Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed

Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed Pastors Corner

This episode identifies two ways that Christians can reduce stress and live joyfully
  1. Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed
  2. Overcoming stagnancy
  3. How to overcome insecurity
  4. The Power of a Seed
  5. What is the Holy Ghost Post Sermon

A few weeks ago, I made a very important decision. I disconnected from my cell phone, shut down everything, and disappeared into God’s office which most people call simply… the woods.

I was there for a meeting with our most wonderful Lord Jesus and He did not disappoint.

Even before I showed up, that still small Voice in my heart began to point out some things that I needed to change. I believe now that these “life pointers” are not just for my benefit but for yours as well.

So, let me share two strategies that can help you go from being an overwhelmed Christian to an overjoyed one.

The challenge

Each of us has a million things screaming at us each day. Tasks that need to be done, homework deadlines etc. And—sinner or saint—we all struggle with the constant daily grind. But God’s Word shows us that Jesus came so the Christian can have “life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

So how do we get rid of the anxiety and despair that sometimes stems from simply having a “to-do” list that’s just too much?

The Solution

First, remember that, while God will never give us more than we can bear, we can take on more than He meant for us to carry.

Simply put, ask yourself if the responsibilities on your shoulders are all part of God’s plan…or yours? This is where many of us make a critical mistake.

If we take too much upon ourselves—or allow others to push us into a situation where we’re trying to do God’s will PLUS their will—we run the risk of burning ourselves out and increasing our anxiety levels.

Remember, God is all about peace. Simplicity. Focusing on one major task that He has given us to accomplish.

This can be quite challenging, especially if you are a gifted person. Realize that every gift of God is also a burden. As the Scripture writes,

A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.

Proverbs 18:16

In other words, your talents and gifts will manifest themselves in ways that will connect you to others. Depending upon your gifts, this can easily translate into a spiritual or mental burden.

For example, Moses was gifted with leadership abilities and faith. While God had a purpose for these talents, they quickly became bogged in day-to-day decisions, and Moses became overwhelmed. Jethro wisely advised Moses not let his gifts control him and to let others shoulder that responsibility.

The point is, Moses was quickly becoming overwhelmed because he didn’t step back and focus his talents on the calling of God in his life. Like many of us, he had a heart for people and this streak in his nature would drive him to ruin if left unchecked.

The same is true for you. Control your gifts; don’t let them control you.

You might be gifted with a nature of compassion. If you’re not careful, you can take responsibilities onto your shoulders that God did not direct you to take. If that’s the case you will become overwhelmed.

Even though your desire is good and your motive may be pure, as Christians we must be wise stewards of our time and stress loads—especially now.

So, what do we do?

Warren Buffett is a billionaire and, one of the top ten wealthiest people in the world in 2020. He made a statement that I believe is a sound lesson for Christians to apply to their lives.

 “The difference between successful people and really successful people, is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Warren Buffett

Why do I believe we can learn something here? Because, although I don’t equate success with money, the truth is, that effective Christians live very focused lives. They live in ways that are centered around the calling God has placed within them.

Now, this doesn’t just mean the ministry. Your calling might be your career, it might be your role as a housewife, or a work in society, such as an orphanage etc. Whatever God has called you to do will bring its own share of burdens—burdens that God has promised will not overwhelm you.

Don’t go beyond the scope of that calling unless the Spirit specifically directs you to do so.

We sometimes feel guilty for turning down requests for help, especially from fellow believers. I’m not advocating for selfish living. I think we need to be willing to help one another even if it’s a sacrifice. But that has to be kept in balance.

If your sacrifice to help someone will hinder you from fulfilling other roles for which God has placed you on earth, then you need to say no.

The Lord Jesus lived an extremely focused life. And He did say “no.” Critics might consider Him myopic but not once did He go beyond the scope of the ministry that He had been given, although He had the power, the wisdom, and the talents necessary to do so.

For example, the zealots knew He was the perfect man for their cause. Jesus had the people in the palm of His hand. Just one word from Him and every Israelite who believed in Him would rally against the power of Rome. The Sadducees and Pharisees also recognized the potential political influence that Jesus could wield.

But the Scripture is clear:

But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men,

John 2:24

Focusing exclusively on the calling of His life caused Jesus to turn down many opportunities–including opportunities to serve. But in doing so, He was able to successfully accomplish the mission that had been entrusted to His care. As a result, the world would never be the same.

Final thoughts

God does not want you to be overwelmed. He does not want you to be stressed. His plan is that you rejoice continuously throughout this life, realizing His power and His presence more with each day. So don’t complicate you life by falling into the trap of equating success with productivity.

Don’t fill up each moment. Leave many empty spots in your day so that Christ can fill them with His goodness. In so doing, you will find that life is richer. Sweeter.

And, instead of being overwhelmed, you will be overjoyed at what God is doing in and through you.

