There is a Terrorist and it is Not Who You Think . . .

There is a terrorist . . .

Once he upon a time there was a very privileged individual who had everything.  He was next to most powerful person you could imagine.  The problem was that he just was not satisfied.  He wanted to be the most powerful.  He didn’t appreciate all the benefits that he had in his role.  He had incredible talents and was an incredible musician.  Nothing came to the powerful leader without passing through this one.  His own exalted position caused him to be prideful and he hungered to have it all.  He had a plan . . .

He would gather others to join him in taking down the big guy.  In his delusion, he could see himself sitting at the helm and being the greatest!  Somehow he convinced others and they joined him when he started the attack.  He hadn’t counted on the incredible power of the one-in-charge.  He was soundly defeated and exiled faraway.  He raged and raged.  He began to destroy everything in his new location.

The powerful person continued to enjoy life while this creature played havoc in his new environment.  All of his confederates were with him and they found out that there was no way back.  They struggled with this news and soon joined the rebel in his anger.

The one who still had the power brought people into the exiled location where he had planted a beautiful garden himself and moved a couple into it.  He told them that they were his family and loved them tenderly as children.  He charged them to take control over the garden and expand it into the space the enemy had destroyed.  It was ideal.  The one with the power would come down and fellowship with them individually and together.  As their Father, he taught them new things every day.  They became great friends.  He told them  that there was only one rule.

He gave them access to everything except a funny tree that was in the midst of the garden.  It had an odd name – The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They didn’t know what it meant and didn’t care.  They had everything else.  He also tucked another tree in the garden called the Tree of Life.  The couple could eat of it anytime they wanted and they did.  There was no problems and no time to mark off the days.  It was a wonderful existence with meaningful activity, love and joy.

The destroyer disguised himself as one of the creatures in the garden and slithered in to see what was up.  He saw the wonder that these two shared and it infuriated him.  He plotted just as he had done before.  Finally her arrived at a plan.  He would engage them and get them to doubt the one in charge.  It had worked before and he thought it would work again.

He began by using suggestion.  He suggested that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was to be desired and that the one in charge had kept them from it because it would make them just like him.  At first they blew him off.  They didn’t need it.  They had everything.  But he was a genial sort of guy and soon the constant suggestion began to infiltrate their thoughts.  The woman was the most vulnerable to his wiles and soon was studying the tree intently.

The man was one with his mate and when she began to tell him that she thought eating the fruit might be a good idea, he told her that they really should not.  But the enemy had his effect on them both and soon she took him by the hand and went to the tree.  They stood looking at it.  It was pretty and the fruit looked delicious.  The disguised enemy was there to entice them even further and soon the woman had the fruit in her hand.  She put it to her lips and took a bite and gave it to her man and he ate also.

At once, they knew it had been a mistake.  What would the power man think?  Condemnation fell on them and they ran and hid in some bushes.  They looked at each other.  Thoughts came to them that made them feel shame.  At once they knew they were naked and began to put leaves together so they could cover themselves.

About that time, the power man came into the garden.  Well, you probably know the rest of the story.  What you may not have processed is that it wasn’t the sin that separated them from the great one; it was the condemnation.  Condemnation keeps the sin consciousness ever before the one who has sinned.  He came to them and if they had run to him and asked forgiveness, it would have been over and life would have gone on as before.  As it was, everything changed.

Today’s lesson: 

There is a terrorist at loose in the world today and it is not Adam Lanza, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden or Jeffrey Dahmer.  It is Satan who had once been Lucifer, the anointed one who covered.  He is the one who infiltrates the thoughts of lonely, confused, isolated people.  He gets some of them to spend time watching pornography and luring them into child abuse.  He tells others that they are victims and need to get even.  Other people hear the voices and try to silence them in a sea of drugs and alcohol. Some even adopt the enemy’s evil personality as their own and delight to kill others.   The terrorist is Satan and his minions.  He is out to steal kill and destroy.

The truth is that Adam Lanza and the others are just as much his victims as the children killed in the school shooting, the people who died in 9/11 and those blown up in Oklahoma City.  If it is associated with death, it is the work of Satan.

So why do many people spend time thinking that Father God is the culprit and asking, “Why would He let this happen?”  They call bad things ‘acts of God.’   They think that God is in charge of everything and forget that He has given us choice.  He will not step in and supernaturally change our choices, unless we come to Him and ask Him to intervene.

