Today we look at the account in the life of Jacob, when Laban came into his life and the ramifications of that 20 year encounter.
I want us to see up front that Laban showed up in Jacob’s life to teach him that there are those who will always place their wants and desires before your destiny. As a matter of fact, they want what’s theirs and what’s yours as well….They will form an attachment to you which will cause you to struggle between choosing them or choosing the dream that God has put in your own heart. This attachment will cause you to have a divided heart.
A divided heart will try to lock you into a valley of indecision and confusion, so that you lose your way and make bad choices and decisions that will take you to a place you never would have otherwise gone…. The attachment to Laban, in Jacob’s case was Laban’s daughter Rachael. Because of her, Jacob really lost his way….
Speaking of losing your way, a family was driving through Louisiana. As they were approaching Natchitoches, they started arguing about the pronunciation of the town. They argued back and forth until they stopped for lunch. As they stood at the counter, the dad asked the blonde employee, “Before we order, could you please settle an argument for us? Would you please pronounce where we are…very slowly?” The blonde girl leaned over the counter and said, “K-e-n-t-u-c-ky F-r-i-ed C-h-i-c-k-en” (Now I’ll be craving KFC the rest of the day)!!!
It has been said that when you’re walking through hell, keep moving…..So with an amazing destiny upon Jacob’s life, forces begin to work through the attachments in his life to circumvent and block his legacy….and he found himself negotiating through a mine field. But Praise God, The Lord will make a way where there is no way, and He will even use the enemy’s own plans and attacks to fulfill His promises…
Genesis 29:18 “Now Jacob loved Rachel, (so he agreed with Laban’s terms) and said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” v19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” v20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her”.
So, Jacob agreed to work for Rachel’s father (his uncle Laban) seven years. But on the wedding night Laban tricked Jacob and sent Rachel’s older sister, Leah, into Jacob’s tent, because Laban felt that his older daughter should be married first. He put his wants above Rachael’s wants and dreams. I MEAN, COME ON FOLKS, LET’S KEEP LABAN OUT OF THE BEDROOM!!! He was willing to betray his daughter and Jacob to have his own way. Folks think they know better than you, but they don’t have to live with what you have to live with.
Genesis 29:23 “Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob was intimate with her. v24 and Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. (she was his eyes and ears inside Jacob’s tent, today he would just put in a spy camera) v25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn”. (when greed and covetousness are caught, they always play the blame game, and any excuse will do)
Adam said, “She made me do it”….. Arron said “the people made me build the golden calf”…. Joseph’s brothers said “a wild animal has taken him”…. Someone said that no one has a gambling problem, till they start losing all their money….
Jacob’s problem was that he let his heart lead him, instead of leading his heart!
Laban reminds me that Arm chair quarterbacks always act like they know better than the players on the field, who are taking all the bumps and bruises. Someone described a football game as 22 players on the field with 20,000 in the bleachers telling them how to play the game…..Many folks like to tell everyone else how to live their lives, while their lives are a mess!
I told someone last week that I’m very careful who I take spiritual advice fromwhen they come with a vision or a dream, or a “word from the Lord”…..I want to know if their lives are in order and what their relationship with the Lord is. How can they be walking in disobedience and telling me how to obey and what to do?!!! Some folks have all the answers, but they don’t live where you live and face what you face.
Don’t get me wrong, God can speak through anyone He chooses, but you better use discernment and Holy Spirit insight. Folks will prophecy over you and speak what they are picking up inside your soulish area. They will confirm what your soulish self-life, your emotions, your self-will and intellect wants to hear, instead of what your Spirit needs to hear. Paul says “try the spirits to see if they are of God”…..
A true friend will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They won’t try to push it down your throat or manipulate you with it, but they will leave it with you and trust the Lord to confirm it. Do you have an arm chair quarterback speaking into your life and trying to call the plays…. It’s time to bench them….
So I realize that it was probably dark, but Jacob must have been plastered orlet his hormones replace his brains, because he didn’t notice until afterwards that Laban gave him Leah instead of Rachael, but by then he was legally wedand she got pregnant that night. Later on, He was allowed to marry Rachel as well, but only in exchange for seven more year of servitude.
(Understand, that Satan always has “One more thing”)
Lack of discernment will take you where you never wanted to go, keep you there longer than you ever wanted to stay, cost you more than you ever intended to pay, and keep you from ever getting to where you started out to go in the first place!
We are told that he loved Rachel because she was beautiful but he didn’t love Leah because the bible says she had “weak eyes” (she had crossed eyes) We might call this the haunted honey moon!!!
Now Jacob wasn’t too happy about it, but this glitch wasn’t about to stop God, who calls the things that are not as though they were….. and believe it or not the Bible traces the linage of Christ through Leah, not through Rachael!!!.God will work His mysterious plan in ways we never dreamed of…. Stick with Him, He never fails!! I want you to realize that it was Leah, not Rachel who was in the linage of Jesus!
It reminds me of a woman who went to her doctor’s office. She was seen by one of the new doctors and after the visit, she was seen by one of the nurses as she went screaming and running down the hall. An older doctor stopped her and asked what the problem was, when she explained, he had her sit down and relax in another room. The older doctor marched back to the new doctor and demanded, “What’s the matter with you? Mrs. Terry is 63 years old, she has four grown children and seven grandchildren, and you told her she was pregnant?” The new doctor smiled smugly as he said to his boss. “Her problem was hiccups…and now she’s cured!”
Much in the same way, God will probably do it in a way much different than you might have expected Him to…..I believe that God is saying to us, let the Laban spirit pull his tricks and let Leah push her way in front of Rachael…. It’s not going to stop the plan of God, if you don’t quit and don’t compromise or settle for less than God has promised! ' He will do it through situations and circumstances you never would have suspected..
Sometimes God has to take drastic measures to get our attention.
Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts".
Before his deal with Laban, God visited Jacob at Bethel and God neverchanged His mind about Jacob…..Genesis 28:13 “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your lineage. v14 And your lineage shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in you and in your lineage shall all the families of the earth be blessed. v15 And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in all places where you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done all that which I have spoken to you of.”
Would you tell someone.. “God has not changed His mind about you”!
Not everyone is coming into your life to love you. Some are coming to teach you and the lessons may not be comfortable, but learn them anyway!!!
Jacob had his Laban, David had his Saul, Joseph had his brethren, Daniel and the 3 Hebrews had Nebuchadnezzar, and Jesus had his Judas…. Into every life will come betrayal, deception, and injustice. But it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you learn from it and how you respond to it! Don’t look at the situation and be foolish enough to camp there… Look at the principalsinvolved and be the wiser person as you move forth! Not everyone who dumps on you is your enemy and not everyone who digs you out is your friend! The Laban Spirit is very much alive today…. That spirit wants to have your cake and eat it too!
It’s time to tell Laban to get out of your business!
Laban and Jacob struggled back and forth to have the upper hand in the livestock which each had accumulated as per agreement the two had together.The agreement was that Jacob would work for the speckled goats and the black sheep which were very few in number and Laban agreed until most of the flock started being born that way. Then Laban changed the deal to work in his own favor but the Lord changed the color of the goats once again, to bless Jacob, and this flip-flop scenario continued until Jacob’s fortunes were increased and Laban’s were dwindling to the point that Laban and his sons were angry as Jacob’s livestock increased and theirs decreased….
*……Genesis 31:4 “And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock, v5 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable to me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. v6 And you know that with all my power I have served your father. v7 Andyour father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me. v8 If he said, “The speckled shall be your wages”,then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said, “The ringstraked shall beyour hire”, then all the cattle gave birth to ringstraked. v9 Therefore God hastaken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me”.
The Laban spirit wants to keep you serving your stuff instead of ruling over your stuff. It wants you to be owned by your stuff instead of you owning your stuff!
We must do what Jacob did in opposing the Laban spirit…. He kept speaking what God had told him…..Look at it….
Genesis 31:12 And He (God) said, “Lift up your eyes now, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban is doing unto you. v13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar, and where you vowed a vow unto Me: now arise, get out from this land, and return unto the land of your kindred”.
Jacob didn’t keep rehearsing what had happened, he didn’t keep rehearsing what Laban was saying, he rehearsed the words God had spoken to him, and gave no power or authority to what Laban was attempting to do in keeping him in servitude forever!!!
Even when Jacob broke free of this servitude after 20 years, and began to move on in his life, this spirit of bondage made sure that his wives would do something that would be the final attachment which would attempt to pull him back again. Rachael is really trying to get my boy Jacob in trouble…..
Reminds me of another wife who got her husband into trouble…. The guy is pulled over by a cop and the following conversation takes place: As the officer walks up to the window, he asks, “What’s the problem officer? The Cop tells him, “You were going at least 75 in a 55 zone”. The man is adamant, “No sir, I was going 65”. The Wife speaks up and says, “Oh Harry. You were going 80and you know it”. (He gives his wife a dirty look.) The Cop says: I’m also going to give you a ticket for your broken tail light. To which he says “Broken tail light? I didn’t know about a broken tail light”! The Wife speaks up and says “Oh Harry, you’ve known about that tail light for weeks”. (He gives his wife another dirty look.) The Cop says “I’m also going to have to give you a citation for not wearing your seat belt”. He replies “Oh, I just took it off when you were walking up to the car”. His Wife says “Oh Harry, you never wear your seat belt”. Harry shouts, “Shut your mouth, woman”! The Cop asks,“Ma’am, does your husband always talk to you this way”?.....”No, officer,only when he’s drunk”. OOPS!!!
