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Archive for June, 2011

A NEW CREATION

Candles glowed softly amid fragrant clusters of pink and lavender hydrangeas.  The air was cool and fresh on this lovely summer evening, as Pamela and I sat and talked on her back patio.  We were reflecting on the night recently when she had been struggling with a fear of death.  It was clear Pamela had deep wounds from painful childhood experiences in which she felt helpless.  Although she knew she had been set free from the past and that she is now a new creation in Christ, Pamela was unconsciously continuing to believe the lie from Satan that she is a powerless victim of her circumstances.

“The person I saw that night wasn’t the real you,” I told her. “When I look at you, I see what God sees: a new creation in Jesus, a beautiful woman of God, a person of joy and light and life and creativity and beauty, who shines with the light of Jesus, with power and authority to speak against the powers of darkness!”  Joy radiated from Pamela’s eyes as the truth sunk in, and I could see that God was at work in her heart.

Here is the rest of Pamela’s story, in her own words:

“I don’t see myself as a victim anymore, but as who I am in Christ Jesus. This is exactly what I desired my whole life, since I was a child. Most people in my life, including my parents, weren’t able or didn’t want to see my value in Christ Jesus.  So I had to fight for a long period of my life to be accepted and respected.  It was hard for me to believe that God loves me and accepts me and appreciates me how I am. Today, after God has worked a lot in me, I know it by heart.

For me it is also important to say that I can’t identify with the person I seemed to be that night. That shows how much God already has changed me, and that He has given me a new identity in Christ. But I also know what an opportunity this situation is to receive more healing and more changing. To become a new creation in Christ Jesus is not just an event, but also a process!

If you are part of this process, I encourage you not to give up!  Keep on uncovering the lie of Satan that your past experiences define you.  Believe and speak out what God tells you about who you are in Him.  God is able to go together with you deep into the past and restore you completely.  The time will come when you will see with your own eyes how much God did for you and who you are in Jesus!”

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV)

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LAY DOWN YOUR STONES

Searching frantically for a hiding place, I ducked into a closet, trembling in the shadows.  The man with the gun was coming closer.  I could hear his footsteps stop outside the closet.  The doorknob was turning.  An ominous silhouette appeared in the semi-darkness.  Moonlight gleamed on the gun as he pointed it at me…

Bolting up in bed, I gasped in the darkness and looked at the clock.  5:00 am.  My heart was still pounding violently and my pajamas were soaked in sweat.  Exhaling shakily, I tried to clear my head of the nightmare that was robbing me of sleep.  I longed for this night to be over.

It was no surprise I was having such stressful dreams.  It was an indication of the state of my heart – anxious, fearful, exposed.  Accusing thoughts had been plaguing me.  I felt I had broken the confidence of a friendship, and the conversations replayed in my mind like a song stuck on repeat.  Even though I had apologized to my friend, and she had forgiven me, I couldn’t accept her forgiveness.

“Why did I say those things?  Why did I do that?  What was I thinking?  I’m so stupid!”

Condemned by my own thoughts, I felt like the woman caught in adultery in John 8.  I thought I deserved to be stoned.  But if I was honest, I had to admit that there was no one condemning me but myself.  God had forgiven me.  My friend had forgiven me.  The only one left holding the stones was ME!

Closing my eyes, I could picture Jesus looking at me as He looked at that woman, with such love and compassion in His gaze.  I could hear His gentle voice asking me, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?  Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  (John 8:11-12 NIV)

I forced myself to take deep breaths as I allowed the truth of His words to saturate my soul.  I am forgiven.  I am no longer guilty in His sight.  And if God does not condemn me, who am I to condemn myself?  One by one, I cast down the accusing stones.  In the assurance of His forgiveness and grace, I could finally lie down again and sleep in peace.

Do you struggle with condemning thoughts?  Do you have difficulty accepting God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of others?  Lay down your stones.  You don’t need to be the judge of your soul.  The God of all the universe is the Supreme Judge, and He does not condemn you.  Receive His forgiveness today!

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:  If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”   (I John 3:19-20, TNIV)

Going vertical!

MJ

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YOU Have The Authority!

Concentrating on the conversation was increasingly difficult.  Though I was interested in what Marta was saying, my attention was divided.  Out of the corner of my eye, I was watching Pamela.

Earlier Pamela had approached some of the Bible school students at the end of the worship meeting, asking for prayer.

