Category: Christianity


July 29, 2013
Taming the Tongue
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).

Friend to Friend

It had been one of “those” mornings and I was behind schedule in preparing to teach the women’s Tuesday morning Bible study at our church. I am fairly certain I did not exude peace and joy as I rushed around – as my Mama would say – like a chicken with its head cut off. The auditorium was set up correctly. The soundman had my power point ready to go and was waiting to do a sound check. The coffee pot was plugged in and doing its thing. Smiling ladies gathered to greet the Bible study members as they arrived. I paused and breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like everything was ready – everything except my heart.

I knew I needed to spend some time alone with God before standing to teach His Word, so I found a quiet room where I could escape for a few minutes of solitude. As I began to pray, the door flew open and crashed against the wall behind it as the husband of one of our group leaders burst into the room. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not happy and that whatever was wrong was definitely my fault. In a very loud and very angry voice, the man began to explain the problem, ending his tirade with the question, “And just what are you going to do about it?”

Sidebar: Guess what lesson I was teaching that particular morning. Remember, God definitely has a sense of humor. The lesson title was “How to Tame Your Tongue.”

I knew what I wanted to say to the man. I also knew God didn’t want me to say it. In a rare moment of wisdom, I faced my accuser with a smile and whispered, “I’ll tell you exactly what I am going to do. I am going to do whatever it takes to make you happy.”

I was completely unprepared for the man’s reaction. His mouth fell open, his eyes widened in surprise – no, make that shock – and he stumbled backwards as if I had hit him. The silence was deafening. We stared at each other for what seemed like an hour before he finally whispered back, “Thank you!” Without another word, the man turned and literally ran out of the room. The most amazing part of this story is that from that day on, he has been one of my strongest encouragers.

The Bible works, girlfriend! When God says that a gentle answer “deflects” anger, He really means it. In this verse, “deflect” means “to change course” or “to force the alteration of plans.” When anger is met with love, it is forced to change its destructive course. The plans of the enemy are altered when they are forced to comply with God’s truth. A sweet response yanks the fuse right out of an emotional time bomb that is set and ready to explode. We need to choose our responses instead of allowing our reactions to dictate the words we speak.

Godly responses begin in the mind. I believe that our thought life is the front line of battle for the control of our entire life. Psalm 34:13 warns, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” The word “keep” indicates action on our part. We decide. We choose what is allowed to take up room in our minds. It is literally the idea of a guard standing at the gate of the city, stationed there to keep watch. He is there by invitation only. If we want to live right and speak right – we must think right.

Godly responses come from the heart. If there is something wrong with our words, then there is something wrong with our heart. The truth of Proverbs 16:23 is profound in its simplicity, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.”

A judge utters a few words and a guilty man is taken to death row.

A friend speaks a word of encouragement and a desperate heart finds hope.

A mother lashes out with angry words and the light in her child’s eyes is gone.

A wife offers a word of forgiveness and a marriage is restored.

A gossip makes a phone call and a reputation is destroyed.

A teenager says “no” and changes the course of her life.

Words are powerful. Words can destroy or build. We need to make the choice today – to respond in the right way to those angry words that are surely headed our way tomorrow.

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July 15, 2013
Ask and You Will Receive
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I have always loved giving gifts to my children – all kinds of gifts including hugs, kisses, time, and love – as well as material things like toys, books, and clothes. When the kids were young we didn’t have much money, so the gifts were small, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. I often scrimped and saved in order to buy a certain item for a birthday or for Christmas, and loved every minute of it.

Dan and I now have five grandchildren and I am in so much trouble! I want to give them everything! I know I need to give them the important things such as love, time and training in the ways of God, but I find myself in the same situation I was in when our son and daughter were babies – little money but a big desire to give.

I once took our daughter-in-law shopping for Jaydan and Lelia, our five-year-old twins. I had a list of items I wanted to purchase but was disappointed when I found only half of the items on the list. However, it was getting late, and the babies began to “tell” us that they were ready for dinner and bedtime. We checked out, loaded the babies into the car, and headed home.

