God loves music

God loves music. He invented it.

I was thinking about music one night, and the Lord showed me a musical instrument that Tim had recently been playing in heaven.

It was constructed much like Tim’s french horn on one end (near the mouthpiece) with metallic circles. But the straight part of the horn was very long and the bell more narrow, more like a stretched-out trumpet. The horn was so long it had to be supported by a stand near the bell. I don’t know what it sounded like, but I know it would have been beautiful.

That started me to thinking about all the music that has existed throughout the centuries, and I realized –

Music existed before people did.

God invented music. There is music in space, the vibrations of moving planets, and suns and moons, asteroids and comets, the rings around Saturn, and even in what appears to be empty space.

Then there is the music of song, spoken and instrumental. I thought about every instrument ever invented, some used only a short time, and every song ever written, some sung by only one person, or only for a short time.

That led me consider all the musical varieties possible.  Even if nothing else was ever invented or composed, there is still enough music for everyone to enjoy for eternity!

Take the children’s song “Jesus Loves Me” in just one key, one voice, one rhythm, one volume, one tempo, one vocal range – C, female solo, 2/2, soft, medium, alto.  You can play it with one finger on a piano keyboard.

Vary just one element. Change the key to D. Now you have two versions. Vary one element at a time, adding a number of versions. Then vary two at a time, or three. Use two voices, change the key. Each time you change an element, you are multiplying the versions available of just that one song!

If you do that for every song ever composed, and play it on every instrument ever invented, or combinations of instruments, you will need a long stretch of eternity just for one song!

I began to imagine all those varieties of “Jesus Loves Me.” Change the mood with a minor key instead of major, perhaps. Use a calypso style. A waltz tempo. Or a full orchestral treatment, with multiple movements, key-changes, tempo changes, some verses bold and full of praise, some hushed and quiet like a lullaby. Or change the language. Just think how many languages have existed in the world, how many dialects!

Imagining so many versions of that simple little song in my mind, I began to be awestruck at the possibilities.

How God loves music! He obviously he loves all music types, praise and worship, love songs, humorous, historical, folk, classic, opera, all of it. But especially God loves worship music. Beyond the fact that music is just one form of worship, Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit truly love worship music.

Meditating on all this I suddenly had a mini-vision of an outdoor natural amphitheater, much like the place where Jesus gave the sermon on the mount.

Jesus was seated on one hillside, in a natural chair-shaped depression in the grassy terrain. A great multitude of men, women and children was seated on the ground throughout the valley and up the hillsides, a little space left between each one for elbow room.

There were stringed instruments of many shapes and sizes, some played with bows, some with fingers, some with picks, and some with little hammers. Horns, metal or wood, long or short. There were snare drums and kettle drums, bongos and other kinds, some played with sticks, some with hands. Then there were people holding sticks like children’s band instruments, metal and wood, thick and thin. There were so many types of instruments ranging from the primitive to the very sophisticated. Here and there in the crowd sat the vocalists, people without instruments.

All were facing the audience, the audience of one: Jesus.

The worshipers were there to express their love to Jesus in an outpouring of worship. How they loved him! And how he loved them back! I don’t remember hearing the music, in my vision they had not yet begun to play and sing.

But the view of that hillside was spectacular, Jesus loving his people and them loving him back.

Childhood Salvation

Is there such a thing as childhood salvation?

Is there really an age of accountability? Some people think so, some people don’t. Some say it’s 8 years of age, others say it’s 12.

But have they ever lived with a strong-willed 3 year old? One who knows what it means to be “naughty?”

I think the article at this link explains the issue quite well. https://truthforkids.com/age-of-accountability

I don’t remember a time in my life, ever, that I didn’t know for sure that Jesus is the son of God, that he is God himself, and that he took my sin on himself and died on the cross to pay for MY sins.

“Jesus loves me, this I know.” And I do, actually. I was taught that simple song as a young child, and I believed it then just as I believe it now.

For God so loved the world, including me, that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus, and that whosoever (including me) believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). I was taught that powerful verse as a young child too, and I believed it then just as I believe it now. It summarizes the gospel very well.

I have been trying to understand how I came to believe what I know to be true. Several things come to mind.

One:

My parents were both Christians who had been raised in Christian homes. (That really does make a difference.) We loved them and we trusted them. We trusted them to tell us truthful things, not to tell us lies.

They prayed for us and with us, my brother and me. We prayed over all our meals, prayed over both ordinary and special events, prayed at bedtime, and of course prayed in church. And we went to church as a family. We went to Sunday School and “preaching,” attended nearly every revival at our own church as well as other churches, plus tent revivals.

