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Killer Storms Are NOT From God

Clouds & Sky 129The state of Florida, as well as the whole southeastern coast of the United States has been preparing this week to face one of the most horrendous storms in the century. Our Gulf Coast — particularly Texas — is currently trying to recover from a storm almost as devastating.  I have friends and family in both places, and their well-being is a priority in my heart. I live in the Heartland of the United States. Most years during the spring and fall, when our seasons undergo a major change, our section of the country, along with the section to the south and east of us, experiences frequent occurrences of severe weather. In recent years, there have been some devastating storms that brought hundreds of deaths and destruction to massive portions of the Midwest.

When horrific events like these killer storms develop, there are a number of people who automatically suppose that God is behind those events — or that He deliberately allows them as a way of teaching or punishing the people on earth. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in response to a number of misguided comments on that subject, by both Christians and non-Christians, I am posting this article in an effort to clear the record and bring to light the truth — both about devastating storms and about God.

Jesus said, in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”

And there you have it, friends. Those words say it all. That one statement by Jesus gives us the definitive answer to the question of whether hurricanes, tornadoes,  and other “killer storms” are from God.  Do they kill?  Do they destroy?  Then according to Jesus Christ Himself, they are not from God.  Where do they come from?  They come from an aberration and twisted use of the natural elements that is orchestrated by Satanic power in operation on this earth.

God made all natural elements, including the elements of weather, to be a blessing to man.  And even in Psalm 8, He tells us that man is to rule over “all the works” of God’s hands.  But man rebelled against God and His purposes in the garden, and listened to Satan instead.  His actions in response to Satan put man in a position of subservience to the devil, and that sin opened the door to a curse that would effect all of the created earth. (Gen. 3 / Rom. 8).  When man gave Satan the right to operate in this earth, Satan then moved into a position of being able to take hold of any of the natural elements, adulterate them, twist them, and use them to inflict evil upon mankind — and the planet itself. He operates this way on a regular basis and then tries to convince the world that God causes it all. That’s Satan’s M.O.

However, that is not the last word in the story.  God’s Covenant with man — which He calls a “covenant of peace” (Is.54) — restored man’s right to rule over the elements again — only through that covenant — and to take authority over those demonic powers.  Even in the Old Covenant, the Lord expected His faithful servants to know how to use that authority over the natural elements.  When Jesus is with His disciples in the boat, they are all still living and operating under the Old Covenant with God. But notice that when they are struck by a severe storm (Matt.8), He tells them that they are showing a serious lack of faith in responding in fear rather than authority.  He finally stills the storm for them, but at the same time, He asks them “Where is your faith?”

Please note that He did not say, “God sent this storm as judgement for the evil that’s been going on.”  Nor did He say, “God is sending this storm to test your faith.” We can’t believe two contradictory things at the same time, friends. We either believe these horrible storms are from the hand of God — or we believe Jesus and recognize them as an evil that we are supposed to take authority over.

As part of the New Covenant, Jesus literally bought back man’s right to govern in the earth as He was intended to do.  We as believers are made the Body of Christ, and since the government is now upon His shoulders – His body – us – we are supposed to be “governing.”  (Is. 9).  The devil still has the right that man gave him to operate in this earth, but we now have absolute power and authority to bind his power and activity wherever we will make the effort.

Since the finished work of Jesus, we are now literally in the highest position of authority on this planet.  Philippians 2 says that every created thing — in heaven, on earth, and under the earth — must bow its knee to and obey the name of Jesus Christ.  Do we believe that?   Ephesians 1 says that Jesus reins over all principalities and powers and that He is the head of His body – which is the Church.   If we are His body, and all things are “under His feet,” then all things are under us as well.  Do we believe that?   Jesus made it so clear: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.”

We now have the blood-bought spiritual authority living in us to take command over every natural thing.  All natural things were created by a Spirit God, and they will respond to the commands of the Spirit God in us.

