Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum has said God, and not man, installed him as the state governor because he fasted and prayed for 306 days (10 months) before he became the governor.Amaechi also critisized the increasing level of insecurity in the Federal Government. He stated that rather than chase criminals away from
the state, the police had decided to shoot innocent citizens.The governor, who spoke at Saint Vincent De PaulCatholic Church in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, said insecurity in the state was growing because the police had failed to do their job in an unbiased manner.Maintaining that his government was installed by JesusChrist, Amaechi urged the people to disregard those who claimed to be responsible for his emergence as the governor of the state.He said, “As a government led by me, a government installed by Christ, if anybody tells you he installed me, tell him it is a lie. Tell him that I said I prayed for 10 months and I fasted from 6am to 6pm, calling on Christ to come down and Christ came down mightily and installed me as governor.“That is why you can see that in the face of human effontery, I have been able to stand face to face with them and I say I have Christ in me.“You must rise in that same spirit of having Christ in you and confront those who are confronting you. You must stand up for Christ because the Bible says ‘faith without work is dead.’“We must not die. We must live and the way to live is to celebrate Christ and the way to celebrate Christ is to confront Satan and Satan is in different forms and shapes.“If the police shoot at you, they are satanic. If government denies you your right to live, that government is satanic,” Amaechi added.“All these you may want to attribute to political
disagreement in Rivers State; but it is not true. It is simply because of those who lead us in Abuja; because the police is an establishment of the Federal Government and they have refused to curb the excesses of the police.“Instead of the police to chase away criminals, they are shooting at innocent citizens. Don’t stop at praying. We knew we prayed, but as you pray, you must rise on your feet and confront the challenges of insecurity.”
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been thinking about. In other words, I’ve been listening closer into the spiritual realm to discern the demonic activity trying to come against my mind and trying to come against people in my region.
When I was driving to church last week, for example, I suddenly heard thoughts like, “I’m so discouraged.” When I got in the car and started driving, I was happy as a lark, listening to classical music and praying. But when I crossed the line into Fort Lauderdale, Fla., thoughts of discouragement suddenly started bombarding my mind.
Although I’ve experienced this before, I almost fell for it. I started thinking about discouraging things going on in my life and in the world. By the time I pulled into the church parking lot, I was deflated. And then the Holy Spirit broke in and reminded me, “That’s not your thought.”
I called a friend and asked her if she was sensing discouragement in the spiritual climate, and she offered a confirmation. As a church, we prayed against a spirit of discouragement, loneliness and oppression, and we felt something break. The joy of the Lord fell on the congregation, and we had a lovely service.
What Are You Thinking About?
Of course, it’s not always something in the city I’m hearing. Sometimes the enemy is targeting my mind with destructive or seductive thoughts. Yes, Satan does put thoughts in our minds. Consider Luke 4:3, where “the devil said” things to Jesus. The devil is a spirit—a fallen angel—who moves in the spirit realm. He doesn’t need a body to talk to you any more than God needs a body to talk to you. Just as the devil talked to Jesus, he’s still talking to people today.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been thinking about. In other words, I’ve been keener on discerning the thoughts that are floating around in my mind and their origin. Did you know that you could go throughout much of your day on autopilot? You can get dressed for work in the morning, drive to the office, drive home, cook dinner and watch television at night while your mind is reasoning through all sorts of thoughts.
We need to start paying attention to what we’re thinking about and the origin of those thoughts. We need to be quicker to listen to the inner talk going on in our souls. When we do, we’ll start to discern the demonic strategies against our lives. For example, you may hear thoughts like, “No one appreciates me.” If you reason that thought out in your mind, you’ll end up a little angry, maybe resentful and eventually bitter. That thought will eventually drive your behavior toward the people you feel underappreciate you.
God’s Thoughts Versus Satan’s Thoughts
Where are your thoughts coming from? God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Is. 55:9). Satan’s thoughts are lower than God’s thoughts. Which way our internal thought life sways depends, in part, on our reasoning. God’s thoughts toward us are of peace and not of evil, to give us a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). Satan’s thoughts toward us are of war and not of goodness, to give us a future without hope. Which way our internal thought life leans depends, in part, on our reasoning.
