Overcoming Persecution

Smyrna in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) was considered to be “the flower of Asia” for its strategic planning, culture, education, science, and medicine.  It was also a place of great persecution for the believer.  Jesus warned the church at Smyrna they would experience persecution, arrest, and even death for the sake of Christ at the hands of people who claimed to be the people of God, but were in reality a “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:8-11).

The persecutors accused the Christians of cannibalism (ignorance of the Lord’s Supper), sexual perversion (mistaking the Christian fellowship meal for an orgy), political rebellion (because they would not declare Caesar as Lord and would not petition Rome for permits to meet), atheism (due to the absence of pagan idols in their homes), and destroying Jewish homes (as they converted to Christianity). The persecution of the believer always involves some type of spurious and injurious accusation, for that is the nature of the devil, the accuser of the brethren. We should not think that we are immune to persecution because anyone desiring to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

To persecute means to pursue, follow after, aggressively seek after as a hunter searches to apprehend, capture, or kill an animal.  To be persecuted is to be viciously and relentlessly hunted because of the gospel.  Although there are a variety of types of persecution, including spiritual (oppression), life (martyrdom), financial (denying employment, advancement or benefit), mental (condemnation or accusation), emotional (fear, anxiety, and despair), relational (rejection and marginalization), and physical (affliction and infirmity) the purpose of the persecution is the same – to press the believers to compromise, to denounce their faith, and to give up.

The keys to overcoming any kind of persecution are revealed also in the Book of Revelation.  Jesus said, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11, KJV).  The first key is to know and understand the covenant that is the basis of your salvation.  The Christian is blood bought and blood washed, and ultimately and eternally safeguarded by the resurrected Jesus.  The sacred and irrevocable covenant means that no matter how bad the persecution or pressure, the Lord will eventually turn things around.

Second, we must continue to speak faith-filled words of our personal testimony and the truths of God’s word no matter how difficult things are in life.  By sticking to the word, we are harnessing the power of life and death that is in the tongue of the believer (Proverbs 18:21), and not in the persecution of the evil one. By sticking to the word, we demonstrate that the most prominent influence in our heart is the truth, rather than the persecution we are facing, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).

Finally, we must live as though we were dead, meaning dead to self, dead to self-interests, and dead to our propensity to want to direct our own lives while claiming that Jesus is Lord.  We may or may not face a literal life threat that so many of our brothers and sisters face daily around the world for their faith in Jesus, but we will be tempted to live our lives forgetting the sacrifice of Jesus and the example of service at the expense of self.  Given the condition of the world and the spiritual trajectory of our own nation, it’s never been more important for believers to overcome the persecution, live out their natural lives, and live them out for the purpose and glory of God.

No Más!

unknownPanamanian professional boxer Roberto Duran is considered to be one of the greatest fighters in history earning championship belts in four different weight classes.  The boxing world called him respectfully “Hands of Stone” because of his punching power.  Ironically, he is best known for losing his punch and quitting right in the middle of his championship fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, exclaiming, “no más” or no more.  Instead of going out a champion, the way he lived most of his life, Duran ended his boxing career and hung up his gloves perceived by the boxing world as a quitter.

The pressure is on believers all over the world to do the same thing.  The enemy knows that we are more than conquerors through Jesus, that we are always led in triumph in Christ, and that we have the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.  He cannot defeat us so he focuses instead on trying to provoke us into quitting because he knows that he cannot win without our willful surrender.  He could never defeat you, affect your right standing with God, or ever get God not to love you, but he can and does do everything he can to get you to quit on your right believing and right living.  So, all over the body of Christ too many Christians and Christian leaders are hanging up their gloves and quitting their spouses, cutting off friends, leaving their churches, vacating their ministries, and bankrupting their destinies.  Why?  Because they became weary in doing good instead of holding on to the promise that they would reap in due season if they did not quit (Galatians 6:9).  They started to focus on the limited negative at the expense of all the positive.

Every assignment, every attack, every confrontation, every disappointment, every setback, every loss, every inspired criticism, every agenda, and every perceived slight is designed to get you to quit, because quitting gets you off the path of God, and that was the devil’s goal all along.  Quitting indicates a believer has become demonized and is under the influence of the enemy and captive to do his will.  Regardless of whether we do it in the thralls of discouragement, the depths of depression, a fit of anger or offense, or with an arrogant smile on our face, quitting in violation of God’s word and will is a clear indicator that the enemy has pushed our buttons long enough that our troubled minds and roller coaster emotions are now driving our decisions rather than the voice of the Holy Spirit.

In these challenging times, the Lord would have us keep punching, to never give in, and to never give up.  That’s why he commanded (not just encouraged) Joshua to not be discouraged (Joshua 1).  Discouragement is a loss of spiritual courage, and the loss of that courage always precedes quitting.  I know as a believer and Christian leader that there are times you just want to hang it up, but the Lord needs you in your place, your family needs you to be steady, the Church needs you to be stable, and the world desperately needs you to model the hope you profess.

When you feel like quitting (1) on purpose put off that decision to quit, (2) take the time to flood your heart with the word of God and prayer, (3) get around people who are uplifting, challenging, and encouraging, (4) refuse to make decisions based on negative feelings or thoughts, (5) and remember God NEVER forgets a seed sown.  No matter how things look, you WILL reap in due season IF you do not quit!

Spiritual Kryptonite

imagesSuperman is an iconic and enduring image of strength in our Western culture and around the world.  We know about Metropolis, Clark Kent, the phone booth, Lois Lane, and Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luther.  We also know there is nothing that could take Superman down, except for one glowing green gem called kryptonite from his home planet of Krypton.  In the presence of kryptonite, the man of steel became mortal, weak, confused, and subject to attack and ultimate defeat. 

Believers and Christian leaders too have a kryptonite from our home planet that works the same, draining us of life, joy, peace, and victory.  Our kryptonite, however, is more of the carbon based variety than some precious element.  The kryptonite our arch enemy uses to defeat us is people.  You see, animals don’t offend us, the oceans, forests, mountain ranges, and skies don’t offend us.  People offend us. 

Sooner or later we all have our own encounters with kryptonite.  Sooner or later we all have our stories of spending years investing in people only to have them turn on us, bending over backwards to make sure a family in need is taken care of only to get mad at you for some unspoken reason, experiencing disappointment in some bold endeavor, trusting a good friend only to find out the friend is one of your biggest critics, making great sacrifices with little to no appreciation, watching church members get in conflict with one another and take it out on the entire church, experiencing a crushing loss in life or ministry, or navigating the sting of a Judas kiss from a coworker or staff member. How we respond to the these kryptonite encounters determines whether we will reach our destiny or fold under the hurt, betrayal, and cynicism.  

I know what that’s like after nearly 30 years of ministry service.  Ministry does not exempt a person from kryptonite.  On the contrary, ministry just gives the minister more exposure to kryptonite – more opportunities to get offended.  One pastor I served slammed his hand in anger against his canoe during and outing breaking his hand and then blaming me for the injury.  Another church leader invited us to serve as his associate pastor, promised that we would soon transition into the lead role at the church, and then weeks later informed the people, after we had moved across the country, that he would have to let us go if the money did not start coming in.  My home church voted me down as their pastor, twice, after a spurious search process that included drawing names out of hat (no, I’m not joking), putting my name back into the hat, realizing the other man wasn’t going to come, and finally submitting my ministry to the church for a vote.  Rejected and dejected, we walked back into the church to face the people with a warning from the loving Holy Spirit: “Be very careful what you say next, for what you say will impact your destiny and their future.”  It’s not what happens to us, but how we respond to it that matters in life and ministry.

In each situation, and countless other encounters with kryptonite through the years, I had to make a decision whether to let it poison me or move forward trusting God.  Our failure to perceive what the enemy is actually trying to do with the kryptonite of people is his greatest weapon.  Paul admonished Timothy to stay out of strife with people because strife is the doorway to becoming captive to the devil to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24).  Imagine claiming Christ and yet living your life as a tool for Satan.  If we go through things without letting that kryptonite get inside of us and affect us, the devil cannot have his way with us.

Psalm 55 provides special insight for identifying kryptonite and overcoming its power in your life.  The Psalmist cried out to the Lord for help saying, “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught.”  When we are distraught we are deeply agitated, upset, unable to think or behave normally, and extremely distracted.  In reality, however, the Psalmist was distraught and close to imploding from the kryptonite because he was thinking about all the things people were saying about him, all the things people were thinking about him, and all the things people were doing to him.  There’s nothing we can do about what people say, think, or do, but we have the power to choose not to think about it. “Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).  The key to defeating the kryptonite is to not even touch what THEY are saying, thinking, or doing with your thoughts.

I heard a preacher once tell the story of a jet airliner beginning to make its initial decent.  As it flew below 10,000 feet, the electronic and communication systems began to go haywire. After aborting and pulling back up to 20,000 feet the systems became normal.  After flying back down and pulling up several times with the same results, the co-pilot went below to find out what was happening.  He discovered there were rats chewing on the power conduits.  At the higher altitude the rats couldn’t function, but at lower altitudes the rats would come to and begin chewing on the cords disrupting the systems of the aircraft. 