This week, enrich your time with God by listening to:

Letting off the Pressure, 05.18.1962

Meditate on Psalm 103 (the whole chapter).

Overcoming stagnancy

Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed Pastors Corner

This episode identifies two ways that Christians can reduce stress and live joyfully
  1. Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed
  2. Overcoming stagnancy
  3. How to overcome insecurity
  4. The Power of a Seed

The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of my personal favorites. Not only is it rich in breathtaking imagery, but the wisdom that fills each verse is beyond human comprehension. Inspired by the Spirit of God, Solomon presents us with very realistic insights into life, death, and God’s plan for each of us between those two points.

In today’s post-sermon, I want to draw on Ecclesiastes 1 to focus on how to overcome stagnancy in our natural and spiritual lives.

The problem

Many times we find ourselves in spiritual/mental “ruts”. These are places where we can’t move forward. We feel stuck. Confused. Sometimes even like a prisoner.

We may pray or seek spiritual guidance, but we don’t always see the results that we want right away. Sometimes we need to cling to things or people too much and that hinders us from being able to move on. Our memories of the past can stop us from embracing what God has planned for our future.

No matter what the reason, we need to overcome stagnancy to grow into the men and women that Christ envisions.

The solution

One generation passes away and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever.

Ecclesiastes 1:4

To overcome stagnancy, we need to recognize that our time on this earth is too precious to stand still.

Change is all around us. Sometimes it is good and sometimes not. We can only live a full and complete life when we align ourselves with the opportunities for positive change that God brings to us.

On my way up to church this morning, I almost missed my exit off the highway because I saw a brilliant maple tree that lit up the road with its gorgeous leaves that were painted in shades of red.

What allowed that tree to change?

It accepted the fact that the season had turned. Somehow, unbeknownst to you and me, a message was sent to all creation in our area that the fall season is here.

Ecclesiastes 1 shows us that life is filled with great cycles. Distinct seasons of change happen—spring and summer, birth and death. They are all part a great circle that keeps our world turning.

If we hold onto one stage we will never be able to embrace the next. This is why the Christian must always look forward. That is why we must always be willing to let go of what we have now to accept what God has in store.

For that tree to stay in tune with God’s program, it had to change.

So do you and I. Stagnancy, or the refusal to let go of the past and move on, can keep us from fulfilling our part in God’s plan.

Sometimes we get a certain thought in our minds—a desire that we have or a goal that is un-reached. Stagnancy will keep us focused on that desire or goal while God may have another path to which He is trying to attract our attention.

Many of us have heard of Fanny Crosby, the author of more than 9,000 hymns. One of the first things that comes to mind about Fanny is that she was blind. She wasn’t born blind— her affliction came from the wrongful treatment of a pretended doctor. You can imagine the disappointment this produced, especially when it was followed by the death of her father a few months later.

A stagnant approach would be to focus on her blindness. But Fanny once made the following remark.

Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

Fanny Crosby

Her refusal to remain stagnant—or to focus her attention on her condition instead of what she could do for the Lord—led Fanny Crosby to become one of the most influential songwriters of of all time. By age 23, she had addressed Congress and wrote hymns for several U.S. presidents.

Why? What allowed this woman to move forward instead of remaining stagnant?

When we understand that we only have this brief span of life to be all that God wants us to be, we become driven to accomplish God’s purpose. We embrace the challenges His Word offers us and grow by them. We accept the difficult situations of life, no matter how unpleasant, because we know that through them He is molding us into His image.

Yes, the earth endures but you and I only have a few heartbeats. So make every moment count.

What if a tree could talk? Imagine if it could say, “well I’m comfortable where I am. I don’t want to push forth the effort to grow or to change.” It would die. But all of nature portrays that change is life and life is change. Likewise, to be stagnant is to die on the inside. We must push forth the effort to grow in Christ and as human beings.

How do we deal with the past?

The past may comfort us. The past may be filled with things we’d rather forget. It can inspire us, or make us laugh. But the past should never rule over us. It should never dictate how we live in the present. Because today is a new day—a day that brings us closer to the Eternal Day which will never end.

Fanny Crosby died about a month before she turned 95. Her last verse of poetry read, “You will reach the river brink, some sweet day, bye and bye.” I’m confident that she got her wish and that the first face she saw was the Lord Jesus.

As our world and our lives change in ways most of us never imagined, let’s focus on our attitude.

Look inside. Do you recognize the opportunity that this new season brings to you? Or do you focus so much on the negative that you can’t see the beauty of what’s right ahead?

Recognize that we only have today. And, with that mindset, embrace God’s plan for this season in your life.

