Insights from the Book of James (3)

For those of you who are joining this blog series for the first time, I am sharing insights from the Holy Spirit as I was led to read the Book of James during a season of pruning last year. Just scroll in this blog and you will find the first two parts.

Today, I will be sharing from James 1 verse 19 to the end of the chapter.  I have divided these verses into two topics – Wrath, the Testimony Destroyer and Going Beyond Knowledge.

Wrath, the Testimony Destroyer (James 1:19-21)

The first thing I need us to be clear about is that there is nothing wrong with being angry in and of itself. There are times when anger is required, particularly when it is directed at something that has been done that we deem to be unjust. When I typed in the word “angry” in my YouVersion Bible verse search, a multitude of scriptures came up showing that even God gets angry. Jesus was angry when He overturned the tables of the money changers and those who were doing trade in the temple (Mt. 21:12; Mk. 11:15). Ephesians 4:26 and Psalms 4:4 imply that we can be angry without sinning but there is a line that can be crossed when anger becomes sin. We are also told in Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry. For anger rests in the bosom of fools.” This verse, together with the verses we are focusing on in James, point us to the fact that if we are easily angered then we must begin to look into ourselves because the propensity to be angry is not the disposition of someone who has the wisdom of God operating in his or her life.

The second thing I want to highlight is the difference between anger and wrath. In the KJV and NKJV, the word used by James is “wrath” while in some other versions such as the NIV the word “anger” is used. Wrath has at its root the desire for vengeance. The AMP version speaks to wrath as being resentful, deep-seated anger. It is obvious from James 1:20 that this type of anger does not produce the standard of behaviour that God requires and if we link it to verse 21 it is acknowledged that anger in the form of wrath is considered “filthiness” and an “overflow of wickedness”. It is an outworking of the wickedness that is within the heart of man.

Of course, we know when someone has tipped the scale from righteous anger to wrath by the words that are spoken. This is why we are warned to be slow to speak when we are experiencing anger. This allows us the time to assess the motivation behind the anger we are feeling and the emotions we are feeling towards the person(s) who has provoked anger in us. Is it righteous indignation? A desire to let the person see the wrong they have committed so we can bring about change? Or is this anger directed at attacking the person because we feel wronged and want them to hurt and somehow malign their character because of some wrong we feel they have done to us? A sign of a mature Christian is the ability to manage emotions. Temperance (self-control) is listed as one of the components of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. When our words spew with vitriol against another we are not representing God before men. We are, in fact, destroying our own testimony.  Rather than destroying the character of the other person against whom your anger is directed you are bringing your own character into disrepute. This can happen in a flash. All of the good you have done in your life and the good reputation you have built up to be able to spread the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation with credibility can be destroyed in an instant by an uncontrolled tongue speaking under the influence of wrath. Remember, wrath is deep seated anger. Deep seated where? In our souls. Therefore, we are told in James 1:21 that the way to overcome this propensity for vengeful anger is to humbly acknowledge that we have it, that it is wickedness and in this spirit of humility seek to displace wrath by implanting the Word of God in our hearts (souls) thereby saving our souls. This brings us to the second topic for today.

Going Beyond Knowledge (James 1:22-27)

Father God wants us to move beyond knowledge to understanding and wisdom (Prov. 2:3, 4:5-7). Understanding speaks to interpreting properly the meaning of the words gained from hearing or reading the Word while wisdom is the ability to apply the Word in accordance with what is intended by Father God to bring about transformation through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). We are told in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that knowledge is common place, we all have it, but knowledge by itself “puffs up”. In other words, knowledge alone without the proper spirit in operation can lead to pride and arrogance. We can go to church every Sunday, Bible study every week, and all the conferences that are on offer and, in the end, if we do not allow what we have heard to bring about a change in our mindset so we begin thinking and acting as God requires then the knowledge is useless. Even more than that, the knowledge can become harmful.

God expects us to apply His Word to our lives. Not just to read it and then go away as though it meant nothing. As you read God’s Word, you must allow the Word of God to read you. In other words, allow time for thoughtful reflection on the Word to see its relevance for your own life and obey what the Word says. When the Word begins to have an impact on you, you will not just say any and anything that comes to your mind without first thinking to see if it lines up with God’s truth.  Ultimately, if God’s Word is not having an impact on your thoughts, words and actions then you are simply pursuing a religious ritual when you read or listen to the Word.

Others know if we are who we say we are by our actions (Mt. 7:16, 20). God wants us to move beyond merely hearing His Word and gaining knowledge to putting His Word into action through righteous living and acts of service. What means most to God is the reflection of the image of His Son Jesus Christ through the lives of believers. Jesus Christ went about doing good (Acts 10:38) not just spending time in the Word but showing the Word in action by touching the lives of those in need and living a holy life. So, we who are called by His Name ought to do likewise. Therein is God glorified. 

Shalom.

 

 

 

Insights from the Book of James (2)

Last month, I started a series to share the revelations from the Holy Spirit as I went through a season of pruning in 2018. During this season, many of the scriptures that became Rhema words to me came from the Book of James and I felt led to read and meditate on the entire letter from James. I received so many golden nuggets of truth that I wrote down in my journal at the time and feel it is now the right time to share these. My prayer is that you will indeed be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).

In today’s blog, I will be sharing insights from James chapter 1, verses 9 to 18. I have divided these verses into the following two topics: the curse of riches and strength through temptation.

