Knowing When The Enemy Is Working!

Knowing When The Enemy Is Working!

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:11-13, 18 NIV

There are some passages of scripture that are relevant and worth repeating for any number of themes or expressions of caution. Paul’s admonition to the church of Ephesus is certainly true today.

We live in a society in which a lot of people talk about God, without knowing Him and without being in a relationship with Him. But then that’s true of people when it comes to celebrity worship. People talk about celebrities, go into swoons over them, celebrate them no matter what they do, and then mourn them as if they were close relatives. The truth is–they never met them, the celebrities didn’t know them, but they talked about them as if they did. Some even emulate them in their manner of behavior and dress. 

The sad part about people talking about God is that they actually think (most of them) that they know God, but refuse to live by His Word. They don’t exhibit the same type of worship for Him as they would a celebrity and they certainly don’t emulate Him and adopt His ways.

The reality is–they have been fooled, duped, manipulated by the enemy into thinking that just talking about God is good enough. We see that in political candidates, in Supreme Court Justices, and all manner of people in authority–and these are the people the enemy seeks to deceive. After all, his job is to kill, steal, destroy, deceive and lie.

The enemy has convinced people that it’s okay for same-sex couples to enjoy marital relationships that God has said was intended for a man and a woman. The enemy has convinced people that it’s okay to change their biological genders to pacify flesh. The enemy has convinced people that it’s okay for a man–pretending to be a woman–to use the same bathroom in which children and women can become their prey. The enemy has convinced people that God didn’t know and still doesn’t know what He’s doing and therefore, it’s okay to change–whatever a person wants to change about themselves–and then expect others to celebrate them for defying God.

And the people that the enemy has convinced–proclaim to know God and they sit in the pews of churches on a regular basis. They sing about God, they dance to the songs about God, they pray to a god (not sure it’s the God of heaven), they read God’s Word and talk about it, but they refuse to live it.

But this in itself should not surprise us since we know that The Word says, that at the end, some of very elect (chosen by God) would be deceived and see it now. For those of us who know God and have a right relationship with Him, it’s time to stand up, speak up, and maintain our stance in promoting living The Word before all mankind.

If we do as God as told us to do, “Preach The Word, whether it’s convenient or not,” and that means whether people receive it or not. It is not our job to make them receive anything, but we must tell them what God says and warn them about the enemy who so easily deceives. It’s time to shut the enemy down by standing on God’s Word, fully armored up with God’s Truth!

Church Goers!

Why are we really going to church? Is it because we have nothing better to do or is it a social event? Do we think our attendance will reserve our place in heaven or is it just a status thing?

If we’re going to a building, just because it’s Sunday or to Mid-week services, and we’re simply going because it’s the thing to do, we’re wasting our time and taking up space better used for another purpose.

The body of believers of Jesus Christ—all of us—comprises The Church. For many, we assemble in one location to fellowship with other believers and to encourage one another to stay in the faith.

If we think that we have to go to church to worship God—we really don’t know Him.
If we think that we have to go to church to hear The Word—we really don’t know Him.
If we think that we have to go to church to praise Him—we really don’t know Him.

And at about this point—some might comment—Paul tells us “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together” and he does. But does he say when, or what time? Does he tell us which building to go to when we assemble ourselves together? No, he doesn’t and it doesn’t really matter which building we enter.

What matters the most is this—having a relationship with God, knowing and understanding His purposes for our lives, knowing and understanding His Word so we can increase our faith, every time we hear it. Knowing and understanding His Word is not just for the preachers or the deacons but for every born-again believer—who dares to get to know Him and stay in fellowship with Him.

I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who are involved in “church work” but have no relationship with God. They think only the pastors or church leaders need to know The Word and sit in service after service, getting nothing out of the event other than a time to meet up with folks and to brag about much they do in and for the church. This attitude then—is the result of religious affiliation, rather than being in relationship with God. Of course, before we can claim to have a relationship with God, we must understand and accept the work on the cross, by which we are made joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. And Jesus has said, “No man gets to the Father, but by Him.” He did not say “mother” or “it.” He was clear about God being our Father, but we cannot make this claim until we know Him.

How can we acknowledge someone having a love relationship with us, if we don’t know them? This love relationship is two-fold—God loving us and us loving Him. He said in His Word, that “if we love Him, we’ll keep His commandments.”Now, how can we say we love Him when we do not know what He has said or why he said it? David said it best, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You!”