As believers, God has called us to a SUPER life, but if we choose to live at the lower altitudes of hurt, offense, and bitterness, we will be short-circuited and defeated every time.  We need to habitually live at the higher altitudes where the kryptonite infested rats can’t affect us.  Our spiritual altitude is set by our time in prayer, time in the Word, and practically by what we choose to think about.  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).  Our lives tend to go in the direction of our most dominant thoughts. Whenever you are given an opportunity to get offended with people just tell yourself it’s kryptonite, and then choose to go up even higher where the rats can’t play in your head.

The Accumulation Effect

20130325-192332.jpgLike many in my generation, I grew up watching the animated antics of the likes of Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, and Popeye. I particularly enjoyed that predictable moment when Popeye, just before pulling out the famous strength-inducing spinach, would exclaim, “I’ve had all I can stand, and I can’t stands no more!”

Most of us can relate to that level of frustration when it seems things have reached a tipping point and the next person adding their two cents is likely to feel the force of Popeye’s might. In reality we simply don’t get to that place overnight. Peace-stealing frustration, instead, is the result of issues, mistakes, problems, slights, misunderstandings, and pressures that accumulate over time without processing them spiritually in a timely manner.

Think about it this way. Do contractors build a roof on a house in Colorado the same way one would be built in Florida? Obviously the force of snow on the roof in Colorado demands a design and structure capable of handling severe winter weather not experienced in a warm climate. Like that hypothetical roof, our lives spiritually require reinforcement before the snows of life begin to fall and accumulate on the roof of our hearts. Like the overburdened roof, our hearts collect wounds, hurts, disappointments, and stresses over time that demand that  (1) we strengthen ourselves from the inside, and (2) we regularly clear our hearts of those things that harden or cause our hearts to grow cold.

Remember the principle of the accumulation effect. The roof does not collapse and our hearts do not implode from the first dusting of snow or life challenges. The structure is compromised from the accumulation of weight over time. Implosion is a gradual process. Let me encourage you to inspect your heart daily and remove every weight, burden, or sin through the receiving and giving of forgiveness.

Tomb Dwellers

imagesThere is no question that our culture today is fascinated – no obsessed with death and the symbols of death. Interest and viewership in death-based themed movies and television programs are at an all time high. Shows about witches, vampires, werewolves, and zombies fill the airwaves and theaters all over the nation. This death culture, unbeknownst to most who expose themselves to it, brings with it all kinds of demonic activity and strongholds. You cannot abide in the darkness without being assaulted by those that lurk there. It is striking that millions upon millions would rather hang around the tombs of the dead rather than enjoying the abundant life Jesus offers and promises in his word.

The Bible speaks of a demon possessed man Jesus encountered and then set free from his bondage. Notice the similarities between this man and so many in our culture today. First, he literally lived in the tombs among the dead. When you hang around death, death is going to manifest in your life. Second, he was known for violent fits and then at the same time had periods where he seemed to have it all together. What people today may write off as an explosive temper or life-controlling moodiness is often a manifestation of demonic activity in a person’s life. Third, like some in our society today, he was known to cut himself and mutilate his own flesh. The influence of death all around him egged him on (and the enemy does with so many young people today) towards self-destructive behavior. Fourth, even though he was able to snap chains holding him fast, he still walked around with the cuffs and leggings of a person in bondage. Jesus came to break every chain off of our lives but all you have to do is listen carefully and you will hear the sound of clanking iron all around in you world. Finally, this man moved more and more towards isolation. When you see people withdrawing from family and friends and avoiding human interaction and fellowship, you can know that the enemy is at work in their life trying to isolate them with that death spirit and influence.

Let me encourage you to identify the influences of the death culture in your life so that you can stop dwelling around the tombs and start living the abundant life Jesus desires you to live. First, identify the death communications in your life such as words and thoughts that are negative, destructive, and self-defeating. Your life will go in the direction of your most dominant thoughts and words and if your most dominant thoughts and words are saturated with death, negative and destructive things will manifest in your life. It’s amazing how many of our colloquial phrases are filled with death references. Life and death are literally in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Second, remove all death seductions from your life such as hidden or secret desires, behaviors, practices, or habits that are impure and unholy. The best thing you can do is to expose those in your life and judge them as inappropriate for the believer. You cannot indulge in such conduct without being seduced (gradually drawn away from godly behavior and devotion) by that death influence. Third, be aware of any death attractions in your life such as media, television, movies, books, music that glorify death, spiritism, fear, or the paranormal. You may view this as harmless entertainment but in reality these attractions are an open door for oppression and destruction in your life. Instead of allowing death inputs into your eyes and ears, choose to look and listen to those things that are of life and bring life. Finally, decide to withdraw from any death associations. These are people who are dead spiritually and tend to pull you down (even if you had the noble goal of bringing them up). While you should reach out to the lost, you cannot have close, intimate  friendships with people who are lukewarm or dead spiritually (and for sure should not marry such a person). Don’t assume because someone says they are a Christian or because they go to church that they are sufficiently alive spiritually to have great access in your life (as Corrie ten Boom often said, “just because there’s a mouse in the cookie jar doesn’t mean they are a cookie”).

Just like the demoniac in the Scriptures, the Lord delights in setting his people free from every bondage and every chain. If you have allowed death communications, death seductions, death attractions, or death associations in your life, repent now and ask the Lord for his deliverance, protection, and preservation. You do not have to be possessed to be demonized or oppressed by the enemy. You may have opened the door to oppression by “hanging around the tombs” but you do not have to stay there. Get up and get back into God’s Word and presence. Jesus came that you might have life and that life is found in His Word and in His Spirit.

Resistance Is Not Futile

Borg 1If you’ve been exposed at all to the television or movie versions of the Star Trek productions you have become very familiar with the strange world of the part human, part machine colony of the Borg. Their ultimate goal is in assimilating others to be exactly just like them. The famous declaration of the Borg when challenged is to say, “resistance is futile.” This is exactly how the enemy works against the believer. He knows that if we resist him, he has to flee (James 4:7). Actually resistance is not futile – it’s the key to overcoming the devil every time.

The ultimate goal of the devil, then, is to get us into a position of non-resistance to his influence, his negativity, and his accusations. We all know that the greater one lives inside of us but if we, in the heat of battle, begin to stop resisting, we will be defeated every time. Because we are born of God, we have through faith everything we need to overcome this world because the victory that overcomes this world is our faith (1 John 5:4-5). But the key is to stand in this revelation and truth against the influence of the enemy and the circumstances in our lives that are running contrary to the Word of God. Even though we ARE overcomers, we can be overcome if we falter when it comes to resisting those things that Jesus died to redeem us from.

There are many things that subtly but effectively steer the believer towards non-resistance such as spiritual laziness (the lack of discipline to continue in prayer, worship, and Bible study), weariness (the effect of long protracted battles where one literally gets tired of fighting), and emptiness (we give everything we have in service scraping the bottom of the barrel instead of keeping the barrel full and giving out from the top). The more lazy, weary, or empty we become the less likely we are to stand and resist the enemy. The more non-resistant we become to the activity and agenda of the enemy, the more defeated we become. We have been redeemed from the curse according to Galatians 3:14, but the curse will still prevail and advance in our lives in an atmosphere of non-resistance. 

The reason for this is we are defeated by whatever we yield to in life (give up to, surrender to, relinquish to). According to James 4:7 we are to resist (withstand, strive against, oppose) the devil and his thoughts, but unfortunately, many believers forget about the first part of that verse that commands us first to submit to God. We cannot effectively resist the devil while we are actively resisting God. Make sure you eliminate every single area of non-compliance with God and His Word in your life if you want to see the devil flee. The other critical factor, according to 1 Peter 5:9, is the quality and level of our faith. We are told to resist him (the devil) steadfast in the faith. The quality and level of our faith determines our capacity and readiness to resist and continue resisting. The key to raising both the quality and the level of our faith is always more time in the Word because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word (Romans 10:17).

I love the story of Jehoshaphat in the Bible when he was facing an insurmountable alliance and attack of enemy forces in 2 Chronicles 20. His example shows us how to resist the enemy while under pressure. First, he immediately went to the Lord in prayer. Unfortunately, many believers today try everything else under the sun and only after every single other option has been exhausted without results, they turn to the Lord in prayer. It reminds me of what Winston Churchill said of Americans in light of World War II. He said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Christians are a lot like that today, but prayer should be our FIRST resort not our last resort. Second, he gave his ear to the prophetic word of God. In this case, the Lord raised up a prophet in their midst to declare that the battle was the Lord’s and that they were to stand and in standing (resisting) they would see the victory. We may not all have a specific prophetic word in our situation, but we have something more sure and certain, the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19). Like the people in Jehoshaphat’s day, we need to believe the Word and in doing so we will be victorious. Finally, he released his people to sing and praise God in the midst of the battle. In fact, the singers and praisers were placed at the head of the army without weapons. In the natural this does not seem like a very good strategy for winning a war. In fact, it sounds like a recipe to lose any element of surprise and to precipitate a massacre. But the weapons we fight with are not carnal – they are mighty (2 Corinthians 10:4). Praise, in fact, is a supernatural weapon of our warfare that literally silences the foe and the avenger (Psalm 8:1-2). This actually brought confusion to the enemy’s camp and their ultimate defeat.

