Hanukkah Day 7

Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?”
So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.” So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, “What are these, my lord?”
Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?”
And I said, “No, my lord.”
So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” Zechariah 4:1-7 NKJV

Dear Heavenly Father –Please speak to us today. Help us to hear what you are saying. Please open our eyes to see and our understanding that we may know you. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! All we want is more of you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

The dreams in Zechariah, all pointing to the coming Messiah, are such traditional scriptures to read during the Festival of Lights.  Especially this one with the lamp, just because it is a lamp, even though it only has 7 lights. And because this book and period of time was when they rebuilt the temple and dedicated it – commemorating the dedication of the temple is what Hanukkah is all about!
It started a few nights ago; strange dreams. So while reading Zechariah, I was relating to the whole message. And yesterday evening before I went to sleep – my struggles from last week and the transformation redirecting me back and all that is going on – words fail me.  But it is beginning to make sense. I feel about as clear as the book of Zechariah is!!
The Jews in Zechariah’s time were coming out of Babylonian exile and being told to rebuild the temple. They were given a long list of blessings if they just repented and followed God, unlike their ancestors, whose disobedience lead them into exile. They responded positively and set themselves to the task… and as they wore themselves out and realized how difficult the task was and how long it would take, they began to get discouraged.
Yesterday, I thought about how these Jews waited on the promises of God ( I know that feeling and I know the discouragement that sneaks in from time to time while we wait on the Lord) – today I explored it more and Oh how they waited. They looked for their Messiah, their rebuild temple, and their blessings – and waited for 500 years. . . just to fail, as a nation, to recognize their Messiah!
Last week I was discouraged much like the Jews that Zechariah prophesied to… essentially he told them that if they humbled themselves and repented they could be the generation to see the Messiah.  Although they initially repented – something went wrong. They were not the generation and the Bible has a silent gap.
At Hanukkah – it is encouraging to me to read the prophesies of the Messiah especially as we look forward to Christmas. But so sad to me as the majority of the Jews did not see how Jesus Christ fulfilled each of these prophesies. 

And as Zechariah dreamed, I dreamed – sleeping giants, a new hat, a Jewish tent and wedding feast, but most importantly:
“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 NKJV

We are on the edge of something marvelous right now – in the middle of the festival of lights – during a time to praise and worship just because He is God – during a time to look forward to the messiah, who has come and redeemed us! A time to know that old prophesies have been fulfilled and therefore the ones left unfulfilled shall be fulfilled. God’s word does not return void.

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” Verses 6-7

It shall not be by my might – or your might. And I told God I would not come back unless He really is the Mighty one of Israel.  And here we see it was by His Spirit. In context, it was by His Spirt the temple was built, in prophetic it was by His Spirit the Messiah came, and it SHALL BE BY HIS SPIRIT, therefore that our generation shall rise. I shall see the mighty powerful God – but it shall be in spirit and not in might.

The great mountain of evil shall be flattened I am laying the cornerstone of the temple – Me, I am the temple!  And as I lay down my cornerstone, let me shout GRACE! GRACE TO IT! Because of course it always come back to grace and grace IS the cornerstone! Hallelujah! I said this was a foundational year – and here the Lord is speaking an confirming – my cornerstone is grace. your cornerstone is grace!

Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” Zechariah 2:13 NKJV

I am not sure yet if words are even making sense to explain – God is showing me more than I can process… Read the book of Zechariah and see!!!
Right Now, God is stirring and there is a great shaking. Right now. In the middle of the festival of light – while we have the holy lights lit, remembering His goodness, grace and miracles!  During a time set apart for joyous worship of God and waiting on Him. During a few crazy news nights with the United State election process and the first public vaccination against Covid-19 in the US. During a time of a pandemic and death numbers and fear on the rise. And we celebrate Hanukkah with a certain amount of loneliness and reserve – a bit of a quiet, solo celebration and a bit of a “Be still and know that I am God” type of mood, without the extended family… YET He is on His way, to flood us with grace.  He is about to heal the sick, make the lame walk, make the deaf hear, make the wise be confounded, destroy the weapons formed against us, oh, Lord I may be getting carried away! But I know you are opening the gate of heaven to pour out and spring forth on us! I know you promised your power and your spirit. I know your promises are always yes and amen! Come Lord Jesus, Come! Clear your name and reputation! I serve a mighty God who moves in spirit and that is mighty enough to transform lives!!! I have a personal relationship with a mighty mighty – but by Spirit – God. 

