Archive for October, 2012


The voice of condemnation

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: forthe accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10

This is another one of those common tactics of the enemy that we see literally all the time in the ministry of deliverance. The accusing spirit is an anti-Christ spirit, because it approaches people with no love, but a tone of condemnation. It works through a voice; the voice of condemnation. It constantly tells you how much of a failure you are. It tells you how your heart is not right with God. It tells you that if you don’t read your Bible every day, that you aren’t serious about your relationship with God. It basically tells you that you’re never good enough. This is the exact opposite nature of God. It tears down rather than builds up. The accusing spirit uses the letter of the law to lay heavy burdens and crush it’s victims, just as the Pharisees would do:

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Matthew 23:4

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

2 Corinthians 3:6

The accusing spirit works hand in hand with the family of religious spirits and strongholds, including legalism.

The accusing spirit will manifest in a variety of ways. It can cause accuse a person directly, it can cause them to accuse others around them, or it can accuse God in a person’s mind.

Anytime the enemy brings up your past failures, that is the work of the accusing spirit. This spirit feeds on past mistakes, in order to justify how that person is supposedly a failure, even though the Blood of Christ has washed away those failures and cast them into the depths of the sea! In this way, the accusing spirit is an anti-Christ spirit, because it deliberately writes off the work of Christ and the shed blood of Jesus.

A while back, I wrote a teaching which I highly recommend reading, it’s on how to discern Condemnation versus ConvictionWho speaks the voice of condemnation? The accusing spirit! Even when the accusing spirit seems to be pointing to the answer, the burden that it lays on the person is overwhelming or irrational. For example, it may tell a person that they must go back to everybody that they have ever wronged, and apologize… then they can be forgiven. That is not only unBiblical, that is salvation by works, and God’s Word tells us that if we try to be made right by works, then we have fallen from grace:

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:4

And getting us to fall from grace, that is, to stop trusting God’s mercy and grace for our salvation and justification, is exactly what the accusing spirit wants to do.

As I said earlier, the accusing spirit is a voice. It speaks to us. It may even sound righteous, because it speaks of how failures are bad. It’s true that failures are bad, but what Christ has done for us the a remedy to our failures.What the accusing spirit wants us to do is overlook or even discredit God’s remedy for our failures! Sound like a Satanic mission? That’s right! This spirit has all the makings of being righteous, even a minister of righteousness, but inside is a raving wolf seeking whom he may devour. He’s busy carrying out the work of his father, the devil.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

The whole motivation behind this ugly demon spirit is to discredit the work of Christ in our lives. We failed, Jesus forgave, but this spirit keeps pointing to the mistake, as if Christ did nothing to erase it! Isn’t that terrible? It is SATANIC!

The fruit of the accusing spirit is widely varied. Self-hate almost always involves the accusing spirit. Guilt, and fear resulting from guilt (when you feel ashamed, you’ll be afraid like Adam and Eve were when guilt drove them to hide from God). Doubt, unbelief, hate, judgementalism, critical spirit, resentment towards God, feelings of hopelessness, shame, etc. The list goes on and on.

What does the accusing spirit really want to do? Tear apart your faith and wear you down spiritually. He wants you to walk in guilt, condemnation, and never feel worthy of God’s glorious plan for your life. It’s goal is to wear you down, and make you weak as a child of God.

The accusing spirit thrives on repeated failures or bondages, or iniquities.Pornography or lust, for example, is a perfect example. A person can keep failing, but have their heart right before the Lord. They feel terrible each and every time they fall into that sin. Paul told us in Romans chapter 7 that he struggled with repeated failures in his own life as a Spirit-filled believer! A person who doesn’t understand their bondage may have no clue that pornography is usually a bondage with roots that need to be ministered to. The accusing spirit, however, is right there to tell them how dirty and sick their mind is. This is, again, the work of the accusing spirit.

The accusing spirit is a finger-pointing spirit. It is a blaming spirit that specializes in digging up the past, and blaming somebody for it. That somebody could be you, others, or God. It works hand-in-hand with a critical spirit, or judgementalism.

Bottom line, the accusing spirit will always point to the problem (even if it’s been washed away by the work of Christ), while the Holy Spirit will always point you to the solution. If there is a case of true guilt from un-repented sin, then once the person confesses it and is forgiven, the guilt should be an issue of the past. If the person continues to struggle with guilt, then (a) they have not mentally accepted the fact that their sin has been washed away, or (b) the accusing spirit is at work. Once a sin is confessed and forgiven, the Holy Spirit stops convicting, but the accusing spirit doesn’t stop, but continues to badger the person over their failures. The accusing spirit will also work in conjunction with spirits of guilt, shame, condemnation, hopelessness, etc.