Look at this….Genesis 31:27 And Laban said “Wherefore did you flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and did not tell me, that I might have sent you away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp? v28 And did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? You have now done foolishly in so doing. v29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spoke unto me last night , saying, “Take heed that you speak not to Jacob either good or bad (do him no harm) ”. v30 And now, though you desire to be gone, because you long after your father’s house, yet why on top of this, have you stolen my household gods”?
We can see that when Laban catches up to Jacob, he uses every scheme he knows in order to gain control over Jacob again. The Laban spirit uses these today..
He Uses Shame: v26 And Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? You’re no better than a common criminal, a kidnapper, a human trafficker. You should be better than that Jacob - you should treat me and my daughters better than that.
He Uses Flattery: v27 Why did you flee secretly and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? Yeah, right. I ‘m sure that was Laban’s plan, to send Jacob off with song and dance.
He Uses Pity: v28 And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Oh, Jacob, you didn’t even give me a chance to say goodbye.
He Uses Threats: Now you have done foolishly. v29 It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’
He Uses Belittling : v30 And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house……One commentator I read noted that there is sarcasm in Laban’s tone – “you poor thing, you got homesick and couldn’t cut it like a man, so you’re running home to daddy”.
These are the methods the Laban Spirit still hits us all with today…. I have seen a couple of people derail the vision of an entire church. Because they wanted to hold on to what was, and not let go and receive what God was bringing in, they used delay tactics, flattery tactics, pity tactics, shame tactics, condemnation tactics, and threats to destroy a move of God, and a new direction for the entire church body.
That’s a Laban Spirit. It will muddy the waters so that no one can drink. It refuses to enter in and blocks the way for anyone who wants to enter in. It is the spirit of delayed blessings, and delayed answers and refuses to change when God is working.
Someone said, "I'm not what I want to be, I'm not what I'm gonna be, but praise God I'm not what I used to be." I believe God is telling me to tell somebody that it’s time to leave the house that Laban built. You can’t afford to live there anymore!!!
If you are a child of God, everything that takes place in your life has a spiritual implication. Be careful of your attachments. Jacob didn’t know that Rachael had taken the household gods and hidden them in her belongings. Rachael’s attachments could have jeopardized Jacob’s future. Her difficulty in letting go, could have brought Laban’s vengeance down on Jacob’s head.
How to recognize that you are being affected by a Laban Spirit….. I wrote this down….. Those who suffer from the spirit of Laban, spend a much longer time to get what others get easily and quickly. They work much harder before they can get anything. By the time they eventually get it, all the joy of the achievement is taken from them. The Bible says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick” When you see men and women afflicted by this spirit, folks all around them seem to get things easily and quickly, but when they make their own attempt, progress becomes very slow and hard. They pay an unusual price in getting anything done and they always seem to be last on the line of blessing. The last to get admission to college, the last to get that job they are more than qualified for, the last to get married, the last to have children. They are always looking for their breakthrough when others are celebrating. Their middle names could easily be called brother or sister “Still Waiting”. They are people whose blessings don’t usually come early.
It's interesting to me, that Jacob made the final break at Gilead, which means in the Hebrew tongue, “The full circle of time”….And Laban is never mentioned in his life ever again, except in the rear view mirror.
The story of Jacob gave a clear picture of what the spirit of delayed blessings can do in a person’s life. Despite the blessings of Jehovah upon their life, they suffer untold hardship at the hand of Laban. Until they come to their full circle in time. I’m believing with you today, that the Lord will break the yoke of this spirit off ofyour life and you will enter into your destiny in Jesus name.
When Jacob finally broke all attachments with the spirit of Laban, there was a wealth transfer, blessings that were delayed were loosed, and he was reconnected to his destiny!
We must do what Jacob did at Gilead when he confronted Laban. He came to the place of “No More” and drew a line in the sand. Scripture says that Jacob declared, “You shall not cross over to me and mine ever again, then he headed for the place where it all began, where he had deceived his dad, and stolen the birth rite of his own brother Esau. Now that the break was made with Laban, he needed to deal with the roots in his life that had allowed him to come under the Laban spirit.
Deuteronomy 8:18 " Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to get wealth, so that He may establish His covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is even today."
If you identify with the effects of the Spirit of Laban anywhere in your life, I want us to pray a breakthrough prayer as we close the service today….”
1. “I renounce and loose myself from every inherited or acquired spirit of delayed blessings in Jesus name”.
2. “By the authority of the word of God, I break every curse of delayed blessings operating in my life in Jesus name”.
3. “Let the angels of the living God roll away every stone of hindrance to the manifestation of my breakthroughs in the name of Jesus”.
4. “I command every wall of Jericho standing between me and my destiny to collapse, and never to rise again in Jesus mighty name”.
5. “I bind, plunder and cast out of my life, every anti-breakthrough, anti-blessings and anti-testimony spirits in the name of Jesus”.
6. “I refuse to continue to tarry in any satanic bus-stop; I must enter my destiny this year in the name of Jesus”.
7. “Lord, let all evil labels fashioned by the camp of the enemy against my life be completely rubbed off now, in Jesus name”.
8. “I break myself loose from the bondage of stagnancy and delayed blessings in the name of Jesus Christ”.
9. “Holy Ghost fire destroy anything that makes your promises to fail or tarry in my life in Jesus name”.
10. “I decree by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the rapid fulfillment of all prophecies and promises of God concerning me in Jesus name”.
11. “Having waited long for my breakthrough, I shall not be frustrated nor be disappointed in the end, in Jesus name”.
12. “Today, I activate the Abrahamic and the Messianic covenants operating in my life. By these divine covenants, let all my delayed blessings be released now in the name of Jesus”.
13. “In Jesus mighty name I move from the back to the front on the queue of blessings in Jesus name”.
14. “Father, from hence forth, let my life be a divine magnet that attracts diverse miracles all the time”.
15. “I resist, bind and overthrow all miracle hijackers, miracle deflectors and miracle interceptors operating in and around me in Jesus mighty name”.
16. “I shall submit myself to the prophetic words over my life and ministry so that they may be fulfilled, in Jesus name”.
In this life, there are many collectors who get all they can and can all they get. They hoard, and grasp and store up, for the rainy days and days when all you have is what’s left over. But unlike the natural realm, the things of the Spirit are diminishedand become useless, when we try to hoard them, and they are forfeited in the bottomless pit of the self-life, when we try to store them up.
I came across the last Wishes of Alexander The Great .....
On his death bed Alexander summoned his generals and told them his three ultimate last wishes.
1. The best doctors should carry his coffin;
2. The wealth he had accumulated (money, gold, precious stones) should be scattered along the way to his burial place, and
3. His hands should be left hanging outside the coffin for all to see. Surprised by these unusual requests, one of his generals asked Alexander to explain. Here is what he said,
1. I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that when it’s your time to die, even the best doctors in the world are powerless…
2. I want the road to be covered with my treasure so that everybody sees that you can’t take the wealth acquired on earth, with you.
3. I want my hands to swing in the wind so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave empty handed after the most precious treasure of all, TIME has been exhausted.
We can’t keep the anointing by hoarding it for ourselves. The only way to keep the anointing and increase it, is to give it away! Hoarding is dysfunctional, but hoarding God, is insanity…God won’t stay in our box!!! To refuse to give all that God has given you, back to Him to use any way He wants, is the ultimate hoarder and act of selfishness! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is found in….
Luke 4:18-19 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (I can almost hear the theme song of Mission Impossible now)……Dum, dum, dum, …..
Walking in the anointing, leads us outward, and outside ofourselves, to what the anointing can do for others through us. Our nation, our culture, and the nations of the earth are starving for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The empty husks of humanism, intellectualism and false religion cannot fill the empty place, or hold back the darkness that wants to envelop and paralyze the hearts and minds, from our loved ones and those from the lowest of society to the aristocratic elite.
The world is hungry to see men and women who will stand in the anointing of Jesus and His power and challenge the darkness. We, His Church, are the Bride of Christ, filled, prepared and anointed to share His life, His light and His healing power to a desperate and dying world. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and He has anointed us to preach, to heal and to liberate those who are in bondage.
Fantasy Fest is a good view of bondage masquerading as freedom!
When the anointing oil was poured out by Samuel upon David, and produced the warrior king, who slew Goliath, and led Israel in victory after victory, that oil was poured out of the horn of a sacrificed animal.. The anointing poured forth from an act of sacrifice.
1 Samuel 16:13 “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah which means in the Hebrew, (to go higher, to mount up, to be exalted)”.
As Samuel poured out to David, it was poured back to him.
Horns are the weapons of attack and defense for animals that have them. They are the means of demonstrating their POWER! When they are attacked, they defend themselves with their horns. Their horns are part of who they are, just like the anointing is who we are in Christ, the anointed one. The anointing is an appointment with true freedom….
We don’t nurse it, we don’t curse it, we don’t rehearse it, we give it to God and let Him reverse it!!
Isaiah 10:27 27 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing”.
I want to direct your attention to the ingredients of the Holy Anointing Oil illustrates the anointing of the Holy Spirit resting upon Christ and upon the new Testament Church, the priesthood of believers. The Holy Anointing Oil with all its specified ingredients point to the excellences that are found in Christ. Those same ingredients are found in the anointing for us today.
Exodus chapter 30:30-34, the LORD tells Moses to make a very special and “holy anointing oil” of “the finest of spices”, including “flowing (liquid) myrrh”, “sweet-smelling cinnamon”, “fragrant cane”, “cassia”, and “olive oil”. This highly perfumed oil was used to consecrate (and set apart) the articles and furnishings used in Temple worship, including the ark of the testimony, the temple itself, the priest, and the Levites.
