If you ask a Christian, "Who are you?" That Christian could answer this question in two very different ways. She could say, "I'm a Hell-deserving sinner saved by grace!" Or, she could exclaim, "I'm a child of God, chosen to be a saint!" Both are correct and Biblical answers. It's important for every Christian to walk in true understanding of his identity, realizing where he came from and where he is headed. To be effective against Satan and our flesh, both defensively and offensively, we must have a full-spectrum Scriptural understanding of our identity in Christ. To be truthful in our relationship with God as our Father, we must be know the full truth about our identity in Christ.
It's important to have a realistic and balanced view of yourself, which means that you believe what God says about you in the Bible. Here are three truths that rest in perfect balance together.
Truth #1: "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9.
Explanation: You are special to God. When God thinks about you, He thinks about you as your Dad. He chose you, called you out of darkness into His marvelous light and has made you holy and royalty. Your response is worship!
Application: Live out your identity. Be holy and pure. As a king, use wisdom and be brave. As chosen child of God, bear the family resemblance. You're not a victim, but a victor. Be true to your identity in all areas of your life. "If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." 2 Timothy 2:21.
Truth #2: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:1-5
Explanation: You were born a rebel and spiritually dead. You hated God and spent your God-given time, body, and energy on serving yourself, Satan, and the flesh. You were helpless and hated God's authority until the Holy Spirit came to you with the gospel, opened your eyes to your situation and Jesus, gave you a new nature, faith, and repentance. You were 100% undeserving of the gifts you were given: justification, adoption, eternal life, and a life-time of sanctification.
Application: Humility, holiness, and forgiveness. Humility because of God's grace. Holiness because of you must kill off the remaining sin in your body. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5 Forgiveness because you've been forgiven an innumerable amount of sins against God, who infinitely deserves your obedience. This truth empowers you to forgive others of horrible offenses towards you. This truth gives you perspective for healing from hurts inflicted on you by other sinners.
Truth #3: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Explanation: You belong to Jesus Christ because He bought you. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You no longer belong to Satan and you are no longer under the curse of sin, which is death. This changes everything! You belong to God, so serve God in your actions.
Application: Satan has no power over you, unless you give him power. Only obey the true King! Live in freedom from addictions, sinful habits, and spiritual bondage. Replace all sin with godly thoughts, emotions and actions.
Your Past: Process your past by looking at it through the lens of these truths. Were you hurt by others? Were you bullied and belittled? Were you undervalued or treated with contempt? Because of these truths, you can forgive. Because you are royalty and an ambassador for Almighty God, the words and actions of other can be dismissed as foolishness. Yes, it was hurtful. View it as a king would view the attacks of a peasant. Your purpose is to serve the King of the Universe. Don't pay much attention to the small-minded attacks from the world. Forget what is behind and focus on the prize... You get Christ!
The Present: Be authentic to your identity. Since you are a temple of the infinitely pure and powerful Holy Spirit, you can deny your lusts and live in holiness. Your future awaits! "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Col. 3:1-3.
Deception is a powerful weapon! Let's say you take a perfectly normal child and teach him that he is ugly, will never win, and has no real purpose in his life. What will happen to that child as he grows up? What if you follow that child around and lie to him through his music, his media, his Science class, his church, his friends, and in his mind? What if you shatter up his family through divorce or desertion? Think about how he would feel inside if didn't find affirmation and deep connection with his dad? This is what Satan does on a planet-wide scale. Why does he do it? Because he detests God and hates humanity with more passion that you or I have ever felt. He hated the image of God stamped into Adam and Eve. His only pleasure is further smashing and twisting the broken image of God that every human bears. Do you believe that this scenario really happens? We are all born into the kingdom of Satan and live under his deception, in bondage to false beliefs about ourselves, God and others.
