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If you have not yet noticed, it’s time to pay attention. A political spirit is having a field day in America. It is stirring up strife and anger to levels we have not seen in many decades.
Sadly, Christians are not immune to its influence. Many in the Church are listening to the political spirit, all the while thinking it is the Holy Spirit. As a result, we see much bickering back and forth, even within Christ’s Body, as we mistakenly try to fight battles in the flesh which can only be fought adequately in the spirit.
Let’s start by identifying some signs the political spirit is affecting us:
The political spirit can lead us into idolizing a particular government figure. It deceives us into replacing Jesus with human saviors. Once we have entered into this idolatry, anytime anyone voices a concern that the one we idolize may be wrong in a specific area, we get defensive and perhaps abusive in our rebuttal. We may twist the Bible to justify or minimize wrong — because the person we have on a pedestal must be viewed as always right in order for us to feel comfortable with our idolization of him or her.
On the other hand, the political spirit can also lead us into hating a particular government figure. We spend our time criticizing his or her every move. When anyone suggests we pray for that person instead of criticizing him, we make excuses or get defensive.
How do we become influenced by the political spirit? It gains our agreement by pandering to our soul. It manipulates our fears and selfish desires, so that life becomes all about making sure our comfort comes first.
It uses us by taking hold of principles we deeply ascribe to and twisting them for its own purposes. We bring those deeply held principles into how we pray, firmly convinced that we are on God’s side – when in actuality our understanding of the principles may be flawed. We may be misusing them for our own soulish desires or opinions.
Other spirits work in partnership with this spirit, but the Holy Spirit never does. We cannot follow the political spirit and the Holy Spirit at the same time.
The political spirit is nothing new. It was at work in Bible times with those who wanted to make Jesus a king so He would overthrow the oppressive Roman government. The Jewish religious leaders who were opposed to Jesus also exhibited it when they said to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). It is not only at work in secular government, but also in church government. Wherever power can be wielded over people, it will try to work.
Combating the political spirit’s influence:
The most effective way to deal with this spirit is through prayer. We must always remember, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). If we don’t stay aware of the real source of the problem, we end up in futile contention with people who are merely tools of the enemy.
That does not mean we never engage in discussion or other activism. If we don’t speak up when the Lord is prompting us to, we allow evil to gain ground, but we must know the appropriate time and place. We can only know these things by the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Find out which battles the Holy Spirit is calling you to, and leave the rest alone.
Our battle must first be engaged by searching out God’s perspective through inquiring of Him in prayer. I might start by gathering information from news sources. (Keep in mind that both left- and right-leaning media distort or withhold information for their own purposes.) But then I ask, “Lord, what do You say about this?”
While we wait to hear from Him, we can begin to wage war by praying in tongues, which keeps us from praying fleshly prayers stemming from our own reasoning.
We can petition the Lord to break the political spirit’s influence off of our nation. This may involve asking Him to expose its influence over ourselves first, followed by repentance for our personal cooperation with it.
Discerning when the political spirit is at work in our own lives and in those around us is a first step in dealing with it. We can be set free, and through prayer, we can help to weaken this spirit’s hold on our nation as well.
The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
I’ve mentioned before that since the beginning of the year God has been impressing upon me the importance of the gift of discerning of spirits. It’s not a gift for just a few, although some will move in it more keenly than others. All believers need to operate in it at greater levels than we have thus far, if we are going to navigate life well.
A few months ago, I shared with you the series, Discerning Between Soul and Spirit. If we do not pursue the Lord for the ability to know the difference between these two, we can easily be fooled into thinking our emotions (which are part of our soul) are the Holy Spirit’s promptings. While our feelings do often align with the Spirit, not all emotions we experience — even positive ones — indicate God’s leading. Many in the Church are operating entirely out of emotional impulses. We need to change that.
For example, sometimes we may feel “righteous indignation,” but it is really only anger fueled by our flesh. Compassion is a Christ-like quality, but we can also experience misguided compassion, coming only from our human emotions. A sense of personal justice (or injustice) might really be selfishness wearing a mask.
Every day, hour by hour, we must discern whether what is propelling us is truly the Spirit of God or our soul — or even something worse! If we listen to our soul too much, our defenses become weakened to where we could begin to be influenced by an unholy spirit, which we then mistake for the Holy Spirit.
As we commit ourselves to listening to the Lord and staying sensitive to Him, we can develop a much keener sense of what is from Him and what is not. Here are some ways I try to do that:
1.) I ask God for His perspective on events happening around me, both in my personal life and relationships and on a national / international level.
