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THE SEDUCTION OF OUR CHILDREN


by Neil Anderson

 

April 17
 
Ephesians 6:4 
Bring them [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord
 
What are parents, Sunday school teachers, youth workers, and pastors to do in the face of Satan’s assault on the minds of our children? Let’s begin by stating what we can’t do.
 
First, we can’t bury our heads in the sand. This is not the time to respond in denial or claim that our Christian kids are immune to this kind of problem. Satan’s seductive activities are aimed at destroying the church at its point of greatest vulnerability: the family. The enemy is after Christian families in general and the families of Christian leaders in particular. Half of all my counseling regarding demonic influence has been with Christian leaders and their families.
 
Second, we can’t run in fear. Remember: Thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan is a defeated foe. The war against the seduction of our children is a winnable war. If we retreat instead of advance, we forfeit ground to the enemy that doesn’t belong to him. We must exert our authority in Jesus Christ and claim His victory in the lives of our children.
 
How can we do that?
 
First, we must become aware of the spiritual nature of the world we live in. Our children are growing up in a seductive world. Many of the things that surround them are subtly influenced by the New Age Movement, the occult, and Satanism.
 
Second, we need to understand how parents and parenting styles can either assist or block the resolution of a child’s spiritual conflicts. If a child comes from a dysfunctional home, it’s rather pointless to deal with his problem only to send him back into the home that caused the problem in the first place.
 
Third, we need definite strategies for protecting our children from spiritual assault and helping them resolve their spiritual conflicts. This is a winnable war, and it is a war we must win for the sake of our kids and the cause of Christ.
 
Prayer: Dear Father, keep me alert to spiritual opposition and bondage in my children, and equip me to assist them in appropriating Your freedom.


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A SOLID BELIEF SYSTEM


by Neil Anderson

April 16
Romans 8:15 
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
Claire attended a church college ministry I was involved in several years ago. On a physical, material level, Claire had absolutely nothing going for her. She had a dumpy figure and a bad complexion. Her father was a drunken bum who had deserted his family. Her mother worked two menial jobs just to make ends meet. Her older brother, a drug addict, was always in and out of the house.
When I first met Claire I was sure she was the ultimate wallflower. I didn’t think there was any way she could compete for acceptance in a college-aged society which is attracted to physical beauty and material success. But to my delight, I learned that everybody in the group liked Claire and loved to be around her. She had lots of friends. And eventually she married the nicest guy in our college department.
What was her secret? Claire simply believed what she perceived herself to be: a child of God. She accepted herself for who God said she was in Christ, and she confidently committed herself to God’s great goal for her life: to be conformed to His image and to love people. She wasn’t a threat to anyone. Instead, she was so positive and caring toward others that everyone loved her.
Claire’s experiences illustrate the importance of establishing our Christian lives on what we believe instead of how we behave. She knew that she couldn’t compete with the world, so she gladly accepted her spiritual heritage, believed God, and lived accordingly. We need a firm grip on God’s Word before we will experience much success at practical Christianity. We need to understand who we are as a result of who God is and what He has done. A productive Christian behavior system is the byproduct of a solid Christian belief system, not the other way around.
Prayer: Thank You for the Claires in my world, Lord, who reflect Your beauty. Forgive me for focusing on myself instead of looking to You and seeking Your eternal qualities.


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THE POWER OF THE BELIEVER


by Neil Anderson

April 14

John 8:32 
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
 
When I was a boy on the farm, my dad, my brother and I would visit our neighbor’s farm to share produce and labor. The neighbor had a yappy little dog that scared the socks off me. When it came barking around the corner, my dad and brother stood their ground, but I ran. Guess who the dog chased! I escaped to the top of our pickup truck while the little dog yapped at me from the ground.
 