Brother Joseph

Recommended reading:

Ecclesiastes 1 (whole chapter)

1 John 2 (whole chapter)

How to overcome insecurity

Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed Pastors Corner

This episode identifies two ways that Christians can reduce stress and live joyfully
  1. Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed
  2. Overcoming stagnancy
  3. How to overcome insecurity
  4. The Power of a Seed
  5. What is the Holy Ghost Post Sermon

Since our church is currently doing a few weeks of Questions and Answers, I thought this would be a good time to fortify the saints by scripturally addressing areas in our daily life that our enemy often targets.
My goal in these next few “post-sermon” messages is to help you live the good life that God intends for each of us.
This week, I would like to focus on overcoming insecurity. I’ll approach this great topic by addressing three questions. What is it?


What is it?


First, it’s important to know that insecurity affects all of us in one way or another. By definition, insecurity is self-doubt, where we’re not sure of our ability to handle a certain situation or we question whether or not we measure up to the competion (real or imagined). For many women, it starts with second-guessing their appearance. For some men, it’s about whether or not they can handle a particular emotional challenge.

No matter what face insecurity takes, it’s all about doubt. Doubting ourselves and, ultimately ,doubting God.
Not everyone shows that they battle with insecurity. It depends on our nature, our gender, and a host of other factors that make us all unique.


But, no matter how strong we all appear to be, every human since Adam has had to deal with the question Am I good enough? in one way or another. Even Jesus Christ showed us this aspect of humanity when He asked His closest disciples to “watch with him” or to protect him while He prayed (Matthew 26:36). He was God incarnate! He was, and always will be, the most powerful one of all! And yet He needed someone to be with Him when He faced a really difficult challenge.


Now that ought to give us all some hope!
But how do we deal with insecurity? Before we answer that question, let’s understand where it comes from and what effects it can have.


Where does it come from?


First, let me say that insecurity is a natural issue. It is not a sin. It is a complex that normally finds it beginnings in hurtful acts/deeds that are said or done earlier on in life, most often in the early childhood to late teenage years. Sometimes it’s not always actions–insecurity can stem from comparing our own abilities to people that we’re exposed to, either in-person or through media like billboards, the internet or magazines.
Whatever the source, one thing is clear: unless it is kept under control, insecurity can hinder your spiritual growth…and even destroy your natural life.


How can it hurt us?


Insecurity is what I call a “negative faith.” Satan uses it to convince Christians that they simply do not have what it takes to achieve a certain goal in their natural or spiritual lives. By believing this, Christians lock themselves inside a mental prison of their own making. Like a negative complex, they become convinced that they’re not (fill in the blank)——-enough. More often than not, Satan will point them to someone who IS ——-(fill in the blank) enough, then show his victims all the reasons why they can never measure up. Comparison is a dangerous game—–one that we should never play.


How do we overcome it?


I want to give you three steps to constantly keep before you that characters in the Bible used in their own struggles.

  1. Get angry with the situation. Now, I know that sounds strange but, let me explain. I don’t mean get angry with people but get to the point that you refuse to let insecurity dictate your life. Like Shamgar, you have to come to the point that you say “enough is enough.” Until we Christians refuse to let the devil bully us into his emotional, spiritual, and psychological corners, we will continue to act like spiritual victims INSTEAD of spiritual victors.
  2. Think spiritually not naturally. Every Christian has the choice to look at his or her life through natural or spiritual eyes. God’s Word comes to lift our thinking about ourselves from a carnal viewpoint (which is full of limitations) to a spiritual outlook that is limitless.

    Mary shows us this in her own life. Although she was from a royal lineage, she lived in a place that was simply pathetic. Nazareth was a small, backwater town with a big crime rate. The region was so bad that, when the Roman armory was robbed in Sephoris (4 miles from Nazareth), the Romans retaliated by crucifying 2,000 Jews.

    Yet, this girl who had every reason to think of herself as inferior to women from Jerusalem or Bethel, shifted her thinking to focus on God’s unique purpose for her life. She believed she was able to carry that child. And, as she said to Elizabeth “From this time on all women will call ME blessed!”
  3. Remember your past successes: Joshua commanded Israel to make visible markers of their victories. This was critical to remind both themselves, and future generations who could share in a collective “insecurity” that they had already done great things by the power of God. You see, Israel itself had to believe that they were strong enough to conquer. They had to know that they could triumph over walled cities, trained armies, and experienced commanders who knew the terrain while they themseves did not.

    The first generation did not move past that self-doubt. It spilled over into doubting God and kept them from actually seeing His Word of promise come to pass in their own lives.

    I’d like to drop a warning right here. Do not let Satan make you question your ability to accomplish God’s will for your life.

    We are all gifted in different ways. You may not have the faith of a certain brother or sister. But don’t let that stop you from using whatever faith God has given you.
  4. You may feel someone else has greater talents or question your usefulness in light of someone else. But remember that, the God who used you once, will continue to use you in whatever way He desires, if you’ll stop doubting yourself …. and doubting Him.

    These three approaches all point to one thing— replacing insecurity or “negative faith” with “positive faith”. Our mindset about ourselves will affect our mindset about God’s Word.
    You cannot believe that God can do anything in and through your life unless you’re first willing to belive that you can do anything through the power of God.

