Advancing Through the Battle

As God’s children, we never have any reason to fear. If we stay close to Him, that will always be true, no matter our circumstances. Our Father is good. Our Father is loving. Our Father is more than we could ever expect. His goodness extends into all areas of life—including the battles we find ourselves in.

When we are attacked, some of us prepare for the long haul. We build fortresses and walls and settle down for a decade-long siege. We do not realize and perhaps aren’t open to the possibility that there is goodness even here, in the midst of hardship.

It can be difficult for us to understand why God is allowing this obstacle, let alone realize it might just be our Father’s doing. Though we are aware of the promise that all things work together for our good (Rom. 8:28), we typically hold this truth at a distance.

Here, however, our thinking needs to change. Every time we are attacked by something, God releases influence in our lives to overcome that attack. This means that we enter painful situations at one spiritual “level,” and, depending on our choices, we exit them at another level. If people attack us, we gain influence with people. If we are demonically attacked, we gain power and authority. From a human perspective, these tests may be painful and chaotic, and many of us run from them. But they are opportunities for promotion.

Stumbling Headfirst Into the Next Level

God’s power is seemingly absent in much of the Western church today. Many of us have been praying for more of His power, but His strength is not something that can just be handed to us. It is not something that comes flippantly or easily. We don’t obtain it with passivity; we earn it through battle—by walking with God through shadowed places and overcoming the things that stand against us. As Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt. 11:12). If we want more of God’s power in our lives, we can expect conflict.

The question then becomes, What do we really want? Do we want to become champions of the Most High? Do we want to see God’s kingdom come on earth and to experience His power in our everyday lives? Do we want Him?

If the answer is yes, then change is in the air. In most cases, we can expect the road to get a little rocky. We can, actually, expect what many of us are already experiencing—times of intense battle! Herein we find the “battlefield promotions” of God.

That is why times like these are not times for fear; they are times for promotion. The way in which we handle difficulties is the key to our success. If we try to keep doing things our own way, we will stay exactly where we are, following the same road. But if we turn to God and trust Him, He will move on our behalf and help us overcome the darkness.

In the Midst of War

For years, I believed that if God wanted me to do something, I would be able to do it easily. So when the opportunity became difficult, I would quit, thinking God was no longer in it. Yes, sometimes God’s intended path has long, lenient stretches that are wide and flat and simple to navigate. But at this point in my life, I grow a little nervous when something seems too easy. Small battles tend to produce small champions. When given the choice to stay in the melee or run from it, I do my best to pick up my sword and look to God. I have spent far too much time running from my war zone, when there was no reason for it.

We live in difficult times. The world we know is shaking. But when we find ourselves in battle, we can remember that God is releasing influence in our lives to help us overcome that darkness. And afterward, when the dust has settled, we can stand there and experience the wonder that is found in walking hand in hand with Him in the midst of war.


How Can I Recognize a False Teacher?

Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.

Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:

1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”

2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9).

3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11 says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).

For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit.


In the Days of Amos

What’s coming in the next few years? There’s bad news and there’s good news. The prophet Amos in ancient times brought a set of indictments against Israel that read very much like the sins of America and the Western world.

1. They rejected God’s law (Amos 2:4). In many ways too numerous to list here, so have we.

2. They believed in lies concerning false gods and demonic philosophies (Amos 2:4). The list of deceptions in modern times is long and spans a range of doctrines and philosophies, from open theism taught in the church to post-modernistic philosophy dominant in the world around us. The former denies the foreknowledge of God and, by extension, the fullness of His sovereignty; the latter writes God out of the equation altogether. And those are just two examples.

3. They had fallen into an economic self-focus that led to abuse (Amos 2:6-8). This is the America and the West that I have known all my life. Even in the church we have been obsessed with material prosperity and a focus on self.

4. Sexual immorality and perversion ran rampant. This occurred in more forms than Amos mentioned in this passage (Amos 2:7). The same is true today. Have we lost discernment?

5. They had become arrogant in a way that led to abuse of those who stood before God in humility (Amos 2:7). Many Christians in America are increasingly viewed as a threat to society because we who stand on the Word refuse to join the approval of practices the culture regards as normal and acceptable. When in our history, until recent times, was it ever possible to lose a job over the issue of sharing your faith openly?