Enter HOPE and RESCUE and POWER: Jesus Christ the Almighty God. Jesus Christ came to set the prisoners free! Jesus Christ used His infinite worth to pay the ultimate price. He bought us back from the curse of Satan and sin, purchasing the right to bring us into His kingdom. We are given citizenship in the Kingdom of God when we are brought by the Holy Spirit to see our own bankrupt state and depend entirely on Jesus Christ as Almighty-Savior. At this moment, we are justified and given a new, living identity as a child of Almighty God. We are given the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us and is our personal trainer in how to live out our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Through this process of sanctification, we begin to recognize and refute all of the lies we've believed and evict all of the evil influences that have furthered our captivity. We learn how to walk and live as free-born men and women of God, in the midst of a realm that used to demand our slavish allegiance.
This Kingdom-of-God truth is simply stated in the words of Jesus: 1. Go into all of the world. 2. Preach the good news. 3. Teach them to obey my commands. 4. You will cast out demons and heal sick people. 5. I am with you every step of the way.
For every child of God, these are our marching orders! 1. Go Live in the World. 2. Evangelize by teaching the good news. 3. Disciple by teaching them Jesus' truths and commands and how to apply them. 4. Bring freedom to citizens from both kingdoms by casting out demons and healing the sick. For believers, the freedom is enjoying eternal life now. For the unbeliever, it is a temporal taste of the goodness of God. 5. God decides when/where/how. He guides us through the Holy Spirit and pours His infinite power through us to give faith, salvation, repentance, healing, and freedom. He is our friend, protector and wisdom.
In this blog, I will not deal with helping unbelievers find freedom from Satan because their freedom is only temporary and will be quickly snapped back up. The only freedom an unbeliever can find is by coming to Jesus Christ to be changed from a rebel into a saint. The Holy Spirit must process the paperwork to change your citizenship from Satan's country into God's country.
Believers Have Authority and Power Because of Christ
Dealing with faux bullies. What makes bullying different from conflict is the power differential. The bully conjures up fake or real power, which makes the victim receptive to the attack. When the victim is bullied, he/she feels attacked emotionally and in his/her inner-most identity. (This is an oversimplification, but keep reading for how this applies to Satan and the believer.)
For Christians, Satan and his bullies wield fraudulent power. At the cross, Satan lost his right and power over every single citizen of the Kingdom of God. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come. You used to be a slave to Satan but now you are a slave... a friend to Jesus. Your are now a documented child of the infinitely worthy and almighty God of the Universe and beyond! On your own merit and accomplishments? No, it's through the infinite merit and accomplishments of Jesus Christ that you have received this adoption, applied by the Holy Spirit through whom you call God the Father your Dad. When Jehovah is your Dad, you can no longer identify yourself in Christ as a pathetic sinner. You now have to live out the identity purchased for you by Jesus Christ. In humility towards God, man, and angels, we live out our identity. In confidence and strength, we boldly live as citizens of Heaven.
As citizens of Jesus' kingdom, we have the rights and powers that come from Christ. We can rebuke demons, heal the sick, and lead people down the pathway of internal healing from abuse, past experiences, and possession. Christ delivers us from Hell and eternal death, AND He delivers us from the bondage and terror of evil spirits. As we realize and apply this reality to our daily lives, we will live free.
We are not contemptuous or careless of demons. No! It is only through out relationship and identity with Christ that they are to be fought and dismissed. When Jesus dealt with the Devil after fasting for 40 days, He was firm, brave, truthful, respectful, and He knew His position and life's work as God the Son. When Jesus went to do battle with Satan in the garden, He knew His position of righteousness before God. He said that Satan was coming but that Satan had nothing in Him. Jesus was perfectly holy. Satan had no power over him. The believer walks in Jesus' example. In Christ, we are sons and daughters of God. In Christ, we are righteous and Satan has no rights over us because of our sin. He accuses us but is shut down by Christ's life and blood imputed to us. Whether we're doing battle or being attacked, we walk in the authority and example of Christ. The Devil is like a roaring lion looking for a victim. Resist him and he will run away from you.
Tips for the Battle!
