Rick Oldland – Spiritual Warfare in the Church (Parts 1 and 2):

 

Suggestion is the enemy of integrity

The enemy finds many ways to whisper suggestion in our ears and sow seeds of doubt about people or ministries.

We need to recognise when suggestion is at work and cut through it looking for the truth as seen in the open and the fruit of those concerned.

 

The Great Conductor

Live orchestral music has a majesty.  The conductor stands with his back to the audience, yet facing the orchestra.  He leads the way pulling together the individuals to make a collective beautiful sound.  Music that speaks to the heart.

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Now imagine the conductor is also the greatest composer.  That his music is the best the world has known.  That being invited into the orchestra is the greatest privilege for each musician.

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What a concert!

We are called to be part of that orchestra.  The name of the orchestra is Church.  The music is God’s calling, purpose and destiny for the Church.  The audience is the world.  The composer has some wonderful solo work as seen in creation and yet some of His greatest work is being played out before us right now.

But how is this Church a great orchestra?  Surely it often sounds like we are just tuning up?

Outside of the performance in quiet rooms behind closed doors the composer/conductor spends time with each musician, honing their skill and teaching them how to express their heart in the music.  When he brings them together their eyes are on Him, not the audience, and as they step into their identity, each playing their different instruments, expressing their heart, so the assembly comes together into a beautiful masterpiece.  The composer will at times bring out individuals for solos, or duets or specific arrangements, but all the time he pulls together everyone into a collective whole.  It is astounding, captivating and wonderful.  The orchestra is seen by the world and when that orchestra come together, keeping their eyes on the conductor/composer, then the world begins to see how wonderful He is.

There is such a great ALIGNMENT in the orchestra it is as though they are one.

His back is to the audience, but the audience wants to see His face.

Members of the audience start to say, can I join the orchestra?

Disarming the Dragon

As I help a friend through a difficult situation I have caught a glimpse of how much people can give themselves over to evil.  He is under constant attack and it’s costly.  It is also character-forming.

Over time, I have also seen the contrast of what might be seen in a snap shot (what someone might want us to see of them) and their true character which is then revealed over time.

The bible says (Matt 7:15-20):

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

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These verses tend to focus on those who would seek position in churches – people to watch out for.  In the case of my friend it seems he is having to confront a “dragon in a dress“.

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As I write I am conscious that many of you may think I am being unfair, but please trust me, there is a long list of people who have felt the flames of attack.  My friend just receives it regularly.

It is a testing time.  He suffers.  His wider family also suffer.  But during this time we have prayed and worked together to try to be and respond the way God would want.  Which ultimately means to trust God, wait and see what He will do.  It’s not easy and it is very tempting to respond another way.

1 Pet 5:18-19

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

So, how do you disarm a dragon?  A beautiful magnificent creature that breathes fire and destruction.

In summary, the answer is faith as opposed to fear.  The enemy is only as strong as the degree to which we give ourselves over to fear.  And of course we need to be honest when we are doing precisely that – and bring it to God.  Confess the fear and ask Him for help.  This is not a momentary transformation.  It is an ongoing battle.  We need the shield of faith.

Eph 6:16

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The only defense against the flaming arrows is the shield of faith. Faith in a trustworthy God, faith in His victory, faith in the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus, faith in our identity in Christ.  To stand firm in the fact that I am a child of God.  It is my identify bestowed upon me by the Lord Himself.

The enemy also only has as much authority as we give him.  In Genesis 1:28,29 God gives man authority over the earth:

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

In Genesis 3:4-7 Satan steals that authority:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Why do I say he stole our authority?  See Matt 4:8-9:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

I say it, because he claims it himself.  He has as much authority and rule as we give him.  He does it through temptation, sowing seeds of doubt and fear.

However, Jesus won that authority back (Matt 28:18-20):

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

And with that authority he commissioned us to re-establish the rule of His Kingdom.

We literally have to choose which kingdom we live out of.  This will determine how much power we choose to give the enemy.  How much do we choose to believe the lies or fear the threats of the enemy as opposed to putting our trust and faith in God?  How much do we allow a harmful action to define us – victim or victor.

Let God defend our character as opposed to trying to control and influence what others think about us.  Our reputation is safe in His mouth.

We can learn something from a famous passage found in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:38-42):

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a]39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Key points:

Do not resist an evil person!  Wow.  That is a challenge, but it is also the key.  Do not be drawn into reacting – it is slippery slope.

