The Peace of God Which Surpasses All Understanding

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“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:4-7

My pastor recently defined the word peace in a way I had not heard it before.  We all think of peace as a quality that is absent of anxiety, and that is certainly true.  But my pastor defined the word as wholeness and it caught my attention.  So I began to study.

The word peace in Philippians 4:7 is eirene.  Its from the word eiro which means to join.  Eirene then is defined as oneness, quietness, rest, (and my favorite) to set at one again.

Its the same word that Jesus uses with the lady who was healed of the issue of blood when He tells her, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”  He says the exact same thing to the woman who pours the alabaster jar of oil upon the Lord’s feet and wipes them with her tears as the Pharisees watch in disgust because of the “kind” of woman that she has been labeled. There simply are no greater words to hear from the Lord than these: “Your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.”  What is He is saying?  According to the definition of peace, He is saying this…Because you have placed your trust in the precious Lamb of God, I have put the shattered pieces of your life back together again.  Go forward and enter My rest.

Peace is more than just a calm, tranquil feeling.  Peace is the tangible expression of the benefits of heaven worked out in a believer’s life, and it does something…it surpasses all understanding.  As a matter of fact, trying to attain peace through my own understanding will surely negate the possibility.  What do I mean by that?  All the whys we ask when the trials and temptations have grown so burdensome that we are left feeling wounded, dejected, crushed are simply a means of keeping the wounds alive.  It is not until we stop asking why, and we simply surrender ourselves to the Father’s care that we can appropriate the entirety of our passage above.  Rejoice always…be anxious for nothing…and pray with thanksgiving.

So why do we see such a lack of peace in so many of God’s people?  Well, for one, this Christian walk is a battle as we take hold of the fullness of all that Christ has done for us.  It is appropriated by faith as we walk out our journey toward home.  But, we are also living in a time where the message of the Gospel is not always clear.  We find the same in Jeremiah’s time.  The weeping prophet who went through so much as He faithfully delivered the message that the Lord had given him said this in Jeremiah 6:13-14, “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.  They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” 

Isaiah 57 declares those that will find peace are those who are lowly and contrite in spirit.  Those that will repent of their unjust ways will hear the Lord speak these words, “Peace, peace to the far and to the near.”  But he goes on to say that, “There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” 

The word for wicked in the Old Testament is Ra.  It simply means something twisted and not being used as it was originally designed.  The truth of the Gospel is this; we have all fallen short of the glory of God.  Every human life has become twisted and is not being used in the way that God has originally intended because of the sin that runs through the core of our beings.  There is only one way to the peace of God.  It starts by being washed in the precious blood of the lamb.  Truly our peace has been granted at that very point, but for it to be completely appropriated, it requires something.

Our two ladies show us the way.  Both of them pressed through a crowd of people who did not think they belonged among them.  One had been ostracized because of her illness.  She had given all she had in an attempt to find her healing, but to no avail.  She had been considered unclean and could not reside with the others.  One had been considered sinful and immoral and therefore not worthy of mercy and certainly anyone with a sense of respectability could not be seen with her, much less, allow her to touch them.  And yet, they pressed through the fear of rejection and the vain ideas of man and placed their complete trust in the only one who could offer them the deep need of their soul…peace, wholeness, rest.

In both cases it was found.  But I find it interesting that those who were simply curious, did not find that peace.  Nor did those that were not willing give up everything to find it.  The one thing that both of these women had in common was a desperation to be well no matter the cost.  And what did they receive?  Peace…their souls were set as one again.  “Go in peace daughter, your faith has made you well.”

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lord’s Vindication

pentecost

“PENTECOST WAS A RECOGNITION AND A PROOF OF ALL CHRIST CAME TO BE, AND ALL HE TAUGHT, AND ALL HE DID.
All the spiritual value of that comes by Pentecost into its full vindication.
His (Jesus) claim to sovereignty is established by the moral and spiritual results of the Holy Spirit coming into the life of a child of God and transforming it, by causing it to know in experience (not by intellectual argument) the life of His sovereign triumph, that inward reigning in life by Christ Jesus. All that the Lord Jesus taught and did is vindicated by the Holy Spirit inworking into the life of the believer the victory of that resurrection life of the Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus was vindicated by a mighty experience of the Holy Spirit! It is the spiritual and moral value of the Person, and the bringing of the fruits of that by the Holy Spirit into the life; it is the change the Holy Spirit makes in the moral life that is the vindication of the Lord Jesus. You cannot divorce moral responsibility and spiritual experience, there is no vindication thus, but chaos and contradiction. Pentecost is the climax to the Person, work, and teaching of the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh, as it gives spiritual and moral value to those in whom He dwells; i.e., proved in experience by the Holy Spirit.

