We live in an unsettling world. Thinking about the people you know, probably everyone is faced with some sort of difficulty, ourself included. We, personally, know of people fighting for their life in a hospital, some that are strained in their relationships, and others stressed because of work, finances or life choices. The issues at hand are real, day to day battles and struggles. Everyone deals with problems! The real test is HOW! Many cannot cope and thus experience breakdowns, emotionally and physically.
Ephesians 6:12 (ERV) says, "Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places." Understand that we are engaged in a spiritual battle, and behind most problems are satanic forces that are sent to kill, steal and destroy our lives, our hope and our faith!
In Luke 10:18-19 (ERV) "Jesus said to them, I saw Satan falling like lightning from the sky. He is the enemy, but know that I have given you more power than he has. I have given you power to crush his snakes and scorpions under your feet. Nothing will hurt you." Just like a policeman, who has authorization over wrong doers, as a believer in Christ, we also have dominion over satan's attacks. The problem is most people don't take their authority! People often view the situations at hand as if it was meant to be and resolve to accept them.
Regardless of the challenges you face, financial, physical, or mental, there IS hope. Heb. 4:12 says, "For the is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...." When we pray about our circumstance, often a scripture will drop into our spirit. We could say that the Spirit of God is revealing the Word on our problem. As that scripture rolls around in our heart, it can become so intense that we sense the need to verbalize it. When we speak it, it has then become the two-edged sword. First it came from God's mouth, then from ours. That's when it is powerful, going into the spiritual realm and changing the situation! (Mark 11:24)
Today we want to bring some inspiration into your life to help you to achieve victory. Whatever you battle, identify the spirit behind it, take your authority with God's Word, believe and receive. Be sure to realize, although we live in the world, we do not war according to it. Our weapons in the spirit are not carnal, but they are mighty in God. You can pull down every stronghold, cast down every reasoning and all things that try to elevate themselves against the knowledge of God and His Word. It means we must take captive our thoughts and opinions that do not line up with His Word and make them inoperative! Only the Word is powerful enough to gain control in life! Use IT! (2 Cor. 10:3-6)
Trouble's all around. Our worst fears have happened. All of a sudden here we are in the midst of adverse conditions. Engulfed with thoughts of fear and defeat. Looking in every direction we find there's no way out. What are we going to do? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like what I just described?
In 2 Kings chapter 6, Elisha and his servant were in just that type of position. They awoke to find the city, to which they were staying, surrounded by the Syrian army. The servant alarmed and in a panic, reacted to the circumstance, exclaiming, "We are doomed sir, what shall we do?" (GNT)
Maybe your problems seems just like that! 'What am I going to do? How will I ever get out of this?' Observing things in the state of the natural mind can almost seem overwhelming. Pressures reveal our character, our faith, and even our dedication to the Lord. This is the moment we can decide to either be a master of the circumstance or a victim. Your predicament can be an opportunity to overcome OR a trial of struggles and defeat. True strength and character are shown in the stand during adversity. Proverbs 24:10 says, "If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small."
Back to 2 Kings, Elisha the prophet of God, said "Don't be afraid, we have more on our side then they do on theirs." I'm quite sure it didn't look like that to the servant. But Elisha saw things differently. He was looking through spiritual eyes. He saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around. And as soon as he prayed for his servants eyes to be opened, he also saw.
When faced with uncontrollable matters, do you see an unsurmountable obstacle? Learning to look past the problem, and see the victory that already belongs to you is key to overcoming. 1 Cor. 2:14, "But the natural man (one dominated by the soul) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Holy Spirit reveals the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)
It is written 365 times in the Bible, "Do not fear". The writer of Hebrews wrote, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Coming to the realization that God is our defender, will strengthen our faith. Ps. 28:6-7 "Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him."
Praise is acknowledging what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do. When we decide to thank Him expressing praise, in the midst of trouble, we loose spiritual weapons and our breakthrough comes. (Read Acts 16:25-26) Regardless of the difficulty, God has already made a way of escape for us. All we need to do is trust Him will all our heart, lean not to our own understanding and acknowledge Him in all our ways, and He'll direct our path. (Pro. 3:5-6)
So take time right now, to lay down fear, put on faith, and praise the Lord for your deliverance from trouble. View your circumstance through spiritual eyes, because there are more with you than there are against you!