Even in the days when one or the other of my parents were far from perfect parents, far from perfect in their actions towards each other or towards themselves personally, they still turned to the Lord to help them. To deliver them. To restore them. And he always did.

I never knew my father’s parents; his dad died years before I was born and his mom died when I was about 3 years old. But they were church members (Baptist) and I can imagine them praying for their family and the families that would come in later years. That would include me. Many of the older Motte generations are buried in the Grove Hill Cemetery in Darlington, South Carolina.

My mother’s parents and most of their Powers siblings were members of Methodist churches. Many of their generation of that family are buried in the cemetery at Pine Grove Methodist Church between Timmonsville and Darlington, SC. My own parents are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Florence.

When I would see either set of relatives, Christmas Day, Easter, birthday celebrations, whatever the occasion, there was always a time of catching up with family news, and there was always prayer. Every meal where Da (my mother’s father) was at the table would begin with him saying grace – “Thank the Lord for Dinner.” (Or Breakfast, or Supper.) And he meant it, as short as it was. He was indeed thankful. So were we all.

I didn’t hear my great grandparents’ prayers, but I am convinced that they did know the Lord and that they did pray.

Two:

My brother and I were taught the Bible, as being the real, actual, word of the living God. Sometimes it was Mama and Daddy doing the teaching, sometimes a Sunday School teacher, and sometimes the pastor. The Bible was important to all of us, as important as eating food and drinking water.

Early days we were read Bible stories from a children’s book. We learned about Abraham and Sara, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, Elijah and Elisha, many others from the pages of the Old and New Testaments.

We also learned about Jesus — lots and lots of stories about Jesus. Who he was, why he came, what he did while on planet earth. We learned about sin and what it was, how it first got into existence, what God thinks about it, and what God did about it, for us, by sending Jesus.

We learned what grace is too, and that we didn’t deserve God’s grace but we got it anyway. We didn’t deserve God’s love, but we got it anyway.

We also learned that salvation isn’t automatic just because our parents were Christians, that we ourselves were responsible for that decision. I will never forget two little lessons we learned somewhere: “God has no grandchildren,” and “Living in a garage doesn’t make you a car!”

We were first taught these concepts in simple, easy to understand words. We learned that we have the ability to ask Jesus into our heart — meaning, to ask him to forgive us when we did wrong (i.e. naughty, bad things), ask him to be our “saver” and ask him to help us change our messy way of selfish thinking.

As a teenager I had occasions to think about all that once or twice, and each time I made a conscious decision and recommitment to that truth: Yes, Jesus was indeed my Saviour. As an adult living a troubled life years later, I made an expanded, deliberate decision that Yes, Jesus was both Saviour and Lord, and although I hadn’t really been acknowledging him as MY Lord, I wanted him to be.

And in an instant, he was. A lot changed that day… I changed a lot that day! See https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/all-things-became-new/

I don’t have a specific date written down anywhere when I was born again. Some folks would say I wasn’t really born again, then. I wasn’t saved, I wasn’t really a Christian, as a child.

I have to disagree. Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been my loving companions for too long, the Bible has been too precious to me for too long, and the Kingdom of God has been too real to me for too long.

But I have often wished I’d made Jesus both Saviour AND Lord of my life much earlier.

Childhood Prayers

Bette, age 5

My earliest childhood prayer went like this:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mama and Daddy, God bless Bud, God bless Mimi and Da, God bless Uncle Ponk and Aunt Vera, God bless Uncle Dub and Aunt Pearl, and God bless Uncle Mike.”

I asked God to bless every relative of Mama and Daddy’s that I could remember, their brothers and his sisters, their spouses and all their children. I added names as time went on, when Mike married Frances, and babies were born to one or another family. No doubt I missed a few cousins now and then.

Once in a while I would tag on somebody not a relative, like my school teacher or Sunday School teacher, or friend. At the end of the prayer, I was always careful to add “In Jesus’s name, Amen.”

Confident that everybody I loved was covered with God’s protection for the night, I pulled my doll babies closer and fell asleep.

Even now I can clearly visualize my bedroom and my bed, myself snuggled up under the covers with five or six dolls surrounding me as I closed my eyes and spoke to God at bedtime. I was in kindergarten at the time of that mini-vision, but I had prayed that same bedtime prayer many, many evenings before that.

When did I stop praying those precious, repetitive words?