Why did the Holy Spirit come? To make experimental in the life, by the same Holy Spirit, all that Jesus is for the believer. This is the progressive and constructive work of the Holy Spirit, the transforming of men and women.” T Austin Sparks

My question for us today as we come upon Pentecost Sunday is, “Do we really understand that our Christian duty, if you will, is simple on an intellectual level? Certainly we are to grow in knowledge and our theology is vital, but a right understanding of scripture alone does not constitute abiding faith. We have such a tendency as people to make things more difficult than need be. We “major on the minors” while all along we miss the mark. “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

Now I am not saying that the process is easy. But I am saying that the simplicity of Christ is this – man cannot save Himself, but while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. All of us who name the name of Christ certainly understand that as it pertains to our initial salvation, but what happens to the believer as he is filled with the Holy Spirit is that the reality of our salvation comes into a fuller fruition as we are transformed from the inside out and are enabled to overcome our own sin patterns and woundedness from this cruel world.

Each and every son and daughter of the King is given the glorious task of losing their own life and allowing Jesus to be enthroned upon their heart through the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that we are truly being changed into the image of the Dear Son. This certainly is the Lord’s vindication. His excruciating sacrifice being brought into exquisite victory each and every time the Holy Spirit is given more access to the deep recesses of a human heart. Every time a believer gives himself up to the workings of the Holy Spirit in any area of His life, Jesus is glorified and vindicated for giving His life over as a ransom for many. With that in mind, can we not come to the altar this Pentecost Sunday to give our lives over in a deeper way to the work of the Holy Spirit? Can we not glorify the Spotless Lamb who broke the power of sin in our lives and ever lives to make intercession as we continue to give ourselves over to His saving grace?

My friend, do not make excuses for your fleshly ways. You only allow the devil to believe he has some sort of victory in your life when you do. Give it to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to free you from the effects of this world. In that alone is the vindication that Jesus so unequivocally deserves.

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Unless God has Raised You Up

set free

“I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.” Excerpt from a letter written by John Wesley to William Wilberforce as he battled to end slavery in England.

Those are tremendous historical words exchanged between two great men of faith and virtue. It is easy to romanticize the words and only see them as some heroic idealism that only a few can ever really experience, but I caution you in that mindset. Why? Because it is a word to everyone that claims the name of Christ.

Whether we truly grasp this thought or not, we have all been called into a battle for the lives of men. Slavery is not eradicated in our nation or abroad. It is man’s ultimate problem. Now not everyone is under the tyranny of legalized slavery, but make no mistake, the bondage is real and everyone of us that has come to a saving knowledge of Christ has been raised up to bring the liberating message of Jesus to any who are held captive in the slavery of sin.

There is only one Great Emancipator in this epic battle for the souls of men. His name is Jesus. He alone is the Savior of mankind, but God in His infinite wisdom has chosen His church to be the vessel that contains His precious Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that breathes life. It is the Spirit that breaks chains. It is the Spirit that sets the captive free.

Do we not realize that we have been called into something glorious? Not vainglory to honor the name of man, but glorious in that the God of the universe has chosen us to be the instrument in His hand that can truly crush Satan underfoot anywhere oppression and bondage is rearing its ugly head. Yes, the devil may strike at our heels, but truly Jesus has crushed his head when He gave up His life to secure our freedom.

So how do we pick up our cross and follow in our Saviors footsteps? We do the works that we saw our Savior do as He walked the earth. However, we do not get to pick and choose what portion of the works we will be involved in. Yes, the Lord desires His Church to walk in the authority that He gives to bind the devil off the lives of precious men and women, but the Lord’s victory was won on the Cross as He suffered and died, taking the burden of our sin and shame upon Himself. We do not share in the atoning work of our Savior. He alone is the sinless, spotless lamb that could take away our sins. Yet, we are called to experience a death within ourselves as we give up our rights, our creature comforts, our very lives as we know them to enter into the glorious work to which God desires to raise His Church.

