Posts Tagged ‘torture’

Capturing A Heart

I am Your Chosen Child

Jesus is the Master… “At Capturing A Heart”

It was what a friend of mine calls “a life intervention”, between Saul of Tarsus and the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet it becomes the life changing event where Saul becames Paul and a destiny is transformed. It was somewhere along the Damascus Road that a light from Heaven peered directly into a very dark place… Saul’s heart.

A Stubborn Heart:

His was no ordinary heart, it was thirsting for blood and zealous for a law without mercy. The determination and hatred seemed to overflow in his quest for letters of approval from the governing leaders of Jerusalem. It made him a persecuter of the Church and pursuer of Christians. “Still breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”, this ruthless man seemed convinced that the followers of “The Way” needed “to be bound and brought to Jerusalem”.

Divine Encounter:

What could have been an end, becomes a transformation. A light from Heaven, the voice of Jesus and three days without physical sight made all that seemed so desperate, pale in its urgency. Saul was now waiting for a visitor in a place he had never been, from someone he had never met, with a message he would never have imagined.

What could this mean?

While at the house of a man named Judas, on Straight Street, Saul was left to consider the vision of the Risen Lord Jesus for three long days. Would this end in death? Would it be quick or was God’s Son so angry that He would torture the persecuter? Saul would have no sight, just an echo in his heart of an encounter that struck him to the ground. ”Could it really be true that this Jesus had risen from the dead?” This would re-focus anyone’s life, but what could Jesus mean by “you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6).

Receiving Sight!

Ananias enters the house; and laying his hands on Saul he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Jesus was saying, “I have chosen you as My vessel to bear My name before Gentiles, Kings and the Children of Israel” (Acts 9:14), but more than that, He was capturing the heart by an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he would never be the same again! Scales fell away and a new determination was birthed within his heart. Saul would be wrecked forever, because his heart had been captured by Love, Himself… not the emotion, the Holy Spirit.

Filled with the Holy Spirit!

The Lord Jesus captured the heart of the persecuter; Saul, by filling him with the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt for anyone to become completely captured, they must be completely filled with the Holy Spirit. I have heard it said that in order to remove a passion from a heart, like fear or hate; it must be conquered by a greater passion, like chosenness and love. My only comment is that when the Holy Spirit fills a person, He captures the seat of all passion.

“I count all things loss…that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3:8)

We read in the Apostle Paul’s words, an expression of the captured  heart. He holds forth a compelling satisfaction in knowing Christ Jesus as Lord and a desire to see the salvation of his fellow countrymen. This formerly driven persecuter was now focused on preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to all people, Jews and Gentiles alike (Rom 10:1-4). His greatest desire and prayer to God for all of them was that they might be saved. His longing was that they turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for the capturing of their own hearts.

Oppressed by Demons

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

Demons work hard to deceive and bring all kinds of oppression into our lives. Satan acts like a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), because he knows the impact of a fully equipped Child of God (Jn. 10:9-10)(Eph. 6:10-12). Remind yourself that life is a wrestling match and there is power available in Christ to overcome him… the oppressor! Contemplate some of the following ways in which you have found yourself in the midst of battle…

  • Accusation: To be plagued with unworthiness and guilty feelings
  • Affliction: To inflict something hard to endure
  • Fearful Expectations: To consistently assume the worse outcomes
  • Harassment: To annoy or wear us out by frequent attacks
  • Influence: To exercise power over us to affect our mood
  • Opposition: To resist or hinder seemingly simple tasks
  • Torment: To cause severe suffering of body or mind
  • Torture: To punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain
  • Unbelief: To create deceptive and unreasonable doubts
  • Worry: To disturb or destroy our peace by persistent torment

How Does Satan Oppress:

The question arises whether or not demons know our thoughts. Are demons able to read our minds? The answer seems to be that if the demons are “inside” a person that they can, but they cannot if they are on the “outside”. For most of us, we fight the battles of his oppressing, tormenting or accusing lies and threats. It seems obvious that demons do find ways to plant thoughts in our minds, so they must know what we are thinking by observing our behavior! They study us and attack our weakness, confusion and failures.

I believe the first goal demons have, is to prevent us from receiving forgiveness and salvation in Christ. If that fails, they work at preventing Christian maturity. They try to shut us down and make us ineffective. Their chief strategy is to try to get people to turn away from God. They do this through many forms of oppression such as temptation, shame and isolation. Any way they can challenge God and His Word, they will fight for control over our hope and faith. Demons lie to us and work hard to get us lying to ourselves! Remember the devil is a thief, looking for easy access to unguarded treasures!

