"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." God
As ambassadors of Christ, we aspire to the sorrow and joy that He felt. The hard rebelliousness of humanity cut Him to the core, while the Father's sovereign work of salvation brought Him joy! (Luke 19:41, Luke 10:21). To survive... to thrive as Kingdom ambassadors, we must follow Jesus' example.
Joy! I see it in the eyes of new believers and in the eyes of vibrant believers, those who are walking in daily relationship with Jesus Christ. Joy is deep within, while happiness is a state of mind. Joy transcends circumstances because it trusts in the Joy-Giver. Joy doesn't lose hope because it is anchored in the infinite God.
The Pit of Despondency
Sorrow. It surrounds me like a sea of darkness, licking at my temples and biting at my soul, threatening to swallow me into it's despondent depths. This kind of sorrow is worldly sorrow because it sees no hope and fatalistically condemns future generations to repeat the cycle of rebellion. Rebellion against God's law produces grotesque, hard brokenness. Watching it daily causes me deep pain, and threatens to callous my heart.
Within a week, I met two young women on different islands with babies that the respective daddies rejected. One was about sixteen and the other in her early twenties. Seeing the rejection of these girls and their babies created sorrow in me. God's family is precious and our reflection of His family here on Earth is our joyful purpose. It breaks me to see a generation of children giving birth to a succeeding generation of broken identities.
The Secret to Sorrow
How does a Christ-follower see constant darkness and have sorrow without shipwrecking on the shoals of despondency? What did Jesus do? Jesus was the perfectly balanced God-Man. He anchored His sorrow and joy in the infinite attributes of God. That is what we must do. We must focus our minds' eyes on the character of God. God is infinite holiness, limitless love, perfect justice, rightfully sovereign, delightfully joyful, infinitely good and quick to help those who cry out to Him.
Why do we care so much? It's partly because we care about God. Seeing the broken images of God smash themselves on the rocks of rebellion causes me intense pain. I know how it could be for them... how it should be. Every person was made to be a God's glory in their daily lives, especially in their families. It's partly because we are made to love: Love God and love others. Seeing people act in hate, slices into the love that we have for them.
We have to process what we see within intimate contemplation of our God's character. When we trust His sovereignty, depend on His goodness, and anticipate His mercy, we will have weep godly tears and embrace His joy!
The Complete Story of Sorrow and Joy in 3 Verses
The life of every Christ-follower is described briefly in Isaiah 60:1-3. In these verses, you'll see our sorrow and our joy.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
Get up! Shine because Jesus has come and His glory shines like the sun on and through you! This is the daily life of a Christ-follower. Get up! Spend time with Christ. Reflect the glory of His character in your day's activities and reactions! The Holy Spirit has everything you need to be empowered in your day!
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
We are citizens of the kingdom of Light! Yet, we live in the kingdom of darkness. We are surrounded by a evil and the darkness that rebellion against our Creator and created purpose generates. We walk among people who live in darkness so thick it has a presence of its own.
But the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Our King has risen from the grave and conquered sin, death, disease and the Satanic forces. He has turned on the light! His kingdom advances, as He takes back what He bought with His life: His family. As long as we keep our eyes unwavering upon Jesus Christ and walk in daily relationship with the Holy Spirit, we will not be cast down by sorrow. We will experience godly sorrow and godly joy!
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn."
Christ is the LIGHT! We first find our joy in Christ. Then, we find joy in seeing each new believer drawn to Christ's light and converted by His Holy Spirit empowered gospel. Christ's light lives inside of every believer... overflowing out through every crack and cascading over the brim! As we go to the palaces and provinces, kings and nations are drawn to the Jesus Christ, who is eternal Light and eternal God.
Jesus said that he came to proclaim liberty to the captives. What did Jesus mean by that? Who are the captives and who has shackled them?
Since Adam's rebellion, all humans (except Jesus) have been born into generational captivity to Satan. First, all humans are born spiritually dead and disconnected from God. Their dead spiritual nature totally permeates their bodies, thinking, and emotions. This alone is enough to hold humans captive. However, Satan is 100% evil and hates God's creation. So, he further captivates humans using their cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, and horrific experiences at the hands of others. Generational sins and addictions are passed along. Depending on the brand of religion and culture, evil spirits manipulate and control in a variety of ways.
Jesus Christ triumphed over Satan and his evil forces when he died on the cross. In victory, Jesus Christ rose with authority over everything, spiritual and physical. He commands His followers to be His ambassadors and live truth-defined lives in His authority.
In the Philippines, we encounter rampant bondage to the spirits of fear, debt, and desertion. These spirits have burrowed deep into the cultural fabric, impacting the daily lives of millions.
