imagesCA5MKIZDComing out of the Wilderness

Over the past few months my husband of 20 years has had to undergo chemo therapy treatments, and to tell you that it was a walk in the park would be a lie, so I will not say that.

At the very beginning of this journey when it was fresh and we were filled with fear of the unknown the Lord very graciously showed us some key scriptures that have helped put things into perspective along the way, today I would like to share some of these scriptures with you in the hopes that you will be encouraged in the journey that you are on.

Psalm 20:1-9

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.

 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.

Now this I know:

 The LORD gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

LORD, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!

I believe that through this scripture the Lord gave me the direction that we needed to keep our hearts and our minds trained and that was on him, I felt like the was saying to me at the time, not only am I going to hear you and answer you in your distress, but I will also give you what you desire, and that is your husbands life, and that the plans that we had to follow with the doctors would succeed as well.

I also believe that God really emphasized for me in this verse that we were not to put our whole trust in the doctors and the medicines and their treatments, but we were to trust in Him!

We are now on the other side of treatment and my husband has been given a clean bill of health, Full Remission is the words that they used! To God be all of the Glory for the great things that he has done!

He also turned my attention to:

imagesCADSI1L6James 1:1-4

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

What I believe the Lord was saying to me with this verse was that I should not be surprised by the trial that was set before us, and realize that it was not a form of punishment or anything like that, but when these trials come to us, that it will produce within us perseverance so that we may become complete and mature in Christ Jesus.

I can tell you that now that we are on the other side of this trial, that we have indeed experienced a maturing in our faith, a depth of understanding of God and his love and goodness towards us as well as his father heart of tenderness to us, as we sometimes really struggled through the harder days.

He would  send a friend, or reveal a verse in scripture or fill us with a peace that was not logical for that day and its circumstance and through it all we had the assurance that we were not walking through this trial alone.

The next important scripture that the Lord revealed to me was also found in the Psalms 84:1-12

Psalm    
  My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
    Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
    Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you
    Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
    As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools
    They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
    Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.
    Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.
    Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
    For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
    LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

imagesCAEYL6A2I knew when the Lord brought me to this passage that even though I walk through valleys where weeping is the norm, even there new life will come through and I will go from strength to strength in the Lord!

I saw this play out daily in our 6 month ordeal, when we thought we could not take another step God would intervene and strengthen us and teach us another fruit of his spirit, like peace, or joy, or love, or long suffering, patience or even kindness.

As my husband and I have had time to sit and reflect on all that has transpired over the last 6 months, we both have agreed, that we would not have given up a moment of that trial, because the fruit that has blossomed in both of us has been invaluable.

It might sound strange to think that from something hard, something so good could come from it, but it has.

We both have learnt to trust the Lord with everything, even our next breath. We have learnt that God is truly working out all things even the bad for our good, for our growth and development in Jesus Christ. We have learnt that nothing is impossible for God and he will provide for our daily needs and even our wants.

We have learnt that at the beginning of this journey we could not see the end, but the bible teaches that we are to have faith in Christ even when we cannot see the end.

Hebrews  11:1  

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

I want to leave you with a parting thought, and that is this, YOU CAN TRUST GOD IN ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE AND HE WILL MOST DEFINITELY SEE YOU THROUGH

 

 

An Unguarded Heart

I know a few will regard the following remarks as coming from “the deep end.” Others will take what I’m presenting and exaggerate it beyond its legitimate boundaries. But I want to focus on one reason why some leaders have serious moral failures. I want to offer an insight into how all of us, as Christians, can protect ourselves from a similar failure.

The idea that a leader whom we’ve known and loved should suddenly be exposed in a devastating scandal seems incomprehensible. Certainly these who have taught others could teach themselves. Is there not resident within them saving knowledge that would protect them from worldly passions?

What is it then that can worm into an individual’s thought-life, burrow into his heart, and then grow so compelling that a leader is willing to risk everything he’s loved and attained for a mere fulfillment of the flesh? Is it just sin? Or is there something deeper — a lack of spiritual discernment — that left the heart of that leader vulnerable to demonic manipulation?

Their heart was unguarded to the exploitation of hell.

 An Unparalleled Warfare

Please note that I am not blaming the devil for every sin we commit. The fact is, selfishness and self-indulgence, which produce sin, are basic instincts of our fallen nature. At the same time, let us also discern the unique warfare of our times. Our world has been flooded with hyper-sexuality and excess. The “red-light district” has moved from the city and entered our homes via the Internet, movies and television. We deceive ourselves if we think we can accommodate an immoral imagination and it not contaminate how we act out our lives.

