tells us that if we do not forgive others, He will not forgive us (1). Before we can understand how to forgive others, I think it’s important to understand whywe are to forgive. Why does God place so much emphasis on forgiveness? Why does He say our sins won’t be forgiven unless we forgive those who sin against us? As I searched through the scriptures, it became obvious to me that unforgiveness affects every area of our lives, and every aspect of our relationship with God.

Unforgiveness hinders our prayers

”For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive [them], and you will have [them]. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses“ (Mar 11:23-25).
When Jesus tells us in Mark 11:23-25 that we can have whatever we say, we often fail to recognize the condition He places on this promise – the role we have to play in order to actualize His words. This passage tells us that we must forgive others (when ye stand praying, forgive”) if we want to receive answers to our prayers. It also tells us that if we want to receive answers to our prayers, we must have faith that what we have asked for will be done (”believe that you receive them”). Yet even our faith is hindered by unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness hinders our faith.
”For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Cor 13:4-7)
Faith works through love. Love cannot exist where there is no forgiveness (love keeps no record of wrongs), and faith cannot work where there is no love. We can have all the faith in the world, but if we don’t have the kind of love that keeps no record of wrongs, our faith will do nothing for us.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor 13:1,2).
“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).
Unforgiveness hinders our walk with God
”We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love [his] brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1Jo 3:14-15).
If we do not love our brothers but instead harbor resentment, we’re suffering a spiritual death. Realizing that unforgiveness is a sin (God likens it to murder!) should work to motivate us into repentance in this area. Rather than hold grudges against our brothers, we are called to forgive others as God has forgiven us:
“Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” (Colossians 3:13).
“Be kind one to another. Tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32).
How does God forgive us?
Micah 7:19: “He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”
Isa 43:25: “I even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”
Heb 10:16,17: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them. Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
God’s forgiveness is one that forgets! God would not ask us to do something that He will not enable us to do. Forgiveness starts with a choice. We must choose to forgive those who have wronged us and give our feelings of anger/resentment/hurt over to God. And then we must, quite literally, forget.
Websters dictionary defines “forget” as:
1.) to lose the remembrance of
2.) be unable to think of or recall
3.) to treat with inattention or disregard
4.) to disregard intentionally
Obviously, we are not able to make ourselves “lose the remembrance of” or cause ourselves to be “unable to think or recall.” But we can “treat with inattention” and “disregard intentionally,” and this is also called forgetfulness. God has given us the tools to this kind of forgetfulness in His Word:
“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are]just, whatever things are pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things” (Phl 4:8).
If we refuse to think about anything that is not pure, lovely, good, virtuous, and praiseworthy then we are “intentionally disregarding” those things that are not pure and lovely and good, etc. And this is exactly what God has called us to do.
Forgetting means not thinking about it anymore
”For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cr 10:3-5).
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).
Although Satan sometimes wages war with us in our flesh, far more often he wages war with us in our minds. The key to true forgiveness lies in “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” It lies in refusing to entertain thoughts of accusation. If we truly want to forgive others then we must be willing to put on the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). If Christ no longer remembers our sins against Him, then we must not dwell on the sins of others. Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10), and he takes great pleasure in reminding us of sin (our own and that of others.) We must maintain a vigil against these thoughts, and only allow God’s truth into our minds. We must live as if the wrongs that have been done to us truly never happened. Is this living in denial? Absolutely. We deny Satan access to our thoughts. We deny his desire to bring accusations into our minds. God says that forgiveness means forgetting. Therefore, we deny Satan access to our memories. This is how the battle of forgiveness is won. This is what forgiveness “looks like.” We’ll no longer be angry when we think of the things others have done to us, because we’ll no longer be thinking of the things they have done. We’ll have no need of “trying” to forgive, because we will no longer dwell on what needs to be forgiven.
How is this achieved?
We must first take our woundedness to God and confess our anger, hurt, and resentment. We must then make a conscious decision to forgive and then give voice to our forgiveness (proclaiming both to God and to the person who has harmed us, whenever possible, that we forgive them.) Lastly, we must “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” This means that we choose to forget what happened and refuse to entertain thoughts to the contrary. As we go about our day and are reminded of what so-and-so did to us, we must choose to “change the channel” of our thoughts and think instead about something pure or lovely, good or praiseworthy. We must deny Satan the right to “rent space in our heads” (as my husband likes to put it.) We must “disregard intentionally.”
Forgiving ourselves:
Forgiveness isn’t something that we are to do exclusively for those who have injured us. It’s something we are to do for ourselves, as well! A talk about forgiveness wouldn’t be complete unless we spoke of self-forgiveness. I believe that this is the issue that hinders more Christians in their walk with God than any other. I know it certainly affects my own life! I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to bed feeling guilty over the way I’ve treated my children, the way I’ve acted toward my spouse, the things I should have/could have done differently that day, the things I wish I had or hadn’t said… There are times when I’ve been unable to pray because I’m certain that God is angry with me. As I was searching for information on how we can forgive others, I came across an amazing truth, written in the gospels:
” Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven (Mat 18:21-22).
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:3-5).
When Jesus said we were supposed to forgive seventy times seven, that doesn’t mean in a lifetime – that means in one day! Regardless of what others do to us, or how many times, we must be willing to forgive them over and over again. Obviously, this is what we are supposed to do for others, but would God require us to do something for others that He is not willing to do Himself? If we are required to forgive our brother no matter how many times he sins against us, then won’t God also forgive US if we sin against Him over and over again? As Keneth Hagin once wrote: “Have you failed 490 times yet today? If not, then you’ve got a good margin to operate in!”
1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins – all our sins! The apostle Paul, writing to the church at Philippi, illustrated the concept of self-forgiveness beautifully when he wrote:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phl 3:12-14).
Paul had to forget those things which were behind – including his past mistakes and failures. And then he had to reach forth unto those things which were before him. There is a spiritual truth here. Before we can go on with God, we must learn to forget our past mistakes. If God has forgiven us, we must stop accusing ourselves. Each day, I sin against my Heavenly Father numerous times. And yet, just as He requires that I forgive others each and every time they trespass against me – He forgives me each and every time I trespass against Him! If we ask forgiveness from God and God doesn’t remember our pasts, then why should we? Just as we must “forget” the sins of others against us, we also must “forget” our own sins against our Heavenly Father. When we remember our sins, we are not walking in the forgiveness that Jesus Christ died to give to us.
Try it with me. Let’s begin to deny Satan the right to access our minds and point his finger of accusation. Let’s confess our sins as the Holy Spirit reveals them to us, and refuse to think about them again. Let’s forgive others for the things they have done to us – and choose to forget. Let’s make a conscious effort to think of things that are “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report” whenever Satan attempts to bring to our minds things contrary to these characteristics.
Let’s start living in denial!
1.) I believe that a big strategy of the enemy is to make forgiveness into something that it is not, keeping us from granting forgiveness to others because there are certain “conditions” we falsely believe we must meet. Forgiveness is not an admission that denies a sin has taken place. It does not imply that we must continue in a relationship with the one who has harmed us. “Forgiving” means “forgetting,” in that we choose not to dwell on the actions that have been taken against us. Whether or not we should again enter into a relationship with the person who has harmed us must be prayerfully considered (for instance, a person who lives a lifestyle of unrepentant sin may not be someone with whom we should have a close relationship. A person who has committed a crime against us [rape, molestation, physical or mental abuse] is likely someone we should stay away from, even after forgiveness has been granted.) Kris Vallotton gives a wonderful definition of forgiveness in his book The Supernatural Power of Royalty. He writes: “[Forgiveness] simply means that I release them from being punished for what they did to me.” Forgiveness does not obligate us to subject ourselves once again to an unhealthy relationship, but does obligate us to control our thought life and deny Satan each time he asks us to remember those things which are not “pure” and “lovely.”