Although our thoughts will never reach the height of God’s thoughts—the Creator is all-knowing—our thoughts need not reach the lows of Satan’s thoughts. In other words, God gave us the ability to reason and a free will to choose what we think about—whether thoughts of peace and hope or thoughts of evil and hopelessness. So, stop and think about what you’re thinking about.
And know this: Many of the negative words we speak and the ungodly actions we take originate from the seed of a thought Satan whispers to our souls. That seed can grow into demon-inspired weeds as our minds reason out the thought. That seed can spark a fire in our souls, so to speak, that fuels more wrong thoughts, wrong words and wrong deeds.
When the enemy plants a vain imagination in our minds, we have two choices: cast it down or meditate on it. When we meditate on vain imaginations, we tend to connect demonic dots that create skewed pictures of reality. Believing what we see in our thought life is real, we talk ourselves into taking action based on a wrong perception. That action could be a negative attitude toward people, an angry outburst that hurts someone you love, or a sinful behavior that leads you into bondage. But believe this: It all starts with a thought.
There’s a war in your mind whether you discern it or not. I urge you to start discerning what is going on in your mind, will and emotions and to bring your mind into submission to the mind, will and emotions of God by His grace. Paul put it this way: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:3-6). Amen.
Be sure to check out the video below for more of my teaching on this topic.
It’s hardly the abomination of desolation that Jesuswarned about when He taught about signs of the end times (Matt. 24:15). But it’s nevertheless a disturbing sign of how hard antichrist spirits are pushing to push Jesus out of our minds.
Oklahoma recently decided to allow a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol’s lawn. This is the type of thing that typically puts radical atheist activists up in arms, with billboards and lawsuits aimed at removing any reminder of God and His Son from the public square.
But the atheists haven’t launched an attack—at least not yet. Instead, other antichrist spirits are rising up, demanding equal time to celebrate their religions. Indeed, Satanists and Hindus want Oklahoma to erect statues for their false gods.
“A Satanist group has petitioned to have its monument, with an interactive display for children, put up alongside the Ten Commandments. And this week, the Hindu organization applied to have a monkey god statue placed on the Capitol grounds,” Reuters reports. “Socially conservative Christian groups fought for years to have the Ten Commandments displayed at the statehouse, and the monument went up in 2012.”
Oklahoma City lawyer David Slane put it rightly when he told Reuters the legislature essentially opened a Pandora’s box. As it turns out, if the state refuses to allow Satanists, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists—and God knows who else—to erect monuments on the property, they are violating the Equal Protection Clause.
I’d say it’s ironic how Satan is using legalism to push his antichrist agenda in Oklahoma’s government, but it’s more strategic than ironic. Oklahoma’s governing officials argue that they live in a largely Christian state with values and ideals that differ from Satanists. And that’s just why the antichrist spirits are circling. You won’t find antichrist spirits where Christ isn’t being preached, as the goal of the antichrist spirit is to replace Jesus, not merely have a statue next to His.
The antichrist spirit is rapidly rising in this hour, and you can expect to see more manifestations in the months and years ahead. The apostle John warned of this in his first epistle, noting, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
And again, “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:3). And again, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 1:7).
Before the Antichrist, Satan, comes on the scene, we will see more and more antichrist spirits rising to push Jesus out of the mainstream. Like John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming, these demonic forerunners have been voices crying in the wilderness for years, preparing the way for Satan himself with deceiving agendas that target the confused, hurt and lost.
Indeed, the antichrist agenda will become bolder, and it will grow darker in the days again. But like I said last week, despite the doom and gloom, Jesus is still Lord. Our job is to let our light shine, speak the truth of the gospel in love, and keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, so that we can rescue people from the kingdom of darkness and escape the prophesied great falling awayamong the saints.
We’re called to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). But our adversary the devil roams around like a roaring lion intent on devouring your faith (1 Pet. 5:8).
