If I had to select one Scripture that means more for living in the power of Christ than any other, it would be 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. These three verses are packed with wisdom from on high, and if the Body of Christ lived according to them we would be victorious against the forces of evil. "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension (claim) that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ."
The truth is that when we received Jesus Christ as our Savior, He gave us power and authority in His name. We were made in the image of God who used His voice to create the universe. Repeatedly, the book of Genesis tells us, "And God said." Then it describes the results of what God said. For example, "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:3) Like God, the words that we say have power and authority to change the world around us. However, we must remember that these changes can be for the good or the bad, because our words are weapons. There are two kingdoms, and everything that comes out of our mouths will agree with one of these kingdoms, either the Kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness.
As it says in 2 Corinthians 10:3, we do not wage war like the world does. God has given us a spiritual weapon that is stronger than any physical weapon the world can produce. Ephesians 6:7 tells us that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This Word comes from the Kingdom of light, and as we speak in agreement with it we have the power to produce life. On the other hand, anything we say that does not agree with the Kingdom of light agrees with the kingdom of darkness and ultimately produces death. Negative words make an agreement with the demonic that give it permission to bring about the consequences of these words. Proverbs 18:21 confirms the power of the spoken word: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (NKJV)
We are here on earth on assignment from God, to live our lives like Jesus did. When we are doing this, we live in His power and authority. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us how to maintain them: We must use the words of God, declaring His whole truth, to destroy every argument and claim that does not agree with the complete truth of God. We must not speak in a negative way that agrees with the proclamations of the world. We must believe that all things are possible with Christ and speak in agreement with His Kingdom.
Cindy Trimm, former senator, author and dedicated Christian whose goal is to expand the Kingdom of God, has good advice on how to use our Scripture. She says, "Use every thought like an architect uses a blueprint. Think about every detail. Ask God to enlarge your capacity for thinking and imagining." As we allow the Lord to do this, and trust Him to work in our best interest, we will speak positive words that transform us and the world around us and lead us to victory.
"...Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may share in His glory." (Romans 8:14-17)
God makes it clear, through His Spirit, that we are His children. He wants everyone in the world to understand and know that He is our Father. In order to demonstrate His Father love, the Lord chose a people group and made a promise to their forefather, Abraham, explaining that His descendants would live in a land prepared for them called The Promised Land--the land of milk and honey. Moses led these people out of bondage in Egypt and told them, "To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set His affection on your forefathers and loved them, and He chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today." (Deuteronomy 10:14-15)
In addition, Father God went to extraordinary lengths to show His love by having His Son leave His heavenly throne and come to earth. Yet many have missed it! John tells us, "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him...From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:11, 16-17)
Sadly, the desire of God's heart to be a loving and gracious Father to all has not been realized. A recent visit to Israel confirmed to me that the orphan spirit is still alive in many of the descendants of both Isaac and Ishmael. The orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem lives in abject poverty. They are stuck to the letter of the law and do not know the love of their father in heaven. Many of the Arab Muslim communities are in a state of partial completion and are strewn with litter and weeds. These people are angry, living as orphans, without understanding the love of God for them.
The people groups of Israel live in enmity with one another and are a picture of the entire world. So many are living as orphans and slaves to sin because they do not recognize the gift that has been offered to them through Jesus Christ. When Jesus walked the earth, He explained to the Jews, "Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:35-36) We who believe in the Son of God are blessed to be children and heirs of God. "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29) What is our responsibility to our Father considering this?
We must receive, embrace and return the love of Father God for us. He is a good Father and is lavish in giving gifts to His children. As we develop more intimacy with Him, we delight Him and set ourselves up for more of His favor.
We must celebrate the blessing of being a child of the Kingdom of Light. Be thankful and worship the One who love us unconditionally.
We must live as children and heirs of God. The world will see it in our demeanor and will want what we have. We should let the joy of the Lord overtake us.
On this Father's Day, rejoice in the truth that we are co-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom of God and that His love for us is over the top!
The first of Tammuz, the fourth month on the Hebrew calendar, is on Thursday. If we look back in history to this month we see that Moses sent out the spies into the Promised Land to evaluate what they saw and report back to the people. We know that when they returned all but Joshua and Caleb gave an evil report that would convince the tribes that they could not take the Promised Land. The sin of unbelief led to a negative confession that put the people of Israel under a curse that kept them in the wilderness for 40 years. Instead of believing that God is able to do as He promised, they knit themselves to a lie that impacts the nation of Israel even today.
