Onward and Upward

(Repost from 2017 following Sunday’s sermon. Click on reference for audio and video.  Phil. 3:12-16

Often I think of life as a simple “spiral.”
It circles, and as it turns, advances a little at the time.

Nothing is required for us to move in a downward spiral.
A natural downward spiral begins when we are born into this world. Our minds are set on things of this world, which draw us and drag us down. We are unable, of our own volition, to change our direction. Life never stays the same, and nature itself, by its gravity, keeps pulling us to its depths and the impending death that waits for us.

Those who are born into a culture that teaches Biblical principles may hear of God’s grace and His means of changing our direction, but we are at a loss to apply these principles in our own power.

The Bible teaches us that the direction of our lives changes when we are reborn of the work of God’s Spirit in our heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26).   God gives us a new life through His Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Spirit within us, turns us from the power of the downward spiral. By His kindness, He brings us in repentance and faith to Himself (Acts 20:21; Romans 2:4). He continues through this life to bring us onward and upward, and to eternity with Him.

There is much more we could say in this short treatise about life here on earth, including sin and evil in this world, which is the reason for the downward spiral. The world has been in this downward deathly movement since the beginning of time, when our first parents turned from their Creator to make and take their own lives, and ours, in a different direction than His.

Are you aware of how you are turning, which way your life is going? Do you want to know this onward and upward movement in your life? Do you want to know the power of God’s Spirit working in you to bring you to Himself? No one can do an about-face, turning themselves. Many have tried but to no avail. It requires the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working through our spirit to give us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) This requires a new birth (John 3:3) which only He can give (John 1:12-13; 1 Peter 1:3). Regeneration, a new creation, and repentance is His spiritual work in us, and what a glorious experience to be turned and moving in the opposite direction from the world.

If you have yet to know this new life, I pray that you will reach for God’s Word, which He offers to you. Read the Holy Bible. If you have never read before, begin with the New Testament. Ask for His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13); pray and pour out your heart to Him. He knows where you are and what you need. Read and pray until He, by His Spirit, turns you to repentance and faith as a new creature in Christ. He gave His life to deliver us from the present evil age (Galatians 1:3).

If you have never heard the good news of God’s changing our lives and our direction, and want to hear more I would be blessed to tell you more. You can send me a message on our CONTACT page. There is oh, so much more of this glorious upward spiral that is ours in Christ through whom we, as God’s children, live.

I will end this post by saying that your wedding day will not be the most wonderful day of your life. Neither will the birth of your children be the greatest experience you can know. There is nothing as wonderful as being born of the Spirit of God and living every day in Christ, in light of His promises and hope. It is the most uplifting experience of this life as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Gracious Father, how can we tell someone what it is like to know you and what life is like as your children? It is impossible to share the width, the depth and the height of your love. You must do the work in each of us. I pray that you would shine your light and the life of Christ through us, and by your Spirit, draw and birth others into your house and kingdom. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness,
who has shone in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Cor. 4:6

1200 Miles and Back – A Vacation Story

The following story may be the first of a new category for this blog There are other Wilderness Sagas I want to share in the future. This is an excellent one to start.

********************

by Brittny Bailey

Our annual vacation from Georgia to northern Minnesota is a tradition established across generations; one I married into and have learned to love. The 1200 miles through five states, around mountains, and past endless acres of corn in mid-summer have been a part of my husband’s every summer since childhood.

His dad began these trips sometime in the fifties when he was still in diapers, and this summer our two-year-old began chanting with unbridled enthusiasm, “Sotaaaa!” Uncertain of its meaning, he was doubtlessly informed by all the dinnertime conversation about the place, spearheaded by his dad and readily entertained by his three sisters. Our girls have several years’ experience, and now they weave their own memories into that family tapestry that we all adore. 

They will remember this year’s trip to the cabin as the one where we were in the car for days, and we had to come home early because Daddy was sick. I will remember it as the vacation through which I was made to feel very much like a sheep; a little head strong, a little captured by my Shepherd’s crook, taken up in my Shepherd’s arms and held there with all the power of a mighty maker, all the love of a tender Father, and in the safety that is mine as His child.

It began much like previous vacations, a month of meticulous planning, shopping, cleaning, and an ambitious number of events scheduled for the week of departure. We were ever diligent to lay hold of that vacation promise, anticipating all the rest to be had in that place, but a shadow was cast two days before we planned to leave.

