Category Archives: Christianity

Are You Influenced by the Political Spirit?

I’ve been concerned for quite some time about the influence of the political spirit upon Christians. While it is most easily seen during election years, it rears its ugly head at various other times as well. It’s currently surfacing a lot in opinions about the Covid-19 crisis, but it shows up in other discussions too, such as immigration or social justice.

This post is sort of a “Part Two.” Discerning the Political Spirit, written a couple of years ago, acts as my “Part One.” That post explains a lot about the political spirit. Today’s post goes on from there.

Here are some ways the political spirit affects people, including believers:

It causes us to be hardhearted.

Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted….” The political spirit causes us to put our “convictions” ahead of kindness and tenderness. Mercy and compassion take a lesser place, because being right becomes paramount. Often those convictions are not biblical principles at all, but opinions we have absorbed from various secular sources with a political agenda behind them. When we take in enough of them, they become part of our worldview. We might think that worldview is unquestionably biblical, because we’ve heard influential Christian leaders speak the same things — but that could be because those leaders have unwittingly become influenced by the political spirit as well.

An example of how this plays out can be seen with the current controversy over how the Covid-19 crisis should be addressed. We hear a great deal of talk about constitutional rights. Preserving constitutional rights is important. However, if we forget that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence are for everyone, not just self, it could be a sign that we’re influenced by not only selfishness, but the political spirit. When one’s own rights and wants become more important than caring for the welfare of others, we’re missing the second great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

It polarizes people.

We should never get sucked into a false unity. Light and darkness cannot mix. However, the political spirit will cause unrighteous (and unnecessary!) division between believers. Factions form. Paul attempted to correct this attitude in the Corinthian Church:

Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you…. For it has been declared to me … that there are contentions among you. …You say, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos,” and “I am of Cephas,” and “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? …. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

We see this every day, from arguments about governmental policies to theological disputes on matters which aren’t about foundations of the faith.

It promotes finger-pointing.

The devil is “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Unfortunately, too often we cooperate with him! Mudslinging is part of political campaigns, and the political spirit will lead you into that behavior in other arenas too. It has a lot to do with those convictions I mentioned earlier, which are really only opinions.

It fosters pride.

This goes along quite nicely with finger-pointing. We feel so strongly about our position that we assume everyone who doesn’t see it the way we do is less spiritual, asleep at their post, or just plain stupid.

Could it be that those of a different opinion are seeing from an angle we have not yet considered? Can their perspective and mine dovetail together for a more complete picture of the truth? The political spirit attempts to blind us to such possibilities.

It diverts us from Christ and the Gospel.

The political spirit sidetracks us onto temporary tangents, consuming our thoughts with current events which have little to no bearing on eternal matters. We become earth-bound, consumed with anxieties over what will happen if “our side” does not carry the day. Jesus is not mentioned very much anymore. Sharing the “good news” of our viewpoint takes the place of sharing the good news of the cross.

In his book, The Discerner, James Goll comments,

Particularly in these days of instant social messaging, we need to be alert to the influence of the political spirit around us. We have to work hard to keep our focus on God and not on the troubling and divisive contemporary issues unfolding around us, lest we react to them by joining the toxic fray, rather than being part of the solution. While we should fulfill our civic responsibilities and keep a level head while participating in our representative government, the best thing we can do is to pray and intercede in order to break the power of the demonic political spirit that causes divisions, animosity, and strife.(1)

How do we break the power of the political spirit off of our minds?

1. The first step is recognizing its influence over us.

2. We repent and renounce it, asking the Lord to deliver us from it.

3. We determine to, once again, “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2). That might require more time reading the Bible and less time reading or listening to the ideas of men.

The Lord will free us, if we ask. He will also help us know where to put our energies in the future. He will give us the wisdom we need to escape the deceptions of the political spirit.

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(1)  James W. Goll, The Discerner (New Kengsington, PA: Whitaker House, 2017), p. 148.

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inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

character education, Bible study

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Bible character education study for adults and teens)

 

Self-Help Christian Living

self-help solutions“Seven Reasons You Don’t Get Healed.” “Ten Steps to Personal Success (and Why You’re Not There Yet).” “Eight Reasons Your Prayers Are Not Answered.”

