Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dissention Within the Church

Gracyn Pouting-1
This blog post was written January 2009. This issue is near and dear to my heart. By reposting this, it is my desire that we as the Church bring life to one another. That we would be aware of Satan schemes and pray against his efforts to divide and conquer within the church and within the family. Dissention is a spirit used by the enemy to bring division.

My prayer is not for them alone(the disciples), but for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be ONE, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20 – 23

How amazing that the last prayer Jesus prayed that dark night in the garden of Gethsemane was that we, the future believers, would be ONE! That we the future believers would be brought into complete unity. Our relationship with Christ must be so deeply rooted in Him that our lives reflect HIS character. Only when we reflect Christ to others will there be complete unity within the church. Only when we are allowing Christ to use us for His purposes will we be an encouragement to others. God desires us to be in relationships that point us back to life and complete wholeness in Christ. He desires us to love one another with this same love having our needs met by Him and in Him alone.
Why complete unity?? So that the world would know that God has sent his only son Jesus to die and be resurrected out of His great love for us. People will not only hear the gospel but see it lived out in believers. I truly believe that people are searching desperately for the Truth, truth that is life changing, truth that really does make a difference. If we don’t love one another within the church how on earth are we going to love those in the world? If we don’t love one another within the church how on earth are we going to make any real eternal difference for Christ?
You see when we are so focused on inner dissention within the church our focus will be taken away from our real enemy, Satan. I want to read you a passage from Michael Youssef’s book, Know Your Real Enemy, Dr. Youssef calls these sins, socially acceptable sins. Sins that are so widespread among the church that we dismiss them. He goes onto say that these sins have the greatest long range negative impact upon you, your family and the body of Christ. They are sins that express conflict in our ordinary day to day relationships at home and at church, church member and church member. He goes on to list these socially acceptable sins. Listen to these!

· Gossiping and murmuring
· A critical spirit
· An unforgiving heart
· Rebellion against God’s principles in marriage and in the home
· A husband’s relinquishing of power within the role of spiritual responsibility in the home
· A wife’s resentment of her husband’s spiritual leadership
· Spiritual pride and jealousy
· Putting others down
· A desire for self-promotion
· A child’s refusal to obey parents
· Divisiveness and rebellion against spiritual authority

Satan knows dissention within the church will hinder the growth of the church. To be difference makers in the world we MUST be different than the world. The world must see something different in us. Our life the way we live it out must be so deeply rooted in God that it brings hope and LIFE to those around us. You see these sins listed above are life stealers because they are focused on tearing down relationships with other believers and within the family. These socially acceptable sins leave us feeling downcast and insecure.

We hear someone gossip and it breaks down our ability to trust others with the things of our past or the things we hold closest to our heart.

When we are around those with a critical spirit we become weighed down to be perfect in fear that our mistakes will be talked about in attempt to make others feel better about themselves.

When we have an unforgiving heart we live a life of bitterness and resentment. We weigh down those around us with this bitterness.