So, I quiet myself to hear. Listening for His foot steps in the garden of my heart. So, shhhh, listen with me… maybe we can hear Him coming? If not, I know we will at least hear His love and His embrace.

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!           

Hanukkah Day 6

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” Jeremiah 31:31 NIV

Happy 6th night of Hanukkah! Do you celebrate Hanukkah? Recite the Hallel? Eat the latke and cheese? Spin the dreidel? Recite the blessings? And most importantly – understand the meaning and how this applies to our lives today?

Dear Heavenly Father –Please forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Help us keep this world in perspective with your will be done and your kingdom come – first in our hearts and minds. Please open our eyes to see and our understanding that we may know you. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! All we want is more of you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Before we get ourselves into today’s verses, I must apologize to you, the readers, as I have already apologized to God. Many of you who read this blog often, already know that I am usually writing about a week ahead of when thee post. Well, not today – I am not very far ahead. (Today for me is the 4th night of Hanukkah.) Last week was a train wreck of a failure! Yesterday’s post was a combination of all the posts I originally had for last week. They were weak – I was weak. And instead of digging in deep enough with God or turning to my multiple Christian friends and asking for prayer and support, I withdrew and wallowed in the “woe is me” self-pity of a rough week – making it extra difficult. Doubt, discouragement, and condemnation weighed me down.  God has told us to fast and pray – I was eating comfort food and overeating and making a shameful mess of myself. Therefore – I will not give any more time to those struggles. We all have them. And hopefully you will dig into the word, call on someone for prayer and support and not give up as I feel I did over the week. Please forgive me.

Also – I let the festival of lights begin without any mention here, without any glory to God, without the recognition of the blessings that have been, are being and will be! Again – I am sorry. 

I should have spent last week digging into the meaning of Hanukkah and enjoying the first few days of the celebration – as well as enjoying the spiritual growth and closeness with God instead of wallowing in my struggle.

I said the three blessing on the first day – by routine and without heart or meditation. Oh Lord, forgive me – let’s start again. I know, it is not a thing to start again. I know I am not even Jewish! But my good friends are Messianic Jews and have been my child’s godparents (I know, that is a Christian thing, not a Jewish thing) and they have had me teach my son their customs and ways in case anything happened to me and he went to live with them.

We serve the same God – through Christ, a Gentile like me can be saved. It is with deep respect I learn the culture and understand the holidays – it is with deep hunger to know my God!  So:

Blessed are you Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy through God’s commandments, and commanded us to light the Hanukkah candles.

Blessed are you Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, who performed wonders for our ancestors in history at this very time of year.

Blessed are you Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, who gave us life, sustains us, and enabled us to reach this season.

The third blessing is so important and only said on the first night. It seems so much the reason for the celebration.  Hanukkah is the commemorative celebration of the second dedication of the temple as well as a remembrance of the miracle of the lamp staying lit for 8 days while getting more oil for it.