One way the devil does this is by trying to choke you, or put you in a stranglehold. In the wrestling world—and remember, we’re wresting against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places, according to Ephesians 6:12—a stranglehold is an illegal hold that chokes the opponent. Merriam-Webster calls it a “force or influence that chokes or suppresses freedom of movement or expression.” If the wrestler doesn’t break free from the stranglehold, the lack of blood or air can cause him to black out.
Translating this to our spiritual realities, the enemy wants to choke the Word of God out of your mouth so you can’t wield your sword of the Spirit or pray. The enemy wants to choke your revelation of who you are in Christ and your authority over him. The enemy wants to counter the work of the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your life so you’ll sideline yourself. We need to learn how to prevent the enemy from getting us into a stranglehold in the first place—but if we’ve fallen into the devil’s trap, we can break free with one simple prayer.
Worry: The Devil’s Stranglehold
What is this stranglehold I’m talking about? Worry. Did you know that one definition of worry is “to harass by tearing, biting or snapping especially at the throat” and “to shake or pull at with the teeth” or to “to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment”?
This is one of the enemy’s so-called roaring lion tactics. He magnifies our circumstances to get us to worry. Once we begin to worry, he moves in position to engage us in a stranglehold that makes us feel powerless to do anything about that which we’re worrying. It’s a clever strategy that plays on internal cares that we haven’t cast on the Lord—or that we continue taking back from His able hands.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Breaking Free From Satan’s Stranglehold
Jesus warns us repeatedly not to worry, but He also tells us what to do instead. He inspires our faith for provision by telling us to look at nature and assuring us of our value to Him. Then He instructs us to get our mind off what we need—and that could be anything, from provision to healing to protection to relationship-mending and beyond—and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
In His infinite wisdom, Jesus knows that if you focus on what the enemy shows you—the lack, the symptoms, the trial, the trouble—you’ll worry and fall into Satan’s stranglehold. But if you focus on the kingdom and His righteousness, you’ll build your faith to overcome any circumstance. If you seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, Satan can’t get you into a stranglehold.
If you’ve already fallen into the enemy’s trap, you can do what Peter suggested before he warns us to be vigilant, “because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8): You can cast all your worry on Him, because He cares for you (v. 7). And when you feel that anxiety and worry rising up in your soul, you can take Paul’s advice:
“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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
When you do these things, the enemy can’t keep his grip on you. Amen.
A particular group of notorious elements called the Boko Haram Sect has been bombing, killing and destroying lives and properties. They have created a generalised atmosphere of fear and distrust. Everyone is afraid. To worsen the situation, they have succeeded in tampering with churches. Abomination! They have killed and driven many away from serving their God. They have been on the offensive. Unrepentant, hell-bound souls.
Let’s think: we religious leaders of ethnic or regional groups should examine ourselves if we have directly or indirectly assisted Boko Haram and their likes in their deadly activities. Where are the Imams and Alfas? Where are the political leaders of this notorious and deadly group? These evil agents surely go to mosques. What are their Imams saying? Assuming as some of the Igbo leaders advised their kinsmen to move back home in the wake of Boko Haram bloody campaign, assuming they too started acting heartlessly like the Boko Haram group, what will befall the country? Thank God, they did not react.
There is no state or village in this country that you will not see northerners. So why are they against strangers? Those sponsoring Boko Haram and their group are sincerely not reasonable at all. They are being used by Satan. They are fulfilling the signs of the endtime. It is now left for the federal government to act. THEY HAVE TO FACE THE MUSIC. No government worth its salt will sit down and watch a group of misguided people turning the country upside-down. The government should see the imminent reality of the evil before us and take the necessary action. Delay is dangerous, lives have been lost, lots of properties worth billions of naira have been destroyed. Where indeed are we going?
The necessary action needs be taken and also we need to wipe out all forms of insincerity in us. Greed, too, which has eaten deep in us has to be purged. Diversion of funds, deception from high places has to be made away with, because a deceptive person has no authority to judge a killer because they are in the same group.
If real justice has to be done, their sponsors, too, must be brought to book. Digging deep into the activities of the Boko Haram sect, exposing its activities without bringing them to justice is a wasted effort on the part of the government. The arrest would then mean nothing.