The enemy may try to tell you that it is futile to resist him, but according to the Word we know that if we will submit to God and stay strong in faith we will abide in a position of resistance to the enemy and in doing so he will have to flee. If you are feeling lazy, weary, or empty, get busy right now building up your resistance capacity by spending time in God’s Word and presence. Like Jehoshaphat, you too can believe God’s Word, stand, and watch the defeat of the enemy in your life.

Don’t Pull the Pin, Part 3

My spirit was deeply stirred when I first heard the vision given by a Hope Harbor Church staff member regarding the grenades of deception, distraction, and dis-ease the enemy has been hurling at Christians hoping that they will pick them up, pull the pin, and set off a chain reaction of devastation in their lives. As a pastor I see many believers today pulling the pin rather than ignoring the efforts of the enemy to steal the abundant and victorious life God has for them. The blog series, Don’t Pull the Pin, is designed to help you understand the nature of the grenades and how to overcome the temptation to act on those devices or schemes. 

In today’s blog I want to discuss the grenade of distraction. Unlike deception which is designed to outright deceive the believer into wrong decisions and behavior, the grenade of distraction is designed to steal and disrupt our focus, concentration, diligence, and follow through so that we are fruitless, frustrated, and defeated believers. Distraction literally means to divide the mind or the attention, to block concentration through amusement, entertainment, or diversion. We have all seen the carnage caused these days by drivers on the road distracted by loud music, passengers, eating or drinking, or texting. Our lives face disruption or destruction as well when we are distracted from a holy concentration on the priorities of God. Too often, our breakthroughs are delayed not by God’s will, but because we did not stay focused or single-minded long enough to get the job done.

We are all subject to loss when we allow ourselves to be distracted by the enemy. We lose opportunities when we are not focused. We lose revelations when we are not focused. We miss vital signals from the Lord when we are distracted. Many believers have made enormous mistakes just because they could not pick up the still small voice warning them about the direction they were headed or the choices they were making. We miss deadlines and fail to complete vital tasks when we are not focused. We compromise our very destiny when we are not focused. The amazing plans God has for our lives will never materialize if we can’t stay focused long enough to pursue those plans. We lose a measure of effectiveness when we are not focused. We all know how hard it is to do something with excellence while being interrupted repeatedly. We miss divine appointments for our lives when we are not focused. The Lord has ordained a series of divine appointments along our path that are designed to make a huge impact and difference in our lives but too often we are distracted or apathetic and miss out on a life-changing encounter. Finally, we fail to complete our objectives when war are not focused. Life becomes a series of half-hearted efforts and half-completed projects. We could become great but we never seem to be able to finish anything.

If you desire to overcome the grenade of distraction and stay focused and productive in your Christian life there are some things you must do. First, make Jesus the clear focus of your life. This one quality decision made daily will keep the rest of your life vision clear and in balance. Second, focus on the unseen realm. For the believer, the seen realm is not the ultimate authority in life. You may see and hear things in the natural realm that demand your attention but you do not have to give in to them. Third focus on God’s instruction. Keeping God’s Word in our eyes, ears, and hearts will help keep us focused on what really matters. Fourth, focus on right thinking. When we think right our vision is right. Blurry spiritual vision is often the result of fuzzy and unscriptural thinking. Finally, focus on heavenly things rather than temporal or carnal things. Carnal Christians tend to be undisciplined and unfocused in their lives and their efforts are constantly sidetracked by the appetites and screaming of the flesh to be catered to or fed.

The next time the enemy tosses the grenade of distraction your way, have the wisdom to stay focused on the things of God instead. We all have too much to do in the Kingdom of God to be distracted even momentarily from our high call and destiny. When you see that grenade flying through the air just turn your attention to the voice of the Word of God and the Spirit of God and make up your mind that you are not going to be distracted from God’s best for your life.  

Don’t Pull the Pin, Part 2

In an earlier post I mentioned the short but powerful vision one of our HHC staff members had one morning on the way to a prayer meeting. The individual saw the enemy tossing grenades at believers and then standing back to watch how those believers would react. Would they ignore the attack and ignore the grenade or would their attention be arrested and would they pull the pin? The key to understanding the vision is to realize that the enemy would not be able to cause destruction or devastation without the help or cooperation of the believer. Veterans who have handled actual live grenades know that the pins do not come out without some deliberate force. There simply would be no explosion without believers exerting some effort to pull the pins on the grenades.

Three of the most common grenades are deception (loss of truth), distraction (loss of focus), and dis-ease (loss of peace). The enemy is very proficient at creating tailor-made or custom-made assignments or grenades designed to entice us to react inappropriately and cause our own demise. One of the wisest pastors I’ve ever known used to say repeatedly, “It’s not what happens in life that does all the damage. It’s how we react that does all the damage.” It is vital during this hour of intense spiritual warfare and encroaching darkness that we discern the devil’s efforts and make up our minds that we are not going to pull the pin on his grenade no matter what. If we go ahead and pull the pin on the devil’s devices or schemes we will certainly take ourselves out of God’s plan and off our path, we will lead others astray and destroy others with the impact, and we will model wrong behavior under pressure.

In today’s blog I want to discuss the grenade of deception. The enemy is skilled in the art of seduction or the gradual moving of a believer from right conduct, right believing, and right devotion. Coupled with the process of seduction, the enemy, the father of lies, unleashes an array of lying spirits to distort our perception and attempt to entice us to believe a lie. This grenade is particularly effective even among the most seasoned of believers. The enemy’s goal with the deception is to convince believers of some untruth in an all out effort to redirect their lives. The distortion of the truth is just a tool for his greater goal of diverting us from God’s best. Deception, time and time again, is the devil’s choice weapon to accomplish his agenda of stealing, killing, and destroying.

The following “recipe for deception” will help you guard and protect your mind and heart from the schemes of the enemy. The first ingredient is to induce weariness in the heart and life of the believer. If we would learn to wait on the Lord for restoration instead of scurrying around trying to fix everything ourselves we could head of deception immediately. Next, the enemy adds a dash of pressure such as strife, responsibility, or financial challenges. Instead of casting our cares upon the Lord we try to bear up under the pressure as if that was some kind of believer’s badge of courage. The enemy will then add to the pressure a few setbacks, disappointments, or failures and we begin to think about throwing in the towel. At this point we are becoming more susceptible to deception. Next the enemy will fold in a few interpersonal issues and our thinking and behavior becomes more and more reactionary, a quality the enemy depends upon to get us to pull the pin. Finally, he inserts a lie or two and in many cases, the believer will buy the lie, and react in a destructive manner.

During this spiritually volatile time we need to be aware of how the enemy predisposes and prepares us to accept the lie as truth and then induces us to react in such a way that we bring devastation and destruction into our own lives. Remember to wait upon the Lord, roll the cares of life over on the Lord, realize that failing does not make you a failure, walk in love with people at all times, and measure everything you hear against the Word of God. Remember that without your cooperation – unless you pull the pin, the grenade of deception will not explode and damage your life and the lives of those around you.

Don’t Pull the Pin

Recently a staff member at Hope Harbor Church had a short vision from the Lord regarding the warfare currently being waged against believers in the body of Christ. The picture she saw was of the enemy throwing grenades in the direction of Christians and then just sitting back to see what the believer would do. In other words, there was no explosion and would not be until and unless the believer pulled the pin. 

The key to this vision is the realization that the enemy cannot take out the believer without his or her cooperation. A military veteran recently asked me if I had ever held a military issue hand grenade or tried to pull out the pin (I had not). His point was that it is not easy to pull the pin and arm the grenade. He said the movie image of a he-man pulling the pin out with his teeth is fictitious. In reality it takes deliberate force to remove the pin (for obvious) reasons. The enemy needs us to pull the pin on the grenade that is at our feet. The damage then comes not because the grenade was lobbed our way but because we picked up the grenade and then pulled the pin.

The grenades being thrown at the believer include the deception of the enemy, distraction, and what I call dis-ease or a reduction in the peace or wholeness of God in our lives. The idea of the enemy is to get us to pull the pin by acting on the deception, distraction, or dis-ease. It is when we act on these that the real damage is done.

It is important to understand that the enemy has schemes, devices, tricks, and intrigues (Ephesians 6:10-12) uniquely and specifically designed to take us down as individual believers. These tailor-made or custom-made attacks are only effective if we react inappropriately to them. He may know how to pull our chains but he cannot force us to pull the pins on those custom attacks or grenades currently be thrown at us.