Everyone except me could see that the little dog had no power over me except what I gave it. Furthermore, it had no inherent power to throw me up on the pickup; it was my belief that put me up there. That dog controlled me by using my mind, my emotions, my will, and my muscles, all of which were motivated by fear. Finally I gathered up my courage, jumped off the pickup, and kicked a small rock at the mutt. Lo and behold, it ran!
 
Satan is like that yappy little dog: deceiving people into fearing him more than God. His power is in the lie. He is the father of lies (John 8:44) who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9), and consequently the whole world is under the influence of the evil one (1 John 5:19). He can do nothing about your position in Christ, but if he can deceive you into believing his lies about you and God, you will spend a lot of time on top of the pickup truck! You don’t have to outshout him or outmuscle him to be free of his influence. You just have to outtruth him. Believe, declare, and act upon the truth of God’s Word, and you will thwart Satan’s strategy.
 
I have learned from the Scriptures and my experience that truth is the liberating agent. The power of Satan is in the lie, and the power of the believer is in knowing the truth. We are to pursue truth, not power.
 
Prayer: Father God, when Satan is badgering and confusing me, remind me that Your Holy Spirit within me is greater than all the evil around me.
Be Strong All Who Hope in God Ps 31


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Hope Radiates In The Dark

Be Strong All Who Hope in God Ps 31

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” ~Anne Lamott http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2009/01/Hope-Quotes-from-Christian-Leaders.aspx?p=2

Unexpected storms often knock us flat and the testing of faith can leave us exhausted. Our will to persevere may even be hindered. This is when the hand of God will appear to lift us out of our dark waters. All we have to do is cry out His name. He is the very definition of hope.

The Lord takes pleasure in all who hope and trust in His mercy. He waits for His creation to cry out to Him. He longs to show us mighty love and strength. However, we can’t give up and surrender all hope if we want to receive His assistance.

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, 
in those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:11 (NKJV)

Hope is born in the dark. Like a lighthouse calling out to a lost ship at sea, hope will bring you through your personal storm. It will encourage and guide you to safety. Hope is found in the arms of God.

“Be of good courage, 
and He shall strengthen your heart,
 all you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24 (NKJV)

When you are met with spiritual roadblocks don’t forget to call out for God’s help. He will bind all your confusion and guide you through each obstacle. His provisions will be incredible. Any lost hope will be restored when you witness the faithfulness of God.

Unfortunately, loosing hope in God means you have lost some measure of faith in His ability to sustain you. Have you lost sight of who created you and the universe? Do you doubt His ability to work things out and enable you to carry on in life?

Why not give God the benefit of the doubt and trust that your circumstances are for good and not for evil? In some way He is creating good fruit from your circumstances, though pain may be His watering can in your situation. We are promised in Romans 8:28 (NKJV) that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Dear One, I know suffering and I know heartache. None of my sorrows have been easy but they have served me well. Through the furnace of affliction God allows His children to share in the sufferings of Christ. Our spiritual transformation and refinement will always produce a deeper measure of spiritual fruit. Are we not called to be more and more like Christ?

Therefore, ask yourself this question. Do you want to live as an alien in this world, as a foreigner in a land that is not your eternal home? If so, then accept the storm you are riding out as a gift from your Father. He sent it because He loves you. It should remind you that your greater hope waits for you in heaven.

God did not spare His own Son the suffering of the cross. It was for our benefit that Jesus became man, died, and rose again. God sent Jesus to redeem us and has exalted Him in the heavens. He is our Victor and blessed Mediator.

Take your burdens to Jesus and pour out your heart. He is the Savior of the world and our only hope. Ask Him to be your guiding light as you attempt to stand and move forward through your storm. Your struggle will have an end but His love for you is never-ending.

To persevere is to ascend the mountaintop of God. It is a necessary trait, a requirement if we wish to see the face of God. 