2.) I ask, “Lord, is what I am sensing from You, or is it just my own emotions?”
3.) I ask the Holy Spirit to bring Bible verses to mind which address whatever I have questions about and to help me rightly apply them.
Applying biblical principles correctly takes wisdom only the Spirit can impart. It’s easy to find a verse to support whatever position we want to take. But without the Lord’s help, we can end up misusing Scripture for our own soulish purposes.
4.) If I am concerned about something and feel an urge to speak into it, I check my peace barometer. If I’m churned up inside, I try to take a step back and ask the Holy Spirit for more understanding.
Colossians 3:15 advises us, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are also called in one body; and be thankful.” That word “rule” means to act as a referee. So, if I feel an urge to jump into a debate, but I have no peace, I know I need to find out why before acting or speaking. (To my regret, sometimes I don’t do well at this, but I am learning.)
5.) When possible, I delay responding to people or situations, giving myself time to gain wisdom. Waiting can save us a lot of unnecessary turmoil and discord. It’s a good thing not to be in a hurry!
There are battles which God has called us to speak into publicly and battles which are meant to stay in the prayer closet. We need to know the difference. If we fail to speak up in key moments, we might miss opportunities to advance the Lord’s purposes. If, however, we speak without the Spirit’s go-ahead, we can do damage to His cause.
Ephesians 6:12 is really easy to forget, so we should endeavor to keep it in mind constantly:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
When we enter into spiritual battles by taking them on in the natural, we always end up on the wrong side. We cannot serve God’s purposes through fleshly attempts to fix things.
Truly, God is calling His people into higher ways of thinking. Romans 8:5, 6 is a key passage:
For they who live according to the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they who live according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Let us pursue the attitudes of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to take us into His thoughts and ways. As we relentlessly do so, we will come into a far greater ability to discern the spirits and to align with Him alone.
The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
God has big plans for the senior generation:
I noticed there were many silver objects appearing in the book, as well as a lot of references to silver. Then, an old man (silver-haired) hobbled toward me. He pointed his finger with classic prophetic emphasis, as he announced that the silver was appearing in the story because older people are going to play an important role in God’s kingdom in the days ahead.
It is common for the younger generations to be spoken of as having great potential (which they do). But the not-so-subtle implication has often been communicated that those of us who are older have had our chance, and it is now to time to hand over the baton, shuffle out to pasture, and let the younger people do marvelous exploits for the Lord. Many of us who are older have gradually resigned ourselves to never seeing the dreams which God planted in our hearts fulfilled, because our bodies’ clocks are winding down.
God does not see us that way, however. He is mindful of us and still has plans held in reserve for us. How He uses us could take many forms. One of the ways He will do it involves drawing on the wisdom He has imparted to us through the years. He will use this older generation to restore sound biblical foundations to the younger people who have not been well discipled. We are to be repairers of the foundations and walls of God’s kingdom, which have been neglected for a few decades.
While the seeker-sensitive movement and the motivational message, “You can be successful!” have become the centerpieces of our churches, the foundations have fallen into disrepair. Sound doctrine is sadly lacking. But in the wings, God has long been preparing people who are about to change all that – if we are willing to take up our mantle.
If you are older and you are well-grounded in the Bible, look for opportunities to be a spiritual father or mother to younger, less-grounded people. Maybe you can teach them about God’s character and principles, or maybe your gift is to show them how to know His voice. Perhaps you can help them discover their spiritual gifts and how to mature in them. Maybe you are an encourager – one who knows how to inspire people to press on when the going is tough and to be the best they can be for Jesus. Whatever it is, it’s your time. All you have to do is make yourself available to the Lord by saying, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”
For those who pray for Israel:
The Lord led me into prayer for Tel Aviv, which some would view as the “sin city” of Israel. He showed me that Tel Aviv would become a “hot spot” of awakening for the Jewish people. The seeds which have been sown into this city by evangelists and worshipers through several decades will germinate and spring up into sturdy plants of salvation.
I have been praying into California here and there for several years now. While many prophesy judgment and destruction over this state, God is not finished with her.
Recently I heard the Lord say, “God has an appointment with California.” I sensed that this was an appointment with awakening and a radical shift into seeing things God’s way.
The rumblings of God are taking place in California – spiritual rumblings of a good nature. I have felt more than once the prompting to pray for the homeless camps to become seedbeds of awakening.