Although the “command(s)” spoke of in these blessings are the old covenant, and we are under the new covenant, it is good to look back at what the Lord has done. The Lord has done so much in both the old and new – even using the old to foretell the new, like in Jeremiah, here, where the messiah is foretold:

“It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:32-34 NIV

As we recall the dedication of the second temple – We can take this time to rededicate ourselves, ceremoniously (or not) back to God and renew our commitment to Him and understand His covenant with us.
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” 1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV

And as we dedicate our temple, our self, back to God again we should do it taking the time to understand the new covenant that God has made with us, as the new temple. The covenant that came with the birth of the Messiah, the Christ.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Matthew 26:26-30 NIV

So tonight, I shall light my candles to remember the many miracles my powerful and amazing God – Adonai, our God, and Ruler of the universe. I know he is worthy of my praise, my worship, and my life! I love the fact that holiday is all about blessing God! I have nothing but grace and even that was given to me by Him – But I have free will and can choose to bless Him and praise Him and worship Him for all that He has and can do!
Tonight, I will rededicate myself as His temple. Not because I walked away or defiled it – but because it is a time to remember the dedication and many times people rededicate on an anniversary of a dedication. Before the Latkes and cheese and olives – I shall remember the new covenant as it was poured out for my sins and the sins of my family. I will give the only thing I have – my self – and I will give me over and over again!

After the last supper they went out to the Mount of Olives signing a hymn. Many believe it was the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which is often quoted or sung for Hanukkah as well.  So maybe I will worship the Lord in Psalms. 

I need more and more time with Him. Relationships are most enjoyable when spending quality time together.  Let me encourage you to do the same and invite your families to join you. Bless the lord, oh my soul and all that is within me!

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!           

Hope without Disappointment

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:1a-6 NKJV

Dear Heavenly Father –Please help us when we are weak, discouraged and disappointed. Please open our eyes to see and our understanding that we may know you. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! All we want is more of you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Well. It is a Monday. The Mondayest, Monday that ever Mondayed. I wanted nothing more than to lie on the floor of my office dyeing of Mondayitis. Was I having a day?! Oh yes – and sadly it was a Monday.
Poor Monday’s get such a bad reputation – but today Monday exposed me to why it does!

So. Disappointment. Crept. In.

It stayed a while and brewed into a rotten and fermented version of itself called: Discouragement.
Such a stupid Monday kind of thing for it to do! Then I stumbled, and by ‘stumbled’ I mean apparently lead by God, to Romans 5:5 and a devotional about how much God loves me. But what stood out the most:
“Now, hope does not disappoint”
Isn’t it the grace of God that leads us to what He wants us to hear and know. So it is therefore apparent that if I feel disappointment, I am not focused on the HOPE!

Oh what a yo-yo my emotions have been, though.  Because I got myself alone with God and cried – But God, I hope! I hope for financial help. I hope for my child’s salvation. I hope for a miracle in my friend’s life. I hope for a miracle in this pandemic. I hope for a move of you across the world. I hope for so many things. And I have to say, I am a little disappointed.
I do recall, God HAS provided for my every need. I know God’s promises for my child. I know that when praying for miracles in people, and changes to their hearts – it is a long process, enduring and persistent pray is required. I know my hopes and prayers are not the small easy prayers for God to fix, requiring a battle against evil spirits and free will. I thank God and give Him glory. Yet, I kind of hoped (yep, that word again) that there would be more visible and tangible proof by this point.

I try not to be discouraged.  Some of my hopes is the release and freedom from certain trials and tribulations.  I have always prayed for the mountain to be moved – and God said to me, not this mountain; this one must be climbed because I want to take you above it. And despite hear from God on it, I still deep down hoped it would be taken from me. Secretly holding onto ‘my way’ in the form of a secret hope.  

For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17 NKJV

And God brings it to light – God brings to light how many of my hopes are really just me hanging onto my plans and I flesh.  Are the hope I have listed above, really fall into God’s hands to do His way and I need to let go? God will do what He is famous for – and do it His way.