Perhaps it was after the day I heard the Lord whisper to me in a small quiet voice, and I realized that he was actually listening to my thoughts and prayers. And I knew somehow that I could just talk to him, I didn’t have to use memorized, rote prayers! How neat.

He didn’t speak that day in answer to a prayer, actually. He had spoken in the middle of my first grade classroom as I was admiring my teacher. He said, “One day YOU will be a teacher.” That was it.

That was all he’d said to me then but I knew it was God. I had no question or fear or doubt or anything, just some surprise that he considered me important enough to speak to, in the middle of a school day, in the middle of a school room. Me!

I didn’t really expect God to talk to me again; I didn’t even ask him to talk to me again for many years. I just accepted it as a one-off, something he wanted me to know just because I loved my teacher, and because he loved me.

And then I sort of forgot it. Yep.

As the school years passed by one by one, none of my plans included becoming a teacher. Nuclear or space physicist, that was my plan. That was what I studied all the math and science for, took all the advanced testing for, planned to enter college for.

My family faithfully attended church where as a young teen once again I greatly admired a teacher: my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Mellie Sue Hewitt, always smiling, soft spoken and kindhearted. She was also quite knowledgeable in the scriptures. In her classes the Old Testament came alive, relevant, and important.

Prayer was a given in her classes, and they didn’t consist of repetitive phrases and sentences. They were more like chatting with a close, personal friend. Along with amazing stories of dynamic Bible characters like Abraham, Moses and Joshua, I learned that the God they knew, and that she knew, appreciated ordinary conversational prayer.

Then Daddy died suddenly of a heart attack, May 14, 1960. I was 16 years old. My mother couldn’t cope. She fell apart, turned away from church, away from her faith, and turned to substances for “support.” Drugs and alcohol.

After that, church wasn’t a real priority for me either. Mama had dropped out, so I dropped out. While most of my friends went away to college, I was enrolled at USC-Florence here at home. Mama drove me back and forth. We didn’t talk much.

If you have read any of my other stories, biographical stuff, you probably know that my plans got majorly derailed during my first year of college. My grades were excellent, I had no problems in class, but life-shaking problems at home finally got the best of me.

My alcoholic mother and I simply could not get along. I dropped out of college to marry the man who I thought would take me away from all my problems. He didn’t. It turned out that he, like Mama, was an alcoholic.

I began practicing the art of conversational prayer, and I mean practice. Practice. Practice. Prayer lists. Notebooks. Little sticky notes on my desk, in my Bible, everywhere. Most consisted of “Please help me” type requests. Help me get through today. Help me get through the week! Help me pay the bills.

Help me not fall apart, like Mama did. They were all one-way but despite my having dropped out, I knew, I just knew, that He never had.

A lot happened in the next few years. I’ve written about some of it. I bought a number of books about prayer, how to pray, intercessory prayer, having a prayer life. I read and underlined, wrote notes in the margins. My prayer lists grew. My notebooks got filled, post-it notes proliferated on computer, mirrors, Bibles and books.

And along the way, I discovered something amazing. Prayer isn’t always one-way only.

Lies coming down

I shared this word with only a few fellow intercessors back in February, but this week I’ve seen more and more of it coming to pass.

On Monday night February 14, 2022, as I was praying before sleep the Lord showed me ranks of angel warriors with swords drawn and pointed outwards, preparing to attack.

Father God showed me that he has called Time and the warriors are deploying. He is calling an end to the lies and deception that the enemy has been using across America (and the whole world, for that matter).

The spirit behind all the lies and deception is actually the spirit of fear, He said. Fear of being found out, truth revealed, deceptions uncovered, lies that had brought much influence, power and wealth, while hidden.

Over the coming days / weeks / months there will be a battle of God’s warriors against the spirit of fear behind the lies, deception, all the deliberate falsehoods afflicting God’s people — indeed all people.

You won’t actually perceive this battle very well on the earth for a little while, He said, because it is a purely spiritual battle. But you will perceive the results soon as the lies are made obvious. The lies and deception will come down, will end, and the truth will become obvious.

Soon the spiritual battle will descend onto the earth and the natural world will also engage in this battle. Spiritual warriors and prayer warriors will be put to work more fiercely than ever.

So be alert, be aware, watch and keep watching, listen and keep listening. More importantly, pray and keep praying.

Posted 1 April 2022

 

Making Prayer Powerful, by Bill Johnson

Praying Friends,
This is a powerful teaching on intercessory prayer given at Bethel this week by Bill Johnson. It is so very appropriate for the days we are living in right now. NOW. Today. It’s only about 42 minutes long, please find time to watch. And to pray.