Even Satan had choice – which is how he got himself into this fix in the first place.  The enemy knows that there is no redemption for him and he is determined to steal as many of us from the family of God as he possibly can.

So, remember, you have been given choices and when we make them, it affects others as well as ourselves.  We choose what we watch and what we put in our minds.  We choose what we do when no one can see us.  We can choose to yield to the deceptive lies of the enemy and try to bury pain in assorted addictive behaviors.

We will all be in one camp or the other.  Who we yield to controls us.  If the terrorist controls us, we become a terrorist or at the very least we will try to be good, yet know we have missed it.  If we yield to the One Who loves us, then we become a lover. We get to choose.

Our choice determines our future and our possibilities.  If we think that it is hopeless and that things are so out-of-control that we can not affect it, then the terrorist will win.  If we ourselves get to know the Creator of the Universe and reach out to Him, He will show us how to reach out to others.  He will show that there are more than enough of us to accomplish His plan for our loved ones and for our nation.  Jesus started with just twelve.

Yes, there is a terrorist but he is defeated.  Jesus defeated him on the cross.  It is up to us to enforce his defeat.

So, now the ‘Once Upon a Time’ story continues.  Remember there is a Savior . . . and He wants each of us to live ‘happily ever after!’  Who will you yield to?  Choose wisely.

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Jazzie’s Story

 Jazzie was a happy, light-hearted child.  She laughed almost from the day she was born and absolutely everyone was drawn to her.  She only cried when she really had a need and otherwise would play contentedly with her baby doll and her toys.  Her mother wanted to love her but she was so absorbed in the drama of her life that she hardly noticed the graceful, loving little person in her home.

As Jazzie grew older, the dysfunction of her home began to affect her.  There was shouting and anger all around her.  She would quietly slip off to another room to stay out-of-the-way of her older siblings and the adults in the house.  One day, the craziness became a part of her own life and the unspeakable things that she endured, broke her fragile and lovely heart.

She began to keep a low profile, but when things would begin to come apart, anger would rise up in her and she would try to protect herself to no avail.  Soon she reluctantly surrendered to the madness.  All through her growing up years, there was no joy and only survival.  She vowed never let anyone be able to hurt her and built walls around her heart.

Somewhere in the midst of the  pain, she made an agreement that ‘no one would ever love her.’  She had decided that she was not worthy of love.  She made another agreement also and it was ‘I am responsible.’  She felt that she could never trust anyone and she was in charge of herself.  These were very lonely decisions and they led her into deep bitterness.  She would see others falling in love and she would be jealous and hateful toward them.  When a young man would show interest in her, she would let him near for just a brief time and then she would wound him to protect herself from rejection.  A sense that she was powerful began to take root in her and she became prideful.  Everywhere she went, there was strife.

Empty and alone, she had opened a door in her heart that had been filled with an evil presence and often she felt as if it had taken control.  She didn’t know how to stop it and surrendered again.

She still had dreams.  Jazzie was very gifted musically.  She used to sing all the time.  She went to school to get her Masters in Music.   All of her compositions were dark and had an unsettling quality.  She was constantly comparing herself with the other talented students and felt something was missing.  This only deepened her rage.

What Jazzie didn’t know was that the God of the Universe loves her and He was longing for her to lay aside her anger, bitterness, pride and jealousy and turn to Him.  He had already forgiven her and all the people who had hurt her.  He wanted her to know that He was not mad at her.  He had sent people to her to tell her of His great love and He had many others praying for her.  He began to trouble her sleep and her dreams were filled with His voice calling her.

She didn’t know what was happening and still hung on to the hurt and the pain.  An old friend, who knew what her childhood had been, had an encounter with the Lord.  Her life was so changed that Jazzie could hardly recognize her.  She glowed with the life of God.  It hurt Jazzie to be near her.  She wanted her to die!  She didn’t even know why she felt that way.  It was all so confusing.  She knew next to nothing about the Lord and was a total stranger to the Bible.

Her talent began to be noticed and she took a trip to a nearby city to give a concert and spent the night in a hotel.  As she sat on the bed, she surfed the channels on the television.  There was nothing she wanted to watch.  Turning it off, she began to look for something to read and found a Gideon Bible in the drawer by the bed.  She opened it to 1 John 4 and scanned the verses.  She stopped at verse 7.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

She began to weep.  She really didn’t understand some of the words, but they by-passed her head and burned into her heart!

