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Endurance!

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“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 11:1-3

Praying in Christ’s Victory

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When it comes to the very real dangers in our world today, it involves more than “keeping on the sunny side” with a positive attitude or a stiff upper lip. Christians have become the target of entrenched diabolical forces which know that their strangle hold over this world is being divinely pried from their clutches. This is very much like a confrontation with a cornered animal; it may get out its strongest most cunning survival tactics as a last effort. We need to realize first of all that the “animal” is supernaturally cornered, although it would have us perceive that it grows stronger with every snap of the jaw and swipe of the claw!

That’s the “bad news” in a nutshell. Eschatologically, however, this view gives us a higher perspective of events in progress, which is something greatly needed first of all, appearances to the contrary. So, what’s the “good news”?

What’s clear is that we need to know how to move through the bad news in a transcendent way, to learn to navigate through this tempest. Who am I? Where am I? How do I get though this? These answers are available for the continual asking, seeking, and knocking – within the context of the full counsel of Scripture.

Once understanding is given, we then need to learn to pray within it. Understanding comes from an enlightened consideration of scriptural truth, not vague begging, but knowing who and where we are in Christ, as well as why we are now here. Affirming and proclaiming what is becomes our testimony whereby the adversary is overcome. “What is” in Jesus is truth! Not what I will, but as Thou will, Lord.

The following (bold italicized) is an example which may be helpful. Emotions can trip us up when we feel down. So we pray by scriptural fact and faith! Feelings often change following the exercise of faithfully affirming our truth in Christ! It is good to pray like this thoughtfully and frequently.

Heavenly Father,
I thank You that You have given me all pardon and peace
through Jesus Christ.
You have granted to me all Your power and protection
over the evil one and the world;
You provide for all my need,
in the midst of all circumstances.

You grant me
full and unrestrained access
to Your infinite love and goodness at all times,
within You – omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient-
so that I may lead a godly life
full of Your joy unspeakable,
abundance, graciousness, and glory.

Please let ever increasing measures
of all blessings within this immeasurable greatness
be revealed, released, and restored to me.
Lord it is so, according to Your word,
that the triumph of Jesus Christ
over sin, death, and the devil
is Your desire
for all who believe in You.

Please let every blessing
with which You bless us in heavenly places
be manifest now,
according to Your promises,
and according to the working of Your great might,
Heavenly Father, which You worked
in Christ Jesus
when You raised Him from the dead
and seated Him at Your right hand, and us with Him!
(Ephesians 1:19,20; 2:6,7)

Come, Holy Spirit;
Please work within me and in my life
all that the Father has for me,
through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
in Whom I live, move, and have my being,
now and forever. Amen.

When we have access to divine power over all evil to this degree – for Christ has given us direct access to the Father – what shall we fear? If the Lord truly is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27). Simple. In Christ

I fear nothing and no one!
And it is this I proclaim,
for the Blood of the Lamb has made it so.

The weapons of our warfare are not of mortal thought or design, nor are they of this world, but rather are mighty in God to the tearing down of adversarial strongholds, and casting down the vain imaginations of everything exalting itself against the Most High. (2 Corinthians 10:4,5)

Psalm 27 in itself is mighty prayer, especially when prayed aloud, contemplatively, and personally! This way we can acknowledge and invoke the protection and power of God.

Praying the Psalms aloud each night before going to sleep (5 at a time, allowing for one complete “Psalm cycle” per month, give or take a few) can be very efficacious. Many of these (but not all) were written and probably sung by King David, who was also a gifted musician.

Through these, David shows us how to pray and praise, never allowing defeat or depression to set in or overtake one’s mind. As a king, he reveals to us – through the powerful praying found in the Psalms – the divine dynamo behind the life he lived. His example reveals to us how we can reign, within the power of God, in the life He sent us here to live and to enjoy in His strength.

David may have had his setbacks, but he never settled for defeat. There is never anything short of victory, joy unspeakable, and full of glory written in this mighty collection of hymns and prayers. They are full of proclamations about how God’s love can be abundantly powerful in life!

Jesus also encourages us with His promise (John 16:33), saying, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

If ever we’ve needed the understanding of the truth about who we are and where we are “positioned” spiritually in Christ, that time is now. Praying the psalms and also reflecting on the life of King David can keep us mindful of what we need to understand and embrace: that we can be people of victory who “reign over giants” in life, even reducing them to nothing, by first being people who walk by truth and faith.

Something Someone Needs To Hear

Someone, whoever you are, this is for you:

Sometimes there are people in your life who are running their game, & they get very good at it. They get you to buy in – often by eliciting sympathy. “Feel sorry for me. Take up my cause. So and So is wronging me.” Duplicitous as a Clinton $3 bill. Track record of putting others on a trail of tears using this tactic. Pray for discernment and direction.

