Who is your enemy? Do you believe you have enemies? If you do, do you believe you are just supposed to love them more, love them better, that love will win them over? Do you believe that, like Jesus did, you should hand yourself over to the ones seeking your demise? Do you believe you must aggressively defend yourself?
A lot of us get very confused and rattled in spirit because we don’t know what to do with enemies. Our efforts to love them seem to fail. People’s hate can really damage and disillusion our faith walk, harden our hearts. Many walk in fear in their careers because of it. Many leave their fellowship and service in ministry because of offense, because of hurt, because of continuous attack that wears down and wearies the spirit. When attack comes, it is easy to do one or more of the following: stop trusting, cut people off, make inaccurate conclusion about God’s character, vilify our accusers, panic, become depressed, give up.
Added confusion or frustration can come when we share our pain with others. Often Christians can be too quick to say to the one hurting, “We don’t battle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers…” In other words, Christians can be too quick to tell others their enemy is not really another person; their enemy is spiritual only, i.e. the devil and his forces at work. I’ve been guilty of giving this input right off. I need to stop doing it. Why? One, its empty comfort, and two, I’ve realized it is not how God counsels and comforts me. Why then would I counsel someone else differently? I need to model the way He comforts me so I can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
So first, know that going around quoting Ephesians 6:12 and 1 Peter 5:8 is not the best first approach when you are listening to someone under strain from the wicked words and vicious actions of others. Also, know for yourself if you are being wrongly accused, insidiously attacked, if there is a vicious plot in play against you, God will first and repeatedly acknowledge the injustice and validate your feelings to draw you into His arms for comfort, counsel, and wisdom. Spend time there in his arms, a good amount of time.
If you aren’t used to someone acknowledging your pain or validating your feelings, knowing that God will do this with you is surprising. And I personally believe that knowing him this way is critical to hearing God accurately. When you are suffering wrongdoing, before He tells you how to respond, He is first very willing to validate your pain. He will acknowledge the wicked schemes of others set against you. He does not say, “Buck up, get over it, don’t cry, stop being weak.” He will console you by giving you perspective and helping you rest in your innocence and in His ultimate response. Psalm 3, Psalm 5, Psalm 7, Psalm 11, and Psalm 17 are examples that support what I just said.
Think about it. When a good father finds out his child is being bullied, picked on, attacked, betrayed, harassed, what is his response? He consoles his child. He wipes tears. He holds in extended embrace. Then he acts. He counsels his child. He defends. He protects. He uses his influence and authority to seek justice. He makes his upset known. In this way an earthly father will let his child see through his actions that they are loved.
In an even more powerful way, God as Heavenly Father, wants His children to know he sees unjust suffering. He reads the intents of hearts. He wants his people to know that to the pure, he will show himself to be pure, but to the devious, He will show himself shrewd (Psalm 18:26). If you know Him this way, your soul is stilled much more quickly, you rest easier in His love; you wait for His response to your enemies instead of taking action yourself (Romans 12:19). You are able to say as King David said, “I have kept myself from the ways of the violent”- Psalm 17:4. You are increasingly able to be silent under duress (Matthew 27:12, 14), to bless and not curse, to do good and not evil, Romans 12:14.
God the Father was very open with Jesus about the wicked plots, evil schemes, insidious thoughts, and back-stabbing betrayals of others set against him. Jesus was very aware of what was happening to him and why. Not only was He aware, he proclaimed it in the midst of his enemies (John 7:19, John 8:37, John 8:40). Jesus also shared with his closest friends that He (the Son of Man- Daniel 7:13-14) would be crucified (Mark 9:31, Matthew 26:1-2).
