Another spirit of fear: heights

Fear of people had seemed to be a lifelong problem for me. (See link below). Fear of heights, not so much.

As a grammar school kid spending summers with my grandparents, trees were just one of those big toys God put in their yard for me to play with, in, on, atop, you get the picture.

Chinaberry trees were wonderful habitats for imaginative boys and girls. Hide and seek? Cops and robbers? Cowboys and Indians? Spies and secret agents?

Leafy branches, hard green Chinaberries for slingshot ammunition, tobacco twine and empty tin cans for telephones — what more did you need? Clamber up the nearest branch, climb like monkeys to higher branches, crouch behind the trunk, await your “enemy” and let ’em have it! Play, play, play, having lots of fun all summer long.

There were sawdust piles to climb, the ladder to the hay loft in the barn, the roof top over the horse (really granddaddy’s mule) stable, oodles of climbing opportunities. None of them brought on even the slightest hint of fear to me, for quite a few fun-filled summers.

There was a church camp in the North Carolina Mountains that my whole family attended one summer. A late morning activity for the older kids (probably age 10 or so) was climbing one of the smaller hills to the very top, a well-marked trail, lots of handholds, twists and turns along the way with a helpful adult guide to lead us up.

No sweat! No problem! The view from the top was spectacular, the hills and mountains really were blue! Who knew! It was so beautiful, I would have done it again and again.

But the next summer, disaster struck. My grandparents took me with them on a vacation road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Remembering those lovely blue-shaded hills and mountains, the adventure seemed so inviting, I was thrilled they had asked me.

Then came our first stop, at a North Carolina overlook. Granddaddy pulled off the road onto a grassy area, pointing out the beautiful cliffs and valleys and peaks and trees and — no guard rails. “Look, see how pretty?” But I didn’t see pretty. What I saw was disaster. My head began spinning, my balance went off, and I felt compelled to run to the edge of the cliff and jump off.

Fear struck me like a shotgun blast. First I clung to the car door, then sunk onto the floorboards of the back seat, crouching with my knees to my chin, where I rode the rest of that trip. I shook, cried, and kept my eyes squeezed tightly shut. Mercifully my dumbfounded grandparents made the rest of the trip much shorter than planned.

Was that the beginning? No doubt. There was no more summer time tree-climbing fun for me. Even a step stool in the kitchen was too much, I was terrified to attempt getting something off a cabinet shelf. A full fledged panic attack would ensue, although no-one called it that in those days. I knew, I just knew, I would fall, break my neck and die.

As a teenager and young adult the fear was manageable, simply because I never climbed a kitchen step stool or anything else, for any reason. Making use of lower kitchen and bathroom shelves was reasonable; they were reachable. Upper shelves were either empty or used by others in my family. Never me. Front door and back door house steps or school staircases weren’t fun, but they had sturdy hand rails!

I got married in 1961, had two children, and one day in the 1970’s a huge WWII cargo plane flew into our local airport and the public was invited to come take a look inside. Of course, we had to go see it!

And of course, I discovered that to see inside the cockpit and cargo compartment, you had to ascend a very tall, tall ladder. I stared a long time at that plane, my excited kids raring to go. I got in line with them (and half of Florence, it seemed) and when it came our turn, I stepped up one rung — and froze.

Cold sweat. Pounding pulse. Shortness of breath. I just couldn’t do it.

I let my husband and the kids go ahead and I backed up. Way, way back, behind the crowd where I turned my back to the people, embarrassed for anyone to look at my face. Eventually my family found me, we went home and that was that.

Standing in my living room, my husband said mockingly, “How do you plan to get to heaven?” I couldn’t answer him. Tears running down my cheeks, I knew something had to give.

I had been a Christian for years. I’d re-dedicated my life to the Lord in 1972. I’d been delivered from one horrible fear that same year.  How could this be happening? I knew the scriptures (2 Timothy 1:7); I knew that believers just weren’t supposed to be afraid like this. And so that night I prayed. And prayed. I fell asleep praying.

