Friday, May 4, 2018

May 4th

The Lord had me sit down to work on this now, though there are yet three more weeks until it will be posted. He has given me one clear thing to share, and the suggestion of another, which, if I follow it, will surely become more clear over time. That's how it usually works.

The one clear thing is a dream I had in the last month. In this dream, I was visiting the house of someone I know, someone who knows Christ. Their house was dark. I was both in the house, and I could see it from above, as though there were no roof. Many of the rooms were bedrooms. There were hardly any windows. The house was sitting in darkness as though it were in a box.

I knew there were unclean spirits in the house. I had the sense that at any time, anyone might be attacked and that it was not a safe place to be. However, I also knew that I had authority in the name of Jesus Christ over these spirits, and I also knew that the owner of the house, belonging to Jesus, had authority, and so I was intent upon making the situation reflect the truth.

In the dream, I could remember that I had experience in speaking the truth to unclean spirits, and that they had to obey the word of God, because the Lord enforces it. So my faith was quite firm because of this experiential knowledge, and I had no hesitation to go from room to room, ordering the unclean spirits out in the name of Jesus Christ, though I could see nothing but the furniture.

However, this heckling, lingering kind of fear wouldn't leave until I reached the main living area. In fact, once there, the fear rapidly grew in intensity and in the same moment, I was seeing the spirit manifested as a mocking young woman, sitting at her ease in a chair. There was no question about the evil which filled this being. There was no mercy and nothing human but the form.

It was making fun of me because it knew I was afraid, and because it was indicating that it was unmoved and there to stay, and my response, which I tried to hide but could not, was shame at my fear and inability. Underneath all this, I had this blind determination to fight on through the fear and shame, but I had no idea how to begin or what I should do.

I knew also in this wash of realization that I had been taking the entire experience too casually. It wasn't that my faith was wrongly based on the authority of Jesus, or that I was wrong in knowing that I had done such things before. But I should have taken time to seriously prepare for the reality of this battle before entering into it.

The dream ended at that point, and the verse the Lord gave me in order to understand it were His words to the disciples when they asked Him why the unclean spirit of the epileptic boy wouldn't come out for them. He told them, "This kind only come out by prayer and fasting."

The other thing which the Lord wants me to share is that whole passage, and what I have learned lately in considering it. Here is the passage:

A man spoke up out of the crowd. “Teacher,” he said, “I have a son possessed by a demon that makes him mute. I brought him here to you, Jesus. Whenever the demon takes control of him, it knocks him down, and he foams at the mouth and gnashes his teeth, and his body becomes stiff as a board. I brought him to your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they were not strong enough.”
Jesus said to the crowd, “Why are you such a faithless people? How much longer must I remain with you and put up with your unbelief? Now, bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him to Jesus. As soon as the demon saw him, it threw the boy into convulsions. He fell to the ground, rolling around and foaming at the mouth.  Jesus turned to the father and asked, “How long has your son been tormented like this?”
“Since childhood,” he replied. “It tries over and over to kill him by throwing him into fire or water. But please, if you’re able to do something, anything—have compassion on us and help us!”
Jesus said to him, “What do you mean ‘if’? If you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.”
When he heard this, the boy’s father cried out with tears, saying, “I do believe, Lord; help my little faith!”
Now when Jesus saw that the crowd was quickly growing larger, he commanded the demon, saying, “Deaf and mute spirit, I command you to come out of him and never enter him again!”
The demon shrieked and threw the boy into terrible seizures and finally came out of him! As the boy lay there, looking like a corpse, everyone thought he was dead. But Jesus stooped down, gently took his hand, and raised him up to his feet, and he stood there completely set free!
Afterwards, when Jesus arrived at the house, his disciples asked him in private, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?”
He answered them, “This type of powerful spirit can only be cast out by fasting and prayer."
-Mark 9:17-29, TPT

The first thing that Jesus pointed out to me about this passage was to remind me that He, Peter, James and John had been fasting while they were on the mountain together. Jesus did not give this to me by direct revelation; it was something I had learned a long time ago reading something, and Jesus reminded me of it. Of course, Jesus is the Son of God and has absolute authority, but also as Man, He had been fasting and praying. He had been ready to step right into that battle.

The second thing Jesus did was to remind me of an experience I had had in the last year that centered around this passage. At that time, He had pointed out the kind of pervasive doubt and absolute disbelief that are a strong factor of the society in which we live, and then Jesus revealed in me places where I did not have faith in Him, where doubts and hesitations about Him lingered. I had this unconscious idea that I had better not be offering Jesus as a solution to someone's issue, because of doubt that He might not come through for them, or that if I did point them to Jesus, that might be equivalent to judging them, or disrespecting their own journey.

This was last year. To put it another way, even after seven years of spiritual healing through the direct ministration of Jesus, of reading and learning about the word of God, of hearing His voice and seeing Him in a life changing, spiritual way, leading to beautiful revelations based on the truth of His word, and seeing Him move in miraculous power to transform and lead my life, I still harbored these sorts of thoughts and doubts in my mind.

Which would explain why I was wrecked by repentance and sobbing in the car that morning that I had come early to the prayer group. I can still see the spray of green bushes and grass that were what I was physically seeing through the windshield as I was crying out in abject grief as this knowledge was going over me in waves. I was part of the problem, part of the problem had gotten sunk into me in ways I had not even known.

