Category Archives: Christian living

Sword, Shield, Reward

swordRecently the Lord spoke to me via a gentle thought, “God’s Word is a sword and shield to me.” Immediately, my intellect went to work correcting me, “No! The Word is the sword of the Spirit, but faith is the shield!” (Ephesians 6:16, 17). I recognized, though, that this was merely my mind trying to misuse Scripture to steal from me what God wanted to implant in my heart. (How many of you ever have this happen to you? I think it is probably more frequent than we realize.)

I asked the Lord to help me recall whether there were verses in the Bible which would connect the Word with a shield. And what came to mind was that Jesus and His Word are one, because He is the Word. John 1:1 and 14 reveal Jesus as the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….”

Jesus is also our shield: “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me…” (Psalm 3:3) and, “Behold, O God our shield. … For the LORD God is a sun and shield…” (Psalm 84:9, 11).

So, because Jesus is our shield, and the Word and Jesus are one, God’s Word can be seen as both a sword and a shield to us. Now, how do we apply that idea? Many of us are already familiar with using the Word of God as our sword. It is our offensive weapon, used to aggressively take territory from the enemy through declaring, “It is written …,” claiming what is rightfully ours and the Kingdom’s through our blood covenant in Christ Jesus.

But the Word is also our defensive shield. We use it to wrap protection around ourselves and our loved ones. We use powerful verses like those found in Psalm 91, or Psalm 140:4: “Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.”  Again, we might use it in an “It is written” declaration, or we might simply petition the Lord for His deliverance from evil, by praying the Word back to Him.

You may already be using God’s Word as both a sword and a shield, but sometimes an image such as this can solidify for us what we are doing, so that it becomes a more settled truth in our hearts. We increase in confidence in using God’s Word when we can picture it as our sword and shield.

crownThe next day, another of those gentle thoughts came to mind: “God is my reward. He is my exceedingly great reward.” I knew that was somewhere in the Bible, and sure enough, when I searched, Genesis 15:1 was the spot: “After these things, the word of the LORD came to Abram [Abraham] in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceedingly great reward.'”

We often focus on the rewards we will someday receive for our faithful service to the Lord, but do we realize that He, in and of Himself, is the greatest reward we will ever have? Compared to the reward of Himself all other rewards are paltry.

Because he believed the Lord, Abraham was called the Friend of God (James 2:23). Jesus said of us, “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. From now on, I do not call you servants, … but I have called you friends…” (John 15:14, 15). Abraham was God’s friend; we are His friends. He was Abraham’s exceedingly great reward; He is our exceedingly great reward. How amazing that we can participate in this blessing!

May these precious truths sink deeply into each of our hearts:

  • God’s Word is our sword and also our shield.
  • And He Himself is our shield and our exceedingly great reward.

nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Discerning the Principles of God

Christian ethicsKnowing which principles in God’s Word to apply to given situations can be tricky. If we do not get our application from the Holy Spirit, we can end up speaking or acting in the flesh.

We see conflict over how to walk out the Word all the time. While some things are very clear-cut in Scripture, others are not. Hence, people frequently misuse the Bible to support their opinion or what they want to do. Believers really seem to struggle with this. It comes out loud and clear in real-life conversations. People are willing to fight to the death over their opinion, using Scripture to back it up – often erroneously.

An example recently in the news was the issue of separating children from their parents at the border. Somehow, that became a fight between those who wanted to apply the Romans 13 “obey the law” principle and those who were more concerned about the “compassion and caring for the helpless” principle.

How do we figure out which principle to apply and when? Like with so many other things, it is about discernment — in this case, discovering God’s heart case by case. That may sound like situation ethics, but it is not.

Situation ethics, as defined at Wikipedia, “takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards.” Sympathy toward so-called mercy killing is one example of where situation ethics will take us. God’s moral standards, however, do remain eternally absolute, so we can’t bend those for our convenience or personal desires, no matter how convincing our logic may be.

Many decisions and viewpoints do not involve violating an absolute moral standard. For those, there can be multiple principles in Scripture to be considered. We need to find out, for each set of circumstances, which principle is the correct one to apply.

The apostle Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 gives us a clue as to how this works: “And this is the trust we have through Christ toward God: we are not sufficient in ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament — not of the letter [of the law], but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

We are not competent through our intellect alone to discern how to apply the written Word of God. When we try to do that, we will often miss the mark. Instead, we must ask the Holy Spirit to illumine His Word and lead us to correct solutions. This is certainly part of what “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is about.

Jesus frequently shocked the religious leaders of His day by doing and saying things which they viewed as flagrant violation of God’s commands. He took them to task about their rigid understanding of the law and showed them what God’s intent was in it. In the process, He challenged them to look into their heart attitudes. The religious leaders, not understanding that they were contending with God Himself (Who certainly would have known what His own Word said), thought Jesus was a dangerous heretic.

So, how do we correctly discern and apply God’s principles? It requires asking Him for His input, which can take time to receive. We need to be careful not to express opinions too quickly, but to seek His counsel first. We can consider what other believers are saying, and ask God to give us His input on whether their take is correct. I often ask, “Lord, what about this? Will You give me something from Your Word which speaks to it?” Then I wait for a thought from the Scriptures to come to mind.

I also measure whatever principle I am weighing against 1 Corinthians 13 — the love test. If we are applying the Bible correctly, it will not violate other parts of itself, such as this chapter.

The Lord is most willing to help us discern His principles correctly. He has promised, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Our part is to wait upon Him patiently, expecting that He will truly help us. The more we are willing to do this, the more we will become skilled at correctly discerning and applying His Word.

 

The Names of God, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

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More on Discerning of Spirits

discerning of spiritsI’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.

personal prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Recent Things God Has Shared with Me

prophecies for CaliforniaGod has big plans for the senior generation:

In a recent dream, I was reading Tales of the Kingdom, a book by David and Karen Mains. (It was a favorite in our family while our children were growing up.)

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.

______________

California:

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

 

Growing in the Prophetic, mp3 or CD set

 

 

Christian dream interpretation

 

Hearing God Through Your Dreams, mp3 or CD set

 

In Defense of the Elijahs

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.

Christian foundations and the nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Are You One of the Special Ones?

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

  • “Ida Intercessor prays three hours a day, so God will hear her. I’ll ask her to pray for my needs … because God is not as likely to answer little old me” (who doesn’t pray three hours a day).
  • “If I speak the words exactly right, X number of times, maybe then God will hear and answer me.” (That’s called an incantation, by the way.)
  • “Brother So-and-So said God showed him a precise method of prayer that is THE way to get answers. He said God won’t answer us if we don’t do it this way. Maybe I need to get his book and learn to do it right.”

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.

intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

KJV Bible encouragement

 

Encouragement from God’s Word,
by Lee Ann Rubsam