THE WORLD IS WATCHING. WE ARE WAITING TO SEE IF THE GOVERNMENT WILL EXIBIT WEAKNESS AT THIS CRITICAL TIME. LET IT NOT TURN OUT AGAIN TO BE THE USUAL “THE MORE YOU LOOK THE LESS YOU SEE.” GOD FORBID!
We have the characters like Kabiru Sokoto in the churches, mosques, police force and other arms of security forces, in the government and private sectors. All dubious ones should be exposed and disgraced. They must face the music. No favouritism.
If nothing is done to the Boko Haram offending group, it is like inviting more groups to emerge and surely they will.
These northern politicians should be made to face the music too (those perpetrating this evil with the sect). No one is above the law. No man has power to take life. TERRORISM should be fought with everything possible.
No one, I mean, no one has the right to take life, it is God alone. These evil merchants must be dealt with. We cannot embrace death; we cannot sit and watch these groups of misguided elements continue throwing more bombs to destabilise the country. We need their operations to be clarified and checked (both locally and internationally). If now that Kabiru Sokoto is arrested and obviously much has been exposed, if an urgent action is not taken, what will then happen next? Will they be made to face the music or will they be handled with kid’s glove? And if that is done, what will, for God’s sake discourage another sect from coming up and doing even worst? This sect has constituted the greatest source of insecurity Nigeria has ever witnessed. It is indeed a great shame. Our security operatives have tried with Kabiru’s rearrest and their effort should not be mocked at by inaction on the part of our leaders.
These deadly boys need deadly treatment, whatever anyone sows, he reaps. Federal Government, it’s up to you now, we have to kick against falsehood.
Nigeria as a nation is in this mess because we lack genuine leadership. That aside, most of the people following are focus-less and Godless. Most of the political officers are the wrong candidates. Greed is our major problem. From the government to the family level, there is great insincerity. WITCH HUNTING IS A DAILY OCCURRENCE. Must you betray or blackmail someone to meet your needs? Must you lie or kill someone to be loved? I wonder what each and everyone of us will leave behind as legacy. Everyone is badly chasing after the food that will perish. How many are sincerely thirsting after the things that lead to life eternal? Vanity upon Vanity, all is Vanity.
We have to kill tribalism, dishonesty and its likes. We have to turn back totally from our evil ways.
If I were the president, I would seriously consider this. This sect is still part of our mosques and churches. Their Imams, Alfas and pastors should be held responsible, too. In this era that Satan is rearing his ugly head all over the place and religious leaders are celebrating themselves, busy encouraging their members to idolise them, most are busy taking God’s glory. I suggest the government should look in this direction to curb this evil. Anyone perpetrating evil has to be traced to the church or mosque and its leader has to join in the punishment too. If these so called leaders warn against evil, we will not be in this mess, their members would comply. With these activities of the Boko Haram sect the bravest one in our midst has been shocked and greatly pained.
Any dialogue with this sect is a child’s play. They need no dialogue. No terrorist should be dialogued with. A killer is a killer and must face the music. Any atom of dialogue with this deadly and evil group is a suicide attempt on the side of the federal government. The idea of dialogue is from the pit of hell. It is the devils initiative to hold the country captive. We are tired of a failed political system and religion. Everything is bastardised. We have to fight terrorism with every drop of our blood.
SHAME AND WOE TO THIS EVIL SECT. WOE TO ITS SPONSORS, WOE TO SATAN’S KINGDOM.
When God called Jeremiah as a prophet to the nations, it came with a sixfold prophetic-apostolic mandate to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. A humble Jeremiah accepted the calling and, despite the spiritual warfare that raged against him, he walked in obedience and fulfilled his mission in God.
Prophets or not, God’s people are still called to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. We don’t engage in physical battles, but we wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, NKJV). We have spiritual weapons for offense and defense, including the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and prayer (vv. 14-18).
As Paul said, “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:3-6, KJV).
3 Things Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know
First, Satan doesn’t want you to know that you have the authority in Christ to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. Or, as Paul describes it, pull down strongholds, cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Second, Satan doesn’t want you to know that you are wrestling against persons without bodies that are launching fiery, faith-stealing darts against your mind in the form of thoughts contrary to God’s Word.