As I write this, a prayer request came in from a good friend who is under insidious attack in a high level position. Just this morning he was given an impossible deadline from people intent on seeking his job and livelihood. People are serious about seeing him suffer and getting him fired. It’s an attack that hasn’t just been thrust upon him today; it’s been going on for awhile now. His wife recently received Psalm 7 and Psalm 17 to give to him as a response from the Father’s heart to him. Notice God affirming mortal enemies. Read those Psalms. Who sees his innocence? Who rescues? Who saves? Who vindicates? Who displays his wrath? Notice the one who falls into the pit isn’t the one being attacked; it’s the one who was pregnant with evil intent. Letting these truths transform us is a path towards peace that surpasses understanding with our hearts and minds guarded in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Jesus knew we’d need acknowledgment that attacks are real. So he told us to expect attack, and be wise as serpents, gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:2).
If you struggle believing God’s defense of you, your first prayer should be for healing regarding the Father’s heart for you. Ask the LORD to help you process your hurt, your pain, and your confusion with him. Ask for ears to understand his perception of the situation.
Evaluate whether you first take your pain to others and flush it out mainly there. Notice if you tend to suffer in silence, thinking God won’t help. Ask yourself, do I believe God is a good and loving father? (Do make sure you haven't contributed to the chaos, if so, just go to God for mercy. He lovingly forgives and will help you go to people you've hurt.)
For those who through relationship have come to know and experience that God is good, we find rest in His presence. We believe He will act, we proclaim to others that what our enemy meant for evil, God will transform for good. Our path straightens and fills with light and divine power. We can pray for our enemies. Now we respond in God’s power and are not used as an instrument of the evil one. Now we can do good to those who hate us.
Jesus knew his Father loved him, Mark 1:11. He knew God would not abandon him to the grave, Psalm 16:10. He knew who He was and what his purpose was, Luke 10:21-22. He stood strong in the face of opposition. His final words on the cross were of victory, “It is finished.”
Follow Christ on his path, draw nearer to his suffering and look closely at the Lamb of God. As you do so, your suffering can find meaning and purpose. Your heart can become more receptive to the Father’s heart for you. The way to the Father’s heart is through Christ (John 8:19).
Attend the meditation this coming Wednesday, March 23 at either 4pm or 7pm. Go to the calendar page and sign up! Extended time in His presence brings healing! If you want some perspective from past attendees, click here.
This Super bowl weekend, there will be a lot of people who will be loudly raving and wildly celebrating. Boasting about plays, players, strategy, pretty cheerleaders, their favorite commercial, the awesome dip they are eating, etc. All the activity is good fun and a form of connecting.
Boasting brings us together. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are fueled by the profitability boasting produces. We freely post selfies, family achievements, personal milestones and our own revelatory thoughts. Boasting is often central to our interpersonal discussions and how we affirm and connect with one another.
In this world, we are conditioned to boast. “Why should I hire you?” “Why should I buy your product?” “Why should I marry you?” “How would your associates describe you?” “What have you done for me lately?” “Why should I listen to you?” “Why are you worthy of hanging out with us?” “What are you bringing to the table?” “How do you react under pressure?” “Tell me your past achievements.” “What designers do you wear?” “How big is your bank account?” “Do you know so-and-so?” “What college did you attend?” “How is your son/daughter doing?” In their various forms, these questions are ultimately all questions with power to exploit the most vulnerable places within us. If we don’t have good answers or solutions, we can feel exposed, left feeling less than. We try hard to have good answers. Then we feel well positioned, more confident in the future. But it’s a faulty system.
Suddenly a job is cut, the profits turn, our intelligent solution fails, the marriage ends, the child rebels, the beauty fades, the prized relationship fizzles, the government shuts down, you make a critical moral mistake. Our boasts are often momentary. We do not have control.
However, boasting as God intended, gives you true strength and releases His divine intervention. It’s a powerful prayer position. Consider what God told Paul in a prayer time as he cried out for God to take away a painful situation…
2 Corinthians 12:9a- But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
From this Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” Read Paul’s life account in the book of Acts. Did he gladly boast in God? Did God’s power then rest on him? The man was like a cat with 9 lives… resurrection power on full display.