Exodus 30:32 says, "neither shall you make any other like it, after the composition of it." There is nothing that can be compared to the anointing the Spirit places upon one's life. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of excellence. V-33 lets us know that we cannot merchandise the anointing.
We see also that it is the Lord that chooses and names the spices and the weight of each. He uses the words "principal spices" which refers to the very best and that which exceeds all others in quality and excellence. There is nothing second rate with the Lord.
The anointing oil, contained Myrrh…which was traditionally used for embalming. It is a symbol of death to the old man, and death to the self- life. It is through Jesus death that we are given true liberty. We are not our own, we belong to Christ. “Not my will, but Thy will be done”, is now the mission of our lives. In that mission, we experience freedom from the bondages of the past, and freedom from Satan’s deceptive snares.
2 Corinthians 3:17 Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty... A free and pure flow of oil…… Isaiah,…prophesying of Jesus in
Isaiah 61, tells us that He was anointed to proclaim liberty to the captives. What a treasure our freedom in Christ is! The way to avoid those snares of resentment, regret, disappointment and discouragement with people, ourselves, and our situations and circumstances, is through the Myrrh of the anointing. It assures that we can continue to minister healing, comfort, and restoration, regardless of our environment or our personal challenges….
The anointing oil, contained Cinnamon, which means, "to burn with zeal"... "to be hot with jealousy" for the Lord, for righteousness, holiness and truth.. The tree from which this spice is extracted is an evergreen, passing through no periods of seasonal inertness. So likewise, the anointing is unchanging and constant for those in Christ, whose leaf does not wither in time of drought, cold or harsh conditions. There is no laziness in the anointing ... there is a"zeal" to do good works and to minister to the needs of mankind under the direction of the Holy Spirit. In Song of Solomon 4:14 “A garden inclosed is my spouse; a spring guarded and protected, a fountain with the king’s seal upon it. v13 Yourfruits are from an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, v14 and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.”
The Bridegroom is describing His bride here, symbolizing Christ and the church—he’s referring to that which the oils and spices of grace have imparted unto His church.
The foundation of the balm of Myrrh which is mixed with the zeal of the Cinnamon, allows and sustains this steadfast joy and enthusiasm even in the valley of the shadows, and in the night seasons of life.
Misguided zeal, without the sweetness of Grace, can be harmful, fleshly, and destructive and misguided humility and longsuffering can condone, empower and even sanction compromising activities.
The challenge we have, is to be zealous without becoming harsh or judgmental. To be loyal without becoming fanatical, to be cautious without being timid, to be free without it becoming a license, to be confident without becoming arrogant, to be humble without becoming the spineless pawns of others.
Psalm 45: 7-8 God says, "You love righteousness, and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness. So that all your garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made you glad" .
The Holy anointing oil contained Cassia, meaning, "to bow down"... "to bend the body"... This is about SUBMISSION AND HUMILITY. True submission embraces the Lord’s will, not only when it is in agreement with it, but when it is not . This was Jesus' attitude as seen in John 5:30. "I can of myself do nothing"... "I seek not my own will, but the will of my Father which has sent me." The boiling water that hardens eggs, softens carrots….it’s not about what you’re in but it’s about what’s inside of you.
In John 15:5 Jesus says, "Without me you can do nothing." He is the hand which moves the glove. Without the hand, the glove has no life of it’s on and can do nothing.
This is also a submission to God, which results in deferring to one another in the realization that none of us has it all. But together we form the body of Christ, each part fitted together to form the whole. Like the fingers working together on the hand. No one finger is the entire hand!
Exodus tells us that about 15 pounds of this Cassia spice was used each time a new batch of anointing oil was produced. The number 15 in Bible numerics is the number of "rest." There is a rest in submission. There is no “I’ll do it but I really don’t want to” and every one will know “I really don’t want to”……
Submission means that we are under the authority of the Lordand directed by Him. In true submission. He transforms our “Want To” into our “Will To”.
In Psalm 45:8 it also says that the King Messiah’s robes would also smell of cassia (for He said, “what the Father does is what I do”)
Next, let’s notice that the Holy anointing oil contained sweet calamus, which is also the ‘spikenard’ of Scripture. It means, "to stand upright, "to contain the power to recover and remain standing"..
Even though this plant grows in muddy miry soil, the pull of heaven, is greater than the pull of the muck and mire and causes it to stand straight and tall. While many around us grovel and wallow in the mire, the child of God, is drawn heavenward and in the same conditions, still stands straight and tall by the anointing.
The fragrance of the sweet calamus is released as it is crushed. Likewise, the things that come to crush us and break us only release the fragrance of His grace. Instead of making us bitter, Heaven’s upward pull fills the situation with hope and assurance, and sweetens the very trial that we pass through. When this spice is ground into powder, a sweet smelling oil is produced that promotes healing and kills the root of the disease. Calamus also is emblematic of internal feelings such as caring, calming, compassion and mercy. All of these systemic emotions have healing properties. In the Presence of the anointing is the "power of recovery."
Emotional, Spiritual and physical healing is released by the sweet oil of the Spirit’s anointing ... love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance,. These ingredients were in Christ as He ministered. He was moved with compassion, Divine love rose up within Himas He was compelled by the hurts and diseases caused by the curse, so that the sweet Calamus of the anointing poured forth…..
Last of the ingredients for the Holy anointing oil, is the Olive oil. This was the catalyst into which the four Ingredients were bound together and sustained for delivery to the appointed task. All of the "principal spices" are gathered and infused into the oil. Then they are strained out - leaving a penetrating, prevailing fragrance in the oil itself.
When God anoints us, He doesn't overlook or bypass our personality but He redeems it. He uses our individuality. The "spices" would be the gifts, talents, experiences, and knowledge which He has given to us. We don’t just have gifts, we are the giftwhich God anoints and releases!!!
He takes us and infuses us with the "oil" or the workings of the Spirit. He doesn’t just pour it upon us, but we pass through the oil and it passes through us, and He strains out the fleshly, carnal appetites, desires and thought patterns - leaving a sweet anointing on our lives –
The word Oil, means “that which flows from the source”. It comes from a root word meaning, "the source of our illumination"..
What is in the anointing?.... ILLUMINATION THAT IS CARRIED BY THE SPIRIT... KNOWLEDGE GIVEN BY THE SPIRIT... AUTHORITY FLOWING FROM THE SPIRIT. Without the Holy Spirit there would be no free flow of liberty… compassion ... zeal ... healing... comfort... the power of recovery... mercy ... submission and much more.
The ingredients of the anointing flow out through those who carry and release it’s properties, and meet the needs of mankind. It is by the Spirit of God that we are graciously equipped for priestly ministry, so that we may stand before God and man, as intercessors and reconcilers. 2 Corinthians 2:14, 15, "Thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ."
Your “savor” will be determined by how long you linger and soak in God’s glory, the source of the anointing.
1 John 2:20 “But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know (the Greek word is eidō…to have insight into, to discern) all things”.
The word “unction” in the scriptures, actually means, “ointment that is rubbed in.” New Testament anointing was much different than Old Testament anointing. In the Old Testament, the anointing was poured upon, in the New Testament, the anointing was rubbed in.
Your effectiveness will never be determined by what is poured out in a single moment but what is rubbed in by prolonged times of worship and waiting in His presence.
When you ladies cook a turkey, you rub in those oils and spices real good, and our God knows how to cook a turkey!!!
The unction is always given for a specific purpose – and it’s not just to make us feel good or get goose bumps. Through-out the Bible we learn what happens when people receive the unction. Apostles move in miracles, signs and wonders….Evangelist, evangelize….Pastors pastor, Prophets prophecy, Teachers give inspired teaching and Kings and rulers concern themselves with justice, truth, and righteous judgment.
In the New Testament we learn that a rag tag assortment of disciples who had no recognizable purpose, where they were, as they were, are transformed and re-formed into bold preachers and demonstrators of God’s power. The church began to hear from God, the people begin to pray with fervency and miracles became common place. They stopped being the thermometer which only indicates what the spiritual atmosphere is, and became the thermostat, which sets and determines the spiritual atmosphere. Revival comes when we move from being thermometers, to being thermostats!!! And Jails were open, the dead were raised, missionaries were sent out and God added to the church daily, and multitudes were persuaded by the Holy Spirit into the church. This is not just a one time phenomenon, it was and still is produced by the unction of the Holy Spirit.
James 5:14 “Is any sick (astheneo) among you? let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”. (this represents the spirit’s unction)
The word here for sickness, is astheneo, and literally means “without strength” and may refer to spiritual depression, emotional distress, as well as physical sickness.
In verse 15 it says the word sick and the Greek word is kamnosand is translated “to be weary, to lack strength”.
“At the sheep fold where the sheep are kept in safety for the night, the shepherd places a large bowl of olive oil mingled with spices, and a large container of water.
As the sheep pass through the gate, the shepherd examines each one for wounds. These are carefully cleaned as the shepherd dips his hand into the oil to anoint the injury. A cup is dipped into the water and comes out overflowing and the sheep drinks until refreshed, as it enters into the safe and secure place within the sheepfold.”
