Lease of Authority

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The world we live in is not our own, in fact, nothing is truly ours. Yet, with that being said, why is it we can buy a plot of land, destroy forests, eat any animal, fruit, or vegetable we desire? Though the world remains Gods, He has given us authority over it. The God of the universe has “leased” His authority to us!

“God blessed them; and God said to them, “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”‘ (Genesis 1:28)

In that moment a lease with mankind was made, and the keys of authority were given to us. However, with authority comes responsibility, and mankind was not alone in the garden…somewhere, a serpent lie waiting. Satan had been cast down from heaven, he had become prideful and arrogant, wanting to be God. So he was stripped of his authority as an angel and thrown from heaven to earth.

I had the great pleasure to hear Pastor Craig Hill speak on this, it is he that I give the credit to in explaining our great story, and how authority was “passed around” so to speak. Never had I heard the story of mankind likened to a lease, and yet in doing so he brilliantly simplified the concept that we must all understand…Now, back to the story!

So satan was on the earth and he saw the creation of mankind and God handing them authority. Satan knew that he could not win, but that if he had authority, he could destroy God’s creation and the very hearts of those made in God’s image, humans. And hence, we enter the scene of the serpent tempting Eve, and she says yes and eats the forbidden fruit and gives it to her husband. Now mankind knows both good and evil…but something else happened. In agreeing with satan, Adam and Eve handed over their authority to him!

After that we see many years of turmoil and pain as mankind is separated from God and stripped of their authority. And then we meet Jesus. Though mankind does not fully understand the great importance of who Jesus is then, satan stands shaking…here is the Son of God and he was sent to take authority back! Satan devises a plan to destroy Jesus, and obviously that plan backfires…Jesus dies and steals back the keys of authority from hell and then raises from the dead and gives the authority back to mankind.

It is through our authority God’s power is released on the earth. He is a God who keeps His word. His power is released through our agreement with Him…that is why we don’t see worldwide revivals or the gifts of the spirit at work in every church….no matter what God honor’s His word to us, He will never go against our free will, and because He has given us His authority till Jesus returns, He is limited, as Craig puts it, “God chose to voluntarily limit himself to working through us.” We are the ones sent to change the world, we are the ones to bring heaven to earth and release the power of God.

Satan is feared  by many christians. I’ve seen brothers and sisters in Christ go to a supernatural horror film and leave it just as terrified as everyone else. When will we realize that satan’s only weapon against us is deception. He may appear as Goliath, but can be crushed with a single pebble. He knows what mankind is afraid of and what lies we are most likely to believe. It is time we face the truth, we have the lease of authority, it’s time to exercise it!

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Enough

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There’s a lie that can be seen in nearly every church. It says that Jesus’s blood wasn’t enough, and that sickness is the will of the Father. It tells the lost that they have to do x, y, and z to be saved, and that once you are saved, you are still just a sinner…a worm that is forever powerless against the forces of evil. This lie drains the very foundation of the Christian faith and turns it into “just another religion.” Empty and void of the very heart of the Father, Our God. What do we call this lie? It is the religious spirit.

A simple definition of the religious spirit is that it is “form without power.” Religion without relationship. Many of us have fallen into this lie at least once in our lives, and many more are still captured by it. Satan has been particularly successful in spreading this particular lie to the churches, why? because it easily disguises itself in truth and good intentions. One who is swayed by this spirit rests heavily in the Old Testament, which yes, had its place and time in our holy book, however, it is not the end of our story, in fact, it’s only the beginning!

There is a reason Christians today do not practice many of the Old Testament laws and that is because we live under a new covenant, the covenant of Jesus…He is the fulfillment of the law. Through His sacrifice we no longer are held to the old covenant in which we had to sacrifice animals to cover our sins, and follow many other decrees in order to be in right standing with God..we were sons and daughters of Adam then, bound by the original sin. Through Christ we are now sons and daughters of God….connected to Him as we were before the fall of mankind.

Can we sin? Yes, however if you believe in Jesus Christ and are born again you are a new creation entirely..righteousness should be our natural response in place of our old self and its sinful desires. As new creations sin only occurs when we forget who we are and whose we are. For example,  under the lie of the religious spirit, one is still labeled a sinner even after being saved, as we have all heard the phrase, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” This statement may sound innocent, as it comes from our intention to be humble…however the act of being “saved by grace” transforms us from sinner to saint…when we continue to call ourselves sinners after we are born again we eventually end up sinning by faith! In other words we tell ourselves, as we have always been=so we will always be. What a dangerous lie.