Posted by: Rina | November 20, 2009

The Practice of the Presence of God

“That with him the set times of prayer were not different from other times; that he retired to pray, according to the direction of his superior, but that he did not want such retirement, nor ask for it, because his greatest business did not divert him from God.”
-Brother Lawrence

The practice of the Presence of God causes us to grow into our identity.  This has been commonly called “soaking” in recent charismatic circles.  Basically, the idea is that we enter the presence of God and just sit in His presence and enjoy it.  We are not doing, we are just being.  Then, as we get up to move about our daily business, we take the presence of God with us and not just leave it in the prayer closet.  This serves two purposes.  First, revelation is sometimes given  as we just “sit at His feet.”  Secondly, we begin to become more heavenly minded than earthly minded.  Here are a couple of biblical examples.

In the days of Eli the high priest, the bible says that the “word of the Lord was rare.” (I Samuel 3:1)  When Samuel was a very young man, he received a word form the Lord.  It is interesting to note how young Samuel received this revelation.  Scripture tells us, “And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel and he answered, ‘Here I am.’” (I Samuel 3:2-4)  Notice that the ark of the covenant was the dwelling place of the presence of God.  Night after night, young Samuel would sit and sleep in the presence of God.  Samuel would just “be” in His presence.  Then one night, that which was “rare” began to become common place in Samuel’s life.  The bible tells us that, “So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” (I Samuel 3:19)  The Divine Presence went with Samuel everywhere that he went and God acted on his behalf.  This is the bi-product of the loving exchange between us and the Divine.  “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)  This is the “good part” that Mary pursued while Martha busied herself in the service.  Jesus comments that what is achieved just sitting in the presence of God, “would not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:31)