Several households from our Church were taken ill with COVID, and this threatened to derail our plans. We waited until the last possible moment to take a home test for the virus. It was midnight, just hours before hoisting all our sleeping progeny into the car. We were banking on getting ahead of Atlanta traffic that morning and stopping at The Ark Encounter on the way.

That test marked the beginning of our vacation, and it was a source of great uncertainty. 

We prayed about it and waited for the Lord’s leading, but waiting well even while the course was yet unknown? That is a hard thing to do. Waiting cheerfully without begrudging all the rules and circumstances? That is a different sort of waiting.

Patient waiting is marked by a quiet spirit; patient waiting requires practice. It was in this School of Waiting that we were to be enrolled for the next seven days, and in very ordinary ways the lessons began. 

Establish our Steps

We left the house a couple of hours late, took a bypass around Atlanta to keep out of rush hour traffic, lingered long at Chick-fil-a waiting for our lost breakfast order, then spent the next eight hours on a scenic Kentucky route behind vehicles of authentic country spirit, pacing ourselves at or below the speed limit the entire way. We were in the car two hours longer than we had planned, and we arrived at The Ark Encounter four hours later than we anticipated when we booked the tickets. These were the first of our opportunities to wait, patiently.

As it turns out, the Ark after 4 ‘o clock is less populated with fellow tourists and the children could only endure the excitement of it all for about three hours anyway before discovering their aching feet and empty tummies. The sun was setting when we made our way out to the little zoo, and a breeze lifted the day’s heat from the asphalt and danced through the hibiscus blossoms that were in spectacular display across the grounds.

Here at the closing of the day we had the flowers and the animals all to ourselves. I was on the verge of tears of wonder and praise about every 15 minutes as we wandered through that great monument to God’s faithfulness. These moments were gifts, priceless memories, but the uneasiness with which we began our trip hounded us.

Jake developed a fever that night at the hotel. We were far from home and a bit more subdued by the day’s travel. Perhaps we were more willing to concede that things were not going to go as planned but still so sure that all would be better tomorrow.

The fever broke sometime in the night, and Jake felt completely normal again by morning. By mid-afternoon we continued our way up to the cabin where his parents would be waiting for our noon arrival the next day. 

The route to the cabin from our stop in Kentucky was different from the one taken in years previous. By night, it was an elaborate system of construction cones and flashing arrows, flanked by miles of cornfields, and made nearly impossible to navigate by rainstorms and regular tolls. The rain held me in a perpetual, blurry blackness as I followed shifting brake lights through the eerie night. It slowed me down, made me doubt every road sign, and it made me impatient for day.

I drove into the early morning hours then parked among a fleet of sleeping truckers at a rest stop somewhere in Indiana. Jake slept and slept and slept, and I slept but wondered why Jake slept so long. I began to be anxious about the day’s plans. Would we ever get there at this pace? Would we ever get out of this car? How many more times could we eat at McDonalds? Was Jake okay? 

Jake had been taking Advil for pain in his knee, but as the day wore on and the medicine wore off, he suspected that he might have a fever again. We drove on from the middle of nowhere to the secluded backwoods of northern Minnesota. When it was apparent that Jake was sick and not just exhausted from the week’s labor and subsequent travel, we had to stop and begin looking for another Covid test and inquire into alternative lodging so as not to displace his parents. This was about four additional hours of driving, searching, and eventually finding a test so that we would know how to proceed. I sat there, waiting yet again. 

Shimmering lake waters and crisp cool morning breezes began to slip through my fingers. I tried to hold them there, knuckles white with will and vain hope, hot tears finding their way down my cheeks and into my lap as I grieved the memories that I had hoped to make this year.

We were so close to our destination, but without a clue as to where we were going. We waited and learned that there was no vacancy at any lodge for miles, we waited and learned that the clinic was closed for the weekend, and results from others would not be for days. We waited and learned that Covid home tests were sold out in five of the nearest locations.

And at last we learned that somewhere, an hour away, Walmart still had a test on the shelf. Despite the despair and exhaustion my Father’s spirit spoke to mine and knowing my thoughts he gently reminded me to be patient, that the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

In this School of Waiting I was being taught the practice of patience; the practice was found in wanting the Lord’s blessing above my own plans. The nasty tears were poor company and my husband- who was the one feeling bad, mind you- needed the peace as much as I. So, I asked for the blessing; I asked the Lord to establish our steps.

And there was peace. Patience, too, as we waited for the next right thing to do.

