Archive for November, 2016

Hope vs. Hopelessness

Posted: November 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

Hope is a priceless but fleeting commodity nowadays. It seems like trying to acquire and maintain hope for any length of time is difficult and futile—like trying to catch the wind.

The different forms of media available today are doing very little to instill hope in anyone. In fact, in most (not all) cases they’re promoting fear and hopelessness on an exponential scale.

Why? Because fear sells news and boosts ratings; regardless of the format.

I personally believe it’s extremely detrimental to your mental, emotional, and spiritual health to “feed regularly” on any negative news. I’m not saying don’t be informed, that’s equally foolish. But you should know your limits in how much you can take in and still maintain a positive and confident outlook about your future.

If you can’t do that, you’ll not have much to offer others around you who are looking for the right answers to questions that desperately need answering.

There are multiple news apps available for our cell phones today and any of them will provide sufficient information for you to become depressed in an amazingly short amount of time.

Our Government Can’t Do It!

It’s a “no brainer’ that not one government on the face of this earth is able to successfully handle all the problems that it’s citizen’s face financially, physically, morally, vocationally, etc. They are humans just like us, limited in their ability and knowledge, just like us.

I believe our government officials (many of them) have done their best locally, nationally, and internationally to keep our countries strong, vibrant, safe, and productive. But even when man has the best intentions for good, he has fallen woefully short of providing and maintaining hope to others because, once again, he is just a man and he is limited at best with his abilities.

One Source of True Hope

The kind of hope we need is different than what most people are familiar with. If you asked most people what hope means to them today, you would probably get something like this. “To me, hope means something that I’m optimistic about happening for me, but I can’t really be sure or believe it until I see it.”

The hope I’m talking about is from the bible, based on God’s word, and the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a: joyful, confident, absolute expectation with anticipation of pleasure accompanying the manifestation of the thing expected and believed for.

Maybe this will drive the point home visually. If you’re a parent, you’ll remember seeing your young children get up early on Christmas morning with great excitement at the thought of opening gifts, that is a good picture of bible hope. The children “know” there’s something under the tree waiting for them, they can see the packages with their names on them, but you have not given them the OK to open them and they’re bouncing off the walls with excitement.

That is the most accurate picture of the kind of hope Jesus offers to all who will accept Him.

Unshakable Hope

For you to have the kind of hope I mentioned above, you need to simply receive the truth that you need God’s involvement in your life, your heart, your thoughts and actions.

If you will simply say, Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for me. Please forgive me for the sin of not believing in you and for me trying to run my own life and trying to be my own god. I accept your sacrifice today and want you to be my God and bring living hope into my life. He will do it immediately and you will be eternally sealed by the Holy Spirit and destined for heaven to live there for all eternity.

You may ask, “Is it really that simple?” The answer is yes. Much of organized religion and traditional denominational churches teach that you need to spill your guts and confess “all” your sin before accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. There’s nothing wrong with that if you know at some point the Lord is telling you to do that.

But the bible “does not teach” confession of all sin first to come into relationship with Jesus.

John 3:16-18 in the NKJV says: 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Then Romans 10:13 says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. If you mean it in your heart when you ask forgiveness from Jesus, you will become His child forever and nothing will ever change that because this promise is written in blood!

When you do that, you “immediately” enter into a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and there is NO ENEMY that will conclusively defeat you.

You now have the God who created the earth and personally designed you, living inside your human spirit and He will guide you the rest of your days on earth and be with you through all eternity.

Jesus is the great hope, the living hope, and He is all you will ever need.

He is THE SOURCE of healing, protection, provision, success, wisdom, knowledge, creative and innovative ideas, understanding, peace, joy, fulfillment, happiness, and a million other wonderful experiences that you haven’t even imagined yet.

Please let me know if you invited the GREAT HOPE to live in you.

Serving You Truth,

Dennis

 

 

 

 

Stratagems of Satan

Posted: November 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

Have you ever experienced a prolonged mental or physical battle that literally sucks the life out of you? It may have been an hour, a day, a month, a year or a decade. Maybe it was something that happened in the natural realm that others have dealt with as well, but it seems like you cannot forget what happened or get free of it. It just keeps returning, beating you down, bringing with it guilt, shame, and condemnation. Maybe it was a lust-filled thought or image and you knew in your heart you weren’t intentionally dwelling on those kinds of things. You wonder…“Where did this come from?”