Here of late, we've been asked a lot of questions about dreams being a leading of the Lord. Truly we all dream, and find that some of them can be inspiring or enlightening. I remember a re-occurring dream I had many years ago. I would enter into an elevator alone, the doors would close, and it would move to the top floor and stop. At that point the elevator would pivot around and around, stop and then return to the floor where I began, then I would exit. I had that exact dream for over a year. Then one night as I dreamed of that elevator, it was different. I entered the elevator, along with another person, but I recognized what it was going to do. I exited and I watched as it traveled to the top floor, pivoted, and returned to the main floor, where I was standing. I wondered for years what that dream meant. Was God leading me or teaching me something?
It wasn't until years later, I discovered the meaning. I realized I was going through a difficult time in my life, as if I was living the same thing over and over. There didn't seem to be any way out. Thus the same ride on the elevator going no where, unchanging! Then after a period of time, I made some different decisions, that altered my life. That's when I recognized I didn't have to take that elevator. Conclusion: obviously this dream was derived from circumstances in my life. Dreams can be a result of several things. 1) Situations we're experiencing in our life. 2) Thoughts of worry or fear. 3) Watching a bad movie. or 4) Something we ate that didn't agree.
God can and does use dreams from time to time, but we shouldn't look to them as our foremost authority. Although we can learn from them, I don't believe that dreams are the primary leading from the Lord. For direction and leadership we can depend on the Bible. What ever we are facing within life, the Word has the answer. Ps. 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." With each step we take, the Word of God enlightens us in choosing right from wrong. Even for instruction of future events the scriptures will illuminate and give instruction. Anyone wanting to please God, live righteously and holy, will find direction in God's Word.
The Holy Spirit can help lead us into doing what is right. Ez. 36:27 " I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep My judgements and do them." Gal. 5:16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." And of course Romans 8:14, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." In these scriptures, we can see the the Holy Spirit can guide us, if we allow Him.
I know some of you would point out that many people were led by dreams in the Old Testament. Let me just say that these people didn't have the Holy Spirit nor the written Word of God for direction. Today we have both. I would encourage you to examine your dreams to see if they are the product of too many onions on your tacos, a scary show, too much concern or just things you're going through. Put more confidence in the Holy Spirit and God's Word for direction - they're a sure thing!
On one specific occasion, I was at an important meeting, when I realized I left a much needed item at my home. Since I was close to my house, I decided I had enough time to get there and back before the meeting began. As I drove, I felt the urging of the Holy Spirit telling me to take an alternate route other than the one I was on. Instead of 'acting' upon His instructions, I thought my way was better and quicker. Nonetheless, He kept urging me, and I continued resisting. It was when I reached a certain street, only minutes from my house, that I realized WHY the Spirit was imploring me to go a different way. Right in front of me firetrucks were blocking the road, and I was completely halted. Now what? If only I had acted upon His prompting, I would not have been in this predicament.
We spoke last week of being led by the Holy Spirit. Part of being led, is being obedient. Let's face it, if I would have yielded to His instruction, I could have eliminated stress, delay, and frustration. Learning to follow the Spirit's leading involves taking actions of faith! The Bible says, "...the just live by faith." (Heb. 10:38) Faith is being bold enough to step out and DO what He's telling us to do! In my situation, I thought I had the better way. Isn't that the real problem, we think we know it all, like we've got all the answers, right? But, John 16:13 says, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." Many times, He is trying to help us stay out of danger and direct us for purposes unknown. What good is hearing the voice of the Spirit and not obeying? If we ignore Him too long, we desensitize our knowing His voice.
Complying to the leading of the Holy Spirit always involves faith. It's trusting Him with all our heart and not leaning to our own understanding. A person in faith, does something to demonstrate his faith. Abraham, the father of faith, is a great example. He trusted God when he was told to sacrifice his son. Doing all that God told him to do, even to the point of raising his knife to slay him. He knew that no matter the outcome, God was going to do something miraculous. And because he obeyed, his faith was validated! (Gen. 22)
It's not enough to know the principles of faith or entirely quote the Word. These things, although important, are not the result of faith. They teach us what and how to exercise faith, but it's in the doing! "..Faith without works is dead", James 2:14-26. Truthfully, we must live a lifestyle of faith! People that say, 'I tried faith, it doesn't work', haven't made it a life style. They believed they were in faith by listening to someone preach about it, mimic someones actions that acted in faith, and quote the scripture ever so often. But they forgot one thing, to be a doer.
