draw upon the Vine…

Just as the law of gravity is always in operation, so is the “law of sin” – that your fleshly nature wants to respond to.  This is why no matter how hard you try to “purify” your life, you remain tempted by that pretty woman or the mighty dollar or approval from others.  You hate that about yourself.  Yes!  I do too.  Paul did too.

The good news is, you can access a higher law.  Remember Narnia when the witch killed Aslan and he came back to life saying “She doesn’t know about the higher magic”.  We have access to that higher law, higher power, higher “magic”.  It’s called the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”.  And it overpowers the law of sin and death.

When you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and relying upon His power rather than your own, which means being sensitive to His leading and obeying His commands, you’re no longer controlled by the “law of sin and death”. 

It’s no longer about trying harder or doing more “spiritual calisthenics” or memorizing more scripture.  It’s no longer about trying to purge out all lust inside you or purifying yourself with no more TV, no more social media, no more fun, no more temptation.  No, it’s ALL about leaning harder on God’s Spirit who lives within you and drawing from HIS strength and power to live victoriously.

A man who wanders off to try to do this life on his own power to try to purify and overcome all temptation is a man who has cut himself off from the Vine and is withering in the field like a dying branch.  It just won’t work.  DRAW upon the Vine.  Seek HIS power for your life.  It’s there.  And He brings great victory to us when we step down off our throne and let Him up on His.

Dealing with agreements

If we come to accept the lies and distortions of our enemy or the world, we often take the next enslaving step of making agreements …thus giving him a stronghold in our lives.  Satan wants to control our thoughts and actions and bring as much destruction as he can.  Agreements are his chief tactic.

There are some military themes to this statement.  Of course!  We are indeed talking about the tools of warfare.  If we make an agreement with the Liar, we become enslaved to it.  And we cede to him the high ground via the stronghold he has over our lives due to our agreeing with his lies.  In warfare, you never want the enemy to have the high ground.  In spiritual warfare, it is our agreements with lies that give the enemy this unfair advantage.  We open the door to this by engaging with him and listening to his lies rather than listening to Father.

Words have power …

The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.  Proverbs 13:3

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.  Proverbs 21: 23

I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.  Matthew 12: 36-37

The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.  Proverbs 13:3

You know these things.  The Word warns us about our tongue.  Our words can either align us with God or with Satan…

Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?  Amos 3: 3 (The Message)

The constant message that keeps coming through to us throughout this series and throughout what we’ve been doing at Manschool for years is this … Who are you listening to?  Who told you that you were naked?  Why do you keep bringing up these past sins to Father?  Why the shame?  He’s forgiven you.  It’s gone.  It’s as far as the east is from the west.  It’s done.  Finished.

And yet, the Liar continues to whisper.  If you engage, if you give him a seat at your table, he’s going to take you right back into the shame and the sin and the “I’m such a failure”.  And, we’ll start making those agreements.

So, how do we break these agreements?

  • Ask god to reveal them
  • Identify lies behind them
  • Confess and ask forgiveness
  • Receive his forgiveness
  • Embrace truth (renounce and declare truth)
  • Ask god to free from the power of agreements.

And we engage in listening prayer with Father.  We invite him into our lives, into our story.  “What’s there Father?”  “What accusations have I agreed with and buried?”  “Unearth it Lord.”  “Show me”.

PRAYER TO BREAK AGREEMENTS

This an exercise in prayer to break those agreements we’ve made with the enemy.  You’re asking God to reveal these agreements to you.  When He reveals them…break them.  They will come to you in prayer sometimes in hearing sentences in your heard like “you’re such a ____ idiot”.  It may be a feeling and God will remind you of a persistent feeling of shame, guilt or fear.  Sometimes, you’ll actually remember a scene and play it out again in your mind.  It may be a scene of a father wound, something an older brother did to you or against you, a wound from your Mom or a grandparent, teacher, coach, boss or old girlfriend.  You’ll have that scene rush back to you in vivid detail.  Other ways agreements will be revealed – what are the phrases you constantly say to yourself?  You know, your own self-talk, things that you thought were just you speaking.  “You’re a failure”.  “You’ll never match up”.  “You are a disappointment”.  “You can never do anything right”, etc.

Lord, I come under the refuge of Jesus Christ.  I am safe in the shelter of God.  I take my refuge in your Cross, your resurrection and in your ascension. 