Answer Me When I Call 

We both tested negative again. Jake’s parents, who were waiting for us at the cabin in the Northwoods, instead packed up for a short trip until we could see improvement in his situation. We arrived at last on Saturday evening to an empty, recently evacuated cabin, completely uncertain of what the next two weeks would hold.

It was another eerie night. I was with my children in their grandfather’s cabin filled with their father’s childhood memories, their father sick in bed, without his parents or his memories to make any of it feel familiar. There was no phone or internet service, so I couldn’t console myself by researching what to do in case of an emergency or even text home.

I remembered the words of a dear friend telling me once out of an abundance of her own experience that as pilgrims passing through this land, we should all begin preparing for a stage of aloneness. This seemed to me an appropriate time to begin making those necessary preparations. 

So, I met Aloneness there, remembering that my Father is the same in the day as he is in the night, my truest and closest Comforter. I put the children to bed with Psalm 4, then I put myself to bed with Psalm 91.

Jake’s fever departed in the night, and he was back on his feet two days later.

We had one glorious day on the lake and his parents came back to the cabin, all of us hoping it was the right thing to do. We celebrated with a meal and worship and songs, but we soon realized that Jake was not completely well, and the next morning and for the rest of that week he relapsed into fever and fatigue.  That week brought more and more sobering news from back home of friends and family who were succumbing to Covid, several of whom were in the hospital. 

Each new development brought with it a weary sigh or a knot in the pit of my stomach, but there came also a voice that whispered again and again an old and precious promise: “And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” 

So, I called out to Him. 

My dear in-laws were now with us, and Jake was undeniably sick and in a way that caused us to doubt the test. But they didn’t want to leave me alone with four children and an invalid so they stayed, all of us hoping that best case scenario Jake had another illness (I mean, those are still around) and at the worst, it would be a mild case of what everyone else had.

Our supplements began to dwindle by midweek, and I went into town to arrange for more to be sent from home, thinking all the while that if we could just get our hands on some good medicine, Jake would turn the corner. By week’s end news arrived that the package of supplements –due to arrive—would not arrive for another three days.

The same morning, Jake’s parents determined that they would leave the cabin and return home the following day, hoping to make it home before they came down with the same illness. I began thinking that if  I were to come down with the same thing my husband had, we’d be “vacationing” indefinitely, our children possibly unsupervised as we languished.

What if he got worse? He certainly showed no signs of improving. How long would it take me to get out of this place by myself? Who would I take counsel with on such matters if it came to that?  

More waiting. A bit weary now, but patient. What ‘ere my God ordains is right/ Holy his will abideth.

A Broad Place

That evening Jake’s breathing worsened, and a constant cough came in shallow, breathy fits. It became a subject of urgent prayer, and our Father delivered. Amid all the potions, ointments, and vitamins we had remaining, there was a small, near-empty vial of herbal tincture used for asthma related issues.

I had brought it for Natalie, our eldest, and it was this precious daughter who suggested that it might help her daddy. It immediately settled his cough and facilitated deeper breaths. We used it through the night, deciding that we would leave the cabin with his parents the following morning.

 We had been on vacation for one week. Jake had been in bed for five days. 

Here at this late, vulnerable hour, without our medicine, without a hospital, with four children, and three exposed adults the Lord gently led us to this point of clarity; it’s time to go home. A decision that now in hindsight appears so obvious to me.

It was as if the Lord was taking me through a side door, and I couldn’t quite grasp what the room looked like until long after I’d arrived. Praise the Lord I don’t have to know exactly where I am or where I’m going; I know that my Father has set my feet in a broad place.

The next morning brought with it a whirlwind of responsibilities. Among them, cleaning out the fridge, eating whatever leftovers we could for breakfast, washing the bedding, and properly storing a boat, grill, and air-conditioning unit. As the package my mom had shipped from home was never delivered, I arranged to pick up more supplements on the way to hold us over for the next two days. Supplements, again. 

There must be a lesson there because no sooner had we purposed in our hearts to get hold of some more zinc and l-lysine than our car battery died — dead as a doornail and not twenty minutes after starting the car. Perhaps the car doors were open too long, but the deadness of the thing made us all suspect Divine Intervention. It was another bit of instruction, or perhaps just an ordinary opportunity to practice waiting… with him. 

I will wait, Father. 