Another form of harassment is accusation and criticism. Demons will interject condemning thoughts into the minds of anyone who is willing to listen. They particularly like to stir up the past with thoughts of, “You really should have…” or “If only you had done… (whatever) differently”. Demons are on a “seek and destroy” mission. They can “gang up” on us to undermine our sense of reality and control our behaviors. They take advantage of our “blind spots”, and they love it when we are physically or emotionally weary… it makes us vulnerable to defeat. They attempt to affect every area of life: spirit, soul, and body. They don’t play fair, in fact they don’t play at all! They will kill us if we allow it!

But Jesus Heals… The Oppressed!

“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.” (Mt. 12:22)

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed“. But He answered her not a word… Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs”. And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table”. Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire”. And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Mt. 15:22-28)

Healing & Deliverance:

The word healed means to be made whole or cured of something. When Jesus healed those with unclean spirits, He was making them whole and restoring them by removing those unclean spirits. By “casting out” the unclean spirit deliverance was achieved and freedom allowed the person to regain their sense of balance and reason! What Jesus was dealing with was spiritual blindness caused by a demonic stronghold in the mind. The Biblical idea of an “unclean” spirit is simply to identify what that spirit does to the human soul… it pollutes and defiles the thinking process so that the person looses control of their ability to reason. When a person is oppressed by the devil, they will often be confused and disoriented… “blind” to the realities right in front of them. Jesus would heal the oppression, by casting out the unclean spirit and speaking the Truth of His Father’s love (Jn. 15:9)! He would say things like, “The Father loves Me, and in the very same way the Father loves Me, I have loved you… therefore, abide in My love.”

Jesus was the Truth in human flesh and He carried the authority that challenged every lie that stood in opposition to reality from God’s perspective. Notice that Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and went about healing the oppressed. The beauty of His ministry was that He brought the Kingdom message… with Kingdom power and authority. The Good News is that no power on Earth or demons of hell can stand against the revelation of Truth as anointed by the Holy Spirit. Today, it is not normal to be unable to process your thoughts. Its not God’s will for anyone to feel confused and oppressed by the devil! But for healing and deliverance to bring freedom… we must allow the Truth to break in, anointed by the Holy Spirit; and set our minds free from spiritual blindness!

Jesus’ words: “These things I have spoken to you (and over you) while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (Jn. 14:25-26)

Testing Purifies

If you desire to walk righteously before the Lord, rest assured you will be tested. In fact, the deeper your walk with Christ the more intense your testing will be. The Bible makes this clear: “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits… When they fall, they shall be aided with a little help… And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time” (Dan. 11:32-35).

A great time of testing is coming upon “those of understanding”. Who are these people to be tested? They are the righteous, those who do exploits for the Lord, who walk with God and have the wisdom of Christ. Perhaps you’ve wondered lately, “Why am I being tested? Why is all this happening to me?”

Go back to your schooldays. When a test is given, it reveals how much you have actually been taught. The Apostle Paul speaks of a different school, one where we are “learning Christ” and are “taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20-21). If you belong to Jesus, you are in His school. If you have served Him for some years, you may have thought you graduated. But none of us graduate until we are in heaven with Him.

David spoke often of being tested and tried: “I know also, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness” (1 Chron. 29:17). I would suggest that there are at least three tests common to every Christian.

1. We are tested by afflictions and sufferings.

Today there is a mistaken belief that those in covenant with God will never suffer. But all the heroes of the faith mentioned in the Bible suffered stonings, torture and violence (Heb. 11:37). The Apostle Peter explains to us, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). Peter seems to suggest that something of value was being produced and refined in how we experienced our tests… “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Genuine faith is pure and pleasing to God, because it is unhindered by selfish ambition and focused on reflecting a pure expression of what God values.

