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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Are You Living in the Promised Land or the Wilderness?

Manna is a basic provision, wilderness food. The promised land has gold, silver, good soil, milk & honey - the land of promise and plenty. The issue is that when we try to step into the promised land, which requires work and action on our parts, we panic and go running back to the wilderness to what is comfortable, knowing that God will provide manna, the 'basics' for survival. Living in the Promised Land (Kingdom) life requires us to step out, working in the word of God, which includes trials, challenges, and a learning curve. We must learn how to work the land, plant the seeds and cultivate the crop. It requires us to totally step out of our 'comfort zone' in the wilderness of just existing in Christ and demands that we take action, labor and sweat in the fields in order to grow in Him. 

It's not comfortable to hang yourself out there but until you do, you will not see the desired fruit of your ministry. Or you can run back to what is safe, and spend the rest of your life in the wilderness.

~ Based on a teaching from Prophet Randi Lechner

Friday, December 27, 2013

We Are His Sheep - and He Our Shepherd

In the Bible, God compares us to sheep. I got curious as to why He chose this particular animal to compare us to, so I did a little research. Some of the attributes of sheep fit us rather well…

Sheep are gregarious in nature and love to be with the herd. A sheep will become highly agitated if it is separated from the rest of the flock. For this reason, sheep must have a leader or shepherd and must be told what to do and where to go, otherwise they'll wander off and get lost and probably die. Because of their attributes, any farmer will tell you that Sheep need the most care of all livestock. As you read this list it becomes easy to see why God would liken us to sheep.

·         Sheep are very susceptible to fear, frustration, pests and hunger
·         Sheep are very easily influenced by a leader sheep to the point of blindly following them to their death. (In 2006, 400 sheep died in eastern Turkey. The sheep plunged to their death after one of the sheep tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine, and the rest of the flock followed, one by one, to their death)
·         Sheep are creatures of habit and easily get into "ruts"
·         Are given names by their shepherd, and, due to excellent hearing, instantly recognize the voice of a familiar trusted person. Even when different herds mingle together (i.e. at a well) they are easily called by name to reassemble, every sheep to its own shepherd and flock.
·         Sheep have excellent memories for faces. They remember people who are kind to them and that have inflicted abuse on them.
·         Sheep have excellent field of vision (306 degrees) but very poor depth perception
·         Sheep have an excellent sense of smell and can distinguish different predators by smell.
**Despite these defenses, sheep are incredibly gullible and easily fooled.
·         Sheep are helpless, with little or no means of self-defense except to run. Hence, they are easily killed by enemies
·         Sheep are remarkable also for their mutual affection and their affection for their young, much like that of humans. The sounds of affection which a mother sheep makes over her little lamb are of the tenderest kind.
·         Sheep are totally dependent on their shepherd for every need and guidance and its necessity and dependence are equaled by its trustful love for him who supplies its wants. Active dependence and loving trust are as evident in lambs as in humans.
·         Another characteristic of sheep is patience.  When a sheep is caught by the shearer, at first there is a short struggle, then she gives up entirely. She shows neither resentment nor resistance; she is, in the hands of the shearer, perfectly resigned and patient.
·         Sheep are timid, fearful, easily panicked, especially in a flock where they stampede easily.
·         Sheep are vulnerable to mob psychology. The shepherd is the most effective, calming influence on sheep when this happens, but even then, due to their panicky nature, can’t always control them.
·         Rams are jealous and competitive for dominance and can be perversely stubborn, insisting on their own way, even to death
·         Sheep are easily "cast", or flipped over on their back or side, unable to right themselves and will die of starvation if not turned over by their shepherd
·         Sheep need a pre-determined plan in their life…

Some of these characteristics exist in non-believers as well as people who love and follow the Lord. The Lord says that all must become like little children before they can enter the kingdom of Heaven; and those who are preparing for Heaven He calls His sheep and His lambs. Lambs are likened to children because of their trusting innocence, their total dependency on Him who cares for them. To them God is a parent and shepherd. He is their parent because they have laid aside to some degree their own life, and manifestly are living from a new life that He gives. He is shepherd, because they perceive His guidance and comfort in the walks of every day, and find, in following Him, wisdom and uses and delights which give satisfaction and expansion to their souls.

These love the Lord more than all things and they leave all that belongs to them and is pleasant to them when they hear Him call. They trust in Him through every trial, content to feel His care protecting them, fearful only when He is absent and they are temporarily away from His presence. They are honestly innocent, because their whole heart is open to the Lord, and they cannot help rejoicing in His presence, for they are comforted and safe. They are not cumbered about serving, for what need is there when they know that every want is supplied by the Lord, their shepherd? Their own love for Him, which is to them the highest good, will increase and multiply and communicate to others in every way they can.

In scripture, where animals are often mentioned, lambs are always used as representatives of innocent delight in loving the Lord; Rams are mentioned as forms of perception of truth from love to the Lord, by which that love may be multiplied; and ewes as representatives of that gentlest mutual love by which the beginnings of love to the Lord are cherished and sustained.