1. Know Christ and Your Identity: Your confidence is in Christ! He is your authority and the authority by which you speak and work. You are part of His body and even the gates of Hell can't resist His will.
2. Clean Your House: If you leave a window of habitual sin open, you will be open for attack. You can't serve God and idols, so don't keep a favorite idol tucked away for later.
3. Clean Your Mind: You've been converted. Now, you have to convert your mind, by evaluating your thoughts, presuppositions, prejudices, and philosophies. All of the resident unclean language, images, experiences, movies, photos, jokes, and fantasies now have to be rounded up, confessed, repented of and given to Jesus. As new thoughts are put into your mind, evaluate and evict the ones that aren't truthful or pure. "Take every thought captive and give it to Jesus!" Replace those thoughts with truthful, pure thoughts.
4. Use Your Weapons: Know what the Bible says about you, Christ, and your identity. Believe it! Spend the time to learn what God says about major moral issues that you deal with. Pray all of the time. Keep a close check on your will, attitude, and pay attention to the spiritual details in your day. Bible/Church/Prayer/Worship
5. Be About Your Dad's Business: Jesus spent His time on-mission for His Father. It was what He was about! What are you about?
6. Always act in the authority of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit: Demons can't hear your thoughts, so you need to speak: "In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you and all evil spirits to leave this person and this place. Go now." Don't act out of fear or anger. Simply, calmly use the authority you have in Christ.
7. Christ is King and Victorious: Focus on Him and His agenda. Don't let yourself be distracted or worried about spirits. Deal with them as the come, but remember that we are usually on the offensive. We are always taking the Kingdom of God into the lands of darkness.
Which kingdom are you a citizen of? Do you deal with extreme emotions, negative thoughts, perverted ideas, voices, self-destructive or others-destructive thoughts? Whatever your experiences, the answer is the same. Don't give any place for Satan in your head, heart, or personal life. Instead, focus on knowing and living your Christ-dentity. Take authority and don't allow any demons influence your emotions, mind, or life. Be about your Father's business!
Know a Little About Your Enemy
In some places the spiritual darkness is tangible. You can feel it and you see the effects. In other places, spiritual darkness masks itself in religion, pride, and humanism, yet you can see it's effects in addictions, broken families and uncontrolled emotions such as anger, sexual abuse, depression, futility, and broken identities. Satan's army changes tactics and plays from a hidden position, or bullies and hurts from a visible position of terror. Satanic spirits can cause sicknesses, mental illnesses, irrational emotions, and uncontrolled bitterness. Depending on the person and the circumstances, these evil spirits can physically inhabit and physically interact with people, causing terrible havoc in these people. One last thing to note, is that an individual can open him up to demonic bondage or it can happen to him through childhood experiences that he had no control over.
Your Wife and Children
The husband and parents are a protective covering for the children, I believe. We build a hedge around our family by doing regular worship, prayer, and Bible study together. We build internal strength in our children by training them to control their emotions, obey the first time, and how to apply God's truth. I also believe that using Biblical discipline with a child who is hard-hearted or uncontrolled with emotions will help to protect him/her from Satanic attacks.
If the husband or wife is engaged in unrepentant sin, this will open a door for the whole family to be affected by spiritual attacks. If dad loses his temper or has uncontrolled emotions, it can become open season on your children's emotions. Also, if your children are watching Satanic movies and horror films, this can open up a wide door for evil attacks on the mind and emotions.
If you are having a serious issue in your house, invite some friends over and spend a few hours worshiping.
Habitual Sins, Immoral Sex and Drugs
All of these put a welcome sign out for passing demons to drop by and infect us. The trouble with these sins is that they can become a generational stronghold and be passed on to your grandchildren. For the Christian, these must be cut off completely.
You might be tempted to be embarrassed or timid about telling other believers about struggles you might have. Being a Christian isn't being a one-man army. The people of God unite to fight. (Contact me and I'll help point you in the right direction.)
Read all of the Scriptures on your identity in Christ and all of the Scriptures about spiritual warfare. What did Jesus do? What did the 70 do? How about Paul's epistles? Read Bondage Breaker and Victory over the Darkness by Neil Anderson.
