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!
Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
Many years ago while in Arkansas ministering, we visited a secluded farm. The sole purpose of going there was to get some blackberries. Fresh picked fruit is the best. We each sought out a bush and began to pick. Pastor Michael found an extremely large one that had the biggest berries, we'd ever seen. He began to choose the choicest ones and his small container filled fast. While gathering, he noticed deep within the giant bush there were even bigger berries. As he carefully tried to move the vines to avoid the thorns in order to reach in, an unsuspecting branch swung over and hit the hand holding the container. Just then all the berries, he had so thoughtfully gathered spilled to the ground, in the middle of the bush. Now all the huge fruit, he so cautiously harvested was scattered and his receptacle was empty. What had taken him twenty minutes to collect was gone in seconds. So disappointed in the loss, he looked around and found an abandoned fence post. He took that post and began to beat the bush, until he made a hole wide enough for him to crawl into. He picked up his little can and on his hands and knees, he wriggled into the bush to begin picking up all his lost fruit. He began to say, "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" All of a sudden an audible voice, that only he heard spoke to him and said, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." When he heard this, he paused, but within a second later was back in picking and saying "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" Again the voice spoke a little bit louder to him, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Once more he paused and listened, but quickly began pressing in to get all that fruit he so much longed for. Then the third and final time the voice spoke, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Just at that moment he realized he had heard the voice of God. It wasn't until much later that evening that he became aware of thorns that had pierced him in his ears, legs and arms that he hadn't noticed during his berry quest. If one desires something, a focused determination will bring it about, although there are 'thorns' trying to hinder.
Some learning aspects of this experience, would be:
1) "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." (Mat. 6:33) Just like in this illustration, what a man seeks is the direction that will be leading him. Becoming so ingrained in something, can be positive if seeking the right thing. God first! If one is on the hunt for their own desires, success, fame or fortune, they can get off course and self driven, which leads to trouble. And when God speaks, it's often difficult to hear Him because the attention is based on our own passions. Grasping the attitude of Kingdom business and righteousness first, means all the things that God has for us will fall in line. Our needs and wants will be fulfilled if we give Him and His desires priority.
2) Being extremely committed and focused, to the direction God has for you, will desensitize distractions. Heb. 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Pastor Michael was zeroing in on his task at hand: "Pick the berries". His intention was to get the biggest and best at any cost. It didn't matter that the bush had thorns or that they were piercing his flesh. With tenacity and purpose he pressed in despite any obstacle. We should be that persistent when it comes to our faith! Regardless of what comes against us, others conversation, deceptive speculations, or discouragement, our resolve to keep on keeping on should prevail.
Listen people of God, life has many distractions and lots of daunting events. There's going to be 'thorns' along the way. It's what we do in the midst of them that determines what kind of person we're going to be. We can notice every little "owie" or chose to keep our vision centered on God and His Word. One thing we do, is believe what God said above any circumstance, despite how we feel or what we see. We purpose to live daily in agreement with God, which means saying what He says and thinking what He thinks. Is it easy? NO! But if you resolve to be consistent and tenacious, you will not only grow up in Christ, but not even notice the "Thorns".
Imagine this, you're moving along in life, going to work, living happily with your family. Everything seems real fine! You've got your bills paid, and a little money put away for a rainy day. You and your family are healthy. You live in a nice house, drive a cool car and can afford to have a few luxuries. It seems life is treating you real good. Then 'wham' right out of no where, a problem hits. You've always considered yourself to be a person of faith, praying regularly, attending church when you can and even quoting Bible scriptures. But now there's a serious issue that's staring you right in your face. It's so severe that you don't know who to turn to for help or how to confront it. It seems over whelming and unsolvable. What are you going to do?