How do we combat this deceitful spirit? For one, we need to fill our mind with the voice of God’s Word (concerning the forgiveness of sins, God’s love and mercy, etc.). We need to learn to recognize the voice of the accusing spirit and cast it down.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

Being that this is a spirit which builds strongholds in our minds, we need to be diligent in renewing our mind with God’s Word, in order to undo the damage that it has done to our thinking patterns.

It’s also possible that the accusing spirit, along with other related spirits such as religiosity, legalism, shame, etc. need to be driven out as well. You can tear down strongholds all day long, but if a spirit needs to be driven out, it will keep working against you to rebuild those strongholds. ~ Practical Teachings & Studies from the Word of God

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Doubt Your Doubts

October 29, 2012
Doubt Your Doubts
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Friend To Friend
Billy Graham once said, “Most of us do not understand nuclear fission, but we accept it. I don’t understand television, but I accept it. I don’t understand radio, but every week my voice goes out around the world, and I accept it. Why is it so easy to accept all these man-made miracles and so difficult to accept the miracles of the Bible?”

Faith is a personal issue and often demands that we give up what we can see for what we cannot see, but just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Let me share some ways to weaken your doubts and strengthen your faith:

  • Read the Bible consistently.

Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

You may have heard the familiar Old Chinese saying, “There is a good dog and a bad dog fighting within each of us. The one that is going to win is the one we feed the most.” The same is true when it comes to faith and doubt. We weaken our doubt by strengthening our faith in God. The Word of God feeds the new nature God gives us when we surrender our life to Him. As that new nature grows stronger, the old sinful nature becomes weaker and as that old nature becomes weaker, faith in God grows. A steady diet of the Word produces strong faith. Read the bible each day. Memorize a verse of Scripture each week.

  • Turn to God constantly.

Mark 9:14-29 tells of the man who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus Christ and pleads, “If you can do anything, take pit on us and help us.” Jesus responds, “If I can! All things are possible to him who believes.” The dad exclaimed, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”

Sounds just like us. We believe but we also doubt. In those moments, we must be honest enough to cry out to God. Jesus didn’t punish this man for his doubt. He healed his son. God always responds to honesty.

  • Focus on God continually.

Psalm 34:6 “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

We focus on the mountain while crying out to God for help, wondering if He really will do anything. We need to remember what God promises and does not promise. God does not promise to remove the mountain or that we will even understand the mountain. However, God does promise to help us climb the mountain and He does promise to climb it with us. We must make the continual choice to fix our gaze on God and our glance on the circumstances. When doubt comes, refuse it.

  • Seek out faith-builders persistently.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 “And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

We need to look for people who will encourage us to be faithful instead of constantly looking for ways to undermine our faith. Did you hear about the farmer that had a brilliant dog? He also had a neighbor that was negative – no matter what. If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, “Boy, look at it rain. God’s washing everything clean.” The neighbor said, “Yeah, but if this rain keeps up, it’s going to flood.” Then the sun would come out and the neighbor would say, “If it keeps that up, it’s going to burn the crops.” The farmer thought, “What am I going to do with this guy?” He made a plan. The farmer trained his dog to walk on water. He didn’t tell his neighbor – just took him duck hunting. Boom! Boom! They got two ducks. The farmer said to his dog, “Go get ’em.” The dog sprinted across the water, picked up the ducks and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet, just his paws. With a confident smile, the farmer asked his doubting neighbor, “What do you think of that?” The neighbor quickly replied, “He can’t swim, can he?” Do you know people like the neighbor? Run from the doubters in your life. We struggle enough with doubt on our own and should not compound it by investing time in doubters and cynics. Look for people who walk in faith, who believe God and study His Word. They will encourage and build your faith while weakening your doubts.

Women have so much in common. We have the same problems, the same fears and the same doubts. Don’t let fear and doubt wreak havoc in your heart and mind. Stay in God’s Word. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry out to Him when you are afraid. Keep your eyes on Him and look for other women who do the same. Will you join me in a new commitment to becoming a woman of faith? Remember, when doubt knocks on the door, just send faith to answer it – and you will find no one there.

Let’s Pray
Father God, I want to become a woman of faith, but I am so weak. I constantly battle fear and my faith seems so small. Please give me a new thirst for Your Word. I choose to focus on You, Father, instead of focusing on my circumstances. Help me find faith and learn to be a faith-builder each day. I now turn to You, Lord.
In Jesus’s name I pray, amen

When Love Trumps Anger

October 26, 20l2
When Love Trumps Anger
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” – James 1:19-20 (NIV).

Friend To Friend
“I’m a terrible mom!”

Do you ever say these words? I do. I did that day. The day I was working in my office, minding my own business, when my oldest son threw a paper airplane at the back of my head.  Not one to normally welcome an air attack, I gave him the stern “mom voice,” and asked him to stop messing around. I told him to give me some private time so I could get some work done. He agreed, and turned to leave. Surprisingly, he then jumped around and threw it at me again!  Well, let me tell you, my grace-o-meter was reading pretty low at this point!  I barked like an angry dog.  “What in the world do you think you are doing?  I just told you that I needed to be left alone so I can get some work done!  Stop it!”