I defy anyone who has ever read His Word–with understanding–to claim they can support anyone living in opposition to God’s Word or that they have a relationship with God, but refuse to believe His Word!  And for those who want to debate the issue—do this first—read the Gospel of John and Romans—in their entirety, asking God while reading to reveal Himself. Then and only then can a rational discussion be held about being in relationship with God.

If our heart is open to hearing Him when He speaks, we won’t just go to church to be going, but we’ll be anxious to hear more of what has been spoken to the messenger in the building, and not just because he or she is there. Relationship with God, means we hear Him when He speaks and we know when others are not saying what He says.

So, we can go to our buildings whenever we go, but we need to allow Holy Spirit to establish us as part of—The Church—the Body of Believers who need no building before we go. And remember this—our service to God is not in going to the building, but in living the life we proclaim to have with Him and in serving one another as He leads us to do it.

Can I get an Amen? How about an “ouch?

Once Truth is spoken, whether we believe it or not, accept it or not, God knows all and we will be held accountable for responding to Truth or not as He determines.

Teaching With Authority (Part 3)

FOR THIS REASON—no one should be allowed to teach anything to unsuspecting people when they have not been qualified and proved they know what they’re talking about. It is not a sin to get education to teach God’s Word; it is not sin to study The Word with other books in-hand. It’s not sin to ask for help when one doesn’t understand—how to make distinctions in the eras and what was said, to whom and why. It is not a sin to question—this is how we learn! Of course, when we ask of God, He gives us direction, instructions, and corrects through Holy Spirit when we are willing to hear and receive.

Okay, the bottom line is this—Jesus taught with real authority because He knew exactly what He was talking about because He was acting with the authority of God! Imagine that! God gives us authority through Holy Spirit and we, too—can teach with real authority—the ability to simplify with practical analogies so everyone can understand.

So, here’s the question—especially for those in leadership positions teaching—are people amazed with your teaching with authority? If you’re just memorizing scripture to throw in at appropriate places—you have no authority. If you’re just mimicking what others have done—you have no authority. If you’re just preaching from someone else’s book or articles, you have no authority. If you have no authority and people recognize it—they are not going to be amazed with your teaching. If you have no real authority backing up everything you say, you’re not even amazed at your teaching—it’s just something you do to take up time.

If you really want to amaze people and please God at the same time—allow Holy Spirit to provide you with the authority you need in teaching The Word—giving God the glory, and not you or other people. God is not a respecter of persons and if we are truly His children, what He did for one, He’ll do for the rest of us—empower us to teach with real authority.

Teaching With Authority (Part 2)

In God’s Church—led by those who actually seek God for a Word to give to the people and His direction—Holy Spirit leads the service—in praise and worship, shepherding of the sheep, and especially in The Word—they teach God’s Word with authority—keeping everything aligned with The Word. They encourage the congregation, they teach by living The Word, and they are willing to undergo the scrutiny of microscopic inspection and know they live to please God. In God’s church—everyone, from every walk of life is welcomed and encouraged to develop a right relationship with God. In God’s Church, He can make a little—much—and everyone is encouraged to give as the Lord as put on their hearts to give. Every offering is considered a blessing and the biggest giver to the least—are treated equally—encompassed with the love of God.

This could go on and on, but I do not wish to digress from the premise of teaching with authority. No one can teach anyone anything with authority unless they actually know what they are talking about—not just heard about.

This is why, Paul admonishes us through his letter to Timothy to study to show ourselves approved and then seek Holy Spirit in how to use practical analogies to simplify the lesson. This is what the Pharisees could not do because they were so “religious” they had only memorized the law and did not have a clue as to how to present it to people to apply to lives. They were too busy trying to keep people adhering to the letter of The Law, rather than the spirit of the law. They thought it more expedient to hold people in bondage than allowing them the freedom to seek God for themselves. It was their determination to “maintain control” over the people that led to oppose everything Jesus did—from not honoring their rituals of washing hands before eating (which is a pretty good habit) to healing on the Sabbath (a specific day of the week). When Jesus taught them that He was The Lord of the Sabbath, they were incensed—angered at this newcomer—the carpenter’s son—who dared to defy them openly.

The same attitude prevails in many churches today. The congregation is never allowed to question the leadership openly—they just go along to get along. And when people have had the courage to question the leadership openly, they were rebuked and embarrassed and they eventually left wounded. But this is not one of God’s churches; this is one of the leader’s churches. The leader’s churches are always in the hands of a family member—the church is a business of nepotism—instead of God-led inspiration and direction.