 

Making the dark, darker

Talking with the Lord on Saturday, December 3, 2021, as usual I asked him the question:

“What is going on right now, Lord? What are you doing?”

And he began telling me, as he nearly always does.

“Making the dark, darker,” he said.

“There are still a few slivers of gray and white among the dark places, and I am closing those gaps and making it all dark. Very dark.”

I knew that wasn’t all there was to it, and it wasn’t. He continued.

“I’m also making the light, lighter. Brighter. The contrast will become ever more evident around the globe, as those who have preferred the dark are beginning to long for the light.” For Jesus, the Light of the World.

I knew that Father God is not responsible for the darkness and so I waited for more discussion. He went on to explain.

Making dark places darker is making them much more obvious, much more evident. Far more repugnant to those who have loved the darkness… up until now. That love is turning.

A spiritual revival has sprung up in various places around the planet in recent years, growing more widespread; gaining more attention.

It is a precursor of a soon-coming global outpouring of the Holy Spirit with tremendous worship and joy, miraculous signs and wonders, miracle healings, salvations and deliverances. Years-long prayers and intercessions are coming into fruition; patience is paying off.

At the same time persecution and murder of believers is worsening. The battle for the Faith — the faith of believers — is certainly not new. It started with the apostles.

But Christians worldwide, and particularly prayer warriors, have been under many deadly and increasingly vicious attacks in recent days, some insidious or temporary irritations, but some long-lasting disasters.

All are designed to distract from the Word of Truth and from the work of the intercessor. The enemy assumes (rightly so in many cases) that it’s hard to minister to other people when you’re in real distress yourself, physical, mental, emotional, financial, family, or community.

Never mind!

The increasing supernatural darkness can never stop the Light from coming, the overwhelming, engulfing glory of God.

2022 will be a year of contrasts, challenges, conflicts, and confusion. And a year of confirmations and celebrations.

 

Thomas was not the only doubter

Do you sometimes have doubts? Wondering, questioning your faith and then feeling guilty about it, those kinds of doubts?

You’re not alone.

“Doubting Thomas” is a familiar Bible character. One of Jesus’s original apostles, he had seen all the miracles.  He’d even participated in some of them!

And yet, “tch, tch, tch,” he declared he would have to see and feel Jesus alive again for himself, in order to believe he’d really been resurrected.

What a disappointment Thomas must have been. Jesus commented, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Did you know Thomas wasn’t the only one? Hundreds of people saw Jesus back from the dead, alive and well just as he had promised. “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.” (1Cor 15:6)

And yet some of the apostles doubted! When they saw Jesus, “they worshiped him… but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17) Amazing.

But doubting wasn’t a new sensation for them. Jesus had explained more than once that he would be killed — he had to be killed to fulfill prophecy — but don’t worry, he would rise again! And they just didn’t quite believe it.

He’d done many miracles along the way. Multiplied food, healed sick people, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, raised dead folks. The twelve hadn’t just seen it, they had done it too! So how could they doubt?

Well, the word doubt in Matthew 28 is “distazo,” meaning to waver; to believe two opposing things. “Yes, it’s true. No, it’s not true.”

Jesus spoke that word to Peter. Jesus said, “Come,” so Peter did, he left the boat to walk on the water like Jesus, but soon began to sink.

“Why did you doubt?” Jesus asked him. (Matthew 14:28-31) “Come” surely meant that Yes, Peter could do it, he could walk on the water too! And so he climbed out of the boat. But as his senses saw, heard and felt the storm, his resolve wavered. No, he couldn’t, all his senses said. Jesus could, but Peter couldn’t.

Chiding him, Jesus pointed out the problem: Peter’s wavering between belief and doubt; resulting in little faith. Peter called out for help, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Mat 14:31 ESV)

One other thought: Jesus’s Why question means Peter could choose between two options: “Yes, I can do this,” or “No, I can’t do this.” He chose the right one first, but then switched to the wrong one.

After Jesus rose from the dead, his followers (men and women) still had problems with doubt. Maybe his promise wasn’t of a physical resurrection, they probably wondered; maybe it was only spiritual. But the tomb is empty — where is his body?

Jesus’s voice convinced Mary but she couldn’t convince the others. They all had to see him in person, hear his voice. Thankfully Jesus was understanding, and fulfilled their desire. (Mark 16:9-11)

Wavering is still a problem with Christians.