I simply ask you, Spirit of Truth, reveal to me, show me the agreements I have been making.

Strip away the fog.  I bring the work of my Lord Jesus Christ, the power of His Cross, His shed blood, the power of His resurrection, the power of His authority and His throne against all numbness, dullness, malaise, all forms of fog, all veils that are surrounding my spirit, soul, body or mind.  I cut off this numbness.

Jesus, you say I have the mind of Jesus Christ.  I unite my mind to your mind, my heart to your heart, my will to your will.  Again Holy Spirit, show me.  What are the agreements I have been making with my enemy?  What lies have I believed?

(silent…listen…be still)

show me Lord Jesus, show me.  Expose those things.  Come.  Shine your light here…

(silent…listen…be still)

As you start to get clarity … break them in Jesus’ name.

Lord, show me the agreements I’ve made – even just today or this week.  Show me the agreements I’ve made about you Father.

Show me what has hounded me all my life.  What is it Father?  What has hounded me all my life?

(silent…listen…be still)

I break this agreement, these agreements in the authority of Jesus Christ.  I renounce it.  I renounce all the ways I’ve given the enemy a place in my life.  I renounce it.  Jesus come into these places.  Bring Truth.  Bring Life.

If this is connected to a wound, Jesus come into this wound and heal.  I renounce fear, self-hatred, confusion and disqualification.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made as a man that I can’t do this, that is “too much”.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made that I’ll never trust anyone again.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made against You Father – that You don’t come through, that I can’t trust You, that You don’t really love me.

I renounce every agreement I’ve made with fear, agreements I’ve made with safety and control.  Forgive me of that.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made with my enemy both known and unknown, both seen and unseen in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I break these agreements.  I submit to God.  Spirit of Truth search this out, show me.  I send all this to my Lord Jesus Christ.

In your name, AMEN.

The damage of deception

Here are the slides from this morning > damage of deception

Satan wants to step into an incidence of sin and get you caught/stuck so he can do as much damage as he can.  The heart of everything he does is deception.  When you fail or someone sins against you, Satan will attempt to attach a message to that hurt to keep you bound in it a long time.  Once we latch onto it, a stronghold is in place.

Where does it start?

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie … furthermore since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind.”    Romans 1:25,28.

“Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say, you belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of liars.”  John 8:43-44

How do we turn it around?  

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2) and Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”.  (John 8:32)

The enemy is going to lie to you.  He’s lying to you right this very moment.  You have to know the Truth to combat the lies.  The Word is your greatest weapon in this war.

Deception was at the heart of the very first sin.  The serpent said to her “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree?” 

  1. Wages an attack on the mind. Brings confusion.
  2. Then once, confusion was in place, Satan flatly denies truth “You will surely not die…” he distorts.
  3. Substitutes his lie for God’s truth“you will become like God”

If you and I question God’s character i.e. “maybe God isn’t all that concerned about me” –> it leaves us vulnerable to questioning His word and if that’s the case –> Satan can easily insert his lies.  YOU have opened the door.

It begins in the battlefield of the mind and then he’ll go after your heart and finally, your soul.

There are four main categories of lies…

  1. About God. He isn’t good, He cannot be pleased.  A distant and uncaring being.  It leads you to a path of “why try?”  And yet, Psalm 139 tells us that God knew us in our mother’s womb and He knit us together – each of us uniquely crafted.
  1. Myself. “God can’t or won’t forgive my sin” – Guilt.  Satan wants to trap you there.  “I’m worthless” – created from lies spoken over us by people.  We bite and he piles on.  If I was just _____ I’d be OK”.  Satan tries to lock you onto that ____ as your idol i.e. that which will give you a sense of security and meaning and will make your life work.  It’s a lie.  You can get back all that money you lost or get that house or get that woman … it is still not going to fill your soul.  I can never really change” – we get stuck here and Satan wants you believing that this is how you’re always going to be – that there is no way out.
  1. Others.  “I can’t trust anyone” – his lies have a measure of truth – there is no human you can trust absolutely.  “All women are ___” – if you’re hurt, Satan wants to attach a message to the pain – an absolute you can declare.  “If my wife would only…” again, making an idol of that one quality you wish she had.  “If I say no, they won’t like me” – people pleasing to gain approval.  “If I tell anyone, I will be ruined” – Satan’s trick of isolating you to do life alone and bake in your own shame without others to call you out of it.  The truth is, you’re only as sick as your secrets.
  1. About the Christian life. “I don’t need anyone else but God” – no, you’re made for relationship/community.  “I know what God’s word says but my situation is unique” – usually occurs when you want to go against God’s word.  “If I could just ____, I’d feel more spiritual” – the trap of performance i.e. praying, memorizing scripture, mission trips.  It’s a lie that you can perform your way into God’s favor.