In coming posts I will be discussing each of the three grenades (deception, distraction, and dis-ease) in detail to explain to you how they work, what they are designed to do in your life, and how to defeat them every time. For now, remember that the enemy must have your cooperation and effort if the pin is ever to be pulled. Just don’t give him the satisfaction.

Serious Christians

It should be no surprise to any believer who desires to go beyond the religious, superficial, or ornamental variety of Christianity that there will be a significant push back from the enemy. Paul warned Timothy (3:10-17) that everyone desiring to live a godly life in Christ Jesus would be persecuted (opposed, hindered, maligned, attacked). It’s common sense. As long as we are spectators sitting in the stands of some football game, we are never going to be subject to the bumps and bruises of those on the field actually playing the game. It’s the same way in the life of the serious believer. When we come off the bench of apathy, lethargy, indifference, and sloth and actually engage Christianity the way God intended it to be lived out, we become a greater threat to the enemy and with every step we advance, Satan is there ready to turn up the heat to steal our hope, dream, vision, blessing, development, and destiny.

Hebrews 10:35-39 exhorts us to hold on to our faith because it will be richly rewarded if we do not faint, quit, or give up. The pressure of the enemy in the life of a serious Christian is designed to push us off the Word and away from the promises. But we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11) and we can push back by first submitting to God and then resisting the devil (James 4:7). If we do, we are assured that the enemy will flee. We should not, however, ignorantly believe that he will never return to try his old tricks on us again. If you think you are being picked on by the enemy (and he does use people to do it), you are not paranoid or imagining things. The enemy is coming after you to shut you down.

The bottom line is that as we progress from nominal Christian to authentic, reproducing Christian, the enemy is going to respond with his choice weapons of temptation, discouragement, offense, and deception to slow, hinder, or altogether halt our progress. Through the years, I’ve identified seven specific developmental levels where we can expect the enemy to move against us to thwart our process and stifle our influence:

Level One: Born Again – when we move from religion to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we can’t expect the devil to stand up and applaud. As long as we are in religion induced darkness we are not a threat to him. But when we get born again we come alive and we begin to discern truth and evil and now have the spiritual tools to walk in the truth and reject the evil.

Level Two: Believing Believer – some Christians get born again and then never progress to the point where they embrace the integrity of the Word of God and dare to believe the promises and principles in the Bible. A believing believer is capable of producing great results, fruit, and breakthroughs. The more we embrace the Word (Mark 4), the greater the persecution from the enemy.

Level Three: Active Participant – when we come out of the stands and into the game we can expect the enemy to come after us to attempt to push us right back out of the game. His goal of his devices here is very plain – to make you think twice about serving or leading in the body of Christ in any substantive way.

Level Four: Person of the Spirit – there is nothing more dangerous to Satan than a born again and Spirit-filled believer. We all receive the Holy Spirit at salvation but there is an additional endowment or empowerment that is available to all Christians (Acts 2) that gives us power to live this life and power to share the good news with others. Spiritual warfare goes to an entirely new level in the life of the Spirit-baptized Christian.

Level Five: Soul Winner – with each level of progress we become more dangerous to the goals and agenda of the enemy. The Christian who is not content just to sit in church waiting for their death and heavenly reward, but actively seeks to depopulate hell and populate heaven with precious souls is the arch-enemy of the devil. He literally hates soulwinners with a passion. Don’t expect a spiritual reprieve from the enemy if you’ve made up your mind to obey Jesus and reach the unreached and tell the untold.

Level Six: Budding Leader – there are many in the body of Christ that seem to literally take off in their own discipleship and development. They have truly become disciples (self-discipline learners of the Lord Jesus Christ) and budding leaders. The enemy becomes very creative in his effort to take down budding leaders before they can reach their full potential.

Level Seven: Developer of Others – the devil will do everything he can to stop a believer from getting to the place where he or she is effectively discipling and developing others to reach their potential in the Kingdom of God. The most dangerous Christian is the one who takes a person from being lost to discovering and inserting his or her gifts in the body of Christ. The level seven believers are reproducing themselves and showing those they develop how to do the same.

So, as Peter warned, you should not be surprised concerning the fiery trial you are facing (1 Peter 4:12-19). You are not crazy. Someone really does hate you and wants to stop you from releasing the greatness that is in you through Jesus, the Word, and the Spirit of God. As we study the serious Christian in upcoming blogs, my prayer is that you come to understand how each of the devils’ schemes (temptation, discouragement, offense, and deception) operate and that you learn to consistently repel them. It’s not always easy, but becoming what God has dreamed for you to become is worth all the attacks and difficulties you will encounter on your journey.

The Spirit of Confusion

I don’t think I can remember a time when the enemy has moved more powerfully to bring confusion in the minds of believers. Believers today are confused about their relationship with God. They are confused about their place in the body of Christ. They are confused about their world view. They are confused about their priorities. They are even confused about their sexuality. I see believers accepting compromise, lies, and contradictory lifestyles almost with the same reckless abandon as people in the world who claim no revelation of the Word or relationship with God. Since God is not the author of confusion, we can know for certain that the presence of confusion in our lives is evidence of the enemy’s operation against our minds.

It’s as if the enemy has literally lured a large segment of the Church to sleep through spiritual lightness and a strong bent towards personal fulfillment and happiness. Our greatest fulfillment as believers comes as we discern and act on God’s Word and will for our lives. The pursuit of our personal passions, interests, and goals at the expense of the Kingdom of God always results in a feigned fulfillment, hollow because it lacks the substance of the peace that can only come from doing things God’s way.

To be confused is to be perplexed or bewildered. It is to make unclear or indistinct or to fail to distinguish between. The more confused believers become the more indistinct from the world they become. If we maintain the same values and priorities of the world we will find it impossible to (1) distinguish ourselves from the world, and (2) influence the world for Christ. Malachi 3:18 declares, “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” It’s high time we awoke from the confusion least we find ourselves on the wrong side of that distinction as individuals, families, churches, and even as a nation.

Today I want to share a few thoughts about how to come out of that confusion and back in to a place of peace and victory…

First, spend some time specifically in the presence of God and ask the Holy Spirit to expose any area of confusion or compromise in your life. Be ready. Prayers like that are always answered and often the answer goes way beyond what we are prepared to hear. Repent of any wrong motive, agenda, priority, behavior, or thinking. Trust the Lord to put you on a path of personal revival and restoration.

Second, find that Bible, dust it off, open it up, read it, think about what it says, and then make up your mind to do whatever it says. The simple truth is that the more time we spend in the Word the less confusion manifests in our lives. Confusion increases in the mind of believers who systematically fail to put the Word of God in their eyes, ears, and hearts. Confusion is evidence that the believer has been neglecting the Word in their lives.

Third, evaluate who you have been hanging around in your life. One man of God recently stated that we are the sum total of the five people we hang around the most. Think about that. If you are running with people who reject the standards and values of the Word of God it’s just a matter of time before you begin to do the same. Iron sharpens iron and bad company corrupts good character. This means if we hang around spiritual dumb dumbs (or dumb downs) we will begin to think, act, and talk just like them rather than living as the overcoming, powerful, and victorious believers God wants us to be.

Fourth, it’s a little known secret that the healthy and faithful participation in a local body of believers is a powerful antidote to confusion. As you gather together with other believers in praise, worship, prayer, and Bible study, a faulty world view, wrong priorities, and fleshly pursuits begin to melt away. For many, the first step into confusion is to step away from the local church. The reality is that faithful church goers are far less likely to be bamboozled by the enemy than those that habitually absent themselves from the house of God (and no, you are not the exception and if you think you are then you are already confused).

Finally, if you want to avoid confusion, open yourself up to the direct accountability of another strong believer. Give him or her permission to tell you like it is (including the right to kick you in the pants occasionally as needed). There is wisdom in a multitude of counsellors and we all need to grant someone the right to get right up in our face and tell us boldly if we are going down the wrong path in life. One of the reasons there are so many confused believers today is that so few of us allow others to get close enough to challenge our thinking with the Word of God.

Remember the admonition of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5:8 – “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” We need to understand that it’s easier to defeat and devour someone if they are first drugged, stunned, or debilitated first. The enemy uses confusion as a means of stunning the believer so that he can move in for the kill. It’s time for believers everywhere to recognize any confusion in their lives and act quickly to wake up and shake it off before the enemy builds in them a stronghold of unscriptural thinking and ungodly living.

Some Kind of a Law Man

Several years ago my then seven year old son Tim and I went out to Arizona for fall break to visit my parents. The highlight of the trip was a train ride from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. Before boarding one of the last steam engine trains in operation in the country, the production company put on a short western skit depicting an outlaw threat to the train and its passengers. During the show, one of the “outlaws” caught a glimpse of Tim’s prominently displayed marshall’s badge, gun, holster, and cowboy hat. As we boarded the train we were warned that there might be an attempt to “rob” the train and law men were the first to “get it.”