We should never presume upon the Holy Spirit’s anointing – but cherish it – pursue it – and guard it. If you allow yourself to pass through the oil and the oil to pass through you every day, you will deal with others in grace, and life will be “better not bitter”, and if you daily seek God’s face in prayer and fellowship with the Holy Spirit – THEN, you won’t just have an occasional anointingbut the anointing will abide and reside in and upon you. God’s anointing will be cultivated in your life, and equip you for every good work. You’ll reside in the anointing, even as it resides in you. We are commanded to put on Jesus Christ; and as He clothes us more and more, His perfumes will be more and more perceptible to those about us.
We usually don’t realize how ill-smelling our own attributes are, until we have drawn close enough to Him to discern the fragrance of His pure oils of the anointing.
We begin to detect the offensive odor of our pride when we smell the pleasant fragrance of His humility. We detest the vile odors of our flesh, when we encounter the sweetness of His purity and holiness, His submission to God's will and His love and longsuffering, breaks in upon us.
We realize the offensive odor of our impatience and our unforgiving spirit toward one another when we smell the perfume of His patience and forgiveness toward us. It is the sweet spices of His attributes that we need the most, which call to us and draw us as it drew John the beloved disciple, who laid his head upon Jesus chest. It is Jesus who taught us in…
Luke 6:38 “Give and it shall be given unto you full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”
So we truly come to realize that to increase the anointing, we must give it away, freely, and unreservedly at every opportunity.
Prayer of Agreement
Father we address every deception that has entered anywhere, that would limit, take away from, diminish or cancel the anointing upon our lives. Whatever it is, you will be broken in the name of Jesus. Let everything that gives strength to any evil covenant against us be taken away today. Blood of Jesus, shield our birthright from every attack of spiritual armed robbers, for we receive the power from above to fulfill our divine assignment from this time forward, anything that would limit our destiny this year be scattered and destroyed by the anointing, in Jesus name. We now take back everything the enemy has stolen from our lives in the name of Jesus.
Lord, let Your healing, creative, restoring power flow into every area relevant to growth, increase, and wholeness. Lord, correct any disorder and dysfunction, so that every cycle of insufficiency, in our lives, be broken away from us and turned around in the name of Jesus. We tear down and dismantle the roadblock to our breakthrough, let the arm of the Lord, arise, O Lord and before this time next week, we claim unexpected income, sickness healed, deliverance realized, and the joy and freedom of the Lord, enjoyed and embraced.
Lord, Through the anointing, we receive victory over all the forces of wickedness, and we declare that we are no longer the tail, but the head, no longer beneath, but above, for we take our rightful place as power changes hands in every area of our lives, and signs, wonders and miracles begin to abound. Lord, we receive your mandate to break every curse and to put to flight every enemy of our high calling in Christ. And now, in the name of Jesus, and we thank You, Lord for giving us the victory for your glory, honor, and praise. Amen.
You may recall that Jesus prayed to the Father that we would be kept from the world since we are not in or part of the old worldsystem and values any longer….
In one of the examples Jesus gave us, He said that you can’t put new wine in old flasks. If you try, the flasks will burst and the wine will be lost. When wine ferments, it expands and if it is in flasks that have already been stretched to their limit, they will burst. We likewise, can’t contain the new wine of God’s kingdom system and values, it we hold on to the old mind set. They are incompatible and unsustainable.
John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, you are not of the world, and because I have chosen you out of it, the world is in opposition to you”.
John 17:11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father, that you might keep them in Your name, that they may be one even as We are. v12 While I was with them, I kept them in Your name and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. v13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. v14 I have given them Your word; and the world has opposed them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. v15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. v16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. v17 Sanctify them in the truth, for Your word is truth. v18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world”. If you capsulized this prayer of Jesus, it would be… “May they be Insulated, but not Isolated” …..
A submarine can't fulfill its purpose unless it is in the water. It must be submerged into the ocean before it can be effective. Even though the sub is surrounded by water, again, it can’t fulfill its purpose if the water gets inside the submarine. Being in the water without the water being in the sub, is all possible because before it went into the sea, it was insulated and all possible areas were sealed so the ocean would stay outside the vessel.
Astronauts can survive and fully function in the deadly void of space, because they are self contained. They have space ships and suits which are carefully insulated so that they can venture into the deadly environment of space, accomplish their mission, and return to the life sustaining environment of earth. They are insulated but not isolated.
However, Monks would go to live in monasteries, far removed from everyone, high on some mountain top, where they felt they could be spiritual by escaping from "the world" so they wouldn't be tempted by it. But how could they be "the light of the world", which Jesus called us to be, if they were not in it?
One of the big accusations against Jesus by the Isolationists of His day, was that “He was the friend of tax collectors (or crooked people), prostitutes, and sinners”
Remember that he told the tax collector, Zacchaeus that he was coming to his house to have fellowship with him…. It really raised eyebrows!
And don’t forget, Lazarus, the friend of Jesus who was raised from the dead, well, he was the brother of Mary who was a former prostitute before she met Jesus. Matthew, who was chosen as an apostle, was a tax collector till he met Jesus. (and tax collectors were hated by the people, because they made money by taking more than was required for themselves)
When Jesus prayed for those He had taken out of the world, He knew that the pull of the former life would always be there trying to pull them back when they were discouraged, or facing heavy opposition. Like the Israelites when they left Egypt and whenever they ran into hardships, they started longing for what they had when they were back in bondage to the Egyptian masters. They saw the old ways and patterns as a comfortable place to land, but isn’t it interesting how they remembered the good and chose to ignore the bad which was why they left.
Jesus knew the danger of making new life decisions based on old world mind sets, like Peter when he denied the Lord 3 times….
Luke 6:13 “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and the world’s values.”
I like the account of a native tribe in New Guinea who transformed an old world mind set into a new life application… At one time, this tribe would have rituals, songs, and dances, where they worked themselves up into a frenzy which culminatedin what was called “the murder songs.” In this ritual, they shouted out the names of the people they wished to kill. When the natives became Christians, they retained these customs and that ritual, but with a big difference…. in the murder songs, they no longer shouted the names of the people they hated, but the names of the sins they hated, and called on God to destroy them. A pagan custom had been captured for the glory of God.
That’s called in the world but not of the world…
Just think... if every Christian leads one person to Christ this year, then 100 million believers will be added to the Christian community this year! But the tragedy is that every minute, people go out into eternity without Christ. Every minute, people are dying having never heard the Gospel.
If you almost made it, then you didn’t make it…. If you almost did it, then you didn’t do it…. If you almost got there, then you didn’t get there… If you were dropping a nuclear bomb, almost hitting the target would be fine…. Anything close would do… But when it comes to salvation, there will be many that came close, but will be lost without Christ. It was King Agrippa who told Paul, “You have almost persuaded me”…. So, Agrippa died with an almost, saved confession upon his lips ….
Here’s some people who wouldn’t accept almost…. Johnny Fulton was run over by a car at the age of three. He suffered crushed hips, broken ribs, a fractured skull, and compound fractures in his legs. It did not look as if he would live. But he would not give up. In fact, he later ran the half-mile, for the U.S. in less than two minutes, setting a U.S. record for that time….
Walt Davis was totally paralyzed by polio when he was nine years old, but he did not give up. He became the Olympic high jump champion in 1952.
Shelly Mann was paralyzed by polio when she was five years old, but she would not give up. She eventually claimed eight different swimming records for the U.S. and won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.
Lou Gehrig was such a clumsy ball player that the boys in his neighborhood would not let him play on their team. But he was committed. He did not give up. Eventually, his name was entered into baseball's Hall of Fame.
Speaking of almost, but not getting it…..
The preacher’s Sunday sermon was Forgive Your Enemies. Toward the end of the service, He asked his congregation, “how many of you realize that you need to forgive all your enemies”?Everyone raised their hands except Mrs. Jones. The preacher asked her, “Mrs. Jones? Aren’t you willing to forgive your enemies? “I don’t have any.” she replied, as she smiled sweetly.“Mrs. Jones, That is very unusual. How old are you?” “Ninety-eight,” she replied. “Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front of this congregation, before we dismiss, and tell us how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world.” The sweet little lady slowly walked down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said “I just outlived all of the old hags.” (I believe Mrs. Jones missed somethingin the message)
This entry was found in Missionary David Livingston’s diary… “Send me anywhere, if You just go with me. Lay any burden on me, if You’ll just sustain me. Sever me from any bondsbut the bonds that tie me to Your service and to Your heart”.
Jesus says we are in the world…. That’s ADAPTATION… we build relational bridges, we establish foundations, and we find common interests, but we are not of the world, because that’s about RESERVATION…. We have been reserved for another. Just as a wife or husband are no longer free range…. They are reserved for one another, they may be in a crowd with eligible wannabees, but they are not available…. I can mingle but I better not mate! I can scan but I better not smooch… I am reserved! That’s Adaptation with a Reservation!!! Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul, or what shall he give in exchange for his soul.”
What if, after many years of marriage, someone came up to their spouse and said, “Honey we’ve had a great 60 years together, and I have been 75% faithful to you”… that person would probably feel that 75% is not being faithful at all. What if we felt that way about our loyalty to Jesus Christ. Well, Lord, You know that you can count on me to be 75% faithful.. I’ll obey you 75% of the time”
That’s not Insulation and it’s not reservation.
Insulation and reservation are about boundaries in our lives…
The trouble we’re all in today, is because Adam and Eve ignored the boundaries God set for them in the garden.
Genesis 2:15 “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. v16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, v17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die, or (death would come into the world)”.