The wool of sheep, the clothing we see them in, is the outward expression of love from the Lord consisting of trustful and charitable protection through His covering.

As a dear friend once said, “It’s good to be a sheep…baa baa baa”

May the blood of Jesus cover, bless and protect you!
~ Mark

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happiness and Joy

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. Believers and non-believers alike speak about joy and happiness. But do you know the difference between the two?

We can get happiness from worldly things. The gifts that we give to each other at Christmas can bring us happiness. Getting that well deserved vacation brings us happiness. A new car can make us happy. Believer and non-believer alike can experience happiness in many forms. But joy? JOY is something that is reserved for the believer; the one that has experienced radical salvation and has the love of Jesus in their heart - THAT is joy. 

Happiness is fleeting. We can be 'happy' about that gift or vacation or car for a moment or an hour or a day or a week - but happiness wears off after awhile. Joy, on the other hand, is eternal. Joy goes on and on and on, increasing more and more with our experiences in God. Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and as such can only be experienced as the result of having the Holy Spirit reside in you. We can be extremely happy in the natural world, but never experience joy. The non-believer can experience exuberant happiness and think that they have experienced joy - because they don't know the difference! The sad thing is that they won't ever know joy until they accept the grace of God and are saved by the blood of the lamb. You see, happiness comes from the outside in - joy comes from the inside out. It is God IN us that yields the OUT-pouring of joy that only God can provide. 

There's an old quote from the 18th century poet Alexander Pope that has almost become a common expression, "Hope springs eternal". In Proverbs 51:11-12 it states that "The hope of the righteous is gladness"  Wow! So the end result of hope is joy! In order for hope to be fulfilled there must be joy at the end of the road. As humans, we hope for a better life. Given the information we have, if we chase after worldly things hoping for joy, that hope will never, ever be fulfilled. It is only through allowing Jesus into our hearts that hope can be fulfilled by joy.

Psalm 16:11 "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is FULLNESS OF JOY; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

The word of God does not lie. Got joy?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Demons of the Holidays by Jim Croft

Demons delight in attempting to ruin the holidays for saints and sinners alike. There are 3 particular spirits that intensify their activities during seasons that should invoke fond memories. The demonic spirits that commonly do so are argumentativeness, depression and a perpetual victim mentality. It is the victim mentality that fuels argumentativeness and depression. It begins working on its targets during the days leading up to traditional family dinners.

Perpetual Victims

Individuals with the victim mentality are emotional bullies. They are so self-centered that everything is always about them. These spirits incessantly put forth verbal accusations and innuendo vibes that say to those in close relationship with them, you have not done right by me. Evil spirits begin to remind people about every detail of every ancient offense. Reopened old wounds spur the offended to begin plotting exactly what they will say and how they will give antagonists payback. The plotters think their plans of revenge are solely of their own genius. Actually, the insights about how to better create hurt are from demons that hate their host as much as they do those maligned.

Wear ‘em out and throw ‘em out

Like people, demons have capabilities of being emotionally invigorated and emotionally worn down. When we comply and entertain their negative thoughts, it’s like an adrenalin rush for them. However, if a person uses negative thoughts as Q-Cards / prompts to thank God for contrary people and to praise the Lord for what He is going to do in the stressful situations; it deflates demon egos. In short order, evil spirits can be worn down to the point where they completely shut-up out of fear of getting smacked by another round of praise.

That is the time to cleanse your home and property of demonic infestations. Go from room to room and sweep them out with Scripture verses of triumph. Don’t forget to spiritually fumigate the interior of your car. Just prior to the arrival of guests, it’s also appropriate to bind the argumentative spirits that have provoked contentions between certain family members throughout the years. “I handcuff and mute that spirit of political debate and hatred between Uncle Joe and Mike that always causes one of them to leave in a huff etc. etc.”

Octopus of Depression

Depression has many tentacles designed to suck the joy of life from those it oppresses and from everyone who encounters them. Listlessness, grimness, melancholy, self-pity, isolation, insanity and escapism through substance abuse, sleep, and suicide are chief among depression’s smothering appendages.Depression is also manipulative by nature. There is little it relishes more than keeping entire families on emotional edge wondering what they have done to grieve the resident king or queen of glum. Depression feeds on the attempts of loved ones to make things better.