When Jodi leaned over to kiss my cheek and thank me for the gifts, I looked at her and said, “You are so welcome, honey, but it’s not enough!” Jodi chuckled, but I was serious! “No, you don’t understand,” I continued.  “We have to go shopping again because I haven’t given the babies enough and my heart is not excited enough yet!” I know. I am totally ruined, but I am going to try very hard not to ruin Jaydan and Lelia. (The projected success rate does not look good right now, but I promise to work on it.)

On the way home, I began to analyze my words and my heart. I fully realize that material things won’t satisfy the deepest needs of our grandchildren. I am also committed to investing time in their lives to help them find Jesus Christ and discover His plan for their lives. Honestly, I don’t really know how to explain what I feel for our grandchildren, but it is sort of like watching my heart walk around on the outside of my body. I know I can love them in so many ways…and I do…and I will…but I always want to give them more.

Our Father has the same heart – a giving heart – when it comes to giving His children good things. The problem is that we don’t really believe that truth. We tend to measure His love and benevolent heart of giving by how much we have done or accomplished, or even by what we haven’t done and promise not to do.

We are missing the truth that God’s love simply cannot be measured. God doesn’t love us because we are so lovable. God loves us because He is love.

One of the most tragic results of our unbelief is an ineffective prayer life. We pray, not really believing that God wants to or really will answer those prayers. Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew 7:7-11.

Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”

Jesus is teaching about prayer and about the very nature of God. He relates it to something we all can understand, the child-parent relationship. The son has been out in the fields working all day long and by the time he comes home, he is starving. His family is seated at the dinner table as dishes of steaming, delicious food are being passed around. I can almost see that tired and hungry boy’s eyes zeroing in on the food, salivating in anticipation of the meal before him. Then imagine that the father, seeing the hunger of his child, picks up a rock, tosses it to his son and says, “Here! Eat this!” Jesus is driving home the truth that good fathers want to give their kids good gifts. Now if this is true of earthly parents (and grandparents), imagine what our Heavenly Parent wants to give us – if only we would ask.

No one’s voice sounds sweeter to God than your voice, girlfriend. Nothing in the universe could keep Him from giving you His full attention when you pray. In fact, He longs to hear your prayer. In Psalm 34:8, the psalmist invites us to “taste and see that the LORD is good.” In this verse, “Lord” means “Jehovah, Abba Father.” In other words, your Abba Father, Dearest Daddy, is inviting you to come to Him in childlike faith, with a hungry heart so He can fill it with the gifts of peace, contentment and a satisfied spirit.

Don’t think you have to figure out a way to steal a blessing from God. Don’t believe you have to trick Him into giving up what He would rather keep for Himself. It is God’s very nature to give to His children. He has made all of His resources available to you. Do not doubt for a moment that He is a giving God with a heart that longs to bless, to encourage, to empower and to love you. God is not only able to answer your prayer, but God wants to answer your prayer. Ask and you will receive.

In the introduction to this series we discussed briefly the different types of suffering that a believer will experience over the course of their life here on earth. We understand as believers that suffering, at whatever stage and in whatever capacity we meet it, is a tool designed by God as a directive catalyst toward spiritual maturity.

As we move through this study we will gain valuable insight on exactly how God uses suffering to train, correct, strengthen, and even protect His people. When this study was first introduced to me in its original form some years ago, it changed my perspective on how I view and received adversity in my life. This is extremely important in the process of moving along the continuum towards spiritual maturity.

As we move deeper into this study you will be faced with a multiplicity of scripture. The reason for this is that a life void of scripture is a life void of power. It is the primary priority of every believer to engage in the consistent daily study, intake, digestion, metabolism, and inculcation of Bible doctrine. One of the greatest deficiencies of the modern believer is sound doctrine, resident in their souls. We tend to lean too much toward emotionalism, which has no foundation to support us when we are bearing the burdens of conflict and suffering.

Some of the core concepts in this lesson were originally presented by the late R.B. Thieme Jr., someone I have always respected as a Bible teacher and expositor. Over time, I have revisited these concepts multitudinous times and I have developed a deeper understanding and the concepts have broadened. It is not important who gets credit for this, because God is the author.