    In the end, Jesus broke through the insecurity caused by His humanity. He faced it down alone…and won that night in Gethsemane. And, because He did, nothing would ever be the same again.

The Power of a Seed

Follow-up to this morning’s live-stream, Why was the Holy Ghost sent?

About two months ago I stopped in a local Lowe’s to see if they had any squash plants available in seedling form. It was late in the season, I was told, and they didn’t have any left. I knew this was true, but I wasn’t prepared to accept the fact that I wouldn’t have my squash.

So I found a few seeds and, when my lettuce growing season was over, I planted them. This week I went to my garden and harvested the first round of bright, yellow squash. As I stood, admiring the vibrant green leaves, I found myself lost in amazement at the power of a seed.

Stop and think for a moment about the miracle that’s actually happening. Underground. Away from all human observation.

Those seeds were stored in a package for months, maybe even years. But all it took for new life to take hold were the right conditions. A little moisture. Some sunlight. Warmth. But the real marvel lies here. Despite the fact that the seed itself falls apart and rots, the life within it moves on.

In thinking about what we heard this morning, I want to highlight a few things about God’s Word Seed children.

We are equipped

First, the Second Adam, Christ, is the Quickener who came to make alive the seed of God that were lying in the dust. By His Spirit we are equipped to let the Divine Life within burst through the limitations of this flesh.

 That is why we rise above ourselves. We now push forth aspects of His glory. We speak in tongues. We do miracles. We raise the dead and see visions. By His Spirit we discern the secrets of the heart and manifest God’s glory through kind words and loving deeds.

We are being transformed

But our journey doesn’t end when we are quickened to life by the Holy Spirit. God wants to transform us into His own image. This is a process that continues throughout this life and ends when we stand glorified in His presence. Now here’s the good part.

The same God that quickened us, is with us throughout the journey to ensure that we arrive safely at our destination. Just look back at that squash seed again. Everything it needed to bring forth bright yellow fruit was inside it from the time it germinated. All it had to do was remain in the right atmosphere (the soil) and use the nutrients it ingested to bring forth more of its own life.

So it is with us my brothers and sisters. As we remain in the atmosphere of the Holy Ghost (who is in the Word) and use the spiritual nutrients we take within ourselves, we will find that we actually have what it takes to express more of God’s life.

We are prepared

I’ve often seen Christians praying for more power. More faith. More understanding. I think that’s fine. But do we realize that we already have what we need to overcome this age and be raptured into the presence of God?

In Luke 17:5, the disciples asked the Lord “Increase our faith.” But I want you to notice Jesus’s reply in verse 6. “And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” He never told them more faith was on the road. He simply showed them that what they had was enough to do what Adam did before the Fall!

So what stands in your way? What Goliath boasts, hurling his fetid breath in your face? Stand like the prophet Zechariah and declare “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain.”

We are confident

This is why the Bride can face tomorrow with confidence. That’s why we can still smile in the face of tight deadlines, stress, hurricanes, wildfires, pandemics, job insecurity, crooked politics and whatever else the devil has in store.  

We know that, no matter what happens, the Life within us cannot be stopped. Let the critics say that the “season of Christian squash” is over.  Let the mutter that miracles no longer happen and doubt the prophecies of God’s Word. Perhaps they don’t carry the Holy Ghost in their denominational shops.

 But God doesn’t take shortcuts anyway—He is in the business of producing things from seed.

We are that seed. And, by His grace, we will produce a full harvest—the Millennium and the eternal rule of Jesus Christ.

What is the Holy Ghost? Follow-up

This morning I shared two main things that describe the Holy Spirit—the life of God and a Seal. This afternoon, I’d like to drill down on that first aspect a little more and identify how God’s life becomes infused with your life today.

Adam’s life

To begin, let’s look once more at the life of Adam, God’s first child. Adam was a perfect combination of faith and what we would call biology. His life-force was God’s spirit, or ruach in Hebrew which means “wind”, “breath,” or “spirit.” Adam’s unconscious faith allowed him to rule over nature, travel faster than the light, and have every animal in creation love him. Just look at what Jesus did after sin struck the world and you’ll get a good picture of what Adam could do before sin touched the planet.

Biologically, Adam’s gene-sequence—or DNA—was perfect. On a spiritual level, there was no sin so there was no sickness. On a natural level, his DNA came from God so there was no chance that diseases like COVID-19, HIV etc. could infiltrate his body.

Adam’s commission

Adam’s task was clear—make other people like himself. If Adam and Eve had waited on God, eventually, faith and biology would have come together to produce another perfect child. But with the onset of sin, we find that Adam was still able to reproduce biologically—but NOT in faith.

Let me emphasize that again. Adam reproduced but it was not as God intended.