“But Mom, there’s a message on the plane,” he tenderly replied. “Read it.”

As I unfolded the airplane made of orange construction paper, I saw this message written in pink marker:  “Mom, I Love You.” His affectionate declaration was followed by a few X’s and O’s. You know: hug, hug, kiss, kiss. Pure precious. Big fail.

“Nice!” I said to myself. “Loser-mom strikes again.”  I had scolded my son and reacted out of frustration with an unkind tone. All the while, my son was trying to communicate love to me.

I felt horrible. Time seemed to stand still as I started to beat myself up.

Shame began to fill my heart, but as it did the Spirit of God within me gently nudged – reminding me that condemnation is not from Him … that His conviction was purposed to spur me on toward choosing a godly response.  So I chose love – God’s love alive in me.  As I chose God’s better way, the grace way, His love trumped my anger.  It’s weightier.  Praise God!

I called my son back into my office, and apologized for my behavior.  I welcomed this tall, lanky teen to sit on my lap and told him that – while I’m not particularly fond of airplane attacks, especially while I’m working, I am fond of love attacks.  We held each other and had a very sweet moment.

As Preston and I hugged, God reminded me of this principle: When we allow His love to trump our anger, we are able to experience restoration in relationships.

My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19-20 NIV).

The Bible tells us that we are to be slow to anger.  It is a lesson that I am still learning.  Now, that doesn’t mean we should never be angry.  Jesus exhibited righteous anger in the Jerusalem temple when he drove out the merchants that were buying and selling there.  Righteous anger is permissible.  We should be angry about sin and injustice.  But when we respond to others in anger, it becomes our sin.

Got any relationships that are in need of restoration?  Is there any anger, unforgiveness, or bitterness in your heart that might be gaining a stronghold in your life and keeping you from God’s best?  The benefits of allowing the love of God to trump the anger in your heart are tremendous, but the application can be very challenging.  We can’t overcome our natural, sinful tendencies to react, and overreact, in anger alone.  We need God’s help.  His strength will meet us at our need when we call on Him.  The Holy Spirit will help us to respond in God’s strength, not our own.

Call on His strength today.

Let’s Pray
Holy Father, Thank you for leading me in Your way of grace today. I need Your help!  I confess my anger/bitterness/unforgiveness right now with _______________.  Please forgive me.  Please bring restoration to the relationships that have been affected by my anger.  Help me recognize when I over-react or when I respond in anger that is ungodly.  Give me the strength to respond in love – to be slow to speak and quick to listen – so that You can be glorified through my behavior.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

“They that sew in tears shall reap in joy.” (Ps. 126:5).

I know that you are going through some dark times in your life right now. It seems that the more you press the deeper you sink into your pit. I just want to stop by and let you know that God responds to the tears of His saints. The scripture says that those that sew in tears shall reap in joy.

Your tears are temporary, but they are compelling the movement of God in your situation. God told Moses, “I have heard the cries of my people in Egypt…I have come to deliver them.” I just want you to know that if you need to shed some tears right now, its okay. Just know that God is about to show up and bust a move in your life.

My Bible tells me that weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Well, my friend, God sent me to tell you that morning is near. The sun is dawning just over the mountain top. Hold on with all that you have in you, for God is about move in the midst of your mess. He is about to rescue from the darkness of depression and establish you on the platform of promotion. Your broken heart is about to be mended and set ablaze with a passion for praise.

So, go ahead and cry if you must, God is about to personally wipe every one of those tears from your eyes. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

October 25, 2012
Overcoming the Fear of Rejection
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” – (Romans 8:37 NIV).

Friend to Friend
I can still remember when God first gave me a glimpse of what my future held. Writing, speaking, radio ministry, mentoring. A host of insecurities rose to the surface and the fear of rejection wrapped its fingers around my skinny neck. But God assured me I was not alone, and He was perfectly capable of doing everything He promised. I only needed to be obedient and say “yes” to Him.

We have only to flip through the pages of the Bible to see that overcoming the fear of rejection is a thread that runs through the record of history.

  • Noah overcame the fear of rejection when he obeyed God and built an Ark on dry land.
  • Abram overcame the fear of rejection when he left his homeland with no clear direction as to where he would go.
  • Jacob overcame the fear of rejection when he returned to his homeland and his brother whom he had deceived.
  • Joseph overcame the fear of rejection when he refused Potiphar’s wife’s sexual advances.
  • Moses overcame the fear of rejection when he went before the Pharaoh and demanded the Israelites’ release.
  • Joshua overcame the fear of rejection when he told the army their orders were to march around Jericho in silence for seven days.
  • Ruth, the Moabite, overcame her fear of rejection when she gleaned wheat in the field of a Jew.
  • Samuel overcame the fear of rejection when the people decided they wanted a King rather than God to be their ruler.
  • David overcame the fear of rejection when he offered to slay Goliath.
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego overcame the fear of rejection when they refused to bow and worship King Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Esther overcame the fear of rejection when she went before the king to plead for the lives of her people.
  • Each and every one of the prophets overcame the fear of rejection as they delivered God’s message of judgment to the people.