Suffering has multiple purposes and these purposes can best be understood in relation to the believer’s spiritual growth or progression towards spiritual maturity. Basically there are five categories of Christian suffering. The first two are primarily associated with spiritual childhood (the stages of spirituality that range from spiritual infancy through spiritual adolescence. These two categories are designed as punitive measures by God. The last three are associated with spiritual adulthood and are designed for the sake of providing blessings for the believer.

It is important to understand that although these categories of suffering are associated with certain stages of spiritual advancement, they can be experienced by any believer at any time. For instance, a spiritually mature believer can find themselves in a state of carnality and suffering as a means of punitive (punishment) and correction; while an immature believer can find themselves suffering for blessing through making good choices.

This study series is designed to examine the multiplicity of problems that believers encounter in the way of suffering and the divine solutions available to them in any stage of suffering. Suffering has purpose and the answer to dealing with suffering is extensively delineated through scripture. We will learn how to engage our struggles without becoming emotional, frenetic, unglued or defeated.

The five categories of Christian suffering are as follows:

Punitive

  1. Self-Induced Misery – the consequences of poor decisions.
  2. Divine Discipline – the move of God to correct poor decisions and wrong actions

For Blessing

  1. Providential Preventive Suffering – Pressure applied by God to prevent you from making the wrong decision or doing the wrong thing (Paul’s Thorn in The Flesh, 2 Cor. 12:7-9)
  2. Momentum Testing – Suffering used as a barometer to gauge the believers progression and impetus towards spiritual maturity
  3. Evidence Testing – Suffering used as evidence of a believer’s maturity and God’s sovereignty

All suffering, in some way is designed by God for the purpose blessing; the circumstances that surround the suffering will provide the clarity that reveals the purpose. The important thing is for every believer to have doctrinal orientation so that they might be able to understand the spiritual implication of the physical manifestations that are contributing to their suffering.

One of the primary problems with a vast majority of Christians is that they use emotion as a barometer and catalyst to move them through their daily encounters. God designed emotions to be a responsive mechanism not the catalyst for problem solving the issues of life. We are to have Bible doctrine inculcated deeply into our heart (the right lobe of the soul) in which a foundation is developed on which the believer can learn to apply the doctrine that they have learned to the circumstances that they encounter.

Suffering functions as a guardian for the adult believer in the same way that a parent functions with as a guardian for a child. Basically the restraints that are used and put in place for children are replaced and enforced by suffering. The dynamic of suffering serves to deplete us of our own resources and it forces us to lean and depend on God for our daily provision. Suffering makes us more pliable for the hands of the Potter.

In the same way that parents are more than disciplining agents for their children, suffering is not simply God’s way of disciplining us. Suffering is a great instructor as it demands your attention. As we are forced to use the provisions of our God, our appreciation and love for Him is strengthened and we become more in tune with His will for our lives.

As we move through this study series we continue to develop a new perspective of suffering as we dismiss both, the proclivity for asceticism and the victim complex. We will learn that when properly engaged, suffering will always catapult us toward our divine destiny.

Contrary to popular beliefs among many believers, suffering is not something to be sought out, there is no intrinsic value in suffering itself. The value is in taking the lesson and the purpose involved in the suffering and maximizing its potential. Suffering should never be a perpetual force in the life of a believer. If it is, there are other elements that must be addressed.

In the same sense, believers are not to take on a victim mentality when faced with suffering and adversity. They should engage it with faith and certainty that a sovereign and omniscient God is in complete control. When the believer uses all of the Divine assets at their disposal, there are no circumstance that can negatively impact their peace and state of happiness. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

 

“Christianity is not a religion of  suffering. Bible doctrine explains suffering, and metabolized , applied doctrine alleviates suffering in the soul. There is no asceticism in the protocol plan of God. Despite false teaching to the contrary, suffering for its own sake is not a legitimate Christian objective.

 

 

 

Tragically, many Christians never learn the doctrine of suffering. To their way of thinking, Adversity creates an aura of spirituality. Presumptuously claiming to follow Christ in His sufferings, they attach importance to their own pain as if it brought them closer to God. They distort their lives to fit a crippling false doctrine. They assume God honors self-sacrifice and commands them to suffer. This malignant idea breeds arrogance, destroys capacity for life, and blasphemes the character of God.” (R.B. Thieme Jr.)