For countless generations, fear has ruled daily lives. Fear of spirits, curses, and sickness are common. Spirits are feared and appeased through rituals, purchasing charms or by visiting a witch doctor. Fear of being cursed, either intentionally or by accident also is real.
Another aspect of fear is the fear of breaking the trust of a spiritual or physical patron. This ties into the spirit of debt. In the Philippines, it's possible to own someone if you become their patron. This is one of the pitfalls that can affect missionaries. A patron can use social or financial debt to manipulate, even cause people to desert their families.
Desertion is celebrated as a heroic value if it is done for financial reasons. However, the results reveal a wake of broken families and individuals.
When Jesus Christ entered the Philippines, He came to set the captives free. He commands His followers to study His ways and live Christ-like lives. He firmly instructs them to fear only God and be in debt to no person. Jesus Christ gives us His word, His Holy Spirit, and His authority. Christian parents are charged with the privilege of discipling their children and modeling Christ for them daily. As ambassadors for Christ, they are required to live free from the spirits of fear, debt and desertion.
How do Christ-followers attain this freedom in Christ? Most find it through discipleship, as they learn Christ's truth, reprogram their thinking and apply Christ's kingdom culture to their daily lives.
It takes patient, mature, loving, truthful Christians to teach Christ-followers to live out their victorious callings as ambassadors for Christ! The harvest is ripe! Bring the bondage-breaking liberty of Jesus Christ to those who are held captive.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus Christ
"I tell you. Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." (John 4) Notice three things that Jesus says.
Jesus says, "I tell you." Have you ever had someone take you aside and tell you something important? "I tell you." is a pretty serious segue into something really important. Considering who Jesus is, let's take note of what He says next.
"Open your eyes and look at the fields!" When a farmer looks at his fields that are ready for harvest, he sees something that demands his attention. Jesus is saying, "LOOK and feel the urgency! My fields need your attention!" Why does Jesus say, "Open your eyes and look?"
Look for what? Look for people. When Jesus said this to His disciples, He was in the middle of a harvest field, speaking to a specific woman who He was calling to Himself. He had left the Jewish comfort zone, to go find this precious sinner who would soon become a saint. When you walk through the harvest field, do you see specific people?
"Even now, the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life." Jesus is again speaking very specific truth that we need to pay attention to. He uses a term of urgency, 'Even now." Can you hear the immediacy in His word choice?
Notice that the laborer is reaping. Are you bringing in rice by the basketful? Where are the fields that are white with harvest? Will you consider moving to find those fields? One more thing to note, if you harvest, you get a wage. What is that wage? And, you get a harvest: "a crop for eternal life." There isn't anything better in your eternal life than that! Having your silo filled to the brim with eternal lives! When you think about what you've been storing up in your silos, do you think about specific people who have received eternal life because of your work in the fields?
Who is the farmer in this scenario? It's the Father! In the verse just previous to these, Jesus says, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." Make this connection! When we work in our Dad's fields, we actually find food to eat! Harvesting satisfies us! And, it leaves us hungry for more.
We tend to get protective of our particular row of beans. We don't want to share our rice paddy with other harvesters. Sometimes, we run a fence around the perimeter of our pumpkin patch. It is important to notice that Jesus went out of bounds to find the Samaritan woman. He went into a neighbor's field. Jesus leaves us with the reminder that it's not our work or our produce that we're harvesting. All of the harvest belongs to the Father. Also, notice that the planter and the reaper may be different people. God knows that we love to take ownership. That's why He spreads out the harvesters and sometimes rotates the workers. It's important that we be willing to share the harvesting field with other workers. And, at times, we need to share the harvest! The harvest belongs to the King of the Harvest! Have you ever gotten too much zucchini? (Not that there can ever be too many zucchini!) Too much ripe produce creates a slow rot, unless you can spread the love around to your church and workmates! It's the same with making disciples. Fresh fruit is better than canned fruit. Share the produce and enjoy the unity of harvesting together.
Jesus says, "The sower and the reaper will be glad together." He doesn't mention denomination in this or views of baptism. He focuses instead on three things: Different seasons call for different skills. When the harvest comes, all of the team players are glad together. It takes work to plant, water, compost, fertilize, evangelize, till, weed, kill pests and varmints, disciple and harvest. Are you glad by yourself? Or, are you glad together with the other team players? Can you share in the evangelism? Can you share in the discipleship? Are you happy to work with God's fellow laborers?