 “But I will hope continually,
 and will praise You yet more and more.”  Psalm 71:14 (NKJV)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
 and in His Word I do hope.”   Psalm 130:5 (NKJV)

“Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”  Romans 12:12 (NKJV)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 (NIV)


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Using the “F” Word

Sherri singing

I sang at church two weeks ago, less than twenty-four hours after receiving the news that a second pathology review of my mammogram and biopsy determined that the abnormal mass in my body was not good after all. It needed to be removed. The sweet monotone voice on the other end of the phone told me I needed to see a surgeon for a consultation. That was on Friday. She made the appointment for Monday.

In between those two wonderful days, I was set to sing one of my all-time favorite worship songs at church that weekend, one I’d been dying to sing for months. And all I kept thinking was, Really? This weekend?

Everything in me wanted to cancel. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the song without bawling like a baby. I wanted it to be awesome. I wanted to sing my little heart out without my voice cracking and causing everybody to squirm in their seats, unable to focus on worship.

But as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t back out. It simply would have been the wrong thing to do. So, I sang my heart out anyway, fighting back tears each service, praying that the audience didn’t notice all of my “off” notes or worn-out vocals. Oh, there were some great vocal moments, but there were some not-so-great ones too.

Which is why it happened. That’s what finally did me in and prompted me to use the word. It was after Saturday night’s service when my husband asked me how it went, that the word came out of me with a surprising confidence and deep-felt conviction I didn’t realize had been growing inside of me over the past few years. I was so depleted, so tired, so worn out, so done trying to do and be all things to all people, in all ways… that I finally had had enough. And gave in. And said the four-letter “f” word:

Fine.

It was glorious.

Instead of describing in detail, like I usually do, which note I hit, missed, where I did great or didn’t do so great, how I felt, what people said, what people didn’t say – I simply said to my wonderful man, It was fine. And smiled a big, fat smile. And ate my dinner.

I’d forgotten what a great word “fine” is. You see, I always strive for awesome. Excellent. Incredible. But that night, that weekend, something snapped. I no longer wanted to care if things were awesome or not. I just wanted to be able to live with “fine” and be really, really good with it.

How freeing! Instead of wallowing in anxiety about upcoming singing and speaking engagements, I have been preparing my best and then letting myself rest, knowing that the outcome will be good enough – no matter what that turns out to be. Yes. Do my best and then rest. It will be just fine.

There is so much freedom in wrapping our efforts in the blanket of God’s grace. And self-grace. I’ve noticed myself daring a bit more, saying “yes” to more engagements, and living a bit more courageously.

How about you? Where could you use a little more “fine”? Maybe you need to be fine with not being able to exercise as much as you want to right now, or fine with some relationship you’ve been waiting to turn into “awesome” someday.

I know for me, I’m going to give myself permission to write a little more often, unrefined, just-because-I-want-to, blogs. I need to practice being fine. I hope you start using the “fine” word a little more often too, allowing yourself to be exactly who you are without any apologies or unnecessary descriptives.

Oh, and just to keep you up to speed, I saw the surgeon and will be having surgery sometime in May to remove this mass. I’ll keep you updated and would appreciate your prayers. I’m counting on everything being fine. :)


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THE ENEMY’S POTENTIAL


by Neil Anderson

 

April 12
 
Matthew 12:29 
How can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man?
 
Another common misconception of the spiritual world is that some problems are psychological and some are spiritual. This misconception implies a division between the human soul and spirit, which does not exist. There is no inner conflict which is not psychological, because there is never a time when your mind, emotions and will are not involved. Similarly, there is no problem which is not spiritual. There is no time when God is not present or when it is safe for you to take off the armor of God. The tendency is to polarize into a deliverance ministry, ignoring the realities of the physical realm, or a psychotherapeutic ministry, ignoring the spiritual realm.
 
Dr. Paul Hiebert, a missions specialist, contends that, as long as believers accept a two-tier worldview with God confined to the supernatural and the natural world operating for all practical purposes according to autonomous scientific laws, Christianity will continue to be a secularizing force in the world. If your worldview does not recognize the activity of the god of this world in human problems, it is at best incomplete and at worst a distortion of reality.
 
