The Stress Antidote: Key #2

We have been exploring the three keys that are the antidote to stress contained in Matthew 11:28-30.

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

You will recall that Key #1 was Come to Jesus.

Key #2: Take On Jesus’ Yoke

A yoke is a device (some would say a contraption) that straps oxen together so that they go at the same pace and they are able to work together in unison to make the work quicker and less burdensome than if it were being done by a single ox. Also, the yoke allows the farmer to control the pace and direction of the oxen. So, what are we to take away from Jesus’ instruction to “take My yoke upon you”? He is saying to us, “give up control”. Stop trying to be head cook and bottle washer for your own life. Trying to do things alone, in your own strength. The more you need to control things the more stressed you become. The yoke allows the load to be shared so that it can be lightened. Some of us have paired ourselves to people and to things that have added burden to our lives rather than lightening the load. If this is you, then it’s time to partner with Jesus. Partnership with Jesus Christ will lighten your burden since He alone knows the plans and purposes for your life (Jer. 29:11) and knows the beginning from the end (Rev. 22:13).

 Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psa. 55:22)

Being in partnership with Jesus Christ allows us to literally cast our burden Him because that yoke automatically causes the burden to be shared with one who is stronger than we are. It’s by no means a 50-50 sharing of the burden. He takes on the greater proportion of the weight because He knows just how much we can bear and He cares for us even more than we care for ourselves (1 Pet. 5:7). That’s why it is so important to be yoked to the right person. It is a moment by moment exercise. Allow Jesus to take control and give you guidance.

It is critical to recognize that when you are yoked to Jesus you have to go at His pace and in His direction. Therefore, we can conclude that when you are not yoked to Him you will be at continual risk of going too fast or sometimes too slow (which can also be stressful) and go in a path not in keeping with God’s plan for your life. Stop trying to keep up with others and with the world’s agenda. It will literally burn you out. Jesus is your pacesetter, not the world. Jesus is never in a hurry.  He knows the right time and the right season for everything that is to happen in your life so there is never any last minute rush.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:25)

You cannot walk in the Spirit unless you are being led by the Spirit. There is no better way to do this than to allow ourselves to be completely submitted to the leading of Jesus Christ by His Spirit; to partner with Him and relinquish control of our own lives. Your agenda or God’s agenda? We need to observe further that Matthew 11:30 tells us that Jesus’ yoke is easy. The word ‘easy’ here is interpreted ‘perfectly fitted; customized according to God’s purpose for your life’. We need therefore to replace some of the yokes we have placed around our own necks with Jesus’ yoke. Many of us are stressed because we are trying to do things we were never shaped to do. Don’t do things just because others are doing them. Ask the Lord what He requires of you and do only that. God has equipped and enabled you for whatever mission He has ordained for you in this season. Pull back and spend time with Him so He can direct your paths (Prov. 3:6).

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34, emphasis mine)

We need to stop trying to meet the expectations of others and focus only on what the Lord requires of us. He never gives us more than we can bear. So, if you feel overburdened you are operating outside of God’s will for your life. Either you are doing something wrong or doing something right but in the wrong way.

GIVE UP CONTROL!!

Join me next week as we explore the 3rd and final key.

Shalom.

The Stress Antidote: Key #1

Well, you may have noticed I have been missing in action from my blog postings for a few weeks. The Lord had me in the mission field with the powerful Elijah Movement ministry to reach and deliver Jamaica’s children. It has been a humbling experience!! Also a stressful one!! So, when I discovered some notes on stress management I had written on some sticky notes hidden in a book I decided to read to further empower myself for the battle, I felt them worth sharing for such a season as this.

I know our attention span is very short nowadays. That’s why I have decided to give this to you in 3 brief blogs covering the three keys outlined in Matthew 11:28-30.

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Key #1: Come to Jesus

Jesus says you are to turn to Him for rest. Not just for your body but rest for your soul i.e. emotional rest. The antidote for stress is peace. You will have perfect peace when your mind is stayed on Jesus and you place your trust in Him (Isa. 26:3). Additionally, we are told that those who wait on the Lord will have renewed strength (Isa. 40:31). If you are waiting this means you are not running ahead of God’s agenda and timing. Many times that is why we become stressed.