However, most savvy Christians understand their authority in Christ and realize they are in a battle that’s targeting their minds. Yet there’s still one thing Satan doesn’t want you to know about spiritual warfare: You can’t effectively pull down strongholds, cast down imaginations and bring every thought into captivity without casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God in your own mind. Consider the Amplified Bible’s version of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:
“For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete.”
Casting Down Your Proud Thoughts
We all know we can’t battle Satan in the flesh, yet the temptation is to rely on the flesh in warfare in subtle ways. As I’ve noted in the past, in an article entitled “You’re Resisting the Devil, So Why Won’t He Flee?” we can take pride in our spiritual warfare skills. But it’s not just pride in our warfare skills that can hinder our effectiveness in destroying strongholds. It’s pride in any area of our life.
Of course, we all have a measure of pride in our carnal nature. But when the Holy Spirit is dealing with us about pride in some area—or when we see our own pride and don’t cry out for the grace of humility—we’re walking in sheer disobedience. The Bible says we are to have a “readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor. 10:6, KJV). I believe the more we seek to walk in obedience to the Word of God, the more effective we’ll be in spiritual warfare.
So we return once again to the admonition of James: “He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:6-8, NKJV).
In our flesh, we’re no match for the devil. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to back up our authority in Christ to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. We can’t drive demons into obedience to the Word of God when we’re blatantly disobeying the Word of God in any area, whether it’s walking in pride or some other sin.
Before you engage in spiritual warfare, examine your heart, and take the time to break agreement with the enemy, repent before God and ask for His guidance. It could be that you’ve opened the door to the spiritual enemies that are attacking you and that simply renouncing agreement with them will stop the attack. In any case, we should enter spiritual warfare with confidence but not arrogance. We can be confident that God will lead us into triumph over our enemies if we lean and depend on Him and not on carnal weapons or pride. Amen.
At first, I thought it was New Age culture. But I was wrong. It was occultism.
As I strolled through the streets of Key West on a 24-hour getaway with my daughter, I noticed something that I had never witnessed in Key West before: Occultism seems fully woven through the culture.
I’ve been going to Key West for more than 20 years and have spent weeks at a time on the tropical island. But something disturbing had happened in the 10 years since I last visited—and it’s merely a microcosm of what’s happening in the world today.
You can no longer walk down Duval Street—the famous drag of shops and restaurants—without running into the likes of Mahadeo Jerrybandhan, a renowned “peerless palmist” from Trinidad with a long white beard and an even longer white robe. But Jerrybandhan is not alone. He has plenty of peers in Key West, from psychics to mediums to channels to healers to tarot card readers to astrologers. The only group I didn’t find down there were the crystal readers.
Then there’s “Robert the Doll.” Key West profiteers have designed so-called ghost tours that explore the haunted history of Key West, including old wooden houses where spirits purportedly walk. Tour guides will tell you that Key West is one of the most haunted cities in the world with elevated paranormal activity. A local voodooistic icon, Robert the Doll will supposedly curse you if you take his picture without permission or forget to thank him for the privilege.
The Abomination of Occultism
As you can imagine, seeing all this grieved my spirit. But I should not have been so surprised. Occultism has been slowly creeping into American culture for decades as movie makers exalt witchcraft and vampires while the music industry pumps occult rock. Beloved, we are in the midst of a great spiritual crisis even now. Our literature, music, video games, comics, films and television shows are full of mysticism and the occult. Some of it is subtle. Some of it is blatant. All of it is wicked.
Again, this is nothing new. Occultism—which broadly includes magic, séances, channeling, hypnosis, necromancy, astrology, extra-sensory perception, alchemy, spiritualism and divination—is strongly condemned in the Bible.
“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [which is an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord” (Deut. 18:10-12).
The Lord rebuked Israel for practicing astrology (Is. 47:10-14). Jezebel practiced witchcraft (2 Kings 9:22) and we know how that ended. Ephesus was known for a population that practiced magic arts (Acts 19:19). And the book of Revelation makes it clear that “the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
Kabbalah, Kundalini and Jezebel
And yet we see occult practices, like Kabbalah, gaining momentum in the church. We see “prophetic words” delivered in what appears to be Kundalini fashion, with violent shaking and demonic tongues against a backdrop of tribal bongos that set the congregation into hysteria. We see a Jezebel spiritworking to seduce saints into idolatry and sexual immorality—and oftentimes succeeding. We see all sorts of strong delusion and strange fire with occultic ties in the modern church.