Consider what God also says in Jeremiah 9. “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 9:23-24
The Hebrew meaning behind the word boast is tied to acts of raving, celebrating, shining forth light, commending, praising, making a show of something worthy of praise. Think again of fans in a stadium. Have you ever been in a championship game setting, joining others celebrating loudly? When you are in church (beyond the eyes of the world) are you willing to celebrate God just as loudly as you cheer on your team? What feelings rise up in you if you were challenged to publicly commend God in a social setting this weekend? What feelings rise up in you if were to asked to shine forth light on your weaknesses to your work team next week?
His ways are not our ways. Revealing weakness makes many feel uncomfortable. Value is tied to acceptance, and we self protect. But we need to break on this point. If we live for the commendations of others, we are ineffectual as a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). We have no influence without His power accompanying us. Boasting in Him is a no-fail strategy for his power to rest on you. He exalts the humble. If He is your strength and wisdom and creative expression in your job, the sacrificial love you express in difficult relationships, don’t be silent about the power source; give Him the glory. If He has helped you love and forgive difficult people, tell them God intervened for them in your heart on their behalf. Confess your weakness, boast of His work in you.
Consider the King of all kings, who endured physical torture, people spitting in His face, striking his head, pulling out his beard, stripping him and berating Him. Did God’s power rest on His Son? Was an angel sent to strengthen him after He cried out in prayer for hours in the garden? Consider the end state of our Savior hanging on the cross, beaten beyond human recognition, abandoned by all. Did the Father's roar from Heaven, break the rocks, shake the earth, rend the temple curtain, snuff out the sun, raise holy people from their graves? (see Matthew 27:45-53). Yes. Have thousands of years served to silence God’s continued divine work to proclaim His Son? Will thousands more? No. Is He calling you to the same martyrdom? Probably not. But He IS calling you to be a LIVING sacrifice that confesses His Name.
Try boasting in prayer. This is the prayer exercise for everyone who reads this post this week. Boast of your weaknesses! Get in your car and boast loudly, praise God loudly. See how long you go before you have no idea what to say to Him. Evaluate your heart in this area and ask for help if you need to know Him better. Take risks in your public worship settings and be more open to joyfully celebrate Him in the midst of the saints. His power will rest on you. His joy and Father heart will become clearer to you. If you want to grow in your prayer relationship, boast in God.
Final challenge, stretch yourself in a guided prayer session. On Friday February 19th, I will be leading a Psalm 23 meditation. He anoints your head with oil for your cup to run over. Do you long for more? Sign up here. He blesses those who earnestly seek Him. Come expectant!
Most people are very vulnerable to verbal attacks. They can be sudden and relentless, directed at us like a sword to pierce our hearts. They can be insidiously subtle, veiled in back-handed comment, delivered with a smile. They can contain truth; but when said without any hint of grace, they do damage. Often attacks begin in our own head. We can spend much time and energy trying to silence internal whispers that accuse! It’s an epidemic crippling many.
Consider this account I found recently of a non-Christian man who detailed his self-accusing voice.
“As a young boy, I remember distinctly the sensation of “feeling like I should be having a feeling.” I was seven when my father divorced my mother. He then went to work overseas. My father was the source of emotional warmth in our family. When he left, I spent years grieving his loss. Then, at some point, those emotions fell silent, creating a blank numb space. And below that? Something very bad was hiding. I call that place the basement.
Whatever emotions I was feeling, I was left to process in isolation. The end result was, I simply could not identify any of the emotions I was feeling; with the possible exception of a consistent baseline of self loathing.
I recall sitting in the pew at my grandmother’s funeral, witnessing myself attempting to cry. As if I was standing next to my own loss, detached, two steps removed. What should I feel? How should I feel it? Why can’t I feel anything? I stood there watching myself doing a vague performance of grief, feeling nothing. But there was something there. Just out of my line of sight. A place I had worked so hard not to see that I couldn’t look towards it now if I wanted to. A place of loss and loneliness that I simply walled off, reducing it to a dull ache. For decades I simply didn’t look. To this day, I still don’t want to look. The result? Ten years of binge drinking as a young adult; struggling to figure out how to present myself in relationships. Ten more years after that of lurching through emotional chaos, struggling day by day to make my way back up into some kind of emotional self awareness. Decades more of seeking a foothold and then beginning to sort out my past. To this day, its terrifying to “go down to the basement.” There’s a seven year old down there in the dark and he’s not happy. He’s full of rage and despair and he holds me responsible. “Why didn’t you do something?,” he screams at me. “Why didn’t you fight?” “Why didn’t you fight them back, hurt them back?”