When we turn the final page of the Old Testament and look into the New Testament, we see the same pattern of courage. Jesus, his disciples, Paul, and the expanding body of believers all faced and overcame the fear of rejection. Paul’s attitude was “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks! “If God is for us, who can be against us? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:31, 33).

And then the ultimate rejection occurred when our Lord and Savior hung on the Roman cross. “He was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). But Jesus overcame the fear of rejection and the result was his glorification. He knew crucifixion was imminent. Just before He was arrested Jesus prayed with His disciples: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you,” (John 17:1).  He didn’t mention His rejection and death on the cross that was ahead of Him. He prayed that God would be glorified. That was foremost in His mind and on His heart. Likewise, I believe that we overcome the fear of rejection when glorifying God is foremost on our minds and in our hearts.

The apostle Paul faced rejection at every turn. In his letter to the Thessalonians he wrote:

“We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts,” (1 Thessalonians 2:2-4).

Whether it is sharing the gospel or the scars of our past, there will be some who do not accept us. We certainly are not above the prophets in the Old Testament or the disciples in the New.  Not everyone liked what they had to say, but they pressed through the fear and walked in faith.  It is because of them we have the gospel at our very finger tips!

Let’s Pray
Dear LORD, thank You that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. Help me not to give up when times get tough, but to persevere with endurance. I know that not everyone will like me or what I have to say about You, but I pray for the courage and the power of the Holy Spirit to speak when You lead and to keep quiet when You lead. Help me know the difference.
In Jesus’ Name
Amen.

October 24, 2012
How to Manage Emotions Part 2
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. – (Proverbs 25:28, NIV).

Friend to Friend
Many people are imprisoned by feelings of inferiority, and the results are always disastrous. Constructive criticism is perceived as an emotional attack. Jealousy burgeons as others receive the accolades we desperately crave. Decisions are made and the course of a life is determined so that fragile egos are fed, excluding God’s plan and purpose. Comparison reigns as a false idol attempting to validate worth and success. Inferiority crosses over to pride, and sin reigns. It is time for us to take control of and learn how to manage negative emotions.

Step one:Identify the source of negative emotions. Proverbs 23:7 (NIV) reminds us of a simple but powerful truth, “For as a man thinks, so is he.” Negative emotions are nourished in many ways – by daily challenges, a painful past, hurt or rejection, an undisciplined thought life or Satan himself. Some people qualify as “carriers” because they not only transmit negative emotions but constantly use others as their personal dumping ground.  In managing negative emotions, it is imperative that we identify their source and eliminate it.

Step two: Label negative emotions correctly. We are masters at mislabeling emotions because we fear exposing our true emotions will affect the way others see us. It is time for us to take off and burn the emotional masks we wear because healing and restoration begin at the point of emotional integrity.

Step three: Learn to manage emotions. It is not enough to acknowledge the presence of negative emotions or even understand why they exist. We must take action because if we don’t, negative emotions will. We must not only be able to manage negative emotions, but we must be able to respond correctly to negative emotions produced by the sometimes abrasive behavior of others. The people in our lives watch carefully, curious to see what happens when the pressure is on. Our prayer should be the same as the psalmist, “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires” (Psalm 51:10).

On the other hand, we can put negative emotions to work in our lives. Emotions can be like runaway horses.  You are trampled by someone with a hidden agenda, kicked in the gut by a friend, thrown by the lies of a family member or crushed by a lack of integrity and character in those in authority over you. Emotions can easily stampede out of control and into sin.

The success of emotional integrity lies in the one who holds the reins. We must constantly choose to surrender every emotion to the supernatural control of God because when we do, the Holy Spirit empowers that choice, produces control and transforms emotional bondage into emotional freedom. Learning to control anger is a crucial life lesson. The people around us want to see what happens when life pushes our buttons or squeezes our emotions. While God created us with the capacity for emotions, it is our responsibility to control them instead of allowing them to control us.

When Jesus saw money-changers desecrating the temple of God, He was furious! Yet, He modeled the right way to harness emotions and use them for good. I have heard many Bible teachers and preachers attempt to soften the response of Jesus, but the truth is – He was irate! I can almost see His face shrouded in plain old fury as He contemplated His options. If I had been in His place, I can tell you that those wicked men would have been toast, but before Jesus faced the intruders, He stepped aside to braid a whip, not because He had completed “Whip Braiding 101,” but because He was taking the time to harness His emotions. Jesus then used that harnessed anger to drive the money-changers out of the temple, correcting a wrong. We choose where to invest every ounce of emotional energy we possess. Like Jesus, we must learn to invest wisely, in order to reap the benefits of healthy emotions, harnessed and trained by godly discipline.

