In life, the reality is not "whether" or not we will teach others, but "what" we will teach them. We teach by the testimony of our lives through the decisions we make. Please realize today every action you make is being viewed by others. You are either helping them travel more confidently the right path or encouraging them to walk the road of destruction. You might not believe it, but others are learning through your words and actions today.
This should give you pause for reflection, to examine your own lifestyle and choices. However, it should also empower you to understand the influence you have on the world around you. For better or for worse, you can make a difference.
I am exceedingly happy to report that Dave's side lump has completely disappeared as of this week. Honestly, I am so surprised by it's disappearance, and I know God must have done it. That's the way our God works... sometimes a large obstacle seems to consume your life one moment. Then as you surrender to the Lord, it slowly fades until one day you realize it is completely gone. You're not sure exactly how it left, when it left, or even where it went, but at the same time, you don't really care. It's enough to simply rest in the relief that the problem is gone. Praying today that you are able to experience divine relief from a disheartening situation too.
I wrote about the events that happened Dave originally on September 17th. Today I wanted to give you an update. It's been a little more than a week now. I can say that just by acknowledging my struggle aloud, I felt a release in my heart. Then as I meditated and prayed about the situation, asking God to continue to heal my mistrust or lack of acceptance to His plans, I felt a peace grow inside my heart. It took less than a day.
Then, on the next day, my husband said, "Wow, Dave's lump has really gone down." I'd shaved the area before trying to drain it the week before, so the lump had been extremely obvious against his bare skin. Skeptical, I looked at Dave and sure enough, the lump had decreased in size by half overnight. Dave's lump had been visible about four days before I tried to drain it initially, believing it was a growing abscess. Many may not know, but for several years I was a veterinary technician at several clinics and studied as an undergrad preparing to attend Vet School. Fixing minor issues like the draining or cleaning of wounds was nothing new to me. My experience in this field is why I chose to try to initially drain the wound.
As I examined Dave, I wondered how much his current situation was created to make me aware of my internal faith issue that God wanted to deal with for my healing. Over the next couple of days, the lump has continued to decrease in size. It is currently the size of a shooter marble. I continue to pray for Dave's complete healing from this issue, whatever it may be. And now I also have a peace that regardless of whatever comes in the future, that God has a good plan for me and Dave. I am honestly a little surprised to feel this constant assurance where once my broken heart had only skepticism. I know this is the power of the Living God working within me. And I know, given the chance, He will do the same for you!
Last night an amazing event happened. My van had a different mechanical problem and my daughter called me concerned. My sister drove me in to pick up the van, and she followed me home with my daughter in her car. While I was driving the van in front of them, I heard the strangest sound. It was like the sound of a scream of terror, or for those of you who know are familiar with being in the woods in Alaska, it reminded me of a moose or black bear screaming. The sound wasn't really a traditional sound either. The experience was so unusual that it took me a moment to process the scream was not external. Meaning, I felt the sound rather than heard it with my ears. Immediately, I got this bad feeling in my stomach, one of serious warning. Familiar with this this "troubling" inside my stomach from previous experiences, I recognized it as a warning from the Holy Spirit and slowed down and started to pray. I was on my headset on the phone with my sister and told her about this odd sound/feeling briefly. Just as we drove into Palmer, before the speed limit changes from 55 to 45, the feeling intensified. On instinct, I took my foot off the gas and my van slowed down to 40 mph in the 55 just before the 45 speed limit side by the Fairgrounds, which is of course a no passing area. Less than half a second later, for some unknown reason, a car swerved out in front of me to pass the traffic coming head-on in the other lane. I literally had less than a second to swerve to the left and over the white line, as his car came inches from mine. It swerved back over the yellow line and into his lane right behind me and in front of my sister and daughter following behind me. Mind you, this as 11pm at night and everyone had headlights. There was no way the other drive had not seen my van before he swerved head-on into my lane.
I cannot emphasize enough the value of listening to the Holy Spirit at every moment of our lives! Last night, the Holy Spirit saved my life and most likely the lives of my sister, daughter, and the idiot in the other car too. However, many people when they get a word of warning simply shrug it off or ignore it. Many talk themselves out of obeying by saying, "that doesn't make sense" or the brain starts to think, "logically there's no evidence for me to do something else, just keep doing what you're doing." But, in moments when you receive a spiritual warning, never listen to your mind. Always, listen to your spirit who is in direct communication with the Holy Spirit. There was no logical reason I should have heard that scream of terror in my spirit. There was no evidence before the event that I should even slow down so drastically in the 55 preparing for the 45. Slowing to 45 would have been the normal and logical thing to do. But at the leading of the Spirit, I took my foot off the gas completely, allowing the van to slowed to a speed that gave me the time to react and get out of the way of a head-on car accident. Because I was directly in front of my sister and daughter, my abrupt change in speed caused them to slow as well and saved them from hitting that reckless driver too.