 How do we deal with this?

  1. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ“What is this message I’m hearing Father? Where did it come from?  What is its purpose?”
  2. Renounce the lie I’ve believed and claim the truth of God’s Word – To know truth, I need to know God’s Word. Fill your mind with it.  It is the greatest weapon you have yet most of us rarely study the Word.  We live in a media world – messages come at us constantly telling us what we should believe.  Know God’s Word so you can combat it.
  3. Draw on the power of community – you cannot do this by yourself. Community can show you your blind spots and help you see reality i.e. “that’s a lie, here is the truth”.  Community encourages you to hang on.

Dan Allender on agreements…

Agreements and vows, saying, “This is how I will live given the harm I have suffered”, have been implanted in the heart.  That is where evil, in many ways, puts its energy and effort to keep bringing spiritual harm.

It’s not as simple as saying, “That was my sin to make this agreement/vow” and repent of it and then freedom will come.  That does not address the contempt that’s there or the shame.  It’s actually increasing it.

Someone prays for you to break this bondage and you so want this in your heart – the freedom – but what you also have is a litany of all of these things in your life … “If you only knew these places in my heart” – “If you only knew these things I have done” – “How could I ever really be forgiven?”

What happens when your heart has been annihilated is that these agreements come of “I’m such a fool” – “How could I have been so stupid?” – “There must be something wrong with me”  – “I must be really dark” – “ I must have actually wanted that”.

Then from that come the vows“I will never be that foolish again” – “No one will ever have that kind of access to my heart” – “I will never trust people” – “I will always look for the worst”.

We need to get to the “words beneath the water”.

In a River Runs Through It, Norman Mclean says, “Long ago, rain fell on mud and it became rock.  But even before that, beneath the rocks are God’s words.  They came first.  Listen”.

If we can get to the words beneath the water, then there’s such power because we find such compassion, we see more clearly and then we can say, “I don’t want evil to have this kind of access to my heart any more”.  I see.  I can see more clearly now.  I can see God more clearly now.

If the stories of your life – of loss, abandonment, abuse, insult, injury are not entered into, you can be assured evil will enter them with haunting accusations.  It has and it will continue to do so.

I can know “I am a child of God, loved by God, preserved, protected, redeemed” and you can tell yourself that a billion times and the weed just grows back stronger and stronger.  And you’re left wondering “Why is my prayer not working as it seems to do for so many other people?”

It is because you didn’t back to the story – the genesis of all this – and go back to the pain and invite God into it.  (end)

And let me interject here – I could have had immense pain as a boy from my family or father or brother or bullies at school and I could have walled that up.  “Yep that pain is there but that’s in the past” and it’s like I have placed this divider in my life.  There is all that which happened “years ago” and then there is life beyond that divider.  And my life can be this series of mistakes, setbacks, broken relationships, heartache and disappointment and I can pray those away but the pattern continues to reappear.  Why?  Because of two things.  First, evil. Evil knows where you are most vulnerable and he’s coming right at that spot – that place as a little boy where you were so deeply wounded.  And the weeds keep coming back for a second reason – because I have this divider there.  This line in the sand, if you will, where the things in my past “back then” are not entered into, not talked about.  “They’re in the past and they don’t matter.”  Oh yes they do, my friend.  They matter.  So read back up to where Allender says, “If the stories of your life – of loss, abandonment, abuse, insult, injury are not entered into, you can be assured evil will enter them with haunting accusations.”

If you’re not willing to “go there” and invite Father into the pain of the past, He cannot heal it and bring you freedom and you’re allowing the murderer/thief/liar to continue in destruction. Freedom is there for the taking – the invitation of restoration – “Anyone … in Christ … is a new creation; old things have passed away … all things have become new”.  2 Cor 5:17

When God speaks a word over your life, as far as He’s concerned it has already been accomplished; it is finished.  Now it’s your job to believe it, speak it, and walk in the reality of it each day.  You have a choice.  Who are you going to listen to?  The Father sits at the table He has prepared for you in the midst of your enemies.  Will you lock tight on Him or turn your attention to the voices whispering destruction in your ear?