We unbuckled our seat belts, piled out of the car, and walked to the front porch. Jake crawled back to the couch, and I passed out rice krispie treats, explaining to the children that the Lord was not ready for us to leave Minnesota, and no, I didn’t know when that would be. The second and only working vehicle at this point was useless to us as it was blocked in by the dead one, rear to rear.

Jake’s dad found a couple of overnight battery chargers, and at last, through a conversation with Jake’s brother back home, he made use of a spare, fully charged boat battery from the shed.

Within an hour we were off. Our little caravan embarked on the first leg of the trip from northern Minnesota to Madison, WI where we stayed the night, then continued Sunday morning from 8 until midnight, born up on the prayers of our brothers and sisters back home. 

And I will testify; the Lord felt very, very near. 

I drove, Jake rested (perhaps in body only), and the nine year-old acted as my proxy for the backseat crew who was thoroughly immersed in bags of granola and Pixar Studios. We took the opportunity to experience nearly every rest area from there to here, and by late afternoon on the last day we hit a torrential rainstorm that enveloped us from Nashville to Chattanooga.

For four hours I could neither see the road nor the vehicles on them. I was guided only by countless flashing emergency lights as we wound our way through the mountains.

Gone was the desperate need to arrive already that had so motivated me the week before, and the rain was now an impervious veil keeping me from where I wanted to be.

I was doing my Father’s will. We were walking together; He faithfully, and I, patiently. Though I’d been made a patient driver (perhaps a miraculous working of the Spirit in and of itself), the rain was terrifying, and adrenaline surged through my veins; hitting triple-shot-of-espresso highs. I’m certain the storm was instrumental in keeping me both near to the throne of grace, and keeping me awake there at the end, road weary and still so far from home.

At midnight, we rumbled down our familiar gravel driveway, delighting in every annoying rift and rut. As we staggered up the stairs and crawled onto the tidily made beds, it was like our vacation was just beginning. The rest had come at last, in our Father’s time, after safely delivering us from fever, rain, and foreign land. And the rest was far richer than any I had imagined.
Brittny 9/21

Images: Pixabay.com

WHY WORDS MATTER

“Although we have always known it intuitively, science has confirmed the tremendous power our words have on ourselves, communities, and the world. In fact, words can literally shape the material world. The words we speak not only reflect, but shape our thoughts, and our thoughts shape the physical structure of our brains. An NPR interview between host Ira Flatow and science writer Sharon Begley, “Can Thoughts and Action Change Our Brains?” revealed how findings in neuroplasticity suggest the way we think can not only change the structure of our brains, but even lead to the re-growth of brain cells (something once considered impossible).” Chris Hazell VIEWPOINT July 2017

As death threatens to again bring me to its stronghold, I have been blessed to remember what my heavenly Father has taught me for the past fifty years . Coming to the anniversary of Jerry’s last week and his death on June 1, 2020, the Spirit of Christ is showing me the power of His stronghold.

For months, I have been in a maze, knowing my calling, waiting for others to move on my behalf, still not knowing when or how He will fulfill that calling in me. This physical life ~ nothing but a stronghold of death that eventually shows its power in the flesh, its desires, and accomplishments is overwhelming to those who do not know God, the Father and His covenant with His people. Words of death continue to keep the world under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19). Without the hope the heavenly Father gives through His Son, what is there to live for?


“Now they have known that all things
which You have given Me are from You.  
For I have given to them the words which You have given Me;
and they have received them,”
John 17:7-8

It is not a matter of what I have accomplished in my eighty-two years, what anyone else has done for me or where I am now. All that matters is what my heavenly Father has given me through Jesus Christ.

Now and forever, the Words of Life, are written on my mind and in my heart. Let death threaten as it will, I will remember His promises written in His covenant of grace to His children. He is faithful and will not forget He has given Life to those who believe in His Son. His Words accomplish all He has sent them to do (Isaiah 55:11)

They speak the Living Word of Jesus Christ in the lives of His people ~ the fruit of His Spirit ~ love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility, compassion and much more. The more we read, the more we live. The more we memorize and meditate, the greater the fruit of Christ in us and through us. The fullness of God is displayed in His church, the members of His body living the Life of Christ as a witness to a dying world.

Heavenly Father, we praise you for speaking the universe into existence, for continuing to rule by your sovereignty fulfilling the covenant established before the foundation of the world, revealed and fulfilled in Christ and through your people for your glory and our joy. Thank you that your Word is as alive and powerful now as at the Creation and the Resurrection of Jesus, our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

“Before the World Was”

“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself,
with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

John 17:5

This verse from Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17 gives only a glimpse of God our Father and His Son together before the creation. We have to study the whole chapter for more details of their union as one. Even so, words, even Jesus’ Words, limit the glory to which He refers.