She knew that she did not love.

She searched her heart.  She did not love anyone.  Certainly she loved no one in her own family that had so wounded her.  She didn’t even love herself.

“God, if your real, please teach me how to love.  Come into my heart and change me.”  She felt a strange sense of peace that she had never known. She didn’t remember the happy, sweet child that she had been.

There was a flutter in her stony heart and it began to melt.  It was the beginning . . .

I Surrender Some . . .

The musicians began to move from praise to worship music and the words went up on the overhead.  “I surrender all, I surrender all.  All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

Travis took a deep breath.  He had surrendered his time by teaching the young people.  He had surrendered his money by giving generously to the church and to rescue children from the sex trade and support children in India.  He had surrendered his talent by singing in the church choir and even occasionally performing a solo.  He had surrendered a lot.  He studied the Scriptures and could quote them with ease.  He had surrendered more than most, he thought.

He was somewhat proud of his ability to argue doctrine.  He disdained those whose opinion was different from his. He judged the preachers on television and even judged his own pastor.   He had given Jesus his whole head, but what he didn’t realize was that what God wanted was his heart.  Something about the song began to disturb him.  He sang out the words with his usual enthusiasm, but the band kept playing the tune over and over and over!

He began to examine his own heart and he found that it was closed and dry.  He changed the words to “I surrender some . . . “  Tears began to slip down his face.  He tried to get control.  He didn’t want anyone to see.  He wanted the song to stop!  He was, after all, the ‘go-to’ guy with all the answers, but it was too late.  The tears were flowing freely now.  Without any volition on his part, he found his feet moving toward the altar and there in front of everyone – all his acquaintances and friends – all that he had judged and disdained, this hard-hearted guy fell to his knees sobbing.  Shockingly, he didn’t respond to an altar call by the pastor, yet he found himself on the floor in broken-ness.  The worship team was still singing, “I surrender all . . .” and this tough, arrogant guy was being changed.

For the first time, Travis, felt the breath of the Holy Spirit flood his soul and he was swept into the arms of His loving Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Travis had surrendered his heart and his soul.  He was made new.

Today’s Lesson:

Today, there are many people sitting in the pews in churches who have prayed a prayer with their heads and think that they have something.  They go about doing good and thinking they are special.  They don’t know the One they think they are serving and this is a tragedy.   When Travis prayed the first time, it was with his head.  The Scriptures tell us that when we call on the name of the Lord, it must be with our whole heart and not our whole head.  Father doesn’t want just ‘some’ part of us.  He wants ‘all.’

If we have not entered by the Way that Jesus opened by His death on the cross, when the day comes, and we stand before the Lord, will He say, “Depart from me, I never knew you?”  The wheat and the tares – the real and the counterfeit – serve together in any local church.  So, as leaders and pastors, what can we do?  Is there an answer?

First, it is important that we examine our own hearts to see if we are fully surrendered and fully awake.  Have we walked with the Lord so long that we are more into the organization and the management end of things than we are into spending time in His Presence?  Are we lifting Jesus up in every service?  Are we drawing near?

The worship team in our story was fully prayed up and the anointing that rested on them lifted Jesus higher and the convicting power of the Holy Ghost was on hand to convict and to save.  When one of the prayer team knelt beside Travis, he just put a hand on his back and prayed quietly while the man wrestled with his flesh and came to full surrender.

When Travis finally stood up, the stress and arrogance were gone.  He had met the One who created him and he had changed his citizenship.  Somehow now, all of the things that he thought about his ideas and reputation didn’t matter.  He was made brand new.

Related Scriptures:

Romans 10:9,10   

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

1 Corinthians 13:3
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Psalm 51:10-17

10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Deep Calls to Deep

If you love to swim, you know the exhilaration of diving into a deep pool and the freedom of swimming under the surrounding water and the cool, refreshment of the deep.  The limitation is how long you can hold your breath while longing to be able to breathe under water and continue to go deeper.  But for many, there is the fear of the water smothering them and keeping them in its arms and never letting go.

But there is a Deep that is safe and where you are free.  It is the deeper life that God has promised to those of us who draw near.  It is an exhilarating place to be.  It surrounds you with love and refuge.  It holds you and gives you the freedom to go.  But the deeps are so enticing that when we finally get there, we never want to leave.

