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Friday, November 17, 2017

Unstoppable and Unafraid

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” (Matt. 24:6, AMP).

When you hear news reports suggesting the possibility of North Korea setting off nuclear destruction, what is your inner response? In Matthew 24, Jesus prophesies the violent turbulence of the end times. We have already arrived in the period He is describing; we cannot ignore the signs that practically flash this message to us in neon lights. However, in the midst of all the turmoil, He explicitly commands us, “See to it that you are not afraid.”

There are two very distinct ways to live life in this current chapter of God’s unfolding story. The default option is to glue ourselves to the glowing television screen and allow it to interpret reality for us. In doing so, we can make the choice to daily devour the servings of fear, suspicion, and dread that the mainstream media constantly serves up. In essence, we can spend our days in anxiety and unrelenting nervous apprehension of the world as we know it unraveling before our eyes.

Alternately, we can embrace God’s perspective and live out each moment as if this were the most exhilarating human era to be alive in all of history! Because it IS!!

The further we advance along the developing timeline, the more God is going to ask of us that we choose the latter. In this critical time, as His calendar is put on display, He is calling us to rise up and live above fear.

Are We Making Any Progress?

A few years ago, I was grappling with a question that had been troubling me at the edges of my mind for some time. Musings on the need to re-dig spiritual wells that had become obstructed circled through my thoughts. I brooded over the task of taking our cities for Jesus, when oftentimes they had already seemingly been taken for Him before. What about cases like the church in LA crying out for revival? I wondered. Just over a century ago, the fires of Azusa were burning brilliantly in that very geographical location! Do they need to now retake the same territory? Was all that progress lost?

So I asked God about it. “Lord, are we just re-doing, in every generation, what’s been done before? Or are we actually advancing, making some headway, achieving some forward movement?”

He answered me by reminding me of a dream that He gave to a pagan king thousands of years ago. For whatever mysterious reason, He decided that He would give revelation of the end times to a ruler who worshipped demon gods. As the prophet Daniel explained to him, “There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Dan. 2:28, NKJV).

In short, Nebuchadnezzar saw a colossal, majestic statue that represented the kingdoms of the earth. Then a mysterious stone, hewn by invisible hands, struck the enormous structure and shattered it into absolute dust. A wind came and blew away all traces of it. What happened next is the key for our purposes today: “But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth” (v. 35, NLT).

If this is a picture of “the latter days,” what do you imagine that mountain represents? What unbounded joy is ours, when we come to understand that this mountain is a symbol of the Kingdom of God taking over the entire earth!

God is taking over this planet, and there is absolutely nothing the devil can do about it. Now that, my dear friend, is the correct perspective with which to view everything that is happening in the world today.

The Unstoppable Stone

Jesus is that stone from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He is the “stone that the builders rejected” (Acts 4:11). Through His birth, death, and resurrection, He knocked down and entirely obliterated the existing power structures on earth. The devil was disarmed, defeated, and humiliated. At that point, Jesus began to reign, establishing His rule here on earth. For this reason, His main message to the multitudes was, “The Kingdom of God has come! It is now in your midst!”

Jesus the Stone also issued this prophetic announcement about Himself, “On this Rock, I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). When He ascended into heaven, the early church was born. The rock began to grow. From that time until now, it has continually increased in size and stature. What began as an embryo in Mary’s womb has gradually become a mountain of staggering proportions spreading out over the entire globe!

This was God’s answer to my question. “No, dear child, My faithful laborers on the earth today are not simply reinventing the wheel. With every generation that I bring forth, this mountain is towering higher and higher, getting ready to subjugate the entire creation.”

Isaiah, too, saw this far ahead of time and proclaimed through prophetic vision, “For unto us a Child is born… of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:6a, 7a, NKJV). When was this ever-enlarging government slated to begin, according to his prophecy? “From that time forward, even forever” (v. 7g). 

From the time this Child was given unto to us, the stone has been growing. It has ever since been expanding relentlessly in every direction. It has been aggressively acquiring massive dimensions. And according to this prophecy, there will be no end to its increase! There will be no point, ever, where the growth of His Kingdom dwindles, falters, halts, or even briefly pauses. He is taking over, and who can stop the Lord Almighty?

