Tearing Down Strongholds

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Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,”~John 8:31-32.

We demolish arguments (vain imaginations) 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 10:5.

It is not simply the truth that sets you free. It’s believing the truth that sets you free. There is also the element of tearing down and renouncing lies.

The first step to deliverance isn’t a power encounter, it’s a truth encounter.

Deception is one of the enemies favorite tools. He has power. He has no authority. Jesus stripped the devil of the authority he gained through the sin of Adam and Eve (Col 2:15). Now the enemy needs people to come into agreement with him to accomplish his will in the earth. He wants us to believe his lies. He needs people to do his bidding in the world.

You may be saying, “I’m not evil. The devil is not using me.”

Maybe you’re not doing “evil”, but agreement with lies may be preventing you from fully experiencing the love, joy, peace, confidence, hope, and goodness of God. If the devil can’t get you to do evil. He will try to limit you from doing good or experiencing the goodness of God. He will try to prevent you from having and living the abundant life Jesus paid for (John 10:10).

Common lies (some I’ve believed and some I’ve heard):

God doesn’t love me.
God is always angry and out to get people.
God doesn’t have great plans for my life.
I’m a failure.
No one loves or accepts me.
I can’t do this, even with God’s help.
I’m stuck.
I must change in order to be worthy of love.
God delights in my suffering.
God dislikes me.
I cannot live like Jesus lived, even though I have the Holy Spirit.
I’m not beautiful, handsome, or valuable.
God doesn’t work miracles anymore.
God doesn’t want to heal or restore me or this other person.
God doesn’t want to bless me.
God doesn’t care about what I care about.
I’m not enough.
My dreams can never come true.
This is hopeless.
I will always be this way.
God is not good.
God is withholding something good from me.
My value or worth comes from someplace other than identity in Christ.
I cannot love or forgive this person.
They have more to offer or are more loved by God than me.
I will never get….(fill in the blank).
I will never have….(fill in the blank).
I can never be free.
This will always hurt.
I can’t have bliss/joy this side of heaven.
God doesn’t want to help me.
God is limited in this situation.
I’m too old, young, unqualified to do this, even with God’s help.
What Jesus paid for is for someone else.
God is solely focused on my sin or failures.
God can’t make me new.
God doesn’t want me to enjoy life.
It’s a man thing, I can’t be different.
It’s a woman thing, I can’t be different.
This is just the way I am, there’s no hope for change.
What I feel is truth.
All my passions and desires are truth.
God wants to use only certain people in powerful ways.
My role in God’s body is not as important as someone else’s.
My assessment of myself is 100 percent truth.
God’s love isn’t tailored for me.
My circumstances are bad because God is punishing me.
I can live how I want with no consequences.
Grace gives me permission to sin.
God can’t help me or this other person.
I can’t hear from God for myself.
This situation or person can never change, even with divine intervention.

Truth is without God, nothing is possible. With Him, the possibilities are endless. He’s empowered and is empowering us to live life to the fullest. All these lies have scripture to counter them.

Lies need to be renounced because what we believe, we empower. The Bible says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Our actions manifest what we believe. The first sin was rooted in the lie that God withholds good things from us. By believing lies we empower strongholds in our lives.

When the ship is sinking, check what you’re thinking. What we believe, we empower.

Father, I ask the Holy Spirit to hover over us and reveal any lies we have come into agreement with. As they are highlighted, help us to renounce them. Replace lies with Your truth. Help us to cling to Your Word and be led by Your Spirit. Help us to repent of speaking negative words and vows over ourselves and others. Cancel all negative effects of all ill spoken words and beliefs. Help us to believe and speak Your truth. Help us to believe ALL things are possible with You (Luke 1:37). In Jesus most powerful name, amen.

He’s Controversial (Holy Spirit Series Part 1)

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“…You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:9.

“...if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.” Romans 8:11.