I commend this man’s honesty. Though it’s a sad account because he admits he hasn’t found resolution. He admits decades lost, choosing self-destructive activities to drown out the accusations. (note: Pray for this man. If any man reading this post might feel led to reach out to him, please contact me. I have his email and could reach out; but prefer a Christian man to do so).
Now for the believer, the voice of the accuser is also active, yet the setting changes. In Zechariah 3, we see God is present and responsive when his servant is under attack. I love this account. There are deep revelations detailed.
Think about this, Zechariah is allowed to see how a fellow servant of God is being attacked while in God’s presence. Zechariah was head of a priestly family and Joshua was the high priest in the temple at the time. Zechariah is given spiritual vision to see Joshua standing in front of the Angel of the LORD, with Satan at his right hand accusing him.
Satan’s accusations are not detailed; but the LORD’s response is. The LORD rebukes Satan not once, but TWICE. The rest of the time, the LORD speaks only to Joshua and others present. Who are the others? They seem to be fellow associates of Joshua (Joshua 3:8).
I wonder if Zechariah wrestled with what God said in the vision. God did not use a vision that described an animal sacrifice to cleanse Joshua (which would have made sense to him under the sacrificial system of worship in place). Instead, God cleansed Joshua on the basis of His Word and authority only. It’s powerful. “Take off his filthy clothes.” God says. He directs this command to associates of Joshua. Then he turns to Joshua and says, “See, I have taken away your sin; and I will put fine garments on you.” God makes a new way… God in his mercy personally takes away sin and cleanses his servant, clothing him with righteousness. AWESOME!
Despite this truth, too frequently, when believers hear satan's influence whispering lies, we keep the accusatory voice to ourselves and struggle alone. I believe Zechariah 3 contains a great encouragement. We are to ask God to see what Zechariah saw. Do we see our fellow “Joshua’s” silenced by a voice of condemnation and shame?
To the "Joshua's" in our midst, OPEN UP. Ask God to bring you into safe fellowship with whom you can share. Those fellow believers are meant to surround you with prayer and proclaim over you that God has snatched you from eternal fire, washed you clean by the blood of Christ, clothing you with His righteousness. You cannot be snatched out of his hand. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Good Shepherd states it twice for emphasis, see John 10 verses 28 and 29. No one has power to snatch you out of His hand!
Note, there is no longer a human priest system for atonement. Joshua was high priest in Zechariah 3; but now Christ is THE High priest, inferring upon all believers spiritual kingship and priestly authority. We’ve now been raised with Him to the right hand of God. We now sit with Him in the Heavenly realms. We have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ, allowed to boldly approach his throne to entreat him for mercy, grace, and help in our times of need. As far as East is from West, so far He has removed your sin from his sight. He has disarmed satanic rule, triumphing over wicked rule by the cross! See Colossians 2:9-15, Revelation 1:5-6, Ephesians 1:19-23, Ephesians 1:3, Hebrews 4:14-16, Psalm 103:11-13.
Next time you hear an accusing voice, envision the Heavenly scene. Get it out of your head and take it into God’s presence. You are now Joshua in that scene. Ask God to open your spirit up to envision and hear Him rebuking satan on your behalf. Ask others to affirm in prayer that you have been snatched away by Christ’s loving mercy when the voice of the accuser is attacking. Confess to others. It brings a promise of healing (James 5:16-20). Ask for strength and obedience to follow the Good Shepherd and abide in his ways and life.
