Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Devil's Battleground

It's been said that the majority of people's self-esteem is based on what they think others think about them. Many become the puppeteer behind others' voices in their minds. They live out their lives, stuck in the track of speculation about people's views of their worth. And they are constrained by what others have said in the past, having come to a place of surrender and acquiescence to these ideas.

Paul’s hope was that people would “come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil” 2 Timothy 2:26. The persistent thoughts contrary to God’s word are strongholds of the enemy. These oppose the true knowledge that comes from God about who we are in him. According to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, this is the devil’s battleground.

God’s word is filled with many amazing declarations about who we are in Christ Jesus. Most Christians I survey, say they believe the Bible is 100% true, and yet their lives demonstrate a stark contrast to what the Bible claims is available for them.

The devil has won the battle in their minds, and has rendered them powerless, at least for anything substantial for God’s kingdom.

Paul exhorts several times that we be renewed in our minds (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23) and that we take every thought captive and bring it under the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).

Colossians 2:10 says, “You are complete in him.” I hope you can believe this. If not, check out some of these other scriptures: 2 Peter 1:3,4, Romans 8:34-39, and 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Please share your feedback by posting a comment below.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Bleeb I'b Eeled (Part 3)

The last two posts on this subject emphasize a couple important points in the mysterious area of healing. Cessationists say God doesn’t heal today. Non-cessationists say he does, yet many times struggle with the difference between their experiences and their understanding of Scripture.

Two important things we’ve covered in the area of healing are: 1) Listen to what God is saying about the physical affliction – then you can pray in faith in response to what he is directing. 2) Scripture also tells us in the book of James to call the elders of the church to have them pray for us when we are sick. Sometimes this simple act of faith is a huge mountain-mover in healing.

One Final Thought
Although there are many things yet to be discovered as to the ways of God in healing, I will close these posts with one more principle I became convinced of nearly five years ago. There is a connection between “authority in Christ” and healing.

• In Genesis, God begins by placing mankind in authority over every living thing on the earth. (Side notes: Are viruses and bacterial infections living things? Was Satan a living thing on the earth at that time?)
• David reiterates that this authority was not lost through the Fall – Psalm 8.
• The centurion recognized the connection between authority and healing in Matthew 8:5-13.
• The crowd were awed that God had given authority to men (not just Jesus) to forgive sins and to heal – Matthew 9:2-8.
• Jesus gave his disciples and the seventy authority over sickness and disease and over demons, and commanded them to heal and cast out demons – Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9, Luke 10:1-20. Jesus told them, “Freely you have received, freely give.” What had they just received? Authority.
• Jesus has given his authority to every believer (Matthew 18:19-20, 28:18-20, Mark 16:17, John 14:12-14, 15:16, 16:23-26).

Praying in Jesus’ Name
I don’t suppose any Christian would argue that we are instructed to pray in Jesus’ name. Most of the times we finish a prayer like this: “... in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Jesus instructed us to pray and ask in his name. But do we realize that “in Jesus’ name” means “in Jesus’ authority”? In the Greek, name also means “authority”.

You’ve probably heard a similar phrase to this one: “Open up in the name of the king!” This means all the king’s authority is backing up the officer of the law.

Jesus authorizes us to represent him, to act, pray, and move in his name, in his “authority”. This is what Paul is referring to when he calls us ambassadors. Ambassadors have to right and privilege and responsibility to speak on behalf of the one whom they represent.

So we pray in Jesus’ name, Jesus’ authority. We bless our food in Jesus’ name, in his authority. This is not something trite that we do, it actually means something to bless our food in Jesus’ name, or to pray in his name. And we are instructed to heal in his authority.

The question isn’t whether or not we are endowed with his authority. The question is whether we believe it. Mark 16:17 might be better translated, “These signs will accompany those who believe in My name: they will...” (notice the placement of the colon, versus modern translations). Many times we “believe”, but how often do we expressly believe in his authority?

Peter Said So Himself
In Acts 3, when God used Peter to heal the lame man, Peter declared that the man was healed “on the basis of faith in His name” and the “name of Jesus has strengthened this man”. Peter not only saw the connection between Christ’s authority, but he believed in Christ’s authority in him. He said, “What I have, I give to you.” Then he said the man was made well on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name, Jesus’ authority. Peter believed in Christ’s authority; he believed in his name.