Regardless of any type of difficulty there's always one solution, God. Yes, I know a lot of you are saying, "Really?? Are you for real? Of course you'd say God, your a preacher. But what about us normal people?" Ps. 56:3 says, "What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You (God)." Let's face it, is there anyone that can fully dispel fear, anxiety, frustration or give a sense of calm in the midst of turmoil? No! All the friends and family around can only sympathize, empathize, and express their opinions. Not one individual can completely ensure peace in the heart of a situation. Generally most people want to try to solve the dilemma on their own and really think they have the answer. Yet, when in the middle of adversity, no matter what we try to do, there's still the feeling of despair and questions of resolve.
The Psalmist wrote, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1 What that verse is really saying is, the Lord God is our deliverance. He will deliver us out of the situation. Personally, years ago we were faced with a serious lawsuit. A man who willfully injured himself while working for us, sued us for millions of dollars. We sought out legal counsel and help, but there was not one attorney in that town who would help. It seems the judge that normally handled these types of cases, always sided with the injured worker. In the words of the attorneys, we were doomed right from the start. But not heeding their counsel, we decided to take the problem to the 'Higher Court'. Our Almighty God. We prayed and asked the Lord God to intervene on our behalf. On court day, we showed up without an attorney prayerfully and in faith believing for the 'deliverance' by our God! Much to the courts surprise the judge that entered the room was not the original one scheduled. A different judge took this court because the other judge was unable to attend. And yes, you guessed it, she ruled in our favor! God mediated!
The second half of Ps. 27:1 says, "...the Lord is the strength of my life...." That word strength is defense. He will come to your defense. Just like in our court case, beyond any of our control,God turned the problem around protecting and defending us. Despite all difficulty He by the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.] (Eph. 3:20Amp) God IS the answer to any problem, situation, disaster, trouble or dilemma you may be facing. We urge you to seek Him out. Pray for His intervention. He will come to your aid and defense! Of whom shall you be afraid?
Have you ever been challenged so much that you want to give up? You know, throw in the towel? Perhaps you have been 'battling' for what seems like a very long time. Your struggle might be financial, or physical, or perhaps it's internal: the conflict of doing what's right or giving up a specific habit. People contend with weight issues, healing matters, or just the attempt to hold on for a change. Any lengthy trial can be wearisome.
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9 "..let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." Another translation uses the word 'faint'. If we do not give up we will obtain victory in the proper time. That's the key - not giving up! Our continuation of standing in faith, believing and persevering will bring us closer to the victory we need, if we remain steady. How can I do that, you say?
The book of Hebrews is filled with examples of people that stood the test of faith and pressed through their situation onto victory. We can learn from them. Hebrews 10:23 says "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
One way to help us continue in the good fight of faith is to hold on, embrace, regulate the confession of our hope without hesitation! We must say what the Word of God says. Declaring the end result instead of what we are seeing or experiencing. (Calling those things that be not as though they were.) That's what faith is! Faith is first believing - then seeing! Continual complaining or talking the problem will NOT change it! Only faith and God's Word will! (Heb. 4:12) Gaining control over our mouth is crucial in securing success.
Another helpful aspect is doing the latter part of Heb. 10:23 "....not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..." I know, most people don't want to hear that! "Go to church, are you serious??!!" YES!! (emphatically stated!) "WHY", you ask? It's quite clear really.
First of all, attending church brings us into a fellowship of like believers. People going through situations similar to ours. (That's right, we're not the only one) Coming together, others can be encouraging, having testimony of victories along the way, brings hope.
Secondly, going to church, sitting in a God-breathed, anointed, God-inspired environment can bring motivation to press on! The minister, that has so lovingly, prayerfully, diligently prepared that anointed message, just for us, generates faith and hope for which we are so desperately grasping. Thus we are revived! Now, we can make it through another week in faith believing, hanging on, pressing closer to the victory. In fact, the triumph is within reach - we can see ourself conquering! Hallelujah!
These are just a couple of methods that can strengthen faith and encourage tenacity. And as Heb. 10:36 says, "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." On to victory, through the power of His Word - Never give up, never surrender!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."