What do we do with that authority?  In Mark 11 — as well as several other scriptures in the Gospels — Jesus says that if we will speak to a mountain or a tree and tell it to move, and not doubt in our hearts, but believe that it will come to pass, we will have what we say.  And He clearly demonstrated that the same action works with a storm.  Do we believe Him?

Unfortunately, some Christians seem to think that all natural calamities are some kind of judgment from God.  There will certainly come a time for God’s judgment to be unleashed — at the end — but that time is not now, if we are to believe the commission of Jesus Christ to His church.  Jesus said twice in the Gospel of John that He did NOT come to judge the world, but to save it.  He then told His disciples, and all of those who would become disciples, to follow His specific examples and continue to carry on that work of taking the Gospel to the world.  That being the case, we need to get into agreement with Jesus and say God is not judging right now; He is delivering the grace and mercy of the Gospel of salvation. 

HOWEVER: We do need to be aware that when a nation or a people deliberately throw God’s Word in His face and deliberately take a stand or practice things that God clearly says are against Him and His ways, they are literally opening the door to an attack from demonic power.  When we do those things, we set ourselves up for that attack — even invite it.  God isn’t sending it, but it will come.  But even in that kind of situation, God has repeatedly shown mercy and turned destruction away from people — even in the Old Covenant — because faithful believers prayed and took a stand of faith.

Many times in my own life, I have experienced the power of God’s Word and the name of Jesus Christ taking authority over destructive storms, and as a result, I’ve seen those storms dissipated, turned away, and or destroyed.  Many other believers have experienced the same thing.  And yes, I’m talking about deadly tornadoes and hurricanes as well as severe thunderstorms.

But when you are facing a huge battle, sometimes you need a huge, united front to win.  The need in this nation is for a strong united front of faith on the part of the Christian believers to stand in authority against these deadly storms and weather systems.  This whole massive movement of deadly, destructive weather is nothing but a spiritual war being waged by demonic forces, using natural elements.  We must learn to recognize it as such and command the demonic forces to take their hands off — and command those elements to obey the purposes of God in the name of Jesus Christ.

Come on, Church!  Rise up and take your authority! If true believers in this nation will unite in faith, take a strong stand on God’s Word, and take authority over these destructive storms in the name of Jesus Christ, the storms and elements of weather have no choice but to obey.

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Monthly Devotional 8/2/17: You Win

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“Truly my soul waiteth – is silent – upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62: 1 & 5)

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photo courtesy of free-extras.com

Have you ever played chess?  Or maybe even checkers? Well, even if you haven’t, you’ve, no doubt seen others playing — even if only in a movie or television show. You know that the players — if they are serious about winning — make it a point to focus closely on the board. They are not only watching to see what their opponent’s going to do next, but they are thinking and laying out their own strategy. And most of the time, they are quiet. A lot of conversation or noise disrupts their concentration and can make a difference in their success.

Our scripture this month tells us that there are times when we need to be quiet and focus on God and what He has in mind for us. We sometimes find ourselves in the midst of an attack or a battle, and we knew that we don’t have the solution in ourselves — or in the world and its systems. And the truth is that we are rapidly coming into a time on this earth when the world has become so controlled by evil and demonic forces that all of the systems of the natural world offer us as much danger and possible harm as they do solutions of any kind.

But that’s okay, because we have a God who knows our every situation in detail — and who already had a plan to deliver us long before we got into the trouble. When we find ourselves overwhelmed by these situations, the Word tell us that we can always — always expect God to move on our behalf.  All we need to do is get into His Word, find out what He says about the problem, and focus our eyes and our hearts on Him expectantly, waiting in quietness and peace for Him to act. We wait silently — meaning we are not fuming, fretting, struggling, whining, complaining, or talking to scores of other people trying to figure out what to do. We wait quietly because “our expectation if from Him.”

So whatever problem you’re facing right now, find the promise relating to it in God’s Word and apply it to that problem. We do that by praying and confessing that Word with our own mouths. Then stand your ground, keeping your focus on God alone. Do not give up, no matter how long it’s taking, or how bad it looks, because when we’re in trouble, our God always has one more move to make. And when He makes His move, YOU WIN!