We must begin by submitting to God and resisting the devil in our own lives before we can truly be effective in being instruments of liberty for others. Its not a black and white battle that is easy to define when it is within our own souls. We have areas of our flesh that scream out to live and yet, once the surrender has come we find that our flesh has deceived us and that true life is only found in the dying to self.

So how do we win the battle when we are weary of the opposition of men and devils? We ask the Lord to show us where we need to die to self so that we might be raised with Christ. Yes, we have been seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus from the moment that we gave our hearts to Him, but there is a raising up that God wants to do within His Church of walking in authority to cast out all that seeks to oppose His Kingdom ways. And what are those ways?…love, humility, justice, and mercy to name a few. Liberty for all that will listen to His voice to come and find rest. Deliverance from the slavery of sin for whosoever will come.

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The Keys to a Miracle (Part 2)

As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith

Called, Chosen, and Sanctified

In the Book of Acts, the Lord says that the Apostle Paul was a “chosen vessel” unto Him.

“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” (Acts 9:15)

Jesus said that “many are called, but few are chosen.”

“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” (Mat. 20:16)

The Bible tells us what God requires of those who desire to be a “chosen vessel” for the Lord and His glory.

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Tim. 2:19)

“But in a great house there are not only vessels…

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What is all the Rage About?

anger

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” ~ Thomas A’ Kempis

Anger is defined in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary as this: derived from an Anglian word meaning to choke, strangle, or vex.

Rage is defined in a similar manner: violent anger accompanied with furious words.

I’ve been on both sides of the anger issue in my life. I have been the angry party and have received the brunt of someone else’s anger. Neither bring about the righteousness of God. It only brings harm to both the perpetrator and the target.

When I was the one struggling with anger, it was hard to see because my motives were good. I had come from a life that I did not want my children to be a part of and in my attempt to protect them and establish what I believed to be the environment that they needed, I often found myself angry when those boundaries were tested. It was easy to point an accusatory finger at anything coming against my established order. When I look back now, I see that my anger protected my attempts to control the environment that I believed was needed in order for my children to be safe. The problem with control is that I am not God and control is simply a means for the flesh to make a world of its own so that it can determine the outcome of any given situation. In other words, control is in direct opposition to faith.

I have also been the target of anger. Anger does not motivate the other person to hear your heart. They are too busy trying to protect their heart from your furious words. Most often, in a moment of anger, our words are much more violent than need be and the effect is brokenness, woundedness, and bitterness. A lack of trust then ensues in the relationship and the woundedness is played over and over when any conflict arises. Oftentimes this accompanies unforgiveness which is an open door for a tormenting spirit to hound you with your experience so that you can not let it go.

There are several types of anger. Chronic anger is when one has become so overwhelmed with life that they respond to most events the same way. A general sense of anger and frustration has taken over their thinking and they find it hard to feel anything but a gnawing sense of discontentment that results in angry responses. This is a state where you are both physically and emotionally drained and are in danger of making your body sick. We are not created to carry constant anger within our souls.

Self-hatred is another form of anger. Abuse victims often have to deal with the self-hatred they carry in order to get well. This anger turns inward and takes responsibility for negative occurrences in life so that this person is so weighted down with guilt and shame that what they feel internally about themselves begins to come out in their actions toward others. They are often highly critical of others because their own internal talk is self-condemning.

Passive-aggressive anger is displayed in the one who always knows what buttons to push. They are angry with someone or about something, but they do not express their anger in words. Instead, they find subtle ways to hurt others without having to deal honestly with their own emotions.

There are more, but all of these can be characterized as works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

Yes, there is a righteous anger, but we have to be careful in the way that we process that type of anger. Scripture says that you can be angry, but not to let the sun go down on your anger. Righteous anger is a response in our souls to injustice, however, if we harbor that response beyond its original intent to motivate us into action, it becomes bitterness. We are called to be intercessors; to stand in the gap; and to be ambassadors of reconciliation. If we become bitter, we do not display the love of God in a way that draws men unto Jesus. Instead we operate in a religious spirit that does more harm to the Kingdom than good.