6. Their polluted and compromised devotion to God led to pressure on the Lord’s devoted ones to compromise (Amos 2:12). And so it is today.

What is sown must be reaped. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Gal. 6:7). This principle applied under the old covenant, and it applies under the new. Judgment, the reaping, begins in Amos 2:14 and reads very much like the current state of America and the West.

1. Amos prophesied Israel’s military defeat (Amos 2:14-16). The military might of both America and the West will continue to be frustrated and their influence in the world diminished despite the overwhelming power of our armament. Iraq and Afghanistan stand as prime examples of extended and frustrated warfare against enemies whose power pales by comparison to our own capabilities. Serious terrorist attacks will ultimately succeed, and governments will be powerless to stop them. Because we no longer fear God, His angel no longer encamps around us (see Ps. 34:7); and America in particular no longer enjoys favored nation status in the world. Don't be deceived by the death of Osama bin Laden. This was one small victory in a wider war, not a turning point, and we have yet to deal with the backlash that must certainly come.

2. Amos prophesied a destroyed economy for Israel (Amos 3:15). Sin must ultimately and always produce poverty. Isn’t it interesting that economic judgment on ancient Israel began with a collapse of the housing market? Sound familiar? Economic recovery will be limited at best, both in scope and duration, and fraught with inconsistency.

3. If Amos were speaking to us directly he would say that God is about to close some of our churches (Amos 3:14), or else significantly diminish them. He will not permit churches to continue thriving where His laws, standards, morality, Word and nature are not honored and His Spirit cannot move. On the other hand, where these things are honored, churches will thrive as desperate people, broken by the destructive effects of sin, seek real answers and as those who desire a genuine experience of God find the places where that experience can be found.

The good news will unfold simultaneously with the bad as God's glory grows brighter in the midst of darkness, consistent with Rom. 8:18-19: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God”

Godly ones—those who will humble themselves in repentance and submission, seeking God with genuine passion—will enter a season of glory like no other. They will be revealed as a lighthouse people, islands of glory in a sea of mud, for a strategic time; and churches and ministries filled with the power and love of God.

Signs and wonders will multiply as expressions of that love so that a huge harvest of souls will be gathered out of the darkness. The presence of God will rest upon us more powerfully than we’ve ever imagined. Those of us who have sought holiness and wholeness in purity of passion will be revealed as a generation prepared for such a time. It will be fulfillment of the purposes for which God has so painstakingly prepared us. A line is being drawn in the sand. We live in a day of decision.


Storm Warnings

The Prophecy

Jesus said: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matt. 16: 2-3).

We are in the process of crossing a historical threshold in the history of the United States. We are going from one "room" in the Spirit to the next in God’s dealings with the nations. God’s plumbline has been dropped into the midst of the nations to see what character of building materials we have been using. Evaluation time has come. As we round the corner to the strategic, pivitol year 2000, the cracks in our personal lives, families, churches and nation will show forth to determine if our current foundations needs to be jack-hammered, torn up and repoured, or if they are solid enough for God’s last days house to be built upon.

A time of pressure is on us. These will be days of hardship and days of hope. Although certain sectors of the body of Christ have been experiencing times of refreshing, the purpose of these times have been for strengthening against what lies ahead. We have been experiencing a Gentle Awakening; next it will be the Rude Awakening; and then, if the fullness of the Lord's will is accomplished, a Great Awakening will follow.

Discerning the Times

What time is it, anyway? What is the prophetic pulse indicating? Recently, at meetings where I have spoken or attended, fire alarms have gone off in the buildings. One night, when I was on the road in California, the fire alarm went off right outside my hotel room long and loud two times in the middle of the night. Once here in Nashville, Tenn., right at the close of my message, the fire alarm went off in the rented school building. While in Sunderland, England, at the close of the last night's session, the fire alarm went off. What is God trying to say?

Wake-up calls are being sent through the body of Christ. Storm warnings are being issued to the church. The voice of the Lord is beginning to rumble, but soon it will begin to thunder! It’s time to build storm cellars of prayer (see Psalm 91, Psalm 57) where we will be protected under the shadow of His wings.