This is because of particular reasons. Coming out of the church I had been raised in, I could see clearly the damage that wrong religious and legalistic attitudes can do. I didn't want to cause that or be caught up in it again, so I went way to the other side in trying to avoid it. In fact, I almost became caught up in a kind of New Age spiritualism until the Lord pulled me back. I will tell how that happened.

When Jesus stepped into my life and I began hearing Him and sensing His presence in a spiritual way, I began looking for others that had experienced this. I found (online) that a lot of people were calling themselves mystics, or learning from mystics, and this was based on a kind of spirituality that had to do with inner peace, nature, and a God that was considered universal without religious specifications. Some of these were loosely Christian, or had been Christian.

I was very drawn to these people and this philosophy, because it was nonthreatening, gentle and inclusive. My original blog entries from that time reflect this, as I hardly ever called Jesus by His name. I started to call Him, "Love," or "Light."

Now, I had no doubt that I was actually with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the same Person that walked in Galilea in the first century, with Him through His Holy Spirit. But, I reasoned, if I called Him these other names, I wouldn't offend anyone and I would fit in. At this time various, very close family members and friends were heading away from the Gospel and toward this other direction, and knowing what they had suffered within churches, and because of how much I loved them and how much I wanted to continue receiving their approval, this sort of New Age gentleness felt both attractive and like a perfect solution.

Jesus was patient and kind with me, and He allowed this for a long time. This is because He sees all our inner motivations and our strengths and weakness, and where we are healing. However, over time it was becoming increasingly difficult to sit on the fence, as it were. It wasn't working; it was making it worse. I could not please everyone.

Around this time, I had a dream. I was staring down at my hands in wordless horror because they had been burned, burned so badly that I had no fingers or thumbs remaining. Where my hands had been were nothing but charred, bloody stumps.

I could feel no pain, but I knew that the pain, when I began to feel it, would be worse than anything I had ever endured and I was terrified. I couldn't do anything for myself, to care for my hands, because I had no hands to use. I was completely helpless.

When I woke up, I didn't feel afraid because of this dream, or that Jesus was angry at me. I felt settled because I understood something clearly. This is the same way when you are driving down the road and you don't know which exit to take and the anxiety is bubbling away and then a sign comes up and it says that the exit is in one mile.

The sign doesn't cause any fear; it clarifies things. This dream, once I woke, worked in the same way. I knew I had to make a choice. I was either going to be openly and clearly a disciple of Jesus Christ, come what may, or I was going to have to go fully the other way, and abandon the truths of the Gospel.

This happened around Lent, which I was aware of because I was following various religious blogs. I decided to give up Facebook for Lent and to take that time to come to a decision. It's clear which decision I made. But this explains why, even last year, the Holy Spirit still had some healing, clarifying work to do in order to fix my faith more firmly and fearlessly on Jesus Christ.

To return to the main point, after having the dream of not being able to move the unclean spirit, I saw how bewildered the disciples must have been when they could not cast the deaf and dumb spirit out. Jesus had already sent the disciples out two by two, and they had returned with joy, and Jesus had affirmed that He had given them ability to exercise authority over all the power of the enemy. After all that, this experience would certainly have been a stumbling block for their faith.
It is crucial that we must know what the Lord tells us. That becomes our strategy and we must follow that strategy. In this case, it was prayer and fasting. I know in many of the manuscripts, the word fasting is not included and so some versions of the Bible do not include it. But I chose a transition that did, and I am including it, because, to the best of my human ability to hear the direction of the Holy Spirit, I am directed that this is an important part of this message.
Jesus keeps reminding me of an experience I had with fasting recently. Actually, it was the first time I had fasted from food in almost twenty years- I had been a teenager the last time. 
The reason why I tried it again was because of my prayer partner. We had continued to receive the same prayer request over about a year's time. Over and over again we prayed for the solution to this problem. These were prayers that were infused with the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Eventually, my prayer partner suggested we should try fasting and praying. I was eager to try this, because I had just seen the Lord do a massive work in my life and I was on fire to take more ground for Him. The Holy Spirit gave me all sorts of passages out of Scripture (that was the prayer which I have shared in a previous blog) and unknown to me, all sorts of Scripture to a third prayer partner, a lovely lady with whom we meet once a month. We followed the direction of the Lord to fast for three days prior to that monthly meeting.
I had a miserable time fasting. I thought I would feel sublimely spiritual, but mostly I felt exhausted and irritable. By the time the prayer meeting arrived, I was thoroughly humbled. After this prayer meeting, the burden to pray for that area has lifted and the Lord moved in resolution and healing in ways that I couldn't have imagined. Our attention has been shifted towards another direction, and we are now fasting and praying in preparation for what the Holy Spirit will be doing. 

The main lessons must be relevant to others, or Jesus wouldn't have me blog about it. It's a very basic lesson, and we already know it. We want to be prepared, as a disciple of Jesus, to face the battles that are ahead. Let the Holy Spirit reveal any areas where disbelief need to be revealed and healed. We must go to Jesus for directions and follow those directions. Likely, those directions will result in an increase in humility and in reliance upon Jesus Christ, which is exactly where He wants us before He does a work through us.

That is all Jesus has given me to share, but I wish I could give a picture of Him. Maybe next time He will.

May you go in the abiding peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, our risen and victorious Savior.