Emotional bankruptcy is too often responsible for the destruction of our emotional health as well as the health of our relationships. When we value success over obedience or comfort over character, the result is a life without balance and purpose. We must intentionally monitor emotional withdrawals and the impact they will have on the life journey to which God has called us.

Daily life provides the opportunity for countless emotional withdrawals that are good, right and ordained by God. I will never forget the night we found a broken and defeated young pastor standing at our front door. With tears streaming down his face, he told us his wife was having an affair and wanted a divorce. Certain that his ministry was doomed, this precious and gifted servant poured out his pain and defeat. For months, Dan and I ministered to this stellar young man, loving him, encouraging him, making him part of our family while he tried desperately to save his marriage.

When it became clear that his wife was determined to leave, we repeatedly assured him that God would once again use him for Kingdom work. Today, that once broken young man is married to a beautiful, godly woman who adores him and they have three incredible children. The church he now pastors is exploding in growth, changing lives and impacting the world for Jesus Christ! The time and energy we poured into this young man was a worthy emotional investment, to say the least, and one of our greatest blessings in ministry.

However, some emotional deposits are not good, right, healthy or God-ordained. Each day is jam-packed with lifeless places in which we can invest emotional energy. There are those who look to us to be their faithful savior or an always available crisis manager. Those roles belong to God alone.

We all know about bounced checks. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why banks don’t adopt my obviously superior philosophy about checking accounts. It goes something like this, “As long as there are checks, there is money.” Sadly, my current bank is rather narrow-minded in this area, so the reality is that our checks will bounce when our bank account is overdrawn and out of balance. The same is true in life.

We constantly need to check our emotional balance, guarding the emotional withdrawals we allow and diligently making consistent emotional deposits. Prayer, solitude, Bible study, friendships, service, accountability and a guarded thought life are just a few of the deposits that can make the difference between emotional health and emotional bankruptcy. Paul says it well, “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing” (Ephesians 2:10, NCV). In other words, we need to do what God has called us to do – period.

Emotional imbalance occurs when we operate in our own strength, doing our “own thing” instead of wholly depending upon God and living in the parameters of His will. When we abandon all that we are to His strength, purpose and power, the Father deposits everything we need to accomplish every good work He created us to do.

Let’s Pray
Father, I praise You for giving me the gift of emotions. Please help me learn how to manage and control those emotions so that they are assets instead of liabilities. I want to become a godly woman of discipline, but I can’t even start that journey without your power. I choose to spend time in Your Word and in prayer. I submit my emotions to You and ask that You use them in my life for Your glory. In Jesus’s name, amen.

October 23, 2012
How to Manage Emotions Part 1
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28, NIV).

Friend to Friend
You have probably discovered the truth that you simply cannot trust your emotions because they are unreliable, misleading and will constantly betray you. A friend verbally blasts you and rage consumes your spirit. Your business is in decline and depression slithers into your heart. Caught in the comparison trap, you find yourself avoiding those who are more successful. Anger is a constant companion, finances are tight and rest is a distant memory. A sense of bone-deep weariness saturates your soul as your own heart ridicules the authenticity of your life. “You might as well give up. It’s no use. Just quit!” the enemy taunts.

Each day seems to offer the perfect setting for negative emotions to take hold of and destroy a life, but daily life is also the perfect setting for emotional control to shine. Control puts emotions in their God-shaped place, discarding negative emotions as the spiritual leeches they are while safeguarding and reinforcing positive emotions. I am amazed at the number of people who base eternal decisions on feelings while seeking confirmation and even direction from emotional responses. I almost missed one of the highest plans for my life because it didn’t feel right.

My husband, Dan, was Youth Pastor at Sheridan Hills Baptist in Hollywood, Florida, where Bill Billingsley, one of the greatest men I have ever known, was senior pastor. He and his amazing wife, Betty Jean, had an enormous impact on me personally and on the ministry of speaking and writing to which God has now called me. It was in the midst of my God-ordained transformation at Sheridan Hills and the youth program’s greatest growth that Dan dropped the bomb – he felt God calling him back to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Well, I felt God calling him to stay put!

I loved Sheridan Hills. It was home. Going back to seminary meant I would have to go back to teaching elementary school. Teaching wasn’t the problem, but placing our son, Jered, in daycare was. We had waited so long for this chosen baby, and the thought of handing over his care to strangers broke my heart. How could this possibly be God’s plan when it felt so wrong?