You see, an unguarded mind that willfully harbors darkness will have spiritual predators cultivating and probing our moral weaknesses. Indeed, through modern technology, an alternate reality — a fantasy world created by our mind’s imagination — can be created and accessed by the demonic realm. We don’t just watch movies; we are absorbed by them. We actually have sports “fantasy leagues” and computer games and apps that guarantee their programs will be addicting.

There is much within the fallen human nature that can be exploited and plundered for evil. When we do not guard our hearts and avoid what is sinful, this fantasy realm unfolds into darkness, leaving our thought-processes open and unprotected against demons that build strongholds in the human soul.

Listen well: what entertains us actually enters us. If you are entertained by pornography or sexual fantasy, perverse or corrupting thoughts, you are opening your soul to hell. You must confront this battle honestly, repent of sin, and set a guard over your heart. If you don’t, your battle will advance from temptation to serious, hidden sexual bondage, which in turn will advance to secret attempts to openly fulfill your heightened passions.

 People of Destiny, Take Heed

Jesus reveals that a major source of this sexual manipulation is the Jezebel spirit (Rev. 2:20). The rampant immorality we see manifested in Western culture underscores the increasing influence of this ruler of darkness. Indeed, compare our world today with cultural standards of just fifty years ago and it’s easy to see that Western civilization is under siege. Too many Christians have their defenses down, and many otherwise good people have slipped into bondage.

Yet Jezebel’s arsenal includes more than lust; there is also witchcraft, which attacks and works to disarm the conscience. Remember Jehu’s words? “What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22).

We are fighting the harlotries” and “witchcrafts” of Jezebel. Those who have been defeated by this spirit often feel they were drugged by their own passions. They did things that were flagrantly sinful, almost daring God (or the devil) to expose them. I am talking about the war against church leaders. How many more must fall before we realize the need for repentance and discernment?

 The Subtle Attack

The Jezebel spirit is a “man whisperer.” Its approach typically is not bold but enticing — seducing and stimulating the degrading thoughts of human flesh. Its quiet power overwhelms and then disarms the human conscience. In your desire to walk upright before the Lord, what you may actually be fighting is Jezebel — in particular, her many “witchcrafts.”

One may argue, “My battle is just sin, not warfare.” Perhaps that is true for you, but for others it is a spiritual attack on an unguarded heart. Its power may be aimed at Christians in general, but its specific target is church leaders and those called to places of authority in God’s kingdom.

There are times when I think the world has greater discernment than the church. Consider these select words from the old Frank Sinatra song, “Witchcraft”:

Those fingers in my hair

That sly come-hither stare

That strips my conscience bare

It’s witchcraft

And I’ve got no defense for it

The heat is too intense for it

What good would common sense for it do?

’cause it’s witchcraft, wicked witchcraft

And although I know it’s strictly taboo

When you arouse the need in me

My heart says “Yes, indeed” in me

“Proceed with what you’re leading me to”

—C. Leigh, C. Coleman

 

The song did, in fact, reveal characteristics about the effect of witchcraft. The composers wrote, “[It] strips my conscience bare.” It continues, “I’ve got no defense for it/The heat is too intense for it/What good would common sense for it do?” And then, “When you arouse the need in me/My heart says, ‘Yes, indeed’ in me/’Proceed with what you’re leading me to.’ ”

Of course, we do have a defense for it in Christ, but that defense begins with guarding our hearts from the opportunities and deceptions of the Jezebel spirit.

 Set a Guard

I don’t want to make too much of the possibility of witchcraft, for becoming overly focused on this type of warfare can itself become a swamp of darkness. Let’s keep things in perspective. However, this article is from a book on discernment, and we need to be aware of the spiritual realm around us. Whether witchcraft is what you are fighting or just natural weaknesses of the flesh, you need to close the door to the hyper-sexuality of our world. Indeed, the world has “no defense for it.”

However, for those in the kingdom of God, “the weapons of our warfare are … divinely powerful” (2 Cor. 10:4). Our weapons and defenses are mighty, but we must use them. Scripture commands: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). The NIV says it this way: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

A guard is one armed and trained to recognize an enemy and turn away that enemy’s attack. We are in war and must stay militant in attitude throughout our lives. We cannot be casual with sin or temptation. When you use the Internet, use a filtering software program as a guard. Be accountable. Don’t feed your sexual appetites, for these kinds of addictions only go from bad to worse (Rom. 1:24–28).