“Before the world was,” there was only their glory ~ their oneness and their love for each other. They planned to share that glory with those who would be created in their image

It would come through the fulfillment of their covenant of redemption.

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10)

Jesus speaks of His and the Father’s glory several times during His prayer to the Father in John 17. By the time we get to the end of His prayer, we are caught up in a limited vision of this glory so as to long for the same oneness they had together ~ the oneness He prays for His people. The degrees and the oneness of their glory are to be shared with us in His timing. (We will speak of this later in our study, An Excavation of John 17..) Rejection of God’s Word by our first parents and disobedience to His will removed any possibility of our seeing His glory on this earth.. The truth by which He is bringing us together and sanctifying us in Him now is preparing us for His glory.  

We do not have the tools, nor could we by a lifetime of digging into the Scriptures, know the relationship God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ had before they created the world. The glory they had together is unsearchable. In God’s Word, we get only an inkling of what their world was like before they made the lower heavens and the earth. This universe is only a means for us to desire to know who they are and what they can do. We have to continue reading and searching the Book He has given us and pray for spiritual enlightenment of the things He wants us to know.

Moses asked to see His glory in Exodus 33:18.

“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, Exodus 34:6

“But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.  So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:20-23

His glory is revealed to us through Christ in His mercy, graciousness, longsuffering, abounding goodness and truth

The love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father is the essence of their glory which we cannot see with human eyes but will see and know when He comes again to deliver us from the darkness and suffering of this world.

As we continue our study of Jesus’ prayer, He will unearth more of His glory, joy, and love, that we may begin to understand what it means to be “perfect in one” through Christ’s atonement.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
 who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Hebrews 12:2

What was the joy that enabled Him to endure the cross for us. Was it not the anticipation of returning to the oneness of love, joy, and glory with His Father and bringing us to them?

 “But if we hope for what we do not see,
we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Romans 8:25

Gracious Father, knowing that you have planned all things for your glory, I pray for your Holy Spirit to continue to reveal all you want us to know of you, your glory, and your kingdom. We praise you that you chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before you, in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Yourself, according to the good pleasure of your will, to the praise of the glory of Your grace, by which you made us accepted in the Beloved. We praise you for the glimpses of the glory you are revealing through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

The Scriptures MUST be Fulfilled

Our pastor’s blessings for the week.

“The Lord has kept his promises, for “the Scripture must be fulfilled.”

He has strengthened us out of Zion, built his church by the Spirit, made his word fruitful and prepared the soil for more growth, beautified the meek with salvation, visited his vine, kept his covenant, defended his dwelling place, and worked gloriously to make the mountain of Messiah’s kingdom the highest in the earth.

As we saw in Luke yesterday, we often cannot see what is right before us — what God has spoken is absolute, trustworthy, and more reliable than anything we see with our eyes.”

Below are links to his Sunday sermon.

Download Audio – link below.

https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=418211347243057

The Power of God in His People

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
 may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation
 in the knowledge of him,
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,
 that you may know what is the hope 
to which he has called you,
what are the riches 
of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” 
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power
toward us who believe,
according to the working of his great might.
which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead 
and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, ”
 Ephesians 1:17-18

As with most of Paul’s phrasing in his letters, his prayers are long, also. He desires for the church the same revelation of Christ that has been given to him, and so he speaks of his prayers for them in the first and third chapters of Ephesians.

            He always gives thanks for the believers in the early churches and prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory would give them: 

“The spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him;”
Ephesians 1:17

Under this one heading, he explains how the Spirit by which the believers have been sealed (1:13) works wisdom and revelation in them. First, he prays that the eyes of understanding be enlightened so that they may know three things about God, the Father. 
            He builds on each one to bring the believer to see Christ in his glory and the church as the fullness of him here on earth. (1:23)

“The eyes of your hearts enlightened that ye may know (these things)”

1.  the hope to which He has called you.
2.  the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
3.  the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe

1. The hope to which He has called you.       
Paul has written earlier in this chapter of the dispensation of the fullness of time (1:10) when God shall gather together in one all things in Christ, “having chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (1:4). As new Christians, they were still learning what it meant to be adopted into God’s family (1:5). They did not yet know the wonder and glory of this supernatural birth through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They needed to know and grow in their new birth.

