Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

The Higher Rock

July 20th, 2018

From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

The wise man feels his need for the Lord’s strength, guidance, and help. God rescues us both from within and without. He leads from within by the act of transformation, leading us to be patient and kind, instead of reactionary and uncaring. He leads from without by changing circumstances and delivering us from overwhelming temptations. Many shut doors are not cruelly closed by God, but in love He is removing from us circumstances for which we are not ready.

Lead me

We must be led by God to search for what is greater than we are in ourselves. God creates a thirst for something better and greater than we have in ourselves. Failure and setbacks and frustrations are God’s way of teaching us to search for something greater. He leads us to higher rocks by showing us what we are not yet but would like to become.

The first three attributes of the Spirit’s fruit is “love, joy, peace.” This triad shows three things that we all want. God begins his work in us by giving us what we do not have and in measures that we do not experience in life – endless love, boundless joy, immeasurable peace. These make us want to thirst for more and more of God and from God. And surely if we do not have more, these will not last.

To the Rock more patient than I

Peace will not last where there is no patience. We need to draw on the Lord’s patience when we have none in ourselves. When we are discouraged with circumstances and people, when we are out of endurance and patience within us, then it is we need to lean more heavily than before on the strength and patience of Christ. Oh, for the patient peace of Christ that would allow me to sit quietly in meetings without impure or angry thoughts crossing my mind!

To the Rock more kind than I

Kipling aspired to “fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run” and we need to do more than merely endure. We must also in the midst of frustrating circumstances convey a message of love and hope. It may feel like victory if we merely keep quiet, but we need to do more than that. We must be kind and caring. In the fruit of the Spirit, “patience” is followed by “kindness” and “goodness.” We will only be as patient as we are kind and only be as kind as we are good.

To the Rock that is stronger than I

And “goodness” is followed by “faithfulness” and then by “gentleness” or “meekness.” These two traits are more than mere attitudes that we try to put on. They are the transforming work of Christ in our lives that He achieves by His Spirit. We are weak in faith but God always is confident in what He is doing. When we seek to be strong in ourselves we will stumble over the plan and means of God. But if we can be meek and gentle and surrender to Him, then He can change us.

To the Rock that is more disciplined than I

The final attribute of the Spirit’s fruit is self-discipline, or “sound mindedness.” It is on the list, but it is the last on the list. Think how differently this passage would read if it were first. Though a result of the work of the Spirit, if it were first on the list, then we would take credit in ourselves for everything else. But though it is on the list, it is last on the list.

Divine love makes for more discipline in life, more control over sinful urges. The divine love of God let’s us know that we can trust our souls to Him, that we can open our hearts all the way and lay them before Him. We will find grace and patience and love and acceptance in Him. The sin He forgives and cleans away, and He reshapes us into people of eternal hope.

When you feel weak, turn to God in prayer. Admit your weakness and surrender to Him. Allow Him to do in you what only He can do! He is the Rock that is higher than you!

Psalms, Spiritual Growth

Territorial Spirits

December 19th, 2016

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:13 NKJV)

The topic of territorial spirits has been treated by Christians by giving it both too much and not enough emphasis. The Bible does, however, present this spiritual reality in Daniel 10:13 and 10:20, and in Mark 5:10.

Over-emphasis leads to error: One of the tendencies of those who put too much emphasis on territorial spirits is to go about trying to cast these demons out, seeking out demons themselves to engage them. But there are no examples in scripture of people doing this. This method leads to error. We are not to go out and challenge demons but rather to take a defensive stance against his attacks on us. James teaches us to resist the devil, not to attack the devil (James 4:7). Ephesians 6:11 teaches us to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “Standing” is different from “attacking.” And though we do take on Satan’s kingdom whenever we preach and teach and evangelize, and though we do have the power to even cast out demons of people possessed by them (Luke 10:17 and Acts 16:17-18), the emphasis of our ministry must be the preaching of the truth of God.

We have the expression, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” and it comes from this biblical teaching. Jude especially warns us of the foolishness of us seeking to directly provoke the devil.

But even when Michael the archangel was arguing with the devil and debating with him concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” But these men do not understand the things they slander, and they are being destroyed by the very things that, like irrational animals, they instinctively comprehend. (Jude 1:9-10 NET)

The emphasis of the scripture is to preach the gospel, to teach the truth, to resist the deceptions of the devil, and to stand in the full armor of God the work of the devil as we depend on the power of the Spirit of God to enable us. We are not helpless – we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Rom. 8:37) – yet the power to resist comes from God, not us.

Satan’s kingdom is a genuine evil spiritual power that we are not to underestimate or play around with. God is greater than the devil, and Christ in us is greater than the devil that is in the world, but one of the chief tricks of the devil is to appeal to our lusts and our pride. Many a Christian has been brought down by in his pride overestimating his own power, rather than by confessing his own weakness and depending on God. Jude’s word was that not even Michael the faithful Archangel was so presumptuous.

Under-emphasis also creates problems: Yet there is something to this matter. It is not a figment of people’s imaginations but a genuine spiritual reality that is taught in scripture. Anyone who has traveled and ministered in Christ’s name to different nations will be aware that different cultures have different spiritual problems. Though Jesus Christ is the solution for all people and for all nations, there still are different ways that people are spiritually bound. Paul referred to all the world’s peoples when he wrote:

But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:2-4 NET)

This blinding comes in different shapes to different nations. Some are steeped in fear and superstition, bound by Satan’s deception as to the reality of the spirit world. Some are addicted to strong emotions and uncontrollable passions. Some are deceived in that they deny spiritual powers exist at all. Some are controlled by greed. Some are fatalistic and angry. And we can go on and on describing the unique traits of the different peoples of the world.

We may pass these differences off to the peculiarities of climate, culture, and history, as well as some unique individuals who have come along, and I suppose all of these things play some part. But could it also be that these differences reflect the unique touches of the different territorial spirits? Satan’s kingdom does have organization, as Paul wrote, we fight against: “the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Eph. 6:12).

Regardless of the manner of deception and spiritual blindness and enslavement, all the world needs Jesus, and Jesus can save and set free all who call upon Him in truth. This should call for some patience on our part, and not to be quick to judge or to think lowly of people from different cultures. We may notice their faults, while they notice ours, but neither of us have walked in the others’ shoes and can only say as Paul did:

And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest. (Eph. 2:1-3 NET)

But God in His mercy in Christ Jesus forgives us and sets us free. And that is the important factor.

Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Maturity , ,