“I feel like I’m going to die,” she told us in desperation, eyes full of fear.  “It feels like Satan is trying to kill me.”   We prayed with boldness, speaking life over her and rebuking the spirit of death.

With profuse thanks, Pamela said that she felt better.  But a few minutes later, she was scanning the room, searching for another sympathetic listener.  Soon she had pulled another one of the students outside to pray with her.  Then she sought out one of the staff.  By the end of the night, about seven different students and staff had prayed for Pamela.  And now she was approaching me again as I chatted with my friend Marta.

“Would you pray for me again?  I still feel like I’m going to die.”   The helplessness in her voice begged for our compassion.

Before I could agree, however, something stopped me.  It was clear to me that Pamela was stuck in a victim mentality.  “No, we don’t need to pray for you anymore,” I found myself saying firmly.  “YOU need to pray.”

Pamela looked distressed.  “But I can’t do anything to stop these thoughts!” she protested.

Taking out a worn sheet of paper from her Bible, Marta shared with Pamela the Scriptures that show her identity in Christ.  “You’ve told us you believe in Jesus, so you’re a child of God.  The thought that you can’t do anything is a lie.  The truth is that you have the victory through Jesus’ death on the cross.  And you have the authority in Christ to pray against these thoughts of death.”

Uncertain at first, Pamela agreed to pray.  But as she claimed the authority through Christ against the enemy, she slowly become more confident.  And as she spoke the truth of God’s Word about her true identity in Him, she became more joyful!  By the time she said “Amen,” Pamela was grinning from ear to ear.  She was starting to claim her rights as a daughter of the King.

Do you struggle with feelings of helplessness?  Do you feel like a victim of your circumstances or experiences?  If you are a child of God, you have the authority in Christ to command evil spirits to flee!  Take captive every thought that does not align itself with God’s Word.  Confront the lies of the enemy and claim the VICTORY in Christ Jesus!

“What then are we to say about these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not withhold His own Son, but gave Him up for all of us, will He not with Him also give us everything else?  …In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  Romans 8:31-32, 37

Going vertical!

MJ

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BEAUTIFUL

“There’s someone here tonight who needs to hear that you’re beautiful.”

The woman with the microphone paused and searched the audience, as if she was looking for a particular target for her message.  Squirming a bit in the pew, Luisa felt as if the woman could surely see her thoughts.  At a friend’s insistence, she had agreed to go to this prayer night at a local church.  But now she suddenly had a pressing desire to get out of there.

“God wants to tell you that you’re beautiful to Him,” the woman up front continued.  “And He’s going to keep saying it until you receive it.”

“Yeah, right,” Luisa thought to herself.  “I’ve heard that before.”

The thought came so quickly, so clearly, and it shocked her.  Why would she think such a thing?  But all at once, she knew the reason.  Diego.

A flood of memories came suddenly.  Worshiping with Diego in this very sanctuary on a Sunday morning.  Sitting with him in the sound booth as he ran the power point presentations for the speaker.  Going on walks in the fields behind the church property.

Charming and romantic, Diego had swept Luisa off her feet in a whirlwind relationship.  He was the first guy to tell her she was beautiful.  The first guy to tell her that he loved her.  Luisa brushed it off at first.  She couldn’t accept it.  “He probably says that to all the girls,” she told herself.  “He doesn’t really mean it.”  Diego kept saying it, however, over and over again, until she finally started to believe it.

But Diego’s actions didn’t match his words.  Though he said he would go to the moon for her, he couldn’t keep his word to meet her when he said he would, or do small things she asked him to do.  After many disappointments and broken promises, Luisa started to feel she couldn’t trust him anymore.  And she doubted everything he had told her.

Though it had been a few years since the relationship ended, those old feelings of hurt and mistrust were stirred up again as Luisa sat in the prayer meeting.  Her relationship with Diego had tainted her view of God’s love and thoughts towards her.

Through her tears, Luisa chose to forgive Diego again, releasing the painful memories.  “Help me to receive Your love, and to believe what You say about me.”  Slowly Luisa felt a warm presence surrounding her.  The truth of God’s words toward her began to sink in and bring healing to her heart – “You are beautiful to Me.  I love You.”  And unlike Diego or others in her life who had disappointed her, Luisa knew her Heavenly Father meant what He said.  She knew she could trust Him.

“How weighty to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  I try to count them – they are more than the sand;  I come to the end – I am still with You.”  Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV)

 Going vertical!

MJ

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