But we should not be surprised. The rise of occultism is a sign of the end times. Satan’s plan is to fascinate our hearts with occult power and deceive us. The Holy Spirit, meanwhile, wants to fascinate our spirits with a revelation of the Son of God. I believe God’s people are enticed by occultism when they begin seeking spiritual experiences above seeking God. It’s a subtle—and dangerous—shift. Many Christians are on fire for God, but that fire can suddenly turn strange if we are not rooted in the Word. If we seek supernatural experiences, we will find them—but they don’t always come from Jesus.
Beloved, we must not play with strange fire. Ultimately, the occult leads to murder and mayhem—immorality of all kinds. It’s not likely that you would ever willfully visit the likes of Mahadeo Jerrybandhan, the peerless palmist—or any of his peers. But could you ignorantly be engaged with occultic practices that are opening the door to deceptive dangers? Could it be coming from what appears to be godly influences—even within church culture?
Don’t brush the question off before praying about it. If you want the truth, the Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you into all truth. Please hear me! Even a little occult is a deadly poison—a little leaven leavens the whole lump. The Bible warns about deceptive teachers, false apostles and deceitful workers. The Bible warns about self-deception. And it’s your responsibility to keep your heart pure. If you’ve stepped into this demonic ditch, repent now and warn others.
Friends, we’re in an end-times war with eternal consequences. Satan is using the occult to seduce people away from the kingdom of God to dance in the kingdom of darkness. I pray that the Lord gives you discernment and awakens your spirit, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming (Matt. 24:42).
Let me leave you with a warning from the apostle Paul: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). Amen.
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” –Matthew 12:37
In the Bible, we discover that faith and fear are not experienced primarily as emotions. Faith and fear, instead, are experienced most often through words. Whenever great faith is shown, it’s nearly always revealed through what people say.
For example, the centurion comes to Jesus, asks him to heal his servant, and Jesus says, “I’ll come right away.” The centurion responds saying, “No, Lord. Just say it and he’ll be healed.” “I’ve never seen greater faith than this,” Jesus says. Based solely on what the centurion said with his words, Jesus thereby heals the servant.
The Samaritan woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter and Jesus asks, “Do dogs eat from the table of their masters?” Though she could have found his reaction demeaning, she nonetheless answers positively saying, “The dogs eat from the table of their masters.” In response to her words of trust in him, Jesus says, “No greater faith have I ever seen than this.”
The reverse is also true. When Peter says, “Lord, don’t go to the cross,” Jesus is displeased with his disciple’s lack of faith in that instance, and says, “Get behind me Satan.”
In another story, Jesus wants to heal a little girl, but the people gathered nearby doubt and mock him with their words. Jesus tells these people of little faith to leave the room so that he can heal the girl, which he does with only the faithful by his side.
The blessings and cursings in our lives are hinged on what we say about ourselves, what we say to others, and how we respond with our words when God wants to give us good things.
Remember, there’s power in our every word.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I have faith in you. I know my words speak loudly about my faith, so I will speak positively knowing you are in control. Amen.
Reflection: When has your positive attitude of faith helped to change a negative situation into a blessing?
I believe every child of God is called to absolute surrender—a state in which she is completelyyielded to her heavenly Father in every area of her life. We have heard it before, but we need to hear it very definitely—the condition of God’s blessing is absolute surrender of all into His hands. If our hearts are willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us and to the blessing He will bestow.
Absolute surrender—let me tell you where I got those words. I used them myself often. But once, in Scotland, I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of the church and what the great need of believers is. There was in our company a godly Christian worker who trains other workers for Christ, and I asked him what He would say was the greatest need–the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:
“Absolute surrender to God is the one thing.”
The words struck me as never before. And now, I desire by God’s grace to give to you this message—that your God in heaven answers the prayers you have offered for blessing on yourselves and those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands?
