Monday, October 30, 2017

The Silent Killer in Christian Marriages

Not long ago, I felt the Lord leading me to intercede for my marriage.  Being that I already pray for my husband and our marriage daily, I found this nudging a little alarming…to the point that I stopped and asked God right then, “Why?  Is something wrong?”  No sooner than that thought crossed my mind…literally, I didn’t even have enough time to voice my question to the Lord…He answered.  His response was so clear, it might as well have been an audible answer, but it wasn’t.  I felt the Lord tell me, “All is well, but there is an enemy waging war for your marriage and family.  I tell you to pray that so that you will be alert and aware of his tactics.” 

For those of you who don’t have a personal relationship with the Lord, you may not understand how someone can have these clear conversations with God.  I can’t even explain it other than just tell you that all believers have the Holy Spirit living inside of them and although the Lord speaks to us through His Written Word and through prophets, He most often speaks to us through His Spirit that is within us!  Before Jesus left this earth, He told His disciples “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper (Holy Spirit) will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you (John 16:7.)  The Holy Spirit is a game changer in the life of a believer because He is our helper!  The Holy Spirit plays many roles in a believer’s life, but one of His roles is to be our Guide.  I can’t imagine trying to navigate this life without the help of my guide!  He goes before me and prepares the way.  He leads me every step of the way.  And as my guide, He is in constant communication with me preparing me for the next step so that I won’t stumble.  He is the Spirit of Truth, only speaking what the Father says Himself (John 16:13) and I trust Him completely.  When He speaks, I listen.

So when I felt Him leading me to pray for my marriage, you better believe I was on it!  Not knowing exactly how to pray or what to pray, I just prayed in the Spirit.  Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers.  I recognized that there is indeed an enemy waging war for my children and my marriage, but as a believer I don’t have to live in fear!  As long as I am living my life devoted to the Lord, I understand that I pose a threat to the devil!  He knows his time is short and it makes him mad!  He is desperate to take out as many as he can in what time he has left and those who are fully devoted to Christ have the biggest targets on their back because they pose the biggest threat to keeping him from accomplishing that which he has come to do!  I have a friend who describes it as “New levels, new devils!”  As we walk in obedience to what God has called us to do here on this earth and go to new levels in our relationship with Christ, the devil isn’t just going to leave us alone and move on to the next one!  No!  He just ups his games and tries to come at us from a different angle in hopes to catch us off guard and defeat us!  But thank goodness for God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, because with them, we have everything we need to be victorious! 

As I have been interceding for my marriage these past few months, the Lord has really opened my eyes to the attacks of the enemy on marriages.  I have seen the effects of those attacks on marriages inside the church today.  It breaks my heart.  I catch myself saying, “I would never…” or wondering “how did it get to this?”  but then the Lord gently reminds me that no one is off limits when it comes to the attacks of the enemy and it very well could be me if I am not on guard and protecting myself from the silent killer in Christian marriages today…Satan’s deception runs deep friends.  It starts with a thought…and then turns to imaginations…and then becomes a stronghold.  Once that spirit of deception takes root in a person’s heart and becomes a stronghold, that’s when a person begins taking actions that lead to destruction…right where the enemy desires to see you fall!  John 10:10 says the devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  He hates seeing your marriage flourish.  He hates seeing our families grow and prosper.  He wants to destroy it all and steal all your happiness along the way!  He hates seeing husbands being the priest of their homes.  He hates seeing mothers and fathers train their children in the ways of the Lord.  He wants our kids and he is willing to use whatever he can to get them…even our schools, our government, and our entertainment.  Whatever doors he can open, he’ll go after it because all he needs is a point of entry.  The devil is no dummy.  He knows that if he destroys the family unit, he has easier access to our children so he is waging war on Christian families like never before.  And his tactics...DECEPTION…the silent killer!  It begins as an innocent thought.  Every broken marriage…every family unit destroyed…it began as a thought.

If my husband/wife was more like __________, my life would be so much better.

If my husband didn’t work so much, I would be happier.

She’s/He’s really good-looking. 

I wish my spouse didn’t ____ so much.

He is such a great guy.

She is a really good person. 

I wish my spouse treated me the way _____ does.

I wish we had a life like _______.

This isn’t the life I dreamed about.