Verse 3 and 4:
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Wait – look at verse 1: “we have peace” – I did not have peace today. It was because I failed to recognize that these tribulations (verse 3) – these struggles, the trying of my faith – is designed to produce perseverance. I see with my fleshly eyes that I have persevered for so long and instead of seeing positive changes moving in the right direction, I see more destruction and the opposite of my prayers. I see people I am praying for moving away from God. I see them becoming more empty and hollow. I see the chains they once held, become bondages. I see the situation with the pandemic getting worse in some ways – regardless of knowledge that they are not really as bad as people say. I need to persevere MORE. I need to build my own character – because character produces hope. And that is the kind of hope that does NOT disappoint. That is the kind of hope that isn’t hope in my own selfishness and my fleshly desires. That is hope in the solid and immovable promises of God.

The passage, beginning at verse 6, says when we are still without strength, Christ died for us. And I am so very without strength – still. This whole concept is reiterated many times in the Bible.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV

Going back to old posts here – weakness displayed as humility key to the Lord’s strength and power in us – we have power in HIM!
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10 NKJV

We all experience Mondays like this – and it may not be on a Monday. But we have all felt weak, discouraged and disappointed. When we do, we must encourage ourselves in the word of God. We must persevere, build more character – by faith create a true hope in the plans of God.  And the only way to learn His plan is to spend genuine time with Him praying and reading.

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!           

Vigilant Guarding (5)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Three weeks until Christmas??  Are you ready for celebrating the birth of our Savior!! So much to do! So little time! But what about ourselves – are our hearts and minds ready?

Dear Heavenly Father –Please help us guard our hearts and mind in preparation for what is coming. Let us learn this task now when the battles are small so we so not have to learn while the battles are great. Help us surrender to you as we go deeper and learn to stand fast in our Liberty. Please open our eyes to see and our understanding to know what we are studying today. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

This week I was discouraged. I know – I said guard your mind and heart. Moreover the Bible says guard your mind and heart. Yet, it snuck in.  It happens. I cannot be defeated by it – I am not condemned. I am convicted unto repentance. Father forgive me, please.
So onward and deeper into the word I must go. It is of course our greatest weapon! I shall encourage myself in the Lord and in His strength, because I am weak and oh so human.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV
Tuesday we read this verse in the English Standard Version so today I used the New King James so we can see other choices in wording. Standing firm, standing fast, or back to the Greek root: στήκετε (stēkete) which is from the perfect tense of histemi; to be stationary and to persevere – to be immovable.

I am not in bondage to discouragement. I have no need to throw in the towel. I do not need to go back to the old ways, the old religion, the fleshly me, my ways, or anything else. God is doing a new thing and all I need to do is stand in the freedom wherein Christ has made me free!

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

This standing fast, holding steadfast, standing firm, holding fast, all comes from the same Greek root word. And we see it throughout the scriptures.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,” Ephesians 6:14 NIV

It is even used in the passage about the armor – yes, the armor that we should use to help guard our minds and heart. This requires bravery and courage. This requires we are men and women of immovable faith!

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 NKJV

The Bible says it and I believe it – and that settles it.

“because now we really live [in spite of everything], if you stand firm in the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 3:8 AMP

Stand firm as if your life depends on it – because it does.

Let me tell you about the most powerful thing on earth.
Do you know what it is?
In college I wrote a philosophy paper on this topic: the most powerful thing on earth.  It is not a gun, or a conventional weapon, or even the atomic bomb.  It is so powerful – even God cannot change it.  Wait! DO NOT close the page – hear me out! Yes, God does have a limitation, by His own design.
You see, the most powerful thing on earth is a set mind.
Let me explain: if I set my mind (using the modern American understanding of the word which includes both logical and emotional thinking), if I make up my mind, if I stubbornly cling to an idea I have fixed, then nothing can move me.  If I say I believe in the word of God and then you hold a gun to my head and say, ‘change your mind or I will shoot’, then you might as well shoot because if my mind is fixed, a gun will not change my mind. I know of too many martyrs for Christ whose minds could NOT be changed once they were fixed, therefore by their blood I know it is true.
If you try to convince me that the sky is purple when I know it is blue and I believe it is blue, then not even threatening me with an atomic bomb will change my mind. (I may lie and say my mind is changed to try to save other people – but my mind will NOT have actually changed. It is so powerful nothing can move it except itself if it wants to.)
God has given us free will and He will not manipulate that will to make us choose Him. So if your mind is set that there is no God – then He cannot change it (He created that rule). He may soften your heart, He may show you His love and mercy and try to convince you otherwise. But not with manipulation and He will not magically change the fact that you have free will and can choose to set your mind, to stand fast, to hold strong to whatever you choose.