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting (wavering), for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,  being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas 1:6-8 NASB20)

Doubt / waver here is the Greek word “diakrino,” meaning to examine all the facts in order to determine the truth, but never coming to a final decision. Yes, it’s true! No, it’s not true! Faith-nullifying wavering and doubting.

Paul also addressed this problem. “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1Cor 16:13 NASB20)

Do you have doubts sometimes? You’re not alone. So did the apostles! Just don’t stay there. Choose the right option.

 

What was in the wilderness?

Matthew 4 and Luke 4 describe the temptation of Jesus in the Judean desert. Most of my life I had a mental image of that desert as being mostly sand dunes, rocks and lizards. One day, out of curiosity I decided to check out that wilderness, where it was, what was in it, what it was like at that time.

I wondered, what was there out there that could tempt Jesus? During the 40 days before Satan showed up, that is. Here’s some of what I learned:

East and south of Jerusalem, it’s one of the smallest deserts in the world, much of it lying adjacent and west of the Dead Sea. Craggy and rough, it’s hilly and mountainous with steep cliffs and deep ravines. It was difficult but not impossible to traverse on the well-used paths and trails that criss-crossed the area.

There are streams and many wadis, some containing pools of water in shaded areas; and also beautiful oases. The most famous oasis in the Judean Desert is in Ein Gedi near the northern part of the Dead Sea, called David’s Waterfall.

There are also many fruit trees and other vegetation (see the section on trees below).

Sparsely inhabited but not empty, the desert contained several small villages on its edges. Bethlehem was one, a place where many of Jesus’ relatives lived.

Bedouin encampments the size of small towns (the Bedouin were and still are very hospitable people to visitors) plus camels, sheep, goats, and donkeys.

Leopards and other wild animals also inhabited the area, although leopards are scarce today.

Herodium today seen from the side.

The spectacular Herod’s Palace (Herodium) south of Jerusalem may contain his burial site (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodium and http://allaboutjerusalem.com/attraction/herodion-national-park).

This palace complex was atop an artificial hill built by Herod the Great, the site of several archeological digs through recent years. After his death this opulent summer “resort” was used by many Roman officials.

Also in the desert is the fortress of Masada which overlooks the Dead Sea, captured and built up by Herod the Great as a military base. Both Herodium and Masada were occupied by Roman officials and solders who regularly traveled to and from those sites. Both are Israeli National Parks and popular tourist attractions today.

Many fruit or nut trees occupy wadis and oases, including date palms, pistachios, wild figs, carob and acacia:

Carob / Locust trees bear fruit that is edible green or dried; the dried fruit is used in candy and other foods as a substitute for chocolate. The sweet, soft flesh of the green fruit is called “honey.”

Carob and acacia (below) are legumes, members of the pea and bean family.

Acacia is a “rain tree,” so-called because its leaves fold together in rain or high humidity. Edible and primarily used as animal fodder, it provides helpful gum and has many medical applications also. The Tabernacle and Ark were made of acacia wood.

Considering everything there was for him to see and do in that wilderness, what was Jesus tempted with?

Food, people, animals, a magnificent natural environment and impressive man-made structures — a better question might be, what wasn’t Jesus tempted with?

Anything and everything that human beings today are tempted with, including distractions, tempted Jesus in that desert. Think he doesn’t understand your situation? He does.

I Cor. 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)

And Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

Adoration by Mike Adkins

I woke up with this beautiful, anointed song running in my spirit. Such a wonderful way to wake up in the morning!

Lyrics:

Praise, we praise, praise, praise
Praise to the One who sent us His Son
Praise, praise, praise, praise
In one accord, we praise you, O Lord.

There is no other name above you
Blessed be your name
God of Jacob, Shepherd of Israel
Holy unto your name, Holy unto your name.

Praise, praise, praise, we praise
Praise to the One who sent us His Son
Praise, praise, praise, praise
In one accord, we praise you, O Lord.

Glory and Honor and Power
Unto the Lord our God
God of Abraham, faithful and true
Holy, holy are you, Holy, holy are you.

Son of righteousness and
The Lamb who was slain
You’re the lily of the valley
You’re my bright and morning star

You’re the beginning and the end
You’re the everlasting Father
You’re the God, the God of all glory
You’re my healer and the king of kings

My deliverer and my friend
You’re the sweet rose of Sharon
You’re all love, you’re all power
You’re merciful and you’re mighty

You’re the redeemer of all mankind
You’re the lion, the lion of Judah
You’re the ruler of this whole universe
You’re the most high, Messiah
You’re the soon coming king

Holy, holy is your name
Holy, holy is your name

(singing in the spirit)

Holy, holy is your name
Holy, holy is your name

 

Weapons don’t wield themselves

GodsWeaponsMadeForYou“The worst thing the enemy can do to a believer in Jesus is to send him home to heaven early.”