The job was only half-way complete. God’s commission to reproduce and replenish was done through pure science (biology) and not faith because sin had spoiled the picture.

Quite clearly here we can see the same in our world. Spiritually, many churches are bringing forth children (members) but not through the faith covenant of a new birth. Many lay emphasis on works instead of faith for there is no supernatural change in their life.

Naturally, we see the same. Without morals or the Word of God to guide them, humans reproduce in the realm of sin, outside of marriage, and not in the faith of God’s covenant. The sheer number of single moms that we have in society proves this.

Adam’s life was not carried on. Abel came to the world without the power that his father once knew. Abel came into this world with a death sentence hanging over his head from the moment he drew his first breath.

How did this affect humanity?

Instead of health, there was sickness. Instead of fellowship, there was a spiritual disconnect from God that now required the blood of a lamb to bridge. The family structure was fractured with the husband against his wife and one brother killing another.

Now, remember that the life of God is a spiritual thing. It is unseen, like the wind (read John 3:8). Yet this unseen breath has the power to transform dead flesh into a living reproduction of God—just like it did in Adam. When Jesus breathed upon His disciples in John 20:22, He was fulfilling God’s pattern. Here again was God breathing upon the dust that He had chosen for His own divine purpose. On the Day of Pentecost we see that life moved into them (not just upon them) like a mighty rushing wind.

What really happened?

God had fulfilled His own commission to Adam. He did what Adam failed to do. God had reproduced His own life in human flesh. And the 120 believers were now ready to spiritually bring forth even more children unto God through what we call the Great Commission.

As Paul wrote,

For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:15 ESV

God’s life in 2020 and beyond

As we look at ourselves, we must understand that we are holders of the same precious life that God intended for us to have all along, when we receive the Holy Spirit. Whereas the first Adam failed, the Second Adam (Christ) transmitted His own life to us when the Spirit left His side that day on Calvary.

This life is our ticket to overcoming this world. It holds within itself the power to break the chains that bind us, to heal our sicknesses, and to change our negative circumstances. Never underestimate the power of this divine life.

Remember, God always chooses to hide His life behind fragile dust. But it is DIVINE life just the same.

When you feel you can’t go on, remember the life within your heart created the world. When struggles and situations seem overpowering, remember the life inside cannot be defeated. The Holy Spirit is now here to correct the errors in your natural birth, to change you from a creature of time into a creature of eternity.

That is where spiritual growth happens.

To look at it another way, God’s plan never changed. From the Old Testament to the New, it just became more tangible. So is it in your life. You, the sealed product of God, don’t become more of a Christian—you just demonstrate more of that Divine Life that’s already on the inside as you grow in Him.

And that is what our Father wants. Let Him unleash the power of His own life in you today.

Suggested readings:

John 15 (whole chapter)
What is the Holy Ghost?

Surviving Laodicea Follow -up

This morning we identified 5 ways to survive the final church age called Laodicea. Using the early church as a model, it is clear that the Bride must:

  1. Stay connected to the Holy Spirit
  2. Remain connected/committed to each other
  3. Constantly expect the supernatural moving of the Spirit
  4. Be vigilant and on guard against the enemy’s attacks
  5. Live for Christ’s return.

This evening I thought it would be helpful to showcase what each of these things look like in your life. Now, it’s important to remember that these principles will express themselves differently for each of us because we all face unique circumstances.

But our lives will all have a common thread that proves the Spirit’s presence within us.

Connected to the Holy Spirit

If we are connected to the Holy Spirit, we will hear His voice. We will know His will. We will be guided by Him and seek to minister to one another. John 16:13 reads,

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

— John 16:13

As you seek to protect an atmosphere of worship and praise, you will find Christ to be all the more present. For truly our God desires to dwell richly within His people!

Connected to each other

I have often emphasized the need for believers to communicate with one another but this connection goes deeper than phone calls or texts—this is a spiritual empathy, a spiritual connection that cannot be expressed in any human language. And this empathy, or feeling for one another, must be nurtured. The Bible stresses the need for Christians to “let brotherly love continue (Heb.13:1)” and to have “fervent love (1 Peter 1:22)”. We must seek opportunities to deepen our spiritual bonds. In part, this means checking in with one another and encouraging each other throughout life’s journey.

But it also translates to bearing with one another when it’s hard to do so. Trying to understand where the other person is coming from and looking out for each other’s best interests. It’s praying deeply for each other and building each other up with compliments and praise.

In short, this connection lets those around you know that you are interested in them. And Paul expresses this truth when he writes, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (Philippians 2:4 NLT).”

Expecting the Supernatural

The supernatural is all around us. Each breath we take, each step we make, every time a bird flies—it’s all part of God’s glorious hand. And yet our Father has a more intimate, personal desire to express His power to us and through us. To expect the supernatural means to live in a state of constant readiness. Spirit-filled souls must be charged with anticipation, knowing that each second may be the moment of their expected deliverance. We must be positive, creating an atmosphere of faith that draws the Holy Spirit’s miracle-working power.