For more read: 1 John 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

The power of the Holy Spirit has also been greatly down-played because of the religious spirit. Again, the religious spirit holds us to the Old Covenant way…which was well before the introduction of the Holy Spirit and His Spiritual Gifts after the resurrection of Jesus. The churches have forgotten that Jesus didn’t just die for our sins, He died so that He could bring the Holy Spirit and unleash heaven on earth! We are not just supposed to hold the fort down until Christ’s return..we are supposed to be warriors and destroy the works of the devil wherever we go!..Jesus even went as far as to say that it was better that He left so that we could receive the Holy Spirit and do even greater works than He did. Unfortunately, in a religious spirit filled church, the spiritual gifts and the works of the Holy Spirit are almost non-existent. He is a gentleman… only using those who are willing to be used, He works under our agreement with Him and His Presence. Therefore, in churches that choose to ignore His existence, His Presence fails to rest upon.

It is sad that many children are not being brought up in power and in the truth of their identity. I’ve seen an entirely different Jesus taught to children, one that can be likened to Santa Claus, and the same can be said of the Holy Spirit. He is taught as some mystical thing that you receive when you believe in Jesus, and that’s if He is even mentioned at all. I remember growing up thinking that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were the same beings. When I was water baptized I was asked if I wanted “Jesus” in my heart. I am not saying that this is particularly wrong…however I am saying that it doesn’t make sense for Jesus to have said “It’s good that I go” if he wasn’t really going to go at all. Especially when He proceeded to talk about the Holy Spirit as a separate entity, “…I will ask the Father and he will give you another helper, who will be with you forever..”(John 14:15).

On a sidenote; I understand that the Trinity is a very confusing topic, I mean how can three separate beings be considered one? I see it as like a marriage, my husband and I, though separate, are one flesh. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each living beings in absolute agreement and oneness with each other. It is the closest level of love and intimacy in existence. That is why we cannot fathom it.

It is that same longing for love and intimacy that is left missing in churches won over by the lies of satan. The religious spirit tells us that God’s love can only be bought through good works…this leads to people comparing their “good works” to others and feeling constantly unworthy and not good enough. Christians also take it as far as to believing that God is angry with them when they don’t pray or read their Bibles a certain amount each day. Those beliefs and many more lead to us believing in a God that is filled with nothing but jealous anger and barely controlled rage towards His creation. The fear of God is driven hard at the pulpit every Sunday, bringing many to repentance out of fear of punishment instead of longing for relationship. It is hardly the “friendship” that God longed to have with us!

Have we really forgotten that God is a sentient being, that throughout the Bible He has displayed a huge array of emotions, and that through sacrificing His Son, He displayed a love that greatly exceeds our understanding. His Son was enough! He covered all our sin and not only gave us the Holy Spirit, but power to do what He had started and conquer the world from satan’s grasp. We are all called to heal the sick, raise the dead, and transform the world through heavenly encounters of God’s love for mankind. All my life I believed that people were ill because it was God’s will or some generational curse. In believing that I told Jesus that His sacrifice wasn’t enough, when in fact He paid for it all…He took our place of Judgement and suffered the consequences of our sin…how could a loving Father curse His children with ailments to teach them a lesson? It is satan that comes to steal and destroy NOT God.

“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

It is time the spirit of religion is unveiled from its hiding place in our churches, hearts, and minds. We cannot afford to live any longer under a powerless covenant when we have a new covenant of power and authority, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, to walk into. It is through heavenly encounters, and being filled with the love of God that people come to true repentance and salvation. The world is longing for a loving Father, the religious spirit has turned many lost souls away from the church and from God. We need to say yes again to the workings of the Holy Spirit, which transcend the understandings of the mind. We need to look again to the truth of Jesus Christ, gentle yet zealous for the kingdom,…the veil has been torn! Religious spirit…your cover is blown!

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8)

 

Real Beauty

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Adam was lonely. He searched the vast and beautiful garden but found no one to call his equal, his friend. God caused him to fall asleep and with Adam’s rib, he created Eve. She was the most beautiful creature in all the garden, loved by both God and man. Hand in hand, man and woman walked as one, with God’s presence surrounding them. Paradise was complete.