Life stealers. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. As Michael puts it in his book, the enemy comes to divide and conquer. On page 56 of Know your Real Enemy, Dr. Youssef states, "Watch out for the socially acceptable sins. Satan knows that if he comes out in the open and fights a biblically sound church, he will lose. So he will not even try. Instead he will attack from another direction. He will infiltrate the churches with people with spiritual pride, people who are possessed with critical spirits, people who are seeking self-promotion, people who cannot distinguish between a true angel of light and the fallen angel masquerading as an angel of light. And through them will begin to sow the seed of doubt to sow the seed of discontentment. He will begin to sow the seed of division and partisan spirit. And before you know it, the churches leadership will be running around trying to put fires out, and losing their fire for God and the gospel." These sins listed above are common issues that create conflict within the church.
Continuing to look at Jesus’ prayer in the Garden before his death, My prayer is not that you will take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. John 17:15 The Greek word for evil in this verse is the word poneros (pon ay ros) which means full of labors, annoyances, hardships, pressed and harassed by labours, bring toils, annoyances, causing us pain and trouble. Jesus is praying for our protection against the devil who desires for us to be in conflict with one another. He is praying for our effectiveness in this world which is Satan’s domain. Satan desires to give us a life full of hardship, labours, annoyances, He brings us harassment and toils. He causes us pain and trouble. But Jesus has prayed for us and continues to pray for us.
Behind every argument between believers and family is an enemy that desires dissention. An enemy that desires to divide us. An enemy that wants to sabatoge our relationships with each other. An enemy that wants us so focused on our dissention with fellow believers and family members that we aren’t focused on him and his tactics.
Let me explain, Satan is crafty. He is the father of lies. He knows that to make an eternal difference we as believers must be one. After all this was Jesus’ prayer right before his death. Knowing this he does everything in his power to cause dissention within the church. He wants us focused on our differences, He wants us to become prideful in our assessment of scripture, He wants us focused on gossip and the things we don’t like, He wants us believing that we get all our needs met in church and our focus on any of the particular needs that are not being met at that moment, He wants us focused on ourselves and not on others, building ourselves up knowing that in our building of self we are tearing down the foundation of serving others.
Ephesians 6:10-12, 18. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full of armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
You see, Paul, is telling the early believers to be on guard against the devil’s schemes. That their battle is not with each other but with the spiritual forces of evil. Our battle is not against other believers or our husband or our children or even that particular friend. Our battle is with the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. This battle we were not created to fight on our own. We must have the help of the Holy Spirit. He goes on to say and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Sisters in Christ let us not hinder our effectiveness with a spirit of dissention. It is my prayer that our eyes will be open to the ways Satan tries to infiltrate and destroy our relationships. Relationships that God intended to us bring blessing and intimacy. Let's pray for an awareness of the devil's schemes.

Picture above is of Gracyn. I wanted to use this photo of her because her expression reflects how I often feel. So often how I feel is written all over my face.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Thirsty Land

For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water. This one will say, 'I am the LORD's', and that one will call on the name of Jacob; and another will write on his hand, 'Belonging to the LORD,' and will name Israel's name with honor. Isaiah 44: 3-5

Jesus, stood and cried out saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' " But this He spoke of the Spirit. John 7:37-38, 39

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
Sunflowers in bloom-1
Are you parched? Is your Spirit in need of refreshment from the only well that never runs dry? So often, I look to the wells of the world to satisfy. I look to what the world offers and wonder why I'm exhausted, run down and discouraged. With my head hung low, I slowly come to the realization I need to look up and realize where my help comes from. I need to look up and see Him as He is and put Him in His rightful place in my life, which is in the forefront of everything. He is everything. His provisions are perfect, His water overflowing, His Spirit within me COMPLETELY PERFECT. His Spirit is more than satisfying and His Word is the means by which He satisfies. He has made provisions for every one of my days and it is up to me to trust in and take hold of these blessings, not for my glory but to be used by Him to bring Him glory and to let the Living water within me overflow into the lives of others. Particularly my children who are walking in my footsteps and my husband who is leading the way. May my hands not tear down and instead be used to build up my family and those the Lord puts in my path. Living water, which is alive within me and bubbles up to overflowing. A fountain of grace, for no other Name could have set me free and placed my feet on the solid Rock of Jesus. His love never fails, His mercy is new every morning and His grace sufficient in weakness. As the world grows darker may my light shine brighter and the living water within me refresh those He puts in my path. May I declare with boldness all He has done for me to those who have no hope within themselves. Are you barren within, parched? Jesus has the power to satisfy and water the areas within you that are dying. He will pour down his blessing in abundance to all who ask, the blessing of Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who is alive and active within us and turns our barren desolate souls into lush gardens of grace. He is our Comforter and Helper. The One who was poured out like a drink offering is the only source of life for the barren soul. The One who has declared the end from the beginning, who knew every one of our days, is the same today, yesterday and forever. No matter how dark your life is right now, He is the everlasting light. His glorious light is a beacon in darkness. For you, He has set His sights.
"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ' I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. ' Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place. 'Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it? And you are my witnesses. Is there any other Rock? I know of none." Isaiah 44:6-8

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Intimate Prayer for Today

The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" Behold the Lord GOD will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him. Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. Isaiah 40:8-11

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our GOD. Isaiah 61:1-2

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5

Jesus is the Word that became flesh and dwelled among us to reveal to us the Truth. John 1:1

Jesus is the One who can set the captive free, proclaim liberty for the one who is a slave to sin. He brings freedom to those who are prisoners to fear and held in bondage to self sufficiency. Right now is the favorable year of the Lord for He has come to bring freedom, hope and life to all who call on His name.