See you next week for Key #2.

Shalom.

 

 

Are You in the Lion’s Den? (Pt 2)

Lions Den

In Part 1, we answered the question “What is the Lion’s Den?” and began looking at “How Do We End Up in the Lion’s Den?” I stated that there are various pathways to the lion’s den and we would be focusing attention on four main ways, namely sin, God’s testing, enemy attack, and persecution. I shared the first two already and we will now continue with enemy attack and persecution.

Enemy Attack

Satan is always launching attacks on us, to gain a foothold and set up strongholds in our lives. Through the strongholds he is able to gain control over our attitudes and emotions. He also wages physical attacks on us to try and debilitate and weaken us with illnesses and disease to distract us from our Christian walk.

Persecution

Webster’s dictionary defines persecution as ‘unjust opposition based on one’s opinion or belief.’ We recall that Daniel ended up in the lion’s den as a result of persecution from his enemies when he took a stand to obey the Lord instead of King Darius’ decree (Daniel 6, Matthew 5:10). Daniel was trustworthy, neither corrupt nor negligent. We see through Daniel’s life, therefore, that taking the decision to be uncompromising with God’s word can place us in the lion’s den.

HOW DO WE GET OUT OF THE LION’S DEN?

The first thing to recognize is that not everyone who ends up in the lion’s den will be devoured. 1 Peter 5:8b says: “…seeking whom he may devour” (emphasis mine). ‘May’ is an expression of possibility, permission, uncertainty, and hope.

The second thing to be aware of is how we came to be in the lion’s den. If the reason is either sin or persecution, these are more easily discerned. Where we may have difficulty, and require special discernment, is to differentiate between the enemy’s attack and God’s testing. The only difference is that there is prior negotiation between Satan and God in the latter case. But either way we always need to recognize that every attack of the enemy is an opportunity to prove ourselves, through God, to be victorious. No matter how we ended up in the lion’s den the only way out is through the power of the Holy Spirit (Zec. 4:6), but there are conditions that we have to meet.

In the case of sin, repentance and taking heed to obeying the word and commands of God will be two requirements. In the midst of God’s testing, Job continued to praise the Lord and to wait with expectancy for God’s deliverance. He was rewarded in that God gave him even more than he had lost during the testing.  To resist Satan’s attack, we see in 1 Peter 5:5 – 9 that we must submit to authority, trust in God, and be humble, sober, and vigilant. (See also 2 Corinthians 10:4 for how we can tear down strongholds of the enemy). It is essential that we engage in warfare prayer, thus exercising our belief in the power that God has given us to “tread upon the lion and the adder….” (Psalm 91:13).

In the midst of his persecution, what was it about Daniel’s attitude that activated God’s action on his behalf? We can point to two things. One has to do with Daniel’s relationship with God prior to entering the lion’s den and the other has to do with his attitude in the lion’s den. Both are instructive. Daniel said to King Darius (Daniel 6:22), “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight” (emphasis mine). In Daniel 6:23b we read: “And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (emphasis mine).

CONCLUSION

Finding ourselves in the lion’s den is not always the result of something we have done. On the other hand, getting out of the lion’s den is dependent on our actions and attitude. We must ask for and apply discernment to recognize why we are there and then meet God’s conditions as laid out in His word to ensure that our lion’s den experiences work together for our good (John 10:10; Romans 8:28).

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19).

Shalom.

Are You in the Lion’s Den? (Pt 1)

Lions Den

WHAT IS THE LION’S DEN?

Den is defined in the Webster’s Dictionary as “a cave or hollow place; lair or cage of a wild beast; disreputable haunt; a private sanctum, study or workshop.”  We all know what a lion is and require no definition. I’m sure if we came face to face with a lion we would have no difficulty identifying it as such. However, many of us may not be as aware of who or what a lion represents in a spiritual context. 1 Peter 5:8b (KJV) tells us that: “………..your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion …..” Well, we couldn’t want it any clearer than that. In this passage, Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, is likening Satan to a lion.