The Curse of Riches (James 1:9-11)

I am not trying to imply from the title for this section that riches are always a curse. However, I truly believe that many of us have not been blessed with material riches because Father God knows that we are not sufficiently mature spiritually to remain humble should we get our heart’s desire. God’s blessings make rich without adding sorrow (Prov. 10:22 .

In our culture, there is a tendency to believe that riches make you better than others. It appears that this was also a problem among believers in James’ day. Riches open us to a spirit of pride. We fail to remember that Father God is the provider of everything that we have (Jas. 1:17) and start to believe that our prosperity is linked to our goodness. Consequently, when we are blessed with material wealth our carnal nature rears its ugly head and we begin to think that we are more blessed than others because we are more righteous than others who have not been as blessed. Our blessings from Father God have nothing to do with our goodness. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).

Everything, whether it be money, skills, abilities, or spiritual gifts is given to us for the sole purpose of blessing others (1 Pet. 4:10). We need to drill that into our heads and hearts. This will help us to guard against patting ourselves on the back when we come into material blessings. Riches are not your salvation; in fact, they can become your downfall. Let us recall that as the Israelites were getting ready to enter the Promised Land, Father God warned them not to let their new found wealth cause them to forget Him and where He had taken them from (Deut. 6:10-12). God knows us more than we know ourselves (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9). This is exactly what happened. Pursuing riches for riches sake can cause you to draw away and fade away into nothing. Do not therefore be disappointed or feel that Father God is punishing you by withholding material wealth from you. Many times He is protecting you. He searches our hearts and knows when we are ready (Jer. 17:10). His timing is perfect.

Strength through Temptation (James 1:12-18)

We need to have the right attitude and perspective as we are faced with temptation. The scriptures tell us that we are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6). We need to understand temptation, its source and its purpose, if we are to have dominion over it.

No matter what temptation we face we must continue to trust in God’s goodness. We must never believe the lie that it is Father God who is the source of temptation. God gives only good gifts so our temptations do not come from Him. The scriptures tell us clearly that temptation is borne out of our own desires (feelings and emotions in the realm of our soul) which in turn make us vulnerable to being enticed into sin. This was exactly what led Adam and Eve into sin. They were enticed by their inner desire to be equal to God. Satan knows pride is in every one of us because this was the cardinal sin that caused him to be cast out of heaven (see my series The Many Faces of Pride).  If we allow our desires to control us we will end up in sin and ultimately spiritual death. Therefore, you need to know the enticements to which you are particularly vulnerable. Wisdom is knowing our weaknesses. Foolishness is trying to convince ourselves we have none. When we are honest with ourselves we can set up effective defenses against the sin (temptations) that do so easily beset us (Heb. 12:1) when the time of testing comes, as it surely will.

God is a Holy God and will never put evil in our path. He will allow us to be tempted to allow us to see the weak areas in our lives so that we can be strengthened accordingly. Remember, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Mt. 4:1). We also learn from this passage the strategy we should use to overcome temptation – the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. We are told that God Himself will make a way of escape for us when we are tempted (1 Cor. 10:13). This is the goodness of our God!! Therefore, as you are faced with temptation, do not be angry with God but seek to hear from Him the areas of your life in which He needs you to make adjustments so that righteousness and holiness can be produced. This is the ultimate aim of the test – to bear good fruit that will remain (John 15:16, Gal. 5:22-23).

Join me next time as we complete our insights from James chapter 1. We will be dealing with the topics: wrath – the testimony destroyer and going beyond knowledge.

Shalom.

Insights from the Book of James (1)

If I were to put a personal label on 2018 it would be the “Year of Pruning”. Ephesians has always been my favourite book of the Bible because that’s the book that started me on my Christian journey.  But during 2018 there were so many scriptures from James that the Holy Spirit used to sustain me during the painful but necessary pruning process that I felt led to read the whole Book. As I read, I received so much revelation from the Holy Spirit of God’s mind regarding different facets of our lives. It is these insights that I want to share with you over the next few weeks.

This week the focus will be on James 1:2-8. In the NKJV, the section header is Profiting from Trials but I have divided these verses into 3 subsections – profiting from trials, accessing Godly wisdom and no gain without trust.

Profiting from Trials (James 1: 2-4)

Going through trials tests our faith and helps to perfect us. We need to see trials through God’s eyes. See your trial as a test and be determined to pass the test. Trials don’t mean you have done anything wrong. They are usually just a part of the perfecting process so nothing will be lacking in your character. Trials make you aware of issues in your life that need to be adjusted e.g., pride, fear, anger, unforgiveness, envy. You cannot be perfected without trials. Your trials are of more lasting value to you than your blessings. Trials don’t go away overnight because they are geared towards working patience in you. If patience is required, the trial will be around for a while.

Accessing Godly Wisdom (James 1: 5)

God wants us to be wise – not in our own understanding but walking in wisdom that comes from Him. Consequently, He has given us full and easy access to His wisdom. We simply need to ask Him for it and have no doubt that He will freely give it to us. I have proven Him to be more than willing to give but many times we feel that our wisdom is good enough. Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to lean unto our own understanding but to acknowledge the Lord in all of our ways and He will direct our paths. When we trust in our own wisdom we usually end up heading in the wrong direction. Success in this life cannot be achieved by just depending on our own wisdom. Particularly when we are going through trials. God’s thoughts are much higher than ours and to understand what is happening we need to get His perspective. Not the perspectives of friends or family, which as Job learnt can many times make your trial that much worse. God knows the beginning from the end and we don’t. When we come to this realization and act accordingly our lives will be a blessing to God and to others.