Brother Lawrence once write, “That we should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence by continually conversing with Him.  That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation to think of trifles and fooleries.” (1) His point is that constant dialogue between us and God brings us closer to God.  It brings us to a place where the Holy Spirit is constantly supplementing our thought life with dialogue.  As the Holy Spirit continues to influence our thought life, we begin to possess the “mind of Christ.”  (I Corinthians 2:16)  The net result of this dialogue is the transformation of our mind.  It causes a shift in our thought from an earthly mindset to a  heavenly one.  This protects and preserves us from the flesh and the enemy and opens us toward growing in our identity.  Scripture tells us, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)  As we continue in His Presence we grow from receiving a visitation of God to becoming a habitation of God. (2)  In constantly maintaining our dialogue with God, we fill our minds with heavenly things, and not on the superficiality of our earthly environment.  This will transform our identity.  We will grow into what heaven predestined us to become when we fill our mind with the things of heaven.

Endnotes

1.  Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims, Spire Books, Grand Rapids, MI; 1958,1967, page 16.

2.  The reader is encouraged to read, Che’ Ahn’s book, “Hosting the Holy Spirit”; Renew Books, Ventura CA 2000.

Posted by: Rina | November 20, 2009

Practice makes Perfect

“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.  (Matthew 10:7-8)

We have all been given spiritual gifts.  It was purchased for us by Jesus and has been imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.  We have been given a mandate by Christ to use the spiritual gifts in connection with the preaching of the kingdom.  It is imperative that we begin to grow in our area of gifting.  They are a part of our Christian identity and when they are in operation, they not only cause us to grow, they demonstrate the power of God to those around us.  Jesus tells us “freely give” what we have been given.  Hence, every opportunity that we have to exercise our gift, we should do it.  Here is a practical example of exactly what we are talking about, most people can’t just go to the gym and bench-press 300 pounds.  However, if a person makes a habit of exercising (using the gifts) and keeps a good diet (a lifestyle of holiness) he/she can reach a level of strength greater than when they began.  It is a process.  The same is true of spiritual gifts.

One should not expect to be able to preach like Billy Graham the day after they get saved.  But, with the proper training, anointing, and biblical study, one could progressively become more evangelical.  Healing is another great example.  It is one of the spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians 12 and seemed to be a favorite of Jesus.  (Even a casual glance at the gospels reveals Jesus constantly healing, going to heal, or just having healed someone.)   It doesn’t just always manifest .  Let’s look at a couple of modern historical examples.

John Wimber led one of the greatest healing ministries in the 70’s-80’s.  Wimber’s Vineyard movement was hallmarked by physical healings and miracles.  This ministry greatly expanded and has been entitled, “The Third Wave” of revival and renewal.  But it wasn’t always hallmarked by the supernatural.  “Wimber realized he and the church couldn’t just theorize about healing, they had to practice regular prayer for the sick.  In other words, they had to start “doing the stuff.”  And so they did.  The problem was that despite constant prayer nobody was getting healed.  Instead, the people who prayed for the sick caught the colds and flu of those they ministered to.  But they persisted and some ten months later, a young woman was powerfully and instantaneously healed after Wimber prayed for her.” (1)  Wimber realized that healing was not just for a select few, but was a gift to all believers. (Mark 16)  He regularly held conferences and encouraged people to perceiver in faith.  Wimber knew by experience that breakthrough would eventually come.  He recognized that gifts were a part of Christian identity and that in order for us to grow, and for the advancement of God’s Kingdom, we must practice them.

Likewise, evangelist Todd Bentley experienced a similar process.  Bentley writes, “I purposed that if I prayed for a thousand and no one got healed that I would pray for another thousand.  In those early days of warring and contending, it seemed as though I prayed for a thousand without anyone being healed, but I just kept praying until something happened…Everywhere I went I’d call the deaf forward and pray for them.  I prayed for the deaf and I prayed for the deaf, and I prayed for the deaf.  For the longest time, when the deaf left my meeting they were still deaf.  I prayed for hundreds of deaf people and occasionally the deaf heard partially…  I saw results maybe two percent of the time.  I discovered that healing comes in levels and that, as believers , we need to contend and break through one level until we get authority.” (2)  Bentley went on to lead a healing revival in Lakeland, Florida 2008.  (Bentley has recently come under attack for some moral failure on his part and a recent divorce.  However, our point here is to examine his anointing and not his character.  How he achieved breakthrough is what we are looking at, not his morality.  It is important to note that we can grow in a gifting but not in character)  Bentley realized that the more we exercised and practiced our gifts, the stronger we became in our identity.
Bentley and Wimber both found a kingdom principle at work.  The scriptures states, “Those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)  In order for us to become mature, we need to use what God has given us.  The Greek translated here as “reason of use” means literally, “to make a habit of.”  The Bible affirms the witness of history by telling us, the more we use it, the more we grow in it.   As we grow in our gifts, we will grow in our identity.  When the miracles begin to happen we will say to ourselves, “This really is who I am.”