 

 

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What Is This Thing Called Salvation?

We shared this lesson last year on this site, but it is so important that we felt it would be a good idea to give it another bit of attention this year as well.

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“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. … Therefore, we … beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

“What’s it all about? This “being saved”? This being “born again”? What’s it all about? I just don’t understand it. And I could never get my life straightened out enough and cleaned up enough to fit in with Jesus Christ anyway.”

Ever felt that way? Have you ever felt that you might really like to turn your life over to someone stronger and wiser, who could get it straightened out and make some real sense out of it – give it some lasting purpose and value? But you just don’t think you measure up to God’s standards enough to come to Him?

Well, the good news – shouted loud and strong – in the scripture passage above is that you do not have to measure up to God’s standards – or anyone else’s. You don’t even have to get one little thing about yourself or your life made right before you come to God.

That’s right. I mean what I said. And I can say it with absolute confidence, because God Himself said it first. And He said it over and over again. The passage at the top of this article is just one instance, but, to me, it is one of the most important of those instances. I have two other favorite passages like it in importance: Romans 5:6: “Christ died for the ungodly.” 1 Tim. 1:15: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Now, of course, if you don’t think you need a savior – if you believe you are holy enough to live in the presence of the holy God of the universe, nose to nose, eye to eye, breathing the same air He breathes for all eternity, without being cleaned up at all – then I’m not talking to you. But if you realize that you are not on the level of that holy God – that you are not righteous and pure enough by your own merit to live with Him – then I am talking to you – and so is He!

The simple truth is that the work has already been done for you. Jesus did it all. He gave up the privileges of being on the throne of Heaven, came to this earth as a man, and lived a perfect life for you. Then God laid all of the sinful nature (to which you are heir) and all of the rebellion, disobedience, ugliness, and hatefulness of all the sin in the human race on Jesus (2 Cor. 5 21), and put all the punishment for that sin on Him as well. He bore it all for you, and after His death on your behalf, He came up out of the grave – also on your behalf – with eternal life and the right to bestow that new life on you. We have “been crucified with Christ,” (Gal. 2: 19-20) and “even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with Him.” (Eph. 2:5-6).

But when we decide we’d like to have that salvation and that new relationship with our Creator, we often hold back because we feel powerless to separate ourselves from sin or the world’s way of life – or even from our own selfish nature. We feel powerless to make ourselves “worthy” of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Well, if you feel that way, rejoice! Because that means you know the truth: We are powerless! But that is okay. Because the work of saving us is His – and His alone! And it’s already been done.

That’s what our beginning scripture is telling us. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised Him up as the head of a body – which would be made up of believers – everyone who would believe in that finished work. That’s what the verse in Ephesians means when it says He “raised us up with Him.” And that’s what the passage in 2 Corinthians means when it says that God was – in Christ – reconciling the world to Himself. That word reconcile means to bring back into original or proper position and make the relationship right again. That’s what the Word says God was doing when He crucified Jesus Christ and raised Him up again and seated Him in power and authority forever. He was bringing “the world” back into right relationship with Himself.

Now look at the rest of that verse: “not counting their sins against them.” Who is the pronoun “their” referring to in this verse? The church? The “good” people? The people who call themselves Christians? NO! The only plural noun in that whole verse that the pronoun “their” can refer to is the word “world.” Do you get it? God was – in Christ – not counting the world’s sins against them any longer. God was – in Christ (only in Christ) – forgiving all the people in the whole world for every sin counted against them. Can you grasp that exciting truth? In the mind and heart of God, it is already done. In the mind and heart of God, all of your sins are already forgiven – in Christ!

You see, that’s why there is no other way to salvation and eternity with God. There is no other religion, dogma, or program that has inherent within it the forgiveness of all sin and the eternal life granted by God. That forgiveness and that life are only in Christ – because He’s the only one who paid the horrible price of suffering and separation from God that was complete enough and perfect enough to buy freedom for the whole human race.

