Friday, April 29, 2016

FIGHT BY STANDING

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV)

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
1 John 5:4 (NKJV)

Many Christians have a victim mentality when it comes to spiritual warfare, and even when it comes to life. Everything seems to go wrong for them; they see the devil as powerful, and overall they are striving for victory but never quite attaining it. There is no place for striving for victory in the Christian life. Jesus’ victory is our victory and as a result we are not trying to achieve victory. We’re not even fighting for victory. If you see yourself as “fighting for victory”, then you see yourself as a victim; you see yourself in a negative light, as someone who needs victory. But the Bible declares that if you are a Christian (born of God) then you are born into victory. You’re not fighting for victory but rather you’re fighting from a place of victory. A significant key to reigning in life is seeing yourself as victorious because you are born of God. You’re not fighting to get victory. You are living in victory and now you are fighting to resist the attacks of the devil (his lies in your mind) which would try to get you to believe that you lack something and need to fight him for it.

“Seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue”
2 Peter 1:3 RV

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3 KJV

God has already blessed us with everything we could need for life (the practical) and godliness (the spiritual). You are already blessed (past tense). It’s an accomplished fact and a done deal. This also shows that God’s blessing is by grace (His favour is undeserved, unmerited and unearned). We get it because He is good, not because we are good. We need to learn to access or claim what is ours in Christ. It doesn’t happen automatically. It comes “through the knowledge of Him.” Once again, what you don’t know is causing you to perish (Hosea 4:6). We cannot expect to reign in life and experience the abundant life in Christ is we are not full of the Word.

“…and having done all, to stand.”
Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV)

The armour of God has been given to you and it is your divine right as a child of God to use it. You cannot earn it through prayer and personal holiness. Understanding the basic truths of what the armour of God represents (as we have looked at over the past few days) enables you to use what is rightfully yours. But if you don’t know these things, you cannot make use of them. God has set you up for victory – you were born-again into victory. You don’t need to strive to break free from bondages – you need to discover the wonderful truth that you are free! You don’t need to try live a good life in order for God to accept you and bless you – you need to discover the truth that because you’re “in Christ” you are accepted and blessed with everything you could ever need.

We are not fighting to achieve something. We fight to defend what we have. We fight the battle by standing in His grace; by standing in what He has done for us; by standing in His victory.

Thought to focus on for the day:

Stop believing the devil’s lies. You are not someone who needs to fight for victory and freedom. As a child of God you are blessed, free and victorious. You fight by standing in (resting in) what Jesus has done for you. 

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THE LAST PIECE OF ARMOUR

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord… Put on the whole armour of God… For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood… Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Ephesians 6:10-13 (NKJV)

If you want to be able to stand no matter what evil comes your way, then you need to realize that there is a spiritual battle going on. You can’t fight a spiritual battle with carnality, and so you’ll need to use the spiritual armour and weapons that the Lord has made available to you. And you’ll only experience success if you use “the whole armour of God.” It’s His armour and you need to make use of all of it.

Overall, these verses are stressing the importance of relying in God for our success – we cannot overcome and live in victory without Him. It starts with “being strong in the Lord” - not in ourselves. And then every piece of armour reveals how we need Him and His power in our lives. The helmet of salvation (we’re saved by His grace), the breastplate of (His) righteousness (not our own), the shoes of the Gospel of (His) peace, the belt of (His) truth, the shield of faith (or dependency and trust in Him), and the sword of the Spirit (which is God’s Word).

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
John 15:4 (NKJV)

True success and real fruit in this life starts in Christ and flows out of a friendship with Him. The last piece of armour that we’re given is prayer:

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Ephesians 6:13, 18 (NKJV)

There are different types of prayer, but essentially prayer is simply talking to God. Christianity is a relationship with God, and any good relationship has good communication. Likewise, it will be impossible to live in victory and reign in life without communication with our Heavenly Father, Saviour and Lord. Just like all the other pieces of armour, prayer reveals a dependency upon God - which is vital.