Today, the beauty of this moment seems long forgotten…with feminism on the rise and the roles of both men and women no longer established, the bliss and harmony between Adam and Eve in the garden looks more and more like a fairy tale. To openly say today that women were created for man would incite a riot. Have we really grown so uncomfortable with who we are that we feel shame when we are reminded of our beginning?

As a child I remember wanting to hang with boys. While all the girls I knew were having sleep overs and playing with Barbies, I was outside playing war games, catching bugs, and playing basketball with the neighborhood boys. I had loathed wearing dresses and hated being around girls my age. Things only started to change for me when I fell in love..my first crush. I suddenly wanted to be “girly”, and though I still enjoyed catching bugs and playing basketball with a group of boys, I no longer desired to blend in as “one of the guys”, I wanted to stand out as a beautiful woman. The older I became the more I learned to accept God’s intention for me. I love being a woman! I love my wonderful husband and the life that we share…accepting God’s original design and purpose brings more fulfillment than anything we could create for ourselves. The same goes for church, family, and marriage. He created it all and has assigned each its purpose and call.

Beauty begins with acceptance. We must accept our identity. Men and women who are insecure with their gender will walk down many paths to find an outward answer to their problem, thinking, “God made a mistake when he made me!” When in reality, the problem lies within the heart. God makes no mistakes, he created each and every one of us to be happy and fulfilled the way he made us. We shouldn’t want to change a thing, we should view ourselves the way God views us….the question is, why don’t we? I’m sure we all can surmise that since we fell from the garden of bliss we have not only been at war between ourselves but inside ourselves as well. From the moment we were born satan has exhausted all efforts to turn us away from God and blind us to our identity in Him. That is why we see boys and girls unhappy in their skin, growing up in broken homes with society left to teach them who they are and that beauty is superficial.

Ladies, we need to embrace who we are again. Now is the time to listen to what God says about us and tune out what the world says. We need to bring up our children in homes where husband and wife are at peace with one another, following the roles set before them by God’s Word. It’s time we establish in our children that they are all uniquely and wonderfully made by God. Boys must be taught to respect women and value them as they value themselves, while girls must be taught that beauty is what lies within, and that their roles in marriage are just as important, valuable, and fulfilling.

One role that is often misunderstood is submission. It is not a weakness…why is it that submission in marriage has taken on a different meaning than if we were submitting to God? To submit to God means to respect Him and His place of authority….it is a sign of humbleness and is a posture that is rewarded by God. Society has made marital submission to mean weakness or even abuse, when its definition should be the same. Wives show honor and beauty of heart when they are submissive to their husbands…in marriages built on love, the act of submission is involuntary and fulfilling for women. Every strong marriage involves a man and a woman who love and respect one another. It’s in loving and respecting that men and women naturally take on the roles created for them.

I am simply here to tell you that just as society has been wrong about our identity and beauty, so it has been wrong about the roles of both men and women in marriage, church, and in the family setting. Feminism was birthed from women who failed to recognize their worth…I believe it stemmed from men and women failing to love and respect each other. As well as from the very moment Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. From that moment, women would see their honorable place in marriage as “unequal”, as Genesis 3:16 supports, “…you will desire to control your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Before eating of the forbidden fruit there was no conflict…God didn’t have to give marital advice and counseling and there was no sound of bickering amidst the peace of the garden. It was after mankind fell that conflict entered into the equation and both men and women failed to see each other clearly.

With God we see marriage clearly again. His Word guides and helps us through every situation this life has to offer in marriage and in life. As a woman, I am reassured when I read the Bible. Jesus was all for women’s rights, especially given the era the Bible was written in. Marriage itself was created to represent Christ and the church. Imagine that, Jesus gave himself up for the church (bride) because of his great love…our earthly marriage is supposed to represent His great covenant with us!

I could honestly discuss all day the many ways we, as women, have fallen away from God’s intention for us. We are particularly vulnerable to satan’s lies, and he realized this when he deceived Eve in the garden. I am not saying that it is all on our shoulders. Both men and women sinned that day in Eden, and today we both bear the weight of that choice. However, through Jesus we are restored to God and to each other. We will still have conflict, we will still make mistakes, but through God we will know who we are and whose we are, and love each other far deeper as brothers and sisters in Christ, and kings and queens of Heaven. Beautifully and wonderfully made.

“Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

(1 Peter 3:3-4)

 

Masterpiece

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How amazing it is that the God who formed the heavens and the earth in majestic perfection and wonder would care to listen to his children, like so many specs of dust, and bend ear to hear their cries and thus bear their burden at the cost of his own righteous son. That is a love that is far greater and wider than all the galaxies combined…God, the one and only, romancing a world in the hopes of sharing his love.

One cannot fully experience the grandiose of nature without emotion, it demands emotion because God intended it so. Being a God of deep emotion he created a masterpiece to demonstrate it, a window into his vast goodness, love, wisdom, might, and skillfulness, as well as his care…the beautiful displays around you are all controlled and cared for by his own hands. See the birds in their nests? Do they appear weary or uncertain of tomorrow? Or the grass of the fields, do they grow by their own strength? Does not our God unleash the rains and unveil the sun so that they are encouraged to sprout forth and rise from the barren ground? What of the seasons and the very ocean, full of great power, yet gentle as its waves lick your toes before being pulled back to its rightful boundaries? No, one cannot look upon all of this without emotion, because every facet of it was carved with it, like a passionate artist wanting to incorporate his very being into his work, so God has done so in creating nature, and in creating his children.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (John 12:7-10)

Names & Identity

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Everything has a name…from the insects on the ground to the planets in orbit around our sun, names are the titles that we give people, places, things, and ideas to represent and remember them by. Naming was one of mankind’s first assignments as Adam was told by God to name every living creature in the Garden of Eden. I believe that this is more significant than we initially realize, but first lets talk about the power of names.

I’ve struggled with fear all my life. Over and over I would wake up shaking as nightmares invaded my sleep and I wished that my parents, sleeping in the room across from me, would wake up and turn on the lights. Fear made me believe that I was weak and defenseless…a victim of the overwhelming demonic forces. I didn’t realize till years later that my fear was the result of my distrust in God and in my own identity. Only a few months ago had I finally discovered a piece of my identity that would begin to squash the fear that had taken root in me….that discovery was my name, Riley.

Names to me had only been titles given to us by our parents, with little to no meaning behind them. For some I think that may be true, as satan will stop at nothing to keep us from discovering our true identity. However, if you feel this speaks to you…take heart, our earthly names are not our eternal names or “heavenly” names that God himself has given us. Until we receive those names we must cling to what he has already called us, such as his children, loved, chosen, righteous, friend, saint, etc. With that aside, it is my experience and what God has recently revealed to me that has made me see that our earthly names are generally not just empty titles.

My name means valiant. This revelation shook me greatly, since I had adopted the name “Fearful” all my life, I had never guessed that the opposite may be true. Satan can’t rob us of our identity but he can get us to believe we are something else. One way he does this is by deceiving us into thinking our strengths are actually our weaknesses. God had called me courageous…satan had deceived me into believing I was fearful. Discovering who God called me to be opened my eyes to the years of lies I had let into my heart. Amidst all the fear in my life I suddenly remembered the many moments in class or outside in which I would day-dream about being courageous. I still do that today.

Since my eye-opening moment I have researched a great many names and have seen a huge correlation between names and personalities, as well as a person’s strengths that they may or may not be aware of. If you are not convinced research your name or someone you know and see what you think, better yet, turn to the Bible and read the stories in which earthly names took on a huge importance. For example, the story of Jacob (Israel), Abram (Abraham), or Saul (Paul). These stories and many more show that our earthly names hold power, so much so that God renamed Jacob, Abram, and Saul so that their names would speak to their true identity and destiny in Him. When God gives you a title you know that it is a revelation of who you are and who he created you to be. It is a title that will never be blotted out….just as God’s Word remains to this day, so your identity in Him remains forever. When God speaks it is so…in other words, if God calls you courageous..you better believe it!

I come from the town of Marion, Ohio. It started out as industrious and promising but once the major industries closed Marion began to sink into hopelessness. Drugs and alcohol can be seen everywhere, the outcome of seemingly irreversible poverty and pain. Again I am amazed at the power of a name. Marion means rebellious. We have more churches than most counties and yet crime and drugs are still ever-present. This place wasn’t always called Marion…it was once called Jacob’s Well. Satan has again deceived people into believing lies as Marion’s true identity and strength as a place of refreshing is now a place to avoid. God’s name for Marion still remains…in fact, there is a historical sign with the name Jacob’s Well engraved on it still standing in Marion..it has just been forgotten, not rewritten.