When Adam and Eve ignored the boundaries God had set, it opened the flood gates for every manner of sin and wickedness. The dam which held Satan and his demons back, broke open and it took over 3800 years till Jesus came to reinforce the boundaries and offer believers the opportunity to get it right…
Noah came along 1700 years after Adam and his family were the only ones to escape the flood and give the earth a second chance because Noah, set boundaries. It wasn’t just the arc, but boundaries that insulated Noah and his family and spared them from the flood.
Scripture says that we are sealed, (that’s another word for insolated)
Ephesians 1:13 tells us that having received Christ, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. That’s a consensual application by God’s will acting upon our will…. To protect, reserve and Identify us.
Joshua was used of God to lead the people into the promised land, and was chosen as leader in place of Moses… But have you understood why he was chosen. It was because he set boundaries in his life and in his family life. He was insulated but not isolated….
Joshua 24:14 “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve the LORD Jehovah. v15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”.
There is much controversy over the issue concerning our national borders. Many feel that protecting the border is not an important issue, others are chanting “Build that wall”… For me, the issue is not about keeping people out, it is about preserving and protecting America. Forces that want to destroy our country and our way of life, too easily cross our borders with evil intent… Our children and our loved ones deserve better than living at the mercy of those who would do us harm.
We don’t have to be isolated from the world, to be insulated at our borders. Moses was willing to save all who would come into the arc, and for 100 years he issued the invitation but folks wanted another way…
Whenever we ignore healthy boundaries in our personal life, we are inviting forces that don’t have our best interest, to invade us freely! Those forces are coming to kill, steal and destroy! And to keep us from living the best life that God wants us to enjoy.
“Let’s make this the best Christmas ever.” That’s what the sign said that was seen hanging in a store window as the Christmas season was approaching. (by the way, as of today, there are only 19 shopping days till Christmas)… Anyway, the message in the store window had that message. Underneath, a very insightful person had scribbled a legitimate question in large magic marker.
It said, “How will we ever do better than the first Christmas?”
Jesus chose to leave heaven and refuse to be isolated, even though He was insulated, so that He might be in the world but not of the world! Philippians 2:7 “But [He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross”.
If He had not made that choice, He would never have left heaven to come to this sinful world. Willing to experience all that affects us.
He would have never touched a leper or spoke with the woman at the well. He would never have ventured into Solomon’s Portico where the infirmed waited for the stirring of the water. He would never have raised Lazarus’ decaying body from the grave. Hewould never have hung between two thieves on Golgotha! Nor would He have ever visited you or me with the invitation to come back home where we were intended to be!
Our Lord Jesus did not live in isolation and He did not ignore the problems of the world, but He engaged the world with His Gospelof truth, mercy and grace. He came to challenge the status quo of sin and the degradation of mankind. He came to transformpeople from hopelessness and helplessness to new life and God centeredness in Him.
We have a savior, a redeemer, an advocate with the Father, and a resurrected Lord and King, because He was insulated but not isolated!
What does this all say to us…. In the words of Jesus “As theFather has sent Me, so send I you.. My plan is now your plan”….
When a generator produces electricity, the current is sent from the generator to the receiving object through an insulated wire. If the wire loses its insulation, the power is shorted out and lost, so that the intended object never receives the benefit. If the insulation is maintained, the power is effective and dynamic.
The word “power” in scripture is Dunamis… which refers to not only the source or Dynamo, but also the application of the power as it is released. Jesus Christ has given us spiritual power for ministry, but that power flows through us effectively and efficiently only as we are insulated from the world and its draining and grounding influences.
In the world but not of the world, insulated but not isolated, adaptation with reservation.. that the power of Christ may rest upon us and that we might allow His power to flow through us to a very, very needy world.
When D.L. Moody was visiting England he heard Henry Varley say, "the world has yet to see what God will do with a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to the Holy Spirit." Moody would later write, "He said 'a man." He did not say a 'great man' nor 'a learned man' nor a 'rich man' but simply 'a man.' I am a man, and from the moment I heard that, I have tried my utmost to be that man."
Fritz Kreisler, the famous violinist, testified to this point when he said, "Narrow is the road that leads to the life of a concert violinist. Hour after hour, day after day and week after week, for years, I lived with my violin. There were so many things that I would like to have done, that I chose to leave undone; there were so many places I would like to have gone, that I chose to miss if I was to master the violin. The road that I traveled was a narrow road and yes, it was hard, but to do all that and fail at the violin, and not be true to myself, would be much harder to bear." After one of his concerts, a woman rushed up to him in tears and said, "I would give my life to play as beautifully as you do." And Kreisler simply replied, "Young lady, that’s what I did."
I want to close with Matthew 7:16 where Jesus tells His disciples, “By their fruit you shall know them”…. Wow.
We all know the account of Jesus cursing the fig tree. He had gone to Jerusalem on Sunday for Passover. He had returned on Monday, when he entered on what is known as “The triumphant entry”… and on His way back to Bethany, He was hungry, saw a fig tree filled with leaves, but no figs. He cursed the fig tree, in Matthew 21:19, and on Tuesday they see the tree dead, and He goes into the city and cleanses the temple, turning over the money changers tables and driving them out with a whip.
Flash back to the fig tree….. Scripture says it was not the time for figs, and yet Jesus cursed the tree for not having figs. What we miss here is that Fig trees get figs before they get leaves.
So the tree missed it’s purpose by getting leaves without producing any fruit….
Again, hear Jesus…..”By their fruit (not their leaves) you shall know them. They had the leaves of a fig tree but not the fruit of a fig tree….
Jesus warned us that there would be those who had a form of Godliness but no power…
They had no insulation, so God’s power was shorting out in their lives, by being grounded out by the things of the world. They look the part, they even act the part, but why is there no fruit!!!
Oh God, may we bear fruit and not just leaves to lay before you…. May your power flow thru us in such a way that you will be honored and glorified. We desire to exalt you and lift you high, that the world may see and know, that you live in us and still save, heal, and deliver today!!!
All of us have been in the boneyard at some time, where we watched a dream die or something we loved and cherished come to an end. Hopes and expectations were shattered and we were reeling from the season of loss that we found ourselves in….
Ezekiel 37:1 “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. v2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. v3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” v4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”
We would all love to live in the mountain top experiences, in a cloud of glory, but the truth is, we all must come down into the valley. To be more accurate, we spend more time in the valley than we do on the mountain top.
A couple of the most well known valleys in scripture are in Psalms, where the psalmist tells us “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
The other valley is Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, where God is giving the people of Judah a look into the future. A look that says, no matter how hopeless it may seem, your future is full of hope, prosperity, victory and abundant life!
In these two valleys, God’s message is clear…. There is no condition, no situation or circumstance, where God’s power is limited or diminished by what we see or what we think…
In both of these valleys, there is a resounding message of resurrection and restoration.
We are never intended to just live on the mountain, because it is in the valleys that the work of God’s power is to be displayed in the daily izamsand schizims of life. It is in the valleys that we find the purpose for which we were made. The mountains bring us inspiration and charge our spiritual batteries, but the valleys build our character and present amazing opportunities for demonstrating God’s faithfulness.
While the mountains are usually bare and bleak when it comes to growing things, the valleys are where things flourish and abound.
We grow and flourish in the valleys. So then, I would submit that the spectacle of a valley filled with dry bones, and a valley called “the valley of the shadow of death” are really oxymorons or contradictions.
If things flourish and abound in the valleys, then God is telling us that whatever it may look like, (the shadow of death, or dry bones) it’s supposed to be flourishing. What I’m saying is that inspiration may come from the mountain tops, but the valleys were meant for abundance.
Your life may look like Ezekiel’s bone yard at times or like the shadow of death is hanging over everything…. But you need to stand and say “No, God does not intend for it to be this way, this valley was intended to be a flourishing place of abundance”.
RESTORATION AND ABUNDANCE, should be the norm, in the valley!
Ezekiel 37:7 “So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise , and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. v8 And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. v9 Then He said to me, "Prophesy breath (RO-USH spirit wind), prophesy, son of man, and say to the (RO-USH) breath, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.""'10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army”.
Impossibility was written all over this situation.
Though your faith is only the size of a mustard seed it can move and shake the mountains! One shall chase a thousand and two shall put 10,000 to flight… For, little is much when God is in it…. Despise not the day of small beginnings…. Little David said to Goliath, “You come against me with sword and shield, and this rock and sling aren’t much, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, and He shall deliver you into my hands!....
It was in the valley, that David slew Goliath, and God delivered the enemy host into His hands….
The world isn’t waiting for a new definition of the Gospel, but a new demonstration of the way God says it’s supposed to be in all the valleys of our existence. Hear it…in Psalm 23.. come on David…. “In the valley You restore my soul”!!!
“You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You have anointed my head with oil, My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the presence of the Lord forever”.
I love it when things get a little “noisy” at church services. But I don’t mistake commotion for consecration, rustlings for resurrection, volume for victory, shaking and trembling for restoration, or the rattling of bones for revival. It may be on it’s way, it may be coming because some things have to be shaken free first, but listen to the rest of Ezekiel’s story….
Ezekiel 37:7 “As Ezekiel prophesied over the bones, they began to rattle & stir. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise , and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. v8 And I looked, and behold, tendons and ligaments were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them”.
The church altars didn’t reach out into the family life, the job place, the grocery store, and the market place…. The message preached, never was carried past the front of the church, and the parking lot…. The tears shed, did not flow for souls to be saved and lives to be transformed….. It was all there, but there was no Spiritual life, breath, passion, power, overflow…. And no “go ye” to their gospel….
I believe this dry bone valley is declaring to us that God delights in takingbroken, poured out and used up things and demonstrating how He can take it, blesse it and restore and resurrect it so that it is better than before.