I wish…

If only…

We’ve all had them.  Be honest.  Especially now that we have social media showing the highlight reels of everyone’s perfect moments, it’s even easier to have these or similar thoughts cross our mind!  However, when we are alert, grounded in faith, and have the Holy Spirit as our Guide, we recognize these thoughts as bait from the enemy!  He is at work friends and we have to be alert and take these thoughts captive before imaginations begin!  If not, pretty soon we will find ourselves imagining what life would be like if we left our spouse or if we had a life like someone else.  We will begin imagining how much better our life could be.  2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.”  When a couple says their vows, they make a covenant to keep those vows “until death do us part.”  Marriage is a BIG deal to God!  In fact, marriage is the closest thing we have to describe Christ’s relationship with the church!  The Bible tells husbands to love their wife like Christ loves the church and God’s Word tells us Christ is coming back for a spotless bride!  Can you see why the enemy would want to destroy this covenant so badly?  It represents so much more than just a family unit!

Don’t allow Satan’s lies to take root in your heart to the point that your family is destroyed!  Take those thoughts captive!  I don’t care how bad things are in your marriage!  No marriage is too broken for God.  He can restore your marriage and make it stronger than ever before.  It may not be an easy road, but with God, all things are possible.  Recognize that your battle is not against your spouse, your finances, or a career.  “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:3-5.”   Our battle is with the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy…not our spouse!  Be alert!  Recognize that when those thoughts come, that is just the enemy’s tactics to bring division in your marriage.  Division is an open door for the enemy!  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.  Mark 3:25.”  The devil wants you to ignore the spiritual reality behind the physical one, because as long as you're focused on what you can see with your physical eyes, he can continue to run rampant underneath the surface.  

I am so thankful for the role of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I am thankful that God is fighting on my behalf and that through prayer and spiritual warfare, we have the power to thwart the attacks of the enemy completely...those fiery darts that we don't even see yet...we can fight for our marriage and prevent the problems before they arise!  Yes, the devil is real.  Yes, his attacks are very real.  Yes, he wants to steal our joy and destroy our future.  It’s no joke.  But you need to hear something today, friends!  Listen to what God’s Word says and get it into your heart today!

“Put on the FULL armor of God, so that you can STAND against the devil’s evil schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, put on the FULL armor of God, so that WHEN the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND YOUR GROUND, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take of the shield of faith, with which you can EXTINGUISH ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the world of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17

“Submit yourselves to God.  RESIST the devil, and he will FLEE from you.” James 4:7

“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  RESIST him, standing firm in the faith.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.” Isaiah 54:17

“In all these things, we are MORE than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

“But the Lord is FAITHFUL, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and NOTHING shall hurt you.” Luke 10:19

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it WILL be done for them by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:18-19

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you.  They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:7

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is FAITHFUL; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

“Do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22

“If God is FOR us, who can stand against us?” Romans 8:31

“Through You we will push back our adversaries, through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.” Psalm 44:5

“For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.” Psalm 18:39

Friends, when we belong to Christ, we are victorious!  This is just the short list of scriptures that reference battle and how to overcome the attacks of the enemy!  If anything, we need to be aware that there is a real war waging and we need to be alert and aware of the enemy’s tactics!  Do not be deceived!  Take those thoughts captive!  I’m not saying to ignore problems in your marriage as they arise.  There may very well be things in your marriage that need to be addressed.  Talk about them.  Get wise counsel.  Pray together.  Be honest about those problems and ask God to intervene.  But recognize who the battle is with.  It’s NOT your spouse!  The real enemy is the one waging the war on your marriage…it’s the DEVIL himself.  Take those thoughts captive and don’t even entertain them!  Those thoughts cannot become a stronghold in your marriage when you begin to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ!

For the past few months, I have been praying continually for my marriage and for my children.  I have been putting the full armor of God on daily.  I have talked to my husband about what the Lord has put on my heart and we have prayed together.  We have put boundaries in place to protect our marriage.  We don’t even want to open a door for compromise...not in our marriage and we sure don’t want to be responsible for opening a door in someone else’s marriage!  Listen, husbands and wives…guard yourselves and take steps to protect your marriage now!  Do not seek out or accept friendships on social media of anyone you have previously dated.  Do not fall into the comparison trap.  Just don't do it!  Don't compare your spouse to anyone else.  Do not call or text anyone from the opposite sex.  If you feel comfortable calling or texting someone of the opposite sex for just casual conversation, there is a boundary that has been crossed that can easily lead to something more friends.  Guard yourself!  Avoid situations where you are alone with someone of the opposite sex…not only to avoid the appearance of anything inappropriate but to protect yourself too!  It’s just not wise.  The enemy is sly.  He is patient.  He will work on one boundary at a time.  Don’t be deceived.  Recognize his tactics and take precautions now.  Establish boundaries and take those thoughts captive.  Do not be deceived.  Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!  The battle belongs to the Lord, and He has the final victory!  Just walk in obedience and be alert! 