Usually when things go wrong for people and their backs are against the wall, they start praying like never before! People often turn to God when they feel they need Him, and then forget about Him when things are going well and they don’t feel that they need any help from God. And yet God is our source and supply. We cannot live without Him and His grace in our lives. Your strength, wisdom and talent will only get you so far. If you trust in yourself, eventually you’ll get tired and fall apart or burn out. When you do fall apart you can turn to God and He will lovingly help you, but if you walk with God every step of the way you won’t end up burnt out, and you’ll enjoy the journey more. We need to depend on God all the time, not only when things are difficult.

Through prayer we can ask God for wisdom or things, we can praise Him and thank Him, and we can get direction and insight into situations. Prayer helps you to realize the connection you have with God and as you focus on that, it helps to open up your heart and receive from Him. Prayer helps to sensitize your heart towards God. Good relationships have two-way communication – if you give God the opportunity to speak to your heart, He will. Prayer is talking to God and Him talking to you, in your heart.

Thought to focus on for the day:
Your strength, wisdom and talent will only get you so far. If you trust in yourself, eventually you’ll get tired and fall apart or burn out. When we depend on Jesus as our source of strength, wisdom and everything, we will start reigning in life and living in victory.  

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT



 “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:13, 17b (NKJV)

“The sword of the Spirit” is listed as part of the armour of God. It is the only offensive (used to attack and not to defend) armour we have while the helmet, belt, shoes, breastplate and shield are all defensive (or for protection). Scripture tells us plainly that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, once again showing us the importance of God’s Word. Walking in victory and reigning in life are directly linked to your knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. There can be no success (or fruitfulness) in the Christian life without being full of the Word. Ignorance of God’s Word guarantees your defeat, bondage, weakness and failure.

When we’re speaking about “the Word” we are not just referring to some book sitting on your bookshelf or bedside table. In this verse (Ephesians 6:17) the word “word” in the Greek is “rhema” which means “a spoken Word appropriate to your situation”.

“…but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”
Hebrews 4:2b (NKJV)

You could have studied the Word at seminary or university for years, and you can know the Greek and Hebrew and context, but if you don’t mix the knowledge with faith it will not benefit you at all. This is actually called dead religion; you can speak about God, you are filled with knowledge but you don’t know God and haven’t experienced His power. If you want the Word to work for you, you have to mix it with faith (trusting in God and believing that what He says in His word is true). If we fill our hearts and minds with the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to activate it in our hearts, then when we speak it out (faith), it will produce results.

“But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”
Luke 4:4 (NKJV)

The devil was tempting Jesus. It was a spiritual battle and Jesus showed us how to fight by using the Sword of the Spirit. He didn’t just think “but I’m the Son of God… why are these attacks happening?”. No, Jesus responded to the devil’s attacks by using the sword of the Spirit. He responded by saying “it is written…” and then quoting scripture. Jesus resisted (actively fought against) the devil by using the weapon God gave us for this spiritual battle: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And Jesus won.

It’s not about knowing and quoting scriptures, but about knowing and believing the scriptures, and then speaking it out in faith because you know it is the highest reality (Romans 3:4).

“For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)

God has given you the sword of the Spirit (His Word) so that you can reign in life and fulfill the destiny that He has for you. The Word of God created everything (Psalm 33:6; Hebrews 11:3) and sustains everything (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). God has given you this powerful weapon to use. Sadly, many Christians are extremely ignorant and unskilled in the Word, and don’t use it. They have swords, but they are actually hazardous to themselves and to others. God’s Word in your mouth is a powerful weapon against any attack of the enemy.

Thought to focus on for the day:
God’s Word is my Sword. As I become more and more skilled in using this Sword (understanding it and speaking it out in faith) I will begin to reign in life and live victoriously.


Note: Our ROOTED discipleship book is a great tool to help you get established in some of the essential truths for “the grace life.” Click here to read the  chapter,“the Power of God’s Word.” 
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

THE POWER OF THE WORD

“Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:  And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.”
Mark 4:3-8 KJV

Jesus was not teaching about farming. He was using this parable (story) to illustrate truths about how God’s Word works. It’s interesting that Jesus uses a natural seed as an example, because you can’t speed up the growth of a seed; it’s something that takes time to germinate and grow. A farmer knows that he will only reap a harvest from what he sows. You cannot cheat on sowing and reaping; you cannot sow one thing and expect to harvest something else. Jesus continued to explain the meaning of this parable, and He starts by saying, “The sower sows the word.” (Mark 4:14).