Hearing the Word brings faith which then governs our response. Acting upon the Word, according to your measure of faith, will produce the results for which you're believing God. (Matt. 9:29 "...according to your faith let it be to you". The Holy Spirit's leading, quoting scriptures, and hearing the preached Word are the course to actions of faith!
We challenge you when exercising your faith to completion, by doing something that substantiates it. If you're believing for finances, when you quote "My God supplies all my need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." listen and obey the Holy Spirit to act upon your faith. He may tell you to give a certain amount in the offering. Perhaps you're believing for a healing, quoting, "By His stripes I am healed". The act of faith at the Holy Spirit's direction could be getting up out of bed. What ever the measure of your faith, there is an action that is suitable for it. The Spirit of God will lead you, just obey.
Anyone out there ever made a mistake that you were embarrassed about? A bad decision or a fall into a sin? Then right after the realization that you fell short of the grace of God, remorse set in. All the repenting didn't seem to help you feel better. And the devil, who is quick to bring up past sins, guilt or condemnation was right there on your tail. Even some friends or family seem to constantly rehearse the mishap, which doesn't make the situation better. Getting past the hurt and guilt is extremely difficult. Forgiveness from yourself and those you hurt, generally seem a long time coming.
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Of course the first thing we need to do is confess to the Lord we messed up. The second, is to ask for forgiveness. Then the scripture says, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us! That means He cleans us up. It's as if we never sinned. Now, the hard part, in our mind is, we must forgive ourself! Yes, we have to let it go, just as if we never sinned! (A word of caution, all this forgiveness and cleansing, doesn't give us freedom to sin again. Rom. 6:15) Forgiveness is not condoning the sin or even the lack of accountability, it's letting go of the anguish or resentment of the sin. It's coming to realize that Jesus himself took our sin, guilt and iniquities. Is. 53:5 NIV "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole." We can be free from pain of guilt and condemnation only by receiving it by faith from God, when we truly repent!
Now let's talk to the people that were hurt by the offense. I am reminded of the story in the Bible where, Jesus spoke to the accusers of the woman caught in the act of adultery, "he who is without sin cast the first stone". I believe that everyone of us at one time has committed a sin that affected others. I can already hear "but my sin wasn't as grave as the one committed against me"! Listen people of God, sin is sin! Lying is the same as stealing, sexual sin is the equilvalent of anger, unforgiveness is synonymous of murder. One sin is not greater than another! And if Jesus can forgive us of any sin we commit, then how simple is it that we forgive others! Holding grudges, animosity or someone hostage for their sin hurts us as much it does the one who committed the infraction. First of all it keeps us from being forgiven. (Mat. 6:14-15) Secondly, the bitterness that comes from unforgiveness keeps the blessings of God from flowing to us because we grieve the Holy Spirit. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:29-32)
How many times are we suppose to forgive, you ask? Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4 "Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” I know some of you are saying, 'How can I forgive this person that has done this dastardly deed against me? My feelings are hurt. Trust is broken. How do I know they won't do it again?' The answer to forgiveness is LOVE. Agape Love which is unconditional Love, like the love Jesus gave us. He forgave us even before we were born. He paid the price for our sin and forgiveness 2000 years ago. The only way to get past this hurt is by faith in the Lord. Through prayer, praying like you would for yourself and faith, forgiveness will flow. Every time you think of the pain you must forgive by faith, until one day you realize it's no longer tormenting you. That's when forgiveness is established.
If you are one of these two kinds of people I urge you to operate in the Love of God and forgive. Allow the healing power of God to come into your life and minister to you. Remember 2 Cor. 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Trust the Lord for a new beginning. All things are possible with Him.
Prayer #1: Father, in the name of Jesus I come to you repenting for my actions. I ask for Your forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit to help direct me and lead me in the path of righteousness. Open my ears and seal Your Word, that I may do what I have heard. Amen.
Prayer #2: Father, I come to You in the name of Jesus praying for the person that sinned against me. I forgive them as Christ forgave me. I loose them from my anger and allow the Holy Spirit to minister healing to them and to me. I ask forgiveness for anything I may have done to cause this transgression. And I choose to operate in the Agape Love towards them. Amen.