What's your perspective? Are you a commando for Christ or are you a victim? Will you be bullied or allow your family to be bullied by evil spirits?
If you practice these, demonic powers will have less access to bother you.
"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Peter in Acts 2.
What is the promise? You will be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit means a lifetime of learning, truth, power, and godliness.
"The promise is to you and to your children." These words give life to missions and parenting. God likes to work in families. He calls dad and mom to repentance and, through their Biblical parenting, He calls their children to life, too. The power behind the great commission is the Holy Spirit because He is the one who calls, convicts and converts!
How inspiring this is for believing parents! Our children don't need to repeat the drama, sin, and evil that we might have gone through. Our children don't need to spend years trying to work through bitterness, anger, manipulative tendencies, financial incompetence, alcoholism, or bondage to sexual addictions. Why? Because we can raise them in a godly house, where God's commands are followed on the computer, in our conversations, and in our relationships. Parents can curse their children and grandchildren by raising them in an ungodly house. Or, parents can bless their children and grandchildren by giving them a Christ-centered upbringing.
Biblical parenting is the channel that the Holy Spirit chooses to use to bring many of our children to faith and repentance. With proper oversight, we can help our children avoid the pitfalls of anger, lust, and addictions. We can disciple them to invest their time, thinking, and energy into God-glorifying activities. "Faith comes by hearing the word of God!"
Must Dos for Missionaries
1. Focus on worldview. Equip your parents and young people to see the world through God's eyes. Empower them mentally to apply the Bible's precepts to every area of life and culture. They must get to a point where they can evaluate each area of their life and culture, in order to live Biblically.
2. Teach how to read and interpret the Bible. The Bible isn't just for pastors and priests to interpret. Our job is to train parents and youth to read, interpret, and apply the Bible for themselves.
3. Expect a fight from Satan. His rule has been broken by Christ. Walk out your authority in Christ, using every weapon you have.
Tips for Parents
1. Be present in your child's day. Spend endless hours reading together, learning together, and living life together. Each day is filled with teachable moments! Find those moments and teach!
2. Know the Bible yourself. You can't teach what you don't understand. Take the time to read and study the Bible. God gave you the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth and to give you wisdom. Teach the Bible to your children. Read through the Bible with your children. Talk about the pitfalls and discuss God's ways.
3. Protect your children. You are your children's covering spiritually and physically. Your godly behavior, prayer, and spiritual authority will protect your children. During the first 15 years of your children's lives, teach them to apply God's truths in the context of your family's life and ministry. Discipline your children for their rebellion and grow Christ-like behavior in them. Soon enough, your children will launch out into the world like arrows for the kingdom of God. Make sure that they are strong, straight, and sharp.
4. You are the gate keeper: Don't allow ungodly emotions, behaviors, or philosophies to live in your family. Satan gets a foothold in your children, when you harbor sin. Protect them from sexual abuse, hateful speech, and bullying. Protect them from immorality and coarse speech.
5. Be intentional. Teach the Bible and model godliness. Teach them Micah 6:8 on a daily basis. "He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you. But to do justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?"
Give special attention to the next generation! King Jesus is here, and His kingdom is multi-generational and thriving!
Lying in a tunnel of darkness, with my brain twitching and jerking with throbbing fever and electrodes of pain randomly arcing through my aching body, it occurred to me that this is probably a minute taste of Hell.
It's not really popular to think about Hell anymore. However, with so many people going to Hell, it's a good idea to take a minute to discuss it. Jesus spoke about Hell more than any other person in the Bible. And, He was honest about how bad it is: A burning, hot, feverish place where your soul never dies or finds relief.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Jesus Christ.
After almost a week of torture, I was in bad shape. The Dengue ate my platelets down to about 1/3 of normal levels, and I needed continual assistance from God to maintain a healthy mind in the midst of the fever. As I clawed my way back, I became aware of how much I like normal body temperatures. I can't imagine being locked into a feverish Hell for eternity.