No Gain without Trust (James 1:6-8) 

God is grieved when we doubt Him. Lack of trust in God means we are questioning His very character. We doubt His Word so, in essence, we are calling Him a liar and a deceiver. This flies in the face of God. Faith really is believing that what God says in His Word is really so. Trust is built up through relationship, getting to know the other person and building confidence that they will do what they promised because you have experienced it time and time again. The Lord wants us to prove Him. There is no greater test of His faithfulness than when we are going through trials. Many times we ask God for things then by the words of our mouth cancel His ability to give to us because our words indicate that we do not truly believe we will receive what we have asked for.

Are you going through a trial right now? You can pass the test as you access God’s wisdom to see it for what it is, allow it to work Godly character in you, and trust God’s perfect character in the midst of it all. God’s tough love is for His glory to shine through your life!!

Shalom.

Who is the Holy Spirit? (Part 2)

Last time, I noted that the Holy Spirit is the least understood and the most misunderstood member of the Godhead. I provided scriptural evidence that the Holy Spirit is God. Today, I want us to understand that the Holy Spirit is a person.

The fact that there are many impersonal metaphors (wind, fire, oil, water, dove) used to represent the Holy Spirit in scripture has led some to believe that the Holy Spirit is anything other than a person. As soon as we realize that the Holy Spirit is a person – an entity who has a personality, as does the Father and the Son – our posture toward the Holy Spirit should completely change. Only a being with a personality can understand our problems and give us help. When we say that any entity is a person, some falsely understand this to mean that this entity must have a fleshly form. But Jesus did not have a fleshly form like ours after He had been resurrected. As the apostle Paul said, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Cor. 5:16), for Jesus now has a spiritual body (see 1 Cor. 15:44). Does this mean that Jesus lost His personality? Of course not. No believer would disagree with the statement that the Father is a living person – yet no one has ever seen God, for God is a Spirit (see John 4:24). An entity is a person regardless of its corporeality, if it has the attributes of a person. Since the Holy Spirit has all the attributes of a person, even though He is not visible, He is a person. Let’s look at the biblical proofs of this.

1.The Bible continually uses personal pronouns to refer to the Holy Spirit.

“Even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).

“If I do not go away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you….And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7-8)  (emphases are all mine)

2. Many acts that only a person can perform or emotions that a person can feel are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Here is a brief list of these personal actions.

  • The Holy Spirit speaks: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:7).
  • The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities” (Rom. 8:26).
  • The Holy Spirit prays for us: “The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:26).
  • The Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
  • The Holy Spirit testifies of the Lord: “But when the Comforter is come…he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).
  • The Holy Spirit guides us: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
  • The Holy Spirit commands people in the service of Jesus Christ: “Now when they…..were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia…..they assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6-7).
  • The Holy Spirit calls people to the work of God and appoints them to office: “The Holy Ghost, said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
  • The Holy Spirit comforts believers: “Then had the churches rest……and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Acts 9:31).
  • The Holy Spirit leads us: “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,” (Luke 4:1).
  • The Holy Spirit has emotions and feelings: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30); “…….maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:26); “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom 5:5).
  • The Holy Spirit enables us: “And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
  • The Holy Spirit has a will, and He works according to His will and plan: “But all things worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:11). See also Acts 16:6-7.

This list gives only some highlights. Whole chapters of the Bible were written about the activities of the Holy Spirit. For emphasis, I reiterate here that to be a person, an entity must have certain attributes: the knowledge of things and facts; feelings such as joy, anger, pleasure and sorrow; and the will to decide one’s attitudes toward these feelings. The Holy Spirit has all of these attributes.

These acts ascribed to the Holy Spirit are also critical roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives as believers and gives us insight regarding why we cannot and should not seek to walk this Christian journey without Him.

Summary

The Bible removes all doubt from our minds that the Holy Spirit is a real person who has knowledge, feeling and will. He abides and works with and within us. Knowing this, we should seek to be fully empowered by His supernatural power through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Shalom.

Who is the Holy Spirit? (Part 1)

The Holy Spirit is the least understood and most misunderstood person in the Godhead. If we are to have fellowship and work together with Him, we must know Him well.

The Holy Spirit is God

1. God is three in one – triune. The Godhead consists of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Ghost).

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19)

Here, Jesus clearly sets the Holy Spirit in the same position as the Father and the Son. He said that the Spirit had the same authority, power and glory as the Father and the Son.

2. The apostle Peter filled with the Holy Spirit rebuked Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?……..Thou has not lied unto men, but unto God (Acts 5:3-4, emphasis mine). Here, Peter gave witness that the Holy Spirit is God by saying that Ananias had lied to God and the Holy Spirit, using the words interchangeably.

3. The word of the Lord God of the Old Testament is the same as the word of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. See Isaiah 6:9 and Acts 28:25-26 also Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 10:15-16.