Sure, enough, about midway to the Canyon horses and riders approached and the train came abruptly to a halt. The outlaws boarded the train and made their way back to where we were sitting. One of them made his way down the aisle pulling his coat back to expose his side arm. Tim, eyes as big as saucers, slowly pulled off his badge, gun, and holster, and placed them in his hat and said, “Here Dad, you hold on to these for me.” Trying hard to not laugh, the outlaw approached Tim and said, “You some kind of a law man?”

Two thousand years ago the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross to fulfill our Heavenly Father’s requirement for justice. Blood was shed for our redemption and now we have forgiveness and right standing with God through Jesus. Because the price was paid, we are redeemed from the curse of the law and the blessing originally mandated by God for His people has been restored. This means that the law of the Kingdom of God is that God’s people be forgiven, restored, healed, delivered, and provided for. It is a violation of God’s law and justice for a believer to continue to live below the standards of the blessing. Therefore, it is unjust for God’s people to continue to put up with the antics, lies, and destruction of that outlaw known as Satan.

As believers, we have been deputized to enforce the blessing in our lives, in our families, in our churches, and in the world in general. Just like Tim’s encounter with the train robber, the enemy moves to intimidate and suppress anyone armed and anyone with authority to stop his killing, stealing, and destroying. In the heat of the moment sometimes we can forget who we are and what we have been empowered to do. Our job is to stand in that authority and release the blessing through the anointing of the Holy Spirit as the disciples did before us (Matthew 10; Luke 10). Just like the train robber, the enemy is more bark than bite. In fact he is a defeated foe that likes to play dress up to scare God’s people into submission and defeat.

Let me encourage you to stand in the authority the Lord has given to you as a believer. Get in the habit of blessing others everywhere you go because you can be sure that what they usually get daily is cursed. When the enemy comes up to you and wants to know if you are some kind of law man, don’t hide your badge and gun but stand up boldly and make an arrest in Jesus’ name. The Scripture tells us that whatever we bind (forbid) on earth will be bound (forbid) in heaven (Matthew 18). We have veto power over the work of the enemy so let him know it’s time to pack up his saddle and go back where he belongs.

The Enforcer

Genesis 1:28 reveals the original heart and mind of God towards his people. His will is and always has been that His people would be blessed. In fact, the very first words ever spoken to a human being were words of blessing. “To bless” means to say something good about or to empower someone to succeed. “To curse” means to say something bad about or empower to fail.

Because of sin, the blessing was replaced by the curse. But through the work of Jesus on the cross, the blessing was restored: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus…” (Galatians 3:13-14). Despite the reality of the restoration, there are three limiting factors preventing us from walking in the fullness of the blessings: First, some people do not know that God desires to bless them and as Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” Second, some folks do not believe that God wants to personally bless their lives and so they receive according to their faith. Third, many that know about the blessing and believe that God wants to bless them think that all they have to do is sing Kum bay ja and everything is just going to happen automatically in their lives. They forget that they have an enemy who is still very much active and uses his devices (as previously discussed: distraction, discouragement, deception, disowning, destruction, and discrediting) to squash the dream and stop the blessing.

The truth is as believers we must enforce with our faith and spiritual authority the blessing that Jesus died to restore. To enforce means to keep in force or compel obedience by force or compulsion. For example, even though Jesus forgives and gives us the gift of righteousness, the enemy works overtime to convince us that we are nothing more than black-hearted sinners and weak worms of the dust instead of the righteousness of God. We have to stand in the truth, believe, and confess that we are the righteousness of Christ until the sin consciousness is replaced by a righteousness mentality. If we are not willing to stand up and fight the fight of faith regarding the promises and benefits of God (including the blessing which is the root from which the fruit of manifestations come from), we simply will live far below the level God intended for us to live.

Consider some powerful covenant men of God in the Old Testament who learned that although they were blessed of God, they had to enforce the blessing when the enemy tried to steal from them. Abraham went after the marauding enemy that took Lot and his possessions and recovered everything and then some. He didn’t sit down in the dust and say, “well that’s the way the ball bounces.” Isaac, with the full force of the blessing, just dug new wells when the enemy kept confiscating (and stupidly filling the wells during a famine) the wells of his fathers. Because of the blessing Isaac could discover a bountiful flow of water in the middle of a dry season but he had to stand up to tap into the manifestation of the blessing. David too refused to take what the enemy was dishing out and after asking God what to do, pursued the Amalekites after they sacked Ziklag and ran off with his people and goods. He could have sat down in depression and resigned himself to his lot. After all, the men were so mad that they talked of stoning him. But David encouragement himself in the Lord and enforced the blessing in his life.

I want to give you some principles today for enforcing the blessing in your life. You are just as blessed as Abraham, Isaac, and David.

First, enforce the blessing with boldness. The Lord tells us to enter that new and living way when we are in need. We are told to come boldly to that throne of grace to receive mercy (alleviation of distress) in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Without that boldness we will just shrink in intimidation over what the enemy is doing and fail to address our case through prayer and intercession

Second, enforce the blessing with faith. The victory that overcome the world is our faith (1 John 5:4). We need to maintain the spirit of faith and believe that we are receiving the promises and recovering what is stolen from us as well. We must stand in faith and believe that we will see the manifestation of the blessing in every area of our lives because faith is the key to receiving anything from God.

Third, enforce the blessing with power. The Bible says that the kingdom of God suffers violence and that the violent take it by force. This means that the those that tap into the kingdom are vigorously pressing forward or that the kingdom is violently advancing and no obstacle to its advancement will be tolerated or successful (Matthew 11:12).

Fourth, enforce the blessing with action because we know that faith without works is dead. Like our fathers in the faith, we too must rise up and act if we want to walk in the fullness of the blessing (James 1:26). The real evidence that we believe God is that we are moved to action in the direction of our faith. Many believers fail to receive God’s best because they fail to act.

Fifth, enforce the blessing with words. We know that the seat of our authority is the mouth (Proverbs 18:21). Jesus taught us plainly (Matthew 18) that we have the ability of binding and loosing and that whatever we bind on earth (forbid) would be bound (forbid) in heaven and whatever we permitted or allowed on earth would be permitted or allowed in heaven. What amazing authority God has given the believer! How do we operate in this binding and loosing power? We do this with the words of our mouth. From now on when you see the enemy trying to suppress the blessing in your life rise up and deny or veto that operation and at the same time begin to declare that you allow and permit by faith the blessing to fully manifest in your life.

Think of it this way. Our government at every level empowers peace officers to enforce the laws of the land. If an officer observes a crime in progress but chooses not to restrain the activity or the criminal we cannot lay blame to the mayor, the governor, or the President. We need to make sure our police enforce the laws or get men and women who will. It’s the same way in the kingdom of God. The Lord has deputized his body with authority over the enemy (Matthew 10; Luke 10) and we need to stand up in that authority to restrain what is unscriptural and permit and encourage what lines up with the Word of God. Remember you are not only blessed – you are empowered (anointed) to enforce that blessing.

The Seed Thief

Like everything else the Lord does in the earth, He uses a seed to accomplish great things in us and through us. The seed contains and possesses not only the nature of what is to be grown but the full potential of its future. When the Lord made humans He endowed them with some very special gifts that I like to call “Genesis Gifts” or gifts that the Lord has given to mankind at the very beginning indicating not only God’s favor but his divine will for man. We have, from the very beginning, been given God’s image, life, dominion, and seed which allows us to determine and impact our future by the seed that we sow, for everything in life (not just plants and animals) reproduces after its own kind.

Believers are also given hope or life dreams as a seed. That seed comes in the form of God’s thoughts or His Word deposited in the ground of our hearts (Mark 4) that when retained despite trouble and persecution (which according to Mark 4 comes as a direct result of the deposit of that seed in the heart) will produce a harvest. The insight of Mark helps us to understand that the very seed of the dream is also the bullseye or target that the enemy uses to come against that same dream. Ironically the more Word we receive the more of a target we become. That seems counterintuitive and counterproductive on the surface but we must remember that although challenges come because of the Word, it is that very Word that births the dream and brings the dream to reality if we do not faint. As Galatians 6:9 declares, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

The enemy is a master at stealing the dream seed from the hearts of believers and provoking them to quit under pressure. The bigger and more aggressive the dream the greater the level of pressure. The Lord only knows what human contribution and impact has been lost forever simply because those given great dreams could not seem to stand up under the enemy’s constant schemes to influence believers to shrink back and throw down their faith (Hebrews 10:35-30). The writer of Hebrews admonishes, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Satan is after our confidence in our ability to hear from God and act on His Word and uses several devices to accomplish his agenda.

First, the enemy uses the scheme of distraction to divert us from focusing on the dream and on to challenges, circumstances, opinions of others, and a litany of emergencies and urgent situations. It is impossible to walk in and fulfill a God-given dream without focus and the enemy knows that all he has to do is keep dust perpetually kicked up around us and we will soon become sidetracked and forget all about God’s mandate for our lives. Like Martha, we sometimes get so distracted by the good that we fail to pursue God’s best (Luke 10:40). The key to maintaining focus is revealed by Mary’s behavior in this same Scripture. When we focus on our relationship with Jesus we are more likely to stay focused on the mission.