 

 

 

Dr. Rick Wallace

 

 

One of the most crippling forces in this ethereal journey of Christianity is asceticism. When the Christian believer does not understand suffering as it relates to God’s divine plan, they erroneously apply value to being in a state of suffering. Too many believers have adapting suffering as their lot in life. They fail to realize God’s purpose in it for them, so they miss the chance to advance. God has no desire for you to be miserable, but He will use whatever means is necessary to insure your success in fulfilling your designed purpose. Paul endured suffering to insure that he would not be destroyed by his own arrogance (2 Cor. 12:7-9)

 

 

 

Suffering always has a purpose, whether for correction, protection, testing, or blessing. It is not God’s desire to destroy your happiness, but to provide you with the resources and assets that will solidify your happiness irregardless of your circumstances. Inner happiness is not circumstantial, it is based on the immutability of God and your position in His royal family. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

 

December 20, 2012
Long Walk Part of Gift
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2 NIV).

Friend to Friend
An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she gently fingered the gift.

The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

“Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”

I just love that story. During this holiday season, I watch as people scurry about swiping those plastic cards through the credit card machines faster than a speeding bullet. And yet, God has already shown us that the most precious gifts cannot be bought or sold. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

The magi also knew about the joy of giving. While they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, they also gave another gift…a long walk. We don’t know how far the magi traveled, but we do know that it was a distance that took months, perhaps years. Their long walk was part of the gift.

I wonder how far we are willing to go to worship Jesus…to bring our gifts to him. I wonder how far out of the way we will go to praise him. Do we only give to Him when it is convenient or easy? Or do we give what He wants most – a portion of ourselves, our very lives.

I think the little African boy had the right idea. The real gift wasn’t the shell; it was the sacrifice he had to make to give it.

Let’s Pray
Dear God, thank You for the gift You gave us through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I pray that I will keep gift-giving in perspective this holiday season and give gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook.  Help me to see that a “long walk,” or a portion of myself, is the greatest gift of all.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

“…and they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the words of their testimony.”

Don’t let the enemy rob you of your testimony. He wants to convince you to give up in the midst of the battle. He understand that through Christ you already have the victory as long as you stand.

As he paints his illusionistic portraits of negativity and despair his purpose is to distort the view of faith. If he can get you to believe his lie you will not retain the testimony of God’s deliverance. Listen, their is no trial, temptation, heartache, valley or pit that you can find yourself in that God has not already planned your deliverance. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy. Don’t accept the negative report of the enemy.

He will tell you that the prolonged length of your struggle is an indication of your failure, when the Word of God has revealed repetitively that struggle has no deadline and delay in deliverance is not indicative of denial of delivery or absence of faith. God has set a path and much of it is appointed for the duration and nothing you do will expedite the situation. Abraham waited 25 years before the fulfillment of the promise. The Children of Israel waited centuries for their deliverance from the Egyptians. Joseph, before them, waited thirteen years before the vision became reality. I could go on. What I can tell you is that the longer the delay, the greater the destiny.

Hold on to your testimony for dear life. Your testimony is a powerful weapon in combating the enemy. Your testimony speaks the powerful words of victory and deliverance. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). Hold on to your testimony with all that is within you.

You will overcome, just hold on to your faith and your testimony. They both have power. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

Taking a Leap of Faith
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“I can do everything through him (Jesus) who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13 NIV).

Friend to Friend
Several years ago, on a trip to Kauai, my husband and our friends, Larry and Cynthia Price, decided to go on a zip line through the jungle. After being jostled and tossed like ragdolls in the back of a retired army jeep, we finally made it to the top of the mountain from which we were going to zip down—risking life and limb I might add.

I hopped out of the jeep and eyed the cable suspended high above the valley below. After watching Cynthia fly through the trees, I climbed up onto a wooden platform and surrendered to Jack, a jovial, burly Hawaiian, who strapped me into a harness and placed a helmet on my head. With a simple click of a metal buckle, he attached my harnessed body onto a seemingly flimsy steel cable. As I stood on the edge of the platform eyeing the disappearing earth below my feet, I had a choice. I could say, “no thanks” and ask to be released from the cable, or I could jump.