"How do you know for certain it's the Holy Spirit leading you?" you might ask? Well, after you listen and follow through, you'll feel the release of the situation. Immediately after that car served in front of me and passed behind me, the feeling of warning/dread suddenly left my stomach. While my heart was pounding from the shock of the experience, my spirit felt immediately at peace. The event my spirit had been anticipating was over. It's funny to me that our minds and bodies take longer to react and calm down than our spirits. Once the moment of danger passes, the feeling of peace floods in to reassure and confirm the God's Holy Spirit leading with you. The more you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, the more you know the voice of God and the faster you can respond the next time. Like any muscle being exercised, faith gets stronger and more reliable the more you use it.
Also, the Holy Spirit never leads you into danger. If you feel an unction that encourages do perform a dangerous or sinful act, that's not God's leading. That's either your flesh or Satan motivating you. Don't follow through! While God's leading has an urgency to it, and if you immediately go into prayer, there is direction given and that direction will not lead to harm. The Spirit of God will never lead you to harm anyone else or yourself.
The Holy Spirit is our defender, our protector, and our teacher. Learning to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and discerning its divine voice from your flesh and the enemy of your soul is critical in your life.
Self-effort is the foundation of a Performance-Based religions, and out of its root stems many fears, inadequacies, judgments, and vain repetitions of religious prayers and actions. The reality is too few Christians even recognize the difference between a Grace-Based and a Performance-Based mentality within church teachings. While in the human mind, the difference between a foundation in self-effort and a position of Grace-alone cannot be clearly distinguished in most people. It is only when "push comes to shove" (during times of trial) that the fruits of these different systems are finally exposed. The various responses to the demonic encounter in part 1 clearly demonstrated the difference between these two opposing systems of operation, with most believers offering advice unknowingly from a self-effort point of view.
Examining the physical actions resulting from a performance-based mentality in other religions, Christians often call these actions "witchcraft." Perhaps it's easier to look externally at a pagan ritual, reciting a magic incantations, or talisman and recognize the placement of faith as wrong. It's easy to see a "witchcraft" label when it isn't being disguised by Christian terminology or symbols. But, throw in the name of Jesus, His blood, a cross, holy water, or repeated scripture to ward off the enemy, and many Christians wrongly assume it's biblical to perform these Christian witchcraft rituals.
When we advise others to perform an action like "pleading the blood" or praying a specific verse repeatedly, we are in essence telling them to rely on self-effort for protection. Seriously, how much more blood can be pleaded for you than all Jesus' blood poured out on the cross? His blood has eternally pleaded for everyone who will believe, and He is at the Father's right hand making intercession for you right this very moment. You don't receive extra protection because you "pleaded the blood" over your home, and another Christian received less protection because he believed and rested in God's promise of protection. All Christians are eternally safe in Christ. The enemy has no power over Believers except what may be given to him in ignorance. Re-read James 4:7 or the Gospels for direction if you need the enemy to leave. You don't receive extra deliverance from evil because you said the right prayer, the right number of times. In fact, Jesus called this type of behavior "vain repetitions" and spoke against it. All Christians receive the same amount of deliverance from ALL evil via their new nature upon the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. God our loving Father never plays favorites with His children. All of His promises are "Yes and Amen" in Christ Jesus. You have equal access to all spiritual blessings by faith alone and not on your own merit or effort.
Believers don't need to wear a crucifix for protection; the symbol itself does nothing to ward off evil. A Bible under your bed or pillow won't do you any good if its words have not been sown into your heart by the Author. Believers don't get to command Heaven's angels to deal with vast spiritual problems, nor do they have the right to rebuke principalities and powers over entire continents or cities because they think they can. We never read of Peter, John, Paul or the other apostles performing such an actions. Neither did Jesus. If the servant is not greater than His master, what makes you believe you have more authority than they? A Performance-Based mentality is what is causing these misconceptions and false teachings. It lies and twists the scriptures to "empower" people falsely. It encourages Believers to depend upon the strength of their own arm instead of resting solely upon the Grace of God. Ultimately, it leaves them hanging and helpless to deal with real spiritual problems.