Second, the enemy, through the scheme of pressure, setbacks, and opposition, frequently shuts the believer down with discouragement. It is telling that the Lord spent so much time directly encouraging Joshua at the beginning of his ministry and leadership: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers” (Joshua 1:6). Discouragement is the loss of courage, and faith is in fact spiritual courage. When discouragement moves in, the motivation and drive to continue fighting and believing God disappears.

Third, the enemy is the master of deception. As the Father of lies (John 8:44), Satan is a master at the scheme of deception. From the conning of Adam and Eve in the garden to the seduction of Judas at the close of Jesus’ ministry, the enemy knows exactly how to distort our perception with half-truths and down right lies. The antidote, of course, for his deception is the truth or the Word of God. People who spend quality time in the Word are much better equipped to recognize and reject the schemer’s attempt to pull us away from the dream of God through deception.

Fourth, the enemy understands all too well how important is is for human beings to feel like they belong. Rejection, or the scheme of disowning, is one of the most powerful tools in his arsenal to neutralize a believer’s impact in this world for Jesus Christ. By invading the sacred area of human relationships and inspiring various parties to reject one another, Satan effectively demoralizes us and pushes us into a fog of introspection and self-questioning trying to determine what prompted the rejection. The lack of understanding just adds to the feelings of pain. Jesus was familiar with rejection and since he bore rejection on the cross (Isaiah 53:3) together with the sin, sickness, and shame, let’s be quick to reject this device designed to immobilize us in a day when the Lord needs us up and running. What matters most is the fact that God loves and accepts us and if people reject us, they just don’t know what they’re missing.

Fifth, we know from John 10:10 that the devil is a destroyer. In fact the Scripture says that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Through the scheme of destruction, the enemy attempts to take advantage of every situation to bring devastation into our lives in the the hope that we will falsely accuse God, doubt His Word, and reject His plan for our lives. This tool is made even more effective by the fact that many of God’s servants unknowingly preach that God, rather than the enemy, is behind the stealing, killing, and destroying. What a racket Satan has going. Wreak havoc in the earth and in the lives of people and then lay the blame at God’s feet. This is a criminal’s dream come true. But once the antics of the enemy are exposed and the believer understands that the Lord is good and does good (Psalm 31:19; Acts 10:38), the enemy’s days of destruction in our lives are numbered.

Finally, if the enemy fails to take us out through distraction, discouragement, deception, disowning, or destruction, he will do everything he can to discredit us with an all out attack on our credibility. The scheme of discrediting is designed to cause people to lose confidence in us as believers and when this happens any influence for good and for God is compromised. The true shame of this scheme is that people who desperately need to receive from the discredited believer can no longer do so. Discerning believers will of course see through this but unfortunately people in the world and carnal Christians wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and tweaked them on the nose. The ultimate goal of the enemy is to get the slandered Christian to become disheartened and reluctant to stand up in the future for God’s Word and His plan of redemption effectively silencing another voice of truth.

I want to encourage you to be alert in these last days for the schemer and his ways. Understand that you are not paranoid and you are not dreaming. You really do have an enemy and he would like nothing more than to undermine your confidence in God and in His Word to the point where your dream seed is dug up, your destiny is aborted, and your impact is compromised. When you recognize his activity in your life or the lives of others, immediately move to expose his operation and declare the Word of God over the situation. Remember that the ultimate remedy for the schemes of the enemy is the truth.

The Dream Killer

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates–all the Hittite country–to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:1-9, NIV).

I believe the Lord has a purpose and plan for every person. Jeremiah 29:11 (some of the most powerful words in the Bible) says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future). The first key for tapping into that divine flow and guidance is to experience the new birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “you must be born again” (John 3:7). We know from Ephesians 2:10 that we are created from the foundation of the world unto good works that expand the Kingdom of God in the earth. It is, however, impossible to discern and walk in God’s will until we become alive spiritually. We simply do not have the spiritual hardware to hear God’s voice and follow His direction.

Once we are saved, the Lord begins to move us in the direction of the best life possible for us. We now have the eyes to see and the ears to hear, and we have the added ability to receive a dream or vision from God into our hearts. That dream now becomes an internal guidance system taking us in easy stages down a path that will bring about the fulfillment of God’s will and dream for our lives. The dream says, “I can make a difference.” The dream declares, “I can become everything God has created me to be.” The dream boldly proclaims, “I will impact lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The dream is ultimately what connects believers to God’s future and hope for their lives.

The problem is that we do not live in a spiritual vacuum or bubble insulated from the operation of the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). It would be nice if we had that kind of utopian existence where everyone was pulling for us and there was no opposition to the dream in our hearts. But that would be fantasy, not faith. The reality is that the enemy will do everything he can, use anyone he can, and employ any and every tactic he can to stop us all from living lives of spiritual significance in the earth. One of his most effective and consistent weapons is the weapon of fear. The same dream of God that inspires us to action and directs our course is also a bullseye for the enemy and his devices. But we are not ignorant of his schemes and possessing that knowledge we do not have to allow him to compromise the dream of God in our hearts (2 Corinthians 2:11).

A brief review of great leaders of the Bible reveals that every one of them had to deal with the fear issue. Moses was certainly intimidated to stand before Pharaoh and demand the release of the people of God. The Lord countered that spirit of fear by reminding Moses in Exodus 33 that He would personally go with Moses. Joshua must have certainly felt all alone and afraid as he realized that his leader, mentor and friend Moses was now with the Lord. Immediately in Joshua 1 the Lord spoke to remind Joshua to be courageous and to stay out of fear. God told him that He would be with him like He was with Moses. The Lord also gave Joshua the antidote to fear – meditating on and speaking the Word without ceasing. In doing this he would literally make his own way successful or prosperous. Jeremiah, when called by God as a prophet, hesitated reminding the Lord that he was only a child. The Lord promised that He would watch over His Word to perform it and challenged Jeremiah to not be afraid of the people but stand up and proclaim what he is told to say. In the New Testament Paul admonished Timothy to not be afraid to stand up and witness. He was told directly that he has not been given the spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

The people of God today are exposed to the same kind of fear mongering by the enemy. Every believer that receives a dream from God and wants to do something great for God will be challenged by fear. Some are afraid of a lack of resources. Some are afraid of the opinions of people. Others are afraid that they will be rejected if they take a stand for the Lord in these challenging days. Still others are afraid of failure. I have found that the enemy will always use some kind of manifestation of fear to try to stop the dream in the heart of the believer. Fear, being a form of perverted faith, will bend our lives away from God’s best, compromise the dream, and imprison us in a jail of uncertainly, confusion, and inactivity. Our only other option is to stay in faith by focusing on the dream and staying in Word like Joshua was commanded. Whatever we give our attention to the most will determine whether we walk in faith or fear. Faith will cause the dream to come to pass. Fear will cause the dream to die. Why? Because fear causes us to question the dream and fail to act in the direction of the dream. Unless we add action to our dream (faith in picture form), we will never see the fulfillment of it.

I want to encourage you to treasure the dream in your heart and protect it. Guard your heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4) and when you notice even the slightest tinge of fear trying to move in regarding your dream open up your mouth and say, “I reject this fear in Jesus name and choose to maintain the spirit of faith regarding the dream of God for my life.” The moment you open your mouth your mind and emotions will stop to listen to what your mouth is saying. Don’t allow even a smidgen of fear to reside in your heart because like mold in a dark, damp place, fear tends to grow and expand. Be diligent to feed on the Word of God because faith grows as the Word is received into the human heart. Focus also on the development of your love walk because perfect love (mature, developed) casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). The prevalence of fear in our lives, even regarding our dream, is an indication that we are not walking in love as we should. The season where the dream is cultivated until it becomes reality is a prime time for the enemy to try to introduce fear into your life through some situation, setback, or even some person. We need to make sure at this time that we are living free of unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, envy, or hatred. Quite frankly, what someone did to you or said about you is not worth losing the dream, destiny, or blessing.

Church Witch

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft” (Deuteronomy 18:10, NIV). “I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells” (Micah 5:12, NIV). “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23, NIV).

Last year, my sister Tammy Priest from Tribe of Judah Motorcycle Ministries and Renee Branson, missions director for Lakewood Church, came to Hope Harbor to minister during our women’s conference. They both shared with me the impression they had that a witch had joined them for the meetings. Tammy was very specific saying that she did not mean that the individual was simply manipulative (desiring to thrust her will on others) but the real deal – an actual practicing witch – showing up no doubt to disrupt the meetings or the church itself. From what I understand, this individual was boldly given the opportunity to repent and get right with God but chose not to respond to the mercy of God.