Jesus tells us that in this story, the seed represents the Word of God. He goes on to show how the different grounds or soils represent different conditions of the heart. Jesus is showing us how different people can hear the same Word and yet experience different results. It’s all got to do with the condition of the heart.

“And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.”
Mark 4:15 KJV

The first type of ground or condition of heart is a heart where there is no desire for the Word of God. The seed is sown, but it never even enters the soil, because the ground is hard. The heart is not interested, and the Word doesn’t get inside - so the enemy easily steals the Word.

“When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.”
Matthew 13:19 KJV

The enemy can steal the Word from us (prevent it from being fruitful) if we are not interested in it, or if there is a lack of understanding. Understanding allows the Word to produce fruit in our lives.

“And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.”
Mark 4:16-17 KJV

The second type of condition of the heart is the heart of someone who understands the Word and is even excited about it, but didn’t take the time to allow the Word to take root in their heart. Their commitment to the Word is shallow and cannot last long. Just as a plant needs to establish a strong root system in order to sustain its growth, so we must also become rooted and grounded in God's Word to truly mature and have a fruitful life.

A seed can be planted in shallow earth, and it will germinate and grow faster than a seed planted in deep soil, but it will not last. The seed in deep soil will put all of its energy towards establishing the root system first, while the seed in shallow soil has no choice but to put its effort into the growth of the plant above the ground. The plant in shallow soil will look like it is more mature than a plant in deep soil, but it will not last. It will soon wither and die, while the seed with deep roots will grow slower, but strong, and bring forth fruit.
The plant that has no roots will not last when challenges come. Jesus said that the person who hasn’t allowed the Word to take root in their heart will become offended and reject the Word when “affliction or persecution” comes. The enemy’s purpose with affliction (pain or suffering), or persecution (to be harassed because of your faith) is to get you to take your focus off of the Word and thus stop the Word from taking root in your heart and producing fruit in your life. Allowing the Word to take root in your heart takes quality and quantity time.

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
Mark 4:18-19 KJV

The third condition of the heart is one which is distracted. If the enemy can occupy your focus and attention with anything but the truth, even good things, he will prevent the Word from producing fruit in your life. Jesus said that this heart is distracted by three things: the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lust for other things. These three things choke the Word; in other words, these three things stop the life of the Word from working in you. Being preoccupied or concerned with anything above the Word, even good things, will prevent the Word from producing fruit in your life.

“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”
Mark 4:20 KJV


The good heart will produce an abundant harvest - not because it has more, but because it has less! The good soil has fewer rocks and less weeds. Just like a laser’s strength is in its focus, so the good heart’s strength is in its focus. If you take the Word (which is like a seed) and keep it as a priority and focus in your heart, it will be established in your heart and produce the fruit that it talks about.

This is a lesson from the discipleship manual I put together called, "ROOTED". It contains 21 lessons (plus 1 bonus study) with questions and answers to help you dig deeper and get the most out of the lesson. It's a great tool for personal use or group study. To obtain a copy please contact me at shaynebh@gmail.com. 

THE HELMET OF SALVATION – PART 2



“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”
Colossians 2:6 (NKJV)

We get saved by faith (relying on and believing in) God’s grace (His undeserved, unearned, unmerited favour). We’re saved as we look to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths (Romans 10:9). The same way we receive (as a gift) salvation (by grace through faith) is the same way we “walk in Him.” The Christian life is “by grace through faith.” The blessings and favour of God are ours “by grace through faith.” And yet somewhere through the centuries the enemy sold the church a lie that we maintain our salvation by works.