4. The Holy Spirit carries out the work that none but God can do.

  • Created the heavens and the earth by the will of God (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13)
  • He raised the dead (Rom. 1:4, 6:11)
  • Caused people to be born again (John 3:5-7)
  • Reproved the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (John 16:8)
  • Cast out devils (Matt. 12:28)

5. The Holy Spirit has all the attributes of God. Only God is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent – and the Holy Spirit is all of these.

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

The Holy Spirit is called the “eternal Spirit” and only God is eternal.

“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10).

The Holy Spirit knows all things, even the deep things of God.

“And the angel answered and saith unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35).

Clearly, the Holy Ghost is the power of the Highest, and nothing is impossible with God.

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit: or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there” (Psa. 139:7-8).

Psalms 139 expresses well the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit as spoken by David to the Lord.

Join me next week as I continue to demystify this most misunderstood person of the Godhead.

Shalom.

Submission (Part 5)

Wives, be subject to your husbands [out of respect for their position as protector, and their accountability to God], as is proper and fitting in the Lord. (Col. 3:18, AMP)

The aim of this series is to reveal the heart of God regarding the governance structure He has put in place in the family. The world has sought to undermine this structure through the women’s liberation movement and by drilling into the minds of women that to be submissive means to be under somebody’s thumb and have no say in decisions that are made, many of which have a direct impact on us. Part of the problem is that husbands have not understood their roles towards their wives either, which has resulted in an environment where wives find it challenging to submit as required by the Lord. I, however, have no such excuse to fall back on. My husband has always been very supportive of my own need to self-actualize and has given me the room to grow without trying to smother and control me in anyway. My failure to submit to him has been all my own doing and I have had to take responsibility for this in my confession to Father God.

I told you in parts 1 – 4 how Father God brought my attention to this very critical aspect of my spiritual walk. He had allowed me to get away with my insubordination for a season but was ready to move me into a higher spiritual realm in Him and made it quite clear to me this was an area for which He had zero tolerance. He was not going to allow promotion until this matter was addressed to His satisfaction.

I was to become fully convinced on the evening of Christmas Day 2018 that lack of submission to my husband’s authority was at the root of the episodes of heart palpitations I had been having. Over a period of two years, this was the third such episode I was having. As I determined not to go to any A&E Department but to wage spiritual warfare to appropriate my healing, the Lord told me to be quiet and listen. He took me back to the two previous episodes, reminding me of what He had revealed on those two occasions (see Parts 1 – 4). While this was happening, the palpitations were continuing unabated. It was now time for me to reflect on what had happened earlier this unusual Christmas Day.

As a family, we had decided that our focus this Christmas was not going to be on ourselves. We were going to share the love of Jesus Christ and carry a meal and God’s word of hope to those in need in two inner city communities. God opened the door for us to do this outreach in Trench Town and Rose Town. By this time, I had come to realize (although to be honest I still wondered if it was my own imagination) that there was some link between the heart palpitations and the Lord needing me to deal with submission issues. What had I done to reopen that door or any other to once again allow the enemy the legal right to attack me in this way? Puzzled, I asked the Lord in what way had I been lacking in submission during this time of outreach or even leading up to it. After all, hadn’t I been doing His bidding by going out in this way to minister to those in need? Almost immediately, Father God revealed to me His anger with how I had dishonoured my husband during the time of ministry we had in Trench Town. I hadn’t said anything explicitly but my body language and facial expressions I am sure had revealed the impatience I was feeling. I felt that some of the things he was choosing to share with the persons, mainly young women, were irrelevant and he needed to pray so we could move on to the other community. In addition, my attitude had spilled over to my children, as they openly shared my impatience by rolling their eyes to the heavens when he started his time of sharing, a matter that was particularly displeasing to God. The Lord rebuked me properly, telling me that my husband is the apple of His eye and how dare I feel that I knew better than my husband in whom He had placed His Spirit. Who was I to question God’s approach through His chosen?

He also brought to my attention something I had said the night before. We had spent our Christmas Eve together as a family doing food preparation for the outreach that was to take place the next day. My granddaughter was with us and needed to change but all of us, except my husband, were tied up with the food preparation and I when someone asked if her grandfather could help her I made the comment that he had never changed diapers for any of his children and was not about to start doing so at this late stage. But I didn’t stop there! Later on, my granddaughter was eating something and refused to share it with her grandfather and I stated that she had every right not to share since he hadn’t been there when she needed him earlier. The Lord chastised me and told me I was out of order. He said that all the diaper changing in the world could not compare with the effective fervent prayers made by my husband on behalf of his family. This had eternal significance and not the physical acts of service. He said my husband is to be given the honour that is due to a patriarch in Zion. He is His own dear son and one in whom He is well pleased.

At that moment, I repented and asked God’s forgiveness, acknowledging that I was indeed a slow learner who required the same thing to be taught over and over again. It caused me to recognize that the root of pride goes very deep (see my series “The Many Faces of Pride”) and that I may actually be suffering from a stronghold of matriarchal dominance and control as I had seen evidence of this in my own parents’ relationship.

Any doubt that this matter of submission is of critical importance to God and was in fact at the root of the heart palpitations was removed that night. As soon as I confessed my sin and received forgiveness, the palpitations that had been going on for close to 4 hours immediately stopped! Now I knew for sure, I had not just been imagining or conjuring up all of this myself. I received the message loud and clear – I MUST RESPECT AND HONOUR MY HUSBAND!! This was going to require me to be acutely aware of my attitude and actions going forward. Yes, I am still going to trip up because Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I now repent immediately and I do not take for granted that I can just act any way towards my husband and expect that my ministry and walk is going to be pleasing to God.

