Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

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As the summer is winding down and we are moving full steam to the last quarter of the year 2015, the perceptive mind will reveal that now is the time of “back to.” For many students in the United States and in other parts of the world, August and September marks the dreaded end of summer break and the time of going “back to” school; for many on holiday, now is the time of going “back to” work; even this Sunday September 20th, 2015 marks the annual return of what has been dubbed as “Back to Church Sunday,” where churches across the nation make a concerted effort to draw those who have strayed away from or who do not know about the Christian faith into their open doors.
Yet, as I took an excellent course on biblical theology over this summer with Dr. Louis A. DeCaro Jr., I was reminded that in sharing our Christian faith we have to sometimes follow this “back to” theme. We have to look back in order to continue to progress forward. We have to be intentional about going “back to the basics!” So often we teach and preach the Gospel assuming that our audience understands common Christian terms and concepts. We throw out terms like grace, deliverance and redemption freely. Do people really, especially those new or early in the Christian faith, know what they mean? Do people even know what the Gospel is? Do people understand what the term means when we say it?
It’s time to get “back to basics!”

We share the truth that Jesus died as a living sacrifice for our sins so that we would have everlasting life and be restored in right standing with God. How many truly grasp and understand this concept? Has anyone taken the time to really explain the core meaning of salvation and the magnitude of its implications? Or are people left with unanswered questions like what is sin? What do I need to be saved from? Who cares if Jesus died—doesn’t every religion lead to God?
Beloved it’s time to revert “back to basics!”

How many people attend church week after week out of duty, ritual or family tradition, but have no true understanding of what we teach? How many Christians have a robotic connection with God, just going through the motions, while lacking a richly authentic and fulfilling relationship with the Creator? How many people fall away from the Christian faith when trials come because they were never properly anchored in the first place?
People of God we must heed the call to get back to the true foundation—we must run “back to the basics!”

So often we look to the Bible as an anecdote for life’s problems, a guide book of how to live, for encouragement and hope. Sure the Bible tells of us man’s origin, what the end will look like and insight into the character and nature of God. It gives us wisdom on a vast array of subjects including relationships, morality and social justice. No one can deny that the Bible is a strategic map to living your best life, the blueprint to understanding God and His ways and is the Word and declaration of God. Yes! The Bible is and does all of these things!

But despite all of these themes, Biblical Theology emphasizes that the primary theme or core concept of the Bible is that it is God’s story of love for what He created and how from a posture of love, He intentionally worked to save His creation (yes that includes you!). The Bible is the powerful and inspiring documentation of how God simply saved. Saved intentionally, step by-and-step and with unfathomable love.

Now despite all I have said, I realize that depending on the audience it is not always necessary to explain every basic concept when preaching or teaching on a large scale. It is assumed certain concepts are understood as people are more mature Christians. Of course, it is sometimes appropriate to focus on specific themes like victory, breakthrough, hope, faith, anointing, etc. as the Holy Spirit directs us. And small groups like Bible studies and other focused meetings are designed to teach and elaborate on the basics of Christianity especially for new believers. But especially when evangelizing (sharing with others about our Christian faith) and every now and again even from the pulpit, we must take the time to teach the simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the story of redemption.

Journey with me over the next few posts, as the Lord leads, as I attempt to just simply share what I have learned and understand about the Gospel and God’s story of redemption (will even explain this word in later posts). I humbly don’t profess to have every answer nor am I trying to do a comprehensive teaching about Christianity. But simply based on my own experiences and the teachings that I have accepted from a variety of sources on my Christian walk, I will share what I understand at this point to be the truth…..my truth. Please feel free to comment, correct or share your own understanding and experiences as we go along. If you can bring insight into a certain topic, please share. My prayer is that someone will be drawn to Jesus Christ, others will get further understanding of who He is and we will all be reminded, even those who know Him, that God indeed loves us with an unapolegtic, everlasting love!

A firm and basic foundation will always lift you higher….and yet still I rise.
With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,
Stillirise323

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“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”
Philippians 1:12, NIV
It is inevitable in life to go through some tough times. As long as you draw breath, trouble in some form is a given. God never promised us an easy life. Yet, sometimes like me, you must wonder, what is the purpose.
Well, God is pretty amazing in that he is a multi-tasker. He can kill several birds with one stone, accomplish many purposes in one shot and get all the glory.

Although I admit not always pleasant to endure, your troubles and trials will make you better. If you allow them to and submit to the process, the Holy Spirit can use them to make you stronger, increase your faith and sharpen you overall. Through trials we can become more like Christ.