The Holy Spirit is a controversial topic when it comes to some believers or non-believers. Some say He only works in certain ways today and no longer operates the way He did through the disciples. Some disagree. I am not writing this series to attempt to convince anyone to change their beliefs. I do want to share testimonies and scriptures that reveal the person of the Holy Spirit.

Why is He so controversial?

Well, I can’t answer that question fully. I can provide information from what I’ve heard, learned, and seen.

1. How do people know it’s God and not some fluke, someone’s imagination, or someone’s attempt to prove they are more spiritual?

A . Faith involves some risk. Learning to hear from God, getting to know Him, submitting to the Holy Spirit is a process. We always measure things against God ‘s word, use discernment, and pray. It’s dangerous to judge people when we don’t know their heart, motivation, or see what God is doing.

If you read the Bible, it’s filled with outlandish things to the unbelieving eye. Examples: God creating all things (many with just His words), God sending Himself to redeem humanity, the Virgin Birth, Jesus’s death and resurrection, our own resurrection and salvation. If we can believe these things which are the cornerstone of our faith, why do we limit God today or in other areas of life? God has not changed. Our expectations of what He will do have changed. Can we celebrate and acknowledge God can do anything?

2. Those Charismatics, Evangelical, and Holy Spirit filled people act crazy! Dancing, jumping, speaking in tongues, etc…shouldn’t Christians be reserved in their reverence for God?

A. Yep! I’ve heard this complaint before. Why is it okay for a person to weep when they have a revelation of God’s love and not okay for someone else to dance or leap for joy? David danced before the Lord, and when his wife was embarrassed by him, he said, “I will become more undignified than this.” God is so good. If we can jump, leap, scream, dance, and cheer for our favorite sports team, why do we pretend expressions for God must be quiet? I’m not stating church should be like a three ring circus. I am stating when we truly have a revelation of God’s goodness, we want to express gratitude. It looks different for everyone. Judging other believer’s encounters with God is not productive. We don’t know our own hearts and motivations, how can we (without God telling us) know someone else’s?

3. Do we really need miracles, signs, and wonders today?

A. Imagine knowing the person who had the cure for every disease and answer for every problem. You then tell the world, you aren’t going to ask him for help because a cure wasn’t needed-everyone was appointed to die anyway.

God still heals. He still performs miracles. He still does amazing things. We live in a world where people are dying daily; they need a miracle. We tell the world our God is all powerful, then reduce God to what we believe He will do. Miracles demonstrate the goodness of God. Salvation is the greatest miracle. We would not say we no longer need to preach the Gospel, yet some will say we do not need to pray for the sick or divine intervention in people’s lives.

4. What about those so called prophets for hire or miracle healers exploiting people?

A. Yes, there are some who misuse the name of God for profit or to exploit or hurt people. That does not mean God doesn’t want to work through His children to bless the world. People don’t counterfeit what’s fake. God’s name is Jehovah Rapha; He is the Healer. God speaks to and through His children. Every prophecy is to be tested. The disciples nor Jesus demanded money to help, bless, encourage, or heal someone. God’s a giver, not an exploiter. Love gives, blesses, and protects.

I will end with this story. This Christmas I was with my family. My uncle was there. We were retelling his testimony. He has seizures. One day he had one while driving. He hit a pole at an excelerated rate. He lost consciousness at the scene. Some man found him and cut open his throat so he could breathe. He flatlined several times (on the way to the hospital and at the hospital). I recall being in the waiting room with my family. I recall when they came out to tell us he was dead. My grandma got up and said, “Please take me to see my son. I need to pray for him.” The doctors looked at us like we were crazy. Why pray for a dead man. He was dead. We continued to pray in the waiting room, while others went to pray for my uncle. Needless to say, he’s alive today. The doctors say there’s no way he should alive or be able to function. His brain was without oxygen too long for him to be able to function even if they believed in bringing someone back from the dead. He walks. He talks. He feeds himself. He can read and write. He loves to talk on the phone. God performed a miracle that day. If I weren’t there, I might be skeptical. I’ve seen too much already to put God back in a box.