It really shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to the believer that witches would venture into Bible believing Holy Ghost churches because the church witch is demonically (although often they don’t even realize it) inspired to infiltrate and disrupt the church vision, mission, and leadership structure. They often hang around ministries that manifest the glory of God and the operation of the Holy Spirit waiting to seize upon any spirit operating in someone delivered during a service or meeting. In fact, they are often sent into the ministry with the goal of either controlling the ministry and if that does not work they will settle for holding it back or destroying it. It’s never been more important for the people of God to be discerning and be quick to identify this spirit and move to protect themselves, their church, and their church leadership from this marauding spirit.

As I have listened to godly pastors and spiritual leaders around the country, there are certain marks or characteristics of the church witch that are consistent from church to church, town to town, state to state, and nation to nation. These are not offered so you will be afraid or so that you can embark on a modern day “witch hunt” but so that you can avoid the trap yourself and pull away from anyone engaging in these behaviors. Witchcraft is an abomination in the eyes of God and the Word equates witchcraft with the sin of rebellion (tracing all the way back to Lucifer’s rebellion). There is almost always a measure of rebellion and sedition in the behavior of the church witch or by those that are taken in by the influence. Often, the strongest indicator of the influence of the church witch is more general than specific – it just seems like something is off or that a wall is being hit in the ministry. So how can you identify the church witch? Well, as you can imagine, they don’t look anything like they are depicted in Hollywood and bear no resemblance to the Halloween costume you see at the department store. Actually, the church witch will seem quite functional, relational, and, well, normal. But, you can judge this sneaky demonic influence by its fruit and by its method of operation.

1.  They use the huddle and whisper (chit chat) mode flowing just outside of the authority structures of the church to accomplish their objectives.

2.  They engage in Absolom like activities drawing the hearts away from the vision of the house and ordained leadership.

3.  They tend to be super spiritual claiming often to see, perceive, or dream things that others are missing (and esteem these over the authority of the Word) and because of poor discernment some church folks confuse the Holy Spirit for this familiar spirit. More effort is spent in divining the experience than in receiving revelation from the Word.

4.  They tend to be hyper emotional often crying at the drop of a hat (and they’ll even drop the hat) so they can open up an avenue to be heard and garner sympathy or support.

5.  They prey upon the young in the Lord, the disgruntled, the confused, the biblically illiterate, and those easily influenced.

6.  They will often use redemptive language and piety in an attempt to convince others that their motives are pure and that they are acting for the good of the ministry.

7.  They often make baseless accusations against strong Christians in an attempt to neutralize the influence of anyone they deem a threat.

8.  They are effective in pitting unsuspecting Christians against one another so that they can divide and conquer (often urging them to keep their “sharing” private and confidential – light, just like for the mythical vampire, is their nemesis).

9.  They are very skilled at the art of subtle negativity and birthing a critical spirit in anyone that gives ear to them.

I want to encourage you in these end times we live in to stay strong in the Lord. You can avoid the influence and domination by the spirit of witchcraft (often called inspirational or magical influence) by keeping yourself immersed in the Word of God. Refuse to submit to the intimidation of this spirit and guard your heart for fear. Fear of the opinions of others is a major weapon of the church witch used deliberately to marginalize or control you. Pray in the Holy Spirit like you have never prayed before. Listen to how people talk in the church. Do they talk more about ecstatic experiences, visions, and dreams than they talk about the Word? Often these folks will begin to make their experiences more authoritative to them than the Word which is exalted above God’s very name (Psalm 138:2). Use your God-given binding and loosing authority (spiritual veto power) in and out of the church – veto their manipulation and chicanery. Boldly declare that this will not be allowed in your heart, in your home, in your church, in your workplace, on your street, or in your nation. Finally, whenever you witness or discern this activity turn on the light, lift the rocks, and make a bee line to your local church leadership.

Put Your Gloves On

Some believers have the idea that the teachers of the lifestyle of faith (prescribed four times in Scripture – Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) are pushing some kind of “easy believism” whereby our own personal genie in a bottle rises up to make our every whim come true. They often use derogatory terms to describe the very biblical connection between the faith in the heart and the confession of our mouth (Romans 10:9-10; Proverbs 29:18) like “name it and claim it” or “blab it and grab it.” True, there are abuses and excesses with every revelation in the Word of God but that does not change the fundamental truth of the principle. In demonizing a very biblical truth, the self-appointed watch dogs of the Church (who usually have never really listened to the comprehensive teaching of the principles of faith) have succeeded only in preventing some much needed understanding from getting to those that need to understand faith the most.

Nonetheless, it is important to remember that faith is not a magic wand or silver bullet for catering to the flesh. Faith is actually described in Scripture as a fight by the Apostle Paul. In fact we derive our word “agony” from the Greek word agonizomai which is the basis for the translation of the phrase, “the fight of faith.” Paul told Timothy that he had “fought the good fight,” and challenged him to do the same. The lifestyle of faith is described best as the platform for spiritual conflict surrounding the ministry of the gospel and the receiving of the promises of God. In other words, we do not live in some kind of spiritual vacuum where everything we see in Scripture just comes automatically to us without a fight or a struggle.

I liken the lifestyle of faith to a boxing match. Faith is what allows us to enter into the ring (we are not even in the ring until we are in faith). We aren’t guaranteed the victory just because we step into the ring to fight. We are promised that with our faith we can persevere until the victory is produced, for “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4). Some folks forfeit important life matches because they never enter into the ring of faith. Others get weary and do not stay in the ring long so they lose. Others climb into the ring and take punch after punch but forget to keep their shield of faith up and punch back with the sword of the Spirit (the confessed Word of God). Still others get “cut” like a boxer and bleeding decide to throw in the proverbial white towel.

I want to encourage you to put your faith gloves on, climb into the ring, persevere, keep your guard up, punch back with the words of your mouth, and refuse to throw in the towel. It’s impossible to defeat a faith-filled believer who just refuses to quit. I am coming along side of you in today’s blog like the boxing trainer in your corner with a faith checklist of fundamentals to help you go the distance and win the match.

1.  Stand your ground realizing that Satan is the source of your opposition. We know that we do not war against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers in high places. Remember that after you have done everything to stand, continue to stand (Ephesians 6).

2.  Be sure you have some Scripture that covers your situation. If you can’t specifically point to the Word on something you say you are believing God for, you’ re not really in faith. Find the place where it is written about your situation and make those Scriptures the basis of your believing.

3.  Make sure you are not living in (practicing) sin because sin attacks your confidence. One man of God said, “sin makes cowards of men.” You can’t be walking around in doubt, condemnation, and insecurity when someone in the ring is literally trying to take your head off. If you are in sin you are not in faith.

4.  Be sure no doubt or unbelief is permitted in your life and heart. Doubt works to lower your guard and allow the enemy in to discourage you from standing and believing God. Beware and watch out for the “second thought” or the word that comes from the enemy (through human voices often) telling you that you’re going to lose, you can’t make it, you’re going down for the count. Once you have the Word on the subject be ruthless when a second thought comes to rob you of your faith.

5.  Keep a strong desire for the thing you are asking for because the more attention you give that desire, the greater that desire will be. In a ten round heavyweight boxing match, endurance and staying power become central to any victory. You will increase your ability to stay in the fight if that desire stays strong within your heart.

6.  Ask God in faith without wavering rather than being, as James says, a man of two minds going back and forth on the issue (James 1), One moment he believes God and the next minute he throws down his faith. In a faith battle you’ll get both your minds knocked into the next county if you don’t get into agreement with yourself about what you believe. James is clear that we will not receive anything from the Lord if we are double-minded.

7.  Count it done and resist any symptom, circumstance, or situation that contradicts God’s Word and what you are believing. One meaning of the concept of “binding and loosing” in Matthew 18 is “to veto.” This means we refuse to permit, allow, let, or suffer something to happen. It should encourage you to know that the Lord himself issued and granted this authority to his disciples. Get your veto stamp out whenever the enemy tries to pull a fast one on you by trying to convince you that the Word will not work in your situation. Veto that sin, sickness, lack, depression, discouragement, hopelessness and believe the Word to come to pass in your life.

8.  Give glory to God even before the manifestation of the victory. If you want to really freak the devil out, start thanking and praising God right in the middle of the faith ring long before you’ve thrown the knockout punch. You’ll throw him off his groove because by design he is after your words, your praise, and your thanksgiving to God. Anyone can praise God when the opponent is lying on the mat out cold in defeat. The truth is we speed our victory when we praise the Lord before we see the victory.

9.  Act as though you have already received what you believed. Receiving the promise would no doubt change your attitude, your demeanor, your outlook, your behavior, and joy would be bubbling up constantly. That’s what happens when you truly believe the Word. Confuse the enemy (and the watchdogs) by living and acting now like you have already received the promise of God.

We can count on the Word to bring us the victory but like Paul we have to scrap and fight the good fight of faith. This is not the time to hang up your gloves. Climb into the ring, listen to your trainer, keep your guard up, refuse to quit, and punch away until your enemy is out cold at your feet (which is exactly where Jesus wants him to be).

Stand Up

“For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him” (Isaiah 59:12-16, NIV).