This is why the Bible says over and over again to stand strong, stand fast, hold fast and the such.  God knows how powerful our mind is.

“With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 NLT

The teachings? Oh they mean the Word of God – which is both the Bible and Jesus Himself!

“But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.” Revelations 2:25 KJV

Just today at work I had to be encouraged – and I did not have a Bible with me in my office. But I hold fast to it in my mind and was able to use my mind to recall scripture (I also could have looked it up on the internet or on my phone – but I did not need to because I have held fast to it in my heart – in my mind.)

I did, however, message my prayer partner. You see the numbers of people testing positive for the Coronavirus have increase a lot in our area and I had just received updated statistics. So I passed them along to my friend and said: I wish my eyes see what I know my God is able to do. I wish my eyes saw the spirit world and not the world with so much potential for death and death. I wish my eyes could see the healing and deliverance I so desperately pray for and believe God for. I wish my eyes could see the bubbles of protection I pray over the clients my agency has charge over. I believe – but my eyes are seeing the enemy flaunting what he presumes is a victory. And I know in whom I believe and He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I ask or think!

(Please keep my place of employment in prayer – we are a healthcare facility with many medically frail individuals at high risk. We recently had a death attributed to this pandemic. We are praying and believing God will protect these people as well as the people who care for them.  That God will be glorified in all of this! Please join us in prayer daily!)

And as I am tempted to be discouraged and although my eyes cannot see what God is doing – I remind myself that I do not need to see because my mind is set! I am standing firm. I am immovable in the promises in the Word of God!

There is great importance in guarding a powerful thing like your mind – because once it is set it can be encouraged to stay.

“Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” Revelation 3:3 NIV

Oh Lord, I remember what I have received and heard – I hold it fast, and repent! Thank you Lord for letting me have a relationship with you. Thank you Lord for hearing my cries and reminding me to stand fast. Thank you for making me stubborn enough not to quit. I hold fast to your faithfulness and promises. I believe, with my mind guarded and firm. Please help us go deeper with our relationship with you. – Amen

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Vigilant Guarding (4)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Are you getting ready for the busy season of cares of this world – I mean Christmas??  We are less than a month away from celebrating the birth of our Savior!! And it’s the time of the year when many put up their emotional guard. This year can we find a better way to manage through it?

Dear Heavenly Father –Many of us have so much past pain. No matter how much we try to heal the holiday season always resurfaces it. Help us surrender these things to you as we go deeper with you. Please open our eyes to see and our understanding to know what we are studying today. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

In many ways this week we have discussed guarding our minds and hearts in the right way and in surrender to God – we should also discuss being overly guarded in the wrong way. Have you even met someone who is very guarded? Who has built walls to keep others out but they have only trapped themselves?! It is kinda down the lines of yesterday’s study of self-imposed limits that we set up. 

It is a normal response for a person to look for a safe place to hide when they feel attacked, rejected, oppressed, hurt, pain, vulnerable, etc. God knew this and over and over He offers to be that safe place.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will sayto the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2 ESV

If we think about the attacks and criticism (and everything else) as physical thing we can almost set up a scene – let’s imagine the end of middle ages in Europe. At this point, fortresses and strongholds were built out of stone and the people could run into them and be safe from fiery arrows and stones.

Quick google search shows a fortress, to be a noun, and is “a military stronghold, especially a strongly fortified town fit for a large garrison”.