Endnotes

1.  Hayford, Jack; The Charasmatic Century; Warner Faith; New York, NY; 2006; page 260.

2.  Bentley, Todd; Journey Into the Miraculous; Destiny Image Publishers; Shippensburg, PA, 2008, page 168-169.

Posted by: Rina | November 12, 2009

Tithes and Offerings

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is you own?” (Luke 16: 10-12)

Faith is the catalyst that causes growth in our identity.  Therefore, in order to grow, we must do things that put us in a dependent position upon God.  When we place more confidence in God’s promises than in our own ability to accumulate wealth, we will begin to grow in God.  This was true of the rich young ruler of scripture.  He had led a morally upright and clean life, yet, he put his sense of security and peace in his wealth rather than God.  (Nothing wrong with wealth, God just wants to be first.  One need only look at Solomon to see God has no problem giving riches.)  Jesus sees right through the matter and tells him, “One thing you lack; Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21)  Entering the Kingdom is not about riches, it is about faith and dependency.  If we are to grow in our  identity, we must make radical changes in our lifestyle.  The first change that we need to develop is a lifestyle of radical generosity to God and men.  When we give, it creates space for God to bless us and bless others.  We open ourselves up for God to open heaven over us.  The Bible says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house and try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” (Malachi 3:10)  God is not just talking about financial blessings but also spiritual ones.  In essence, when we tithe, God will open heaven into our lives.  Hence, whatever is free to operate in heaven is free to operate in our lives because of our obedience to tithing.  When we step out in faith and give away money we put confidence in God’s promise.  When the promise is fulfilled in our lives, it breeds a greater desire to believe what God has promised.  Faith leads to faith, or an increase in faith.  Anytime we limit our ability for a greater belief in His ability, we will grow in our identity and receive spiritual blessing.

In the Bible, Jacob provides a great example of an individual who had great confidence in his own ability.  He has a tremendous encounter with God that radically changes his life.  The first change that he makes in his lifestyle is in the area of his finances.  (Genesis 28:22)

Jacob has a powerful encounter with God at Bethel (Genesis 28:22)  Prior to this experience, the only god that Jacob had was himself.  He was a manipulator and a con-man.  Even his name means, “deceiver.”   He sought, through his own power, to secure his future.  He manipulates and steals his older brother’s birthright and blessing.  Esau, the burly older brother, didn’t appreciate this much and sets out to kill Jacob.  Jacob is now on the run for his life.  After receiving a prophetic blessing from his father, Jacob sets out.  As a result of this blessing, the spiritual kingdom has moved to invade Jacob’s physical circumstances.  God appears to him in a dream.  God appears as the God of Abraham and Isaac, and not the God of Jacob.  However, as a result of this encounter, throughout the remainder of scripture, God identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Jacob has become a different man.  Jacob recognizes the promises of God on his life and makes the decision to put himself in a position of dependency upon God by tithing.  (the Hebrew word for tithe literally means “a tenth”-10% of ones income is the tithe)  For the rest of his life, Jacob was provided for and taken care of by God.  Jacob was secure enough in God’s revelation of His character to put himself in a position of financial dependence on God.

The Apostle Paul understood this principle and he taught it to the Philippians.  Paul writes, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” (Philippians 4:17)  Paul is saying, “Look, I don’t want your money, I want you to receive the spiritual and physical benefits of a radically generous lifestyle.”  This principle was honored by God in the life of Cornelius.

Cornelius is in prayer and God fulfills His promise and “opens heaven” over Cornelius.  An angel appears to him and says, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.” (Acts 10:31)  It was because of his radical generosity in making financial offerings (alms) that God chose him to be the first of the Gentiles to receive salvation and subsequent, baptism in the Spirit. It’s one thing for us to seek God for an increase in anointing and it is quite another thing when God seeks after us because of our radical generosity.

The Shunamite woman of the Old Testament, demonstrates this principle in her dealings with Elisha.  She radically and generously used her resources to provide for the prophet and his servant.  Because of her giving, the prophet seeks to impart something into her life.  (2 Kings 4:14)  Again, it is one thing to seek an impartation from a man of God but quite another when the man of God seeks you out because of your generosity.  Jesus explains it this way, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.  He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matthew 10:40-41) When we honor, bless, and support the calling and anointing on someone’s life, we put ourselves in a position to make a demand on that anointing.  (We are not talking about buying the anointing, we are talking about putting ourselves in a position of dependency upon God and allowing Him and His servants to fulfill His promise toward us)  Generosity, tithes, and offerings can ensure that we grow in our identity.  It puts us in a position of faith to receive impartation from both God and His ministers.  This transference will cause us to grow up in God.  Subsequently, leaving behind our old identity.

