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.
Beth Moore has been a wonderful example of a Christian minister and has encouraged hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to study the Scripture and know Jesus as their Savior better. Recently, Beth released an open letter to her brothers in Christ explaining her denominational history, her respect for her Christian male mentors and pastors, and challenging Christian men everywhere to recognize the ungodly behavior by many who dismiss a woman simple because she was born female.
As a woman in Christ, my heart ached with Beth's letter, as I deeply understand the ridicule she faced in using of her gifts given by the Holy Spirit at the hands of some men in leadership positions within the Body of Christ. As Beth states, "attitudes among some key Christian leaders that smacked of misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women and it spread like wildfire. It was just the beginning. I came face to face with one of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life: Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness."
Beth correctly identifies the source of negativity against women in ministry and leadership which has less to do with Scripture than the entrapment of sin. Scripture when taken in context and correctly translated does not forbid women from ministry roles as exemplified by their role within the early church, and nothing about the dismissive and demeaning attitude by men in leadership positions within the Church towards women is reflective of the image of Christ. I encourage you all to read Beth's letter for yourselves, because many people have already started to twist her words. Always encourage the Truth within the Body of Christ.
This revelation—holy, just, and true--
Though oft I read, it seems forever new;
While light from heaven upon its pages rest,
I feel its power, and with it I am blessed.
Henceforth, I take thee as my future guide,
Let naught from thee my youthful heart divide.
And then, if late or early death be mine,
All will be well, since I, O Lord, am Thine!
This insightful poem was penned by Phoebe Worrall, age eleven, on the inner page of her bible. Phoebe, born in 1807 to a devout Methodist family, experienced a problem faced by many Christians today. She was under the false belief that an intense emotional experience was required for or accompanied the act of salvation. The belief in an emotional connection to one's salvation has led many unbelievers to falsely assume they were saved simply because they had felt guilty and shed tears over their sins, without truly embracing the Savior. Emotion has also led many Christians to be unsure of their salvation for lack of "feeling" saved. Even the great evangelist Billy Graham knew not to trust emotion as the sign of genuine salvation, which he learned from watching many people come forward in his crusades, only to discover later they emotion was not connected to genuine repentance or faith in Christ.
Phoebe never felt like a Christian as a child, although she grew up in a Christian environment and had known and believed in the Lord since birth. She later married Walter Palmer, and two of their children died only months after birth. Phoebe wrongly concluded God was somehow punishing for her lack of faith and devotion to Him, because she could never "feel" the way other Christians described feeling salvation. As you can imagine, this led her into a very dark spiritual time.
Thankfully, Phoebe's spiritual crisis ended when she had the realization that she didn't need "joyous emotion" to believe. She discovered the biblical truth that the simple act of believing was the foundation for salvation. The verse that changed Phoebe's mind was Matthew 23:19, "Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?" While many overlook the implications in this verse, Phoebe received rhema from it. She realized the Bible taught whatever was placed on the altar was sanctified not by the act placing it there, or anything a person did. It was the work of God, upon whose altar the item was placed, to sanctify the item on the alter. This spiritual revelation helped Phoebe realize that her life committed to Jesus was sanctified not by her doing (keeping a list of do's and don'ts to follow) but by her surrender to the Lord, who was and is perfectly able to sanctify her by His power. As a result, she no longer needed a sign to validate her faith in Jesus.
Phoebe Palmer understood other believers were struggling in their faith in a similar way she once had. So she took her biblical revelation and applied it to John Wesley's Methodist perfectionist's movement, dividing it into a three step process.
1. Consecrate your life to God.
2. Believe God will sanctify what was consecrated to Him.
3. Tell others about it.
As a result of her three step process, Phoebe began holding prayer meetings, which eventually grew beyond measure. She was an active supporter of many Christian causes, including the first inner-city mission in America, located in New York City. Phoebe also inspired many other women of faith to trust God and step out in faith, like Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army. Phoebe went on to author the book, The Way of Holiness, which was a foundation in the Holiness Movement. The Holiness Christian movement believed upon salvation believers were cleansed from the power of sin and through sanctification could lead a life without committing willful sin. Whether the movement was entirely right or wrong, it impacted the way many believers thought and inspired new denominations like the Salvation Army, the Nazarene Church, the Church of God, and many Pentecostals.
More importantly, Phoebe's teaching that neither salvation nor sanctification are validated by emotion is relevant for believers today. While it is powerful to experience emotion, the Word of the Lord is not changed by it. Phoebe often said, "Earnest prayers, long fasting, and burning tears may seem befitting, but cannot move the heart of infinite love to a greater willingness to save."
This month the US Supreme Court decided not to hear Raphael Golb's case. This means Mr. Golb's previous convictions and jail time will be upheld. Raphael Golb is the son of University of Chicago professor Norman Golb, who had previously debated the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and is now a disbarred lawyer convicted of a myriad of offenses. Raphael Golb impersonated several Dead Sea Scroll scholars in emails and blog posts to discredit their work and the validity of the Scrolls. In 2010, he was found guilty of 30 counts of identity theft, forgery, and harassment. The Appellate Courts dropped a total of 11 counts against him, but the other convictions and time remained. After the Supreme Court refused to hear his case, Mr. Golb will now finally face his punishment for the 17 charges.
Mr. Golb is an excellent example of how Satan, the enemy of our souls, will use anything and everything to discredit the validity of Scripture and scholars who research its credibility. The Dead Sea Scrolls were confirmation of the reliability of the Masoretic text, upheld the Septuagint, and provided awareness of other circulating religious books of the time period. Satan and Mr. Golb would have you to believe otherwise. Mr. Golb's efforts having been circulated on the internet have been picked up by several websites refuting the reliability and historical accuracy of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Scripture. While the authors of those anti-Christian websites were probably unaware of Mr. Golb's deception, they also have not made any effort to removing the false claims.
Therefore, as many of you already know, when it comes to the internet, using primary sources are extremely valuable for obtaining accurate information. The website should be operated by a business that is forthright in contact information and scholarly testimony. Sources like the Biblical Archeology Society at www.biblicalarchaeology.org is one of the trustworthy resources a Christian can research for accurate information.
"Behold, you have sinned against Yahweh,
and be sure your sin will find you out."
I'm always hearing about how we will have these great blessings once we arrive in Heaven. It's true Jesus came to save you from the eternal punishment of sin. And it's also true many good blessings await us in Heaven. BUT, Jesus' work on the cross was about more than you going to Heaven. He came to not only save you from your sins but to deliver you out of them. The salvation Jesus gives is more than just for the Sweet By & By, long after you die.
The salvation Jesus gives is for the Dirty Here & Now!
There is FREEDOM from the power of sin that has reigned over you in this life. It takes living in God's truth and admitting what God calls sin is really sin. We can no longer live according to the world or side with the world's view and deny God's truth. This means refusing many of the cultural attitudes and daily accepted views in the media. We must agree with God or sin will deceive us. When you agree with God, you will be able to rule over all sin through Jesus; instead of sin ruling over you. We can't justifying our sins and wallowing in them like mud. We cannot say Jesus came and forgave my sins so it's okay for me to keep living in them. No! Jesus came to deliver your FROM them. What Jesus did was more than give you a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. He never came to give you the idea that you can live any way you want, embracing sin. That was not the gospel message!
Jesus came to make you Sons and Daughters of the Most High God while you are on this Earth, as well as eternally in Heaven. He came to give you POWER over the enemy, over sin in your life. If you have accepted Christ as your savior, then walk with Him in power over the areas of your life where you were yielding to sin. Jesus' power and authority reside inside of you to give you authority over sin. You can stop any bad habit, sinful lifestyle, or unhealthy behavior if you are willing to first acknowledge they are sin and remember your position in Christ, which puts all powers of the enemy under your feet! (Ephesians chapters 1 and 2)
There is power in the name and position of Jesus to overcome IN THIS WORLD and the one to come!
As Jesus is, so are we IN THIS WORLD!
1 John 4:17
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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