And another quick google search shows a stronghold is “a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack” or “a place of security or survival”.

As troops advanced they build new strongholds to protect their newly claimed territories. And the people could hide in these new strongholds. They had lookout towers and offensive openings used to attack back.  Are we all imagining the castles? 
So it is the holidays and these things come up and we run into the closest castle. But what if it is the enemy’s castle?

Both people running into a fortress for protection and building your own fortress is a lie. In one you are tricked into the wrong stronghold. In the other you are tricked into “building your own” which in the end turns out to also be the enemy’s trap to bind you. Both are lies.

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 ESV

God created us with the CORRECT response of wanting to flee into a stronghold and safe place – because HE IS THAT STRONGHOLD AND SAFE PLACE!!! Therefore we must guard ourselves about giving territory to the enemy by helping him build strongholds for himself and taking us captive.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV

When the Bible speaks of taking down stronghold – it means all things that are not God. Cause God alone can protect and shield us.  God is a strong fortress that cannot be torn down!

So – first we need to acknowledge we are prisoners in the wrong castle! Oops.

Then we need to shelter in the correct place – in God.

Finally, let us destroy the stronghold as 2 Corinthians 10:4 says.

How to Escape Chains:

Paul and Silas were tossed into prison and we can use their example to free us from the chains:
“they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:23b-26 ESV
It is somewhat important to note a few things: for example, Paul and Silas did not run away immediately, they were taken out of there very orderly. So when your chains fall off – do not run all willy-nilly in any direction – be led to safety.
We have undoubtedly heard that praise breaks chains! It does. But there is a shaking. We don’t like the shaking. Sometimes we stop praising when the shaking starts because it is scary. But we must keep praising – in the presence of your enemy, in the face of the giant, in what feels impossible, and in the chains while the world trembles and walls and rocks crumble. Keep praising till the chains break.
Peter escaped his chains in prison another way.
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” Acts 12:6-8 ESV
So Peter slept, so the angel had to strike Peter (hit him? kick him?). Doesn’t Peter wish he tried praising the Lord instead of sleeping. But as Peter obeyed the Lord’s command which came through the angel and got up quickly – through obedience and faith the chains fell off. Later in the passage Peter confesses that he had so little time to fully wake up and process what was going on that he thought it might be a dream – yet Peter was obedient and faithful and in the action of obedience the chains fell off! (He too was led away – make sure you are led away once you are freed from the chains).

How to be saved:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 ESV
Refuge is defined as something providing shelter – the correct stronghold to hide in!!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 ESV
You can see – God is our safe place and to get to Him, all you need to do is call out to Him!
“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 ESV

Tearing Down Strongholds!

Once we are safely wrapped in the arms of our protector – Let us tear down that stronghold so we aren’t deceived into the wrong place again!
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV
What are our weapons? As we discussed last week, I will quote again:
17b and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:17b-20 ESV
Our primary weapon is the WORD OF GOD! It is our most powerful weapon.

John 1:14 says Jesus is the word. When Jesus battled Satan in Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus (The Word) said “It is written”. Even the Word, uses the Word. This is our first and MOST POWERFUL weapon. Read the word – memorize the word. IT IS OUR MOST POWERFUL WEAPON.

Next is praying. At all times. In the spirit. Praying at ALL times IN the SPIRIT. With ALL prayer. And supplication. – PRAYER is our next important and powerful weapon. How many times do we pray first – maybe find a verse later – maybe not seek the scriptures for a verse at all. We are to use the word first! Then prayer.

Finally, boldly proclaiming the gospel is our final weapon.

And our defensive measures (besides the armor of God) – Our God Himself! He is our fortress and deliverer! He is our protector and savior. Our relationship with the one true almighty God is the best defense we have!

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Vigilant Guarding (2)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Are you getting ready for the Christmas season?  We are less than a month away from celebrating the birth of our savior yet somehow the world is focused on the care of this world. Are you prepared for this season? Are you ready for peace, love and joy? Or are you overwhelmed with other things?