Unless you knowingly and willingly opened yourself up to wrong appetites and behaviors, you probably were experiencing the stratagems of Satan. Webster’s Dictionary says a stratagem is: a) an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy, b) a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end.

The Bible says in John 10:10 Amplified, the thief (Satan) only comes to kill, steal, and to destroy, but Jesus came to give us life and give it to us in abundance. It also says in 1Pet. 5:8: Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

It’s All in Your Mind

Please understand this vitally important truth. If you’re reading this article and you’re not a Christian, a believer in Jesus, this information is just as true for you as it is for someone who is a Christian. Satan is the archenemy of God’s creation…period! And that means you!

Please understand, if Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness during a 40-day fast to try and keep Him from fulfilling His purpose, we can absolutely expect him to come after us.

Once you become a Christian, you are a threat to the kingdom of darkness because of Who possesses you. If you’re not a Christian, Satan still hates you and will exert any amount of effort in distracting and deceiving you with the hopes of capturing your soul eternally.

Satan attempts to captivate and deceive all of us by means of mental and spiritual deception. He is a spirit and his demons—cohorts or fallen angels—are also spirits. They cannot simply take over someone without their will first being compromised or without that person willingly yielding to them (see Romans 6:16). If a person is ignorant of how satan works or is uneducated spiritually about his tactics, he then has uncontested access in the spiritual realm and uses deceptive thought impressions, carnal appetites and weaknesses that can and will ultimately destroy a person if satan is allowed to go unchecked in that person’s life.

However, there is no reason for us to ever be defeated by satan or his minions because there is more than enough battle strategies in God’s word for us to experience victory continuously when we engage our enemy.

Engaging Our Enemy

For this section, I’m including a rather lengthy excerpt from a book titled, Spirit Wars, authored by Kris Vallotton, one of the pastors from Bethel Church, in Redding, CA. In my opinion, the revelation that follows is some of the most accurate and helpful information I have ever read about Satan’s strategies and plans to defeat us.

“Spiritual conflicts most often occur when we advance into new territory currently inhabited by evil spirits. Just as enemies fought Joshua in the Promised Land and Nehemiah as he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, so will our enemy fight us when we begin to take the spiritual terrain God has promised to us. Most Christians, however, are completely unaware that the resistance they encounter as they step into God’s promises is actually part of a spirit war. They retreat at the first sign of conflict because they fail to recognize the true source of the battle or the way in which war is waged in the invisible realm.

One of the most common ways demonic spirits attack is by giving us thoughts that the Bible describes as flaming arrows (see Ephesians 6:16). Because these thoughts are actually manifestations of the evil spirits and not just bad ideas, they are compelling—in other words, there is an unction [or motivation] to “do the act” that we are contemplating, even though these ideas are contrary to our new nature. Then these same spirits accuse us of originating these thoughts and impulses. If we believe their accusations, we lose confidence in our identity and digress into emotions like depression, anxiety and self-hatred.

The enemy and his cohorts also attack our imaginations by inspiring terrible visions or pictures that wrestle against our minds and can be deeply troubling, especially if we do not understand the source of these assaults. The same unction [or motivation] that accompanies false thoughts usually accompanies these false visions.

Some people experience warfare without a thought or picture in their minds, but with awful “feelings,” false impulses or unction’s that rage against their souls. But no matter what manifestations spiritual warfare takes on, the most important fact to remember is that these are symptoms of the enemy’s devious plot to steal our inheritance, kill our offspring and destroy our very lives.” 

You Already Have the Victory

As Kris mentioned previously, Satan first comes against our thoughts and imaginations. This triggers negative, debilitating emotions that keep us from enjoying our lives and ultimately fulfilling our God-given calls and destinies.

But, I have really good news for you if you’re a Christian. Regardless of how long you have been following the Lord you can experience victory in your life because it’s already been paid for and deposited in your account.

While your enemy can come against you with many different temptations he can never come up with anything new that God does not already have the answer for.

In 1 Corinthians 15:57, the apostle Paul said, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (NKJV). He also mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:14 that God always leads us in triumph. In Romans 8:37, he said that no matter what things Satan brings against us, “We are more than conquerors through Him” (Christ).

You see, when Jesus said, “It is finished!”, in John 19:30, He really meant what He said! It was finished! We have to remember that Jesus wouldn’t have left and then sent the Holy Spirit to us if He went wasn’t capable of making us victorious over the enemy.

Second Corinthians 10:4-5 gives a clear strategy against the enemy when he oversteps his boundaries and assaults our thoughts. We must act immediately and take authority over him in every thought if we are to enjoy the victory Jesus paid for, as well as maintaining it.