We are not doubters. We believe. Therefore we must receive.

I have seen God work in the most unexpected places and at the most unusual of times. There is no predicting His timetable. After all, God sent His Son at the most inopportune time for Israel. Caesar Augustus was a new kind of ruler—the first Caesar ever in fact—and he demanded a global census that cemented his hold on the known world and drove Israel further into the mud.

But that was the moment God called “the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4).” That was when He chose to send His Son into the world.

Despite the Coronavirus pandemic and the litany of problems in our age, the Bride should have her head up, and her eyes looking toward the skies. We have a promise of a Rapture. What could be more supernatural than that?

Watch out for the enemy

Being watchful means that we take the time to consider if our actions are giving the enemy a chance to take over our life.

Humans are in the habit of acting and then praying. We would be better served by praying, waiting on God, then acting when we have His leadership.

We must also be conscious of our weaknesses and keep them under the blood. We all have areas that Satan targets more than others. See my previous post on the Castle Hochosterwitz.

For example, today I had to stop to pick up a burrito on the way home from church. In the restaurant they were playing a song from a movie that I saw as a kid. Its rhythm is catchy and the words drew me back to my childhood.

But it wasn’t a song that would please the Holy Spirit.

In those few seconds, I had to make a choice—give in to the temptation of listening and enjoying it or get my mind off of it and get on with my affairs.

To my flesh’s dismay, I chose the latter.

Our enemy will strike at any time so be on guard!

Live for Christ’s return

When the Lord’s return is our everything, we are building our life around that single event. We choose to live holy or unholy BECAUSE we believe in His return.

We choose careers that will glorify Him because we believe He’s coming soon.

We don’t emphasize gaining worldly goods because we expect to leave them all behind. We try to please Him in everything we say because we love Him and are looking to be when He comes.

But what about the natural side of life?

Are we settling grudges? Mending fences and rebuilding bridges—metaphorically speaking? We must pay the debts that we can pay and live honorably in the sight of those around us.

Let us live above the temptation and pleasures of this life. Give your time to the King and deepen your relationship with Him. Refuse to compromise on your beliefs in an intolerant world. Let the Word rule your mind as It will one day rule the world.

The first church did. And with that attitude, they turned the world upside down.

And so will you.

Suggested reading:

Keep an emphasis on serving one another this week, focusing on Philippians 2.

Have a question?

Post it in the comments.

Spiritual Ingredients

One of the best parts of being from a West Indian heritage is the food. I mean, Trinidad–or Jamaica– wouldn’t be the same without  Roti, Jerk Chicken, and pilau, would it? But we all know that, if you ask a Trinidadian for a recipe, you’re probably not going to get one—at least, not one with exact measurements. You just sort of improvise and things end up okay.

What goes into your spiritual life?

I’d like to compare our spiritual lives to… well, food.  Just as several ingredients come together to make a meal we enjoy, so our lives are chock full of a variety of different experiences, memories, biases, and habits that make us each unique.

Now, you can improvise with dinner but you cannot improvise with your soul. Christ has very specific outcomes that He wants to see and He won’t adjust His recipe for anyone.

And that’s the sticky part for many of us Christians, right there.

Think of the Word as a recipe–a recipe that must be followed to the letter in order to achieve the results that the Recipe Maker had in mind.

How do we filter the Word?

But humans have a strange habit. Whenever the Word is preached, we subconsciously pass it through a mental filter and, as such, limit how much of an impact it has in our lives.

Like the Hebrews who listend to Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 22:1-22) ,we are quick to accept aspects of a sermon with which we already agree. I call this spiritual confirmation bias. But when the Word is dealing with things that we’re sensitive about, we sometimes put things to one side. In the “to be dealt with later” pile that never really gets dealt with.

How does this work in real life?

Case in point, let’s take a fictitious person…Tonya. Tonya is a Spirit-filled Christian,but she grew up in an abusive home where her dad often yelled at her mother. Now, she’s an adult, but whenever the preacher raises his voice in the pulpit, Tonya has a hard time accepting what he says, because she’s automatically thrown back to her childhood. She subconsciously associates raised voices with anger.

Rob, another fictitious person in the congregation, loves it when the preacher gets loud because he associates raised voices with strength and authority–something he grew up seeing. Rob thinks God is dealing with him because he feels blessed whenever the preacher speaks with authority, but… in reality, he’s filtering out the WORD and is mistaking his own comfort zone for a move of God in his life. He isn’t really benefiting from the sermon—he’s pretty much just boosting his own ego.

In both cases, the Christians are focusing on HOW things make them feel  instead of WHAT is being said and how it can change their life. In both cases, the Word is being filtered through past experiences. They must push past their own experiences and focus on the Word.