So how do we overcome our anger issues that have been deeply embedded within us from years of hurt? We first have to see that we are not a victim to our circumstances. Jesus has come to set us free. The pathway to freedom is repentance and repentance requires us taking responsibility for ourselves.

We have to recognize that sin is a force that resides in the flesh. The flesh must be put to death through the power of the Holy Spirit. Truly no man can save Himself. We cannot control our own fleshly responses with out surrender in that area to the Lord’s Spirit. There is a difference between the sin force that resides within the flesh and acts of sin in which we participate. Both require repentance, but the latter oftentimes needs to accompany restitution in order to make things right with another person.

The scripture tells us to walk in the Spirit and we will not participate in the works of the flesh. We have to come to the understanding of our deep need for God, even if we have been saved for many years. We simply have no power over sin in and of ourselves. However, we have been given a promise. Galatians 5:22-25 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

The Lord wants to give us self-control, peace, and gentleness if we will just allow Him to go to those deeply wounded places in our souls and administer His healing oil through the power of the Spirit. In order to find that kind of healing, we must let go of any victim mentality that we are clinging to and see our deep need for His cleansing blood. That is difficult for us because we have such a strong sense of justice, but justice was met at the cross. We are to be a people that love mercy. He who is forgiven much, loves much. Once we understand how black our own sin condition is before God, we can in turn walk in love and mercy toward others through the Spirit’s enablement.

Can you pray this prayer today? “Lord, I am in desperate need of deliverance from my own sin nature. I am exhausted from trying to keep myself under control. I cannot. I cannot fight myself. I cannot fight the demonic realm that exacerbates my anger. I cannot hold this in my soul anymore. I turn away from my learned anger responses and I want to walk in meekness. Will you go to those deep places and apply your healing balm and bring me into wholeness so that I can experientially walk in victory over anger and the feelings of defeat. You have promised to make me the head and not the tail. You have promised that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. I trust you to release in me any unforgiveness or bitterness that I am holding within my heart so that the reality of the benefits of Your kingdom will be evident in my life.”

If you need council or prayer, you may reach us through our website at http://www.ariseprayerministries.org

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The Making of an Unoffendable Heart

unoffendable heart

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.'” Romans 15:1-3

Do you know that we should be growing in our ability to be unoffendable if we are growing in Christ? I am not telling you that it is an easy thing. No, its an absolute impossible thing to accomplish in our own strength. It is only through the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit that it is possible at all, and yet, it is that to which we have been called.

To be offended by definition is to be displeased and agitated because of the actions of another. Although offense seems to be worn as a badge of entitlement these days, I wonder if we have ever really stopped to take a deep look at the implications of what it really means to carry offenses within ourselves. I would wager that for most of us, we have not thought it through unless we have been forced to deal with it because that is really how we learn principles that are not part of our carnal nature. How do we learn? – typically its through stumbling blocks thrown in our path. So how do we grow in being unoffendable? – through being offended.

Jesus was so masterful at teaching His disciples through their experiences. In Matthew 15 we find two stories that both have sermon illustrations on their own, but truly when put together, show two contrasting conditions of the heart. In the beginning of the chapter, the Pharisees and scribes had questioned Jesus about His disciples not holding to the established traditions. Instead of a diplomatic plea to understand one another, Jesus answers them by exposing the areas of their own hearts that do not line up with the very law that they believed they were defending. Upon watching this, the Lord’s disciples come to Jesus and say, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”

Since Jesus knew what was in the heart of a person, the answer was yes, but always the teacher, Jesus then shows His disciples something else. As they moved into the region of Tyre and Sidon, they are met with a cry from a non-Jewish woman. She begs Jesus to heal her demon possessed daughter. The disciples ask Jesus to send her away. But Jesus turns toward her and answers her request with what looks like rejection. He says to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
But in her desperation, she knows her answer stands before her and she is not going to give up. She responds with, “Lord, help me.” Again Jesus verbally rejects her cry for help and this time He says something that should completely offend this woman who is looking for compassion. He says, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” His implication is that she is not worthy of a miracle and compares her to a dog! What is her response?

Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” In other words, I will take whatever you will give me. I know that you are my hope. Of course, then Jesus replies, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” Scripture says that immediately her daughter was healed.