“As for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord!”  Begin covering your marriage and your children with prayer.  Pray in the Spirit and put on the full armor of God…daily!  Read the Word of God daily because the more you know God’s voice, the easier it is to recognize the lies.  And pray together!  A marriage that prays together stays together!  I am lifting you up friends.  I see the enemy at work and I see the lives he has already destroyed.  It breaks my heart.  It stirs me to action.  I pray that those who read my words today will be stirred to action as well.  We are in the fight of our lives friends.  Don’t be caught off guard.  We have all the tools necessary to be victorious but if we don’t see the enemy coming, he’ll blindside us.  Open your eyes…your spiritual eyes today.  I’ll leave you with this today and pray it over your marriage daily…”And the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined, let no one separate.” Mark 10:8-9.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Is Jesus Really Coming Back Tomorrow?

I’m sure by now many of you have come across an article claiming that Jesus is coming back tomorrow, September 23, 2017!  There are many different articles floating around from those who believe tomorrow will be a significant day for believers.  However, for every article that I have seen proclaiming the significance of tomorrow, there are two more professing it’s all a conspiracy and nonsense.  So which is it?  Is the rapture really happening tomorrow?!

I am no expert on end times nor have I ever extensively studied the book of Revelation.  However, I have listened to preachers and teachers who have spent their lives studying end time events and Biblical prophecies.  Honestly, it fascinates me.  From what I have read in my Bible and from the limited information I have learned from respectable teachers and preachers…notice I said respectable, because there are plenty of loonies out there professing a false doctrine…here’s what I have gathered.  The Book of Revelations was written by John after Jesus ascended into heaven.  It is believed that after speaking with God the Father, Jesus revealed these things to John through the Holy Spirit, whom filled every believer at the time that Jesus departed this earth. 

 The Word of God says that no man knows the day or hour of Christ’s return but our Father in Heaven, not even the angels in heaven nor Jesus Himself.  “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” Matthew 24:36.  Keep in mind, Jesus said this during His time here on earth.  I highly recommend you read the entire chapter for more information about that day.  Although it may not be possible to pinpoint the exact time Jesus will return, because of the revelations that Jesus made to John, we can very well know the season.  I don’t know of any respectable teachers of the Word that are confidently saying tomorrow is the day.  However, they are saying that tomorrow is a very significant day.  I won’t get into the details of that because honestly, much of it is way over my head.  I’ll leave that up to the experts.  All I know is as I listen to them connect the dots in scripture, it stirs an excitement inside of me as I begin to see the big picture and realize that we most certainly are living in the last days.  Instead of asking the question “IS the rapture going to be tomorrow?”, I think the better question is, “COULD the rapture be tomorrow!?”  The answer to that question is certainly YES!  Whether it’s tomorrow, next month, or years to come…the important thing is that we recognize that we are indeed seeing Biblical prophesies fulfilled and we need to be ready and watchful.  "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” Matthew 25:13.  God revealed things to us in His Word to watch for and when we begin seeing those things fulfilled, that’s exciting!!! 

Because of all of the articles floating around this week, it really had me thinking.  As I began to consider all the things that God has revealed to us in His Word and making a mental checklist of all the things we have already seen fulfilled, I couldn’t help but wonder…what if the rapture really did happen tomorrow!  I don’t know if it will happen, but what I do know is that God loves each of us so much that He gave His Word and revealed to us warning signs of the times.  He didn’t have to do that, but He didn’t want any of us to be caught off guard and not be ready.  He doesn’t want anyone to miss out on his coming, so He gave us all the signs so that we would be ready and waiting for His return!  Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” Hebrew 9:28.

All of these signs that will occur leading up to the rapture of the church have been fulfilled and there are even more I haven’t listed:
·      Nations are rising up against nations (Matt. 24:7)
·      We will hear of wars and rumors of wars (Matt. 24:6) …this situation with North Korea is certainly a sign of the times and then today Russia threatened to strike back.  Russia is mentioned in the Bible as an end time player so be watchful.
·      Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, and unholy (2 Tim. 3:1-2)
·      False prophets will arise and mislead many (Matt. 24:11) …I can name a handful off the top of my head of those preaching a false doctrine.
·      Mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts (2 Peter 3:3)
·      Great earthquakes shall be in diverse places (Luke 21:11)
·      There will be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars (Luke 21:25) …the blood moons, solar eclipses, and tomorrows alignment of the stars and planets could be significant
·      The sea and the waves will roar (Luke 21:25) …It was brought to my attention today that the two hurricanes making landfall currently are named Maria and Jose…in English, these are the names of Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary and Joseph! 