Posted by: Rina | November 6, 2009

Meditation in the Word

“And in His Law, he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

A key to growing in our identity is the amount of time we spend studying, reading, and thinking about scripture.  Growth in identity means that we will become more like Christ.  Jesus says this about scripture, “These (scripture) are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39 parenthetical note mine for clarity)  The word for “scripture” in the Greek of the New Testament is the word “graphe.”   It is the word from which we get biography or autobiography.  In essence, Jesus is telling us that the scriptures are God’s autobiography for us to read.  A book written about Himself, what He is like, and how humans can relate to Him.  It was written by humans under the inspiration of the Spirit, for humans.  After His resurrection, the bibles says that Jesus, And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)  Here again, a kingdom principle is identified.  Jesus felt it important for the early apostles to understand who He was through the scriptures, thus, he supernaturally empowered them to understand it.  The same happens for us today.  When we understand who He is, we understand who we are.  Thus, we grow in our identity as we study the Word and the Holy Spirit teaches us about God and ourselves.

The Bible has been called the “Living Word.”  The basic meaning behind this is that what is written unscriptural can be experienced and what happens in our lives, we can often find in scripture.  For example, on the day that I got saved, I had a dramatic encounter with Jesus.  I saw a figure in my living room wearing a white robe down to His feet, his hair was white, had had eyes of fire, he had a golden sash across his chest, and he was wearing, what looked to me like, bronze boots.  He spoke to me and said, “Jonathan, if you don’t stop drinking, you will lose everything.”  I had no idea who was that figure.  However, about three weeks later,  I was saved and reading the book of Revelation when I read this, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me,  and having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lamp stands one like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters…” (Revelation 1:12-15)  This was John description of the vision of the resurrected Jesus that He was while on the island of Patmos.  It was the same thing that I experienced 2000 years later.  After reading this, I knew that the Bible was more than just an ancient history book with good moral values.  It was alive!  What I read in it, I could experience in life.  Conversely, what I experience in life, I can find in scripture.  Itis unlike any other book ever written.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2 emphasis mine).

Scripture commands us to meditate on His Word.  The Hebrew word here for meditates is hagah.  “In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions.” (1).  Basically, we are commanded to not meditate on ourselves but to quietly speak the Word of God over ourselves. This is the exact premise outlined in the section on solving our identity crisis.  The simple repetition of scripture, will get these concepts into our hearts.   Once it is believed in our hearts, it becomes our identity.  “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.“ (Proverbs 23:7) Charles Capps describes it this way. “There is a creative power within you.  Learn to use it wisely…Words conceived in your heart will be formed by your tongue, and by speaking them out of your mouth you will either release the ability of satan or the ability of God within you.” (2).  Whatever occupies the majority of our thinking is what we are going to become.  When we meditate on the Word and speak it over ourselves, our Christian identity grows.  For example, I first began to pray for the sick after I meditated on the scripture, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, He will do also, and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12)  As I pondered this scripture, I began to have faith for the miraculous and began to pray for people.  Some were completely healed and others showed improvement.  This would have never become a part of my life if I had not meditated over the scriptures and had the revelation of my identity in Christ.  A recent writer says it this way, “Meditation and revelation are interconnected-mediation brings revelation and revelation brings the manifestation of what has been revealed.  When we first see or hear the Word, it’s not fully revealed.  However, when we meditate on it and when we pray it, revelation comes and begins working to bring the manifestation.  Often we don’t have manifestation of what we know because we haven’t meditated until we received that blazing revelation inside our spirit that release the manifestation of the promise.” (3)
Ezekiel has an interesting encounter with God.  “Moreover, He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find, eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.’  So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.  And He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your belly, and fill you stomach with this scroll that I give you.’  So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3).  God commanded and caused Ezekiel to “eat the scroll.”  When we eat something, it goes into our belly, and we begin to break it down, then it becomes a part of who we are.  God intended that Ezekiel would eat the prophetic words of ministry and they would become who he was; thus, making him a prophet.  The very next verse confirms this when God commissions him to go to Israel and prophecy. (Ezekiel 3:4)  Hence, the more scripture that gets into us the more growth we have in our identity.

A final note about studying scripture.  The purpose behind the study of scripture is to lead us into a greater intimacy and experience with God.  The Bible points us to theLiving God but it is not God.  The study for scripture without leading to divine experience is academic at best.  AS we study scripture, we should always keep in mind that what we learn should lead us into encounters with God.

Endnotes

1.  Hayford, Jack, The Spirit filled Life Bible,  Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN, 1991, page,  753.

2.  Capps, Charles, The Tongue:  A Creative Force, Harrison House, Tulsa OK 1976,  page 62.

3.  Bentley, Todd; The Reality of the Supernatural; Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA; 2008, page 334.

Posted by: Rina | November 5, 2009

The Exaltation of Self

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Luke 14:11)

Selfishness has always been and still remains the central concept of satanism.  Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.” (1)  The focus on self, either how wonderful or how worthless, is still a focus on self.  This focus is a strategy of the enemy and is a leading cause of depression and other afflictions.