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by a single offering he has perfected for all time (forever) those who are being sanctified.”
Hebrews 10:10, 14 (ESV) – brackets mine

Through Jesus’ sacrifice we have been made holy (sanctified) for all time. Many people wrongly believe that when you sin you either lose your salvation or lose fellowship with God, and now you need to get it back through confession and repentance. They believe that all past sin is forgiven but each time you sin you need to “bring is under the blood” or ask for forgiveness for it. But that is not the truth. The truth is: you are eternally secure in Christ. He will not reject you because you sin – He paid for your sin so that sin would never be an issue between you and God. Now, it is true that sin is wrong. It causes problems, it brings death, it harms people and it’s really stupid. It’s a waste of time and steals your focus from going in the direction of your destiny. Sin will bring destruction and “takes you farther than you want to go, makes you pay more than you want to pay and makes you stay longer than you want to stay.” But your sin (past, present and future) is all forgiven. You are sanctified (made holy) “once and for all” which also means that you are forever forgiven. You cannot lose your salvation. You cannot out-sin your salvation. You are eternally secure in Christ.

When you receive Jesus and get born-again your spirit becomes perfectly holy and righteous (Ephesians 4:24). It’s an identity – it’s who you are! Even if you do unholy and unrighteous things, it doesn’t change your identity. No sin you commit can affect your spirit because it is sealed (protected) by God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Now that isn’t approval for us to go live in sin, because sin will affect you (and others) negatively and will destroy you. Sin can affect you in your body and your soul (mind, emotions and will). You could end up with a sickness because you are sleeping around or you could be plagued with guilt, shame or condemnation in your emotions. Sin always brings death with it. However, what you need to know is that your spirit is eternally secure in Christ. Even if you messed up, again, and then again, and again; even if you’re struggling to overcome something – you are forgiven! Jesus bore your sin on the cross and paid your debt for sin, in full.

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… And take the helmet of salvation
Ephesians 6:13, 17 (NKJV)

I remember receiving Christ when I was about 5 years old. I believed in my heart and from that moment, I wholeheartedly sought God and tried to live for Him. And yet, growing up, every few months or so I would recommit my life to Christ because I realized that I was not living holy enough, and was scared that I might have lost my salvation. I use to have a number of dated recommitment cards in my Bible. As soon as I had a revelation of grace and that I am eternally secure in Christ, it set me free and I never prayed the “sinner’s prayer” again.

Knowing that I had “the helmet of salvation” firmly fitted on me gave me boldness and confidence that I never had before. So many Christians are worried about losing their salvation that it prevents them from reigning in life and fulfilling their destiny. Knowing that your salvation (helmet) is eternally secure will protect your mind (control room) against satan’s lies and you will be able to think and see clearly in life. You cannot reign in life as long as you are unsure if you are saved or not. As long as you think that there is sin in your life that is not forgiven, you will be in bondage and held back from living the abundant life in Christ.

Thought to focus on for the day:
I am eternally secure in Christ. I am completely forgiven. I am 100% righteous and holy in Christ. Knowing that I am secure in Christ gives me boldness and confidence to reign in life.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

THE HELMET OF SALVATION – PART 1


“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… And take the helmet of salvation,
Ephesians 6:13, 17 (NKJV)

Salvation is the first step to success in the spiritual battle we find ourselves in. Without being a child of God, you don’t stand a chance.

The helmet protects the soldier’s head against serious blows. The head is like the control room – it’s where your mind is, your vision and other senses. Your head needs protecting and salvation is the helmet which protects your head.

Salvation is all about relationship with God (John 3:16; John 17:3). When we are wearing the helmet of salvation, we’re not only born-again (saved and on our way to heaven) but we’re enjoying a living relationship with our Saviour. One of the ways in which salvation (or relationship with God) protects “the control room” (the head) is that salvation affects our thinking and decision making. We should be wiser, and make better decisions because we have a relationship with God. The problem is that we don’t always allow the Lord to influence us in this way and we tend to rely on our own wisdom or conventional wisdom. Because of salvation we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) - but it doesn’t automatically influence our lives. We need to tap into that wisdom and use it. Through relationship with God we can get the guidance and wisdom we need to make decisions and go in the right direction. This happens through His Word and through Holy Spirit (keeping in mind that Holy Spirit will never contradict God’s written Word).