2. We are tested by delayed answers to prayer.

Why does God delay answers to sincere prayers? It isn’t because He lacks power. He could merely blink an eye or think a thought and the work would be accomplished. And He is willing; even more than we are, to release His purposes in the earth. The answer is found in the fact that we must see the big picture. Jesus said to His disciples, ”…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart”  (Lk. 18:1). The Greek word for “lose heart” means to relax, becoming weak or weary in faith, to faint or give up the struggle. We must learn to contend in our prayers, because our breakthrough is just beyond the testing.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). The Lord is seeking a praying people who will not relax or get weary of coming to Him. These people will wait on Him; they won’t give up until the work is completed. And they will be found waiting when He brings the answer. For most of us, the hardest part of faith is the last half hour, when it looks as if God won’t answer. We’re tempted to give up, put it all behind us and go on to something else. But, that is not what God intends! When you are praying for what is obviously the will of God, you have every right to hold on and never give up until Jesus answers. You must not listen to the devil, the flesh or human reasoning. You are contending for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

You must ask God to plant the faith of Jesus Christ in you (Gal. 2:20), and not give up until you see completion (Heb. 10:35-39). This has happened to me at least a dozen times. I’ve given up and said, “Oh well, this must not have been God’s will”, and almost immediately the answer came! That may be exactly what’s happening with you. You’ve given up, no longer pressing in for your breakthrough. But God is at work in you and your answer is on the way.

3. We are tested by our frailty and failings.

God never wastes an experience, He is consistent in His training. But His training is for reigning! His goal is to strengthen us and cause us to see the way He sees. Christians who are tempted to fall back into old sins or turn back to the world are being tested. I am reminded of the old TV service announcement that would say “This is only a test! If this was a real emergency…” and in fact some do fall and have real emergencies, but God is faithful to provide a way out of every difficult temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). His goal is to train us to look for His hand at work rather than our human frailty.

I believe most Christians have a “sin consciousness” rather than a “righteousness consciousness”. The Christian must be willing to cast off the sin that so easily ensnares and hinders our growth. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). Its the Holy Spirit working in us that purifies us and deepens our spiritual convictions for empowerment and renewal. 

Maybe you have fallen short in some way, after years of serving Him. Perhaps you have found yourself surrendering to anger, lust or unbelief. That sin is not your destiny, so you gotta shake yourself free. You gave in for a moment, but God is not through with you. He is showing you something and wanting you to deal with it – by faith and in faith! 

Testing Reveals:

If you are being tested in some area, you may think, you are unworthy and wonder just how much ground has been lost? “Does God still love me?” The good news is that its only a test to prove you and purify your desires. My friend, if you allow God to transform the way you think, then you haven’t lost any ground whatsoever. God puts his loving arms around you and says, “I have brought you through this once again… so you could see what is in your heart”. You are making progress, but it must begin with seeing reality! Walking with God, requires us to let God “father” us and bring discipline that moves us into His perfect will for our lives. 

He wants all of our heart and will allow us to be tested until He has it all.

Committed Discipleship

Spiritual Revival by Committed Discipleship!

Jesus said: “If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.”  (Lk 14:26-27).

Un-distracted!

Jesus is not teaching that we should abandon or mistreat our loved ones. It would be difficult to justify God’s message of love if we were unable to truly love our family, friends and even our enemies. His point is that by comparison, our level of commitment must rise above being distracted by any other influences.

A Disciple is More than a Student:

A disciple is a person who commits to carry something of enormous significance… to be just like the Teacher. If you are going to be a Christ follower, you must live just as He lived. Jesus was the greatest revivalist of all! Before you think that this simply requires training, contemplate the thought that Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing. Seeing what the Father is doing, must be embraced as an activity of our supernatural revival lifestyle. To reflect the transforming lifestyle of Christ means committed discipleship. 

The Cross Carrying Lifestyle:

Jesus is calling us to carry our cross daily! ”Those who do not carry their cross and follow Me cannot (not “might not choose to”) be My disciples.” To carry a cross means we are dead to the life of leaning upon ourselves. Our wisdom and our natural perceptions of reality are not good enough. We pick up a tool that will become the lense for how we see our world.

A New Lense:

In Judea at the time of Jesus, the mention of carrying a cross communicated a powerful reality. The people of that day often saw Roman soldiers torture and abuse people who were dragging a heavy beam through the streets. It was a sobering sight, because the person was literally carrying his own tool of execution. He carried it until he was nailed to it. I would suggest we carry it, so we can see through it.

No matter how you look through it, crucifixion meant you were a dead man walking.

This is the level of commitment God expects from you if you want to become a catalyst for spiritual revival. The “old time religion”… it isn’t going to cut it, and neither is the political bully pulpit. Jesus is calling us to a committed descipleship. But were we to pick up that cross and follow… then the very foundations of Earth would be shaken!

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