When I awoke I really didn’t feel any different, but I took the Lord at his word and chose to believe that this tormenting, humiliating fear of heights was gone — just like the fear of their faces had gone, a year earlier.

A few days after that, a friend’s husband called — “Bette, I just got qualified on a larger plane, you want to come take a ride around Florence?” Bob, a member of the local CAP, was inviting several friends to take a short plane ride around town and wanted to include me. He knew nothing of my fear, didn’t know my spiritual teeth were gritted as I said, Sure, I’d love to. I was saying to God, we’re going to find out if prayer works or not!

I had no problem climbing into the plane, it was only ground level. Two friends climbed into rear seats, a dad and his little boy. Bob checked to be sure we were all buckled in tight, took the pilot’s seat and began the plane’s slow trek to the outer runway. The engine revved up, zoom down the runway we went and up, up into the air!

We weren’t far off the ground when my door popped open. I could see beautiful blue sky, but fear didn’t grip me! This is interesting, I thought – no fear! Bob just pushed the door further out, then slammed it shut good. We enjoyed ten or fifteen minutes touring around our town and the outskirts, Bob pointing out what we were looking at. Things look a lot different from overhead, we discovered. Nobody knew what I was thinking, thanking and praising the Lord — no nervous twinges, no nothing.

We were a bit sorry when it was time to come back to earth. Bob chatted with the control tower, got a few instructions and down to the runway we came. And bounced. The plane bounced up off the tarmac quite a few feet, and Bob headed the plane further up; we would have to circle the airport and try again.

My friend and his son in the back seat had become pretty quiet. Bob was talking with the control tower again and I was thinking, Wow, that was something. Wow! But no fear, no nervous twinges, I had only a bit of excitement at my own mental state — I had indeed been delivered of fear, once again!

The second try at landing was smooth and uneventful, we all thanked Bob profusely for the ride, the landing adventure, and especially we thanked the Lord for keeping us all safe!

Not long afterward my church asked me to chaperone a group of teenagers on a Carowinds trip. The excited, laughing teens wanted me to join them on all the tall rides and roller coasters — something I’d never, ever been able to do before. But I did it, over, and over that day. It was wonderful.

Since then, I’ve traveled in small private planes (locally), commuter planes (between Florence, Atlanta, Charlotte, etc.), larger passenger jets (to New York, Minneapolis, Boston), and international jets (to Iceland and Germany). There were quite a few adventures along the way on those trips, but fear wasn’t included.

Several years ago my brother Harold invited me to accompany him on a photography trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway, continuing onto the Shenandoah Parkway in Virginia.

For several days we traveled, stopped and took photographs, some from close to the edge of a drop-off. Here’s one I took.

There was no fear. No nervousness. No twinges! Just gratitude, praise and thanksgiving to my good, good God for his mercy and deliverance.

Are you fearful? Of speaking to people, of heights, anything else? Did you think you were just “born that way?” I truly doubt anyone is ever just born that way. But evil spirits are like fleas, or ticks. They find opportunities to attach themselves to people, even Christians, for purposes of harassment and prevention. Stealing your joy.

They prevent you from doing what Father God wants you to do, from participating in events He wants you to enjoy, stopping you from witnessing to his great power to deliver, helping get other people free. Don’t let the enemy get away with it!

If you would like me to pray with you, please just ask.

(See https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/fear-of-their-faces-testimony-part-three/)

Offenses hinder prayer

Unresolved Offenses Hinder Prayer

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
Psalm 119:165

“Harboring unforgiveness, resentment or bitterness is like swallowing poison and hoping the other guy dies.”

One night as I was praying for faithful people still struggling with health or family problems, I was wondering (asking the Lord), why haven’t they been healed yet, or had a positive breakthrough in their families?

I knew the usual reasons – weak or wobbly faith, unbelief, doubt, fear, and overt or covert sin being the primary ones. None of those seemed to apply here.

Were positive answers in the will of God? Yes, I am certain they are. Are the hindrances in me? In the needy person? Or both? So I kept on praying, meditating, and asking the Lord to show me the reasons.