He took the little boys lunch and broke it, blessed it and multiplied it gave out a miracle…. He took the poured out oil of the former prostitute who anointed his feet, and allowed her to preach the first resurrection message on Easter morning, (He is Risen)….. He took the broken pride and Ego of Peter, who had cursed and denied him and then filled him at Pentecost and he preached, as 5000 men plus women came to Christ…. He took a group of fearful, terrified disciples in a locked room, breathed on them and sent them out to reach the world with the gospel….(and they did a pretty good job)
LORD DO IT AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN!!!
God gives us hope in the dry bone valley…… Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
If you study the great history of revivals, you will discover that in the beginning of every great revival, there were deep moves of repentanceand consecration.
It was so in the revival of George Whitfield in his day. It was so in the revival of the Wesleys in their day. It was so in the great Welsh revival as Evan Roberts preached throughout Wales…. It was so in the mighty revival which flowed out of California called the Azusa street revival…. The Cane Ridge revival in Kentucky, led by Barton Stone…. the Rodney Howard Brown revival from South Africa… and the modern day Pensacola revival with John Kilpatrick….. all were preceded sometimes by years of intercession and deep repentance…..
When you begin to see waves of repentance and folks drawn together in intercessory prayer across racial, denominational and cultural lines, then know that revival is upon us!
Ezekiel’s prophecy is 2 pronged. It was initially addressed to the nation of Israel in captivity but there is a broader meaning for all of us. Israel wasthe dry bones spread across the valley…. In every sense in the natural, the nation was dead, they were over, done with, KAPUT! It would be an impossibility for them to ever live again. National life was gone, their authority was stripped from them…. Oh, yes, there is one word that made all the difference….
They were covenant people. They had a covenant with God. Even though all hope was gone, and they were dead as a nation…. God saw them through a covenant agreement. They may have given up, but He never did or will!!!
Friend, when you can’t stand on anything else, STAND ON COVENANT…. When faith is gone and hope is zero, STAND ON COVENANT… When it all looks dead and over, YOU CAN STAND ON COVENANT…. God has a covenant with us for revival….
When Noah entered the ark, it was about covenant and that beautiful rainbow God put up in the sky was His covenant signature..
Genesis 9:9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you. “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations”.
When Abraham had no children, he had covenant (scripture says his body and Sarah’s body were dead) yet he dared to believe that he would be the “father of many nations” and his descendants would find a city whose builder and maker was God…. Genesis 17:7 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, I will be God to you and to your descendants after you. v11 Andyou shall be circumcised in the flesh, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you”.
If you saw someone having a conversation with a skeleton, you might think he’s on drugs, drunk, or needs some time at the funny farm…. But God tells us to preach and prophesy to SKELETONS….. Some of you talk to your spouse, your kids, your co-worker, to your finances, your health, or to your situation in life, and it’s like talking to a skeleton!
Ezekiel was prophesying to folks who WERE DEAD….. THAT’S D….E…..A…..D!!!!! DEAD, Pushing up daisies, expired, done, overwith!!!
Our Covenant mandate given us from God, is to Speak life into dead things. Speaking the God breathed word. What Ezekiel discovered is that … the word of God we speak and prophesy with, that we declare and decree with…
contains the very “RO-ASH” or breath of God… That breath can do what you could never do….
That spirit breath went into a blind man’s eyes, and he saw, in Mark 10:46….. That spirit breath went into a leper and he was cleansed, inMark 1:40….. It went into a man who had not walked for 38 years and he walked, in John 5:5…
God’s covenant will bring things together that could not connect, it will arrange things that were far beyond you, it will flesh out things where you gave up and left off….. It will start new things in a new direction and a new way! It will put flesh on your skeletons….
Revival will come when God’s people are willing to become surrendered channels and conduits of His glory!!!
When revival comes, Christians will get a new love and excitement for God’s Word. When revival comes God’s people will get a new spirit of prayer.
When revival comes, Christians will get a fresh passion for lost souls.
When revival comes, Christians will live in the joy of the Lord.
The word “revival” is not found in the Bible. The Hebrew word for “revive” is found some 235 times in the Bible. In the New Testament the word for “revive” is found only 5 times. The word “revive” is translated in Both the Old and The New Testaments to mean “to return to life or vitality”.
Let me amaze you with a truth that amazed me, about the great awakening in England….Charles and John Wesley along with George Whitfield were three Greek students at Oxford university who began to study the term, “born again.” They began preaching and sharing what “born again” meant. The churches did not want them.
George Whitefield went to Kingswood, a coal mining town. Coal miners, were mean spirited, hard men and bitter drunks who lived a hard life. No church was there so, Whitefield stood on a mound of coal and preached. 200 stopped and listened and when he finished, he didn’t know what to do next, so he just said he would be back on Wednesday.
On Wednesday 2,000 were waiting. He Preached again and again he didn’t know what to do next, so he said he would be back on Friday. On Friday 5,000 were waiting. He told them that Jesus loved them and that he had experienced this new birth and was saved. He told them if they would repent Jesus would save them. He said he would be back on Sunday and 10,000 were waiting to hear the rest of the story. There was absolute silence. Even the dogs were quite. Trees were filled with people. He began to preach and was startled when tears began to flow down their coal-blacked faces. They all received Christ, and this was considered the beginning of the Great Awakening revival in England, which then spread to America.
Charles Wesley went to Newgate Prison, where the same revival visitation took place among the prisoners there. John Wesley took a church and it started the Methodist movement, which was powered in those days by a Pentecostal experience…
What I think is so marvelous about this, is that these guys didn’t even know how to lead someone to Christ, but the Holy Spirit worked and moved through their simple obedience and passion, to touch tens of thousands for Christ, and usher in revival all over the nation of England.
God brought revival to Nineveh through a rebellious preacher who was angry at God for interrupting his plans and telling him to go to Nineveh. If most people in rebellion against God had been barfed up on the beach after being in the belly of a whale, they might have made the late night TV circuit with the “Whale of a tale” interviews….. or launched a reality show, or start a church called the “Whale Deliverance Center”… or maybe start a water theme park called “Jonah’s World” …. I mean, there were plenty of opportunities to get fame and fortune out of this…. But listen to what Jonah did….
Jonah 3:1-2 “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
OK, OK, I GET IT LORD, I NEED TO STOP RUNNING AND JUST OBEY! But here’s the kicker, Jonah preached and then sat down and expected no results, and no response. As a matter of fact, he got angry because these wicked people were visited by God…. Revival hit Nineveh and EVERYONE GOT SAVED, FROM THE KING ON DOWN!!!!
HEY, GOD WANTS TO SEND REVIVAL, MORE THAN WE WANT REVIVAL….. WOW!
The porch light is always on in the Father’s house. He is always ready to welcome the prodigal son home.
Look at some things that we and Jonah learned through all of this….
1.God doesn’t negotiate… He could have used anyone, but He chose Jonah….
2.God wasn’t just reaching Nineveh, he used Nineveh to reach Jonah…
3.God didn’t need Jonah nearly as much as Jonah needed God.’
4.Little is much when God is in it.
5.God never quits when it comes to revival and changed lives…
6.God wants to save entire cities still today….
Now, listen, You’ve got to hear the entire message which Jonah preached!! … It must have been powerful, eloquent, compelling and brilliant…..RIGHT??
OK, here it is…
Jonah 3:4 “Forty more days and Nineveh will be DESTROYED” ……EIGHT WORDS!!…. No pleading, no being careful not to offend anyone, No emphasis on love, grace, mercy….. JUST “FORTY MORE DAYS AND NINEVEH WILL BE DESTROYED”….
And in spite of the fact that no one knew this man, he had a strange accent, and he had the strong smell of fish, 600,000 people, repented and turned away from their idols and wickedness and turned to God! (He said what God said)
Here’s what God wants us to know out of this, HE CAN USE ANY ONE OF US TO INAUGERATE A SOUL SEARCHING, SPIRIT BIRTHED, LIFE TRANSFORMING REVIVAL….. (CAN YOU SPEAK 8 WORDS?) YOU’RE HIRED!
I heard of this one young man who got a burden to see folks saved, so he just went out and started knocking on doors. The problem was that he stuttered very badly. So it went like…. HHHiiiiii, iiiiimmm, JJJJohnnyy. JJJeesssuuuss lllllovvvess yyyoooouu. wwwwoulldd yyyoooouu llllliiiiikketttooo rrrreccceiiivve hhhhhimm aaaaas yyyyyyourrrrr Sssaavviorrrr?
The pastor started seeing all these new people in church, and started asking how they happened to come. They told him that Johnny came to their door and asked them if they wanted to be saved, and they quickly accepted before he had a chance to say much more, and he gave them the church card and they promised to come if he would just finish his presentation. Can anyone here dddddooooo at lllleassttt as good as Johnny?!!!!!
Anyway, the king of Nineveh upon hearing this eight word sermon, sent out a proclamation throughout the city, which went to every person in Nineveh….listen to what the proclamation said….
“Let us seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near, let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon”. (This is a heathen king and yet his words are inspired of God)
Remember that Nineveh is one of the major cities of it’s day and the capital of the Syrian empire….
This account would be equivalent to, let’s say . . .Everyone in Tokyo believing in God. Everyone in Singapore repenting. Everyone in San Francisco becoming a Christian. Or maybe we should say it this way:
Cleveland turning to the Lord. Boston getting right with God. The whole city of Miami getting saved and becoming a center for the gospel!