Generational sin

Our own flesh, the sins of others against us and an enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy are all coming against us to try to keep us from becoming whole.  But remember…

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  1 Peter 5:8-9

Satan has been defeated.  Death has no sting.  We know where he will end up – in the lake of fire.  We have been set free over the power of sin.  But we must recognize the war still wages.  He will use any crack or crevice to come into your life and establish a stronghold.  “Just give me an opening.  Open the door.  Let me in”.

If I’m living whole, there aren’t any cracks he can exploit.

If I dance with danger, if I flirt with temptation, he’s coming.

Generational sin.  Family affairs.  Sins of our parents, grandparents and even great grandparents that affect us today.  Derrick gave us a good list…

Alcoholism.  Drug abuse.  Verbal/physical abuse.  Rage.  Being frozen in fear.  Bitterness.  Unforgiveness.  Embracing poverty.  Victimization.  Racism.  Sexual immorality.  A family history of infidelity.  Pornography/sexual addiction.

Some of these are so ingrained in our family that we have taken on the stance of “this is just the way I am.”  “Just the way I am” is NOT have God intends for us to live our lives.  Where is the freedom in this?  Where is the restoration?  Where is the victory of the Cross?

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”  Exodus 20:5-6

Punishing.  Focusing on that one word can tend to lead us to think, “It’s just who I am – God’s doing this to me”.  Other translations use the word “visiting” which is the better translation.

Visiting.  Like making a call on someone.

When someone visits you, you have the freedom to either let them in the door or ask them to leave.  Too many times, we invite them in.  We invite these things into our home/lives and are ignorant of the whole thing.  And the enemy just slides in.

Generational sin is not about blaming Dad that, “I’m this way because he was”.  It goes deeper than that.  Importantly, you are not automatically bound to live under the sins of your fathers.

“The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”  Ezekiel 18:20

You have a choice.  You don’t have to live under the patterns of your family.  You’re not bound to it.  Nor does it excuse anything.  We all must account for our own lives, our choices, our mistakes.

You don’t have to live this out.  You can break the pattern.  You don’t have to take this down to your children’s generation.  You have a chance to break these patterns.  How?

Recognize the pattern – irrational behavior that crops up.  Areas where you are just stuck.  Repeating events that come up for no real reason.  Identify that something is at work.  The “Ah-ha” moment.

Renounce any generational curse that you believe is over your family – renounce them by name.  Break the power of that sin in Jesus’ name.

Ask forgiveness for and judgment you have against members of your family – we stand in judgment over them for the wrongs and in so doing, we have not forgiven them.

Lastly, ask God to break the patterns“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”  Galatians 3:13

It is for freedom that Christ set you free.  Will you live that way?

Whom will you obey?

From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers   (my paraphrase)

“You are slaves to the one whom you obey.”  Romans 6:16

The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the very unwelcome fact that I am responsible for letting it dominate me.

If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because at some point, long ago, I freely gave into self.  I opened the door.

If I find myself today a slave to lust or sexual temptation, I must readily admit that this burning lust was first stoked by the gas I poured on the fire.  I dabbled in it.  I pushed the line.  I focused too much on it.

“What I feed grows, what I starve dies”.

Likewise, if I obey God, I do so because I have yielded myself to Him.  To obey Him means my self has to die, my self has no vote, my self has no voice.

If you give into, or yield to, your selfish desires and live your life out of that desire, you will find it is the most enchaining tyranny on earth.  It will consume you and all those around you.

There is no power on this earth to break the bondage formed by yielding.  Yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust (lust being that – “I must have it at once” – it can be lust for another woman, lust for sex itself, lust for power, money, approval, acceptance, etc). –  yield once and even though you may hate yourself for having done so, you’re now a slave to it.

Open the door and let that thing in your life and … it is in.   You can’t undo it.  I open the door a free man and close it a prisoner.

Release from this prison comes only through Redemption.

I must yield in utter humiliation (I must be humbled) to the only One who can break the dominating power.  “He sent me … to proclaim freedom for the prisoners”.

You will find this out in the most ridiculously small ways – “Oh, I can give this habit up when I like”.  You cannot.  You will find that this “habit” absolutely dominates you because you gave into it.  You yielded to it.  You opened the door.  It’s easy to sing, “Break every chain” and at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself.

Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human life.  He is the only way.

Will you surrender to Him?

“me” has to die (part 2)

The root of all sin is “me”.  It is self.  It is your flesh.  It is the “immediate”.  It explains why we have all this credit card debt.  “I want it, I get it, I figure out how to pay for it later”.  I justify.  I rationalize.  “I need this”.  “I deserve this”.  “Why can he have a 70 inch HDTV but I can’t?”  “Everyone else does this, why can’t I?”

Go back and re-read that first paragraph and look at all the I’s.   Me, me, me, it’s all about me.  That’s a pathway to death.  Living for “me” is sin and it’ll take you places you never wanted to go and extract a cost from you that you never wanted to pay.

Me-first explains why we don’t tithe.  Tithing is a radical statement of faith that my money will not own me.  By giving it away (giving first), I am standing in defiance of “me first” and my flesh.  I’m radically surrendering Lordship of my money over to God.  It is surrender.

Surrender is the very opposite of sin/me/flesh.  Surrender is Lordship.  It is acknowledging I am not master of my life and in fact, if left unchecked, my flesh will consume my life and all those around me that I love.  Surrender is acknowledging that if left to my own devices, I’d consume like locusts.  Surrender is admitting you’re weak.  It’s a beautiful thing.   In my weakness, God is strong.  

Some guys can drink and escape the risks.  Others of us have no business drinking.  It’s too wide an open door.  There is too much risk.  Maybe alcoholism runs in your family and you’ve bought the lie that you’re immune to the risks.  No one is immune to risk.  We have an enemy who does not fight fair and is the master of all lies and if you don’t think you’ll ever get hooked, you’re buying a lie. Some guys don’t really struggle with pornography.  But others of us know it is a vast weak spot and if tempted, we will take the bait.  In truth, no man is immune to it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, you struggle with it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, there is a temptation to go back.  That’s what Satan does.  His hooks cut deep and have big barbs on them.  Getting them out of your flesh is hard.

Sexual temptation, pornography, sending Facebook friend requests to pretty neighbors, flirting, wondering/wandering is “me”.  Taking a few drinks every night to numb the pain and escape.  Toys. Overspending.  Overeating.  Carrying around rage, envy, hatred, comparison, jealousy.  These are all about me and my needs and finding stimulation elsewhere from God.

Satan will use any and all to take you down.  “Be on alert, your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour.”  Flirt with that pretty sales rep who calls on you and think you’ve above it?  Don’t kid yourself.  He knows your weaknesses and he’s just looking for an open door.  “Please Bubba, please give me an open door, just take a second look, send her a text, send her a friend request, agree to go to lunch with her.  It won’t hurt anyone.”  He’s prowling around and you may be his lunch.

Go back and look at the post from October 5, 2016.  Watch the Louie Giglio talk again.  Remember that talk.  Don’t forget it.  God prepares a table for you in the midst of your enemies.  (don’t kid yourself, God himself is telling you that your enemies surround you)  The table is there.  There is all this chaos swirling around — it’s just you and God.  He wants you focused on Him.  His provision is there.  Just keep your eyes on Him.  Those temptations will come and it is when you turn in your chair from facing God and start engaging in those conversations in the chaos is when you get in trouble.  “Self” is going to want to turn to those temptations.  “Me” is going to get bored with God and turn to the shiny lures.

“Me” … has to die.  Battling sin is first acknowledging it and second, repenting it.  I must first own it without any rationalizing or justifying.  There is no justifying sin.  Then, I must turn from it.  Repent = turn from.  180 degree U-turn.  Flee from it.  Run.  Quit drinking.  Be willing to go get help if you need it.  Own it.  Close your Facebook account.  Put the filters on your laptop and give your wife full access to it and your phone.  Never, ever go to lunch or dinner with another woman.  Purge any and all avenues that are potentially open doors.

Will it be fun?  No.  Is it needed?  Absolutely.  If you want God to restore, you’re going to have to take some bold steps.  He will meet you there.  All this mess in your life?  God can turn a mess into a miracle.  You just have to be willing to kill “me”.  Listen to this song and especially John Piper’s words in the middle of it.  God’s slaying of “me” is serving a purpose.  He’s not asking anything of you that His Son hasn’t overcome.  God is calling us to slay self so He can work His Divine purpose in and through our lives.  Remember in your weakness, He is strong…