For When You're Stuck

We returned recently from full-time, front-line mission work at Camp Barnabas and though it was an incredible summer I’ve been feeling stuck. Actually run over and then left to dry... in the rain... might be a better description. I’m just spent. Spent and stuck. Stuck and spent. Feeling like there’s nothing else to give and yet too much left over. Spiritually God knocked this summer out of the ballpark- and I got front row seats to His show. He even called me on stage a few times to participate. It was spectacular. People found Christ, dozens upon dozens were baptized, demons were exorcised, and people’s faith grew stronger and mightier. I couldn’t have asked for more. I felt as if I should be walking- no swaggering- out of camp with my head held high, my Bible worn through, my voice singing praises, and my cup overflowing. After all, it was all GodStuff right? And yet I’ve been stuck in this weird, post-victory void; one that both leaves me exhausted and yet feeling guilty that I’m not handling the celebratory victory very well. In fact I’m pretty much sucking at it.

Ugh.

I’ve been in need of some encouragement of late. I desperately needed to hear God tell me it was okay to feel this way, that He understood- even if my feelings are counter-intuitive to the situation- maybe especially because they don’t match the season.

And then I happened upon Elijah. After his epic spiritual victory over Jezebel’s priests in 1 Kings 19, we find him running, alone, hungry, tired, and afraid... spiritually Stuck. So much so he asks God to die right then and there (fortunately I’m not personally <there> but man I can relate!)

God met him right where he was- alone, discouraged, restless and yet exhausted...

“And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, "Arise and eat." And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, "Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you." And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.” 1 Kings‬ ‭19:5-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This struggling and depressed prophet, one of the mightiest in the Bible- rested. When Stuck, God sent sustenance. He gave him rest, He let him lie down, He fed him and gave him shade. His angel actually came a second time to revitalize him again.

I love that. I desperately needed to have permission to rest and be a bit overwhelmed at the past battles. God knows me... as He knew Elijah... as He knows you.

What a relief! What a thought! What grace!

Sometimes I have a tendency to struggle against my Stuck. I look around and I think I’m doing it wrong- and that pulls me down even further. And yet, there is grace even within the quagmire of being spiritually Stuck- whether it be metaphorical or physical- God allows His servants rest, rejuvenation, and revitalization.

So, dear one, if you’re feeling Stuck, take heart and know you’re not alone. Jeremiah encourages us, even in the Stuck, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:28-31‬

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Nissi

Jehovah-Nissi I Am Your Banner

Christian friends, we are in warfare; we are called to be soldiers. Our enemy has not flesh & blood, but is the spirit of unrighteousness manifested by Lucifer and his followers.

You, Jehovah-Nissi, are our ensign at the head of our line. You show us the way. You are our rallying point. You shine in the sun so we can see you, come to you, follow you.

Just as a standard goes before the army, you went before me. You fought the battle. You won. You are victory. As Moses raised his staff, Joshua & the Israelites prevailed in battle. Jesus was raised up on the cross for us to prevail in our battle. We war against a world that shows no fear or any respect for our God. You lead me to do what is right, what is good, what is holy.

My battle begins within myself. I fight against my selfishness, my rebellion, my pride, my hypocrisy. These sins, and others, must be conquered. I can’t do this on my own, but through your Holy Spirit enabling me, I win the battle. You are the Way to victory. Only you can win the war. You have won it already.

Let me come after you in that last battle when you descend from heaven with eyes blazing fire. Let me ride with you in that battle when you wear your crowns & white robe dipped in blood. Let me ride with you when you are called Faithful & True and your name is the Word of God. Let me ride with you, and the armies of heaven, dressed in fine white linen. Let me ride with you in that battle when from your mouth comes a sharp sword, when you rule & reign, when you tread the winepress of wrath and on your robe is written King of Kings & Lord of Lords.

You, Jehovah-Nissi, go before us to make war. You capture the Evil One and all his followers. You bind him & hold him captive. You destroy him. You show me the way to go. You shine before me high & lifted up. May I share victory with you as I follow you. For you, Oh Lord, are Jehovah-Nissi – my I Am Your Banner.

By Karen Guthrie November 29, 2008

Under the Influence

Sitting in church yesterday, our pastor was teaching out of Ephesians and he was towards the end of chapter 1 when Gabe nudged me saying, "That's the verse I prayed over you during your affair with Gina." (And yes, you read that previous sentence correctly, I had an affair with a woman. For more on that, read my testimony- God is SO good!) I had forgotten. Indeed, Ephesians 1:17-18 were the verses on his heart to pray endlessly over me during some extremely dark days. Because the truth is, I was under the influence of a pretty strong spirit, actually several powerful forces. Maybe not full-blown possession, but certainly oppression.