Exposing the Enemy's Schemes

While God is using pressure to test our foundations, the enemy attempts to toss in his two cents' worth and create confusion and muddy the waters. In recent weeks, a demonic “spirit of anxiety” has been unleashed against the saints. When this goes undetected and not cleansed, it brings in it’s bigger brother named “panic attack.” After this is released, the door is open to its big cousin named terror. There is a confrontation with this spirit of fear in its various forms being waged at this very hour. In these hours, we will need true discernment like never before.

But the Lord has the antidote! Call 911! Yes, I said, "Call 911." Psalm 91:1 promises, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” The Lord is our defense—call on His name! Let’s agree with Psalm 94: 1-2: “O Lord, God of vengeance; God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth.”

The prophet Nahum said it this way, “The Lord is slow in anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet” (1:3). But his admonishment does not stop there. It continues with a promise in verse 7, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”

Days of Hardship, Days of Hope

Will we be prepared? Whether it is adverse, strange weather patterns, global economic recession, or America's materialistic Titanic going under, these times of hardship can become great days of hope. Isaiah said, “For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you” (Is. 60: 2).

Yes, let’s receive the wake-up call and get ready! Let’s put on our gospel shoes and be ready to tell others of the hope that resides within us. Let us overcome anxiety by a revelation of the Father’s great love. Let the storm warnings be heard loud and clear. But let us also rejoice—for the days of hardship will lead to days of a great awakening.

About the author: James W. Goll is the co-founder of Encounters Network, director of PrayerStorm, and coordinates Encounters Alliance, a coalition of leaders. He has shared Jesus in more than 40 nations worldwide teaching and imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry and life in the Spirit. He is the author of numerous books including PrayerStorm, Angelic Encounters, Prophetic Intercessor and The Seer.

Read more: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/prophetic-insight/30938-storm-warnings#readmore#ixzz1LymQrKG8

Gospel Gravy

These days it seems more and more like the Gospel is in need of serious help by human creativity and reasoning. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for anything that will help this generation pay closer attention to the Good News, but we are seeing a trend that would operate under the assumption that the Gospel is no longer strong enough to stand on its own. There is now a feeling that if we don’t “spice things up” then people will no longer be interested in Jesus and His saving power. This is where we see promises being made that were never given in the Word like “come to Jesus and He will make your life better\great” along with the preaching of many positioning Jesus as a self-help guru who can make your life more successful and prosperous.

Then there is the whole line of thinking that says we need to get out in the mainstream where the masses are by using the traditional tools of the world to entice people into the things of God. There is nothing wrong with getting out into the mainstream where the masses are but when you pollute the message or compromise the standards of Christ in order to get the message out there then what have you really accomplished but to mix the things of the spirit with the things of the flesh?

What am i saying in all this? I’m saying that we must be careful not to pour the gravy of the flesh over the meat of the Word. In an attempt to get the world to accept the Lord jesus, we have drowned out conviction and the message of turning from sin and turning to God in humility and holiness. The answer to reaching this generation is not lowering the standard so everyone can fit over it! The answer is to make the message known in all its power so that those who are hungry may eat of this life-giving bread. Jesus said if you don’t eat of His flesh and drink of His blood then you will not have any part with Him. Many were offended by this and left Him at this point (Jn. 6:53,66).

Let us be careful that we do not get so “relevant” with our message that we no longer are being true to the real message of Christ. It is very easy to justify the ambitious pursuits of the flesh with the banner of “reaching people” but is this really the pursuit of souls by heralding the narrow way or just a cover up for our own desire to be known and accepted by the world?

When It all comes down to it, we are still the propagators of a Narrow Way. There will never be widespread acceptance and applause of the true Gospel. If so, then we have abandoned the real message of repentance and holiness for a new gospel that is more appealing to the masses and lacks any power to save them from sin and self. Let us stop pouring the gravy of flesh and compromise over the purity of Christ’s message. Let us stop thinking in our own vain imaginations that we are “reaching people” when in reality we are just watering down the convicting power of the Gospel.

Acts 2:36-37 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, WHOM YOU CRUCIFIED, to be both Lord and Messiah!” Peter’s words PIERCED THEIR HEARTS, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

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