Present Day Examples
After talking about this one Sunday morning, I encouraged people to test this out in their homes. One family in our church have a son who ended up with a spot on his lung that showed up on an X-Ray. They prayed for him in the authority of Jesus. When they went later that week for another X-Ray, the spot had disappeared.

Another example was at a prayer meeting where there was a woman who suffered with chronic back pain for years. A friend and prayed for her, and after waiting and listening to the Lord, we prayed for her back in the authority of Jesus. That night at 10:30, she called me and told me that the pain was completely gone.

We are Commanded to Believe in His Name
“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ...” 1 John 3:23a.

The centurion believed in the authority of Christ to heal. And Jesus remarked that he had not seen such great faith in all of Israel. This is perhaps some of the greatest faith we could walk in.

We are not instructed to believe that if we have enough faith, someone will be healed. This is presumption. We are not instructed to pray, “Lord, if it is your will” – we are to prove what his will is (Romans 12:2, Colossians 1:9, 1 John 5:14,15). We are not instructed to believe in healing.

We are commanded to walk in his authority, to believe in his authority, and to pray in his authority. Are you convinced that Christ’s authority resides in you?

If you would like to read four more testimonies from people in our church, click on this link: Four Testimonies of Healing

Please share your feedback by posting a comment below.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Day of Atonement

by George Otis Jr.

It was typical of many families in [ancient Israel], in lieu of dogs and cats, to keep other animals, particularly lambs, as pets. As in our society the young children would grow very attached to these lambs.

One evening as you and your brothers and sisters are running around outside your house, your father arrives to put a halt to the horseplay. After hustling you in for dinner, he snatches your favorite lamb up into his arms and ties it inside the door. On most days Dad’s arrival is a highlight, but today something must have gone wrong. He’s too serious tonight, not like usual when he throws you up on his shoulders and carries you through the door. Tomorrow, you discover, the family is going to the Temple; but what’s really great is that lamb gets to go, too!

Early the next morning your mother wakes you up, ordering you to clean up and put on your best clothes. The fact breakfast was skipped this morning for the Lord wasn’t new, but Dad has never looked so serious . . . so sober. Anyway, your guess is that he’s tying the lamb’s feet together so he won’t get loose in the Temple.

The family is finally on the way; Dad’s in front, with the lamb on his shoulders with Mom and all the siblings in tow. Nearing the Temple you notice some of your friends arriving but Dad won’t let you talk to anybody. Once inside the Temple, all you can see are the backs and legs of a forest of grownups. Nobody’s talking; they’re all just kind of crying and moaning real loud. Every so often a family or group of people press their way through the crowd heading for the door of the Temple. They’re always crying the hardest even the kids. It’s hard to figure out what’s happening. You had never really noticed the people’s faces the other times. This was the first time, too, that Dad had ever let lamb come, even though lot’s of other people brought theirs.

After a very long two hours you have crept near the front. Occasionally you can see the priests’ legs and bare feet around the altar through a crack in the crowd. The wailing and moaning near the front is almost deafening.

Finally, your family is standing in front of the altar. There is blood all over the ground and splattered on the priests’ clothes. While your attention is fixed on all the blood, Dad has handed the lamb over to a priest. After saying something to Dad he lifts his head and speaks again probably praying. His hands are both resting on the lamb when you notice for the first time the menacing, long knife on the side of the altar.

The lamb anticipates its future with a meek struggle but the leather cords hold firm. After the priest finishes praying he picks up the knife and puts his hand under the lamb’s jaw pulling its head back. Horror-struck, you watch the priest plunge the knife into its throat; the blood spills out onto the breast of the lamb, the priest and the altar. After one last spasmodic convulsion the life of your lamb is over.

As the priest spreads the blood around, the reality of the whole gruesome spectacle begins to melt your frozen stupor. Leaving the temple tears flow uncontrollably as you press through other Jewish families awaiting their turn. Nothing was said on the way home but no one noticed anyway.

That evening Father lifted your little frame off your tear-stained pillow and gently explained as he had to your older brothers and sisters in prior years. Explaining how a lamb could die instead of you.

Please share your feedback by posting a comment below.

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template