Eventually, in spite of efforts to make you believe otherwise, the ruse gets exposed. It always does. You’ve been lied to, or at best been fed half truths. It’s the set up to get your buy in.

In the end, it all boils down to knowing when it’s time to hold ’em and when it’s time to fold ’em. Your life needs to go on, and if someone’s sucking it away because they don’t actually have a life or a real identity, but have a tendency to leach on and draw from yours, with a history of the same, it’s time to draw the line, and say, “You don’t get to come across this line anymore!“

Don’t feel bad about it.

And if you’re a praying person, the confirmation of your suspicions is the answer to your prayers – the signal that you don’t need to accept this anymore. You may have been, or stand the chance to be, host to a parasite, their next stop – if they can pull it off.

Or you may have the gnawing sense (that does not go away) that you simply need to cut the ties with this person.

Very often sensitive, caring people struggle with this – their greatest strength – compassion – can also be their Achilles’ Heel because they don’t have an “off” button for shutting it down. They get conned into things, taken advantage of. They can easily become enablers to whatever the game is.

Your “messages” (to the rest of the world, the situation in question, and to yourself) need to change from, “I’ll do everything possible for you,” to “I’ll do what I can.” And let it go with that. Be in the integrity of that. You are not infinite God; you are finite you.

Trust in God. Eventually you will see things, and hear that Still Small Voice saying, “Time to fold ’em.”

Then get up and step away from the table.

And don’t look back.

Related Scriptures:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)

For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)

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

The “Name” of Jesus Christ: In His Authority

We Stand in His Stead, As His Body, Administrating The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth!

This is actually what it means to be a Christian – to not only represent but to embody Christ through the Holy Spirit on earth. It is not a simplistic thing. It is a powerful calling, with a two fold intention 1) of destroying the works of the devil: “… The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil”. (1 John 3:8). And 2) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

Let’s repeat that: Jesus came to destroy the works (power / authority of the devil and all its manifestations), and make us into sons of God. If we keep these two purposes in mind, a lot of puzzling things fall into place when we read and contemplate the Holy Scriptures.

Jesus prayed for a divinely empowered Church which would stand on Earth against the evil one and all his works “in His Name” – in His authority, in His stead. It does not come from us; it comes from Him. His “High Priestly Prayer” – His last word before His arrest and crucifixion, was a prayer for the bestowal of this on His people:

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22-24)

The Apostle Paul reveals to us that the Father raised us up and seated us in Christ Jesus in heavenly places! We are co-participants in Him through His crucifixion, resurrection, and His ascension into Heaven. We perceive ourselves in this way with the eyes of faith – as in Him in all these events of His Passion.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

This is not just so we can go on a big power trip, or have a “God complex”, but so that we are also aware that our old sin nature is dead in Him, first of all. Out with the bad and old, in with the good and new – all “in” Jesus. In Jesus’ Passion (His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit), we have access to complete victory over sin, self, Satan and his system of this world.

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(Galatians 5:24)

We reckon it so and live in what we reckon.

In the “Great Commission” as Jesus was about to ascend, His final reminder was about His authority, and it is in this authority – in His Name – that we’re to go forth and teach all nations to observe all that He commands. Why? Because through us He is calling souls out of the dominion of darkness into His kingdom to be restored as sons of God!

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Role of Suffering

The foregoing understanding of Jesus’ name and authority brings meaning and purpose to life’s challenges, adversities, and suffering. This is the part that many today do not wish to acknowledge: the Lord’s disciplining of those He is transforming into sons.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) “And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:17)

“For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?… (Hebrews 12:6,7)

“And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed IN us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:17-19)

God will use everything that happens in life for our good! Not just the parts that feel good. Just as gold or other precious metals cannot be purified without the refiner’s fire, so we too spiritually require a similar process spiritually. This is not popular thought in today’s “name it, frame it, and claim it” formula Christianity. To our Heavenly Father we are golden. Yet it remains that the impurities must be removed, and we must also be forged into vessels for holy purpose.

These are just a few basic thoughts on the Name of Jesus. It could be summed up thus and affirmed in this way: If Jesus says that all power (authority to reign) in heaven and on earth is given to Him, and I am in Christ Jesus as a participant in His sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension, and if I live, move, and have my being in Him, then I can speak to all things “in His Name” – on behalf of His authority over all of life.

Thus we need to remember to “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:17)

Take these things to heart. Ponder them often. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the wisdom in these verses and to expand your understanding of them. Our Lord never refuses wisdom to anyone who asks. It does not happen overnight, however, so persevere.

People talk about “being born again”. That is only where it starts, but so many stop there due to popular shallow teaching. One can, however, look to an Old Testament type concerning this. The process can be stated simply this way: A slave could be set free from Egypt overnight, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the slave. For that they were sent wandering in the wilderness, to be prepared for receiving the Promised Land.