 

(Part 3 –tomorrow)

Special Consideration!

To have respect of persons is not good: for a piece of bread that man will transgress” (Proverbs 28:21).

Just when I thought I had just about heard it all, I discovered that I had not.  When the media is bored and there is nothing else to report, why must they deliberately set out to ruin a person’s reputation?

My reference is to the story which has garnered much discussion both on a local and national level regarding Pastor Marvin Winans http://www.christianpost.com/news/is-famed-pastor-marvin-winans-wrong-for-refusing-to-bless-womans-baby-before-congregation-because-she-is-not-married-106950/ .  The story about the woman in question has been appeared on Huffington Post, Fox News, Washington Post, and other venues.  Why? After reading the aforementioned story, I can only say that there has to be more to this story than is being told.

Churches, like any other entity, have a right, no—an obligation to establish certain policies of procedure and they should be enforced. No one should receive special treatment or expect the policies to be ignored. Since the church’s policy (not Winan’s specific policy) was explained and an option offered, I fail to understand the uproar.

I’ve had this conversation with a few people and some of them disagree, but that notwithstanding, I do not understand why people think a “policy” should be ignored, whether fair or not.  Is it a “just” policy intended for everyone, across the board or are exceptions being made?

If this mother did not like the church’s policy, it would have been so simple to go to another, without all the whoopla! Since church attendance anywhere is a volunteer event, with no strings attached—just leave.  Find a place that will accommodate your lifestyle and leave others out of the drama. The real question is—why make a big deal of this unless she wanted to be given “special consideration”? What makes her think she deserved special consideration? And since she claims, she simply wanted the child to be dedicated to God, why not accept the private dedication service offered? For Christians, those who profess to be true believers, to support this kind of behavior (respecting persons), is a mockery of God’s Word.

Saved, But Not Yet Delivered! (excerpt)

What happens to people who succumb to the influence of the evil one after belief and confession?  This common occurrence is known as backsliding.  For the most part, we acknowledge backsliding as a common occurrence, but backsliding should not be promoted as a way of life.  The backslider is one who after having confessed Christ, repeatedly submits to the influence of past temptations.  They become backsliders because they have yet to submit their desires to God and become delivered from their ungodly ways.

Picture this:  Children on a giant slide love to climb up the slide and usually keep sliding backwards; making getting to the top difficult, if not impossible for some.  God states, in Jeremiah 3:14, that He is married to the backslider.  Since God established the institution of marriage, surely He can determine how he feels about the backslider and the consequences.  There are indeed consequences to being a backslider.  The backslider who comes to himself and repents of his sins  retains his position with God just as a couple reconciles their relationship when problems arise.

The fate of the backslider who never repents falls into the hands of an angry God.  The bible tells us that this person can expect an even greater terror than the one who never confessed any knowledge of Christ.  On the other hand, we are told in I John 1:9, 10  “that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If God forgives us, should we care about the forgiveness of others? Who is it that we should be concerned about as it pertains to our status with God?   It is without a doubt, the most fruitless exercise in the world to try to please people.  Therefore, our only concern should be in pleasing God. According to God’s Word, we, who choose to care about what God thinks, are wise because He is the only one from whom we are seeking acceptance.

Unfortunately, many people attempt to seek acceptance from entities—church folks and institutions—who could care less about a person as an individual.  Although there are some churches and other individuals who genuinely care about people, they are too few in number to make a real difference.  Consider the following:

A young lady, who did not begin her life’s journey with any understanding of the Word or God’s way of doing things, falls short of the mark, in a number of ways.  However, once she has been shown the light and comes to a place in her life where she has now established a right relationship with God, should she not be accepted into the fold as though she has never sinned? [This example uses a young lady because females are often scrutinized more often and judged more harshly for their past sins than males.]

If we truly believe the Word, then we have to acknowledge the fact that once God forgives us, He tosses our sins into the sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:18, 19).  Since our sins are cast into the sea, who has a right to go fishing for them, in an attempt to bring them to the surface? We must forever be on guard against the wiles of the enemy.  We cannot allow him or his minions to superimpose their views into our lives.  Therefore, whenever anyone attempts to bring our past to the surface, we must remind them—tactfully, if possible—that our past shortcomings have been confessed and forgiven.  They do not have a right to fish in God’s sea.

 

This is an excerpt from:  Saved, But Not Yet Delivered! available on amazon.com

Who Has Bewitched You? (Part 3)

Yet speaking to preachers, getting to the heart of the matter!

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV).