I want you to see the solution for depression in 3D; deliverance, decisiveness and discipline. Just as prescribed for holiday argumentativeness, depression calls for deliverance and property cleansing. Expel the depression and any of its associated spirits from your person and property. Terrorize it with scolding based upon your authority in Christ as you drive it from the atmosphere of every venue of your life.
The next step is decisiveness. There are two biblical terms used for depression. The terms are “the spirit of heaviness” and “a cast down soul”. To be rid of depression, a person must make the decision within their heart of hearts that they will not tolerate depression to abide in their soul. In Isa 61:3, the depressed willfully exchange the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise. Like King David when his situation was so dark that he had to feign insanity to preserve his life. He blubbered and drooled, but as he did the verbal praises of God were continually rolling from his mouth. (Psa 34:1) 

In Psa 42:5 & 43:5, the spirit of David demanded an answer from his soul as to why it was disquieted and cast down. He told his soul that he chose to have hope in God and knew that the Lord would brighten his countenance. “I’ll not appear dark and gloomy to all who look upon me. My hope is in God. He cheers my heart and causes His glory to radiate from my face.” 

The final step is ongoing discipline. God calls His people disciples and disciples are those under discipline. Within God’s economy there is no substitute for it. In regard to discipline as a means of eradicating depression, one needs to understand two inseparable aspects of God’s character; His goodness and His severity. 

In His goodness, He will comfort a Christian who is temporarily depressed about legitimate occasional emotional booboos. But, with those who choose depression as a lifestyle, God can react somewhat like a drill sergeant who refuses to baby the troops. God expects us to man-up to the reality that we’re engaged in an unavoidable war that we’re designed to win. 

At the judgment, all believers are going to have to give an account to God about the way they lived their lives as Christians. That judgment is not a matter of heaven or hell. That was settled at salvation. However, each of us will be required to defend the choices we made about how we responded to life’s challenges and to conscience during our earthly lives. 

All of the Christians of all time will be in that heavenly court room. (2 Cor 5:8-11, 1 Cor 4:5) Whatever our circumstance of life, personal dignity should prevent us from wanting to be embarrassed in the presence of all of the heavenly hosts. None of us want to have to explain to Jesus why we just existed when others less fortunate used their faith to advance from one level of glory to the next. (2 Cor 3:16-18) 

Salvation is free, but it carries responsibilities. All those who too easily give into depression should study and meditate on the following Scriptures. As you do so, consider the questions. Whatever the answers are, submit them to God. He will help you where you have failed and will give you strength for more victories where you have been strong. Everyday is an opportunity for a fresh start because of the blood of Jesus. 

When we commit our lives to the Lord each day, the only day that counts is today. Yesterday’s forgiven blunders are forgotten. Honor what redemption has done for you by disciplining yourself to be different. By faith in Him, God wants you to present a new you to your family. You can do it! 

1) 2 Cor 5:17-18 – Salvation is intended to transform us into new creations where all the new dynamics about us are of God and from God. What new personality do you want others to notice in you? 

2) Rom 12:1-2 – Christians are to present their lives to God as living sacrifices. This will bring about the renewing of your mind where you are no longer the person you use to be. You will no longer be conformed to the mold by which others knew you when you were subject to depression. The renewing process is not a stagnate condition. The renewing of your mind is to continue until you have the confidence that your mind is closer to that of Christ than it is to the condition it was when you were first saved. What part of your mind, your thinking, are you expecting Christ to renew and transform today? 

3) 2 Pet 1:2-12 – God has given you everything necessary for a life of godliness. Every Christian has a mandate from God to engage in a perpetual state of adding other qualities to their faith. Self-control, endurance and brotherly kindness are among them. If we are engaged in adding to our spiritual characters, we will never stumble. And we will be granted a gracious welcome to the provisions of God’s Kingdom. Look at the passage’s list of qualities we are to be adding. Which ones do you sense God wants you to start praying about adding? 

4) None of us like to think about the afterlife. Many mistakenly think it is an escape from the responsibilities we have to God here on earth. It most definitely is not. Whether saved or unconverted; whether we’re diligent about spiritual matters or lazy; every person who has ever drawn breath is an eternal creature. There is no end to our lives in the spirit. Our spirits embody everything that pertains to our souls. That includes our memories, intellect, imagination, will and emotions. As eternal creatures, we are mandated to labor to do what is pleasing to God whether living in this life or the next. (2 Cor 5:1-9) In my opinion, it is a bad gamble for anyone to presume that the habitual negative sensations of this life will all instantly be eradicated in the next. The rich man in the Lazarus story in Luke 16 felt regrets for his life. It could be that whatever imperfections of soul we have in this life are to be transformed by ongoing works of sanctification in the next. 1 Tim 5:24-25 speaks about how some things about us might be hidden in this life and some might be exposed. But one way or the other, the good and the bad race ahead of us to meet us again in death. We owe it to ourselves to run the best race we possibly can. No matter what station in life we might have, we can all have the same confession as the Apostle Paul in 2 Tim 4:7-8. He knew that he had successfully run his race and that a crown of righteousness was waiting for him at the end of life’s journey. The past is the past. The important matter is not the hurdles we previously tried to skip by giving in to depression’s escapisms. The essential matter is how we discipline ourselves to run with the objective of finishing with the boldness of integrity sufficient to say we’ve done our best.

I bless you and wish you a joyous Christmas and New Year free of the harassments of argumentativeness and depression.

Jim Croft


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