California is the Lord’s, and it is truly a “promised land.” We will see it shift from being a place of great liberalism to being a place where righteousness is the order of the day for a majority.
“Can anyone hold back California? No!” says the Lord. “This land is Mine, and I will heal it. The sighs and cries going up from there have been heard.”
Growing in the Prophetic, mp3 or CD set
Hearing God Through Your Dreams, mp3 or CD set
Oh, here we go again. Another sermon on Elijah’s failure and how God never used him after that.
I don’t know how many times the story has been spun from our pulpits: “Elijah scored his biggest victory ever at Mount Carmel, and then he blew it. He gave in to discouragement, ran for his life, and that was the end of his ministry. God was so displeased that He immediately chose someone to replace Elijah. And Elijah never did anything important for God again.”
The moral of this concocted version of 1 Kings 19 is, if you allow fear, doubt, or discouragement to get in, you’re done — so don’t ever do that. (Like we haven’t all already done the same thing a time or two!)
In actuality, Elijah continued to have a powerful prophetic ministry after his brief lapse into discouragement. He prophesied to Ahab about the consequences of seizing Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:17-29). He prophesied to Ahab’s successor, demonstrating his prophetic authority by calling down fire from heaven on the king’s soldiers. And he was still around during the reign of the king who came after (2 Kings 1). Furthermore, he established training camps for young prophets in Bethel and Jericho (2 Kings 2:2-5).
Perhaps most importantly, he spent years pouring himself into Elisha, raising him up to be a mighty prophet like unto himself. Jewish historian Josephus indicates in Book VIII of his work, Antiquities of the Jews, that Elijah continued 13-15 years after he anointed Elisha to take his place (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-8.html). Other Bible scholars estimate anywhere from 10-20 more years passed before Elijah was carried up into heaven.
I’m glad that the story as it has been told from too many pulpits is untrue. You see, through the years, I have identified with Elijah a lot. I have repeatedly prayed that God would help me to hear Him with pinpoint accuracy like Elijah did. I’ve desired to be persistent and effective in prayer, as he was.
But I’ve also felt a kinship with Elijah in his temperament, leaning toward the melancholy side, sometimes taking myself a little too seriously, and having a tendency toward despondency if I don’t rigorously guard against it.
I take comfort in the apostle James’ tribute to Elijah (James 5:16-18). He held him up as our example for effective prayer. Apparently, James did not regard Elijah as a washout, and God didn’t either. Besides giving him a nod in James’ epistle, He chose to have Elijah appear with Moses on the mount of transfiguration to encourage Jesus concerning His impending death for mankind (Luke 9:28-31).
Elijah’s story does not end there. In truth, his greatest ministry is yet to come. We are told in Malachi 4:5, 6, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers ….”
This prophecy was foreshadowed, but not completely fulfilled, in John the Baptist. Some Bible teachers spiritualize the Malachi passage by saying Elijah will not literally come again. They think it will be carried out by a last days’ generation who will collectively carry “the spirit of Elijah.” That may certainly take place, but seeing how Bible prophecy consistently is fulfilled quite literally, I believe we will see Elijah himself accomplish this on the earth, perhaps as one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11.
What can we take away from Elijah’s story?
Perhaps you’ve failed. Maybe you got your eyes off Jesus, became afraid, and “ran for your life” when you were supposed to stand in your victory. It’s a lie that God is now finished with you just because you didn’t do it right.
In spite of those sermons, God did not throw Elijah on the garbage heap. (Neither was He done with Peter when he failed to keep walking on the water or when he denied Jesus.) God knows our failings and has compassion on us. “Like a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13, 14).
If you have grown discouraged and have run from your calling or your circumstances, don’t buy the lie that God has permanently put you on the shelf. Put your hand back in the Lord’s and keep going. Your most fruitful days can still lie ahead of you.
Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
Recently, I heard a well-known prophet prophesying over a younger prophet. He told the audience, “She is one of the chosen ones.” From there, he went on to talk about just how specially chosen she was. My reaction was, “This is not right. Every believer in Jesus is one of God’s chosen ones.”
Yes, it was good that he spoke encouraging things to her about the ministry she would have. There was nothing wrong with that. But his choice of words illustrated an erroneous mindset we have in the body of Christ: thinking there are different levels of value among Christians, where some are more important to God than others. These are the “special” ones, and then there are the average, not-so-special ones.
We talk and act as if some people earn, or are born with, more favor with God. We unconsciously entertain the notion that God will answer these special people’s prayers, but He might not be so eager to answer ours.