Meanwhile! Beg the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers because the trees are heavy with fruit... (There is so much fruit in the Philippines, that the existing labor force can't even get to it all.) If you've worked in an orchard, you know that after the fruit drops to the ground it rots. There is only a short window of time for harvesting ripe fruit. Ask the Father to put you into a field that is heavy with harvest! Open your eyes! Look and fill your silo with eternally-living saints!
Healing of the Nations
When John saw the New Jerusalem, he saw God's desire for healing. "Through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Have you ever had an out-of-control skin condition or wasting disease? When you get really sick, you understand how fragile your health is. When you recover, you try to forget about it and embrace life!
This month, read the Bible and look for references to healing. We read the Bible looking for salvation, wisdom, or freedom. For the next few weeks, latch onto and think about the verses about healing.
Make a short mental list to answer this question: What kinds of healing do people in my sphere of relationships need? Healing is a holistic term that we use for a spectrum of illnesses from spiritual to relational to physical. When you start to evaluate a sickness, there can be connections between the spiritual and physical. Jesus spoke to this connection when He healed a paralyzed man and then told him, “See, you have been made well. Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you.”
Broadening Your Definition of Healing
One size does not fit all with healing. Some people are desperately sick in their spirit, but vibrant in their physique. Some are sick in their souls, while many are sick in their heads. Some have physical sicknesses for obvious reasons. And, others are sick for only reasons God knows, like the man born blind that Jesus healed. When asked if this blindness was connected to sin, Jesus said, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."
Obstacles to Healing
Your Culture Impacts Your View of Healing
In the States, we separate spiritual from physical healing. This impacts how we read Bible verses on healing. Does an average American Christian really believe that God enjoys healing people physically? If you are a European or Australian Christian, do you believe that God loves to heal spiritually? How about emotionally? How does God feel about healing physically? Begin to read the Bible and meditate on what types of healing God enjoys doing. Don't limit God's definition of healing with what you're comfortable with culturally.
Fear Creates Limits
Many of us read the Bible, pray, and assign to God limitations based on our definition of healing. Some of us approach the subject of healing with fear... fear that God won't heal. Fear that our understanding of God's healing power might be too Charismatic. Or, just fear that we'll have to defend God when He doesn't heal in the way we expect.
If you don't believe that God will heal, it's probable that He won't. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit given through your reading the Bible. God is not limited by your faith and will heal if He wants to. But, your lack of faith will probably get you little healing. Instead, confess your lack of faith and meditate on God's truth.
Green Lights to Healing
When you read the Bible, you find that God responds to faith with healing. Faith is a trusting hope that God will do what He's done before, what He's said He will do. Faith doesn't restrict God's answer to a time or place. Faith assumes God wants to heal and expects that He will. For example, if you have a broken spirit and you read Bible verses about your identity in Christ. When you pray for God to heal your broken spirit, you expect that He will. Why? Because God heals the brokenhearted: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Sometimes, this happens instantly. Other times, it happens at a different time than the prayer.
Ambassadors For Christ
Ambassadors carry the authority of the President, yet the power resides with the president. Spend time studying your role as an ambassador for the King of Kings and the authority that He gives you to extend His kingdom and bring healing to the nations. We pray. We lay hands. We disciple. We counsel. We encourage forgiveness and humility. We anoint. We wash. We command. Our Sovereign responds in power, in His time, in His way. We don't have a spirit of fear. We have a spirit of confidence and expectant faith in our King's desire to and power to heal: spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
The Father Plans to Heal
Jesus was busy doing His Father's plans here on Earth. In John 14, Jesus mentions that it was actually the Father working through Him. Then, Jesus says that we will do greater works than He did because He is going back to Heaven. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us do the Father's works. When you pray for healing, you're asking the Father to work His plans through you, just like He worked through Jesus. "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
God's Definition of Healing
Jesus came to absorb the curse. Through Jesus' horrific death, He purchased the right to free us from the curse and its effects. What does that mean for healing? Some Christians only define healing as spiritual. Others, define it as spiritual and physical. In this life, you will be healed spiritually and physically. And, in this life, there will be times when you won't be healed spiritually and physically. It isn't all or nothing because all spiritual healing and all physical healing is within the sovereign plan of God. It's His good pleasure to save, to heal, to give freedom. "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5
Learn Your Identity in Christ
I see God gift limited freedom to Christians until they learn and exercise their identity in Christ. I've also seen God give powerful freedom and healing to Christians who know their identity in Christ and apply that authority daily. Are you walking in a limited knowledge of your identity as a child of God? Are you limiting God's work in your life by putting unBiblical limitations on Him? Of course, God isn't limited by your beliefs. But, He does seem to choose to act within your requests and beliefs. (Again, don't fall into an all or nothing trap.)