So, your next question is probably going to be, “Well if it’s already done, then what is my part?” Our part is believing and receiving. Even before Jesus’ crucifixion, when His disciples asked Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:28-29).

Now, I do need to explain that the word “believe” from the original language means much more than mental assent. It means “yielding or surrendering to and obeying.” To truly “believe” means that you give yourself to it completely. But that is the beauty of it all. We do not have to do the work of salvation. We just have to surrender to that work and let it produce its fruit in us. How do we surrender? We simply pour out our hearts to this great, loving Jesus, who has done all the work. We simply tell him in our own words that we know we need what He offers and gladly give Him control in our hearts and our lives. (That’s what it means to make Him our “Lord.”)

Once we totally surrender, Jesus comes to reign on the throne of our hearts. From that position, He can begin to clean up everything else about us that needs cleaning up. You need never fear. Once He has the position of authority, willingly given to him by you, He knows how – and is well able – to do the rest of the work.

So what about that term “born again”? Well, to start with, we must remember that man was created by a spirit God and, therefore, is a spirit being, having a soul and living in a body.  No go back to our original verse: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species).” When Jesus Christ comes in, our real man – the spirit man — is literally born again. A brand new species (the God-man species of Jesus Christ) comes in and generates its life in our spirit. Therefore, the Word tells us again and again that, once this happens, we are to be aware of the fact that we have become “children of God.” (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:2).

Now all of this work is done – finished. In God’s heart and mind it’s a “done deal.” But remember: it is done ONLY IN CHRIST. Therefore, it is only when we make the decision to yield ourselves to Jesus Christ and receive Him into ourselves and our lives that we get the benefit of this finished work. Although it is done, if we choose not to access it, we get no results from it in our personal lives.

You might compare it to the process of getting data from the Internet. You know there is data out there covering the subject about which you need information. But that data will do you absolutely no good at all unless you sit down, turn on your computer, take yourself to that site, open up the channel, and deliberately download that information. So — you must open up yourself to Jesus Christ and all He has done for you, and by believing (yielding, surrendering) download every single bit of it. It’s all yours. It has your name on it. But you have to hit the download (I Believe) button to receive.

So what is salvation? It is the free gift of a loving Father who has paid the deepest, truest, most sacrificial price to restore His rebellious children to Himself. It is the free gift of the brother Jesus, who has given Himself in our place and paid the full price, receiving brand new life to pass on to each one of us. The work of salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us. Our only work is to believe what He has done and surrender to it.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).     ♥

 

by Sandra Conner

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Monthly Devotional 7/12/17: Making God Happy

“I love those who love Me, and those who seek me diligently will find Me.” (Proverbs 8:17).

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Psalm 149:4).

“The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11).

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There are a lot of religions in this world, and I’ve studied most of them. To my knowledge there is no religion — other than Christianity — that guarantees us an eternity of constant joy, freedom, and peace with our Creator unless we work at it and expend ourselves to earn it. All other religions require man to DO something to acquire the state of eternal bliss that we’d all like to look forward to. Some require more than others, but not one — other than Christianity — offers us that blessed eternity free.

Of course, in actual fact, Christianity is not really a “religion.” It’s simply a Father and His family. And since the eldest Brother of that family (Jesus) was willing to step down from His throne, come to earth and live a perfect life for every one of us, then go to the cross and pay the price for our rebellion and sin, all of the earning of salvation has been completed and is done. We are free to simply accept the finished work of Jesus on our behalf and receive Him as Lord of our lives. We don’t “work” for our salvation. We “accept” it as the free gift that it is. And once Jesus is truly Lord of our lives, suddenly doing the things that please the Father becomes a joy and delight — not an enforced duty.

And when we finally get to know the real God and our hearts yearn to make His heart happy, we find that there is very little on His list of what He’d like to have from us.

Here’s God’s list. Here are the 3 most important things that He wants from us.

1.  Love Him.

2.  Trust Him.

3.  Spend time with Him in conversation and fellowship.


No pain; no strain; just loving our Father and hangin’ out with Him.

Have a happy day making God happy today!