The depths of the Lord are the ‘everlasting arms’ and the ‘secret place of the Most High.’  It is the place where we abide in Him and He in us.  We are lost in Him.

I once heard an illustration of a bottle in the ocean.  The vessel, if it is tightly capped, will float and bob on the top of the water.  It is in the ocean but it is not filled with the ocean.  A bottle, that is uncapped and open to all the ocean has for it, takes on water.  The more it takes on, the deeper it goes until it is completely filled up and lying in the deep.

And so it is when we go to the ‘Secret Place’ with open spirits, we get lost in Him and in that place, our will comes into line with His will and our way is established and our plans succeed.  Of course, by then, our plans will be His plans and our life will be His life.  His plans are perfect and He gives us a future and a hope.

Just as a person who dives into the deep and takes a deep breath, dies to this life, so it is with those of us who move into the embrace of the everlasting arms breathing in the sweet aroma of His Presence.  We die to all that seems important in this life and become one with the Father.  It is a place of romance, refreshment and direction.  It is the sacred romance.

If you haven’t taken the risk and moved to the deep, I can highly recommend it.  There is no thrill on earth, no peace in the natural realm, no relationship, and no drug that can compare.  It is the ultimate addiction.

Todays Lesson:  The way into the throne room that we have found is to lay aside all pride and agenda; put on worship music that points you to the Father, turn it up loud enough that you can’t hear what you are saying, and get alone in your prayer closet,  in your favorite chair, or on the floor.  Focus all of your attention on our great God, who He is, and His great gifts to us.  He is our Father.  He gave us His Son and His Holy Spirit.  He gave us wisdom.  They are ours if we will  but receive them.  As we come into His arms in the throne room, we enter into His Presence and we find true joy.

I invite you to risk diving into the deep right now.  Give up all that you have held on to.  All excuses, fear, guilt, shame and whatever else has kept you separated.  He isn’t mad at you and doesn’t want to punish you.  He is a Lover. He is wants you.  Enter in and share His great Love.  He who owns the deep and it’s depths is are calling for you personally!  He calls out of His great desire for fellowship and romance with you.  He’s waiting.

Confirming Scriptures:

Revelation 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb

Psalm 42:7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Proverbs 16:3 (AMP)  3Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed.

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Joy Killers

Have you ever argued with your spouse just before church?  Or gossiped about a neighbor? Or been involved in a church split?  Or talked about your pastor at the end of the service with the kids in the back seat?  Do you just pass it off and say, “Who doesn’t?  It’s no big deal.”

Are not these things based in envy, judgement, and pride.  Do you think  highly of yourself and that your opinions are supreme above others?  Do you carry yourself with pride because of your great knowledge and understanding?

Do you not know that if you strive, judge and envy others, that you will be judged and  there will be confusion and every evil work all around you? Is this what you want in a fellowship?  Would you hang out with you?

He turns away from us

The Scripture plainly tells us to esteem others better than ourselves.  It tells us to judge not or we will be judged.  Strife kills the joy we have in His Presence because He withdraws Himself from us when we engage in it.

Strife and judging are works of our self-will and they give the enemy access.  The Bible says that when we engage in this kind of divisive activity our enemies laugh.  I don’t want the devil and his minions to laugh at me, do you?

Today’s lesson is:  Draw near to the Lord in all humility.  Lay yourself on the altar and receive His forgiveness.  He isn’t mad at you.  He just can’t hang with you when you do these things.  He doesn’t want you to do this because it hurts you and others.  He is waiting for you.  He loves you.  He forgives you.  He wants to manifest Himself to you.

What do you want?  Do you want to be right or do you want to live righteously and take pleasure in the joy of His Presence?

This is the year of encounter with our Great God and Father.  IF you draw near, He will.  I promise.  But if you have been doing your own thing for a long time, He may wait a bit until He knows that you are serious.  Are you?

Confirming Scriptures:

James 4:8  Draw near to God and He will draw nearto you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and  purify your hearts, you  double-minded.  NASB

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. NASB

James 3:16  16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.  KJV

I Tim 6: 2b – 6  If you have leaders there who teach otherwise, who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus and this godly instruction, tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. Eventually there’s an epidemic of backstabbing, and truth is but a distant memory. They think religion is a way to make a fast buck.   The Message

1 Cor 3:1-3    And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.  I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,  for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

Prov 20:3  Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will [b]quarrel.

Psalms 80:6    You make us an object of contention to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.