We've had people ask, why is it necessary to attend church? Can't we just watch a television evangelist, watch an internet minister or listen to a cd and get the same results? However good or educational these may be, there's just something about attending a corporate church service. Heb. 10:24 amp. "Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together (as believers) as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging and encouraging) one another and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching."
The church is a place where we learn and receive faith. (Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The Word here is preached Word) Being built up in faith ensures that when challenges arise, faith meets them rather than fear. Being separated and alone gives place to fearful thoughts and discouraging attitudes. Seeing other believers that are confronted with the same kinds of situations as yourself, and learning of their triumphs and victories builds faith! You can't get that from t.v., the internet or a c.d.
There are some who say: 'I'm not ready to go to church, I need to get myself together first before I go.' The local church will accept you just the way you are. But, if it's a faith filled, spirit filled, bible teaching church it will not leave you the same way you came. Your faithful attendance to listen to the message of the Word and apply it to you life daily, will cause you to change. (Rom. 10:14 "How can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?") You must come to hear and hear to believe.
One might say: 'I used to be in a church and worked so much I got burned out.' Let me say first, people who feel overworked are generally unorganized. Pressure comes because of the lack of organization, not because one has a role in serving in the local church. We can get 'burnt out' doing sports, hobbies, and the like, and quit as a result. Secondly, burn out comes because an ember is too far away from a flame. Our flame gets extinguished because we're doing 'works' without a relationship with Christ. The lack of organization gets us to working so much we neglect to spend quality time praising and praying. Plus when we're not scheduled to work, we stay away from service rather than come and get energized from the preached Word and fellowship, using the excuse 'I'm burned out.'
I've heard some say: 'There are just hypocrites in the church. They come to church but don't really act like they should.' My question to you would be, are you going to allow a 'hypocrite' come between you and your relationship with God? Because if you refrain from attending church, worshipping the Lord, or serving Him, then he just got between you and Christ and he's closer to Christ than you are. Besides what better place for a hypocrite than church? Just perhaps he'll hear the Word at one point and get his life changed. We should pray for them, not allow them to control what we do.
People have even said: 'I've gone but I just don't get it. I don't understand what's being taught.' If you're not 'getting it'. Then you need to put into operation Mark 4:14-20. Work on your (dirt) heart. What determines what your dirt is like is you. Cast your cares over on the Lord, walk in forgiveness, or put your sight on things above not on the earth. Become a spiritual man, because a 'natural man' can't receive spiritual things. (1 Cor 2:14-15) A change of heart will help you better comprehend the Word of God.
The case in point with not attending church, regardless of the reason you're being robbed of a blessing Christ intended for you to have. Eph. 4:11 Christ gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the church for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ. He purposes that our minds be renewed by the Word. He desires that we may better understand and know what promises are already ours so we can live victoriously. And the only way to do that is in the local church. Pray to make sure you attend the church of God's choice for you. Be certain the church you attend preaches/teaches and believes the uncompromised Word of God, not just what you want to hear. (Truth sometimes is uncomfortable.) Then be faithful, because faithful attenders understand and learn more swiftly than the non attenders. If you don't believe that, then only send your child to school one day a month.
Let me just end with this, it' easy to be thrilled with something, it's just difficult to stay thrilled. It takes diligence to remain excited about church. It's an attitude we must choose. Choose to be inspired at your local church!
Have you ever heard someone say, 'he's got stalwart faith'? What is stalwart, anyway? After researching it, I found that stalwart means loyal, reliable, committed, steadfast, unwavering, dependable and steady. So stalwart faith never gives up, never gives in, always relies on and believes in the Word of God, over any circumstance. It's where we choose to believe God's Word over the evidence of the senses. (Things we feel. see, hear, or think) . It's knowing that all natural circumstances, sickness, financial woes, fears, and such are to be kept subject to the Word of God. I'm not talking about denying the circumstances, but believing God's Word and living in agreement with it. That means declaring His Word over the situation and believing that it has the divine power over it to change it. You may have a broken arm, but instead of saying "I have a broken arm", you should say, "By His stripes I am healed". That's acting on the Word, being a doer of the Word.