Do these titles sound in any way familiar? Christian teachers preach and write on topics such as these a lot. They start by telling us how we’re doing it all wrong and then offer us the alternative solutions they’ve discovered. Some of us become hopelessly overwhelmed — first, by the extent of our revealed failure, and second, by the myriads of steps we must take to fix ourselves. We feel tempted to cry out in despair, “Why should I even try? I’ll be sure to do something wrong to keep me from receiving what I need from God anyway! Why does it have to be so hard???!!!”

The truth is, the message presented by many of these teachers is basically flawed. It is a humanistic, self-help approach, just like the secular world churns out. Based on following methods and formulas (backed up with a smattering of isolated Bible verses, of course), it is all about depending on yourself, not on God. You determine your own destiny by either doing all the stuff right or doing it wrong. Mess up? Too bad. You should have followed the game plan laid out by Christian Expert So-and-So.

The true Bible message, however, is quite the opposite. We are to depend, not on ourselves, but on Jesus. Consider what our Lord said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It’s like a fresh, revitalizing breeze washing over you, isn’t it?

Ever since the Garden of Eden, the devil has been whispering to mankind, “You can have all the knowledge for yourself. You can be like God.” It was an invitation then to rebellious independence, and the message has not changed. It has only been repackaged by well-meaning Christian teachers and sometimes backed up with Bible verses which make it seem right. Meanwhile, the Lord has been calling to us, “You can’t do it yourself. You never could. Come to Me, and depend on Me. I want to help you.”

The deception is in putting a formula first, with a dash of God thrown in. The truth is in making relationship with the Unlimited One our foremost priority and then letting Him lead us. He wants to show His might on our behalf, to override our weakness with His strength as we walk through life’s difficulties with our hand in His.

The Pharisees of old made it difficult for their listeners to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 23:13). Likewise, some Christian teachers today are hindering God’s children from entering into a joyful, victorious life by placing the emphasis on ourselves, rather than on Jesus. Perhaps 2 Corinthians 11:3 is an appropriate verse for us to freshly apply: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.”

“The simplicity which is in Christ.” Let’s remember that.

My next post will be an extension of these thoughts. We’ll talk about some current teaching on intercession which I find troubling, and how we can receive answers to our prayers without striving in the flesh.

___________________________________

inner peace

 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Bible studies

 

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

The Other 9-11s

9-11This week we commemorated 9-11-01, the infamous day when Muslim jihadists attacked our nation. It is a day not to be forgotten. Life in the United States will never be the same because of it.

On 9-11 this year, the Lord happened to remind me of one of my favorite names of God, found in Hebrews 9:11, which speaks of our Lord Jesus: “a high priest of good things to come.” After posting it on Facebook, I noticed the 9:11 / 9-11 correlation, and I began to think about other 9:11 references in the Bible.

While 9-11-01 was a time of great devastation, God has His own set of 9:11 words, and they are full of hope for us. Here are some of them, starting with my two favorites:

Hebrews 9:11“But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come….”

Psalm 91:1“He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Are you afraid? There is a haven of safety and rest for you in the secret place of the Lord’s presence. He is inviting you to enter into intimate fellowship with Him, for it is there that the other wonderful promises of Psalm 91 will become real to you. I spend a lot of time in Psalm 91, especially when fear knocks at my door.

Genesis 9:11“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off anymore by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth.” God has established a forever covenant with you through the blood of Jesus Christ. He never reneges on His promises, so you can absolutely count on Him to do for you what He has said in His Word. The hard part is waiting for the fulfillment, but if we cling in faith to Him, we will see Him perform the good things He has promised.

Nehemiah 9:11“And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and You threw their persecutors into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.” Are you hemmed in, with nowhere to turn? God will make a way for you, as you release the insurmountable difficulty to Him. He will fight for you and personally go against those who are trying to destroy you.

Psalm 9:11“Sing praises to the LORD, Who dwells in Zion; declare among the people His doings.” Praise your way through to your victory! Praise is a powerful weapon of our spiritual warfare. It brings breakthroughs when nothing else seems to budge the circumstances.

Proverbs 9:11“For by Me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.” Do you want to live a long, healthy life, so that you can be as fruitful for Jesus as possible? God wants that for you too! Declare this 9:11 verse as your own.