In the meditation session on February 19th, you will be seeing yourself as one of God’s sheep. He has many good reasons for paralleling our human nature to this animal. Certain situations need to be created by the Shepherd for his sheep to be able to rest, renew, thrive, and follow His voice. You will be guided through those situations. Expect the Holy Spirit to reveal areas you need his help and healing. Expect Him to transform places inside you that need his life and power. Come into His presence; it is the only true place of REST and RENEWED LIFE! Sign up on the Calendar page.
(Note: If you sign up as a member, you will receive a prayer exercise that goes with this blog post. If you've already signed up, there is no need to sign up again. Blessings!)
Spiritual warfare is NORMAL and it reveals REALITY in its highest form. It’s not meant to be bizarre or weird or a taboo subject, especially for Christians. God uses battle language to communicate truths meant for man, woman and child alike. He did it in the Old Testament. He did it in the New Testament. He does it now.
Many of you would agree. In a survey I sent out recently, almost 69% of participants revealed they knew spiritual warfare is real; but they want to build their arsenal of weapons for greater victory. Awesome!
Take a look at the book of Judges Chapter 3 in the Bible, specifically verses 2 and 4. Verse 2 is a commentary statement to reveal God’s motive behind verses 1 and 3. The verse is couched in parenthesis. It says, “(he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience). God did what? For those who had never battled, He left enemies in their land of promise… big ones… post victory… post settlement. Why? Verse 4 says it was to test if His people would obey His commands.
For the last 5 years of my life, I’ve had to witness and personally experience a horrific spiritual war in my family. The enemy executed a plot for murder. He has tempted hearts to choose evil, vice, and destruction and I’m sorry to say, he seems to have won way too many battles thus far. It’s been a baptism by fire in the reality of spiritual warfare. People I love very much have not recognized the spiritual war or the schemes of the enemy. They have not chosen God's ways.
We (God’s people) take the bait laid out by the wicked one too often. We respond in the flesh versus responding in the Spirit. I’ve done it; you’ve done it. Dark thoughts fly off human tongues, full of deadly poison (James 3:17). The reality of Galatians 5:17 is a real struggle, flesh is lusting against Spirit control.
Sometimes though, we don’t initiate with our tongue. But we take deadly blows from others. Then, our own thoughts (strongholds) defeat us. Maybe it happens suddenly, maybe it builds over time. But a point comes when we are overwhelmed. We get depressed. We succumb to hopelessness. We become cynical. We conclude that loving sacrificially is not worth the pain or stress involved. We can come out of a situation concluding people are thankless, abusive, too powerful, and way too dangerous to trust. We burn out. We prefer to focus on self-soothing habits and comfort and withdraw. We blame God. This is losing the war too.
How to win? Christians can too quickly say, “Just put on the armor of God!” Like a simple, end of story pat response. It’s not that simple; because a lot of people don’t know how to make it practical. The first and greatest battle to win starts within. And from your place of internal victory, Christ can win those around you. It’s His battle, not yours. From a place of opening up to God, He can whisper healing truth, give strategy and download spiritual discernment, keeping your soul still as He battles on your behalf, and for the other souls He loves.
For those of you who signed up, I will be sending you a spiritual weapon/prayer exercise for you to try. And again, thank you for signing up! Over 22% of site visitors are signing up! It’s a fantastic response compared to the 2-3% typical of website invitations! For those of you yet to sign up, please do! You will receive exercises from that point forward.
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Into the Waters Ministry is a 501(C)3 public charity. Our mission is to inspire you to linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. For those willing, it is a place of supernatural hope and healing. I know this first hand. My name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 20+ year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and receiving His life in greater measure! I've experienced radical healing in mind, body, and spirit and believe God for more! I long for others to position themselves for the same! Into the Waters' resources help you spend quality time with God to enter His rest and receive His divine provision. Let us help you experience more of God! Read the blogs, try the exercises, participate in online sessions! His promises for life and wholeness are offered to all! But you have to say "Yes!"