“The Lord is my shepherd… He leads me beside.”
Psalm 23:1,2 (NKJV)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
James 1:5 (ESV)

We always need to make decisions, and whether they are big or small, we can always ask God for wisdom. He wants you to invite Him and allow Him to lead you. He is The Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and desires to lovingly lead you in the right direction - towards the great plans and destiny that He has for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Salvation changes everything. Now you’re a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); the old way of doing things has passed away (relying on yourself and conventional wisdom has passed away) and the new way has come (now you can rely on and draw from your relationship with your loving heavenly Father).

If “the helmet of salvation” protects your head, this also shows us the importance of having God’s Word protect our minds – we need to be spiritually-minded (Word-minded) and not carnal-minded (Romans 8:6). What we think about is important and so we need to change our way of thinking and start thinking in accordance with God’s Word (Romans 12:2). It is important that we spend time in God’s Word so that we start to think according to God’s Word. It’s also important that we spend time in prayer allowing God to speak to us in our hearts.

If you want to be an effective “soldier” in the spiritual battle then you need to control your thinking and be “spiritually-minded”. Before you win any battle on the outside you need to win the battle on the inside (of your mind) (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Thought to focus on for the day:
Through my relationship with God I have access to His wisdom and can therefore make good decisions. I hear God’s voice (John 10:27).  He will lead me and guide me with His love (Psalm 32:8). I am never alone; I can always rely on Him to walk with me in my decisions (Isaiah 30:21). Because I am doing life with Him, all things will work together for my good (Romans 8:28).

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Monday, April 25, 2016

WORLD-OVERCOMING FAITH

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
Ephesians 6:13, 16 (NKJV)

God has set you up to reign in life and live in victory by giving you His “whole armour”. It’s not just any old armour – it’s His! The armour is symbolic of essential truths for success and victory in the Christian life.

“…that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
Ephesians 6:13, 16 (NKJV) Emphasis mine

Many believers don’t believe that you can live in total victory, but you can! The armour of God enables us to stand through all evil and helps you to stop all the “fiery darts” (arrows, or attacks) of the devil. The shield of faith doesn’t just stop some of the enemy’s attacks; it has the ability to stop them all. That means that in Christ, you can live in absolute victory. God has set you up with all that you need (2 Peter 1:3) to reign in life and live in victory!

Victory isn’t the result of having no opposition. The enemy will shoot some “fiery darts” at you. In actual fact, when you start standing on the Word and living for Jesus, the enemy’s attack will increase (2 Timothy 3:12; Mark 4:17). But the good news is that you are set up to be victorious over every attack of the devil (not just some).

“Now thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ.”
2 Corinthians 2:14 (MEV)

Even though we may have huge opposition, in Christ we can always win. God does not want you to fail or suffer, ever. Failure and suffering (perishing) is only ever the result of us being ignorant of God’s Word (Hosea 4:6).

 “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV)

“Above all” stresses the importance of faith. Faith is vital. Our faith (relying on and trusting) in Jesus and what He did for us is what saves us, and faith is how we receive from God. The Bible says that “we live by faith” (Romans 1:17). That means that without faith we’re not truly living and we will not live in victory.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Romans 10:17 (ESV)

Faith is the direct result of God’s Word, and more specifically the Gospel (the good news of what Jesus has done for us). You cannot have strong faith independent of God’s Word.

 “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Hebrews 12:2a (NKJV)

“Having faith” should never be your focus; it should actually be as natural as breathing. And because many Christians aren’t in the Word they struggle to breath! As we focus on Jesus (the Living Word) and what He has done for us (His grace), faith – a trust in Him and His love for us - will be the natural by-product. Faith starts in Christ and is perfected in Christ. Without Christ there is no faith and no victory (John 15:4).

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
1 John 5:4 (NKJV)

Every child of God has world-overcoming faith. We just need to strengthen that faith by filling ourselves with the Word.

Thought to focus on for the day:
I can live in total victory because God has set me up for it by giving me the shield of faith. I strengthen that faith by filling myself with God’s Word about Jesus and what He has done for me. When I focus on His love for me, I start to trust Him and rest in His finished work – that’s faith!
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Friday, April 22, 2016

PROTECTING THE HEART

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Ephesians 6:12 King James Version (KJV)

You’re in a battle - whether you know it or not. If you want to win this battle, you need to realize that it’s a spiritual battle and you need to make use of the spiritual weapons that the Lord has made available to you. We need to make use of the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:13) in order to overcome and reign in life. Yesterday we looked at the “belt of truth”, and today we’re looking at the “breastplate of righteousness”.