Lord, You are the faithful and true witness, the first born among the dead. The one who was dead but now is alive and seated at the right hand of God, constantly interceding on my behalf. I turn over all my burdens to You. I drop the bags before You that have been weighing me down. These bags were never mine to carry. You are always with me and You are intimately involved in every detail of my life. You are mighty to save and intimate in Your love for me. Fill me with Your peace and this home with your Presence. I ask for Your Word, the Living Water, to rain down on my life and water the areas within me that are parched. May the flowers within me flourish and make for You a beautiful boutique. I acknowledge that I am nothing without You and within me is no good thing apart from You, but Praise be to God, that Your perfection is within me in the form of your Holy Spirit. You are always with me, in me and working through me. May my life be a living testimony to Your grace and Your ability to transform a life, for Your glory. Lord, I have nothing to give You but my heart and I ask for You to take it and mold it and equip me for service. I lay myself before You and ask for You to take all of me and use me to bring glory to Yourself. To love those You put in my path especially those following in my footsteps. I ask for Your Word to come upon me so that I can proclaim the good news to those who are perishing, both physically and mentally. I pray I will get up on a high mountain in my personal life to see past the insignificant and get a broader perspective so I can proclaim all You have done for me. I turn my girls over to You and ask You to give me the wisdom to raise them according to Your Word and for Your glory, trusting in You to do what only You can do, which is transform their little lives with the power of Your Holy Spirit. You, Jesus, who was and who is and who is to come is in complete control of every aspect of my life no matter how out of control it seems. Rain down your eternal Word in my life and water all that you have given me with your grace which is sufficient in my weakness.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Theif and the Servant

Not much as changed since I wrote this fall of 2009. Life has gotten busy with my four precious girls. I've been yearning to write for some time now but the quiet moments are few. I've been in Revelation since the fall and it has been hard to find the time to write. I've missed my moments on the blog and hope to have more time to write in the weeks to come.
I've been holding onto every moment with Jocelyn, knowing how fast the infant stage goes by, while managing the lives of an 8, 6, and 4 year old. I'm not organized so this can be quite challenging at times. My girls are fun and loud. The Lord did not bless me with wallflowers.
Our house is loud and more often than I would like to admit, chaotic. We are the family that doesn't sneak in anywhere and most of the time, someone is missing a jacket or a shoe. Thank goodness Jocelyn doesn't wear shoes. Check her out. She looks like an angel but screams like a banshee. She is one spunky monkey, following in the footsteps of our Gray.

I want to re post this due to the continuing signs of His glorious appearing. It brings my heart joy to hear from you and to read your blogs. I can not tell you how my heart swells at the thought of meeting each one of you one day in the eternal Kingdom where our Christ will reign. He Was and Is and Is to come. From Everlasting and to Everlasting, He reigns.