The Lion’s Den is, therefore, the place where Satan wants every Christian to be – in his camp, his private sanctuary – under his authority, at his mercy, in danger, and where he appears to have the upper hand. Satan’s ultimate aim for getting us into his den is outlined clearly in 1 Peter 5:8b (KJV),  “….your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Of course, if you devour something or someone the ultimate end is death and destruction (John 10:10). Psalm 7:2 (NIV) also speaks of the destructive nature of the lion: “or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.”

There is no mistaking when we are in the lion’s den. The enemy appears to be gaining the upper hand in our lives, whether it be through sickness, our finances, break down in relationships, or other trials and tribulations that cause us to sense a desperate need for God to step in and deliver us out of the hand, or should I say the jaws, of the enemy.

HOW DO WE END UP IN THE LION’S DEN?

There are various pathways to the lion’s den. I want us to look at four main ways, namely sin, God’s testing, enemy attack, and persecution. I will share the first two here.

Sin

We can end up in the lion’s den by disobeying God’s commands, that is, being in sin. In the story of the disobedient prophet (1 Kings 13), we note that the prophet was given a specific command by the Lord but he allowed another to make him doubt God’s command and disobey the Lord. Hence, we see in 1 Kings 13:26 that the Lord gave the disobedient prophet over to the lion, which mauled and killed him.

God’s Testing

The best example of God’s testing is found in the life of Job. The Lord speaks of Job, in Job 1:8, as a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil. Satan himself came to God and sought permission to test Job to prove that Job was only faithful to God because of the hedge of protection that God had placed around him and that if faced with adversity he would curse God. God had such confidence in Job that He allowed the enemy to have authority over everything concerning Job, short of taking his life.

Next week, we will discuss the remaining pathways into the lion’s den and find out how we can get out.

Jesus came and sacrificed His life so that we don’t have to be under the enemy’s authority any longer.

Have a blessed and holy Easter!!

Shalom.

God’s Comfort (Part 2)

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Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psa. 23:4)

I noted in Part 1 that this verse has always intrigued me. How does the shepherd’s rod and staff bring comfort to the sheep? In doing my investigation to answer this question, I discovered the insights of a former real shepherd, Philip Keller from his book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”. He writes the following about the rod and the staff:

Shepherds use a rod to protect the gentle and harmless flock from predators or reprimand unruly sheep that pick on others, eat the wrong plants, or are oblivious to danger. The shepherd parts the sheep’s wool using the rod to look for wounds, disease, and the overall condition of the skin.

The shepherd’s staff is long and slender with a crook on the end. Apart from leaning on it when he is tired, the shepherd uses it to return a lamb to its mother. He will bring a timid sheep closer to him or guide the flock into new pasture or through a gate. The staff frees sheep from bushes or lifts them out of water when they stray too far and get into trouble.

Sheep regularly see the shepherd use the rod and staff to protect, guide, lead, and get them out of jams. They are familiar with the care he provides and learn to depend on him for their safety.

The question arises, “Shouldn’t we believe that our Master Shepherd has the same compassion for what happens to us?” He wants us to allow ourselves to be guided and cared for by Him. If we place ourselves in the hands of the Lord our Shepherd we will find safety, security and comfort. If we allow Him to guide our footsteps we will have no fear of harm because under us are His everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (2 Cor. 1:3)

You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. (Ps. 71:21)

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Ps. 94:19)

This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life. (Ps. 119:50)

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Ps. 4:8)

Shalom.