Writing this series has been very humbling to say the least. If it were up to me, it would never have been written. But I gave my promise to the Lord that I will be His obedient servant. I know that He wants this message to be shared with women in the Body of Christ because many of us have bought into the lie of the enemy on this matter of submission. Not only to our own husbands but to our church leaders and other males in authority. We are even indoctrinating our daughters and younger female relatives to act in opposition to the divinely ordained authority God has placed in their lives. God views it very seriously when I overstep my position and try to control and manipulate the men in my life. This is something that runs deep within us women. It is akin to the Jezebel spirit. Wanting to wrest control from the husband, and men in general, and not allowing them to exercise their God-given authority. This has caused our families to be dysfunctional. We have partnered unwittingly with the enemy in one of the many devices and strategies he is using to destroy the family. If he can destroy families, he can destroy nations and he can destroy that which Father God is trying to achieve on the earth. His Kingdom to be established here on earth even as it is in heaven. We have been told in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God. Conformance to the world takes place very subtly and we must be vigilant and sober (1 Peter 5:8).  God’s culture is contrary to that of the world!! This is why in order to not be conformed to the world we are told that we literally have to present our bodies (or carnal nature) as a living sacrifice. We have to put to death those things within us that would cause us to act contrary to God’s plan for our lives and the health of the family unit He has ordained so that we can be a healthy nation. Let us have a heart of humility and complete surrender to the Lord in every aspect of our lives.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead in the way everlasting. (Psa. 139:23-24, NKJV)

Shalom.

 

 

Submission (Part 4)

Wives, be subject to your husbands [out of respect for their position as protector, and their accountability to God], as is proper and fitting in the Lord. (Col. 3:18, AMP)

Here I am on my bed suffering from heart palpitations on Christmas Day 2018. This is the third attack I have had in the space of 2 years. I was determined not to give the enemy the victory by heading to the A&E. I knew there was nothing physically wrong with me as in the past two episodes all tests had come up negative. By now it was late evening, and after battling in the spirit for more than 3 hours, with no abating of the palpitations, I felt the Lord saying I needed to stop fighting and be quiet as there were things He wanted to show me. I shared in Parts 1 – 3 how the Lord showed me that lack of submission to my husband was at the root of the manifestation of the heart palpitations. I had come to learn that each time they came on He was getting me to focus my attention on heart issues that He needed me to deal with.

In that quiet time with the Lord, He brought my thoughts to the second attack that had happened in the worship service one Sunday. This was more than one year after the first attack on New Year’s Day 2017. The praise and worship had been powerfully anointed and the Holy Spirit gave me a prophetic word to share with the church. Up to this point, I felt quite energetic and had been dancing up a storm as we confessed God’s awesome greatness. As soon as praise and worship finished and I sat down, out of the blue, these palpitations start. Of course, my initial reaction was, “Really!! Right here in church!!” Well, I was not about to raise an alarm and disrupt the whole worship service so when I realized that the palpitations had no intention of decreasing but were actually getting worse I discretely left my seat at the front of the church and went to the back to tell my close friend what was happening. We quickly opened up the church clinic and called on one of our ‘resident’ physicians to come and attend to me. Of course, we immediately went into spiritual warfare mode, recognizing this as an attack of the enemy. As we prayed, the palpitations actually got stronger and more painful and it was agreed that we should be wise and take me to the A&E at Andrews Memorial Hospital. I told those who accompanied me that all the tests they were going to run would come back negative and so said so done. Eventually, the palpitations eased and I was sent home to rest. Something, I must admit, I had not been doing in the days and possibly weeks leading up to the attack. I rationalized that this could have been the contributing factor, as well as an attack of the enemy coming out of the powerful praise and worship and the declarations we had made in church earlier that morning.

Despite my initial rationalizations, I was troubled. My own troubled thoughts were a reflection of the thoughts expressed by my closest friend who, like me, found it disconcerting that the enemy could come right in church and attack me like this.  I knew I had to face the fact that there was still an opening in my own life that was allowing him to do so. I knew from the scriptures that the enemy has no ability to attack a believer except the Lord allow it or there be some legal authority granted to the enemy by the believer because of sin. Again, I asked Father God to reveal to me the sin issue I needed to address. I knew there were still issues that I was struggling with in my marital relationship but did not believe that they were sufficiently serious to have opened me to this level of exposure to enemy attack. However, the Lord was about to torpedo that deceptive place of complacency I had conformed to rather than seeing it for what it really was! The enemy’s subtle attack to bring division and separation and to thereby destroy God’s will for the family and His prophetic promise that ours was to be a model marriage.