It’s phenomenal, unbelievable, incredible…..And yet it happened.
Look at what Luke says about this, in Luke 11:32 “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here”.
Many that God has used have come and gone and their voices are silent. And now, God is asking us, you and me…. Will you go, will you speak, will you tell them.
Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then said I, “Here am I. Lord, Send me!”
Do we still truly believe that God can reach the unreachable?
Do we still truly believe that God can do the impossible?
Do we look around us and see how bad things are and say, “It’s hopeless"?
Or do we say, “God still loves Nineveh”!
Jesus still touches the untouchable.
Jesus still reaches the unreachable.
An agnostic college professor visited the FiJi Islands and he remarked to the elderly chief who had become a Christian, "You're a great leader chief, but it's a pity you've been taken in by these foreign missionaries. They only want to use you as a statistic for their annual reports. No one believes the Bible anymore. People are tired of the fictitious story of Jesus Christ dying on a cross for the sins of mankind, we all know better now. I'm sorry you've been so foolish as to accept their story." The old chief's eyes flashed as he said "see that great rock over there? In that very place we once smashed the heads of our victims. Notice the furnace next to it? In that oven we once roasted the bodies of our enemies. If it hadn't been for those good missionaries and the love of Jesus that changed us from cannibals into Christians, you'd be our supper by now! You'd better thank the Lord for the Gospel; otherwise we'd already be feasting on you”. But revival came to a nation of head hunters and cannibals!!!
When all else fails, folks will know that God never fails…. And God knows that there are many who have tried everything and everything has failed to solve the problem, and has not given them the peace they long for…
I think of a school not long ago which posted a little sign outside a principal's office that read "In the event of a terrorist attack, a fire, or earthquake, the ban on prayer is temporarily lifted!"
THAT’S A CRY FOR REVIVAL, NO MATTER HOW WEAK IT MAY SOUND!!!!
When true revival shows up, the words of John the Baptist will be it’swatch words….John 3:30 “He must increase and I must decrease”.
When the wells of prayer and intercession are dug, the living river will flow, and the water will spring up in the most unlikely places…. And in amazing ways.
There have been great and transforming revivals but the world is about to have the greatest revival ever known, because all the mantles of previous revivals are about to fall on this generation, and it will usher in the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. We’re not going out with a whimper, we’re leaving here in the mighty roar of revival!
There are leaders that don’t even know it yet. There are workers of signs and wonders and miracles that don’t know it yet. There are prophetic voices that will shake the heavens and the earth, and they haven’t even been saved yet !!!
We have God’s covenant about this in Joel 2:28 “In the last days, It will come to pass, that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind (this is a global outpouring) And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. v29 “Even on the lowest and poorest, I will pour out My Spirit in those days”.
The master of ceremonies at the wedding feast where Jesus turned the water into wine, said "You have saved the best wine until last!" The greatest healings and miraculous acts of God are yet to come, in greater and greater measure. Multitudes of young and old will be summoned forth by the Spirit to demonstrate God’s power through signs and wonders and miracles. Heaven will be open and under this open heaven, a move of God like never seen before will transform millions who will also be sent forth.
And the Presence of the Holy Spirit will be seen in our midst at a level we have never experienced.
We don’t want to watch it happen we want to be part of what happens… We don’t want to dangle our feet in the river, we want to plunge in and swim in it’s current!
POUR IT OUT, LORD, POUR IT OUT!
DO IT AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN!!
Song…. (There is a river)…. “There is a river, that flows from deep within,
There is a fountain, that frees the soul from sin, Come to this water, there is a vast supply. There is a river, that never shall run dry…
God wants us to know Him and He wants us to tear down anything that keeps us & others from knowing Him in the way He wants us to. He knows that old patterns of thinking & behavior will keep us at a distance so we don’t enter in to all that He has promised was ours in Christ.
That’s what a strong hold is… It has a strong hold on some area of our lives, so that we are prevented from walking in obedience to what God is asking of us. As a result, we don’t experience the full measure of freedom which belongs to us.
An older, tired-looking dog wandered into a man’s yard. He could tell from the collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.
The dog calmly came over to him, got a few pats on his head, then followed him into the house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep. Two hours later, he went to the door, and was let out.
The next day he was back, greeted the man in his yard, walked inside and went to his spot in the hall and again slept for a couple of hours. This continued off and on for several weeks.
Curious about this dog’s strange behavior, he pinned a note to his collar, stating that he would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if they are aware that almost every afternoon their dog comes to his house for a nap.
The next day the dog arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: it said…
'He lives in a home with non stop noise and yelling, 6 children, and 2 under the age of 3 - he's just trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow? Strongholds will keep you from resting in the finished work that Christ has accomplished.
Hebrews 4:1 “Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it (fail to enter in). 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not follow through in faith like those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said”…..
When the Hebrew children left Egypt and were finally ready to enter the promised land, there was a stronghold which blocked their way. They had to go through 40 unnecessary years of wandering because of their unbelief, but finally there they are, and all they went through has now brought them to the place where they were ready to receive. But now, Jericho blocked their way of entering in. It was huge, well fortified, and impenetrable…
Let me suggest that Jericho was a symbol of what they had built through the 40 year pattern of rebellion and disobedience to God. Now they had to confront what their resistance had built. And it blocked their way, now they finally realized that God had beenright all along….God said, ‘This stronghold must come down”….
2 Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every imagination that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.
I find it interesting that Paul in this passage isn’t talking to those outside the church, but he is speaking to the believers who are in the church, but are struggling in their Christian walk….
The word “stronghold” here in the Greek, is (achurooma), it is a strong, fortified place. History is filled with accounts of invading armies conquering a foreign territory, and when they did, their top priority was to remove the strongholds of power. To fail to do this, would cancel out any real victory in theland. The problem came when an invader did not occupy every district in the land by setting up rulers in the occupied area, and as soon as the army moved through, the enemy in the stronghold could come back and reoccupy the conquered territory.
The Jewish people are celebrating Rosh Hashanah today as the day when God created Adam and Eve. It’s the Jewish New Year..Since the Jewish calendar is lunar, so it’s from sunset to sunset and the shofar is sounded at each sunset. So today I want to declare sunset on Strongholds, and Sonrise on freedom and new beginnings….
Strongholds do what strongholds do ……Whenever we resist the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, which is letting us know what God would have us to do, no matter how much it goes against our desires and wishes, we are building a stronghold, and it’s hold on us will grow stronger and stronger, the further we go in disobedience. The building material for strongholds is disobedience.
Strongholds will take you where you never planned to go. Cost you more than you ever thought you’d pay. Keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and make sure you can never get back to where you started from….
Strongholds will keep you from reading your bible, they will keep you from prayer, they will keep you from using your gifts and talents in the ministry, they will keep you from witnessing and letting your light shine out to others.
Strongholds will keep you thinking in a way that will cause you to go contrary to God, and it will cause you to shut your eyes and ears so you don’t have to deal with it….
Strongholds will keep churches from being effective, and generations will be lost… It will keep individuals from being effective and co-workers, neighbors and family members will face God, and hear Him say “depart from me, I never knew you”…
When the blind lead the blind they will both fall into the ditch together….
Strongholds will cause you to do the things you know deep down you shouldn’t and not do the things deep down that you know you should…
When people who once came to church, stop attending, there’s a stronghold they’ve built which makes it harder and harder to start attending again….
When folks who once contributed to the church, stop contributing, a stronghold is built that makes it harder and harder to start contributing again….
Strongholds are built in the thought life…. The place of our imaginations, our fears, our doubtings, our places of resistance and rebellion, our logic, our perceptions and reasoning….
Strongholds can be good things that keep us from the best things and cloud the truth so we don’t have to deal with it.
Did you know that everything you see starts upside down and then your brain has to adjust it and put it right side up. Let me say that again… What you see starts upside down and then your brain has to adjust it and put it right side up… Strongholds prevent your ability to turn things you see right side up….so you are prevented from seeing it as God sees it….THE RIGHT WAY!!!
Galatians 5:24 “And they that are Christ's have crucified(dismantled) the flesh (the old life patterns) with the affections and lusts that are a part of it”.
There was a time when the South was a stronghold for slaveryand that stronghold was not broken easily. They quoted scripture to justify it and Southern Christians just accepted it as a way of life. It was just the way things were, don’t mess with it! In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was proclaimed in America. The word spread from Capitol Hill down into the valleys of Virginia, and the Carolina's, and evens into the plantations of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. The headlines read, ’Slavery Legally Abolished!’
However, the greater majority of slaves, in the South, went right on living as though there had been no emancipation. They went on living like they had never been set free. In fact, when one Alabama slave was asked what he thought of the Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, whose proclamation had gone into effect, he replied "I don’t know nothing about Abraham Lincoln except they say he set us free. And, I don’t know nothing about that neither."
The Civil war was fought and 620,000 died fighting that war. A document was signed which stated that slaves were legally set free. Yet most continued to live out their years without knowing anything about it. They remained as slaves, though they were legally free. Even though they were emancipated, they kept serving the same master throughout their lives.
Many today, have received Christ, they have accepted the great emancipator and savior, they have been set free, yet they have chosen to remain slaves to many of the same strongholds all of their lives.
The apostle Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Corinthians 10:23 ”All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify”.
Society and local customs and culture may have no problem with things that are in conflict with biblical Christianity. And we begin to believe we are in great spiritual shape, without the mirror of God’s word to look into each day.