 

God’s Comfort (Part 1)

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Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psa. 23:4)

This verse has always intrigued me. I know we have seen many writers, including myself say that God is not after our comfort He is after our character. Technically speaking, He is after both. But what we fail to understand is that we will never be able to dwell in God’s comfort without fully submitting ourselves to His care and stop trying to do things in our own strength. If we want God’s comfort (which I know we all do) then we must be willing to be like sheep and place ourselves under His care. We have to stop walking in our own understanding but acknowledge Him in ALL of our ways and allow Him to direct our paths. God is not going to force Himself upon us He wants us to make Him our Shepherd. Only then does Psalms 23 apply to us. Simply praying it does not mean it becomes a reality in your life. It becomes a reality when you are ready to admit you are a sheep in need of a Shepherd. That means acknowledging that we all like sheep have gone astray (1 Pet. 2:25) and need to return to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. This takes a spirit of humility.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments. (Psalms 119:176)

Tune in next week for the continuation.

Shalom.

Do You Believe?

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But without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6a)

Many times we say we are trusting in God but our thoughts and actions say otherwise. God the Father is watching our actions not just listening to our words. What are you trusting God for today? What action are you taking to partner with God for that thing to become a reality?

Faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:26b)

Pay attention to your words and actions and many times you will realize that you are not really believing God to deliver, heal, forgive, provide, save, change, or answer in the midst of that situation you have been praying about. The Lord is wanting us to prove Him. But it will not happen without the power of faith. Remember Jesus was unable to minister in some places because of people’s unbelief (Mt. 13:58). So, once we realize our faith is not where it should be the prescription is to find relevant scriptures and speak them until it generates belief in us.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)

Let us make the heart of God glad today by building up our faith through speaking forth His promises. Faith is like a muscle it must be exercised to be built. The more we prove God the more our faith grows. The trials and tribulations of life help us to see the faithfulness of God in action so begin to see them in a different light. Are you in a faith building situation right now? God is right there with you. Get into His word and step out knowing He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Shalom.

The Power of Prayer

Since the beginning of 2018 I have been fasting and interceding in accordance with two prophetic words the Lord revealed to me on January 2nd, 2018 and January 20th, 2018.

The word of the Lord I received on January 2nd, 2018:

This is the season of spiritual warfare with a more radical strategy. It is time for the Body of Christ to become militant in the public sphere, in the market place. To take back territory for God. A remnant will rise up and this will start a military type assault to force back the powers of darkness. A warrior spirit will be released upon the people of God who are ready and willing to fight the spiritual battle here on earth even as it is already being fought in the heavenlies. This is the word that must be spread throughout the Body and this is how we must pray and intercede. It is a time to get into the public space like never before so the truth of the gospel is preached with boldness with signs and wonders following so God’s name will be glorified and reformation and transformation come to our nations. SOUND THE ALARM!!

The word of the Lord I received on January 20th, 2018 was the topic of my blog published on January 28th, 2018 entitled “God Wants Unity”. You can click on the link to see this post. (God Wants Unity)

I know the Lord has also been revealing His will to many intercessors and prophets throughout Jamaica and prayer has been going up for God to move upon His people so they will arise as a mighty army to take back territory from the enemy in this nation.

On Wednesday, February 14th 2018, I saw the power of prayer at work as a mighty and militant Gideon army rose up to take back territory for God in Montego Bay. This remnant came from many different denominations and different parishes. The labels were gone. We were the Kingdom of God united together against a common enemy. The curse of divisiveness that Satan has orchestrated within the Body of Christ is being broken in the name of Jesus!! It is marvelous in our eyes!! It was a day of victory as reinforcements from outside of St. James were sent in to wage spiritual warfare to break the bondage of Satan over that section of the island. This is just the beginning. We must be persistent in prayer to break the enemy’s power over our nation. Jamaica belongs to Jesus!! Continue to bombard the heavenlies with warfare prayers saints of the Living God. As the effectual, fervent prayers of the righteous are achieving and will continue to achieve much (James 5:16b). Thy will be done, thy kingdom come on earth even as it is in heaven, Lord! Hallelujah!!

Freedom Come – Montego Bay (click to see video)

Shalom!