Amos 9:11“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” This verse is about the restoration of David’s kingly line through Jesus, the Son of David. It prophesies His physical return to earth to rule in righteousness. It’s an exciting word for all who love Him: Jesus is coming, and it is going to be good!

Zechariah 9:11“As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Do you feel like you are in the pits? Do you feel dry and thirsty? You have a covenant with the Father by the blood of Jesus your Savior. He has promised to set the prisoners free and to give His living water to all who thirst. Check out Isaiah 55:1; 58:11; 61:1 and John 4:13-15; 7:37, 38, just for starters.

Matthew 9:11“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?'” Aren’t you glad that Jesus wants to spend time with people who sin and have issues? I am — because I know I don’t have it all together. He takes us where we’re at, and cleans us up as we fellowship with Him. Now, that is good news!

Luke 9:11“And the people … followed Him: and He received them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.” He received them, He spoke to them, and He healed them. Jesus receives you, no matter what a mess your life is right now. He wants to speak to you. And, He wants to heal you physically and emotionally.

John 9:11“… A man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ I went and washed, and I received sight.” I’m going to take the liberty of applying this in a spiritual sense. Jesus provides for us a “pool of Siloam” in His Word. It washes us (see Ephesians 5:26). The Holy Spirit uses it to guide us into all truth (see John 8:31, 32; 14:26; and 16:13). He gives us spiritual eyes to see what the world around us cannot see.

Romans 9:11“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not because of works, but because of Him Who calls.” God always planned for you to be His very own. He doesn’t love you and give you good purposes to fulfill because you have somehow been a super-Christian who earned His favor. No, He has favored you from before you were ever born, and now He’s helping you all along life’s way. That’s more good news!

2 Corinthians 9:11“Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God.” God “daily loads [you] with benefits” (Psalm 68:19) so that you can “pay it forward” to others. Did you know that when you are kind in various ways — even small ways — it causes other people to thank God for His goodness to them? We’ll only find out how much this has gone on when we get to heaven. You were meant to be a blessing and to give glory to God in all that you do.

I hope these 9:11 verses bless and encourage you as much as they have me!

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topical KJV Bible

 

 

Encouragement from God’s Word,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Topical verses from the KJV to encourage and strengthen you)

 

 

Bible verses for intercessors

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Topical verses to encourage you and help you intercede on specific subjects, in a modernized KJV format)

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 8) — Conclusion

balanced churchWe started this series by looking at what “church” (ekklesia) means — a called-out assembly. We are called out of the darkness of this world into God’s family and kingdom, not as individuals only, but as a united body of believers, meant to live and carry out our purpose together.

I also gave you a core job description: The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

Throughout the series, I emphasized that healthy church life means we function as the family of God. When we forget that we are family, some of the other components of who we are — an army, discipleship center, or even a house of prayer — can get out of whack. But if we stay in the context of family, the many purposes God has for His Church work beautifully together. When we overemphasize one aspect of the Church to the exclusion of others, we become like a wheel out of round, or one missing some spokes, but properly balancing who we are and what we are supposed to do causes us to thrive.

There is one more element of the Church that I would like to mention. Really, I’ve saved the best for last:

We are Christ’s bride.

It is definitely a “now, but not yet” part of who we are. We are betrothed to our Bridegroom Jesus, but the wedding celebration will not take place until He returns for us. While we wait for Him, we are in a two-fold preparation time. We are already spotless in the sense that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, blameless and pure through His atonement for us at the cross. But Jesus is also bringing us through a wedding preparation process, “that He might sanctify and cleanse [His bride] with the washing of water by His Word, so that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26, 27).

We have our role to play as well. Just as an earthly bride goes through much preparation to look her most beautiful on her wedding day, we are to give great attention to readying ourselves for Jesus. Revelation 19:7 says of the marriage supper in heaven, “for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

In this present hour, the Lord is doing His part to cleanse His Church, even sometimes through the painful, public exposure of sin. We must do ours as well, in setting aside every encumbrance, every distraction, which would keep us from looking eagerly for our Bridegroom to come for us. We must get our attention off the temporary pursuits and cares of earth, and firmly fix our gaze on Jesus. He is coming. Let us be eagerly anticipating Him.

Summing things up:

The expression of love, mercy, and compassion should always be prominent in the Church. We carry out the practical functions to which we are called as Christ’s body on earth, but forever in the context of these three attributes. This is why the Spirit led the apostle Paul to insert “the love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) between the the gifts and church order chapters (1 Corinthians 12 and 14).