If you are currently in bondage to sin, as powerful as the sin seems, the enemy will also work to isolate your battle from others. The efforts we spend hiding sin are the very tools Satan uses to entrap us in it; so, talk to someone (Eph. 5:11–13). If you have a history of sin, then begin a process of cleansing, of washing your “robes … in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). Confess your sins one by one to God and one another.

Now would be a good time to build yourself up spiritually. Take the next step in your spiritual journey. Get back in the Word, for the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Use the authority of God’s Word to defend your heart against spiritual attacks.

The most important thing you can do is to return wholeheartedly to God. The Lord promises, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name” (Ps. 91:14).

Beloved, it is time to set a guard over your heart.

 Lord God, this day I humble myself before Your throne. You see my heart and the battle I have faced. I ask that You restore me; make me wiser. Let not my enemy triumph over me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and grant me the grace to walk with a pure heart, a guarded heart, before You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2013

All rights reserved.

 

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

http://www.frangipane.org/

 

When the Crop Permits

Certainly, the period prior to Christ’s return will be both difficult and perilous. Scripture warns that God’s voice will shake all things, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken and removed (Heb. 12:27).

Yet there is more on the calendar of God than increasing judgments and the Rapture. There will also be the advance and a significant, though still partial, re-establishing of God’s kingdom (Dan.2:44; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 13). A spiritually mature people will serve as the vanguard of His kingdom. Before the Lord is glorified in the earth, He shall be glorified in the church (see Isa. 60:1-3; Eph. 5:27). Indeed, the attainment of Christlike maturity in those who pursue the Lord shall not be a mere sidebar on the scroll of end-time events; it will be the main attraction.

Listen carefully to what Jesus taught. He said,

“The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).

Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a farmer waiting for the maturing of His crops. During the harvest season, farmers are concerned about two primary things: the quantity and quality of the harvest. I lived in eastern Iowa. Some corn and soybean fields, which may have started strong, fail or are stunted due to unusually high or low temperatures or lack of rain. As a result, farmers plow under their fields because their crops did not reach maturity. There was no “mature grain in the head.”

Just as the farmer will not harvest without the grain becoming mature, so God is seeking a crop of Christ-followers that have reached spiritual maturity. God is after full stature not just full numbers. Take note: Jesus said, “when the crop permits,” God puts in the sickle. The return of Christ isn’t about a certain “day or hour,” for it is the spiritual stature of the harvest that triggers the great unfolding of end-time events. You see, God is not looking at His watch; He’s looking at His crop.

What does spiritual maturity look like? Recall Paul’s words. He wrote, “We are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (2 Cor. 10:6). What does complete obedience look like? It looks like Christians taking “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Again, God is looking for Christlikeness to ripen within us as we approach the end of the age. Indeed, our maturing can actually hasten the coming of the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12).

“Man…in the image of God” is the seed-idea purposed by the Almighty from before time began (Gen. 1:27). The release of divine wrath is not the Father’s highest priority. It does not in any way mean we think we are gods or that we take Christ’s place; it means Christ has truly taken our place (Gal. 2:20). This is what the “mature head in the grain” looks like: mature Christlikeness.

For too long we have assumed that only the numeric size of the harvest was the focus of the Father. Certainly, the number of people saved is pivotal: “the fullness of the gentiles” must come into the kingdom (Rom. 11:25). However, the Almighty does not just want numbers; He wants spiritual maturity.

Thus, the Lord is not looking at a calendar thinking, “Oh, it’s the year 2013 (or 2020, etc.). I have to destroy the world on that date.” No. A farmer does not reap his crops without first walking his fields, holding samples of the grain, and studying the moisture and integrity of the seed head before he begins his harvest. Again, the maturity of the crop determines the day of the harvest.

So many Christians are frozen in spiritual immaturity. They are easily offended, often distracted and without prayer or spiritual discipline. We think God is requiring of us simply to hang on, yet the Lord is looking for more. Paul says the goal of God in the church is that “we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

Even now, believers around the world are becoming increasingly more Christlike. They live in India and China, Africa and South America, Europe and North America, and places beyond. Yes, they are comparatively a little flock, yet “with unveiled face,” they are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” and “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). When this crop permits, the Father shall put in His sickle, for the harvest has come.

Let’s pray: Lord Jesus, as You continue looking for spiritual completeness in the harvest, help me to grow to full stature, that I may truly represent a planting which has grown up into Your likeness.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2013

All rights reserved.

 

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

http://www.frangipane.org/