Suffering, Discipline, and Healing
We're here to do the works of the Father. Healing will happen many times in your life. And, suffering and discipline will happen many times in your life. Don't fall into the all or nothing trap. It's both. Some will find spiritual healing through suffering. Some unbelievers will find spiritual healing by seeing you suffer. Our lives revolve around living out the works of God that He's prepared in advance for us to do. Live out those works in full expectation that He's good and enjoys bringing healing to the nations.
Read these Great Commission passages thinking about power, authority and healing. How serious is Jesus about healing people spiritually, emotionally, and physically?
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” King Jesus
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” King Jesus
“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” King Jesus
Being a follower of Christ is 24/7 and trumps everything in your life, including your culture. Your old nature and its culture was taken by Jesus Christ, and replaced with a new nature and His culture. As you live out this new identity, you must actively evaluate and change your values, thought-patterns, and actions.
Why Did Jesus Say That?
Jesus told all believers to go into the whole world and make disciples, teaching them to obey all of His commands. Why did Jesus go straight for the moral jugular? Why not just make disciples and then let those disciples adapt and adjust to make it work in their respective cultures? The golden rule is a moral command in most cultures. Why did Jesus command believers to go out make disciples, teaching them to change their thinking and behavior? While there are many answers, one little word steps to the forefront: culture.
Everyone is Cultured!
Your culture is your values lived out. Many of the values are so ingrained that you don't even realize that you have them. To be honest, most of us have to force ourselves to evaluate our own culture. We think, feel, and make decisions based on values that we've learned from our parents, our peers, media, and even our linguistics. Some of our cultural values actually are just raw humanism emanating from our sinful nature, while others have Biblically-moral origins.
We Inherit a Bankrupt Culture
Naturally, the foundation for all of our prejudices, preferences, and culturally-appropriate actions is riddled with the rot of rebellion against God. Of course, all cultures have some semblance of morality, depending on how far they've slipped from the truth of the Bible. But, even the most moral cultures have the Achilles heal of humanism, which conveniently allows for ungodly solutions like abortion, idolatry, and manipulation.
Example: Fear is Cultural Value with Negative Results
In the Philippines, fear is cultural, based on moral beliefs. Fear of doctors and fear of evil spirits are cultural values for many. Parents threaten their children with injections from the doctor. Instead of going to the doctor, some people take their children to spirit-healers who infuse demonic spirits into the children, causing some sicknesses to become medically untreatable. Children are terrorized by demonic apparitions. Fear of offending spirits creates a daily prayer life for many. When they cross a river, dig in the soil, and interact with nature, they talk to the spirits and apologize because they are fearful of being attacked with sickness and death. This culture of fear produces a cycle of appeasement to the demonic spirits, which is a no-win situation.
Each culture in the world has glaring anti-Christ values, as well as truthful values. The challenge for the Christ-follower is to look at his actions and beliefs, in order to discover the truth about his natural culture.
Discovering Your True Culture
There was a day when your culture started to shift. It was the day that you received a born-again spirit and you became the house of the Holy Spirit. On that day, you became a disciple of Jesus Christ, and you began the process of learning God's family culture. It is a life-long task of evaluating your natural-born culture and adjusting to think and act within Jesus' culture. This is the culture that you were created to live out: Consciously and subconsciously obeying Christ in your thoughts, emotions, and activities. We call this process sanctification: the process of sanctifying your culture to be morally pure like God.
Missions and Culture
Here's where the cultural rubber meets the Biblical road. Jesus said, "I am the way (road), the truth, and the life." Missions is not about changing culture, it's about changing lives and changing thinking. But, authentic, Holy-Spirit missions result in changed cultures. The missionary is the not change agent. It's the Holy Spirit training Christ's disciples how to obey Jesus' commands in all life activities. The missionary consistently, lovingly brings the truth and helps the disciple to reflect on and evaluate his current culture. Through this process of learning and reflection, the disciple changes his moral beliefs, resulting in a change in lifestyle. Resulting in Christ-culture.
Change Your Worldview, Change Your Culture
Discipleship is teaching Christians use the Bible to change the system of values and beliefs by which they view their world. People wear corrective lenses in their glasses to view the world clearly. Discipleship is helping the disciple craft correct lenses for viewing his world. Let me ask you a question: Who crafted the lenses that you view your world through?
Evaluate Your Culture
Look at your life choices from a fresh perspective. Ask yourself these questions: Whose moral values define my culture? Where do I need to repent? What cultural assumptions do I have to root out? How can I obey Christ in my thoughts, job, family, church, and neighborhood? As a citizen of Christ's kingdom, how can I conform to Christ's culture?
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.
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.