In dealing with psychiatric patients for the last four years, I have noticed one common denominator between my patients.  The constant focus on self.  This blocks us off from the flow of God.  Bill Johnson describes this type of self-focus, “It’s a perversion of true holiness when introspection causes my spiritual self-esteem to increase, but my effectiveness in demonstrating the power of the gospel to decrease.” (2)  The spiritual focus on self does not yield the fruit of the Kingdom.

Whatever occupies the majority of our thinking is what we are worshipping.  When the entire focus of our mental energy is on self, self-worship becomes our religion.  Satan has sought from the beginning to get humans to exalt themselves above God.  He has sought to establish his church through the worship of self.  Think of the dialogue between Eve and the serpent in the garden.

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.  And he said to the woman, ‘Has god indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”  And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’  then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You shall not surely die.  For God know that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So, when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise,     she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.     (Genesis 3:1-6)

First, the enemy suggests “God is telling you a lie.”  This plants seeds of unbelief regarding God’s commandments.  Secondly, the serpent lies and accuses God of oppressing them and keeping them from obtaining all of their potential.  Her soul has become convinced that God has been oppressing her from a greater destiny. The serpent accuses, “He is holding you back from your true potential.”  Lastly, you can be your own god.  The serpent’s council was ‘you will be like God’.  What a lie!  Notice the extreme focus on self.  satanism, as a religion is founded on the worship of self.  The high holy day in satanism, is your birthday.  “The highest ritual holiday is the member’s birthday.” (3).  The majority of satanism is not the black-mass, urine baptism, etc… it is simply the worship of self.  Satan has always attempted to get us focused on self.  The focus on self opens the door for jealousy, anger , resentment and envy.  The enemy knows that when humans disbelieve God, they will destroy themselves.  Tragically, this has been an effective strategy for the forces of hell.  Fear is not from God, we have not been given fear, we have been given love, and power, and a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)

Saul was focused on self.  He was never focused on anything except exalting himself and his kingdom.  Because this was his focus, he was riddled with jealousy, fear, and anger.  This also opens him up for a demonic attack.  We read in scripture:

“So the woman sang as they danced and said: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands.  Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul…”  (1 Samuel 18:7-10)

It was the next day, that the onslaught of the enemy began against Saul.  Saul was only focused on preserving his own kingdom.  Saul knew that God had called David to be king (1 Sam 20:31) and that David was a threat to his rule.  If Saul was focused on God, he would have stepped down as ruler.  Instead, Saul was going to kill David to preserve his own kingdom.  The same principle is evident in the life of King Herod when he attempted to destroy Messiah to protect his own kingdom.  This focus on self and the intent to destroy the plans of the Lord illustrate the spirit of the antichrist.  The anti-Christ spirit is rooted in selfishness.  In the end, Saul was handed over to the tormentors until he takes his own life.  Saul had been given a new heart by God (1 Samuel 10:9), he was filled with the Spirit (1 Samuel 10:10), but his continual focus on self distorted all of his gifts.

Selfishness distorts our giftings and leads to our own demise.  Kris Vallotton writing about the distortion of these gifts states, “Suspicion is the gift of discernment being used by the sprit of fear.  It leads to bitterness, un-forgiveness, and torment, and it results in our going into a spiritual prison where all guards work for the dark side.  The spirits who guard the walls of this prison have names like sickness, depression, hatred, and murder.” (4).

Humility is the other kingdom principle that defeats self-exaltation.  Humility before God comes from the brokenness of self.  When one is broken before God and admits that in their own power they can neither become holy nor accomplish the kingdom destiny, they humble themselves before God and say, “Not my power but yours.”  In humility, we ask for knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry it out.  God does all the work through us.  He only needs us to be a willing vessel and He will accomplish His purposes through us in His Power and not that of ourselves.  Once the Lord has accomplished His goals through us, He gives us the credit for it.

Humility is evident in the life of young King David.  Before slaying Goliath, David tells King Saul, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (I Samuel 17:37).  David was a man who was killing lions and bears with the implements of a shepherd.  In actuality, it was David’s faith in God that sent David running after bears and lions to rescue his sheep.  After God had destroyed the lion and the bear, David got all the credit for it.  The same was true with the slaying of Goliath. All Israel thought David had killed Goliath when David himself readily admits, “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with the sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (I Samuel 17:47)  It was David’s humility before God that gave David great victories.  It was God working through David’s faith in Him and then David getting the credit for what God had done.

Endnotes

1.  Spurgeon, Charles Haddon, Morning and Evening Daily Readings, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Publishing House, printed 1962, page 360.
2.   Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles,  Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. 2003, page  147.

3.  Information regarding birthday as the high holy day found at page 48.
http://members.cox.net/lop1/SRAcalendar.html

4.   Vallotton, Kris, and Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Ways of Royalty, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. 2006, page 48.