Terrified Opponents

As the mountain of God’s Kingdom grows upward and outward exponentially, it occupies more and more territory. As a result, His enemies have less and less space in which to operate. They are agonizingly aware that their domain is constantly shrinking. Agitated and frantic, they know how short their time is. They are miserable spirits, existing as defeated, humiliated failures. Their wretchedness is made even worse by their awareness that their eternal torment in the lake of fire is swiftly approaching.

Every day that passes, they can see the sands of time falling through the hour glass. The increase of wickedness that you see on the earth today is simply the manifestation of their desperation. The wars, the rumors of wars, the hatred, the spitefulness, the perversion, the violence, the evil running rampant – all of this is their terrorized, panicked last attempt to delay their horrendously inevitable eternal destiny. They are clawing at the edge of the cliff even as they already feeling themselves falling into the abyss.

Should we, then, be intimidated by them? Intimidated by beings that know to their deepest core that their place is under our feet? Fearful of thwarted, vanquished creatures that tremble, grovel, cringe, and flee away before the glorious presence of the Lord of all creation? By no means, dear child, by no means! Far be it from us!

Jesus was speaking in earnest when He said, “See to it that you are not afraid.” He meant it. Those words He chose, “See to it,” put the responsibility on our shoulders to cultivate a lifestyle that is both valiant and free of fear.

The choice lies before us. Will we feed our spirits daily with only fear and vitriol, pathetically hypnotized by the allure of the screen? Or will we choose to run after God with unrestrained passion, pursuing Him as the all-consuming object of our appetites? Will we crave Him? Will we make Him our one thing?

The days are coming when this choice will mean life, or death. Let’s choose Him now, being filled up to overflowing with all the fullness of His mighty strength, channels of His majesty in the most glorious epoch of history ever to be alive!

The Lion of Judah is roaring – do you hear Him?

“Arise, my people! Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is streaming from you. Darkness as black as night shall cover all the peoples of the earth, but the glory of the Lord will shine from you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see the glory of the Lord upon you!” (Isa. 60:1-3, TLB).

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Airlifted Out: You Don't Have to Stay Down There!

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” (Ps. 144:1, NKJV)

Whether we realize it or not, we are living out our lives in the middle of a fierce combat zone. Many of us have not yet learned to discern the spiritual origins of much of the turbulence that comes into our lives. However, the spiritual battle that rages around us is incredibly real. “Our fight is not against people on earth but against… the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world” (Eph. 6:12, NCV).

When the Scripture refers to us as soldiers, Holy Spirit is not merely speaking metaphorically. We truly, legitimately ARE operating on a violent battle field. The sound of clashing armies resounds all around us.

Awareness of the war zone we are in will not cause fear to arise in our hearts if our gaze is fixed on the One who is invisible! He is God Almighty, and the demons tremble at the mere mention of His name on the lips of one who walks closely with Him. With a mere blast of breath from His nostrils, He could slay every last one of His enemies in the blink of any eye.

He is calling us up higher. He is inviting us to fixate on Him in all of His glory and splendor. As we do so, filled with the confidence of Who He is inside of us, we will find ourselves beginning to rise above the demonic activity happening around us.

So much of our Christian life is a training ground for growing in effectiveness as warriors. In this post, I would like to explore one of the most vital aspects of this training: learning to ascend. In order to operate from the place of victory that Jesus purchased for us with His blood, it’s absolutely essential that we learn to go up higher in the heavenly realms.

A Dream and a Vision: Airlifted Out

Holy Spirit graciously and generously provided an amazing visual illustration of this principle, through my dear friend Hannah Mattner. With her blessing, I want to share with you a life changing encounter she had with Jesus. These are her words describing a dream that she had, which was fraught with spiritual warfare:

“I started to literally see the spiritual realm, so clearly, and I was seeing demonic faces… I felt fear, because what I was experiencing was incredibly overwhelming. There was SO MUCH happening that I suddenly was seeing, feeling, hearing, and understanding. It was scary, intimidating… The demons were attacking me. I screamed at the top of my lungs, shaking violently. A demon came out of nowhere right up to my face…”

At that point, Hannah woke up, affected throughout her whole being by the impact of the dream. She then describes:

“It was 1:26 am and I was sweating. I remembered the whole dream and the demon’s face was embedded in my mind. I put my worship on...”