A couple that has been married multiple times may shrink back at the parts of the Word that speak against divorce and remarriage. But if their hearts are in the right place, they will agree with the Word anyway and stand by it.

To dig a little deeper, when God calls for us to repent, Christians often don’t see a need to do so. “What do I have to repent for?” they ask. On the surface, we don’t see our wrongs because we are not looking at ourselves through the eyes of the Spirit. I think of the church in Revelations. How many times Christ called for repentence! Yet they—especially the Laodicean church—felt that they were right in their own eyes.

Why does this happen?

Because in this last age, everything that we hear is passed through the filter of our own judgment. WE decide what we want to believe. WE decide what we want to change.

And we can express our opinion about everything.

I was recently surprised to see that people could rate prison. Our local jail has a rating of 2.8 stars! But this is the age where everything is evaluated–and, as a result, we become used to judging things by our own standards.

Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “The carnal mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great. But the Lord’s way is quite the reverse.” It is easy for our mind to justify our own beliefs–that has been the nature of humanity since Adam.

Balaam filtered the divine commandment NOT to curse Israel through the filter of his own ambition. Barak, warrior of Israel, passed the Word of the Lord that Deborah brought through the filter of his own fear. Sarah passed the divine promise through the filter of the fact that she was beyond child-bearing years.

And in all these cases, we see that things didn’t turn out as God originally intended when He wrote the recipe—or gave them His Word of promise.

What does this mean for you?

Be very careful not to allow past experiences (memories), your thoughts (imaginations), your feelings about a certain person/thing (affections), your self-esteem (conscience) or the probable outcome of a situation (reasoning) to impact what parts of the Word you receive.

You don’t use all the ingredients in your kitchen when you’re making a meal. You automatically exclude some because they don’t belong. Likewise, you include others because they do. I mean, can you imagine having macaroni pie without the cheese? Somethings just should be legal!

The unique ingredients of our life—our personality, life choices etc.— are to be filtered through God’s recipe and not the other way around.

Remember, God will put into you exactly what He expects to get out of you. But, if He sends it and you choose not to receive it, when the testing (or tasting) time comes, you’ll be found lacking.

So, how can we keep ourselves from filtering out parts of God’s recipe?

  1. Be watchful.
  2. Remind yourself that God’s Word comes to identify and cut out the issues in your life. It is the filter itself. But if you “filter the filter” you’ll be left with a bunch of dirt in your life.
  3. If you’re tempted to reject something, or put it off to another time, ask yourself…why? On the flip side, if you really feel blessed by something that’s said, ask yourself if you are truly believing it or just enjoying it? Is there meaningful, lasting change?

If something kind of “gets under your skin” is it because there’s an issue there that Satan doesn’t want exposed or removed?

Brother Branham taught us that revelation exposes Satan and, as such, he fights against it! (The Revelation of Jesus Christ). If Satan can misrepresent truth by twisting its appearance to your mind. If he can convince you that you’ve accepted the Word, but there’s no lasting change, then the Word has not been received in your heart…and the devil wins.

What makes a powerful church?

A powerful church is one that is willing to stay on its knees until enough unction from heaven comes to make every word of the Bible a reality. That is when we can say that we have overcome ourselves. After all, it is the Word itself that prepares us for the Coming of the Lord.  

Recommended reading for meditation:

Ephesians 6 (whole chapter).
Colossians 3 (whole chapter)
Tape: Questions and Answers #4 08.30.1964 (same as last week).

The Mind War Part 2

Castle Hochosterwitz

Hochosterwitz castle is a fortress that rises over 2,000 feet above sea level in Austria. It’s first historical mention is in the year 860 AD. While there are, in my opinion, plenty of other castles in Europe that are grander and older, Burg Hochosterwitz is famous for the simple reason that, according to local tradition, NO ONE has ever captured this castle.
If you’re familiar with Europe’s history, you’ll understand why this is so remarkable. Paris was beseiged at least 5 times and our own city of Philadelphia was captured by the British in 1777.


Built on a limestone rock that rises about 500 feet above ground, this fortress is considered impregnable because of its design. It has 14 gates that an enemy must conquer one at a time to get to the heart of the castle compound. But the gates weren’t designed just to slow down the enemy—they were built with a second set of steps that allowed the castle’s defenders to attack the enemy on all sides.
With this kind of setup, after almost 1,200 years the castle’s reputation remains intact.


Our Tower


The Bible tells us that Christ’s Name is our Tower. I want you to think for a moment. If natural men could build a tower (or a fortress) so defensible how much stronger is the Tower of the Word?
Our Tower has been carefully crafted, word by word, just like Hochosterwitz castle was constructed stone by stone. Our fortress is impregnable. Untouchable. And no enemy is capable of reaching us, as long as we remain IN the Tower.