            People have a chance to get things right with God, but repentance must take place, first—total turning away from all acts of sin—and turning to God and living according to His Word.  Jesus died so we would have access to heaven and though there are some who believe that our time on the planet now is either heaven or hell, I choose to believe God and will wait for His Son’s return so I can be with Him for all eternity.

There have been myriad attempts to justify man’s behavior by saying, “it’s not in the Bible.  God didn’t say anything about homosexuality.  Jesus never mentioned anything.” I have to wonder about the reading comprehension levels of people saying such things.

When the woman was caught in “the very act” of adultery, Jesus had this to say about her accusers when they left.

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin (He addressed every sin included in the law already revealed—Notice, He did not say “sins” because any and all sin is sin)” (John 8:11 NIV).

The following is a list of words that are not mentioned in the bible, but the acts for the most part are graphically described and those acts were later “defined and labeled by contemporary society.” Note that while some “labels/names” used now were not used then, the intent or the act is still the same and so are the consequences.

Homosexuality—Already discussed in Leviticus and Romans.  A label given by man.

Rape—Not mentioned but clearly understood by those who have adequate reading comprehension in the reading of those stories as told by Moses in Genesis, Numbers, and by what happened to David’s children. A label given by man.

Incest—not mentioned, but clearly described.  A label given by man.

Molestation—not mentioned, but clearly described.  Label given by man.

AIDS/HIV—not mentioned, but already discussed in Deuteronomy. Labels of illnesses, given by man.  “The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed” (Deuteronomy 28:61).

Depression—not mentioned, but clearly identifiable when reading comprehension is above average.  A label given by man.

Depravation—(to make morally bad or evil, or corrupt) not mentioned in the Bible, but clearly identifiable by descriptive acts throughout the Bible.   A label given by man.

Political Correctness—certainly mentioned in the bible and I cannot even clearly discern a description of such as we attempt to promote it.  It is simply a label given by man, to make sure politicians can maintain their status in a politically charged arena.

There are many other “labels” we have given people and things that do not appear in the bible—too many to list in the space of this commentary.  We, “mankind” have always determined what labels are applied to people and things.  Many forms of illnesses were not named, until someone decided to name them.  The symptoms or results of the illness did not change—only the name.  The act of sexual depravation has not changed, only the name.

The bottom line is this—people are going to do exactly what they want to do—in total opposition to God and self.  So, just get to it.  But do stop trying to twist God’s Word so you won’t have to feel guilty.  God knows better.  Remember this—there are consequences for our actions—good and bad—we choose our consequence by what we do; especially when we say—we have a relationship with God.  Don’t let the enemy continue to bewitch you—see the need to seek God and know that He has only your best interests in mind.  God loves you and so do I. The enemy could care less about you.  So, don’t get the truth twisted. Open your heart to hear what the Spirit of the Lord has to say, not the fickle-mindedness of man. Those who deceive and lie have neither heaven nor hell for us for our eternal resting place.  Gratification of the flesh for a limited time is not worth losing a mansion for eternity or living with the negative consequences of disobedience. It’s a choice we all have to make—follow Christ or follow the enemy. The choice is now yours!

Father, in the name of Jesus, Help us to understand that Your Word is our guideline for living and in positioning ourselves to receive Your best for us. Help us to shield our minds from the tricks of the enemy who will influence any caught up in the lust of the flesh.  Help us to stay focused on being everything You desire us to be.  Speak to our hearts and help us to turn away from anything that is not like You.  Help us to love unconditionally, so others will come into a true knowledge of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  We declare all lies exposed and all liars exposed for all to see who really know who You are and how we are to live.

Deceptive Storms “Live”

Deceptive Storms is now available on amazon.com.  http://www.amazon.com/Mary-M.-Hall-Rayford/e/B00BAW31CQ  If you enjoyed the excerpts, you’ll love the book.storm cvr

Deceptive Storms Excerpt 4

Paul Anderson, the greatest athlete known in the community high school, had been awarded all sorts of scholarships to college and had many offers from various colleges.  It was the spring just before he graduated that things fell apart.  He and some of his buddies had been out celebrating their impending graduation and all of their accomplishments in high school.  When someone pulled out a joint, at first Paul refused—thinking about all he had ahead of him.  After a while, someone dared him to take a drag.  Never one to resist a dare, he accepted the joint and inhaled deeply, sputtering as he coughed.  The other guys laughed at him, but his eyes were smarting and his lungs burning.  He didn’t see anything funny.  The longer he sat, watching them pass the joint, the calmer he became until he finally took another hit.  This time, he didn’t sputter or cough, he just sat back and grinned stupidly.  By the time he got ready to go home, he couldn’t focus.  The world seemed to be moving faster than he was and he was trying to catch up.  He heard laughter faintly, but he couldn’t see who was laughing.  They all appeared to be far away. Finally, he heard someone say, “we gotta take him home.  He can’t drive like that.”  Unfortunately, they didn’t move fast enough. Paul had walked out the door, keys in-hand.  He struggled to get into the car and to get the door open, but he finally got the car started and headed home.  That’s all he remembered of that fateful night.