I say again this is why suffering so often refines our character.  We have to recognise who we are choosing to be in any moment.

“Turning the other cheek” – when done, we are saying that the threat of physical harm does not have any power over me.  I have the courage to face physical pain. Your violence against me does not define who I am.  My response to your action defines who I am and I choose to be a child of God.  Your action defines who you are.  Now, who is the victor?

“If being sued for your tunic give them your cloak as well.”  Your threats to rob me do not scare me.  I place little value in these things and more value in trusting God for what I need and who I am as a result.  Your actions define who you are. Now, who is the victor?

“Go the extra mile when someone forces you to do one.”  Note that this is routed in something the Roman army could enforce on people.  They could demand a local to act as a guide or a porter – for a set distance (1000 paces).  Given this was an order from an oppressor this very act reinforced that you were the victim.  Jesus once again encourages us to choose who we are.  I choose to be kind and if you want help it is my choice to give it and I choose to help you more than you asked – it is my choice.  I choose to bless – it is who I am.  Who are you?  Now, who is the victor?

Wise as serpents, innocent as doves (Matt 10:16).

Pouring hot coals (Prov 25:21-22).

The Receipt of God’s Love brings Healing

After a long day writing what God has put on my heart I sat on the tube ready to go home.  I realized that when I stopped work after a busy day I just had this sense of God’s love.  All I wanted to do was stop and rest in it, bathe in it even.  I felt this as I was leaving work but I wanted to be still and I could do that on the tube – with my noise cancelling headphones on – with no music – in the quiet.

Being still really allowed me just to soak in it.  It was beautiful.  It is beautiful – for it is still there as I write.  However, it is best experienced doing nothing – “Be still and know that I am God!”

As I sat there I just knew there was healing at work in my heart.  The anxiety I had been feeling was gone.  Sitting in the silence I also felt God’s peace at work within me and His pleasure in me.

It was then that the phrase came to me:

“The Receipt of God’s Love brings Healing.”

I recognised that given God’s love is a constant that somehow there had been something in me preventing that receipt.  It was like something blocking the flow of a river.

So I started asking what blocks the flow?

For most of us it is a lack of belief that can often be our biggest blockage.  Do we trust God for who He is.  It’s why worship is so important.  When I was writing on Giving and Receiving worth it was a series of thoughts born out of my feeling of low self-esteem this morning.  Tied into this was also a feeling of anxiety – worrying about what people who are important to me might think of me.  I went on to write that we need to start with worshiping God at these times.  In doing so, we are reminded of who He is and what He is like (His unconditional love) and that reaffirms our identity in Him as children of God.  That restored my self-worth – as I accepted it was not dependent on what I did and was not diminished by my failures but was rather dependent on what Christ has done for me and my adoption into God’s family.

Quite simply, this restored my belief that I am loved!

In addition receiving and accepting His forgiveness meant that I could sit and receive His love with a clear conscience.

For more see:

Engraved on His hands

and

Giving and Receiving Worth

This went on with thoughts about honour as well as love.  When we honour someone we recognise and value them for who they are.  I recognised that we cannot seek honour from others but can only bestow it on someone else.  On God most importantly through worship.  When I reminded myself that I am a son of God – adopted in the family, I realized there was no greater honour for me.  To take that on I had to accept and receive the honour that God has given me.

There’s no taking love and honour

I also wanted to dig in to how I can share what I write more effectively – looking to Jesus’ own example.  This lead to these posts:

A Continuous Walk with God

Expert map readers and guides

and finally, see the comment on the last post.

In that comment it was like one of those “light bulb”moments.  Where the answer of what I was looking for is so simple.  It is a simple answer but it will take a life time to put in into practice.

Having found this new treasure I felt God’s pleasure for both putting the effort in to dig deeper (being hungry and thirsty for righteousness) and also in the finding of an answer I can now take away and apply.

So, as I write this I realize I have been blessed today having been healed of the anxiety and low self-esteem I felt in the morning (through worship and reminding myself of God’s truth) and also in knowing God’s pleasure in finding a new piece of treasure I can build upon.

Will

 

There’s no taking love and honour

This thought follows on from here:

Giving and Receiving Worth

They say the best things in life are free.

They also say money can’t buy me love.

I want to suggest that money can’t buy you honour either.

The very act of “buying” honour – bribing others for accolades reeks of dis-honour.  In our hearts we would know that it was fake.