Final thoughts:

Please don’t be discouraged over this series if you’ve prayed for a miracle and it didn’t happen. I have those stories too!!! I refuse, though, to allow disappointment to sow bad seeds in my house of faith. My expectations are to be backed by God’s character, Word, and Spirit…not limited by past experience or disappointment. God can do anything! If He doesn’t answer the way we’d like, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us, care about us, we didn’t pray the right prayer or have enough faith, or that we should stop contending for healing, miracles, or breakthrough.

My hope is to inspire you to believe God can do anything!!!

God bless,

Erin

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The Holy Spirit

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And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you,~Romans 8:11.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams,~Acts 2:17.

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,~Gal 5:22-23.

The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. He is fully God. He is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, has a will, and can speak. He is alive. He is a person,~Matt Slick.

The Holy Spirit is not a strange force. He is fully God. He can speak (Acts 13:2); He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30); and He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11).

He is the Spirit who empowered Jesus, led Him, raised Him from the dead, affirmed Him, bears witness to Him, and overshadowed Mary to conceive Jesus (Matt 1:18-20). He works to convict the world of sin. He lives in believers; continually revealing truth, God’s love, and proving wisdom, insight, and comfort. He works in believers to mold their character into the likeness of Jesus. And there is so much more. He is glorious!

The Holy Spirit is often misunderstood. To some He’s not necessary. To others He’s everything. Some equate Spirit filled living with wild, crazy, and looney manifestations. So, instead of seeking to live empowered by Him there is caution and sometimes quenching of the Spirit. I will say God can do anything He’d like and for some their walk with the Holy Spirit seems unconventional. I pray we are not quick to judge or compare. The only thing we can say is the Holy Spirit will not violate the Word of God. I’ve seen people laugh, cry, dance, shake, tremble, behave like they’re drunk, speak in tongues and have interpretation, all due to an overwhelming encounter with God’s Spirit. How can we assess the encounters? Well, all the things I’ve mentioned above are recorded in the Bible. And if they weren’t, we still must operate in grace and not accuse others of make believe, being prideful, or attention seeking. Discernment, love, compassion, and grace are needed.

I’ve found the encounter led to the person being changed in some way; deeper understanding of God’s love, healing (emotional or physical), freedom from some stronghold ( addictions, etc…). When God is working, who are we to judge, criticize, or put limits on God? He’s always up to something good.

The Roles of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit serves a great purpose in the Trinity. Without Him we do not have a revelation of Jesus, we have limited to no understanding of Scripture, we have no comforter or depositor of gifts, we have no seal promising we belong to God, and we cannot live empowered lives without Him. He’s significant. He’s so important. He’s vital to living like Jesus.

The Works of the Holy Spirit (credit to Mike Slick for the outline).

Access to God – Eph. 2:18
Inspires prayer – Eph. 6:18; Jude 20
Anoints for Service – Luke 4:18 Intercedes -Rom. 8:26
Assures – Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:6 Interprets Scripture – 1 Cor. 2:1,14;
Eph. 1:17
Authors Scripture – 2 Pet. 1:20-21 Leads – Rom. 8:14
Baptizes – John 1:23-34; 1 Cor. 12:13-14
Liberates – Rom. 8:2
Believers Born of – John 3:3-6
Molds Character – Gal. 5:22-23
Calls and Commissions – Acts 13:24; 20:28
Produces fruit – Gal. 5:22-23
Cleanses – 1 Thess. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:2 Empowers Believers – Luke 24:49
Convicts of sin – John 16:9,14
Raises from the dead – Rom. 8:11
Creates – Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4 Regenerates – Titus 3:5
Empowers – 1 Thess. 1:5
Sanctifies – Rom. 15:16
Fills – Acts 2:4; 4:29-31; 5:18-20
Seals – Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30
Gives gifts – 1 Cor. 12:8-11
Strengthens – Eph. 3:16; Acts 1:8; 2:4;
1 Cor. 2:4
Glorifies Christ – John 16:14
Teaches – John 14:26
Guides in truth – John 16:13
Testifies of Jesus – John 15:26
Helps our weakness – Rom. 8:26 Victory over flesh – Rom. 8:2-4; Gal. 4:6
Indwells believers – Rom. 8:9-14; Gal. 4:6

As we enter this series on the Holy Spirit, I pray our hearts are enlightened to His work in our lives. May we submit to Him, listen to Him, follow Him, and thank Him. He, like Jesus and the Father, is an important part of our lives as believers. May we live Holy Spirit empowered lives! God bless you!