Posted by: Rina | November 5, 2009

Guilt and Condemnation

Guilt and Condemnation
written by Rina

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.“ (Romans 8:1)

In the attic, I have a briefcase filled with every letter I’ve ever received from the time I was 13 years old until I began college. It has been with me through three states, five cities, and nine homes. Two weeks ago, I sat in my living room floor with that briefcase opened for the first time in ten years and started a trip down memory lane. In the case were letters from friends in middle school, relatives from out of state, and birthday cards from my parents. There were short stories and poems I had written, and old pictures I didn’t even know I had. While most of the letters brought back wonderful, happy memories, some of those letters brought me a tremendous amount of pain. There was one series of letters, in particular, from an old boyfriend whom I remember having treated very, VERY badly. I felt so convicted as I read his sweet words, remembering how I’d eventually responded. More than anything, I just wanted to tell him how sorry I was. But the sad thing is that I can’t. His phone number has changed, his parents no longer live at his old address, and he’s nowhere to be found on the internet (I know, I looked.)
Guilt is one of Satan’s most powerful tools against us. It tears us down and makes us feel dirty, ashamed, and contemptible. It strips us of our self-confidence and turns us against ourselves in self-loathing. One of the worst things about guilt is that there is usually nothing we can do to change what has been done. There is nothing I can do to take back the hurt and pain I caused the boy I treated so badly. I am not even able to contact him to apologize. Sometimes our sins can cause so much destruction that the entire life of another person is altered by our actions. What are we to do about this?
The first step to alleviating guilt is confession.  We must take ownership for what we have done and confess our sins.  The second step we must take is restitution.  As far
as we are able, we must make restitution for what we have done.  The third step is repentance.  Repentance begins with prayer.  In prayer, we uncover our motives for committing these sins and, once they are revealed to us, we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, asking for His empowerment in our lives that we might never sin in this way again.  The first and last step are things that every believer is able to do.

Guilt has no place in the life of a believer. It is unforgiveness directed toward ourselves.  While it is true that our sins can be incredibly harmful, self-loathing will not help us to put right the damages we have done. In fact, guilt will only take us further away from God and the power He has given us to affect change in the lives of those whom we have harmed. We have a biblical promise that God will redeem us of our
sins when we confess and ask forgiveness. He has placed upon Himself the full responsibility of recompensing others for what we have taken, when we are not able to do it ourselves. He the compensation for our sins.
The Bible says that we must “take every thought captive to Christ.” As thoughts of guilt and self-condemnation enter our minds, we must use them to prompt us into prayer on behalf of those whom we have harmed. We must not sit around and think of how badly we’ve behaved, blaming ourselves for the harm we have caused, and partnering with Satan in self-condemnation. Instead, we must take those thoughts and turn them into prayers for those whom we have hurt, co-laboring with Jesus Christ to make things right.
If there is someone in your life who has been negatively affected by your actions, take this opportunity to pray blessings into their lives. If you have caused money problems, pray that God bless them financially! If you have caused emotional problems, pray God’s peace into their hearts! If you have caused bodily harm, pray healing over them! And if the person you have harmed has passed away, pray blessings over their family on their behalf. “All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Your sin may not have been the will of God, but He promises that He will use it to bring good into your life and the lives of others. Stand on that promise and pray accordingly.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Endnotes

1.  This article can be read in its entirety on Rina’s blog at http://www.intostillwaters.com

Posted by: Rina | November 5, 2009

Pistis (Faith) vs. Apisitis (Unbelief)

If hell has one characteristic, it is distraction.
-John G. Lake
“lest satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)

The kingdom of darkness is aware of the Christian position, power, and authority.  They know it, and oftentimes, satan and demons know it better than believers.  satan has already tried to rule heaven and failed.  He held the authority on earth for awhile, then he was defeated.  He knows his destiny is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).   He knows that he can have authority back on the earth when the “image-bearers of God” agree with him, through sin, in rebellion against God. Therefore, his strategies are to feed lies to the spirits of men.  In turn, when the soul of man agrees with the lie and follows it, man has lost his position of authority.  Consequently, the enemy is restored to his position of authority.  A discussion of these strategies is relevant.  If these devices are to be avoided, the Christian need to be able to identify and evade them.

Pistis (Faith) vs. Apisitis (Unbelief)

Unbelief is the first and greatest strategy of the devil.  If satan can disable with unbelief, his kingdom continues to reign.  If satan can plant seed of unbelief about God’s character, promises, and intentions, then he will dismantle our prayers and our identity.  Unbelief take us out of our position of power.  Unbelief is the most tragic sin.  It is the exact opposite of faith. The Bible says of faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1.)

In all things, the believer can have the joyful anticipation of good, this is the biblical definition of “hope”. When the joyful anticipation becomes a “knowing”, it becomes faith.  In the heart, there is a “knowing” that things are going to move in favor, before it happens.  If this “knowing” could be taken out of the heart and given it a physical form, it would be faith.  The “knowing” is the evidence of things not yet seen.  When faith is birthed in the soul, it becomes what the evidence of a future occurrence.  Science boasts that “seeing is believing,” but in the Kingdom of God, “believing is seeing.”  Faith is the power that releases the unseen and the hidden.  It is the evidence of things not yet seen.