I chose to jump. My body flew over the treetops and the stunningly beautiful gorge. I was Tarzan’s Jane and this was my jungle. Airborne. Exhilarating. Risky.

Jacob was with us that day. He was a stranger among our little band of adventurers. Jacob was alone. No friends. No spouse. No family.

“Jacob, what brings you up to this mountain today?” I asked.

“I’m afraid of heights,” he answered.

I then noticed the thin line of perspiration beading over his upper lip. The slight tremble in his voice. The mechanical one-foot-in-front-of-the-other halted gait up the hill.

“You’re afraid of heights?” I asked. “Then why are you here?”

“I’m going to conquer it today,” he determinedly answered.

I was struck. We were here to have fun. He was here for a totally different reason. When Jacob stood on that platform, I prayed for my new friend. For Jacob this was not just a joy ride…or just maybe it was.

I’m not saying that God told Jacob to go to the top of a mountain, attach his body to a flimsy cable, and fly over the gorge at the risk of life and limb. But I am saying that obedience often requires a leap of faith. Too often we say yes to God, but live the no because of fear. We stand at the precipice of belief and a decision has to be made. Am I going to trust God or not? Am I going to attach my heart to the cable of His love and take a leap of faith, or am I going to freeze in fear because I don’t trust that He has my best interest in mind? Am I going to settle for safety and miss the thrill of seeing God work through me?

As we live and move and have our being in Jesus, God will take us to some amazing places. And there will always be a choice. Will we jump headlong into the adventurous journey of His perfect plan, or will we hang back for lack of faith? Jacob stood on the platform, took a deep breath, and jumped. He flew over the treetops, careened over the river, and landed safely on the other side of his greatest fear.

We clapped and cheered. Jacob took a bow. God smiled.

In Him we live and move and have our being…and sometimes we soar.

Let’s Pray
Lord, sometimes I’m just flat out afraid. Afraid I’ll fail. Afraid I’ll be rejected. Afraid I won’t be good enough. Lord, forgive me for all those “I’s.” Forgive me for focusing on my weaknesses rather than Your strength. Today, I’m believing that I can do all things that You call me to do because I know that You will give me the strength I need.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

November 9, 2012
It’s Time to Do Something!
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another – (1 John 4:11, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I could not tear my eyes away from the television screen as the 33 miners began to emerge from the depths of what could have been their mass grave. The men had been trapped for more than two months in the collapsed Chilean copper mines nearly half a mile underground. Everything I have read or heard about the tragedy is extraordinary.

The miners survived the early days by rationing food and working together as a team. Each man was assigned a job, one of which was to maintain peace and harmony until they were rescued. The selfless mining supervisor who insisted on being the last to leave his underground prison showed the world what it really means to put others first. I was amazed at the selflessness of the rescue worker who became the initial guinea pig for the rescue capsule and then chose to stay behind – alone – while the world celebrated above.

I wonder how long it will take us to forget. How long will we remember that the world came together to save a group of strangers? Will the powerful lessons of their rescue make any difference in the way we treat each other?

We all know what it is like to be trapped in a pit of some kind. It is probably not a collapsed mine, but pits are all basically the same.

Our world has collapsed under the weight of fear and pain.
No one seems to care. In fact, a lot of people have written us off as a lost cause.
People are too busy to recognize or understand our hopelessness.
Darkness prevails and rescue seems impossible.
We are wounded, sick and tired.
Civil war rages in our soul as we struggle to obey God instead of giving in to sin.

I truly believe that every day is filled with divine appointments – opportunities to rescue people who are trapped in some kind of pit. We miss the emptiness reflected in the eyes of the sales clerk or we simply choose to ignore the homeless man begging for money so he can buy food. After all, we are in a hurry and have more important things to do. The sales clerk would probably be embarrassed if I said anything and that homeless man would probably just use the money I gave him for drugs or alcohol.

The ringing phone is someone in need, but we don’t care enough to answer. Our neighbor does not know God, but her life is a mess and we really don’t want to get involved. Instead of taking action and doing what we know God wants us to do, we decide it is enough to pray for that neighbor and leave the messy part of God’s work to someone else.