To me giving honour is calling out the God-given virtues and calling (destiny) that we see in people, celebrating and encouraging it.  Calling out our true identity in Christ.

I want to suggest that we can’t take love or honour from others.  All we can do is give love or give honour.  We can also receive the love and honour that may be given to us.

However, whilst we can’t take love and honour we can choose to be part of a community that actively seeks to give love and honour to one another.  I would hope that our churches are like that.  Our participation would not be to actively seek that love and honour but rather to give it out.  If all are doing that then I am sure that much of that love and honour from others would come our way –  but that would not be our motivation.

Having said that I don’t think it is possible for us to give love and honour unless we are loved and honoured first.  We would run dry.

Thankfully there is One who can and does give out love and honour without receiving it first.  Our God.  We can see this in the very act of sending Jesus Christ to be crucified.  This demonstrates His love but when we respond and can then be called sons of God we have effectively been made royalty.  What greater honour is there?

What can we do in response but to love and honour our Father in heaven, His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

Let us also be a people who actively seek to love and honour those God brings our way.

Giving and Receiving Worth

If you have read some of my recent posts you will notice that there are times when I have a feeling a low self worth.  This is born out of a frustration of recognizing I am not the person I want to be – and at times a long way off from that.

I am not the first to feel this way.  See what Paul says in Rom 7:21-25:

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[a] a slave to the law of sin.

 

I recognize the hand of the enemy at work during these moments because he wants to make me ineffective and, if he can, even destructive to the work of God. He does not hesitate to remind me of my failures and how unworthy I am.  And of course, it is a half-truth.  I do have many failures and I am unworthy of God’s mercy.  But that is not the point is it?  I often need to be reminded that I am covered in the blood of Jesus (through my belief) and therefore completely washed clean of my sin.  God sees me “hidden in Christ”.  He no longer sees the sin – it as though it is as far as the east is from the west.  So that takes care of both my failures and unworthiness.  Then add to that I am adopted into the family of God – I am a child of God.  Chosen!  Destined!  Sent!  I just need to humble myself and make myself available.  But I also need to take on and accept that God really does love me!  That He really does accept me as I am AND that He loves me so much that He wants to make me more like Himself.  Wow!  What a privilege.

It is so important that we are honest about our failures.  If we hide them then we are pretending we don’t have any and other people will not be able to see the full work of salvation in our lives.  My failures speak of my need for salvation.  My faith then speaks of my trust in God, His love and His redeemed and refining purposes for my life.

However, that is not the point of this post!  It is simply the reason why I started thinking about giving worth.

Where do we get our sense of self-worth from?  When we speak of worth we speak of value.  So, to put it another way, where do we get our sense of how much others value us and thus how much we might then value ourselves?

It’s an important question.  It’s important because it should force us to be honest. Whose voice do we listen to the most?

How much do the people in school or college/university value me?

How much do the people in my team value me?

How much do the people in my work value me?

How much does my spouse value me?

How much do my family value me?

I have broken out these questions so that we might think through them one by one.

Because whenever we ask “how much does X value me?”, we are also asking, “and what can I do to increase that?”.  We might not put it in to these precise words but I am sure that is what we so often do ask ourselves.  It plays a great importance in our sense of self-worth.  We might then need to consider, “what am I willing to do so that X will value (love) me more?”

The situations that caused me to have such a low self-esteem were those in which I may have humiliated myself in front of people who are important to me.  I may also have inadvertently hurt them in some way.  They are certainly not situations I am proud of.  That then leads to my frustration in myself.

So how do I deal with this?

The answer lies in recognizing how much importance I place on what people think of me.  I think you know where this is going, but before I get there, it’s really important that we don’t undervalue what people think of us either!

I need to place the most importance in what God thinks of me.  This has to be my starting point.  That does not mean I don’t value what others think of me, but it has to be put in perspective.  And interestingly, my starting point for taking on what God thinks of me is not to ask that question but rather to give Him his worth!

I need to start with worshiping God.  I can best worship God by recognizing who He is and what He is like.  The bible tells so much of that but there are also great worship songs out there that do the same.  I would also hope that being among God’s people in church does the same!

He is faithful, loving, kind, generous, swift to bless, slow to anger, almighty, powerful, sacrificial, full of peace, grace and mercy and ready to listen at any time.

He has also achieved so much that makes it possible for me to enter His presence. I need to give thanks for His sacrifice on the cross, the forgiveness of my sin, my adoption into His family and the destiny He places on my life.