It's been awhile, hasn't it? Life has gotten busy and in the midst of the busyness I have lost my footing and focus. I've allowed everyday life to soak up my creativity and steal away precious moments with my God. Life has gotten louder and in the brief moments of silence my fears have screamed at me.
I've been honest with you in previous posts that I struggle with fear. A fear of things unseen. I've also mentioned in the post, Fear of Things Unseen, that fear is a form of worship, for what we fear will be what we will eventually bow down to. If it is a fear of the spirit world, I will give the enemy power over my life that is not due him. And if I'm fearing all the evil in the world than I am in fact denying that, He who lives in me is greater than he who is in the world, I am worshiping and giving power to the enemy of the Living God.
If it's fear of pain, which I also struggle, then I will keep myself from situations that will result in me feeling uncomfortable or pain. I will build up a wall around my heart to keep from feeling anything at all. I am praying about writing more about this in the weeks to come in a post entitled, Tearing Down the Walls.
I want to share with you what I have been wrestling with so that you can be encouraged to stand firm on the promises of God in the midst of all we see taking place within our country and in the world. I personally feel a sense of urgency and a call to repentance. I believe our Salvation is about to break forth like the dawn but just as the darkest hour of night is right before dawn, I feel like our darkest hour is yet to come.
As believers in Christ, there are three things I believe we need to be praying for as we see the signs of His coming, these signs are recording in Matthew 24.
First of all, we need to be praying for strength to endure the darkest hour of night. Secondly, that we will not fear man but will fear God. Third, for the persecuted church around the world. I personally feel the need to be diligent in praying against the temptation of allowing my spiritual house to be broken into by the philosophies and distractions of the world. The darkest hour of the night will bring with it distractions and temptations. It is my prayer that when the thief comes I will be found faithful and sensible. For Jesus' words in Matthew 24:42-46 are to both the expecting and the unsuspecting servants, "Therefore, be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes."
What is the coming of Christ compared to? The coming of Christ is compared to a thief that comes in the night. A thief that comes to the expecting and the unsuspecting. A thief that comes in the darkest hour of night when mockers are mocking and following after their own lusts. 2 Peter 3:3. An hour when the faithful are working and watching for His glorious appearing.
Who is the faithful servant? The faithful servant, according to Jesus, is the servant who is watching and waiting. A servant whom is feeding the household of God with spiritual food and nourishment. It is also the servant who goes into the dark places and allows the Lord's brilliant light of Salvation to break forth like the dawn to people who are walking in darkness. We must have a heart to bring the light of the world into the dark places of humanity and not be ashamed of the gospel and of Him who opens eyes that are blind and ears so that they can hear. It is only in the name of Jesus that the light breaks forth like the dawn. It is during the darkest hour of night that our light shines the brightest. It is the light of Christ that exposes sin for the sake of freedom and brings people out of the darkness and into His glorious light.
I'm watching and waiting...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Life of Focus

Living a life of focus requires taking our focus off the temporal things and placing it on the eternal. Making an intentional effort to live a life free of anxiety and worry. Both of which distract us from living a life of purpose. It is my goal to live a life free from worry while pressing on toward the goal of living a life that glorifies God and puts my focus on the vision He has put in front of me.
The picture above was taken by me in Italy. I thought it captured perfectly what it means to have a long term vision. Notice that the focus of the picture is on a far away house. For me, it captures living a life with an eternal perspective. Keeping my mind fixed on eternity while the temporal fades into the background. So often, I live my life the other way around. My vision and focus is on the temporal, what is going on all around me, instead of on the eternal. You see, what we do with the time we have been given will effect our eternity.
The word, worry comes from a German word which means to strangle. Worry is a form of fear. It is a fear that things are not going to turn out as you expect. It is a fear that you are going to be hurt or rejected in the future or that something shameful from your past is going to come to light. It is a fear that God is not going to come through for you to protect you, provide for you or nurture you as you desperately long for him to do. (Discover the Power of One, Dr. Michael Youssef)
Dr. Youssef goes on to give us these statistics. 40% of what we worry about never happens, 30% is in the past and we can’t change it. 12% worry needlessly about their health, 10% petty anxieties and 8% light worries.
Simply put, Worry strangles our faith and yields us powerless to make any real eternal difference. We miss out on so many amazing blessings and opportunities when we spend all our energy worrying about the future.
What would our lives look like if we lived a life of focus? Jesus, tells us to live one day at a time. Focus on today! Do not worry about tomorrow. Do not worry about the things you have no control over. I believe when we live a focused life we will be able to live our life with an eternal perspective. We will not be bogged down with the worries of the world and distracted by earthly things. I believe he is challenging us to live life with an eternal perspective; our minds focused entirely on eternal things. You know what is my greatest fear? It is that I will miss out on what God has created me to do because I am so focus and distracted on temporal things, things that in light of eternity are insignificant. When I focus on heavenly things and live my life with an eternal perspective my life takes on a whole new level of excitement and adventure. The worries of the day no longer matter. A life of focus.