The only way out of a Performance-Based mentality is through Grace. Christians usually like to say they accept Grace, but many of them are literally working for their salvation or working to maintain it but just won't admit it that way. What we need is to cultivate a Grace-Based Mentality of the Gospel where Believers know they cannot add to Jesus' works by their efforts. Believers cannot help God's keep His promises. God is faithful all by Himself to keep His promises. Additionally, nothing Christians do can subtract from Jesus' work. Even when Believers are unfaithful, Jesus remains faithful (2Timothy 2:13) to perform the good work He began in them. (Philippians 1:6).
No matter how we color or label it, any time we are depending or relying upon ourselves, we are not relying on Grace. The Truth of the Gospel of Grace preached throughout the New Testament states simply, Jesus did it all. Jesus does it all, and Jesus will forever do it all.
When you rest in the finished works of Jesus and your new identity in Him, there is no need for any self-effort. You do not experience spiritual warfare in the sense of you being required to complete a "To-Do or Don't Do List" to avoid being attacked by the enemy or to obtain "protection." As you rest in the promises of God, you operate from a place of peace and strength that are supernaturally imparted to you. When necessary, you can speak or move knowing the all authority was given to Jesus, and He, dwelling inside of you, has your back. Unlike Sceva's sons, you are a Believer. The demons openly admitted to knowing Jesus and Paul. They know those who truly belong to the Lord because the Lord is in us and with us.
That's why we never read about a demon physically attacking Peter, John, or Paul. I'm not counting the thorn in the flesh given to Paul to keep him humble because he was walking in resurrection power daily. I'm talking about the the kind of attack the lady in part 1 reported. The apostles were major leaders of the church, big targets of the enemy, far more than most Christians today. Yet, they did not experience demonic attacks on this level, and neither should we, not because of who we are, but because of who Christ is in us. This is the knowledge that stems from the foundation of the Grace-Based mentality the apostles lived and taught. It's the knowledge many Christians need today: to know Christ, your identity in Christ, and trust in Christ's finished works alone.
Our strength and authority come solely from the Lord. Do not rely upon an religious ritual or work to deliver or save you. The enemy has no power over a Believer in Christ. Satan tries to get people to jump through hoops, use religious ways to deal with him, and seek comfort in acts we can do. Yet, in reality, when we focus on Satan or seek to defend or protect ourselves by our own strength, we only empower the enemy in our lives. Our attention should be 100% focused on Jesus. Believers need to know His word and promises. Only there we can find rest, knowing Jesus protects us from every evil. In fact, Jesus prayed specifically for God to deliver you from Satan in John chapter 17. A prayer that was fully affirmed by God, I might add.
Nothing can touch a Believer that God doesn't allow. If your Heavenly Father has allowed something to come into your life, then it is for your good and being used to refine your faith. Even if you don't understand it and especially when it's painful, trust in God's character and promises. Do not lean on your own strength or understanding to deal with the situation.
On Facebook, I joined a group many years ago about prophecy, where people shared about dreams and supernatural encounters. Ultimately, the group was designed to help people who have experienced a vision or encounter that has left them confused receive interpretation and guidance. Ideally, people responding were to provide Christian feedback to those posting a dream, vision, or encounter. Yesterday for the first time in ages, one of the posts from that page popped up on my news feed.
This particular post was about a demonic encounter a lady had while trying to nap. In her encounter, she reported being physically attacked and choked by two evil spirits. The episode left her shaken and her throat hurting. During the attack, she called out to God to help her and the spirits instantly stopped and left. With her throat hurting, she continued praying and fell asleep. When she awoke the second time, all the pain in her throat was gone, but she reported feeling physically sick and believed she was experiencing spiritual warfare complications.
Obviously, not every person experiences a demonic attack to the level this lady reported. What was disturbing about the entire posting wasn't what the lady experienced, but how fellow Christians responded to her. Five people replied to her post before I saw it. After me, another seven also commented. Sadly, with the exception of my comment, the majority of replies initiated from a Performance-Based Mentality instead of a Gospel-Based Mentality. It made me realize the degree to which Christians have become ingrained in the depths of wrong theology. Our human nature thrives on our ability to do works for salvation. Yet the finished works of Jesus are completely contrary to a performance based mentality.
Here are just a few examples of the comments/advice given to the lady seeking understanding or a word from the Lord on what happened to her and what it might all mean, as well as asking for prayer.
WOW! I sat and stared at the comment list and thought to myself, "there was a time when bad teaching like this was fed to me in at least two different churches." My heart broke for the countless Believers trapped in false dogmatic mindsets where their spiritual protection, deliverance, or salvation rests primarily upon their own shoulders and works. Jesus might have gotten them in Heaven's door, but now they have to work to stay there and keep the enemy from causing them to fall.