God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have yet miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life. May God have a word for all!
God Expects Your Surrender
Surrender has its foundation in the very nature of God—the Creator of life, the only Source of existence and power and goodness. God has created the sun, the moon, the stars, the flowers, the trees and the grass. Are they not all absolutely surrendered to Him? Do they not allow God to work in them just what He pleases?
And God’s redeemed children, oh, can you think that God can do His work if there is only half or a part of them surrendered? He cannot. God is life, love, blessing, power, and infinite beauty, and God delights in communicating Himself to every child who is prepared to receive Him. But ah! This lack of absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders God. And now He comes, and as God, He claims it.
You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service.
I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing. It must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly.
And now, do you expect that in your immortal being, in the divine nature that you have received byregeneration, God can work His work, every day and every hour, unless you are entirely given up to Him? He cannot.
The temple of Solomon was absolutely surrendered to God when it was dedicated to Him. And every one of us is a temple of God, in which God will dwell and work mightily on one condition—absolute surrender to Him. God claims it, God is worthy of it, and without it God cannot work His blessed work in us.
God Accomplishes Your Surrender
I am sure there many hearts that are saying: “Ah, but absolute surrender requires such a price! I have passed through so much trial and suffering already, and there is still so much of the self-life remaining. I dare not face giving it up entirely because I know it will cause even more trouble and agony.”
What a shame that God’s children have such cruel thoughts of Him! I come with a message to those who are fearful and anxious: God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your own strength, or by the power of your will; He is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13)?
And that is what we should seek—to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong. He will conquer what is evil and work what is well-pleasing in His sight. God Himself will work it in you.
Look at the men in the Old Testament, such as Abraham. Do you think it was by accident that God found that man the father of the faithful and the friend of God? Do you think it was Abraham himself, apart from God, who had such faith and obedience and devotion? You know it is not so. God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for His glory.
I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire. If there is the fear that says, “Oh, my desire is not strong enough! I am not willing for everything that may come, and I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything,” I implore you, learn to know and trust your God now.
Say, “My God, I am willing for You to make me willing.” If there is anything holding you back or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now and prove how gracious He is. Do not be afraid that He will demand from you what He will not bestow.
God Accepts Your Surrender
God works surrender in the secret of our hearts; He urges us by the hidden power of His Holy Spirit to come and speak it out, and we have to bring and yield to Him that absolute surrender. But remember, when you come and bring it to Him, it may, as far as your feelings go, be a thing of great imperfection. You may doubt and hesitate and ask, “Is it absolute?”
But remember, there was once a man to whom Christ said:
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
And his heart was afraid, and he cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (v. 24). That was a faith that triumphed over Satan, and the evil spirit was cast out.
And if you come and say, “Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender,” even though you do so with a trembling heart and with the awareness that you do not feel the power, the determination or the assurance, it will succeed. Do not be afraid, but come just as you are. Even in the midst of your trembling the power of the Holy Spirit will work.
Have you not yet learned the lesson that the Holy Spirit works with mighty power, while on the human side everything appears feeble? Look at the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane.
We read that He, “through the eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14), offered Himself a sacrifice unto God. The Almighty Spirit of God was enabling Him to do it. And yet what agony and fear and exceeding sorrow came over Him, and how He prayed!
Externally, you can see no sign of the mighty power of the Spirit, but the Spirit of God was there. And even so, while you are feeble and fighting and trembling, have faith in the hidden work of God’s Spirit and do not fear, but yield yourself.
We want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily life God will have the right place and be “all in all.” And if we are to have that throughout life, let us begin now and look away from ourselves and look up to God.
Let each believe when he says, “Oh God, I accept Your terms. I have pleaded for blessing on myself and others. I have accepted Your terms of absolute surrender,” that there is a God present who takes note of it and writes it down in His book.
There is a God present who at that very moment takes possession of you. You may not feel it, you may not realize it, but God takes possession if you will trust Him.
God Maintains Your Surrender
When God has begun the work of absolute surrender in you and has accepted your surrender, then God holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it. Do you believe that? Do you believe that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by moment?