Leading up to Christmas 2017, my husband expressed concern in front of our children, on more than one occasion that he hoped there would not be a repeat of what had happened the year before in terms of my heart palpitations. As he started to mention it for the third time, I lashed out at him to stop confessing this because he was opening the door to fear and I didn’t want to hear him bring up the matter again. We went through Christmas 2017 and New Year’s Day 2018 without any health issues. However, the Lord revealed to me that a spirit of resentment had entered in and had been at work in the relationship from the time I lashed out at my husband. He showed me various situations that had occurred between us since that incident that I had treated as annoyances but which the Lord said had gone much deeper in my spirit. By not forgiving my husband for the anger, hurt, disappointments and emotional distress caused by his actions and words I had allowed spirits of unforgiveness and resentment to gain a foothold. I had failed to keep short accounts with the Lord (Mt. 12:36). I have always been a very independent person and these spirits had pushed a further wedge between me and my husband that made me even more distant and self-dependent, leading me to make my own decisions without discussing them with him. I had established a wall of isolation and separation between us. There was no animosity on the surface. I was polite and respectful but the Lord said I was not yielded.

The area of particular concern to the Lord was my decisions regarding ministry. I was merrily pursuing ministry activities, agreeing to speaking engagements and getting involved in healing and deliverance ministry without getting my husband’s spiritual covering as I entered into these activities. God has declared that we are ‘one flesh’ and I was acting as a lone ranger. He rebuked me strongly and told me I was out of order. The prophetic call on my life and His need to bring me into a higher level in Him meant I needed to come into holiness – ‘nothing lacking, nothing missing’. The time had come for me to recognize my sin and take responsibility for dealing with it. The Lord went on to say that if I kept stepping out alone in ministry He would not honour my ministry even though it was in keeping with His purpose for My life. He was more interested in my ways than my works. In fact, if my ways are not pleasing to Him my works are not pleasing either. Holiness is the ultimate thing He is after in me. He sees me and my husband as one – inseparable – and when I go out on my lone ranger escapades He will not honour them because He cannot sanction something that does not line up with His Word. The word ‘submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord’ means if I cannot submit to my own husband then I am not truly submitted to Father God. It is God who has stated this requirement in His Word. It was never ordained by God that I, as a wife, operate outside of my husband’s covering. It is not about seeking my husband’s permission for everything I do but he is the spiritual covering that God has placed over my life and I had accepted and agreed to God’s governance structure as I confessed my marriage vows before God and many witnesses. When I cause my husband to be ignorant of the ministerial decisions I am making I rob him of his God-given authority and purpose of being Priest and Prophet over my life. This was Eve’s cardinal sin. She stepped out of the ‘one flesh’ ordinance God had established, acted on her own, and plunged mankind under Satan’s dominion. That’s how serious this matter of submission is. When I am without my spiritual covering I expose myself to enemy attack and that is a very dangerous place to be. God reiterated that His ordained authority in the marital relationship must be obeyed!! It is a critical part of the spiritual power that is missing in the Body of Christ and Father God wants everything to be done decently and order (1 Cor. 14:40). At that moment, I came to the realization that this matter of wives submitting to husbands is a multi-layered issue and Father God was dealing with my many layers one by one.

I went through the 9 Rs to Freedom – recognition, responsibility, repentance, receiving forgiveness, renouncing, replacing, rebuking, rejoicing and refocusing – to deal with the spirits of unforgiveness and resentment and to close those doors of access to the enemy. I also determined that I was going to start practising to share with my husband and bring a new level of intimacy to our relationship. For me, I know this would be a struggle, but I felt an assurance that since Father God had a vested interest in my success He would give me the spiritual strength to overcome (Psa. 23:3).

The fact that I was once again lying on the bed this late evening on Christmas Day 2018 with heart palpitations made it more than obvious that Father God’s processing of me was not yet complete. If I had any doubts that Father God’s heart regarding submission was just a figment of my own imagination, He was about to give me a reality check that I could not dispute.

Join me next time for the concluding episode in our ‘Submission’ series.

Shalom.

Submission (Part 3)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Eph. 5:22-24)

As a reminder, when we left each other last time, I was on my bed on the afternoon of Christmas Day 2018 suffering heart palpitations and determining that I was not going to Accident & Emergency as I had on two previous occasions and all tests had come up negative. I needed to get to the bottom of why this was happening again this third time. I was earnestly binding and loosing, declaring every Scripture of promise about healing and health, and waging warfare in the spirit in my prayer language. By this time my husband, who I had left behind with my children to come home and “rest”, had called and decided he was coming to be with me.  So, we were battling together until he fell asleep :). The palpitations continued unabated and I felt I should stop the warfare and listen to my Father God.  As I became still, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the first attack. I shared in Part 2 the revelation from the Lord of the door I had opened to the enemy’s attack by failing to walk in an attitude of submission to my own husband as instructed in several Scriptures (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6).  This first attack took place on New Year’s Day 2017.

As I continued to be silent in God’s presence with my palpitations still continuing, a second memory was given by the Holy Spirit of a Word I received from the Lord in July 2017. I had just completed my 2-year consultancy in the Bahamas and returned to Jamaica. The Youth Ministry at my church was in charge of the worship service for Father’s Day and the theme was “Man Up”. A charge was given to our men to be the men God has called them to be and not to back down from their responsibilities. The following day, the Lord gave me a Word for the women in our church and I believe for women in general. I had recorded the Word in my journal and repeat it here word for word.

“I believe in the current season of Covenant City’s focus on building up men, there is a message the Lord has laid upon my heart regarding how women’s treatment and relationship with the men in their lives (husbands, sons, grandsons, nephews, sons-in-law, step sons, significant other, male co-workers [especially the younger ones], church leaders, etc.) has had a negative impact on how the men see themselves. The very criticism that women have been laid against their men has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The thing you fear the most has come upon you.