Dear Heavenly Father –We continue to desire to go deeper – to have a stronger relationship with you. We desire to shed the distractions that come like an attack during this season and walk in your truth and freedom. Please open our eyes to see and our understanding to know what we are studying today. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

I live in the United States of America and we just had our annual Thanksgiving Holiday.  It usually amounts to a mockery of the concept of giving thanks and an opportunity for pride, competition, putting others down to lift yourself up and oppression.  Eating with our dysfunctional families kicks off the holiday season and usually sets the tone for Christmas (as family member will hold everything from Thanksgiving against you for Christmas).  And we do it all with a smile on our faces and secret text messages to our accountability or prayer partners asking for support. Ah tradition (said in sarcastic tone)!

Yes – we studied what the bible said about oppression last week – and ways to overcome. We talked about bondage to it like being on a dog leash.  But what if you are actually freed from it? What if as soon as your family starts arriving you walk over to that leash and collar and put it back on?

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 ESV

Yes, old habits and all that rubbish about them dying hard. Maybe it is just as simple as us asking God to open our eyes and show us before we put it on – so He can be glorified in helping us stand firm! He wants us to learn to stand in the victory – and when we are weak, He is still strong and will do a mighty work and be glorified in us.

Many of you know I have Asperger’s Syndrome – the hardest parts of family gatherings: my mom and sister hovering and criticizing me constantly in expectation that I will get out of line, have an Asperger’s behavior, or get overstimulated and have to be redirected. I understand that managing me has been a lifelong chore for them.  None the less, I can use it as a good example here of feeling oppressed.
I live in New York and our Governor is prohibiting most family gatherings especially with people out of state. And Thanksgiving was spent with my neighbor and prayer partner who’s been in my inner circle since all of this began – we quarantined together (her family, my son and me). And I will probable enjoy some sort of Christmas with them (I should really make plans).
Regardless, I shall use what is a past example: The constant watching of me and nitpicking of my often awkward social behavior feels oppressive. Not their intention. Their intention is to teach me skills in the moment and keep me from escalating.

As I said last time I spoke about oppression and as we see in this example – sometimes the oppression is a feeling we have that is only perceived by us. (old habits and all that).

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

In this passage Paul speaks of false prophets swaying your thoughts and literally uses the reference to the devil. So it is applicable to show you that as long as the demons have convinced you that you are oppressed – you do not even need to be oppressed because you thoughts have led you astray.

I had a dream about a friend – in that dream he was chained to all these problems and curses that have run through his family line and these chains were huge and heavy and trailed off so far I could not see the ends.  In my dream I started to pray for his deliverance and I heard a voice say but look how it is not bound to him – it is not shackled to his wrists or feet.  I looked at his feet and the chains were not there. I looked at his wrists and no shackles.  But in his hands he gripped the chains, holding onto them with all his might. Many huge chains. 
I said to my friend: put them down.
He said: no, these are my only connection to my family.
I tried to reason (as his family is all alive and he doesn’t need a “connection”).  But he would not let go of his chains.
Are we sometimes the same way?

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8 ESV

Sometimes as we pray for deliverance – we have already been made free and it is time to put down the chains and understand how you were established in faith. Let no man – not yourself, not your family, not a spirit or demon – no man!!! take you captive – especially your own mind! (Remember yesterday – guard our mind and heart!)   

 Let us read the full passage:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Colossians 2:8 ESV

You have been filled with in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority!! You can be weak, because He is still the head! This is His work and He will complete it in you – you must just stand in the faith, just as you were taught (and abound in thanksgiving)!
Your debt, your sin, your bondage has been nailed to the cross!
And oppression too – since oppression usually comes from someone with some sort of perceived authority over you. Guard your mind and heart!
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and triumphed over them!

All we have to do is believe Him. Not believe in Him. Believe Him and have a relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!