You might get free of the devil, in other words, but it takes awhile to get the devil out of you – in a manner of speaking. This inner work of “sonship reconstruction” is done by the sovereign hand of God Himself. We only pray, surrendering our will, “Come, Lord Jesus. They will be done.” And so we show up for work. His work in us by grace.

Simple Response To Complexity

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Each day in some way, most of us are confronted with something that troubles us, something or someone for which we seem to have no answers. When this happens, instead of wringing our hands in frustration or worry, we do well to turn to our Lord. There are many promises He gives concerning those matters too big for us to handle.

But what a Friend we have in Jesus, what an amazing “Friend in High Places” He is! Why is it that so often we think, “All we can do now is pray,” when the very first response to “the impossible” ought to be – without a thought – to take it to the Lord in prayer, trust, and leave it there?

Following are a few promises where He invites us to find our answers in Him. It is good to approach these prayerfully, studiously, and with openness to what they are saying to you. It is good to quietly read and ponder them in context, cross reference them, study them, and really take them to heart. There are many more, for “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge…” (2 Peter 1:3-5)

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

“So I tell you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9,10)

“Come, eat of my food And drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake your folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:5,6)

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” (1 John 5:14,15)

“For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:3-6)

Oh, how vast and bountiful is our Heavenly Father’s willingness to share His mind and his answers with His children who will seek Him whole heartedly! May we always first hasten to Him whenever we are confronted with any complexity when there seem to be no answers… We may not have them, but He does!

Eyes Up!

Are things ramping up to their culmination? Yes, I perceive that this may indeed be the case.

Am I on a roll today? Yes. I can no longer hold back. I may have said more than I should. But perhaps not. For in observing – in terms of “news beneath the news” – what unfolds is startling in many cases. And I pray that many will become awake to it, aware, and call upon the the Lord for His salvation, wisdom, understanding, and direction. This, I’m convinced, will be the only thing that will bring us through the times that are upon us.

An acquaintance calls this Earth an “alien world”. I would have to agree up to a point. A good way of putting it. At least it is an “alien infested” world, with a lot of complicit humans who’ve been programmed to see things “their” way, humans who long ago sold out to them and still do. It’s in the Bible. In the beginning. It’s especially clear in the Books of Enoch. It’s a reason that a plan of redemption and salvation had to commence.

Call them alien, call them demonic, call them fallen angels… a rose by any other name? Not exactly a rose, but more of an incredibly thorny thicket in which humans find themselves spiritually entangled and sometimes enmeshed in mid 2016. It is a cosmic conundrum requiring divine intervention on the level of the Most High, to say the least, with fierce and  continual battle waged on behalf of the children of God by all the benevolent armies of heaven (which we call the good angels) commanded by the Lord of Hosts – confronting the adversaries who rage against Him and against His children.

Could it be that an eviction notice was delivered to the “alien occupation” thousands of years ago, on a hill far away, where stood an old rugged cross – driven like a dagger into the stony dirt of Golgotha, into the head of the serpent of old (their leader), and crushing it? And could it be that, in spite of appearances and ongoing conflict through all of history since, that the evacuation is now at last commencing in fulness – as in “Get out of here. This Earth is not yours, intruders. This Earth is the Lord’s. And this Earth He has given to the children of men to cherish and care for! It is the ‘meek’ who are to inherit the Earth.” This is the edict of the Most High, our Heavenly Father!

What to do?

This is a good time to put this directive into practice: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

Wow! What a sublime thought!

Jesus Himself encourages disciples then and now, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28) “These things” – the tumult of apocalyptic times – are surely obvious to anyone with his eyes open and wondering, what on Earth is happening for Heaven’s sake? We are to “fix our gaze” on something much higher than politics and current events, while at the same time not ignoring what’s going on around us, and especially not sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it’s not happening! A tall order!

Have you been “raised up with Christ”, dear reader? It may be that He is calling to you to surrender your life to Him, in these troubled times. He’s more than the proverbial bridge over troubled water! He wants to take you up higher where He dwells, in Spirit and in Truth, even while in a body here on Earth! The view from that vantage point changes the perspective on everything considerably. It is then – in beholding Him (and you in Him), the view of faith – that “though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:30,31)

How to tap in?

His promise of old: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Wholeheartedly! No giving up. Persistence. And also, “So I tell you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.…” (Luke 11:9,10)

It may be easy, if we let our eyes fall away from the heavenly vision, to sink as Peter did into the water when he took his eyes off Jesus. The times are such that there is every “reason” to do this.

However, Jesus our Savior and Lord invites us to set our sights above on Him, and the things that are much higher in Him. This is how we can come through the greatest challenges. As the old song says, “put your hand in the hand of the Man Who stilled the waters” – so much more than a man, but the very Son of God was sent to set us free from all the bonds of darkness, and to keep us free.

All glory to His holy name now and forever!