“Stand therefore… having on the breastplate of righteousness;
  Ephesians 6:14 King James Version (KJV)

For Roman soldiers, the breastplate was a significant piece of armour which no soldier would go to battle without, because it protected the heart and vital organs. The breastplate was also one of the heaviest pieces of armour. For believers, the breastplate in the same way is a weighty piece of armour that we cannot reign in life without. The breastplate is righteousness and this is what protects our hearts.

Righteousness is basically “rightness” and refers to “right standing” or acceptance with God. There are two types of righteousness spoken of in scripture. The first is man’s righteousness which is based on man’s goodness and efforts to be right and do right. Man’s righteousness doesn’t impress God (Isaiah 64:6) and it could never save man or achieve any leverage with God for acceptance, relationship or favour. Man’s righteousness is beneficial for relationships with other people in helping maintain order and harmony – helping people get along with each other. But man’s righteousness is not what protects your heart, and it is not what will give you success as a Christian.

The kind of righteousness which will give you success and cause you to reign in life is God’s righteousness. It cannot be achieved by your own goodness. It cannot grow – as a believer you cannot become more right-with-God than you already are. God’s righteousness is a free gift which becomes yours the moment you receive Christ and are born-again. Too many believers don’t understand God’s righteousness and are trying to get blessed, accepted and earn favour with God based on their own goodness and holiness, but God’s righteousness is not about actions (right or wrong doing). It’s an identity issue. When you receive Jesus you become righteous by simply believing. Even if your actions are unrighteous and you don’t live like Jesus (yet), at your core (your spirit) God has made you righteous. The more you realize that and accept it, the more you will start to live righteously.

“For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 King James Version (KJV) (brackets mine)

You cannot become righteous; you need to be made righteous. This can only happen by faith in Christ – faith in the fact that He took your punishment for sin on the cross and became what we were, so that we could become what He is: 100% righteous. If you’re a believer you are 100% righteous, 100% of the time. It never fluctuates. You had the righteousness of God given to you the moment you got saved. That means that your righteousness is 100% equal to Jesus’ righteousness – maybe not in your actions or thinking, but in your spirit you are 100% perfect!

Righteousness is a vital piece of armour and without it you will never reign or live in victory. Why? Because you will either see your efforts (works) and rightly never feel good enough – which will drain you of any confidence in your relationship with God or in the spiritual battle. Or you’ll fall into pride when you think all your hard work is something worthy of God’s acceptance – and pride leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18).

You can never be bold and confident as a believer as long as you’re trusting in your personal holiness and good works to give you success and leverage with God. Success in the Christian life comes from completely trusting in what Jesus did for us, not what we do for Him.

Thought to focus on for the day:
Your heart needs to be rooted and grounded in understanding God’s righteousness if you want to reign in life and live in victory and freedom!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

STANDING FIRM

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
  Ephesians 6:13 King James Version (KJV)

Reigning in life means being able to stand firm no matter what happens and how evil the day is. You’re reigning when nothing (no temptation, no person, and no circumstance) can move you from your convictions and beliefs. But if you want to be able to stand, then you need to use the whole armour of God. As a believer, the whole armour of God is available for you. But it’s not automatic – you have to use it. If we are not reigning over the attacks of the enemy, it means that we are not utilizing some part of the armour that is available to us.

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth...”
  Ephesians 6:14a English Standard Version (ESV)

The apostle Paul tells us to “stand therefore”. He’s about to tell us how to stand. What lies in the next couple of verses are significant keys for reigning in life. He starts off by saying that we should have our “belt of truth” securely fastened. In Bible days the men wore robes which would be tucked into their belts. The belt would enable them to fight without being entangled in their robes. The truth which we can take out of this is that truth is what we need to surround ourselves with. Without a “belt of truth” surrounding us we will become entangled in lies.