My favorite worship time at Sheridan Hills was the Wednesday night service — for two reasons. I enjoyed the contemporary worship and in-depth Bible teaching. I also treasured the fact that, each week, while Dan was in meetings and Jered was in the nursery, I could slip into the empty, darkened auditorium for an hour of solitude.  However, the Wednesday night after Dan shared the numbing probability of our return to seminary, my usually refreshing solitude dissolved into a tantrum of crying, praying and pleading with God to let us stay.

When a hand gently patted my shoulder, I looked up into the tear-filled eyes of my pastor. “I have something to tell you,” he said. Pastor Billingsley was not only a spiritual mentor in my life, but a loving father figure as well.  Expecting a word of wisdom or encouragement, I was shattered by his words, “I have cancer.” Speechless, we sat in pain-filled silence, weeping; each flailing in our own sea of emotions and questions. Bill Billingsley then spoke the words that have guided my steps from the moment he gave them life. “Mary, just remember that God’s will penalizes no one.”

I immediately knew I had a choice to make. I could stubbornly hold on to my emotional comfort or submit to God’s will. My choice to obey God plotted the course for an incredible journey filled with purpose, a life of sharing God’s hope and healing with women across the world through speaking and writing. Had my emotions ruled, I would have missed God’s best and highest plan for my life.

Emotions are a gift from God. While emotions themselves are not sin, the place we give them can be. Since God created us with the capacity for strong emotions, we can rest assured that He has a plan for managing them. It is a step-by-step plan that begins with our commitment to being honest and transparent about every emotion, especially the negative ones.

Step one:Identify the source of negative emotions. Proverbs 23:7 (NIV) reminds us of a simple but powerful truth, “For as a man thinks, so is he.” Negative emotions are nourished in many ways – by daily challenges, a painful past, hurt or rejection, an undisciplined thought life or Satan himself. Some people qualify as “carriers” because they not only transmit negative emotions but constantly use others as their personal dumping ground.  In managing negative emotions, it is imperative that we identify their source and eliminate it.

Step two: Label negative emotions correctly. We are masters at mislabeling emotions because we fear exposing our true emotions will affect the way others see us. It is time for us to take off and burn the emotional masks we wear because healing and restoration begin at the point of emotional integrity.

Going back to seminary proved to be a spiritual marker for our family. At first, I cried every day and seethed in anger each night. I couldn’t blame God so I blamed Dan! I missed being home with Jered, even though he loved the seminary daycare and Miss Nancy, his incredibly gifted and caring teacher. I complained about others raising my son, even though Dan picked him up after lunch each day and kept him every afternoon. I resented having to work, even though my teaching assignment was at one of the best elementary schools in Fort Worth and my principal was a precious Christian man.

Gradually, God broke my hardened heart as I realized that Jered was flourishing in daycare as he made wonderful friends, learned how to adjust to changes, and enjoyed priceless time with his dad. Teaching school became a passion and, in many ways, prepared me for the calling I now live.

Looking back, I now see how I gave negative emotions free reign. The result was wasted emotional energy, health problems, spiritual disobedience, and mental exhaustion. Do not walk that path, girlfriend. Instead, right now, commit to emotional integrity and discipline. God will surely empower that commitment.

Let’s Pray
Father, I come to You, knowing I have allowed emotions to dictate my actions. I no longer want to live at the mercy of my fickle emotions. I want to control and manage them in a way that pleases You and brings emotional discipline to my life. Today, I choose to surrender the control of my emotions to You. In Jesus’s name, amen.

In this series, we have been discussing the need of emotional healing and the process for healing. As with most progressions in this ethereal journey of Christianity, emotional healing is a process. In discussing healing it is important to truly understand what healing means and to do so we will deal with it in the physical sense initially.

 

Many people confuse being cured with being healed. This is one of the reasons many people never experience true healing; they get trapped in the cured state. Being cured is experiencing the elimination of the source and symptoms of an illness, whereas being healed means being restored to the original state of existence before the illness originated. Let’s use cancer for example. When an illness as devastating as cancer enters the life of a person, it brings with it more than the physical challenges of the illness itself, but it brings psychological, emotional and spiritual challenges as well. It can challenge your faith, strain your relationships (including your relationship with God), disrupt your finances, and so much more.

 

When a cancer patient finally wins their battle with the disease, it is just the beginning of the healing process. There has to be a recovery and restoration from the damage that the disease caused. The cure brought relief and healing will bring restoration. Healing brings the positioning to reengage life in full capacity of your God given potential.

 

Now, let’s translate this into emotional healing. When you are emotionally damaged because of past hurts, disappointments and emotional assault, the first thing is to bring relief from the situation. This begins with removing yourself from the hostile environment and then forgiving and releasing the culprit from their debt to you. Now the healing process begins. This is where God begins to add back to you all that the assailant robbed you of: Self-esteem, self-worth, identity, purpose, vision, sense of destiny and more. So, in essence, being cured is the elimination of the source and symptoms and healing is being made whole.