A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that. It is a life that with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a life to which we are destined and a life that is possible for us. Let us believe that God will maintain it.
Give yourself up absolutely to the will of God. Say to Him: “By Your grace I desire to do Your will in everything, every moment of every day.”
It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender. Yes, the living God wants to work in His children in a way that we cannot understand but that God’s Word has revealed. He wants to work in us every moment of the day. God is willing to maintain our life. Only let our absolute surrender be one of simple, childlike, unbounded trust.
God Blesses When You Surrender
This surrender to God brings wonderful blessings. But it must be absolute. We must say, even if with a trembling will: “O God, I accept Your demands. I am Yours and all that I have. Absolute surrender is what my soul yields to You by divine grace.”
You may not have as strong, clear feelings of surrender as you would like to have, but humble yourselves in His sight, and acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self-will, self-confidence and self-effort. Bow humbly before Him in the confession of that, and ask Him to break your heart and bring you into the dust before Him.
Then, as you bow before Him, just accept God’s teaching that in your flesh “nothing good dwells” (Rom. 7:18) and that nothing will help you except another life coming in. You must deny self once and for all. Denying self must every moment be the power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take possession of you.
Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with the power of His death and the power of His life. Then the Holy Spirit will bring the whole Christ–Christ crucified and risen and living in glory into your heart.
Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was an ordained minister in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and the author of numerous devotional works that have become classics, including Abide in Christ, Absolute Surrender and Waiting on God.
I read a Facebook update recently in which a reasonably healthy friend experienced health issuesout of nowhere that are likely going to be something he has to deal with for the rest of his life. My first reaction was concern and hope for healing. My second reaction (not spoken publicly) was a realistic, “Welcome to the world of the chronically ill.” And I didn’t mean it with sarcasm.
I meant it seriously: “Welcome, dear friend, to the world of the thorn in the flesh that God does not remove. As you adjust to its pain and inconveniences, know that it will also bring unusual blessing to you as it distracts you against much that does not matter in this life and makes those things that do matter seem much more precious.”
As Paul describes it, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (1 Cor. 12:7-10, ESV).
Paul doesn’t say exactly what his thorn in the flesh was. Speculation is that it had to do with poor eyesight that caused him to have to dictate his letters to an assistant. He does call it a messenger ofSatan to harass him.
There’s an interesting tension here between his trust in God’s sovereign control over this thorn and his belief that it comes from Satan. But even if Satan has sent the thorn to harass him, an uninvited guest that impedes his progress and annoys him persistently, Paul is still confident in God’ssupernatural ability to thwart Satan’s purposes for this thorn and replace them with His own good purposes.
What was God’s good purpose in Paul’s thorn? It was a simple purpose with profound results: humility. God’s purpose was to keep Paul, who was entrusted with the incredible privilege of sharing the gospel, from becoming conceited.
The purpose was to make him weak. That is so opposite our view of what makes an influential leader. We want our leaders fit and handsome. But God instead allowed affliction that brought Paul low, for it takes us being in that state to hear some of the most beautiful words from God to His children in all of Scripture:
“My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Wow! God says, basically, “I will be enough for you to accomplish what I want you to accomplish. Your weakness opens the door for My supernatural strength to become fully realized in you.”
So welcome, friend, to the world of the chronic thorn in the flesh. It may be cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease or glaucoma. It may be a long-term financial burden, caring for a disabled loved one or any number of lingering struggles.
The main characteristic of it is that it isn’t going away, and it seems like something that is going to keep you from doing the things for the Lord you thought you would do. But really, it does the exact opposite. As Satan harasses you with it, God opens your eyes to your utter dependence on Him in a way you didn’t fully grasp before. And then, in His strength when you have absolutely none of your own, He accomplishes things you never thought possible.
Thorns hurt. They are not pleasant. They don’t get easier. They remain an agent in our lives that makes us weak. But I love God’s supernatural ability to transform the worst that Satan throws our way into the very things that accomplish His gospel purposes through us.
Again, as Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (1 Cor. 7:9-10).
Adapted fromWendy Alsup’sblog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books includingBy His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.