Another misconception is that Christian aren’t subject to demon activity . The prevailing belief among evangelicals today is that Christians cannot be severely oppressed by demons. Even the suggestion that demonic influence can be part of the problem often prompts the hasty disclaimer, “Impossible! I’m a Christian!”
 
Nothing has done greater damage to diagnosing spiritual problems than this untruth. If Satan can’t touch the church, why are we instructed to put on the armor of God, to resist the devil, to stand firm, and to be alert? If we aren’t susceptible to being wounded or trapped by Satan, why does Paul describe our relationship to the powers of darkness as a wrestling match? Those who deny the enemy’s potential for destruction are the most vulnerable to it.
 
Prayer: Father, I don’t want to be ignorant in matters of the spiritual world. Remove all blinders from my eyes so I may see clearly and share the truth with others.


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THE REALITY OF THE SPIRITUAL WORLD


by Neil Anderson

 

April 11
1 Peter 5:8 
Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour
 
Here’s another common misconception about the spiritual world that must be dispelled: What the early church called demonic activity we now understand to be mental illness. One counselor argued, “There is no way his problem can be demonic; he’s a paranoid schizophrenic.” Simply accepting secular psychology’s definition of a human problem in no way establishes the actual cause of the problem. Terms such as schizophrenia, paranoia, psychosis, etc. are merely labels classifying symptoms.
 
But what or who is causing the symptoms? Is it a neurological or hormonal problem, or perhaps a chemical imbalance? Certainly these options must be explored. But what if no physical cause is found? Then it must be a psychological problem. But which school of psychology do you choose: biblical or secular? Why not explore the possibility that the problem may be spiritual?
 
We should not be surprised that secular psychologists, limited to a natural worldview, supply only natural explanations for mental problems. They offer their explanation from a viewpoint with no concept of God, much less the demonic. Even many Christians who vociferously reject the scientific community’s explanation for the origin of the species naively accept the secular psychologist’s explanation of mental illness. Research based on the scientific method of investigation of human spiritual problems is not wrong; it’s just incomplete. It ignores the reality of the spiritual world because neither God nor the devil submit to our methods of investigation.
 
Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is.” Science is inadequate to explain matters of faith. We must trust God’s Word to explain the reality of the spiritual world.
 
Prayer: I praise You, Father, that I don’t have to accept fallible man’s knowledge as the last word on life. I know Your Word stands above all human reasoning and will remain forever in heaven.
Heart of Love


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Is Your Life A Living Love Song For God?

 

Heart of LoveA love song always includes praises for the object of our affection. Would you like to make your life a living love song for God? What would that look like in your eyes? Starting today, how can you make your life a living and growing praise song to your heavenly Father?

A good way to answer this question is to look at Jesus and His disciples. How did Jesus demonstrate His love for us and how did His followers demonstrate their love for Christ? I assure you there were deliberate actions and a concerted effort.

Consider all the gifts and talents God has given you. Every child of God has received a spiritual gift(s) and is supposed to use it/them to edify the body of Christ, which in turn glorifies and pleases God. What are your gifts and how are you using them?

When we step out in faith, believing God has equipped us to help those around us, we are walking through an open door He has provided. This open door is an opportunity to serve, witness, and praise the name of Jesus. Our trust in His provision and our willingness to minister to others, even our decision to put aside our plans for the day in order to follow His purpose, is a means to shower Him with our love and appreciation.

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NKJV)

A.W. Tozer wrote, “You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.”  

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-love-25-awesome-scripture-quotes/#ixzz2yBHCie00

Your love song to God will be spelled out over your entire lifetime. It will not be one continuous melody. Rather, it will have different movements, like a symphony. There will be pauses. There will even be moments of silence. Different tempos will occur depending on your measure of obedience and submission to His will.