Many of us are our own worst enemies. Women have believed the world’s lies regarding the Women’s Liberation Movement. That we have been kept in bondage. Now we go to the other extreme. We don’t realize that we are shooting ourselves in the foot. There is a divine order that God has established.

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3)

We tear down our men because of how we may have been treated by men we looked up to. We feel mistreated, unloved, hurt, abused and we lash out (knowingly & unconsciously) against the men around us to belittle them so we can feel a sense of self-esteem, not realizing that this is playing into the enemy’s hands. Our role as women is intercession. Men are accountable to God. It is not a woman’s role to try and change a man. The man is God’s representative and God will have to change him. It is our responsibility as women not to criticize or to nag but to be a helper. How do we help? We affirm. Build up his self-confidence, self-respect through affirmation. Help him to bring his dreams to fulfillment. Partner with him. Many times we undermine his authority, especially in the home, because many times as the nurturers God has wired us to be we are not understanding nor are we in agreement with the tough stance that we see our men taking with our children. Guilty as accused! (my own confession before God).  Take it to the Lord!! Yes, sometimes the approach is wrong but many times it is right but not the way we would have handled it because we are not wired to discipline but to nurture. Submission is God’s instruction. Not a suggestion or a recommendation but an instruction! When not obeyed then we are in sin. We cannot choose some things out of the Scriptures and not others. Trust that God knows best. I know this has been an area of struggle for me personally. The Lord reminds us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). Truly, as far as the east is from the west so far are God’s thoughts higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways.”

As God would have it, at the end of July I was approached by the leader of our church’s Women’s Ministry to share a message at the meeting to be held in August 2017. Of course, I saw this as a door of opportunity the Lord had opened for me to share this Word. I entitled the message “Man Up Woman Up” and the Lord gave me a really cool message that was very well received. You can click on the link if you want to read the full message click here.

How many of you know that when you deliver a message from the Lord you will always be put to the test? I certainly was and failed miserably on several occasions following the delivery of this message. Then came the second attack of heart palpitations right in church on a Sunday morning. I’ll share about this next time as our journey toward understanding Father God’s heart regarding submission continues.

Shalom.

Submission (Part 2)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Eph. 5:22-24)

A few of life’s curve balls delayed my continuation of this series. Apologies to those who were waiting in anticipation for Part 2. The delays may actually be another indication of how important this teaching is to Father God. It has been such a struggle, as one distraction and one challenge has followed the other over the past few weeks. But God is my deliverer and I give Him all the glory!!

My full realization of just how seriously Father God views this matter of wives submitting to their own husbands came on Christmas Day 2018. As a family, we had taken the decision to celebrate this Christmas differently. Rather than giving gifts to each other we used the money we would have spent to instead invest in bringing a gift of a meal and Jesus’ love to those less fortunate. I was the ‘head cook and bottle washer’ in this venture even though the idea had not been mine in the first place. Without doubt, by the afternoon of Christmas Day, I was exhausted but feeling very fulfilled. It had been a productive and fruitful 2 days of sacrifice. As my family gathered together to recount our experience of the whole venture and to spend some quality time together, I felt a not unfamiliar racing of my heart. I had suffered two such episodes in the past and been rushed to Accident and Emergency both times, once in Miami and once here in Jamaica. Not wishing to raise too much alarm, I decided to tell everyone (except my husband) I needed to go home and rest. I whispered and told my husband what was happening but asked him not to tell the others. Upon reaching home, I lay down and the palpitations continued. I became vexed in the spirit and decided that I was not going to allow the enemy to interrupt another holiday celebration with this ‘sickness’. My mind flashed back to two years before. We had decided for a second year in a row to all gather as a family to celebrate Christmas with my eldest son and his family in Miami and it had been a blast…………..until heart palpitations and increasingly intense chest pain, that I could no longer ignore, caused me to raise an alarm and everyone ended up in the A&E at Jackson North Medical Centre. Wonderful way to bring in New Year 2017!! For 2 days, they ran all of the required tests and all came up negative. I was doing a consultancy in the Bahamas at the time but came back to Jamaica in January to do follow up testing with one of our leading cardiologists and again all tests proved negative. In other words, there was no indication of what the underlying cause was. I suffered from no chronic illnesses. The only thing I know I was guilty of was not getting sufficient rest.