Strongholds can be like people who are caught in a revolving door, fighting the same battles over and over. They never move beyond a certain point, because they keep getting off where they got in…..This happens because, the enemy is still occupying a part of their life, and unless these strongholds are pulled down, the battle will continue to rage and be the open door to let the destroyer come and go as he wants.
Until we stop making excuses, we will never move beyond these life controlling patterns.
Strongholds will keep you so busy fighting alligators, you never drain the swamp!!
Strongholds are built on deception and intimidation…. When you avoid the truth, you end up embracing a lie and then you have to justify the lie, so you convince yourself that what you’re doing is OK, and the justification becomes, “That’s just who I am”…
But the real issue is, what and who does God say you are? A stronghold is sure proof that we have not seen ourselves as God wants us to see ourselves….
A lost dog strayed into the jungle. A lion sees him and says to himself "this guy looks edible, and I’m hungry, but I’ve never seen his kind before".
So the lion starts toward the dog with lunch on his mind. The dog starts to panic but as he's about to run he sees some bones and gets an idea and he says loudly "mmm...that was some good lion meat, but I could sure eat some more!".
The lion abruptly stops and says " woah! I guess this guy is tougher then he looks, I better leave while I can". A monkey has witnessed everything, and realizes he can benefit from this situation he figures by telling the lion about the deception he canget something for himself in return. So the monkey reveals what really happened and the lion is very angry that he let himself be deceived. "Get on my back, and we'll get him together" he says.
So they go rushing back to the dog. The dog sees them and realizes what has happened and starts to panic. But he gets anidea and shouts "where did that lying monkey go! I told him to bring me another lion an hour ago..."
Watch out for lying strongholds!
Our strongholds are not the final authority on anything!!!! They make things seem impossible, that can easily be changed if we didn’t have the wrong perspective….
If Jesus already won the battle, why are we still struggling?!
When you see what God sees, strongholds will no longer have the last word!
1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! Who giveth (continually gives) us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
We must approach our strongholds from the position of victory!
When the people faced the fortified city of Jericho, and they sawhow high and thick the walls were, and heard the roar of the army within, but it didn’t drown out the voice of God speaking to them…. They could still hear what God was telling them…. The tense of the verb is important:
Joshua 6:2 “I have given Jericho into your hand.” Then Joshua passed it on to the leaders and they passed it on to the people… I can imagine it echoing through the ranks, until every person got it loud and clear….
(walk around the people and speak it… “I have given Jericho into your hand”)
So God is saying the victory has already been won! All they had to do was claim it and go ahead and take it!
Jesus told his disciples, “I have overcome the world”…. Past tense….
God is telling each of us the same thing….. “I have given youvictory over this stronghold”….. It has controlled you long enough, now it’s time for you to be in control…. Claim it and take it, it’s yours!!!!
I think the words of Edgardo Silvoso allow us to see another aspect of strongholds….. He states: "A spiritual stronghold is a mind-set impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable, those situations that we know are contrary to the will of God”. Something happens or maybe a series of events happens, and you begin to believe a lie through those events, a lie that becomes your reality. Think of the ramifications of this…..Let me give you some examples….
.(How about) “My spouse is hopeless. They'll never be saved”. (That’s a stronghold mind-set) You see, 2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not forgetful in keeping His promise, as some may think. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance”.
(How about) “I'm just a weak person. I'll never be free fromfleshly lust”. (That’s a stronghold mind-set)
Doesn’t Galatians 5:16 say, “Walk by the Spirit, (make the word of God, your rule of behavior), and you will not act out the desires of the flesh”.
(Here’s another one) “I’ll never be financially independent! I'll always have to struggle to make ends meet”. (That’s a stronghold talking)
You see, 3 John 2 says “I pray that you may prosper and enjoy good health even as your soul is prospering”.
(One more) “I'm getting older. Feebleness and disease is now inevitable”. (That’s a stronghold mind-set)
The bible says.. Psalm 103:2 “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. v3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, v4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, v5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”.(Does that make sense?)
Since God's Word is inspired truth, patterns of thought that are contrary to the word, are then a deceptive mind set and a stronghold….
You can see clearly that a stronghold is double mindedness…. And Jesus said that a double minded person would receive nothing from the Lord.
The apostle Paul tells us that strongholds are constructed of arguments (with God), perspectives that are in error, imaginations which have no value, and thoughts that are contrary to the knowledge of God.
The Greek word for these arguments with God and within yourself here is “logismos” which is contradictory reasoning. The Greek word for “Out of whack” perspectives is “hupsoma”,or exalting our view over God’s view. The Greek word for imaginations, is “noema” or unsubstantiated reasoning with no substance…
Surrender is the key to successful Christian living, and victorious living. As we can see, all the ingredients that make a stronghold are contrary to a Surrendered life.
Two Pastors wives were visiting one another while they sewedtheir husband’s pants. The first woman said: My husband is just beside himself, he does not know what to do anymore and he is so tired and depressed, the people don’t care and he said he is ready to just give up and resign. The second woman said: I am sorry to hear that because my husband has never been happier. Our membership is growing and we are out of our financial burden, we have such a loving congregation. Life could not be any better than it is right now. Oh yes, Did I say they were mending their husbands pants….That should tell you a lot, you see, the seat of the pants the first woman was mending were worn out, the knees of the pants the second woman was mending were worn out”.Come on, there’s a big difference between the seat and the knees!!!
One of the trademarks of those believers with strongholds is that they are strongly committed but their commitment means they are in control of what we are committed to. But surrender is different, Surrender means that we are no longer in control of the area of surrender!!
A person can be committed to carry the cross around Key West as a witness, and yet not be surrendered to the principles of the cross. In each area of our lives where we surrender to God’s spirit, we begin to break the power of strongholds in our lives.
2 Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations [reasonings], and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, we bring into captivity (surrender) every thought to the obedience of Christ”
Jesus has always defeated Satan with truth, and He gives us that very same power, not only to speak it but to stand in it, and every time Jesus said “It is written”, Satan could do nothing but back down and shut his big accusing mouth….Light dispels darkness and Satan is the prince of darkness. The life of Jesus conquerors death, and Satan is the destroyer. God’s righteousness defeats the wicked one. Satan the author of sickness, affliction and disease is no match for Jesus the healer and deliverer…
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.
All that we have looked at before is vitally important, but there is an important word which needs to be inserted here, and it is “Persistence”…. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase that “The greatest oak was a little nut that held it’s ground”….
The staying power of Persistence will allow you to walk in victory after the initial sense of euphoria, celebration and relief has long passed.
Truth will get you to victory and persistence will keep you in victory!
That applies to the stongholds of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, anger issues, revenge, and covetousness, fear and depression.
For example, anger, depression and fear, like many of the others, can be sleeper strongholds, that jump up and take you by surprise. It leaves you wondering, “where did that come from”? We may call it “road rage”, “temporary insanity”, or “child and spouse abuse”, but it was a sleeper stronghold that was never dealt with….
We’ve had great friends we enjoyed being with, and suddenly something happened and we wondered, “who is this person” They had a side we never knew about…. A sleeper stronghold….
They end up in court facing charges, in prison serving time, or with their reputation ruined….
The suicide crises which plagues our country is another case in point. Folks constantly say, but they looked so great yesterday, and I would have never suspected this.
They may have surrendered, and addressed their issues, but they didn’t persist into victory!
A man asked a friend to help him in making some renovations on a home. He needed to demolish a cement wall in order to enlarge a room. The contractor he hired for the job came with a sledge hammer and with the sledge hammer, he began striking the wall with blow after blow. To a casual bystander, it appeared he was wasting his time. Ten, twenty, thirty blows, and just a few cracks. But, on the thirty fith blow, the whole wall was covered with cracks. At that point he proceeded to totally dismantle the wall, one blow at a time.
We all have run into stubborn strongholds that defy change -- worry, fear, anxiety, losing our motivation, lack, poverty, stubbornness and rebellion, disease, and so many others…..
We hear of someone else’s wall coming down and we are encouraged and we hit it again…. And we hear of another wall crumbling and we’re encouraged to hit it again… Someone else begins to praise God for their break through and we hit it again, and WALLA WALLA BING BANG….IT BEGINS TO FALL!!!
If Satan can keep you in the regions of the carnal mind, he’ll defeat you in every battle. But if you keep Satan in the regions ofGod’s truth in faith, you’ll defeat him in every battle!
Is anyone here excited about 2 Corinthians 10:4, “The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to the pulling down of every strongholds”.
How about if we say it this way in a declaration of prayer……Let’s declare it together….
“I cast down imaginations and reasonings. I bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. If the thought doesn’t line up with the Word of God, I reject it. Now I believe andmeditate on what God’s Word says. Lord Jesus, I surrender my life into Your hands. I ask that You would place me into Your perfect will and plan. Lord, lead and guide me in the direction that You would have me to go.
I apply the finished work of the cross as I receive Your freedom from strongholds and limiting beliefs that would hinder myrelationship and walk with You. I have been set free, that I may stand firm, and no longer be burdened down with anything that is not your truth and Your will. Deliver me from any distortedthinking , sickness, debt, sadness, hunger, pain, fear, oppression, conflict, and unbelief, for I proclaim Your rule and reign over mylife today.
I declare that You have come that I may have life, and have it abundantly. Equip and use me, as an agent of deliverance, and ambassador of Your love. Thank You for a new thing that isspringing up, as you make a way where there is no way. Allow me to walk in the grace, love and truth that gives purpose to my life.Give me the courage to be brave and steadfast and yet kind and compassionate that I may see the impossible made possible. In Jesus name, Amen.