Some movements in your life song will be full of joy and speed, appropriately marked ALLEGRO. Other movements will be very slow. LARGO is a time when you may be required to endure a sorrow or time of suffering, preferably with the dignity and grace God promises to provide. How you carry yourself through a trial can be an incredible opportunity to show God your love for Him. Observers will find themselves amazed and curious when you praise God during your storm, speaking of His unfathomable love, mercy, and grace.

Jesus called us to be the light of the world. If we dedicate our lives to becoming messengers of hope, love, and grace we will get attention. Light demands attention. Light gets noticed, especially in a dark world full of sin and hate.

Goals and ambitions, when aligned with the will of God, will always come to pass. If you find your fulfillment and joy in Christ His passions will become your delight.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)

Will every breath you exhale be a praise offering that honors His glorious name? Will you dedicate every act of service to Him and for His glory? Can you agree to be an extension of His love from this day forth? If so, your life will be a unique and astonishing love song to the one and only God.

“I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently will find Me.”Proverbs 8:17 (NKJV)

“’And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV)


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CONFRONTING SPIRITUAL OPPOSITION


by Neil Anderson

 

April 10
 
Ephesians 6:12 
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places
 
One of the main reasons I fumbled and failed in my early days of ministering to people in bondage was because I labored under a number of misconceptions about the spiritual world. Perhaps you are struggling with some of these same faulty ideas which keep Christians in darkness. We’ll consider these misconceptions over the next several days.
 
One common misconception is that demons were active when Christ was on earth, but their activity has subsided today . Christians who hold this extreme view in light of what God’s Word says and what is transpiring in the world today are not facing reality. The New Testament clearly states that believers will wrestle against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Paul goes on to itemize the pieces of spiritual armor that we are to put on in order to defend ourselves against “the flaming missiles of the evil one” (verses 13-17). In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Paul again specifies that believers are engaged in a spiritual battle against forces which oppose the knowledge of God. If dark spiritual powers are no longer attacking believers, why would Paul alert us to them and insist that we arm ourselves against them?
 
The powers and forces that Paul wrote about in the first century are still around at the dawn of the twenty-first century, evident in the popularity of the New Age Movement and the proliferation of Satanism and the occult.
 
God’s people wrestling against dark spiritual forces is not a first-century phenomenon, nor is it an option for the Christian today; it’s unavoidable. The kingdom of darkness is still present and Satan is intent on making your life miserable and keeping you from enjoying and exercising your inheritance in Christ. Your only options in confronting spiritual opposition are how and to what extent you’re going to wage the battle.
 
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that I don’t battle the forces of darkness alone. You have provided all the weapons I need to overcome and stand free.


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DEALING WITH ANXIETY


by Neil Anderson

April 9

Philippians 4:7 
The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus
 
Christians have frequently relied upon a sense of peace as evidence of the Holy Spirit’s leading. It is common to hear people say, “I just don’t have a peace about it.” I think that is legitimate. I would be concerned about the person who proceeds when his spirit is disturbed. God doesn’t lead through anxiety. We are to cast our anxiety upon Jesus, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
 
Still, a lot of money is spent on the temporary “cure” of anxiety. People consume alcohol, take illegal drugs, turn to the refrigerator, have sex, mindlessly repeat mantras, and escape to cabins, boats and motor homes–all to reduce their anxiety. One lady said, “Whenever I feel anxious, I go on a shopping spree!” Prescription drugs are regularly dispensed for the ails brought on by anxiety.
 
The bartender, drug pushers, occult practitioner, and other peddlers of escapism all have one thing in common: They really don’t care about the consumer. They are out to make a profit. Even worse, when the temporary “cure” wears off, we have to return to the same world with the added problem of hangovers and other negative consequences of fake healers.
 
Internally, we desperately need the peace of God: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7). The awareness of a troubled spirit should drive us to find the peace of God by turning to Him and assuming our responsibility to use our minds.
 
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for breaking through so many of my old anxieties and setting me free. I ask You to free me from those that remain.