I know this was a lot of scripture, but I wanted to drive the point home that we already have the victory and we do have the weapons of warfare to be successful in the spiritual realm (see Ephesians 6:10-18). But we have to put them on daily and the Holy Spirit will not do it for us.

I pray that this ministers to you and that you will experience victory in every area of your lives in the coming days, weeks, months and years.

 

Serving You Truth,

Dennis

 

 

Side note: I intentionally “did not” capitalize the name of satan. I don’t want to give him the credit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling Out of Love

Posted: November 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

Some recent church attendance polls were taken in America and the final statistics were not near what earlier stats by the Gallup poll revealed. According to one man’s statistics, his findings showed that approximately only 17.7% of Americans attend any Christian church on a given Sunday. That’s a serious decline from what it used to be. These figures were arrived at by a man who is the director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church (covchurch.org). He started his study in the 80’s and followed the regular attendance of more than 200,000 individual Christian churches over the course of approximately thirty years.

I have to wonder why, as Christ’s body, we started drifting so far away from what we once knew to be so important and would have never compromised or given up on. I believe there are many reasons why we have stopped attending church as we did in years gone by and I am going to make a genuine effort to address the ones I believe may be some of the most important ones.

We Have Lost Our First Love

In Revelation 2:2-5 (NLV), John the beloved writes, “Write this to the angel of the church in the city of Ephesus: ‘The One Who holds the seven stars in His right hand and the One Who walks among the seven lights made of gold, says this: I know what you have done and how hard you have worked. I know how long you can wait and not give up. I know that you cannot put up with sinful men. I know that you have put men to the test who call themselves missionaries. You have found they are not missionaries but are false. You have waited long and have not given up. You have suffered because of Me. You have kept going on and have not become tired. But I have this one thing against you. You do not love Me as you did at first. Remember how you once loved Me. Be sorry for your sin and love Me again as you did at first. If you do not, I will come to you and take your light out of its place. I will do this unless you are sorry for your sin and turn from it.

 I believe John was saying that we, you, and I can get so busy serving God that we forget what it’s really about, why we’re doing it, and for Whom. If you’ll notice, Jesus inspired John to tell the church in Ephesus that that were doing things correctly and accurately, but that they still fell away from their First love who was Jesus. This was a very serious and sobering statement and it still very relevant for today.

God said in Matthew 23:11 that “…the person who is the greatest among you will be your servant.” But it’s also entirely possible to become so servant minded that you neglect your intimate fellowship time with the Lord. Remember, you cannot give out what you do not first possess. Serving needs to be kept in balance because it can become a very subtle deception. We’re serving in His house and loving people, and we’re staying on guard against the wolves that would desire to come in and kill the sheep. What could possibly be wrong with that?

We have to listen for that still small voice to make sure our motives for doing it are right and that our service “for Him” and “to others” never becomes an idol or a spiritual badge of honor or recognition.

Legalistic Religious Traditions

 I believe another reason we can fall out of love with Jesus is because of harsh, legalistic, religious traditions. My belief about this one has a valid basis because I spent almost forty years existing in this narrow-minded way of thinking and living.

Over the course of the “almost forty years” I spoke of, I attended several different churches due to moving, getting married, and getting better jobs in others cities, etc. However, I always stayed in the same kind of church I was raised in, no matter what city I moved to next. I was raised in a Baptist Church, but not just any Baptist Church.

I used to hear some of the older men say this when they were discussing their church or their doctrine and they were proud when they rattled it off like machine-gun fire, “I’m an Independent, fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist!” It came across to me in later years like they were more proud of this than being a Christian. It actually seemed like that phrase described their identity more than who and what they were in Christ. I’m sure I’m wrong, but it sure sounded like it at the time.

They would say they believed the bible from cover to cover. And yet, they didn’t believe it was God’s will to heal all the time. They believe He did and He could heal…but not that He would. They didn’t believe in the fullness of the Holy Spirit or His gifts which were and are so desperately needed in today’s world.

I know those people loved the Lord because that’s where I accepted Jesus as my Savior; so I’m truly grateful for that. But looking back from where I stand now, there was little to no real freedom in Christ for anyone I observed, let alone the knowledge or teaching about how to make that a living reality. Instead, there were more than enough rules to keep a person in guilt, condemnation and fear that God was about to drop an iron fist on you if you so much as stepped out of line. What’s so sad is this, I really don’t think they had a clue at that time of just how good God is, but I hope that has changed.