We must be committed, steadfast, unwavering in belief of His divine power through the Word of God, remaining steadfast to 'see' by faith His results. It's almost like the time, when you were a child and saw into the imaginary realm. You really thought that it was real, no matter what anyone else told you. That's were we need to be in our faith in God's Word. No matter what anyone says. No matter what we see. Regardless of how we feel, we just KNOW that the Word of God is ultimately the real truth with power to accomplish what it's sent to do. (Is. 55:11)
1 John 5:14-15 "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
There was a time in our life, where the powers of hell came against us. A business partner stole $60,000. As a result we were evicted from our house, our car was repossessed, our electricity was turned off, and to top it all off, we had no money to buy food. What seemed like the end, was really the beginning for God to work in our life. It took faith to forgive this person, it took faith to believe that we wouldn't be homeless, it took faith to believe that things could turn around to be better than they were. Because we held onto faith, we got a bigger and better house with no payments for 3 month and we were given a new car debt free. Within nine months we received in the mail a check for $10,396.00 and $11,670.00 a month later, from an unexpected source. All because we forgave and exercised stalwart faith in God!
You see, we need to keep our focus on the Word, rather than on the circumstance. Things can change if we stay humble and faithful to believe. Trust the Word, know that all things are possible to him who believes. (Mat. 19:26) Keep your conversation ordered aright, there's the power of life and death in the tongue. (Pro. 18:21) Choose life! Speak faith, speak the Word and Believe God!
Living in America brings forth a freedom that many nations do not experience. If we were to visit some of those places, we'd find the conveniences of super markets, shopping malls, or freedom of speech are not available. In many places people live in fear of their life with the threat of slavery or death. We're not tortured, or prisoners, nor are we forced to labor in camps for the country we abide. All in all, if we take a real good look at America we're free. Free to choose where we live, free to choose how many children we have, free to choose if we want to go to college, free to choose our profession, free to marry who we want, free to worship God Almighty. That freedom came with a price of peoples lives that fought to guarantee our liberty. There is much to be thankful!
1 Peter 2:16 says, "[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God.
Just because we're free, we should not use that 'freedom' as a means of justification to live foolishly or immoral. Wrong choices bring us to a place of oppression and in bondage to the worldly views and living. Bernard M. Baruch an American financier, stock investor, philanthropist, statesman and political consultant, once stated "The greatest blessing of our democracy is freedom. But in the last analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves."
Taking a look around we find that's where the 'rub' really is. People don't want to be disciplined. There's some that rebel from their youth and keep right on rebelling into adulthood. But the truth of the matter is that God gave us precepts and guidelines to live by. Why? To keep us safe and protected and to help us live in the blessings He intends for us to enjoy.
Freedom isn't just the fact that we can do what we want, when we want, where we want, to whom we want. Freedom is the benefit of having choice. And with that choice comes the responsibility of selecting RIGHT above WRONG. It's making the decision to not only live life to enjoy for yourself, but being the benefit to others. It's that place that God has called us to live as servants to Him, being the express of Him in our actions, our words and choices.
I urge you today to live in the freedom of the Word. Titus 2:14 AMP "(Jesus) Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom) from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly his own people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filled with] beneficial deeds" Live righteously! Be a doer of the Word!
Have you ever thought, "I'm a pretty good Christian. Especially compared to others."? Maybe you're even of the opinion that you've reached an elevated plateau in your spiritual walk. And when others point out certain flaws, you might think, "I'm not like that!".
Paul 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." Phil. 3:12
It's easy to look at ourself and compare ourselves with others and think we're all that and a bag of chips. The reason we believe that, is because we are measuring ourself to others. Reality check! People are not perfect, neither are we. We should be gauging ourself with the Word of God. It's perfect and complete. That's where we will find, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the places we are missing.
I know, I don't like to think I've got shortcomings either. But, come on, we live in an imperfect world, with devil influences. It's easy to conclude that we're right and everyone else has the problem, because the devil wants us to walk in the flesh and not in the Spirit.
But Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:20-24AMP "But you did not so learn Christ! Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him], Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness."
I encourage you to take a look at yourself, began to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any characteristic that isn't lining up to the Word of God. Trust me, He will uncover those areas. Then, make a conscience effort to request the help of the Spirit to remove those traits. After repentance, it's then that you begin to confess what you are in Christ. Speak God's Word over yourself. Call those things that be not as though they were. It won't be long till you begin to see a new you. One that's walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. I guarantee it.
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."