The Greek word for faith in scripture is the word “pistis” (Strong’s #4102 and defined as       assurance, belief, trust, fidelity, divinely implanted confidence.  Belief in God) (1)  Noah Webster defines it as, “to bind or draw, to lead or draw towards, The assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting upon his authority without other evidence.” (2)

Interestingly enough, the Greek word for unbelief is almost the same word as faith.  The word for unbelief is the same word “pisitis” with an “a” in front of it.  The prefix “a” means without.  Therefore, the word for unbelief is “apisitis“ (Strong‘s # 570 meaning without faith) (3).  Simple enough, unbelief means without belief.  Perhaps the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has the best definition, “Describes a mental attitude opposed to faith and therefore inclined to reject spiritual truths.” (4).  These definitions provide meaning to the largest tool that satan uses against believers.  If he can make us believe that God is either lying, holding us back from something, or that we are so worthless that we don’t deserve to be where we are at, then we will not accept our identity and fail to reach our destiny.  Scripture tells us:

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6).

Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we internalize in our hearts what scripture says about our identity and destiny.

The fruit of unbelief is fear and anxiety.  These motivate the kingdom of darkness.  When unbelief is embraced, fear will shortly set in.  When we disbelief God or rather, believe that God will do nothing, then we must look either to ourselves, someone else, or something else, in the physical realm to fix our problems.  (This is one of the reasons why the medical profession is so exalted.)  When fear settles into our hearts, the fear is given voice, once it is spoken, it pronounces curses over ourselves and others. People who are riddled with fear, live their lives speaking curses into existence.  After the curse happens, they consider themselves prophets.  This is not prophecy.  This is using the creative force that God has put inside us in an evil and selfish direction.  Unbelief yields fear.  Fear works for the enemy as faith works with God. When the enemy influences us to decree death to ourselves and those around us, he has effectively used our own God-given abilities to our own detriment and destruction.  Then, he gloats over how smart he is and how easy it was for him to destroy these image bearers of God.  Unbelief causes the Christian to be  their own worst enemy.

Anxiety and worry, are also, the fruit of unbelief.  These can best be described as a distraction from God.  This spiritual distraction yields physical effects.  They are sweaty palms, panic, impending doom, and fear.  Anxiety and worry are rooted in unbelief.  A problem presents itself.  The promise of deliverance from God is not believed.  Distraction sets in as we focus more on the problem than God.  With unbelief, there is an automatic shift from God.  There is no reason to continue to focus on God if it is believed that He will not be beneficial to finding a solution.  Hence, the focus immediately shifts to finding another power source. Self-power is the first option.  Discussion begins to determine the best possible solutions.  All possible scenarios must be played out.  A natural by-product of these discussion are two key phrases.  “What if” and “Yeah but”.  Anxiety and worry thrive on these two phrases.  Anxiety and worry love to hypothesis about possible scenarios and outcomes.  They find it irresistible to formulate a strategy to prevent the negative outcome from coming to pass.  Unbelief exalts the intellect and the ability of humans.  John G. Lake wrote, “Sin dethroned the spirit, and crowned the intellect.” (5)  The Bible is explicit in how to deal with these things:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)

Notice the commandment here, “Be anxious for nothing”.  It is not written as an option, it is written to be obeyed.  Anxiety is never permitted. The Greek word translated anxious here is the Greek word, “merimnao” meaning “a distraction, a preoccupation with things causing stress and anxiety, and pressure.  The word literally means to divide into parts.” (6). Anxiety is birthed out of unbelief.  The solution for anxiety is also given.  Prayer re-focuses on God and His promises.  Thanksgiving and gratitude arise as the past deliverances of God are called to mind.  Peace returns and the enemies scheme is defeated.  Jesus is equally as adamant about worry:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on…which by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?…But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25,27,33-34)

The Bible says, “He will provide all of our needs according to His riches.” (Phil 4:19)  Interestingly enough, the Greek word for worry in the Matthew passages above is the exact same word, “merimnao” that was translated anxiety earlier.  The two are synonymous in English and the same in biblical Greek.  They have no place in the heart of the believer.  Rather, belief and trust in God for all things is what the bible dictates.  It is such a better way to live.

Endnotes

1. Strong, James, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas     Nelson Publisher, 1995.

2.  Webster Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, San Francisco, CA, Foundation for American Christian Education, 2006.

3.  Strong’s see #.

4.  Bromiley, Geoffery w., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Grand Rapids    MI, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, page 942.

5. Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake, The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings, Albury Publishing, Tulsa OK,  1999 page 487.

6. Hayford, Jack, , The Spirit filled Life Bible,  Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN, 1991, page 1415.

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