Harsh, restrictive, rule-oriented religion will instill fear instead of faith and crush creativity and freedom to be yourself instead of releasing you into what God has called you to be…even if it’s not something particularly spiritual for a vocation.

First Corinthians 15:56 in the Amplified says, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin [by which it brings death] is the law”…. In other words, when you’re forced by anyone to constantly live with “unreasonable” religious laws and restrictions, you will ultimately end up sinning somehow because God intended His word to bring freedom to us. We must keep all things in balance though. This DOES NOT mean you can break the moral laws and laws of the land and relationships with people just so you can have your way and be free. That is not freedom, that’s stupidity and that leads to bondage.

Impotent Churches

 Many of you may not agree with this one and I understand that. For me, I did not know for years that I was in an impotent church because I had never been in one that wasn’t. Less this offend you, I am not suggesting that every church or ministry should look or sound the same or that we should compare them to each other because the scripture says that is not wise (see 2 Cor. 10:12).

But God’s word, especially the book of Acts and the writings of the apostle Paul give us plenty to go on as to what a Holy Spirit power-filled church should look like and what kind of fruit it should be bearing.

A true New Testament blood-bought church should be preaching salvation, heaven hell, deliverance from demons, and healing of the body, soul and the restoration of the entire person. If it’s not then it’s not a true full-gospel church.

Remember, we can always trust God’s word because it is unchangeable, unshakable and incorruptible. So let’s see what it has to say about the New Testament church and what the teachings should produce. Again, the apostle Paul said this in Romans 15:18-19. “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient— 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”

This is “full-gospel” preaching and it should always be accompanied by signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God. In Mark 16:20 it says the Lord worked with the disciples confirming the word they preached through the accompanying signs. Hebrews 2:4 says that God bears witness “both” with signs, wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will (NKJV).

When you’ve been in an impotent church for years as I had and then have an opportunity to visit one that is full of life and freedom, you can feel God’s tangible manifest presence. It’s very hard to go back to something that has no life in it. If you do and you stay there and don’t follow the Lord’s prompting to leave, you will die on the vine and become bitter and hard and possibly drift away from the Lord.

 Distractions of The Age

 Another thing that causes us to “fall out of love” with Jesus is the distractions of the world that we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. As Jesus was teaching the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 and Mark 4, He mentioned this very thing. He was teaching a practical agricultural lesson about sowing and reaping since which was one of the primary means of supporting a family in those days. He started this teaching by comparing God’s written word to seed. He said, “the sower sows the Word.”

He mentioned four types of soil, soil by the roadside or wayside, then there was the stony ground, next was ground covered with thorns in Mark 4:18-19. Verse 19 in The Voice translations says, “But the things of this life—the worries, the drive for more and more, the desire for other things—those things cluster around close and choke the life of God out of them until they cannot produce. Doesn’t that sound very indicative of the times we’re living in today?

Every direction we turn the enemy is dangling lust, greed, gluttony, sex, money, wealth, power, drugs, alcohol and pleasure in front of our eyes. The list is literally endless. And with today’s technology we can indulge 24/7 with as little effort as a tap on the screen of our smart phones or a few taps on a computer keyboard.

Now before you think I’m trying to establish a belief system or doctrine that God doesn’t want us to have anything, that couldn’t be more wrong. 1Tim. 6:17 in the NKJV says that God gives us all things richly to enjoy. Third John 2 says that God desires that we prosper in all things and be in health even as our soul prospers or matures. Mark 10:29-31 promises big blessings from the Lord in this life for serving Him and in the age to come. And if that’s still not enough, Psalms 35:27 says…let the Lord be magnified who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant. And there’s still more!

God has no problems with us being blessed and having things. But He doesn’t want “the things” to have us. When they do, we ignorantly have become idol worshippers and we will have a dreadful end. Materialism is not the desire for material things. It is the desire to try and meet spiritual needs with material things.

God is never trying to keep us from enjoying anything good. But He is against “anything” that interferes with His love for us and His desire to be intimately involved with us on a daily basis.

Whatever the cost, please do not become a spiritual casualty of war? Make no mistake about it; we are currently in a war for the soul of our nation, our churches, our families and our personal lives. But we can win it a day at time. The Holy Spirit came as our Comforter to comfort us because He knew what these last days would be like and He has the power ready and available on tap for us but we have to receive it, He will not force it on us.

Serving You Truth,

Dennis