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Jesus in You!

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The purpose of being a follower of Jesus isn’t to become filled with head knowledge and have no application. Jesus intended for us to step into our identity and live it out. It’s a tricky road when you start talking about living like Jesus. The WWJD bracelets and mantra “what would Jesus do?” can be a catalyst for legalism. It’s not a bad thing to think about what Jesus would do, however, if I begin to rely on my efforts to be like Jesus there lies the problem. We are saved by faith and it’s dangerous to rely on ourselves. It fuels a belief that if I keep the rules, then I will be like Jesus. The truth is the Holy Spirit in us enables us to live like Jesus. You take Him out of the equation and you have modern day Pharisees; keeping the law without abiding in a Savior.

Let’s read what Jesus had to say in John 14:9-21. We pick up where Thomas asked Jesus where He is going and Phillip asked to see the Father. Jesus told the disciples He was going away (speaking of His death and resurrection). I recommend reading and studying the entire chapter.

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

There are people who try to be like Jesus without the Holy Spirit, by human will. It’s like trying to drive a car without the engine. You can have the manual and a map (God’s Word), but without the engine (the Holy Spirit) you won’t get very far. If we could do what God said without Him, we would have no need for a Savior. We need His Spirit to live a holy life and to fully understand His Word (the Bible). There are people using the Bible as a tool to destroy others because the revelation is not filtered through the Holy Spirit. The Bible can help or hurt depending on who is using it. The devil used scripture when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4).

Identity before activity:

God comes to change our identity. He doesn’t enter our lives to make us better people who can keep the rules. He comes to crucify the old man and resurrect us into a new creation (Romans 6:6). We cannot live like Jesus without accepting Him as Savior. Yes, we may have some good traits, but only God in us can fully imitate Jesus. It’s His power in us transforming us from the inside out. Being (Identity in Christ) leads to doing (Living like Jesus). If you get them out of order, it leads to self reliance instead of God reliance.

Doing what God says:

Obedience is never optional for the believer. God doesn’t give us a pass that says, “Pick what you want to do, and l give you permission to ditch what you don’t like.” God gives us His Spirit so our desires change, our nature is transformed (sanctification), and we are empowered to do His will. Yes, even with the Holy Spirit living in us we will find there are things God tells us to do that we don’t want to do. In those moments, we are able to cry out to Jesus for help. God responds to our cries for help. He forgives us when we repent. He cleanses us from our sins. He empowers us to turn from sin.

Help, I’m not acting or living like Jesus:

God doesn’t love us based on our behavior. He is love, and God’s love is unconditional. No one expects a toddler to drive a car. God knows our hearts, our maturity level, our weaknesses, and how to grow us up in Him. Life with Him isn’t supposed to performance based. The Bible is filled with people who have failed. I’ve failed at many things, and I’m sure you have to. We are humans relying on an amazing God. God longs to help us live like Him, not demand we imitate Him without His help. He wants to live through us! He asks us to seek Him first; receive His love, wisdom, insight, peace and power! He gave us His Spirit! The most powerful Being in the Universe resides in born again believers. Our role is to let God live through us.

Next time we will take about the ways the Holy Spirit operates through us…

Prayer:

Father, help us to rely on You and not ourselves. Help us to allow the Holy Spirit to live in us and through us. Help us to cease performing, relying on our efforts or human intellect, and help us to abide in You! May we seek first Your face. May those who encounter us, encounter Jesus! Thank you for our new life in You. Amen.