There is much more that can be said for names and their power in our lives. But I think the last thing I will mention today is that the reason names and, as I have said before, words hold so much power is because our God’s words hold so much power. That is why he told Adam to name creation, not only did God give us authority to name but the very act of naming creation put it under our authority. God called us to rule and subdue the Earth and began by telling Adam to name things? Yes. And that is why what we say is important, what we name is meaningful, and what we pray is heard by our Father in Heaven.

Last Resort

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It is sad to think that many Christians still face uncertainty when it comes to the power of prayer. Do we really believe in prayer or is it done out of obligation? It seems prayer is often our last resort, as many times we have heard the line, “..the least we can do is pray.” Has prayer really been lowered so much that it is the “least” we can do? I am not down playing the great need for Christians to actually take action in transforming cities and nations, but prayer is equally important! Imagine running into battle without your armor, or jumping off a cliff without a parachute…it is through prayer we are made ready to act.

The Holy Spirit strengthens and guides us through prayer….He opens doors and prepares the way through our prayers! We cannot do it alone, that is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit…to be our helper and instructor so that when we do take action we actually make a difference, because lets face it, offering the lost “humanity” never fixes the problem…it’s a spiritual issue that causes most worldly pain and destruction, and though humanity is important to survival, spiritual wellness is important for living. That is why people don’t understand when they see a wealthy man who is depressed or a poor man who is happy, having everything you need physically guarantees only bodily survival, not spiritual fulfillment.

As people of Faith we need to remember that prayer is powerful. And even more specifically..that our words are powerful, as Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death..” Our words can either bring life or death to others. Yikes! This is an essential lesson for us all, especially here in America where we have abused the freedom of speech often by saying whatever we like regardless of who our words sting. Words are so powerful we often write them on our hearts as part of our identity. For example: a child being told he is stupid generally ends up believing he is stupid..carrying that word with him throughout his school career, failing his classes and limiting his dreams to what that word will allow. The words we write upon our hearts are hard to erase, how strange it is, that they leave our mouths quickly with ease, yet torment for years in their wake.

It was by the spoken word of God the world came into existence, and yet we still don’t believe that, being made in God’s image, our words have power. Prayer can do what our hands can’t, and It’s time we recognize its importance in our lives again. I know part of the reason prayer has lost is vigor is because we live in an era that believes the spiritual works of God no longer exist. We read story after story about Jesus’s disciples doing miraculous works, such as healing the sick and raising the dead, and we think, “man…too bad that isn’t possible today.” But where is the biblical proof that it is not possible? Never did the Bible say that the spiritual gifts had died, or would cease in the times to come, in fact there is a prophecy spoken by Joel that supports the latter, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.” In other words, God’s not dead and nor are his works.

We place God in a box by our disbelief in his limitless abilities. Teaching people about God rarely ever brings them to salvation, it’s by an experience of God that their hearts are transformed and they are left with a lasting impression of God’s great love for them. If knowledge of God was all there was, then no one would be changed..even the demons know the bible, and notice..it doesn’t change them. That is why the spiritual gifts are so important! they bring about heavenly encounters and reveal the heart of the Father towards His people.

How do we awaken the spiritual gifts in our lives and in the church? I believe that it is through prayer we grow in our relationship with God and receive spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy. It takes trust on both ends, we have to trust God, and God has to trust us and that we are ready for what he gives us. This goes for every blessing we receive in life…if we are not ready for it we may abuse it or take it for granted. With each blessing/gift comes responsibility, like the parable of the three servants in Matthew 15:14-30, when we receive, we must be faithful with what we have been given and it will be multiplied.

Prayer is the key, it is not the last resort. Therefore, we must be, “..Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

More verses on prayer: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:6-7, Mark 11:24, James 5:16

 

Sodom’s Fate

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There stood a man upon a hill

His face was set, his body still

He stood because no one will

He stood for justice on that hill


His gaze it fell upon the world

Where love was lost and hearts had chilled

He stared at Sodom on that hill

The fate of the world, standing still

So much sin, had it been filled


In his hands he held it all

In one death, does Sodom fall?

In the other mercy, for some or all?

That’s why he faltered on that hill

He must make sure their fate was still


If ten or more he will relent

For his love cannot be spent

Nor his justice be bent


The truth is deep and deeper still

He loves that city on the hill

But deny himself he cannot

So does Sodom fall, or does it not?