Why doesn’t God stop him in his tracks?

It’s obvious that the enemy of our faith is at work in the world, sometimes very close to where we live. We wonder why he seems to be getting away with so many murderous acts, causing so much chaos, turmoil and tragedy.

Reminders of several basic facts:

  • War is being waged for control of this planet, control of the people who live on the planet, and eradication of the people inhabited by the Creator of the planet.
  • God gave control of this planet to human beings. Stopping the enemy is our job. We’re not doing a very good job of it, but it’s still our responsibility.
  • It’s not an even fight, the sides aren’t even close to equal – but you’d never know that from the way some folks act. Or don’t act.
  • We are the conquerors!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV, emphasis added.)

God’s goal:

  • “(God our Savior) who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
  • “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
  • God made a way for that to  happen: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The devil’s goal:

His goal is to destroy the things God loves above all – people, human beings created in His image. To do that, the enemy will try to:

  • Kill every human being he can, Christians or not
  • Prevent every human being he can from becoming Christians
  • Prevent every Christian he can from bringing other human beings to Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

“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.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

Well, the enemy himself is not flesh and blood. He just stirs up flesh and blood to perform as his willing servants, or as his unwitting instruments.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)

Stopping particular people the enemy is using will not stop him from picking other people to use. We should indeed do whatever we can to stop (or prevent) attacks by those people. But that’s certainly not all – we should also:

Learn how to fight the real enemy:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

Changing the mind and heart of the person is the only answer to shutting out the enemy from using that person to do evil. Praying, sharing God’s Word, God’s kind of love and life (living the gospel), displaying a God-filled life, are steps toward that change.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

You can shout and yell at people, but that won’t make them listen. You can shout and yell at the devil, but that won’t make him listen either.

Only taking authentic authority over him will work to stop his activity. And first you have to know he’s real, and that he’s really the one behind the evil actions.

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’

“Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19:11-16)

Weapons of war:

Acknowledge that YOU have been given spiritual weapons. Know what they are and learn how they work. Recognize who is actually behind the evil activity you see. Ask God what to do about it and listen for his reply. The Holy Spirit will tell you what to do. Some weapons at our disposal include:

  • Spiritual armor. (Eph. 6:10-18) This includes defensive and offensive equipment. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Withstand and resist are the same Greek word.
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12) We need supernatural information, wisdom on how to make use of it, faith, miracles, healing.
  • Discerning of spirits. (I Cor. 12) We especially need to know whether the wicked behavior is caused by human or evil spirits. Believers can exercise authority over evil ones, but human spirits require other approaches.
  • The Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12) Knowing it’s in the Bible isn’t going to help if you don’t know the scripture itself. Study. Learn. Get it in your memory banks.
  • Prayer and intercession. (I Tim. 2:1-2) Ask specific requests, based on knowledge of the scriptures and who you are in Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit as you ask.
  • Love and forgiveness are powerful weapons. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Remember, the kindness of God leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
  • Your own testimony. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11)
  • Spiritual authority. (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus told the disciples to do what he had been doing, and to teach others to do the same things. That includes you and me. He gave us this authority because he knew we were going to need it.

Matthew 18:20 says, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20) Note: signs won’t confirm God’s word that isn’t preached, taught, or spoken.

  • Stand firm in the faith. Having done all to stand, stand. Stand firm. (Eph. 6:13)
  • Pray in faith, speak in faith. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18)

If you look up those events in I Kings 17 and 18, you see that Elijah didn’t actually pray about the rain stopping and starting – he just spoke about the rain. Whatever praying he did, he did beforehand, surely to ask the Lord for instructions on what to do next.

  • Don’t waver back and forth in doubt, hoping for the best. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
  • Confidently expect results. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” (I John 5:14-15)

Weapons don’t wield themselves:

The problem is, too many Christians think all this is automatic –  that they don’t have to be on their guard, don’t have to put on any armor, don’t have to exercise authority, don’t have to resist the devil, don’t have to pray for their enemies, don’t have to share the gospel, in other words, they don’t have to wield any weapons.

It’s as if they think, Let the preacher do it, let the missionaries do it, I don’t have to do it myself.  They may pay a high price for that mistaken belief.

Also see: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/armored-front-and-back/

(Originally published in 2015 — still appropriate.)