Read the above list again, only this time see where the focus or faith is really placed. Too many Christians believe they must do this or that, pray just right, close a doorway, break a curse, cut a soul-tie, call for an elder, use oil, use holy water, carry a physical cross, plead the blood, and even use Jesus' name in order to experience spiritual deliverance and freedom. Sadly, too many Believers honestly think there's this HUGE "To-Do/To-Don't Do List" to perform before they achieve their desired results. They look to everything and everyone but the Author and Perfecter of their faith. It's all so reminiscent of the Seven Sons of Sceva in Acts chapter 19.
For the record, I'm not dismissing the power of the blood of Jesus, for by it we are completely delivered from our sins and raised above all the enemy to sit with Christ in the Heavenlies (Ephesians 2), neither am I underestimating the power in the name of Jesus for Believers. But, there is little power in "Pleading the Blood" of Jesus over your home like it's some sort of talisman you can pour out to cover you to keep the enemy from seeing you. Scripture clearly teaches all who walk with the Lord will suffer persecution, trials, and tribulations. There is even less power in using Jesus' name without an intimate relationship with the Lord, as the sons of Sceva learned. There is only power when you abide (rest, live, and move) in Christ.
The overall theme of the Seven Sons was they had head-knowledge of Jesus (knew who He was). They had even seen the power of Jesus operating through the Apostle Paul. They knew and believed Jesus' name held power, but their understanding was extremely limited by one major problem. Sceva's sons were not genuine Believers. They had never been reborn and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Seven Sons had no true faith in Jesus in spite of their knowledge of Him, His name, or His power. Thus, the Sons of Sceva had no authority backing up their words or actions when they used the name of Jesus to cast out demons. The results were disastrous for them and should be taken as a warning to all who would advise anyone dealing with demonic activity to invoke the name or power of Jesus without first making ensuring the person using Jesus' name had been born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Without the Lord as one's personal savior and indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, no amount of using Jesus' name, pleading His blood, or anything else will deliver you from evil. Often times, such actions without salvation result in evil spirits physically harming people, which happened to Sceva's sons. Other times, evil gives an illusion to acquiesce to human behavior, words, or rituals to reinforce the false belief in self: one's ability to do something to rid himself/herself of evil's presence. This is often seen in pagan rituals, but can happen to anyone at any time not operating from genuine salvation in harmony with the Holy Spirit's leading. The enemy's goal is to convince Believers to put their faith in their own actions, words, and ability to "spiritually" fight. Unfortunately, the moment anyone falls for the lie there is strength in self or self-efforts, that is the moment he/she is defeated.
To be continued in part 2.
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.
I woke up this morning thinking about medical diagnoses and how many are given to us at times. A particular friend was on my heart, who has a listing of so many diagnoses that she could make alphabet soup. At that same moment I was pondering the list of disorders, I heard the Word of the Lord repeat the scripture of Matthew 9 in my mind, "Which is easier..."
It got me wondering, why is it easier for us to believe the magnitude of our sins are forgiven, or that we have eternal peace with God and a new home in Heaven when we die, but we get stuck at believing in Jesus' redemptive work of healing for our physical bodies here on Earth?
Which is easier to believe?
Probably it's easier to believe our sins are forgiven, because we often do not emotionally or physically feel the weight of all those sins in our body the same way that we feel pain or disease. It's easy to feel the difference between your healthy body and an unhealthy body, or know when an illness or injury affects you. With the physical body, we can measurably experience the difference between our good health and a negative health. With sin, people don't immediately feel disease impacting their souls. The eternal effects of sin are more intangible than say a broken leg, diabetes, or a stroke. Because humanity is more experienced with the physical realm via our senses (touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell), our spiritual plane of existence is more easily theorized than practically experienced.
Yet, if scripture is to be understood as true, than the healing Jesus offers to all who come to Him in Isaiah 53 is a package deal with the forgiveness of our sins. The fullness of Isaiah 53 is explained just one chapter earlier in Matthew (8:16-17), where it states all of Jesus' ability to heal disease and broken bodies and offer deliverance from demons was accomplished as fulfillment of Isaiah 53, by Jesus' stripes we were healed. Healing and salvation are two parts of the same coin. Isaiah 53 intertwines Jesus' ability to physically heal people with His ability to be the vessel for our forgiveness of sins.
Which is easier to believe?
If only we could see and experience spiritually the way we understand and relate to our physical world; it would transform our minds. Many of the roadblocks to healing for our bodies would fall away. Our willingness to embrace disease would be eradicated, and our ability to believe the Word of the Lord would grow and overcome the world.
Scripture states forgiveness of sins is just as easy as the healing of a paralytic body, and Jesus has the power to offer you both!
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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