This is also the month when the golden calf was made while Moses was receiving the first set of tablets from God. When Moses returned from the top of Mount Sinai he was so angry that he threw the tablets, breaking them to pieces. "Then he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it." (Exodus 32:20) Afterward, the Levites joined Moses in confirmation of their alliance with the Lord. They went through the camp, killing about 3,000 people who had worshiped the golden calf. Later, the Lord struck the camp with a plague because of their idol worship.
While visiting the ruins of Israel, one can see how frequently the tribes fell into idol worship. It became a theme of their lives. Ruins of defiled altars are scattered throughout the land. Remains of altars built to false gods testify to the erroneous alliances made by the nations of Israel and Judah.
The unfortunate consequences of the sinful behavior of the Israelites during Tammuz speak loudly to us today about how we should live in this month. First, we must guard our hearts and eyes. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23) We must remember the miracles of God so that we see life from His perspective. "He is your praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes." (Deuteronomy 10:21) It is important to be sure that our confession of any situation agrees with the Kingdom of light. Negative confessions that agree with the kingdom of darkness can draw us into a downward spiral that will impact us for years to come. We must evaluate every situation in our lives through the eyes of Christ and let His light radiate in our hearts and eyes.
We must make our alliances with God-fearing people who will encourage us to confess the Lord's best over our lives. Isaiah warns about making ungodly alliances in Isaiah 30:1. "'Woe to the obstinate children,' declares the Lord, 'to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin.'" If we need to make adjustments in our lives so that we are on the right path, now is a good time to do it.
Let us be careful of what we worship. We see how quickly the children of Israel developed a golden calf. We should be aware of our tendencies to place other things before the Lord. John Wesley said, "Anything we love more than God is an idol." This month, especially, is the one to worship the Lord in "Spirit and Truth." (John 4:23) The Lord is seeking a set-aside people who delight in worshiping Him and who give Him first place in their lives.
The month of Tammuz presents us with a challenge and an opportunity. We do not want to repeat the sins of the past. Redemption is a gift from the Lord. Let us take the challenge and make this the month of unbridled worship of the One True God--the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. May God bless you as you choose to worship Him.
There is nothing like a trip to Israel to bring clarity to what God is doing in the land and the people! Having just returned from Israel, I remember how you must travel when Jerusalem is your destination--UP. One can see the change in elevation as you drive from the Tel Aviv airport on the coast to Jerusalem. The landscape quickly changes from mild hills to rocky mountains. Settlements have been constructed on the sides of the mountains and steep hillsides have been made usable through the building of rock retaining walls. The resulting terraces are used for growing olive trees or grape vines. The upward theme is continued in Jerusalem. A walking tour of the Old City requires much stamina as you are constantly climbing to higher elevations. We experienced this on a walk to the Western Wall and Temple Mount. I was particularly interested in the south side of the Temple Mount where there are 15 steps. It is thought that they would have been used by worshipers who were going up to the Temple. Interestingly, there are 15 Psalms of Ascent. It makes one wonder if those Psalms would have been sung as one climbed up to the Temple.
Jerusalem is the City that is extremely important to God; so important that Scripture tells us to pray for its peace. (Psalm 122) A song was written by the prophet Isaiah about Jerusalem: "In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: we have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps the faith." (Verses 1 and 2) The physical location of Jerusalem is meant to be a spiritual picture of how we are to live our lives--looking up! The Lord wants us to be constantly looking to Him, the one who offers salvation and righteousness and love.
Many Scripture verses can be found that instruct God's people to "go up." When the Israelites were leaving Egypt, they had to go up to the Promised Land. "So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan." (Genesis 45:25)
"The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up... (Exodus 19:20)
"They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshkol and explored it.” (Deut.1:24)
"Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." (2 Samuel 24:18)
"He went up (King Josiah) to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem...He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord." (2 Chronicles 34:30)
"After He (Jesus) had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray..." (Matthew 14:23)
"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem." (John 2:13)
"Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here,' and they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on." (Revelation 11:12)
As Believers in Jesus Christ, our life-long journey is one of ascent so that we may draw closer to Him. "See, my servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted." (Isaiah 52:13) Isaiah had a vision of the Lord and saw Him "seated on a throne, high and exalted..." (Isaiah 6:1) We must look up to the one who is seated at the right hand of God in heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:20)
The Psalmist asks a question: "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior...Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in." (Psalm 24:3-7) Look up, dear ones. We are meant to ascend the hill of the Lord and to join Him in high and heavenly places.
Joan E. Mathias