When he woke up two months later, he discovered that he had totaled his car and had been in a coma for the last two months.  Doctors confirmed the drugs in his system and he was ticketed for that and his license was suspended since he had a probationary license.    Once he woke up from the coma, he was in rehab for another month, learning to walk all over again.  While there, he experienced first-hand what drugs and alcohol could do to a person and to their families.  There were a number of addicted teens in the rehab, struggling to overcome—their addictions and their family’s disappointments.  While he could sympathize with their plights, he had to deal with his own.  His family wasn’t rich and they incurred an enormous hospital bill for his care and their car insurance rates when through the roof.  He was able to graduate with his classmates, but college had to wait because of the publicized accident and the drugs in his system, scholarships were revoked as were offers from the colleges.

He spent a few months in a wheelchair and suffered the agony of watching his parents, deal with his situation.  They didn’t say anything-nothing, and that made it all worse.  He would have understood if they had yelled or screamed at him or even beat him, but they said nothing.  They just looked at him and shook their heads, sadly.  Of course they were glad he was alive, but the thought that their son was on drugs devastated them.  It took him a long time to earn their trust.  But he did.  He never forgot that night and how easily a person could slip into dark behavior.  Fortunately, his disability was not permanent.  With constant therapy and a determination to overcome, he did.  He worked to put himself through college and never again, took life for granted, grateful for the second chance he’d been given; especially after he saw the damage to his car.  Only a miracle kept him from being killed.

Working to pay for college was a blessing and one he took to heart.  He ended up working for the rehab center where he had been a patient.  He understood the struggles, the temptations, and the desire to get out from under.  His preference was to work specifically with teenagers who were addicted to drugs. He thought that he could better relate to them and when he made a change—to live for Jesus—nothing could convince him otherwise.  Most of the young people were able to relate to him, but then there were a few who thought he was just too straight-laced to understand them.  No matter what he did, he couldn’t get through to these few, but thankfully, there were more he reached than not.

It was his work with teens at the rehab center that first got the attention of Pastor Cal.  He had been attending church when Pastor Dee and Pastor Cal arrived in London.  After a few months, he had been approached by Pastor Cal to work with the youth at the church.  Paul had never thought about a call of ministry on his life, but he prayed before giving Pastor Cal an answer and was then shown in the Word and in his spirit, God’s will for his life.  He had completed a course in ministry and had been ordained, ready to do the work.

In Times Like These

In times like these, we need a Savior!

If we look around at all the stuff going on in the world, most of us would end up shaking our heads–wondering what is going on?

Life–a very precious commodity–is not respected on so many levels that there is not space enough on this blog to tell it all.  People are being killed because of jealousy, hatred, and in some cases–just because–they were at the wrong place at the wrong time–because someone hated themselves enough to disrespect the lives of others.

We tolerate people making fun of Christians, belittling their beliefs and then we parade–highly profile–what God has said is sin.  How crazy is that.  On one hand–men say, “don’t share your religious beliefs, that’s your personal business” and on the other hand, “please share your sexual exploitations–the world needs to know” and then we celebrate the openness and courage of “sin”!  Have we got this twisted or what?

Parents do not parent–they would rather be buddies with their children than their parents.

Children do not respect any adults because they have no respect for their parents.

Preachers disrespect their calling and in the office in which they have–they say one thing and do everything else.  Hypocrites, is what Jesus called.

Criminals have more rights than law-abiding citizens and the only justice available is left up to those sitting on a bench who have political agendas to promote.  And then we wonder why people take matters into their own hands?

Legislators legislate laws that only benefit the wealthy–forget about the poor and the needy, the vulnerable–the very people  Christians have been mandated to care about in defending their rights.

Oh Yes!  In times like these, we need a Risen Savior and I am very sure, my anchor will hold against the tide that rises up against those who believe and confess–that Jesus Christ is Lord!