And there is so much more!

God is ready to receive our “giving worth” (worship) at any time.  He does not need it, but He does delight in it for in those moments we are closest to God the Father, part of His loving family.  We can enter in to the most Holy place and know His acceptance and healing.

In worshiping God I remind myself of who He is.  That changes everything.  He then reminds me of how much value He has in me.  His willingness to die on the cross so that we can be together is such a beautiful expression of love.  See:

Engraved on His hands

My sense of self-worth changes in these moments and I know that whatever I do it cannot be taken away.

In these same moments I can also confess my sins, ask for forgiveness and also then ask God how I can put it right.  I do value what people think of me (the value they put in me).  It is part of loving and respecting someone.  I also value what they think of God as a result of what they think of me.  So, therefore if I have wronged someone I need to try to put it right, and if they have wronged me then I need to forgive them and where possible let them know it does not get in the way of how much I value (love) them.

But my self-worth must not come from what people think of me.  It must come from accepting and entering into what God thinks of me.

Finally, as well as giving worth to God, we need to find ways to give worth to each other.  This is simply learning to honour people for who they are.  Learning to look for the person God has made them to be and calling it out when we see it at work.  When we bestow God’s identify on someone, we honour them.  We can also do this through prophecy when God sees someone’s identify before we see any sign of it through what they do.  In the same way that God calls Gideon a mighty warrior or Jesus calls Simon, Peter (the rock) before they have done anything to warrant that name, we too can open ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit to call out and honour someone with the name and destiny God has given them.

The Right Marinade

Be Still and Know that I am God.

 

Take it in.

 

Breathe it in.

 

Wait.

 

I have been struggling and frustrated with myself recently.  I so want to be a man of peace.  As per Col 3:15 – to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.  But I still have occasional outbursts of temper.  The most recent was a time that whilst in discussion with my son I was getting a little bit agitated (I can’t even remember what about now) and then I suddenly went over on my left ankle.  I have a history of ankle problems particularly with my right ankle for which I have ongoing physio treatment.  I let out a loud cry of pain and anger.  My emotions were a mixture of fear, pain and anguish.  And yet within a couple of minutes I knew it was not that bad.  Thirty minutes later my ankle felt as though nothing had happened.  In the moment after crying out I got angry at myself for getting angry!!!!  I was so disappointed that seemingly just below the surface there was this anger waiting to get out.

It was a depressing thought.  In my quiet times that followed I recalled something someone had recently sent to me by text – Be still and know that I am God.  To silence myself and simply rest in the presence of God.

A thought came to me that this was not a matter of trying to unravel all the complex undercurrents going on within me, but rather that I simply reflected that which I have been soaked in during my life.  That I have effectively been marinated in all the fears and temptations of the world for such a long time that it is going to take a long time of deliberate choice simply to sit before the Lord if I am to take on His fragrance and taste.  To marinate in Him.  In other words the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc) are the observed outcomes of the Holy Spirit being at work in us.  These qualities are an essence of Him.

As I was praying this morning (choosing to simply sit before the Lord – whilst on a train into work) I find that I have to work at saying little and doing nothing. This act prepares my heart.  I then turned to the latest ODB which pointed me to Matt 5:16, “Let your light shine before others …..”.  I had started my prayer time feeling useless – with this underlying frustration at my inability to control my temper at times.  God reminded me that He has put a light within me – that it is there.  I have to be willing to let Him work within me and patient to let Him do it in His time – and then trust that He will.  At the same time I then have to let whatever light there is within me to shine before men – so that God will get the glory.  The Glory that He so deserves.  There are opportunities to shine – to serve and help others and learn the joy that the privilege to do so shapes who I am in Christ and gives Him the glory at the same time.

What do we marinade in?  What do we taste and smell of?

The Year where everything changed

Lilian sent me the following:

I’ve been at a Catch the fire conference in Winchester Thursday-Saturday speaker Isabel Allum. She gave me another prophecy from the Lord I’m not sure if you saw the one I received in 2016. God is saying the same thing. I’ll have to type it up and let you see. Let me know if you received the 2016 one.  Below is email forwarded from Karen Currie who regularly receives them. Trust it will bless you.

AS WE CROSSOVER INTO 5779 I HEARD THE LORD DECREE” THE YEAR WHERE EVERYTHING CHANGED!!!”