In a heart full of faith, there is no place for offenses – why? Because we are called to allow the Holy Spirit to birth in us in message of the Kingdom and that message includes love, humility, and lowliness of heart. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation in a perverse and crooked generation. And in our offenses, we are called to turn the other cheek, to pray for the one doing the wounding, and to overcome evil with good. This is called giving the good testimony. Jesus also tells us that offenses are sure to come…stumbling blocks that try to take our very faith…are sure to come. How will we survive and move forward? Only through a mindset that everything that has been allowed in our lives has been filtered through the hands of the Father and our one course of action is complete surrender to the working of the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts of any offense, bitterness, and unforgiveness; and to allow Him to do a deep purifying work of anything offensive in us.

The Lord knows to whom He can entrust Himself. It does not matter if you are one who feels disadvantaged and underprivileged or if you are masterfully accomplished – neither station in life is what qualifies or disqualifies you to be the Lord’s true disciple. The Lord is looking at one place and one place only – the heart. You can’t harbor offenses within your heart and be surrendered to the Lord at the same time. There will be a duplicity in you that makes you double minded. That offense that you harbor will continue to grow and eat away at the very place that should belong to Jesus and in turn gives the devil a stronghold to work through in your life. You will find that you will very unwillingly become an opponent to the Gospel instead of an ambassador of the Gospel of peace.

You may say in your inward being, “I can never forgive. You don’t know what they did to me.” But I say to you, you cannot look in the face of Jesus and expect your argument to hold any water. Instead, look into the eyes of the one that took your sin into Himself as He hung beaten, naked, and humiliated upon a brutal cross and ask Him to do the kind of work in your heart that makes it unoffendable. An unoffendable heart is too full of love and compassion to harbor offenses toward another. An unoffendable heart knows that mankind falls short and instead of seeking self-preservation, it seeks to honor God alone through denial of self. An unoffendable heart is one that is becoming like Jesus and in doing so has a deep intimate walk with the Lord. An unoffendable heart is one that Jesus points to and says, “Go, your prayers have been answered.”

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Orphan or Heir

Recently a missionary from Scotland came and spoke at our church. He posed the thought that although Christians should walk as sons and daughters of the King, we very often still operate in an orphan spirit. It was a thought that had been coming at me from many different sources. What does an orphan spirit look like? An orphan has been abandoned, abused, discarded, and has not had the security needed in order to be able to live a life knowing that he or she is loved. Because of that, they are often dominated by fear, insecurity, perfectionism, anger, and a host of other fleshly responses to the issues of life.

Although it is true that we are all orphans in a sense until we come into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, many times even as Christians, we stay in that mindset never coming to the understanding that salvation has not only saved us from the penalty of sin, but has completely eradicated our old identity and made us true sons and daughters of the King with all the heavenly benefits of a perfect Father.

Why do we not let go of all that entangles and live knowing that we are now accepted in the beloved? Why is it so difficult for us to receive the love that the Lord so freely gives? Because although we have gone through a great transfer from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light, we still have mindsets that need to be broken from our thought processes in order for us to walk in wholeness and authority.

Is it not time for you to be able to receive the love of your Father and experience that freedom for yourself? The link to the book below is my own journey from an orphan mindset to a daughter of the King. My prayer is that you will find some spiritual insight into your own struggles that can unlock the chains that keep you bound in pain and defeat. You do not have to wear those chains anymore! Jesus has won the victory for you, but you have to want that victory to come to fruition in your life. It is not automatic.

All proceeds go toward ARISE Ministries. We are both an evangelistic prayer ministry for the lost and a prophetic healing ministry for the church. We know that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. He alone knows how to cut between soul and spirit, joint and marrow and is a discerner of the intent of our hearts. He alone knows how to free us from the effects of sin and cause us to walk in our inheritance as heirs to the Kingdom.

This love and freedom is not for a special few dear one, it’s for you. We are here to pray for you, encourage you, and get you started on your journey, but you have to know that your journey is yours alone and only the Holy Spirit knows what path you must take in order to learn who you truly are in Christ. But oh for the joy set before us…

http://www.amazon.com/The-Runaway-womans-journey-living/dp/1482784998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395453631&sr=8-1&keywords=the+runaway+kristene+odell

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