“Offenses,” the Holy Spirit said.

The Greek word for offense is skandalon:

(1) A trap or snare. A hunter may use one, and we know an enemy who is hunting, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
(2) Any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling.

Jesus called Peter an offense to him, because Peter’s ideas of what Messiah should be and do were so different from what Jesus was describing. (Matthew 16:21-23.)

The Lord began showing me a list of specific, hurtful, offensive things that had happened in the past, either to me, or by me, or in the life of the people I’ve been praying for. No matter whose life they had affected, our prayers were being hindered.

Some of these offenses had been dealt with in the past, supposedly, but “reminders” would pop up now and then and an old hurt would be felt again, memories still buried deep in the brain’s memory banks. The list included the following:

    • Unforgiveness on your part, no matter how horribly bad the other person’s acts or words were, no matter how strongly you feel that they don’t deserve forgiveness.
    • Unforgiveness from someone else towards you, whether you did anything wrong or not, not resolved by explanations or apologies.
    • Memories of personal attacks, bad actions or words spoken against you and perhaps to you in the past.
    • Resentment of other people’s bad behaviors or words to you, or about you to other people.
    • Bitterness about being mistreated unfairly, whether it was deliberate or not.
    • Being taken for granted; made to feel “put upon,” misused, given more responsibilities or burdens than others who should be helping but aren’t.
    • Selfish pride, ego.
    • Misunderstandings, no matter whose side it started on, never straightened out.
    • Being robbed or abused, physically, materially, emotionally or socially.
    • Jealousy, on your part or against you on someone else’s part, deserved or undeserved. This is different from godly envy.
    • Unresolved anger, sadness or grief at being misunderstood, mistreated, cheated, i.e. sinned against.
    • Suspicion – not spiritual discernment – of someone’s motives, finding fault with them without a real cause. Avoiding them because of this.
    • Not praying for your enemies, or for your “frenemies,” because you don’t feel you can do it in faith so why bother to do it at all.
    • Believing you can’t do it, whatever it is, because you’re not good enough, clean enough, anointed enough, educated enough, trusted enough, whatever, thus you don’t even attempt, because you just know you’d fail.
    • Not using the authority of the believer given to you by God; not exercising the power of the Holy Spirit as He directs.
    • Believing a lie from the enemy – this affliction must be God’s will.
    • Fear of being ridiculed or losing something important – a relationship, reputation, position, etc.
    • An important one – underestimating the limitless grace of God.

There may be others. One thing they all have in common: They are triggered by words. Negative words. Some are whispered words from the enemy, not your own voice but masquerading as yours. All that brought up an important question:

How do these offenses hinder our prayers?

“They are spiritual leeches,” the Lord said. And then he showed me what they do in the natural – leeches, and ticks, and fleas. Here’s what I learned:

Leeches, ticks and fleas:

    • As leeches bite, they inject anesthetic, so you don’t even know what they are doing to you. Then they begin sucking blood out of you, little by little (remember, life is in the blood, and with it strength, energy, faith, confidence, assurance, all spiritual abilities, including discernment of what the enemy is doing.) They also can inject diseases, viral and bacterial, diseases which can kill you if not detected and treated, such as HIV, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and others.
    • Ticks also inject saliva which exhibits cytolytic, vasodilator, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, and immunosuppressive activity. Many species can transmit diseases to animals and people, such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
    • Fleas likewise inject saliva which contains anticoagulants to keep the blood flowing and an enzyme to keep blood from clotting at the wound site. Fleas also carry diseases that can be transmitted through bites, such as flea-borne spotted fever, plague, typhus, and cat scratch fever.

All that was eye-opening and disturbing, to say the least. They are draining our faith, confidence, assurance, peace of mind, leaving uneasiness, being unsettled mentally, emotionally or spiritually, and resulting in unanswered prayers. My next question was,

How can we deal with such offenses?