A couple of thoughts are very clear to me now:
Hell is real.
Real people go to Hell.
We all deserve to go to Hell because we are born and bred rebels against our Creator.
There is only one way to avoid Hell: Be rescued by Jesus from your self, your sin and your deserved destiny.
This is the problem with our disease. Like a fever, it distorts our reality, causing us to exalt ourselves and deny our God's holiness and highness. Our infection has killed our ability to accept the truth about ourselves.
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Bible.
This is why we have to throw ourselves at the mercy of God, begging Him to take control of our thinking, and wake us up to our deserved destination. It's called GRACE. None of us deserve it. The Holy Spirit wakes you up to your sin and condemnation and turns your feverish eyes to see the beauty of Jesus Christ as your God and Savior. The Holy Spirit gives you an alive spirit, faith in Christ, and a lifestyle of repentance. As you recover from your years of infection, you feel peace, purpose, and begin to bask in the light of the Son.
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Jesus Christ
Obedience to Jesus Christ is the most difficult because it is the opposite of our sinful nature. And, obedience is difficult because we have to read the Bible to find out how Jesus wants us to live our daily lives. That takes work!
Here are a few tips:
1. Study the Bible. Use the Bible to expose your own culture's false beliefs. Of course, your culture has some true beliefs because we are all fractured images of the Truth, Himself. We have to look into the face of Truth and into His Truth in the Bible to see what true culture is like. God's culture is the only one that is 100% true.
How do you study the Bible? Here are a few simple rules: 1. Do a search and make a list of Bible references about your topic... and read through them. 2. Think about the principle that God is teaching. What does that look like in your life? 3. For difficult verses, make an accurate interpretation. What is the context of the verse you are reading? What does the whole Bible say about the subject? Much of the Bible is literal: it means just what it says. Some of the Bible is figurative. You can tell that from the context and from thinking about what the rest of the Bible says.
2. Be humble. Pray and read the Bible over each area of your life: family, job, church, relatives, forgiveness, neighbors, finances, entertainment, your dreams for the future. And, be open to letting mature believers into your thought process. Don't just believe what they say. But, listen to them, discuss, and search the Scriptures for yourself. The Holy Spirit will use the Bible to teach you, guide you and change your culture to be His culture... Kingdom culture.
3. Be intentional about applying the truth and changing your existing thinking and actions. This means: Take action. Make a plan and do it. For example, if you are a man in a job that you can't get out of because you have too much debt, but the job is taking you from your family, make a plan for paying off the debt. Make a plan to quit and find a different job that gives you time to lead and disciple your family.
4. Be brave and strong. Don't spend time trying to get people's approval because the only approval you need is God's.
5. Be kind to those who are not moving in the same direction as you are. You can be honest with them. But, if they won't follow your path, be kind and loving. It is not your job to change their thinking or behavior. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.
6. Read Proverbs. Wisdom is knowledge applied. The Holy Spirit will use His words to teach you and give you the clear mind to apply that truth.
Here's one last tip! Look at each area of your life: How can I love God and love others? Look at your daughter. How can I parent her by loving God and loving her? What does that look like? What do you have to cut? What do you have to add? Which of your dreams or beliefs do you have to change so that you can love God and love your daughter? This question applies to each area of your life.
The Bible is a supernatural book because it is sourced from the infinite mind of God. When the Holy Spirit of God infuses the Bible's words with power, those words produce spiritual life in the reader.
Peter says to 1st-century Christians, "you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." We're all born 100% spiritually dead and unable to connect with God on a spiritual level. Enter the Holy Spirit with the super-empowered Bible truths. Through a variety of broadcast means, ranging from radio to preaching to reading, the hearer receives spiritual life from the Holy Spirit empowered word of God. Paul writes to a group of believers that he knows God has "chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction." When these people heard the gospel, it came in Holy Spirit power! In the mouth of the believer, the Bible is a super-powered book, not to be underestimated or neglected!