This idea is pervasive in our church culture, and it leads us to develop mindsets such as
All the while, we forget that Jesus encouraged us to come to the Father like little children, our hearts full of trust in His love for us. And there is the key – realizing we are beloved sons and daughters, not worker bees in God’s hive, who get ignored or pushed out if we don’t produce as much, or in the same way, as somebody else.
Once again, we’re trying to gain God’s attention based on works, rather than relationship. We tell the rest of the world that salvation is about relationship, not good deeds – but then we turn around and think once we are in the Kingdom, that from thereon in, we have to earn our way.
Maybe we need to keep saying this until it sinks in:
I cannot earn the Father’s favor. I already have it, because I am His child.
Can we mature into praying more effectively? Of course. We can learn from seasoned intercessors. It’s good to become more disciplined in our prayer life, to train ourselves to use the Bible promises in our quest for answers, to grow in following the Holy Spirit’s leading on how to pray. That’s definitely part of the picture. But we should never allow ourselves to think that the right method or being a special somebody is the key to receiving help from our Father.
If Jesus is your Savior, you are a child of God. There are no children in His family whom He loves better and favors more than others. You have uniquely valuable gifts and purposes to fulfill, lovingly planned out by your heavenly Father since before the world began. And He will answer your prayers just as eagerly as He answers “important” people’s prayers. Because you are important, too.
The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
Encouragement from God’s Word,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
I have not written for a while, and there is a reason. My elderly mother has needed a lot of help over the last year, and especially since 2018 began.
In March, Mom had a scary health episode, which made it necessary to place her in a nursing home. Since then, I’ve been focusing most of my time and energy on getting her settled in her new home, pulling her finances together, and disposing of her house and other possessions.
Through all of this, we have seen the hand of God upon her and upon the timing of all that has taken place. Mom’s health has improved, and she is adjusting extremely well to this new chapter in her life — all of which I see as a miracle for her and us.
I hope to get back to writing in the next few weeks, but just wanted to connect with our Out of the Fire readers a little in the meantime, to let you know I am still here and to share a few thoughts and updates.
First, the updates:
For those who have elementary-aged children, our Character Building for Families manuals are on sale in the U. S. now through May 15. (Saving money is always good!) They are a simple and enjoyable way for families to grow together in Jesus. Some families use them as their homeschool Bible curriculum, some as family devotions. I hope you will take a look.
I have updated our book, Encouragement from God’s Word. It now has an additional chapter and a beautiful new cover. It is a topical collection of reassuring Bible verses (KJV) which I collected while going through a particularly tough time in my life. I will be forever grateful for what the Lord showed me about His faithfulness during that season, and I hope this book will bless you as well. The links are to Amazon, but it is also available at many other online bookstores.
We have a new audio resource for you — Hearing God Through Your Dreams. This was a live workshop we did recently, and it’s now available as an mp3 or CD set. There is an optional study guide, too.
This teaching gives you the keys for understanding what God is speaking to you while you sleep. If you were not able to attend in person, this is the next best thing!
A few short thoughts:
At the beginning of 2018, the Lord spoke to me that the ability to discern is much on His mind for His children. It will become increasingly imperative for all of us to effectively exercise the discerning of spirits in the days ahead.
We often think of this gift as the ability to know when an evil spirit is behind afflictions or perplexing situations. That is true, but I believe it also encompasses recognizing the difference between flowing with the Holy Spirit and operating in one’s natural understanding — both in ourselves and other people.
I wrote on this a few months ago, in my series, Discerning Between Soul & Spirit, but it is still much on my heart, so perhaps we will explore it more in days to come. Keys to Increasing in Discernment is another series which may help you.
I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 2 for several months now, and the Lord is (once again) speaking to me about discernment through it. He talks about “the hidden wisdom” of God, and that, while we cannot discover or discern this wisdom on our own, by His Spirit He has “freely given us all things” to understand. We have “the mind of Christ,” and we can access the deep things of God as we step over from our intellect into the realm of the Spirit. It is almost as if there are parallel worlds available to us: the world of the Spirit and our lesser, natural world. We can choose which one we live in.
Finally, recently the Lord assured me, “The righteous shall fare well in the days ahead.” I sensed that this meant that whether things are going well on the earth or not, He is personally seeing to the welfare of those who are His own. We can take courage in knowing that He is attentive to our every need, even if all we see with our natural eyes continues to shake. He has us tenderly covered with His protective hand.
That’s a good note to end on.