I write all this to say…be ready friends.  I’m not saying He’s coming back tomorrow, but if so all the warnings were there.  If not, we still have all the warnings that it will be soon.  As I started my day today, I couldn’t help but think what it would be like tomorrow if Jesus does come again.  We know from the Bible that at least half of us will remain.  “I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding grain together.  One will be taken and the other left” Luke 17:34-35.  I would imagine there will be many people who are fearful when that day does come and they realize they have been left behind.  Where will they turn for answers?  Would they run to the nearest church and begin reading whatever they could get their hands on until they found the answer?  Would they run to their neighbor’s house whom they knew was a believer?  Maybe they would run to the nearest book store and buy a Bible hoping to find an answer.  I found myself wanting to prepare my home today just in case.  What if someone comes to my home looking for answers.  Should I leave my Bible out on the table and have it opened to key verses?  Should I write a letter and leave it tucked inside my Bible?

Someday I will make my departure from this earth…whether it’s through death or the rapture.  Even though death is still far from now, I have already begun to make preparations to help those I leave behind.  I want to be prepared and have everything in order when that time comes.  As I began to think about the rapture of the church, it really had me thinking…shouldn’t we do the same for those we leave behind then?  My prayer is that all of us would be taken in the rapture, but unfortunately that just isn’t so.  The thought of any of my friends, family, strangers, or acquaintances being left behind, just grieves my heart.  I began imagining the panic that everyone must feel.  And then, I began to think of the hard times they would all endure during the tribulation.  I began to think of the questions they may have and as I started to think of all of this, it stirred me to sit down and write this post.  What would I want those left behind to know when I’m gone, should the church be raptured in my lifetime?

First of all, there is still hope.  You still have one more chance.  Don’t wait, make things right with the Lord right away…right now.  The next 7 years will be very hard times and this time is referred to as the tribulation.  You can read all about the tribulation in the Bible, in the book of Revelations.  During this time, the antichrist will appear and a great world war will begin.  There will be famine and inflation due to the war.  One fourth of all the people and living creatures will die as a result of the war.  There will be a mighty earthquake like never before.  All of this will occur in the first quarter of the tribulation.  People will be required to display the mark of the beast in order to hold a job and buy things…DO NOT TAKE THE MARK OF THE BEAST!  To take the mark is to reject Christ.  There will be even more death and destruction in the later years of the tribulation because of God’s judgement on the earth.  If you couldn’t follow Christ in these days leading to the rapture, it will be even harder to follow him now because there will be great persecution.  Many of those who choose to follow Him will be killed.  Will you deny Him once again?  Please don’t!  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord when you are a believer.  Christians don’t have to fear death because we know where our future will be.  Stand strong and pray the sinner’s prayer.  He has given you one more chance.  After the 7-year tribulation, all those who don’t believe in Jesus will be thrown into the lake of fire for eternity.  No more chances.  God loves each of you so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to save the world.  As much as He wants you there, it would pollute the very goodness of Heaven and go against God’s nature to allow any sin, wickedness, corruption, or anything bad into heaven.  That’s why at His final judgement He will throw all those who refused to believe in Him into the lake of fire because their sins were never washed clean.  He loves us too much to pollute the goodness of heaven!  It’s going to be an amazing place.  Our minds can’t even fathom the beauty or goodness that awaits us there. 

My prayer is that all would come to know Jesus before the rapture because life during the tribulation is not going to be pleasant.  It’s never a bad idea to take time to reflect and ask yourself the question: If Jesus returned tomorrow, would I be ready?  If you can’t answer that question with confidence, do me a favor and pray this prayer.  It’s that simple.  You just have to confess and believe. 

"Dear God,
I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died
for my sin and that you raised Him to life.
I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord,
from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen."

If you prayed that prayer and truly meant it, you are ready for that day when Jesus returns.  There is no need to be fearful about it.  It’s exciting times for a believer friends!  We are seeing scripture being fulfilled and whether it’s today, tomorrow, or years from now, we are nearing that day when we will be standing in the presence of our Savior!  Now that’s something to look forward to!  The older I get, the more I long for that day!  There will come a day when there will be no more sadness, no more death, no more evil, and no more pain.  Oh, what a day that will be!  Come, Jesus, come!  I’m ready!  Are you?