 

What I want to speak with you about today is identity. What and who are you identifying yourself with? How are you viewing your situation? All of this carries immense weight in the healing process.

 

When a person has suffered emotional abuse, they have become disconnected from the true source of their identity, Christ. Through the malevolent treatment by others, they have been conditioned to identify with what that treatment implies or in many cases what their perpetrator has said concerning them. In reconnecting with the true source of their identity, this person is reconnected with their purpose and destiny. This is not an overnight process and dependent upon the length and extent of the abuse, this can be a lengthy process. The one thing to understand is that God is more than able to reach down into the deepest pit to rescue and restore anyone willing to call on His name.

 

John 8:32 says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” What truth is in view here? The true source of your identity, Christ. The only true revelation of self, the Holy Spirit. The only one that will never forsake you, God the Father. It is the reunion and sometimes the introduction to the only one that has the power to bring you to the fullness of your purpose.

 

The secondary truth is the truths that these initial truths will reveal. When you become acquainted with the source of your identity, you become aware that this identity comes with some extremely powerful assets. Becoming acquainted with your identity reminds you that you are more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). Identifying with Christ assures you that you are a special, unique, chosen and ordained person; personally chosen by God to proclaim His Greatness (1 Pet. 2:9). This new identity bears with it the knowledge that its bearing has been grafted you into the Royal family of God and has given you eternal security within the family. This identity brings knowledge of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and all the power associated with it.

 

Identity is a powerful force. That which you identify with establishes your path, approach, perspective and ultimately, your destiny.

 

Paul said, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, behold all this of the old man have passed away, and all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). Stop believing the lies of the enemy; stop accepting his erroneous assessments of you. God has established you as a new creation. As Satan attempts to remind you of your past; its hurts, disappointments, and failures, God desires to erase the negative impressions of the past that are so heavily engrained in your psyche. He desires to restore you. He simply needs to you seek Him and surrender to Him so that He can begin His work in you.

 

One of the greatest hindrances to this part of the healing process is the natural proclivity to conceal the past due to embarrassment and shame; however, there is great power in sharing your past struggles. First, it lifts the burden of carrying something that is too heavy for you to carry. Second, it allows others to see God’s ability to transform and heal. While you are healing you are also giving hope to others. Find your identity in Christ and allow that identity to bring restoration. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

October 22, 20l2
Set Free
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32 NIV).

Friend to Friend
For fifteen years, Leeanne was emotionally and verbally abused by her mother. Every day she heard that she was a stupid worthless failure. Her mother told her that she was “ugly” and “fat” and “not good enough.” “No man will ever want you,” she scorned.

Leeanne grew up afraid of women and hating herself. “Why can’t I be different?” she wondered.  She believed her mother’s estimation of her and lived in defeat. Leeanne grabbed attention any way she could, and by the time she was twenty-three, she had three abortions on her medical record. The guilt and shame of those abortions compounded her feelings of worthlessness.

But something amazing happened to Leeanne when she was twenty-four. She accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and became a new creation. She knew that God forgave her the moment she asked – totally and completely. However, Satan continued to remind her of the terrible mistakes of her past.  How could I have killed my children?  What would my friends think if they knew the truth? I can never let anyone know about my past. Some things are simply unforgivable in human eyes.

Leeanne met and married a wonderful Christian man. They began their life of ministry as he pastored a church in a small community. God blessed them with three wonderful children, but still the shame of her past lingered.

“I felt so unworthy of my husband’s love,” she said. “I felt I wasn’t good enough to be his wife.  I never told him about my past. It was a secret that weighed me down.”

Leeanne went to a women’s retreat and picked up one of my books, Your Scars are Beautiful to God.  For the first time, she began to heal from the wounds her mother had inflicted on her little girl heart.  She realized that is was Satan who continued to taunt her with those lies and make her feel as if they were true. Then she did something that really made the enemy mad.  She forgave her mother. Even though her mother had since died, she forgave her as if she were standing before her that very day.

Leeanne imagined Jesus erasing away all her faults, especially the ones that her mother had so maliciously written on the chalkboard of her mind. “All gone,” she said. “I’m set free.”

But there was one more step to Leeanne’s freedom. See, as long as she kept her past a secret, she would never be totally free. “I prayed all day and night for the courage to tell my husband about the three abortions, and I finally did. No one in the world knew about the abortions but me.  I had to tell my husband the secret so Satan could not use it against me any longer.”

“Finally, I did it. I told him the truth. But he did not react the way I imagined he would. He held me in his arms and cried. ‘I can’t believe you have held on to this for so long alone,’ he said.”

Leeanne went on to say…

“I am no longer shameful. I am pure.”

“I am no longer ugly. I am beautiful.”

“I am no longer unlovable. I am dearly loved.”