And the harsher truth is... so are you. Even now, sitting here reading my words.

We are all. Every single one of us is under a spiritual influence.

All. Of. Us. All. The. Time.

It's a sobering reality that I know many of us just don't give enough credence to and certainly can't completely comprehend. We are spiritual beings as well. Humans are designed with our own spirits.  We consist of our own body, mind, and spirit (Pro 20:27, Job 32:8, Ecc 12:7, I Cor 2:11, 2 Cor 4:16, 1 Thess 5:23 among others.) It would be foolish to think that our spirits are not an integral part of the cosmos.

Other spirits exist, they move about, they do what they can to influence us. Not unlike being underwater, the spiritual realm surrounds us, their currents carry us, their contact with us saturates our lives. The Bible talks at length, from beginning to end, all about spirits- our own personal ones, as well as the forces for good and evil that pervade the universe. Paul hammers it home in Ephesians 6, "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." Our struggle, our battles, our war is against spiritual beings. Not people, not countries, not ourselves... we are fighting, both externally but just as much internally, against eternal, supernatural spirits. They influence us, try to possess us, wage destruction around us, and overall just do everything in their power to manifest evil. Christians and non-christians alike are surrounded on all sides by spirits, each trying to exert it's own will against and into us.

Nice right? And terrifying...

But scripture also speaks even more at length about the one Spirit that we ought to let influence us... in fact we should pursue His possession; and that is the Holy Spirit.

We don't have a choice to participate in this cosmic battle in the heavenlies against Good and evil, God and Satan, Heaven and Hell. We are part of it, like it or not. We can drown or we can be made alive with living water; BUT we do have a choice as to which spirit, which side we let have control of our lives. The nice part is that we have a pretty clear outline as to which spirit will lead down which path. We can look all throughout the Bible but I'll stick to Ephesians just to stay consistent and you'll get the idea.

Ephesians 2: 1-3 

As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you used to walk when you conformed to the ways of this world and of the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience. We all lived among them at one time in the cravings of our flesh, indulging its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath.

Paul tells us in no uncertain terms here that as unbelievers we conformed to the ruler of the power of the air (Satan), who is a spirit... and who has unnumerable spirits working under him to deceive, destruct, and destroy. Furthermore, he tells of what kind of people we are while under these spiritual influences.

We are dead, sinful, cravers of the flesh (our sinful nature), indulging desires and thoughts of our flesh, children of wrath... Yikes (that last one always gets me!) I've been there friends and Paul ain't overselling this. This verse is exactly what I was and did in my sin.

But God promises such treasures for those who choose to be influenced by the Holy Spirit! His Word gives hope, wisdom revelation, an enlightened heart, riches of His inheritance.... the list could go on and on!

Ephesians 1:15-21 

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers and asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in your knowledge of Him. I ask that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe. He displayed this power in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.

I was deeply, deeply under Satanic influence during my affair. It is no coincidence that Gabe was led to these verses to combat the evil surrounding me. I desperately needed to new influence... an enlightened heart, and spirit of wisdom and revelation to show me the knowledge of God. I needed to choose a different spirit, to change sides and allegiances. I needed the Holy Spirit.

Today, I challenge you to ask the Father for His Spirit of wisdom and revelation. We all are under a spiritual influence... I cannot overstate this scriptural fact. More importantly, we don't just get a 'pass' because we know outside forces are trying to influence us. Influence is the operative word here dear ones- action is on us. Our actions and inactions are our decision, our choice, our responsibility- regardless of the spirits at work. Using 'bad influences' as an excuse at the gates of Heaven won't cut it. Furthermore, not believing it or subscribing to that 'spiritual' ideology 'mumbo-jumbo' personally also doesn't give you a pass in the heavenlies... if anything, the naivete makes you more wide open to the very influences you don't believe in! This is truth- plain and simple, and I'm a walking, talking example of someone who's been on both sides of the battle. It is REAL dear ones!

Which side is calling the shots in your life? Which influence are you working under? Who is the spirit/Spirit in your life that you pledge allegiance to? The gift of the Holy Spirit is free for all who want it! Here's a few more verses to help shed some light down the Holy Spirit-led path....

Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity,but of power, love, and self-control.

Romans 8:15

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

 

I urge you to choose the Holy Spirit, to choose hope and wisdom, to choose life and life abundantly!

If you feel the Holy Spirit is pursuing you (which He is....!) and you want to know more about giving Him control of your life, please follow this link and we'll walk down the path to salvation together.