2. The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.   
This adoption (1:5) that Paul speaks of, brings with it an eternal inheritance. As a recipient, he knows the riches of the glory that God the Father gives to His children. He has experienced this inheritance already. He has spoken of this inheritance in verses eleven and fourteen and is praying that they experience more and more the riches of this spiritual inheritance that they received when they heard the word of truth, and trusted in Christ. They needed to understand this inheritance that begins here in their own life.

3.  The immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe.
Now comes the crescendo of Paul’s prayer as he is explaining how revelation, faith and believing, the calling, and the inheritance, are by the greatness of God’s mighty power. This power he explains, ~ “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Verse 20.

  
It is a lengthy explanation that spreads over two chapters.  Paul’s prayer begins in verse fifteen to the end of the chapter, without a period.  
            The same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand is the mighty power that quickens the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sin (2:1, 5). This is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe, our eyes enlightened by this power for salvation. 

Paul could have inserted a parenthesis in verses twenty to twenty-three in which the roles and purpose of Christ and the church are revealed, but it all fits together. It is a matter of wisdom and revelation, and requires study and meditation, for believers to understand how we are related to Christ and the church; and how we get there. 
            Christ having been raised and seated at the Father’s right hand, is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Verses 21-23         
            The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, is the only one who can reveal Himself to us. He does this when he opens our eyes to see his Son, head over all things, and given to the church. His body of believers that He brings to life by the power of His Holy Spirit continues to experience His filling, the inheritance in the saints.

Dear Father, thank you for this prayer that you inspired Paul to write, not just to the early churches, but also for us. We pray this prayer for your people everywhere, that we will experience this filling, and together, this fullness of Christ. Pour out your Spirit upon us for new revelation, for we shall never have all the wisdom and knowledge here on this earth. Prepare us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

(Excerpt from PRAYERS That Bring the House Down)

Mind Control

Humankind seems to be the only creature with the ability to think for himself – but are we in control of our thinking? 

The serpent in the Garden of Eden did not tempt the other animals. Then again, he was not a serpent, per se, but possessed by the spirit of the enemy of God – a fallen angel who wanted to be God.

The animals had an inherited mindset from God. Made in God’s image, the man was to receive by His Spirit at all times direction from God for all we needed and respond in a loving relationship to Him.

The enemy wanted to be in control and have this attention and glory for himself. 
His disguise and deception obtained the control he wanted over our first parents. 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Gen. 3:6

When they took the bait, the spirit of oppression and deception became the spirit of every human being who would be born on earth. They saw their nakedness, their vulnerability to their world, and the need for covering.

Their minds had been ravished and overcome by a foreign spirit.

Unless we know the antidote and receive the Spirit of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, we have no control over our thoughts, words, or actions.

What we feed our thoughts controls us. And we encourage the spirit of oppression by what we see and hear.

2020 and now 2021 is proof that whatever we hear and read governs our lives. The enemy works through every source of sight and sound and continues to destroy people’s lives.

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 1 John 5:19

Without understanding how we think, we are unable to realize our condition. The world lives in fear and oblivion to how the enemy has a stronghold on our minds and lives.

This spirit lies dormant even in the best of God’s people and can easily be aroused and raise its ugly head whenever it is threatened. We must recognize the difference and use God’s Word to counteract our thoughts against others.

We will remain immobilized until we take God’s Word in hand, open it, read it, pray for His Holy Spirit to inoculate us with its truths, meditate on it, memorize and make it our food and drink.

We must take it to bed with us, wake up with it, love it, and make it the focus of our lives and teach our children how to think and use God’s Word as a defence against the world’s thinking.

Brainwashing is nothing new. We are brainwashed from the moment we take our first breath on this earth. Our minds are programmed to cry out for everything we want and taught how to acquire it, even if by deception or force.

If we do not submit our minds to God’s control, we remain under the control of the enemy.

Our only hope for a reversal for this nation and the world is through God’s Word and Spirit.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Heb. 4:12

Dear Father in heaven, in a season when your people used to gather to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are seeing a culture dead and buried under the hand of the enemy. Give life and raise your people by your Holy Spirit. Put your Word into the hands, minds, and hearts of your children that we may again proclaim the power of a resurrected Savior and Lord. Enable us to go forward in the battle against the enemy of our souls. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.