After this first episode, I prayed and asked Father God to help me understand what was happening. I knew that as a Christian there is nothing that happens to me by chance and I wanted to know what underlying issue was playing out here. I definitely wanted to know if I had unknowingly opened a door that had given the enemy legal authority to attack my health in this way. I recalled how Father God had used my heart to get my attention in the past. When I first recognized that He had placed a prophetic call on my life but I was not always sure whether I was to speak or remain silent, He would always allow the Holy Spirit to manifest urgency for the Word to go forth my causing my heart to beat so strongly that I could actually look down and see my chest moving up and down. In the early days of my prophetic ministry that was His sign of assurance to me that the Word I had received was in fact from Him. He knew I was not going to open my mouth until I had that full assurance. As I matured, He no longer had to give me this sign. I reflected on this and asked Father God if the abnormal heart rhythm was an indication that the condition of my heart was not pleasing to Him. Was the ‘out of sync’ heart beat His way of sending me the message that I was ‘out of sync’ with His will? The Holy Spirit brought to mind Proverbs 4:23, which tells us to diligently guard our hearts for all of life’s issues flow from it.  I won’t go into all the gory details but Father God showed me that I had indeed not acted in accordance with His will. I was guilty of undermining my husband’s authority. I had colluded with my children to avoid having one of those lengthy family meetings their father is renowned to have anytime we are all together in one location. We manoeuvred so much to ensure a short meeting that we unintentionally ended up with no family meeting at all. Truth be told, this was not the first time nor the second that Father God had spoken to me about the need to deal with submission issues. Although I thought I had repented, I really hadn’t or else I wouldn’t have slipped back so easily into repeating the cycle again and again.  The scriptures speak about a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart being the sacrifices that God will not despise (Psa. 51;17). I don’t believe I was ever truly at this point concerning the submission issue in the past and here I was again in 2017. Having come face to face with my own mortality, I hastily admitted and took responsibility for my sin but, in retrospect, even in 2017, I still had not come to that place of godly sorrow that leads to true repentance as outlined by Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

It was only now, as I lay on the bed on the afternoon of Christmas Day 2018, that I was to really come into a full appreciation of God’s heart concerning this matter of submission. Join me next time as I share how God unfolded His own heart to me and directed me to share all that I experienced with other women.

Shalom.

 

Submission (Part 1)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Eph. 5:22-24)

As a direct follow-on from the just completed series where we looked at the many faces of pride, Father God has placed an urgency in my spirit regarding the matter of the submission of wives to husbands. And here, I am giving specific focus to Christian wives, those who were wives and those who have the desire to become wives. Ladies, we have a problem with this matter of submission to our husbands. And any of you who are saying right now “But I don’t have this problem” need to repent right now. You may not realize you have a problem here because of the subtle ways in which it operates. Others of you may be saying “ouch, a why she gone dere so!?” I confess, I have struggled with this particular submission issue in my own life but what took me by surprise is how strongly and seriously Father God views this matter as evidenced by my own testimony that I will  be sharing throughout this series.

Much of our problem in this area comes from allowing the world’s perspective on this matter to take precedence over Father God’s instruction as laid out in the Ephesians capstone scripture above. The women’s liberation movement and the mistaken belief that submission means to be inferior is another one of Satan’s ploys to destroy the family and bring mayhem to the spiritual order and authority God ordained for the health of family life that can only be achieved when lived in accordance with His governance pattern.  And many, if not all of us, have fallen into the enemy’s trap.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)

It is very difficult not to allow the world to shape our thinking but this is the very reason Father God warns us against it in His Word. We are bombarded by the world’s thinking every day and if we do not counter this by allowing God’s transformative Word to change our thought patterns on a daily basis we are not going to be vessels of honour fit for the Father’s use.

You adulteresses [disloyal sinners-flirting with the world and breaking our vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend [that is, loving the things of the world] is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says to no purpose that the [human] spirit which He has made to dwell in us lusts with envy? But He gives more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].” So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you. Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people]. Be miserable and grieve and weep [over your sin]. Let your [foolish] laughter be turned to mourning and your [reckless] joy to gloom. Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose]. (James 4:4-10, AMP)

I purposely chose not to just give James 4:4 regarding love of the world being enmity with God because I believe we need to recognize and place conformity with the world’s thinking into the context that God places it. It is without contradiction a matter of pride!! The world thinks it knows more than God and can do things better than God. The unfortunate thing is that many Christians upon surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ do not fully surrender their mindsets and continue to operate according to the world’s mandate. One of the reasons for this is that many Christians have either not received the baptism in the Holy Spirit that gives the dunamis power required to overcome the carnal nature that resides within us or have not partnered sufficiently with the Holy Spirit in allowing Him to bring revelation and transformation in their lives through the Word of God.

The most powerful teacher is the one who has experienced the lesson first hand and learned wisdom straight from God in the process. Father God has shown me His heart concerning this issue of submission of wives to husbands. He will allow us to get away with it for a season but when He is ready for you to come into a higher level of service for Him He will not allow you to get away with it any longer. He will bring it right up in your face and you either have to deal with it or miss out on maximizing the fulfillment of the purpose He has destined for you. Ultimately, the choice is yours! The Lord said to me, “We can go no further until this issue is dealt with. The spiritual authority that you are going to need in the next season of your walk with Me requires that you are fully submitted in every area of your life and I am bringing to your attention the need to submit to your own husband.” He first “brought my attention” to this sin (because that is what it is) on New Year’s Day 2016 and most recently again on Christmas Day 2018. That’s how long it has taken me to learn how important this matter is to Him and how adamant He is not to allow it to rear its ugly head in my life. He is intent that there should be ‘nothing lacking and nothing missing’ as I step into a higher level of ministry on His behalf. I know that as it is with me so it will be with any of you Christian wives and to-be wives who want to be fully used of God.

Christian sisters, I know that this topic has already raised up some fiery emotions within you and most likely I am not your most favourite person at this time. It matters not, I press through undaunted. Having laid the framework for this series, I invite you to travel with me the next few weeks as I share my own testimony, a most humbling experience for me but Father God directs and I submit in obedience. My prayer is that at the end of it all you, like me, will come to the recognition that we have no choice but to obey and fall in line with Father God’s heart to become women of virtue who will be vessels of honour fit for the Father’s use.

Shalom.