Leeanne recognized the lies. Leeanne rejected the lies. Leeanne replaced the lies with truth. She is now walking in the truth as a holy, chosen, dearly loved, child of God.

Let’s Pray
Dear LORD,   thank You for setting me free from condemnation.  Thank you for Your grace – receiving the gift I don’t deserve, and for mercy – not receiving the punishment I do deserve.  Thank You for making me a new creation in Christ – pure, holy, cleansed.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Release It: Damaged Goods No More Series

(Installment 2)

 

 

In the first installment of this series on emotional healing, we discovered the need to forgive all those that have harmed us. We came to the conclusion that without forgiveness the healing process is placed on pause. This is why so many people walk around in constant defeat because they have made themselves perpetual victims. When you refuse to forgive you allow the perpetrator of your past pains to assault and violate you over and over again. The way that you reclaim your life is forgiving that person and moving forward.

 

Well the first step in moving forward is releasing all of the hurt. This is very closely related to forgiveness. Some believe they are they same, but they are not; however, they are closely related. Forgiveness is the conscious choice to release someone of the debt of their past transgressions towards you. This simply takes the willingness to do so. On the other hand, releasing it all from the conscious and subconscious is an entirely different matter.

 

To say that releasing the hurts and disappointments of the past is easy would be a gross misrepresentation of the truth. First of all, the natural human proclivity to dwell on the negative will constantly pull you toward your past hurts. Then the enemy will gladly remind you of your past when you seem to be moving forward. He knows the negative impact of holding on to the past. You can never effectively move into your future, which is ultimately moving you toward your destiny, as long as you have not released the past.

 

God desires to do something new in your life, but he can never install the new when the old is still entrenched in your existence.

 

Listen to what Bishop T. D. Jakes has to say on the matter:

 

“Don’t stop PECKING! Instead of feeling battered, choose to have the faith that you can rebuild your life! Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) gives us a reminder that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Do not yield power over your life to others in the process of releasing the trauma of your past. “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old” (Isaiah 43:18 KJV). Tenaciously gather what power is within your reach and rebuild your life, no matter how battered you might feel by circumstances. Get ready for POSITIONING, EXPOSURE, COURAGE and KNOWLEDGE!”

 

Remember not the former things, do not call them to mind, they have served their purpose. When you continually hold on to the past, bad or good. You hold on to what has decayed and has no use, but to corrupt, distract, and hinder your progression. In verse 19 of the aforementioned scriptural passage, God says, “Behold (look and see, give attention to this truth), I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Isa. 43:19, AMP)

 

God desires to do something new in your life, but He can’t work amongst all of the junk that you are holding on to. He wants to restore your joy and introduce you to your destiny. He desires to reinvigorate your passion to live and enjoy His presence. If you are honest, many of you have been so overwhelmed by your past you have not been able to truly enjoy God. To take it a step further, many of you have allowed your past to convince you that you are not really worthy of God’s presence or the calling and anointing he has placed on your life.

 

Allow me to share a little secret with you: No one, I mean no one is worthy of God in and of themselves. Not one of the spiritual leaders that you reverence has done anything worthy of their gifts and callings. I learned a long time ago that God does not call the qualified; he qualifies those that he calls. I will take it even one step further and say that God doesn’t call the qualified, He seems to call the most odd, awkward and seemingly useless people he can find. Let’s see; there is Moses, the tied tongued murderer who fled. There is David, the young shepherd boy who became the playboy king who murdered a man to hide his adultery. There is Saul who persecuted the church with great vigor, but Christ chose Him on the Damascus Road. There was a man named Abram who was old and beyond his years of youth, but God renamed him Abraham and designated him to father and entire race. Trust me, your past can’t measure up to half the pasts of the great people of God that preceded you.

 

Yet, the enemy will use those around you, many times believers, to plant seeds of inadequacy and unworthiness in the soil of your mind. If you are not diligent in rebuking and uprooting these seeds, they will take root and render you ineffective.

 

 

Remember it was Paul, who said, 11 That if possible I may attain to the [[c] spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.

13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. (Phil. 3:11-14, AMP)

Paul understood that it was his spiritual responsibility to release the past and strive toward the future. Have you ever tried to run while looking back? Well that is what you are doing when you continue to hold on to the past. Release it so that you can run with purpose and conviction. Release it so that God can do that new thing in your life. Release it so that you can experience all that God has for you. Release it so that you can become a victor instead of a victim.

This is your day of release. Take back your power from those that have hurt you. Take back your ability to prosper and live within the will of God’s design for you. You have the spiritual DNA of Christ and you have been reborn to walk in greatness as you represent our Lord. Shake yourself loose right now. Shake yourself loose from the hurt and the bitterness. Shake yourself loose from self-pity. Shake yourself loose from past-dwelling induced mediocrity. This is your day of release. Walk into your new freedom. God is doing a new thing while you read this. Walk in the newness of life! ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

 

 

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