I am so guilty of walking away from someone in need instead of running to their rescue. I am in pain, too, and my pain is more important than theirs. I may not actually say those words, but I don’t have to. My actions are blatant illustrations of my own egotism and self-absorption.

I do not want to be like the priest who nonchalantly strolled by the wounded and bleeding man lying on the road. I want to be like the Good Samaritan who stopped and saved the wounded man’s life. I want to be “God with skin on.”

A tired father came home from work, grabbed his newspaper, and settled into his favorite chair with a sigh of relief. All he wanted was a little peace and quiet. All that his young son wanted was his daddy. The little boy raced into the room and asked, “Dad, can I get you something to drink?” The man lowered his newspaper, smiled and replied, “No, thanks. I’m not thirsty. I just want to read the paper.” He then raised his newspaper and resumed reading. The little boy thought for a moment and then said a little louder, “Dad, can I get you something to eat?” The slightly exasperated father lowered his paper and said, “No, Son. I just want to read the paper!” As the father resumed his reading, the little boy tried again. “Dad, can I get you … “, but before the little boy could finish his question, the now irritated father lowered his paper and demanded, “What is it that you want, Son?” The little boy sighed and gazed into his father’s eyes as he explained, “I don’t want anything, Dad. I just love you so much that I have to do something about it.”

One day, just as rescue workers descended into that Chilean mine, Jesus Christ will descend into this broken world and rescue us from the pit of human frailty. Until then, let’s be His hands and feet. Let’s love Him so much that we just have to do something about it.

Let’s Pray
Father, I come to You today with a heart of praise for the way You meet every need in my life and for how You constantly rescue me from the darkness. I want Your heart, Lord. I want to be Your hands and feet to the people You place in my path. Give me eyes to see their need and the courage to do something about it. Please guard my heart against pride and selfishness. I want to please and honor You alone. In Jesus’s

 

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November 6, 2012
Are We Having Fun Yet?
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
I [Jesus] came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows),” (John 10:10 Amplified Bible).

Friend to Friend
C.S. Lewis says that most Christians lack “merriment.”  I like that word. “Merriment.” Just moving the words across my lips is fun. And I think Lewis is right. We lack merriment and we don’t expect it. Many Christians look like they’ve been weaned on a dill pickle. My goodness, if there is anyone who should exude merriment, it is a person who knows Jesus as Savior and Lord. We, above all people, have something to be merry about!

What God desires, not from you but for you, is life to the full (John 10:10). There’s nothing ho-hum about that. I read Jesus’ words in John 10:10 and I am famished for glory moments of life to the full. I want to see God, to experience His presence as I live and move and have my being in Him.

John wrote, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). He didn’t simply use the word given, but lavished. Webster defines lavish this way: “given or provided with great generosity and abundance, to bestow with large generosity, profusion, a downpour.” Ponder those words separately.

Lavished.
Provided with great generosity.
Abundance.
Bestow with large generosity.
Profusion.
Downpour.

Do these words reflect your expectations in your relationship with Jesus? C.S. Lewis said it well:

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, 1949,1976,revised 1980), 26.)

The first statement in the Shorter Catechism of Westminster Confession of 1646  states that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Enjoy Him! To enjoy God is to glorify Him. Just as He takes delight in you, He longs for you to take delight in Him. You simply can’t separate the two.

Are you enjoying God? As you live and move and have your being in Him, is there a smile on your face and a skip in your step? Do you expect the rich adventurous faith-filled life that you read about in the Bible? Do you expect to experience God’s glory today? If not, perhaps you need to raise your expectations of what your relationship with Jesus can be.

Once we’ve tasted the sweetness of His fruit, to settle for anything less than the bountiful orchard of His blessings will always disappoint. Oh yes, there are heavy-laden branches filled with low hanging fruit just waiting to be picked. If only we would reach up high enough, raise our expectations, and pluck them from the tree.

Let’s Pray
Jesus, forgive me for acting like I’m doing You a favor for following You. I know that you came to give me life to the full. Help me to stop walking around like I have life to the half-full. Today, I’m going to laugh, to smile, to enjoy being in Your presence. I am going to keep my eyes open for moments of sudden glory as You make Your presence known to me!
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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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