His reply was just one word: FORGIVENESS. He reminded me that forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision – and an excellent spiritual disinfectant and “pest control.”

Let’s get practical:

  1. Ask the Lord to reveal specific things, then deal with each one as they come to mind.
  2. Forgive others, forgive yourselves, ask forgiveness where needed if still possible, and if not extended or not possible, forgive them for NOT forgiving you.
  3. Refuse to harbor bitterness, resentment or grudges. Repentance is a good remedy for those. If a thought, image or feeling about a past offense arises again, (remember, Satan is the father is lies, deception, illusions, delusions), deliberately visualize yourself kicking that things right off a cliff to its demise.
  4. As often as you need to, deliberately do this again, reminding the enemy that it has been dealt with. Any remembrance of it that he brings up is another lie.
  5. Replace it with spiritual memories, God’s word, His promise of life, healing, health and wholeness to you. Personal answered prayers in the past, testimonies of others’ answered prayers.
  6. Use scriptural reminders regarding forgiveness; look verses up, write them down, read them to yourself and remind the Liar in Chief of them often. He loves to interfere with our prayers; don’t let him get away with it.
  7. And keep “short accounts,” that is, deal with anything offensive as it occurs; don’t put it off.

Offer Father God praise, worship, and thanksgiving, even when you don’t feel like it. He is worthy!

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.

 

Merry Christmas 2021

Exciting. Adventurous. Fascinating. Wonderful. Interesting.

Do those sound like your 2021? Maybe, maybe not.

For me there have been a few exciting times, others a bit interesting; not so much fascinating or wonderful, though, if looked at in the purely natural. (Which I don’t do as much as I used to — the supernatural is much more fun!)

What ARE fascinating and wonderful are Father God, His son Jesus, and my constant companion Holy Spirit. All have an extraordinarily fascinating way of looking at things. A totally different viewpoint from our merely human ones. Like current events. Holy Spirit can take us behind the scenes, let us look at what’s really going on. Major news media never really do that.

Or what I used to think of as “familiar” verses of scripture. Take up my cross and follow Jesus? Where, to be crucified? No, no. That was Jesus’s previous assignment on earth. He has a new assignment these days, and so do I. So do you.

Follow him wherever he is going, or wants to go — or wants us to take him, rather. Like Harris Teeter for groceries this week? On a Tuesday? At 10:00 AM? That may be my assignment. Maybe not the most interesting, but who knows? I may just run into somebody I’m supposed to talk to, or pray for. That happens a lot.

The Trinity have a fascinating viewpoint of space. And oceans. And mountains. Why so big? So deep? So tall? And interesting stuff too – the purpose of conversion, for instance. There is a very real purpose! A real change from the inside out, a real reason for it.

Have you ever considered the edges of leaves? Holy Spirit asked me one day. I wrote about that.  https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/have-you-ever-considered-the-edges-of-leaves/  And so I did! They are so interesting! The tremendous variety! Sizes, shapes, shades, thickness and texture… and colors! So many shades of green.

Until the Holy Spirit pointed all that out to me one day, I had NEVER looked at the color green or the edges of leaves like that. “They’re part of my delicate design and engineering,” he explained. “Made for the eyes of those who care enough to see the wonder of my creation.” Wow! He wanted me to see that wonder and to appreciate it, and Him, the designer of it all.

He has a unique insight into the background of news stories, too, or bits of recent or ancient history, Bible characters named or unnamed. Spiritual discernment. Revelation knowledge. Wisdom. All shareable with us for the asking! Now that’s REALLY wonderful.

And he has a sense of humor, too, one you can’t duplicate! I was reading a devotional one morning and one sentence declared “Jesus is always by our side, no matter what.” Holy Spirit whispered, “And IN your side, too!” with a chuckle.

This year of dreadful news, fears and isolation, has been different. Difficult. Some friends died, others were very sick, some are struggling with slow recovery from health attacks – and I believe attacks is exactly what they are. John 10:10 was true when Jesus spoke it and it’s still true today. Remember, “You’re not paranoid if somebody really IS out to get you!” And somebody is.

But Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4) I’m so very glad of that.

At our house, Shelby, kids and I are doing well this Christmas Season, and so are Millie (puppy), Friday, Baby, Smokie and Twila (cats), plus Fred and Rainbow (fish). I’ve done some Esther’s Petition blog writing this year (although not as much as in past years), and basically keep up with friends and family around the nation and world online. There’s been a lot to pray about this year, that’s for sure!

May we all have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the One who is the Reason for the Season, and a truly blessed New Year ahead!

Love, Bette

Unbelief can kill you

Hindrances to successful prayer

Living here and now, believers in Christ have God the Holy Spirit living inside of them, interested in their daily activities, their thoughts and wishes. Instructing, explaining, giving out assignments and directions, including what to pray.

If we are inhabited by God himself, and if we are praying what God desires for us to pray, then what might hinder us from getting those prayers answered?

Unbelief, which can come from (1) a willful refusal to believe, or (2) ignorance of who God is, his character, his love, his grace, and his will. The result is the same, a lack of active, energized faith. Faith and belief are from the same Greek word, pistis.

  • Matthew 13:58, Mark 6:5-6 – Jesus could do no mighty works in Nazareth because of unbelief.
  • Matthew 9:25, Mark 5:40 – Jesus put unbelievers out of the room (case of the ruler’s daughter).
  • Acts 9:40 – Peter also put unbelievers out of the room (case of Tabitha/Dorcas). Read the passage about Aeneas first, then this passage.

Peter put the unbelievers out of the room first, before praying. He prayed not for the dead woman, but to get God’s instructions on what to do about her. Then he turned and just spoke to her, as he had done to Aeneas, telling her to do something she could not do. And she did it. There was a good reason to put the unbelievers out, unbelief can kill you.

  • In Mark 9:23-24, the father of a demon-oppressed boy came to Jesus after the disciples couldn’t help him. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Honoring the small faith the boy’s father did have, Jesus helped his unbelief – he healed and delivered the boy. (Jesus told the disciples, this kind comes only by prayer and fasting.)

Misbelief, a mistaken belief, believing the wrong thing, such as:

  • Miracles ceased with the apostles, not for today – yet more miracles occur today than ever.
  • Healing is not in the atonement, it’s not always God’s will – but Jesus healed ALL that came to him. The word for healing is the same Greek word for salvation. You can’t parse this word, it’s the same, single word: Greek sozo, soteria.
  • “Whatever will be, will be” – but that’s from Eastern religion, it’s not a Christian principle.
  • You can’t really know God’s will for sure – but He wants you to know his will more than you want to know it. See Colossians 1:9.
  • You don’t deserve answers to prayer because of past sins, or not being good enough. But salvation is by grace, it’s not deserved, it is by accepted faith. So are answers to prayer.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Current sinful practices may hinder answers, but it’s not because you don’t deserve answers. You put up a barricade to receiving answers by believing the wrong things.

Doubt. Doubt may come before faith, and frequently does. Doubt simply means trying to decide between two things; the choice and decision is yours. This is usually from the Greek word diakrino, to examine in order to make a determination; to judge, discern, contend, waver, determine; doubt.

  • In Matthew 21:21, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”
  • In Mark 11:23, he said “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
  • James 1:6 translates this word as wavering, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

Doubt is not bad unless you remain there, never coming to a decision.

Note: Sometimes you have plenty of time, but sometimes you have to decide quickly. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God can you make the right decision when you don’t have much time…

  • In Matthew 14:26-32, Peter was headed to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. As the wind arose he looked at two things, Jesus and the boisterous waves. Doubting his own ability (and perhaps his survival), Peter had to make a quick decision. He made the right one. “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Belief problems can be solved. Hindrances to successful prayer, God-directed prayer, can be removed. Studying the scriptures and getting to know God’s character is essential to that, because active faith – belief – comes by hearing, present tense, the word of God (Romans 10:17).

(Notes adapted Class Notes, Principles of Intercessory Prayer.)

Pray for the details: 2020 election

August 27, 2020

Father, I believe you are calling your intercessors worldwide to pray about the 2020 United States Presidential election.

I believe that you give those believers who will pray insight and revelation knowledge of what You desire that we pray, declare and decree before, during, and after the election.

“In addition to praying for the candidates, pray about
the daily details faced by those in charge of the entire voting process.”

Father, I ask that you supply everything needed by every voter registration office in the United States in order to plan, prepare for and conduct an efficient, orderly, honest and accurate election.

Give the people in charge of those critical offices all the assistance, information, knowledge and wisdom they need in order to plan and prepare well.

Keep them and those who assist them safe and healthy during this process.

Assign angel warriors around every area involved, keeping peace between persons concerned and involved in the work, so that no intentions for trouble-making can be carried out.

Provide the essential know-how, manpower, materials and equipment at all voting places, as well as all locations where ballots will be counted.

Assure that the voting and the counting is done in the most timely and orderly manner possible, without problems or delays caused by people or equipment whether deliberate or accidental, so that the results in every precinct will be accurate.

Importantly, assure that the official reporting — and the media reporting — of the results will be timely, orderly, and accurate also.

Thank you, Father. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Intercessors, can you agree with this prayer? Is there anything that you feel needs to be added? Your prayerful comments are appreciated.

Additional prayers may be posted between now and election day. Thank you for reading and for praying.

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.)

If MY people, God said

I have spent more time than usual meditating and praying for the last couple of weeks, praying in tongues more than usual, and just listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit as to what or who to pray for. Or command, declare or decree about. It’s like listening or waiting for the “other shoe to fall,” if you know what I mean. I sense something unsettling going on in the spirit world.

Again I am receiving “positive” blog posts and “happy” emails from prophetic believers who predict another Great Awakening in the almost immediate future. I don’t sense that, however. The church has gone through that sort of prophesying before, in recent years. A lot of happy people were praising the Lord for those wonderful predictive words, looking expectantly for it to happen in America, any day now, any day now!

But it was more like wishful thinking, than actual prophecy. Situations in this country didn’t get better immediately, as so many expected — they got worse.

And I have a distinct feeling that the worst hasn’t happened yet. The enemy hears those exciting prophecies and makes his plans, causing chaos and havoc, stirring up hate and murder, destroying people and property, and the church at large didn’t seem to see it coming.

It’s past time for the militant church to take authority over the enemy, to truly discern the motives and behavior patterns of the enemy and take action. Some preachers are doing that, preaching and teaching how to do that, but there aren’t enough who are. Yet. That’s another one of my ongoing prayers.

“If MY people,” says that scripture – not those other people, not the pagan people, not the unbelieving people – God’s own people have to heed his words:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

All that’s not to say there isn’t another Great Awakening ahead. I believe there is. Many hundreds of people are being born again in various nations of the world.

But here in America, the enemy is having too much success in creating disasters, inspiring and instigating more and more evil behavior in ordinary people – many who were law-abiding people just a few months ago, joining the lawless crowd already at work.

Forgiveness, the most powerful weapon

Two scripture passages keep coming to mind today:

  • First, Jesus’ words on the cross, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23:34 KJV].
  • Secondly, Stephen’s words as he was dying, “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60 KJV]

Forgiveness is the most powerful weapon there is.  Multitudes soon received that forgiveness and were born again. A coincidence? I don’t really think so.

Did you ever wonder why those statements were both spoken ALOUD? And heard and recorded by those who heard them?

Jesus taught us how to deal with enemies. Love them. Pray for them. Do good to them. Ask God for mercy for them. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-37)

It has bothered me greatly these last several years to read on social media Christians cursing (in words or attitudes) so many people they don’t like in politics (both parties). Jesus paid a tremendous price for the souls of those people!

Please read this article from Intercessors for America when you get a few minutes. I have been a supporter and subscriber to IFA for many years; this particular article seemed extremely timely when I read it this morning.

https://ifapray.org/blog/a-prophetic-word-for-the-unmasking-of-the-cover-up/

 

Patience, perseverance and endurance

The following notes are excerpted from “How to Pray Less, Succeed More: Praying the Word of God,” a unit of Principles of Intercessory Prayer taught at Trinity EPC, 2016-18.

Do trials and temptations affect prayer? Short answer – Yes.

What is the purpose of temptations / trials? Think of it like strength training. Spiritual resistance training. Exercising our faith muscles, our trust muscles. Our prayer muscles.

The enemy uses trials and temptations to prevent us from living by faith, or from praying in faith. But God can and does use them to make us stronger, more effective.

Three particular areas of temptation can and do hinder a believer’s effectiveness to pray in faith: Patience, Perseverance, and Endurance.

Although the original Greek words have different meanings, they are sometimes used interchangeably in various translations. Lack or failure of patience, perseverance, and/or endurance can and do hinder effectiveness to pray in faith.

PATIENCE means remaining the same (keeping the same attitude), no matter what. Two main Greek words are translated patience: one means patience with people, the other means patience with circumstances.

  • Patience with people: G3114 makrothyméō, to be long-spirited, meaning to keep your temper; be longsuffering, have long patience, patiently endure mistreatment by other people (without losing your temper or striking back). There’s an interesting origin of this word — it literally means to have “long feathers” like eagles and other birds that fly or soar long distances. It is translated longsuffering in some verses, patient in others.

I Corinthians 13:4, “Charity suffereth long (has patience), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” (KJV)

I Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”

  • Patience with circumstances: G5281 hypomonḗ, cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: patient continuance during unpleasant circumstances (an attribute of God himself, available to us from the indwelling Holy Spirit):

Luke 21:19, Jesus told the disciples, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (KJV) He was referring to persecutions they would face.

Romans 15:5, Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

James 1:4, “But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Perfect here means mature, completed, finished, nothing left undone or lacking.

Hebrews 10:36, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

Side notes…

What will of God is he talking about? Whatever God has given YOU to do, which includes his written word and his personal assignment for you. Not everyone is called to be a pastor, or a missionary, or a school teacher, or an electrician, or a computer technician – each believer has his own assignment, God’s will for you.

What is the promise referred to, in this verse? (10:23 and 35 also refer to a promise, as do other verses in Hebrews and other NT books.) Our eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 9:15, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (NIV)

In Hebrews, this promised eternal inheritance is referred to in several previous verses. The kingdom of heaven / God and all that entails. Eternity. Eternal life. Ruling and reigning with Jesus.

Hebrews 10:16-17 gives us the bedrock answer to this question: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

There are necessary steps to actually receiving the new covenant, our eternal inheritance, the promise: receiving Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit, thus being inhabited by God’s spirit. The “promise of the father” that Jesus spoke of in Luke and Acts refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Several other scriptures to meditate on: 2 Cor. 1:20 and 7:1 (promises, plural); Hebrews 8:6 (better promises); and Hebrews 12:28 (we are receiving the kingdom, present tense.)

PERSEVERANCE means continuing an action, no matter what: G4342, proskartérēsis, persistency:—perseverance. From verb proskartereō, meaning to continue steadfastly. In the New Testament, it always refers to prayer:

Romans 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant (persevering) in prayer;”

 Colossians 4:2, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”

Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”

ENDURANCE means remaining in place, no matter what: G5278 hypoménō, remain, undergo, have fortitude, not recede or flee; absolutely and emphatically, under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ. This word is sometimes translated longsuffering or patient.

1 Corinthians 13:7, (Love) “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

James 1:12, “Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

Note: 2 Timothy 2:3, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”  In this verse, “endure hardship” is one Greek word, G2553 kakopathéō, to undergo hardship, endure afflictions, suffer trouble. It is a combination of two words, kakos meaning evil, and patheo, meaning passions.

REMINDER:  “But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)

Perfect — mature, completed, finished, nothing left undone or lacking, necessary to Praying Less, Succeeding More.