God Depends On Your Prayers

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, (Luke 18:1)

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Have you ever wondered why there is such a struggle in the church to get believers to pray? Satan has purposely ramped up demonic opposition towards prayer because he knows that this is the weapon that has the greatest power to push back his forces of darkness in the earth. God’s hands are tied until believers activate the spiritual forces of heaven to act on our behalf. We are waiting on God but He is waiting on us. If Christians knew and began to exercise the power they have been given through agreement in prayer (Mt. 18:19) and truly believe that they will receive what they pray then the mountains of murder, corruption, injustice, sexual immorality, witchcraft and all forms of spiritual bondage would be removed.

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Mt. 17:20, emphasis mine)

The Lord said in Luke 19 that we are to occupy till He comes. Occupation is a military term. To occupy means to infiltrate and win ownership of territory through force. Occupy is not a passive term but an active, even aggressive term. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Mt. 11:12). Our nation and God are depending on the army of the Living God to override Satan’s authority in the earth!! It is time to do all that we have been told to do in 2 Chronicles 7:14. We have been given the authority and the power. We need to believe we have them and begin to exercise them in Jesus’ name!!

Shalom.

Who is in Control?

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, (Luke 18:1)

You may be wondering how this verse of scripture ties in with the topic of this blog. As you will soon discover, the two are intricately linked. How many times have you heard someone (usually a Christian) say, “God is in control”? How many times have you heard someone say, “Why doesn’t God do something about the pain and suffering that is taking place in the world?” So, who is really in control of this world system? Let us go back to the Book of Beginnings to see if we can gain some insight.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, OVER ALL THE EARTH and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26, emphasis mine)

So, man was given dominion (control) over the earth by God. However, we see later in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve allowed Satan to deceive them into disobeying God’s instruction. Consequently, man lost his dominion (control) and Satan became the god of this world.

In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Cor. 4:4). (See also John 12:31 & 16:11)

Satan is also referred to as the prince of this world.  Jesus said,

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me.” (John 14:30)

We find further support for this fact when Jesus was being tempted of Satan in the wilderness.

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ “ (Mt. 4:8-10)

This could only have been a temptation to Jesus if Satan in fact had possession of the kingdoms of the world.

Jesus’ death and resurrection was God’s strategy for wresting control of the world back from Satan. God had no legal authority in the earth so He had to send someone into the earth who could pay the ransom for the sin that had been committed by Adam and Eve.

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (Rev. 1:18)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Mt. 28:18)

Jesus is no longer in the earth. He has given believers power and authority to act in His name.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; (Mk. 16:17)

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Lk. 10:19)

Believers of Jesus Christ have been given authority over Satan. However, He still has dominion in the earth over those who are not followers of Jesus Christ and have not been born again into the kingdom of God. This is why we see the pain and suffering. He still has power to occupy human vessels and cause them to do his bidding (Lk. 11:24-26) or to put thoughts into their minds upon which they act (2 Cor. 10:4-6). God cannot legally and justly move in and take away that authority from the devil because He has made man a free moral agent who can make choices. However, Satan has no authority over believers in Jesus Christ other than that which is allowed by God. God has given believers the mandate to take back territory from the enemy (Mt. 28:19-20).

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” (Mt. 18:18-19)

Have you ever wondered why there is such a struggle in the church to get believers to pray? Satan has purposely ramped up demonic opposition towards prayer because he knows that this is the weapon that has the greatest power to push back his forces of darkness in the earth. God’s hands are tied until believers activate the spiritual forces of heaven to act on our behalf. We are waiting on God but He is waiting on us. If Christians knew and began to exercise the power they have been given through agreement in prayer and truly believe that they will receive what they pray then the mountains of murder, corruption, injustice, sexual immorality, witchcraft and all forms of spiritual bondage would be removed.

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt. 17:20)

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mk. 11:24)

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (Jas. 5:16b)

The Lord said in Luke 19 that we are to occupy till He comes. Occupation is a military term. To occupy means to infiltrate and win ownership of territory through force. Occupy is not a passive term but an active, even aggressive term. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Mt. 11:12). Our nation and God are depending on the army of the Living God to override Satan’s authority in the earth!! It is time to do all that we have been told to do in 2 Chronicles 7:14. We have been given the authority and the power. We need to believe we have them and begin to exercise them in Jesus’ name!!

Shalom.