The Bible is a fountain of faith! "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." True faith germinates from learning the truth, when that truth is taught by the Holy Spirit. How is this possible? The Holy Spirit lives inside of a believer and produces faith as the believer reads the Bible.
Weapon Against Satanic Forces
Jesus used the word of God as a weapon against Satan. In the mouth of a believer, the word of God is a powerful defense and offense against demons. Paul calls the Bible the sword of the Spirit and recommends we use it in spiritual warfare.
Correcting Our Thinking
Humans are born with humanistic, self-centered thought patterns. This way of viewing God, ourselves and the word around us is called our worldview. As we grow up, these false beliefs can be reinforced by our environment, education, parents, friends, and media. When we are made spiritually alive, these false thinking patterns remain. God tells us to use the Bible to dismantle these false philosophies. Your mind is a battleground because you automatically assume that all of your thinking is authentic and truthful! But, using the Bible as the measuring stick for truth, you will begin to see what you need to change.
Knowing God's Will for Your Life
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." David in Psalm 119. In the hands of the Holy Spirit, the Bible brings conviction of sin, correction of thinking, and the power to change behavior.
Sola Scriptura (Only Scripture)
The Bible is God's blueprint for life. The Holy Spirit is the architect and engineer. A Christ-follower does not build his life on experiences, traditions, or advice, although those may be Bible-based and useful. No, a Christian builds his life on the truths of the Bible. The Holy Spirit teaches the Christian how to make right decisions for each life-situation, when he prayerfully searches the Bible for wisdom. Advice, prophecies, thoughts, spiritual revelations, desires, emotions, cultural values, and prior experiences all have to be tested and vetted by the Christian using the Bible alone. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
"You can't tell people to trust God to provide economically for them if they live in extreme poverty!" was a recent sentiment that really got me thinking. Does God's road-map for marriage, family, finances, and repentance only work in places where people already live in wealth? Can God really be trusted to provide?
There are four major ideas to consider here:
1. It is always right to apply God's commandments and life principles, no matter what the outcome. When a person builds his life on the rock Christ and His word, his life will last for eternity. Being a Christ-follower is like having wedding vows: "For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health..." No matter what the outcome, it is always best to live out God's will for your marriage, family, finances, and free time. God can and should be trusted and His word should be obeyed in every area of your life.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27
2. There are promises in the Bible. God promises to be there for you and you can trust Him. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28. In a spiritual sense and in view of eternity with Christ, every bad thing that God allows to happen to His children here on Earth will work out for good. Sometimes, it will be in a long, prosperous life of ministry, and, other times, it will be a difficult journey and an early entrance into Heaven. I've seen Christians living in poverty, with some dying early of preventable diseases. I've also seen Christians living in financial stability and with good healthcare. As Job said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21b.
What did Jesus say about trusting God for your food and housing? Jesus promised that you can trust God and went as far as to say for you to not even worry about it. Jesus modeled this during his three years of ministry. He depended entirely on the Father to provide for His food and housing, while doing His life God's way. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What does Jesus specifically say about daily provision? Will God provide for someone He calls from a rich family? Will God provide for Christ-follower who lives in poverty? Yes! Emphatically, yes! Will that provision occasionally be an exit to Heaven, I think so.
3. Along with promises, the Bible teaches principles for living. God's principles for living generally produce positive, physical results. Some truths in the Bible are principles and some are also promises. If you apply God's commands for living with and sacrificially loving your spouse, you will usually have a good marriage. Also, if you obey God's commands for being ethical and diligent in your job, you'll usually be successful in your career. Likewise, if you obey God's principles for living debt free, being a cheerful giver, and being a wise spender, you'll usually see financial blessing in your house. David said, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Psalm 37:25
4. As humans, we view physical health and finances as the proof for God's blessings, which is a false idea. In God's economy, poverty is sometimes the daily experience of a Christ-follower. The Bible speaks of some heroes of the faith as people who were "were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground." Hebrews 11:37-38.