I was privileged to hear an amazing message by Dr. Beth Grant tonight at the Kentucky District Council being held near the Cincinnati airport. Most believers have no idea the unbelievable atrocities women and girls face around world through human trafficking. Grant explained that in Bombay, India alone around 100,000 women and children are trapped in a vicious cycle of bondage and degradation. Becoming aware of the problem nearly fourteen years ago, missionaries David and Beth Grant are doing everything they can to rescue and restore these individuals by providing them an escape from the brothels, by introducing them to Jesus Christ, by providing them a safe place to go, and by ongoing ministry. I want to share her message with you. I believe it will challenge and stir you to stand up.

The essence of her message is that the world is awash in evil and darkness, truth and justice are hard to find, and as Isaiah says, “and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.” The Scripture indicates that the Lord was “appalled” that there was no one to intervene or stand up so he stood up himself to work salvation with his own arm. The call tonight is for the people of God to also be appalled by the condition in this world and be subsequently motivated to stand up to address the issue with the message of freedom and redemption in Jesus Christ. Dr. Grant’s pointed question to the congregation was simply this: God is standing up. Are we? My blog today is based on four powerful principles she shared for standing up in this dark hour.

First, stand up with presence. We must go where the people are in bondage because people in bondage are so demonized that the last place they will go is to church. The story of the incarnation is clearly a demonstration of God being present to help hurting, crying, sighing, dying humanity (to quote John Osteen). Man could not go to him so he came to man. From the brothels of India to the hurt of the middle class home in America we too need to be present, engaged, and among the hurting.

Second, stand up in truth because it is the truth that sets people free. There is no substitute for truth. We can’t talk people into freedom with our good intentions and good ideas. We can’t just wish them free. We must give them the truth. Recall the words of Jesus: “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It is amazing to realize that when Jesus makes someone free through his truth he makes that person free like he is free. As the mind is renewed to the truth the life begins to go in the direction of God’s thoughts rather than the old patterns of defeat, bondage, and despair.

Third, stand up in transparency. The challenge is for the believer to be open and honest revealing to the hurting where hope can be found (and how we ourselves found it). To that extent, our personal stories of deliverance and freedom shared in humility with those in bondage are a powerful tool for healing. We must not be apologetic for boldly presenting Jesus Christ as the key and the source of our hope and deliverance. A bold, authentic, and transparent witness for Jesus Christ and the difference he made in our lives has the ability to arrest the attention of the hurting and deposit into their hearts the seeds of hope for freedom.

Finally, stand up with supernatural authority. Satan knows the voice of authority and he knows if we do not have it. We need to remember that we do not speak for ourselves, we speak for God. The enemy is not impressed with our affluence, our assets, or our education. All that matters is can we as believers touch God on behalf of those in bondage. Let us not hide out in the church for we demonstrate just how “Spirit-filled” we are by what we do outside of the church rather than inside of it. Let us become the voice of supernatural authority in a world too often under the heel of the enemy.

The great need of the hour is for the body of Christ to stand up unapologetically against the darkness, against the wickedness, against the spiritual power in the heavenly realms that is destroying and enslaving human lives in the physical realm. I encourage you to look for the chains of the enemy wherever you happen to be in the world because you don’t have to be in Bombay to find bondage. Stand up with presence, truth, transparency, and spiritual authority and watch the Lord set the captives free in your mission field.

The Jezebel (or Jezebilly) Spirit

“Nevertheless, I have something against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20, NIV).

The name, “Jezebel” meaning “virgin or whore of Ba`al” is certainly telling of her (or his) agenda. Jezebel in Scripture was the Sidonian wife of Ahab. She was an aggressive and avid promoter of Ba`al worship which involved imitative magic, the performance of rituals, and “sacred prostitution” all designed to give Ba`al vitality and power. She was extremely antagonistic and opposed to the true prophets of the Lord (like Elijah) persecuting and even murdering them and anyone else if it would further her agenda (1 Kings 21).

Though the woman Jezebel was eventually killed by Jehu (2 Kings 9), the demonic Jezebel spirit remains in the earth to this day moving and operating against the purity of the gospel and those that are faithful servants of the Lord. Even though the spirit is called “the Jezebel spirit,” men, as well as women, can function under its influence to hinder and sidetrack the Church of Jesus Christ in these last days. In fact, we are seeing an unprecedented flurry of Jezebel (and Jezebilly) activity against the Church today. Most certainly the enemy knows his days are numbered and he is doing everything he can to take believers and particularly leaders down. Jesus himself alerted the Church in Revelation 2 of Jezebel’s ability to lead the people of God into sexual immorality and idolatry.

The key to overcoming the influence of the Jezebel spirit in our lives is to understand the characteristics of the spirit so that we can (1) guard our own hearts against those tendencies, and (2) be aware when someone operating in the Jezebel or Jezebilly spirit is moving to take us down. Remember that the spirit, even though associated with female beauty, prowess, and allure, will use a man as well as a woman to work its destructive agenda. Consider the following characteristics of the Jezebel spirit:

  • Masquerades as a Servant of God – it should be no surprise to us that if Satan can masquerade as an Angel of Light then a person subject to this spirit can pretend to be a believer and even flow unhindered and undiscovered in the Church especially if vision is missing, love is absent, and the Holy Spirit is sequestered. This ability to function undetected behind the scenes is one of the greatest weapons for the Jezebel spirit.
  • Manipulative – manipulation in Scripture is equated with the sin of witchcraft and Jezebel is a master of manipulation, that is to force one’s will on another through deception, coercion, or intimidation. Often the Jezebel spirit will use emotion such as sulking or anger to force an individual’s compliance
  • Promiscuous – according to Bible history and the prophetic statements of Jesus, the Jezebel spirit entices the servant of God into sexual immorality of all kinds including premarital relations, same-sex relations, extramarital relations, pornography and all manner of sexual perversion. When you see a believer or church leader succumb to sexual immorality you can bet Jezebel (male or female) was behind it.
  • Seductive – the Jezebel spirit is extremely seductive (and not just in sexual matters). Seduction refers to the luring away of the believer from right duty, conviction, and conduct. It is a gradual and deliberate process designed to take control of one’s life working first in the mind to cloud and twist the thinking before taking over the heart. It is important to note that only previously faithful people can be seduced (a reality and warning we should all heed). The person operating in this spirit will show up during critical challenges and hard times offering the proverbial shoulder to cry on and emotional support. Endowed with charm, they know just the right things to say and they prey on the hurt, alienated, the distressed, the burned out, the discouraged, and the hopeless.
  • Controlling – another meaning of “Jezebel” refers to the controlling nature of the spirit. The goal of this sprit is to dominate, subjugate, and control the individual. If this is not possible, the Jezebel spirit will do everything in its power to destroy what it cannot control (you might recall Jezebel’s angry tirade and threat against Elijah after the defeat of the prophets of Ba`al on Mount Carmel). The spirit’s speciality is taking down the committed believer and particularly spiritual leadership because this is the only way for that spirit to defeat true, anointed spiritual leadership in the Church.

So what can you do to protect yourself, your family, your church, and your church leadership from the accelerated influence and agenda of the Jezebel or Jezebilly spirit? Romans 12:21 from the NASB says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Consider the following three keys for Jezebel-proofing your life:

First, walk in the light because ungodliness will lead to our seduction. We need to make a concerted effort to stay away from dark things and abstain from even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 1:22, KJV). If we live lives of purity and holiness and stay out of the darkness it will be very hard for the spirit of Jezebel, which thrives in darkness, to seduce us. Take heed the wisdom and counsel of Isaiah, “Now, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light which the Lord gives us” (Isaiah 2:5, GN).

Second, walk in love because unforgiveness will lead to our seduction. Ephesians 4:32, declares, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as sin Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32, NIV).We need to forgive quickly when we are hurt or disappointed because the more time we spend holding a grudge, the more opportunity the spirit of Jezebel has to work on our minds and hearts. Every believer needs to remember that offense is a doorway to our seduction and the Jezebel is effective in helping us to manufacture offense, keep us focused on the offense, and then push to act on the offense.

Finally, walk in living contact because unfaithfulness will lead to our seduction. Our daily focus should be to spend time in God’s presence. The believer that is closer today than he or she has ever been to the Lord is less likely to be seduced and controlled by the Jezebel spirit. We are busy people and Satan will use our busyness to ensnare us. We need to realize that nothing is more important than spending time in living, vital union with the Lord. This means that we make the Lord our number one need above everything else in life. He needs to be more important to us than oxygen, food, water, money, relationships – everything. Micah 6:8 reminds us what the Lord requires: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Let me encourage you to be alert and sober and on the look out for the spirit of Jezebel trying to find a way into your life, your home, your marriage. The Jezebel spirit is annihilating marriages, compromising ministries, embittering children, and destroying dreams. Make up your mind that just like Elijah, you will stand against the Jezebel or Jezebilly spirit by walking in the light, walking in love, and walking in living contact with your God.