But beyond that, as Paul says in this scripture, your story can help advertise the Gospel and the good news of salvation (deliverance from the oppression of sin) through Jesus Christ. As God helps you endure, as you display your trust and faith in Him even in the darkest hour, as He keeps you in a state of perfect peace and as He works miracles and solutions in your favor, you will draw people to the person and glory of God.

So what are you going to do? I say this just as much for myself, as someone who sometimes has their own struggles of faith during difficult times, as I say this to you. Are you going to allow the time of trial to be a waste? Or are you going to allow God to use it to reshape you for the better and bring glory and honor to His name?

Let your test be a great testimony for the glory of God and an instrument to bring people to salvation in Jesus Christ!

And yet still I rise,

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

It is a well known fact that sports teams will review old game tapes to study high points during play, recognize mistakes made, pinpoint needed areas of improvement and hone in on the strategies of their opponents.  It is no different if you want to be victorious in spiritual warfare.  One of the sharpest strategies you can deploy against our greatest enemy, Satan, is to know his moves and plan of attack ahead of time. In our favor is that the tactics of the devil hasn’t changed much since he was first transformed from one of God’s highest and most beloved angels to the evil nuisance we know him to be today.  The bible gives clear insight as to how the devil operates against God and His creation.  It’s like being in the American army and having the battle plans for the Taliban at your fingertips. If you study it enough, you are already ahead of the game simply because the same way the devil attacked those biblical characters thousands of  years ago is the same way he continues to assault mankind even now.  And although the bible may have been physically written by men, it was unmistakably composed under the divine inspiration and guidance of God himself.    Not only does our Supreme General exercise complete power over the Enemy and delegates boundaries as to what he can and cannot do, because God is omniscient(all-knowing) He knows the devil’s moves before he makes one step.  What more of an advantage can we have than that? To side with God we can only win. To rebel against Him is eventual loss and certain destruction.

People think of spiritual warfare only as some form of black magic like Voodoo or Santeria.  Some spooky hocus pocus or crazy manifestation of demonic possession with foaming at the mouth or someone’s head spinning backward like in The Exorcist.  Although those things would certainly constitute some aspects of spiritual warfare, in actuality spiritual warfare spans an entire spectrum of activities and can range from something as simple as your wallet being stolen to something as complex as voodoo rituals. Anything that the Enemy uses to torment, oppress or harass you could be considered spiritual warfare.   Anything that opposes God’s will for your life is spiritual warfare.  Anything the Enemy uses to keep you from living in the fullness and blessings God has for you is all out war.

So how does the devil fire against us?   It usually comes through 3 main weapons: you, others around you, situations/circumstances.  His 3 main means of ammunition?:  Doubt, deception and division.  As I write this I hear the Lord saying add to that distraction and delay. Remember that the devil is not ever-present and all powerful like God. He must enlist quite a bit of help to assist him. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV).  These principalities, powers and hosts of wickedness are the scores of demons or fallen angels who have pledged allegiance with the devil against God, His creation and His kingdom.  So one Devil.  Many variations of principalities and hosts of wickedness.  Legions of demons and fallen angels. It’s these demons who go around and create havoc on behalf of Satan.


It Starts With You

One unique weapon that the devil loves to use against you is….you.  You in and of yourself.  In hurting you, not only does he destroy you, he can in turn use you to destroy others. The first place of attack? You guessed it–the mind. It makes sense that this would be the most detrimental place to target.  After all the mind is what separates man from animals, nature and inanimate objects.  As I read somewhere, it is the gift that God gave us that makes us more like His image compared to other created things. It can also be easily influenced. If we are not careful, the Enemy can easily feed us his thoughts and deceive us into thinking it is our own or worse, God’s thoughts.   I love the way Reverend Eugene Harris put it as paraphrased:  “the enemy doesn’t really come at you like an outside person.   He talks to you as if it were you.” In attacking you the devil may use all 5 forms of ammunition (deception, doubt, division, distraction and delay) and it generally begins with a deceptive and distorted view of yourself and eventually everyone around you. Thoughts of self-hatred and low self worth plague the mind: “I am hideous; I can’t do anything right; I’m not good enough.” With scales over your eyes you can’t see that you are beautiful, loved and treasured by God with unique gifts and talents waiting to be proclaimed to the world. In that wounded state with no self confidence and low self-esteem you may easily develop a distorted view of others around you.   You are now a potential weapon in Satan’s hands.