 

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Healing Through Praying in Tongues

 

CROSS & DOVE - GOSPELGIFS 2012 darkerMany people do not realize that the ability to pray in tongues is also a very valuable tool when seeking healing from the Lord. Of course, this gift comes with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, because so many in the Body of Christ have been taught that the baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues are not for today, those Christians do not have the opportunity to take advantage of this avenue to health.

It is not the purpose of this book to teach a lesson on tongues, so we will limit the explanation to the following: There are two different categories of tongues spoken of in the Word of God. One is the gift described in 1 Corinthians 12, which includes both tongues for personal prayer and for giving messages from the Lord in public meetings.

When used for giving public messages, the tongues must be accompanied by interpretation, and scripture explains that tongues used in that category are not necessarily available to everyone all the time. The gift of tongues for messages, along with the gift of interpretation are operated, like all the other nine gifts of the Spirit, and they are manifested only as the Spirit wills. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 gives detailed explanations of how these gifts should be used in public meetings.

However, the second category – tongues for personal use – is given to all believers and, whether or not those believers make use of this gift is entirely up to each person. We must be careful to understand that even if we do not find ourselves used to give public messages in tongues, we have Jesus’ word of promise that we will have access to tongues for personal prayer equally with every other believer. Mark 16:15-17 tells us clearly,

Now, the word translated in English as “tongues” is actually the Greek word which means “languages not learned through natural means.” So, in other words, a totally supernatural gift from the Lord that bypasses our intellect.

The Lord explains, through the words of St. Paul, in Romans 8:2-27, that often “we do not know how to pray as we should.” And, of course, many people, when they are suffering physically, find it hard to pray as effectively as they need to pray. But God has a solution to this problem, and verse 26 tells us that His Holy Spirit helps us pray through utterances too deep for words. (The literal Greek here says “groanings or utterances too deep for articulate speech.”)

St. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, goes on to tell us in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that he wishes we would all pray much in tongues. And he makes clear in verse 14 of that chapter that when we pray in tongues, our minds are not involved – only our spirits. It is true that our minds must make the decision to allow our spirit to be in charge of our prayer, so that we release our tongue to speak the utterances the Holy Spirit gives us, but other than making that decision of the will, the mind has no part to play. As a result of that fact, our own mind, our own lack of understanding of medical conditions, and our own fears are shut out, and our spirit – helped by the Holy Spirit – takes over our prayers.

But possibly one of the most exciting truths in this passage of Scripture is what we learn in verses 2 and 4 of chapter 14. Verse 2 tells us that when we pray in tongues, we speak mysteries to God. He can also speak mysteries back to us because He’s in charge of the language. We must do the actual physical speaking, but He provides what’s being said in the sounds we make. But since we’re speaking mysteries, not only does our un-renewed mind stay out of the picture, but so does the enemy of our souls, because he can’t understand what we’re saying either.

But wait: It still gets better. Verse 4 tells us that the one who prays in tongues edifies himself. Now, most people consider that verse to mean that we build ourselves up spiritually. And, of course, we do, but that’s not the total benefit. The word translated “edify” means “to build or repair the house.” Now, let that sink in: your spirit is praying (with the language provided by the Holy Spirit), and that prayer is building/repairing your spirit’s house. And what is that house? That’s right – it’s your physical body. A number of Christians have learned that healing – especially for seriously troubling or obstinate maladies – can come successfully through praying in tongues. I know of situations where nothing else seemed to bring the desired manifestation, but praying at length in the language given by the Holy Spirit accomplished the work and brought forth the miracle.

As we’ve said each time we’ve discussed one of the means of healing that God prescribes in His Word, these means and these practices are not formulas. They do not work because we follow a list of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s. They are each an avenue that God has provided to get His healing power into us, and they work successfully when we dig into the Word and prayer and let God lead us to the specific means that is right for each of our situations at that particular time.


* Excerpt from Healing Is For You! by Sandra Pavloff Conner


Graphic: © Jim Sutton @ gospelgifs.com

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