We must also remember that our Sunday morning services are only a slice of what it means to be the Church. If that is all we ever experience, we are missing out on a great deal. The early Church not only met together in large gatherings; they met “house to house” informally, eating and fellowshipping with one another (Acts 2:46), receiving teaching (Acts 20:20), and praying together (Acts 12:12) too. We can do the same in our day. They also lived out the life of Christ in the world around them, including showing forth the power of God through miracles, signs, and wonders, which are supposed to “follow those who believe” (Mark 16:17). “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

I hope you have enjoyed this series and that it has provoked some new ideas for you. I would love hearing any additional thoughts you have!

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Part 7 — Other Church Attributes

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nature of God

 

 

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

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 7) — Other Attributes of the Church

Supreme Court buildingWe’ve talked about the Church being a family, a body, an army, a house of prayer and worship, and a healing center. Here are a few other attributes of the Church which should not be neglected.

 

The Church is a governing body upon earth.

We carry out our governing function in a couple of ways. One is by bringing the power and presence of God with us wherever we go.

We are meant to influence and bring change in our world through our words and actions. We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), meaning that what Jesus did to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, we do also. Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38); we do likewise. He spoke light and truth; we are to do the same. Jesus said of His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”“a city set on a hill [that] cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13, 14). Paul worded it, God “makes manifest by us the savor of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:15). So, we govern by bringing the Lord’s kingdom to our world in how we do life.

Each of us can do this in the process of going about our daily occupations. But in order to be as effective as possible, we should stay aware that this is why we have been placed by God in our particular spheres of influence. We must not miss our opportunities!

The second way we govern on earth is through prayer. In Matthew 18:18, 19, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by My Father Who is in heaven.”

In his book, Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Derek Prince said this: “The Bible reveals that this world is not really ruled by presidents and governors and dictators. They only seem to rule. The people who really rule the world are those who know how to pray.” We need to grasp this idea and run with it!

Our governing function is carried out both individually and as a church body. While each of us should be an ambassador and a prayer warrior, when we join together in unity with other believers, our effectiveness is greatly multiplied. Corporate governing as a body ties in with what we already saw in Part 4 about the Church being an army. No man fights a war all by himself.

Ultimately, we will physically govern on earth with Christ when He returns (and we with Him) for His millennial reign as King. The governing we do now is a seed, a foretaste of what is to come.

discipleshipThe Church is a center for discipleship.

What did Jesus tell His disciples before He left earth? “Go, therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations… teaching them to observe all things which I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Paul called this discipleship “the perfecting [equipping] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come, in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, into maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we are no longer children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery and cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:12-14).

Some of our local churches are fulfilling the discipleship function well. However, based on the amount of serious doctrinal error which has become commonplace in the Church today, apparently many of our churches are not getting the job done. In Charismatic / prophetic / apostolic circles, we often focus on “equipping the saints” in how to do the supernatural works of Jesus, but we have neglected to lay the firm foundation of the core doctrines taught by the original New Testament apostles. Indeed, we have neglected teaching the Bible as a whole. On the other hand, in fundamentalist / non-Charismatic streams, there is often a great adherence to Bible teaching, while not emphasizing pursuing intimacy with Jesus Himself. As you can see, the Church needs a lot of improvement in the discipleship area!

The discipleship function can be worked out in a variety of ways. The Word of God should be preached from our pulpits (in many cases, this is not happening as it should). Home Bible studies and Bible classes within the local church can further enhance the work. One-on-one discipleship, with mature believers mentoring newer Christians, is just as vital as what we receive through sermons and structured teaching.

I personally believe we should see more teaching from the Bible on God’s nature. If we understand Who He is and how He acts, we can then apply that understanding to develop Christlike character in our own lives. Too many believers in our day have little understanding of either God’s nature or how to live like Jesus. These things can be taught systematically, however.

It is a large task, and may seem overwhelming, but each of us can do our part by being connected into a local fellowship where true discipleship is taking place, and by being willing to disciple others who are just beginning their life in Christ.

In our next post, we’ll wrap up this series with one more aspect of who the Church is and a few final thoughts.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Next: Part 8 (Conclusion)

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nature of God

 

 

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

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam