God is in control. Observe carefully what He is doing at saying.
God is in control. Observe carefully what He is doing at saying.
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:9-10 NIV)
Spiritual warfare is not a rare occurrence – it goes on every day. Satan is at work every day doing just what Jesus said about him: he seeks to steal and destroy. He steals the blessings of God that are rightfully yours. When you pray and the prayer is not answered, there are several possible reasons. Perhaps God is say “no” to your request; or, wait – not now; or maybe God just doesn’t answer prayers the way he did in the past. Or, is it possible that satan has blocked the path to the prayer being answered?
Is it possible for satan to hinder the prayer request of a Christian?
But there are two parts to John 10:10- it isn’t all negative. We also learn that Jesus came to give us life more abundantly!
We don’t want to dwell on the negative, but we can easily see that there are two opposite forces at work, and satan is sometimes successful. If your prayers are being hindered and your blessings are being stolen, you can take a stand against the evil one, rebuke him and claim what is yours.
I want to encourage you to find a small group of prayer partners who understand spiritual warfare and are bold enough to help you pray in faith. Don’t try to fight the battle alone; call on your prayer warriors to stand with you in faith.
A group of believers are prayerfully considering a new seminary to be opened in Northern VA. Unlike traditional seminaries that focus on academic theory, Cross Roads will focus more on getting the student involved in ministry projects. For each hour the student spends in the classroom he or she must spend the same amount of time in a ministry project. The schools says: “Our classrooms include street corners, homeless shelters, and hospitals. Our students should expect to get their hands dirty and their hearts broken.”
Learn more at Http://www.CorssRoads-seminary.org
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth”. John 4:23-24
Jesus spoke these words to the Woman at the Well – the woman from Samaria. Most of the Jews would not speak to people for Samaria because the Samaritans had compromised their faith and worshipped false gods. But Jesus could see that this woman was seeking truth, and Jesus always has time for those who want to know the truth.
God seeks people who will worship him in the Spirit. God goes out of his way to find people who are willing to abandon themselves to allow the Holy Spirit to immerse them in worship. The Father seeks people to worship him in the Spirit because not everyone is willing to worship in this way. The religious leaders of Jesus day wanted to hold on to their religious traditions, and this prevented their total involvement in Spirit-filled worship. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins.
We do not begin true worship until we are in the Spirit. The mind of the flesh can go through religious exercises but unless we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit it is not true worship.
The woman from Samaria asked Jesus if it was okay to worship God in Samaria, or if a person needed to go to the Temple in Jerusalem in order to worship. Jesus said the location is not important; what’s important is that we become moved by the Holy Spirit as we worship.
God designed the human spirit to respond to music. Spirit-filled music can speak to the human spirit in ways that words alone cannot. Music should be evaluated in terms of its impact on leading people into the Spirit of worship – not its entertainment value. Sometimes we sit in church and get entertained by wonderful music, but we are no closer to God.
Worship is like dancing; you must let the Holy Spirit lead and you follow. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Bad things sometimes happen to good people! Christians are protected and blessed – but not totally immune from the evil of the world. The scripture does not teach that every circumstance will turn out in our favor. Christians sometimes suffer from the evil done by others, and sometimes from our own mistakes and failures.
God does not promise that every day will be sunshine and prosperity. What he promises is that He will be at work on our behalf in every circumstance of life.
In May of 2008 the well-known singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman suffered a severe tragedy when his son accidently ran over their 5 year old daughter in the drive way of their home. There is no way to put a positive spin on that story and erase the pain this family goes through every time they think about the event that changed their lives.
Every week I minister to Christians suffering from divorce, financial ruin, sickness and depression. Some of it may be our own failures, and some of it is the result of the wrong-doing of others. God does not promise to shelter you from every dark day, but he promises to be there for you, working on your behalf.
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” [James 5:13-16]
Growing up I was taught that confessing our sins to a human person is a Catholic tradition and not Biblical; but James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
As I began to study divine healing I discovered a strong connection between physical illness and mental, emotional, and spiritual illness. The Holy Spirit is the best psychologist in the world; He understands human nature better than anyone. He also understands the connection between our spiritual health and our physical health. If your mind and spirit are sick your body will become sick as well.
When a person has a physical injury and it gets infected, the doctor will open the wound and drain the infection so it can heal. The same is true with emotional and spiritual infection. The infection has to be removed before healing can take place. Infections grow worse over time if they are not removed, and eventually the infection spreads to the whole person – spirit, mind and body.
There is often a connection (not always, but often) between spiritual illness and physical illness. Confession is part of the healing process that allows the infection to be drained so the healing can take place. Confessing our sins privately to God will bring God’s forgiveness, but confessing our sins to one another helps to bring healing to the mind and body.
A New Testament church should include appointed elders who are trained and gifted to bring spiritual, emotional and physical healing through the laying on of hands, counseling, and prayer. Some people tell me they do not have anyone in their church they can trust to tell their innermost secrets, so they go to a professional counselor. The church is missing out on a very important role if we do not facilitate and encourage people to confess their sins for purpose of receiving forgiveness and healing. God forgives, but we must learn to forgive ourselves and each other as well.
Confession has the power to set you free from spiritual, emotional and physical bondage. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” [James 5:16].
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. “ [Philippians 4:8]
You are what you eat. If you eat a lot of fatty junk foods, your body develops high cholesterol, heart disease, and fat! The same is true of the brain. If your mind dwells on mental junk food – negative thoughts, pornography, hate and anger – those seeds take root and grow in your mind.
Negative thoughts are like poison – they decay your mind and destroy everything healthy. After a while you become blind to everything good, and you will see only negative in people and the world around you. You develop mental and spiritual myopia so that you only see the bad and are blind to the good that God is doing in the lives of others.
Negative thoughts also become addictive. A negative person will seek out more negative information to feed their addiction.
Philippians chapter 4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always” and “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Doubt and skepticism cause spiritual cataracts to dim the spiritual vision and we cannot see the miracles of God. We have to train our minds to seek out and actually see the good around us.
If we hosted a 235th birthday party for America and Jesus was the keynote speaker, what would he say to the nation?
In 2 Chronicles chapter 7 Israel was at the height of their glory. Their army was strong, they had defeated most of their enemies, and they were prospering economically. More importantly, they were walking in obedience to God and God was blessing them. God chose Israel to be his witnesses to the other nations of the world.
It was God’s intent was that Israel would set the example and the rest of the nations of the world would observe what it means to be the people of God.
God wanted the nations around them to see what it would be like to be the favored people of God. He wanted the other nations to learn how Israel worshipped God, and to learn what it means to love God with all of your heart, mind and soul; and to love your neighbor as yourself.
America has enjoyed God’s blessings as much as any nation on earth. However, along with blessings come responsibilities. God told Israel that although they were his favored people, if they disobeyed him he would reject them and take away the blessings.
If Jesus were giving the keynote address at our 235th birthday party I think he would tell the nation:
“You have been blessed more than any other nation in modern history. You military is the strongest on earth. You enjoy economic prosperity, and a higher standard of living than most other nations of the world. In fact, you have become gluttons while others starve.
Along with your prosperity, you have great responsibility. You have a great amount of influence over other nations because of your military and economic strength. You must use your power for justice and peace.
You have become a secular nation; declaring that God has no place in government or in public schools. You fail to realize that your blessings come from the God of heaven, whose Son Jesus Christ is the only savior of mankind. Instead, the name of “Jesus” has become a word of ridicule and scorn. God told Israel that although they were his favored people, he would withdraw his favor if they turned away from him.”
I believe Jesus would also give a message to the church:
“The church is God people on the earth. Not the President or the Congress or the Supreme Court — the church. The church is called to be salt and light in the world. The church today – as Israel did in prior centuries – represents God as his witnesses on the earth.
The future of the nation depends on the church; God’s blessings on the nation will rise and fall on the faithfulness of the church.
A small amount of leaven can leaven the whole lump. A small amount of light can light an entire house. If the church is faithful, the people of God can turn the nation. You have been entrusted with the truth, do not compromise, you cannot be light and darkness at the same time.”
Happy Birthday U.S.A.!
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. John 5:14-15.
“Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Luke 11:26
When Jesus healed the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda he told the man “stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” This is a clear indication that the man’s sickness was related to his sinful habits. Likewise the man in Luke 11:26 had been set free from the bondage to demons, only to be “repossessed” at a later time.
When God sets us free from the damage of our past we risk becoming “sick” again if we return to our old ways. Sin is a poison that can affect our spirit, soul and body.
Every form of sickness can be the result of sin. That is not to say that every sickness is caused by sin, but sin can cause every kind of sickness. Physical, mental and emotional illness can be caused by the physical and spiritual effects of sin.
The physical effects of sin include the way certain addictions and evil habits destroy the body and the mind. The spiritual effects of sin include the possibility that you may open the door to Satan and allow him into your life. That seems to be the case in john 5:14-15.
Spiritual Warfare is real, and Satan is out to destroy everyone he can.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8
“When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.. . . and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind. Luke 8:27-39
This the second message in a series on Spiritual Warfare.
I am aware that the whole idea of demon spirits seems mysterious and controversial to many people. We would love to ignore the whole issue and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Not only are we pushing the envelope to talk about evil spirits, but in this message we talk about mental illness; so we are really in difficult territory.
I have been delighted recently to read of progress being made by some in the mental health field to understand the impact of spiritual forces on mental and emotional health.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
• 12 million Americans suffer from a “serious mental health” disorder.
• In 2006-2007 there were 58 million ambulatory care visits (to physician offices, hospital outpatient and emergency departments) with mental disorders as primary.
• 28% of all treated illnesses are psychiatric in nature.
• Bipolar depression is the number one treated illness in the United States.
• Approximate 400,000 people attempt suicide each year, and 30,000 are successful.
In the March 2009 issue of Christianity Today Magazine the lead article is titled “The Depression Epidemic” — it’s about depression among Christians.
Of course we would rather not talk about that — because Christians are not supposed to have such problems. So we either ignore the issue, or we take great pains to say that its caused by chemical reactions in the brain, hereditary issues, or the after effects of some other incident.
The man in Luke chapter 8 had all the classic symptoms of paranoid-schizophrenia.
According to medical authorities even today there is no cure for schizophrenia. The experts say that with proper treatment, they can help you manage the illness so that you can live a more productive life.
But when Jesus went to that town for a visit, at the end of the visit, the man was fully dressed and in his right mind. He didn’t just manage his illness, he was cured.
We could debate whether demons really exist, or whether Jesus and the Apostles were just carried away by superstition.
But for the 12 million Americans who the psychiatrists say cannot be healed – but they can simply manage to live with their illness — God still offers hope through spiritual deliverance.
There can be no doubt that if these cases are brought to Jesus he would heal them the same way he did 2,000 years ago.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. Ephesians 6:12
If the church is going to be useful in bringing healing to the 12 million who suffer, we can start by re-aligning our world-view with the Scriptural world-view. We need to see the world through the eyes of Jesus; because his view has not changed.