To sum up, YES, God can be trusted to provide for the Christ-follower who obeys the Bible. God promises to provide physically and spiritually. And, if a believer implements God's principles, he is likely to see physical success.
The Love of Jesus is the source of true love. In Him we see sacrificial love, loving by serving others, and ultimately loving in laying down His life for His friends. We see in Him ultimate power as our Creator and God, yet because of His great love for His people, He was willing to love us first, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is the ultimate in love, to redeem those who could not redeem themselves.
In John 10, it speaks of Jesus as our Shepherd, calling us out by name, and His sheep following Him. It says He goes before us. Jesus didn’t stay in heaven while His sheep needed a Shepherd to lead them out to safety, to save them from their sin. He left the beauty of heaven, and came down to earth in obedience to His Father, and experienced this life as we do. He went before us. The picture of Him being our Shepherd is particularly poignant as a shepherd will stay with his sheep through the stormy weather, out in the pastures. That is exactly how Jesus loves us. In Hebrews 13:5, it says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
You may be experiencing a “stormy sea” as Jesus’ disciples were in John chapter 6, and yet this Saviour, Jesus, the Creator, has the power to calm the sea, because He spoke it into existence. His love is everlasting, complete, and whole. “Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
By Gina Swanson
Kingdom culture is a taste of Heaven on Earth: God's truth put into daily practice. Kingdom culture is synonymous with wisdom, which is truth applied. But, kingdom culture takes wisdom to the next level because of the word "culture." Culture is beliefs so ingrained into daily life that the cultured person may not even be aware of why s/he feels and acts.
Jesus is hope against demonic bondage. Jesus defeated the power of Satan 2000 years ago. As Jesus enters communities and families, He brings individual people out from under the authority of Satan. He makes them citizens of His kingdom and members of His family. As soon as Jesus changes a person's allegiance, that person is free from the power of Satan. He/she will begin the process of living in freedom. This is an organic process called discipleship.
Satanic bondage manifests itself in broken families, addictions, uncontrolled emotions, abuse, domestic violence, and broken self-identities. Freedom in Christ is found by renouncing the evil we've been involved in and living out the identity that we have as citizens of Christ's kingdom.
Here in the Philippines, people openly consult witch doctors and essentially pay for demonic spirits to pour into them and their children. This creates a cycle of sickness, fear, and darkness. Our authority against this is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can set individuals and families free from spiritual bondage. God uses our prayers, His gospel, and discipleship as an avenue for pouring out freedom for those in captivity.
As soldiers in Christ's light-force, we wage war against the demons and Satan. Our fight is not against people, but against Satan and evil angels. Jesus Christ hung on the peak of human evil 2000 years ago, and bought the right to take back humanity. About a month later, Jesus stood on a mountain and commanded His people to spread His kingdom across the entire planet.
If you look around you, you'll see the scattered remnants of humanity. Broken, twisted, hurt, sick, spiritually dead. As you walk among the dead, speak Life - speak Jesus. The job of the Holy Spirit is to raise dead people and rescue them into the Kingdom of Christ. He uses the words of Life that we speak. Jesus said, "The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
Pray for God to speak life through you, as you befriend the lost, lonely, lustful, and not-so-lovely. Start thinking of yourself as a soldier of Life! All Christians are commanded to be on mission! Armed with our weapons of love, justice, truth, prayer, church, and LIFE, we are formidable. Speaking in authority of Jesus Christ, we carry the power to bring freedom and break the chains of bondage. Look around you, will you take the risk? Will you spend your resources, time, and life to join in God's rescue mission?
If we are looking for a place to start, we can go where Jesus went... to the church people, to the prostitutes, to the outcasts, to the poor, to the corrupt officials, to the common people. What's holding us back?
Bring the words of salvation, bring radical healing, bring compassion. Don't limit the power of Christ to rescue people spiritually and physically from the bondage of Satan. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." The question that remains to be answered is: What greater things than Jesus did will you do?
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.