Before long you may find it hard to distinguish between the voices of evil versus God’s righteous still small voice. “She doesn’t like me. I should have what they have. They deserve to die.” What is irrational becomes rational, what is wrong becomes right; abnormal becomes normal in a demon-influenced mind. Demons of anxiety, anger, rage and fear to name a few become major players in this scenario. With all of those thoughts impacting your mind, you most certainly are distracted and detoured from the path you should be walking, which all inevitably ends up in delay. Delay of blessing, delay of purpose, delay in living the life God has planned for you.  It is here also that the devil loves to plant seeds of doubt that blossom into full blown crops of distrust and denial of God and His power.  “God is never going to heal me or save my troubled child; God can’t do anything for me; God is cruel.” These are just a few of the thought patterns and examples of how the Enemy uses doubt to keep people from knowing our Maker. This is why it is so important to feed your mind with the things of God and to have a firm foundation in Him.  To not do so is to open your mind to full demonic attack.

When the Enemy Is Outside

The devil doesn’t just stop at making you your own enemy.  He also loves to use others to come against you as well.   In this arena no party is off limits.   Mother, sibling, friend or stranger–anybody knowingly or unknowingly  can be the offender! Doesn’t mean you have to go around being paranoid, disowning family members or be suspicious of every person you come across. Recognize the enemy is very crafty. This is where deception works the best.  These are the instances where the devil sends those counterfeits or false friends up in your space deceptively presenting themselves as allies, when they are really on assignment to sabotage you;  where your boss zeros in on you to make your life a living hell with intentions of derailing you; where  God may have called you for an unexpected purpose in ministry and your family tries to dissuade you. Distractions and delay come heavy in this category.  The one who the devil nicely packaged as your “soul mate” or ” the love of your life”on the outside, brings a  load of misery and heartache later on.    It is also here that people driven by demons of jealousy, envy, greed and hatred would go to such lengths as rape, robbery, murder or even involvement in black magic to harm others. Whether by attacking you directly or through outside people,  it is easy to see where the Enemy uses these tactics to isolate and cause division. He is well aware that alone or separate, we can be weak and vulnerable to a quick downfall.  Yet in the strength of unity and agreement, we have the best chance of overcoming the powers of darkness and being victorious.

Situations and Circumstances

Lastly the enemy loves to attack through situations or circumstances. These attacks vary in degree and can also be quite subtle.  I remember a good friend of mine sharing that in her attempt to call and minister to a woman who needed help in a women’s center, her phone was mysteriously blocked.  She literally could not get a call through to that person.  When she astutely realized what was going on, she had someone else call from another phone and they were able to get through.  Imagine how that woman would have missed out on her blessing had my friend not discerned what was happening. The attacks can be that subtle. As subtle as losing your keys just steps from your front door,  to something more obvious like a  car accident 5 minutes from home. Another way Satan loves to torment and frustrate us?  Sickness and infirmity.  Cancer, diabetes, HIV and all other forms of disease loom around us, traveling in our genetics, all the while becoming more and more prevalent.  On an even broader scale the enemy attacks and oppresses by  influencing societal shifts and norms as seen in such realities as racial or gender inequality, poverty, violence and glorification of sexual perversion and immorality.  Nature? Yep the enemy can work through that too. The bible says in the book of Job after God gave the devil permission to attack everything Job had with the exception of taking his life that “suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people … (Job 1:19, NKJV), basically killing Job’s children.  By this passage, the belief is that the devil, with God’s allowance can influence nature.  Hence it is clear that the devil comes by different modes or avenues of attack all with the motive to ultimately kill, steal and destroy.

My intention in writing this post is not to scare you or be the bearer of all doom and gloom.  I cannot claim to be an expert or have all the answers for such a complex subject as spiritual warfare.  But as I am learning on my own journey, I do hope this writing has at least  given you a greater awareness of the presence of spiritual warfare, the importance of being informed and better insight on how it affects us every day of our lives.  Realize that so much of what influences this world as we know it is truly spiritual.  Be knowledgable and vigilant of the schemes of the enemy, ask the Lord to help you avoid the  pitfalls of deception and seek Him for help in handling each situation with love and wisdom.  It may mean cutting or moving people out of your life, learning to practice more patience with family members, praying more, fasting, studying the Word or just drawing closer to God overall.  Believe and trust God for His protection and covering against all evil.  Know that God by his Holy Spirt when asked will always give you guidance and wisdom.  Rest in the fact that He is in full control.

Up next by God’s grace—looking at the awesome weapons we have to fight the good fight.  The devil may have his warfare tactics, but with Jehovah Saboath (the Lord of the living armies) yet  still I , you , we rise……

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323