Our Choice


We Christians are in a unique position. We can either build up our Tower or tear it down. Now, I know we might resist that thought–after all, it’s hard to imagine deliberately tearing down the tower of Christ’s name. But remember, in order to sin, we must first deliberately lay aside the Word like Adam and Eve did when they tore down the fortress that was given them in the Garden of Eden.


You see, in order for our castle, or fortress to do its job, we need to build up its influence in our life. We must remind ourselves daily that it is more than sufficient to protect us from the fears and assaults of our enemy that confront on every side. Spend time building up the impact of the Word in your life. Do not let the enemy put the thought in your mind that it is insufficient.


If Satan can cause you to doubt the power of your Tower, you automatically tear a block out of your own defences. With enough blocks removed, he will invade and take over your mind. Once your mind is conquered, your emotions will be easy to manipulate.

And once Satan controls your emotions, you will do and say things that you never would have thought you could. You become Satan’s tool and will destroy the faith of many until Satan destroys you.
The choice is yours. Build up your Tower. Don’t tear it down.


Our conflict


I want you for a moment to imagine your mind as being the courtyard of Castle Hochosterwitz. Castle Hochosterwitz has 14 entrance points that ultimately lead to its courtyard but your mind only has five.
Satan will hammer at each gate: conscience (sense of right and wrong), reasoning (what seems logical), affections (your emotions/feelings), imagination, and memories. Now, as I said this morning, each gate must be guarded by the Word for that is the only thing strong enough to defeat him. Frankly, that is the very thing that the Tower itself (the Name of Jesus Christ) is made of.


But we all know that in daily life our defenses get battered. We get tired mentally and spiritually from the enemy’s onslaughts. And in those moments…he strikes his hardest!


That is why we must constantly reinforce the defence around our gates with prayer and the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Because Satan knows that the Christian’s Tower is indestructible, his greatest success comes by causing us to question its ability to protect us.

To make this plainer, if Satan can make you wonder if your inner man has the faith to rise above a circumstance, then your outer, carnal man (the flesh) will automatically win.


When you focus your attention on a negative situation—an emotional crisis or a temptation you face, for example—you are inadvertantly helping your enemy gain access to your mind (the courtyard).


Instead, cripple Satan’s assault by replacing your thoughts about the situation with God’s Word on the issue. Literally take a block of God’s Word and put it between you and the enemy. Do you understand?

An example


For example, Ruth in the Bible had to deal with the sudden loss of her husband and a spontaneous decision she made to go to a new land. Now, she’s grieving and, instead of getting a warm welcoming committe and the support of other believers in Naomi’s homeland, she faces a lot of suspicion and negativity. Remember, she’s a Moabite and–although they were related–Israel and Moab had a history of conflict.
Have you ever felt alone or that other people (believers or not) couldn’t understand what you were going through?

I’m sure Ruth experienced that. But, despite the trauma of losing her husband, leaving her family (because the Bible tells us her dad and mom were still alive) and getting the cold shoulder when she comes to this new land of supposed Christian charity, Ruth shifts her thoughts to the future, to whatever little she knows about God’s plan for her life.


I’m sure there were many nights when she questioned her decision. Times where her mind struggled to understand just why she had chosen this path. Remember, these people in the Bible were human and struggled like we do.
But she guarded her mind against the influx of reasoning and bitterness that would have destoryed her if left unchecked. And she showed us this when Naomi gave her some rather awkward advice.


Our action


“Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man (Boaz) until he has finished eating and drinking.”

Ruth 3:3


Now, remember that God has a great plan he’s working out—Ruth will bear David who will bring forth, ultimately, Christ. But Ruth doesn’t know this. All she knows is that she trusts Naomi.


So she listens to what Naomi says (think of yourself listening to God’s Word) and blocks her mind from everything that she knows which would keep her from the threshing floor (think everything that seems to be reasonable).
Ruth goes forth and bears the reproach, because, it was a really shameful thing for a woman to be out in the night on a threshing floor. I’m sure you understand.


While, under normal circumstances, it would have been right to avoid a “threshing floor” situation, here Ruth steps beyond the confines of social propriety and the result (1,000 years later) is the birth of the Messiah.


Now don’t misunderstand—I’m not advocating for people to act irresponsibly or immorally, God forbid.

My point is that we have to literally choose to put the Word in front of every gate of our life, no matter how strange it may seem to us. For Ruth, guarding her mind, even against what she might think to be right, was what let the plan of God roll forward.


Our victory


I told you that Castle Hochosterwitz has 14 gates through which an enemy must pass before gaining access to the courtyard. THe furthest an enemy has ever gotten is Gate 4.

Takeaway


The Name of Jesus Christ is your tower. But you must still defend the gates. Daily build up your Tower’s protective ability by reminding yourself of its power and by placing the Word at every gate in your life.

  • Suggested Reading:
  • Romans 7 (whole chapter)
  • Questions and Answers #4 08.30.1964
  • Here’s a quick video showing aerial footage of Hochosteriwtz castle.