The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). His primary weapon against us is deception (lies).  He can only defeat you if he can disarm you by getting you to take off your “belt of truth.” If you are under the devil’s control or influence in any area, then it’s because you’ve exchanged the truth of God’s Word for one of his lies.

 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:32 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus said that the truth that we know makes us free. If there is any bondage in your life today, you can be certain that there is a lie that you believe in that area. The antidote for this situation is the truth. The more truth we come to know, the more we will start to walk in freedom and reign in life.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life...”
John 14:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus is the truth which should surround us. Having on the “belt of truth” is to look unto Jesus to lead us and be our source (Hebrews 12:2).

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
 John 17:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

There is no substitute for knowing God’s Word. If you want to reign in life you need to be rooted and grounded in God’s Word and focused on Jesus.

Thought to focus on for the day:
“Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.”
Psalm 1:2-3 The Message Bible

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TRAINING FOR REIGNING STARTS IN THE WORD

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Ephesians 6:10-13 King James Version (KJV)

The power to reign in life can only come from the Lord. Our best efforts may accomplish something, but after a while they’ll only make us tired and weary from all the hard work. God wants us to rest in His strength and live in victory because of what He did, not what we do. Success in the Christian life is all about ceasing from your own effort to achieve and simply receiving what has been provided for us through Christ. We are told to “be strong in the Lord” – that is a place of strength where we’re relying on His strength, not ours. Then we’re encouraged to “put on the whole armour of God.” You are dressed for success! God didn’t just provide you with armour, but He gave you His armour. Note that it says “Put on the whole armour of God.” We have been blessed with His strength and dressed with His armour. When we’re operating in His power and in His armour, the devil doesn’t see you, he sees God!

The problem is that too many Christians don’t make use of “the whole armour of God.” They may have the helmet of salvation on their heads, but because they don’t have an understanding of righteousness they are running around without the breastplate of righteousness. We’re told to “put on the whole armour of God” because we need all of it in order to reign. Being saved is not enough. Yes, you will go and be with the Lord one day when you die, but if you want to reign in this life you need to know a few things and take advantage of everything that the Lord has given you to help you reign in life and live the abundant life.

Although we’re living in a physical world, we are in a spiritual battle. Scripture show us this time and time again, and yet many believers are more dominated by the physical than by the spiritual. The enemy’s plan for you is always the same, just in different packaging: he attacks with “wiles”, or schemes – and it’s in your mind (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). His attack on you is always in the form of a lie (in your mind) and if you yield to that lie you could eventually start to experience physical attacks, too. The only way to stand against all evil and every attack of the enemy is, (1) to rely on God’s strength, not your own, and (2) to put on the whole armour of God.

Now, when we talk about putting on the armour of God, we aren’t talking about some weird ritual where you spiritually dress yourself every day. Since the foundation of the enemy’s attacks is in our minds with lies, our knowledge of the Word is vital to our living in victory. When we’re talking about the armour of God (see Ephesians 6:14-18), we’re talking about a deeper understanding of what the armour symbolizes: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer. Just like a soldier has to go through basic training in order to be a successful on the battlefield, God desires that all believers be grounded in the foundations of the faith so that they can experience success in this life.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”
Hosea 4:6 King James Version (KJV)

The saying “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” cannot be more wrong. In actual fact, what you don’t know is causing you to perish.

Thought to focus on for the day:
If I want to reign in life and experience the abundant life in Christ then I need to live “by faith” (Romans 1:17). It’s not automatic and it won’t happen by accident. I will live more and more “by faith” the more I dig into the Word and grow in my knowledge and understanding of the Word, because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word” (Romans 10:17). I dig into the Word to see what Jesus has done for me, and I focus on His finished work. As I focus on Jesus and His finished work, my faith is perfected (Hebrews 12:2). I cannot be a successful Christian without being a student of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15).

This is a great place to encourage you to get a hold of my study guide “Rooted”. It contains 22 foundational discipleship lessons for the grace life. I know it will be a blessing to you and help you grow in your relationship with God. You can order online from www.gracelife.co or email us your order at info@gracelifeministries.co.za

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