This is where her Holy Spirit combat training kicked in. As she was now awake, He transitioned her from the intense dream into a vivid vision. Through it, He showed her how to move up out of the fray and into victory:

“Then I had this vision of me being in the room from the dream (where it ended) and He plucked me up with His hand, airlifting me out of there – it felt like I was floating. He brought me up so high in the sky, above the clouds, where it was quiet, tranquil, peaceful, beautiful and bright. I was so calm and at ease, and I could feel His presence all around me. His light shining so warm and bright, He illuminated everything.

“He told me to look down, and when I did I saw a layer of clouds. Below them it was dark. I could see all of those demons, the enemy’s whole operation, running rampant, doing their work. Holy Spirit told me, ‘They can’t come up here. They’re powerless to you when you operate from here. You have the power and authority to be here, which is where I want you to be. This is where you fight from.’

“And with that I felt so much at rest. I realized just how small satan and his demons were from being up so high. The enemy had no power unless you fought at his level.”

Seated With Jesus Far Above Every Demon

God couldn’t have made His message more clear. Hannah shared this experience with me nearly two years ago, and over and over, it has come back to my mind. I am convinced that her vision illustrates one of the most crucial revelatory points that we need for victorious living. God wants us occupying the higher place!

Spiritually speaking, we have already obtained the higher position. God has already placed us there. “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7, NLT).

This is actually rather mind-blowing if you think about it. We are seated with Christ. To understand what this means, we need to know where His seat is. Wherever He is seated, that is where we are too. Just nine verses earlier, Holy Spirit reveals the answer: “[The Father] raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…” (Eph. 1:20b-21a, ESV).

Jesus has won the position far, far above every demonic power! And the Father has resurrected you from spiritual death and positioned you right there with Him. You, too, are seated high, high above every spiritual enemy that has ever hated you! That is astounding!

Even as astonishing as this good news is, though, I still found myself with a question in my heart. I asked the Lord, if I am seated far above every demon, why does it often still feel like I’m right in the midst of the fray? Even this same book of Ephesians, a few chapters later, is coaching us on the vital importance of spiritual armor. Why would I need armor if I weren’t in the fray?

Simultaneously Above and Beneath

This is one of those biblical mysteries that we can only understand through the Holy Spirit’s communication to our spirit. It’s a both/and principle. We are both seated high above, and we are still in the fray, fighting the good fight of faith. We are both already high above, and we need to ascend. We find the concept of moving up to a higher place in spirit frequently throughout Scripture. Here are a few examples to meditate on:
  • “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob…” (Isa. 2:3, NKJV).
  • “And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here’” (Rev. 4:1, NKJV).
  • “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?” (Ps. 24:3, NKJV).
  • “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God” (Jer. 31:6, NKJV).
  • “And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here’” (Rev. 11:12, NKJV).
  • “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says…” (Hab. 2:1, NLT).
Ascending means locking our focus on the Lord of Angel Armies. As we connect into the reality of His matchless, glorious, untouchable rule over everything that exists, we will find ourselves immersed in the atmosphere of heaven.

God is simultaneously present in both the heavenly and the earthly realms. So are we. Our bodies are on the earth while our spirits are one with Jesus, seated with Him. The more we learn to focus on “the things that are above” (Col. 3:2), the more we will learn to operate increasingly from our superior spiritual position. More and more, we will fight from the place of victory rather than trying to meet the devil at his lower, defeated level.

Just as the Israelites had to move into and occupy the land that God said was already theirs, so we too are learning to occupy the heavenly position He has purchased for us. He has already made it ours. However, we are still learning to walk in the fulness of what is our own.

This is why we need the Holy Spirit’s constant tutelage. “We have received… the Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12, AMP) It’s His job to teach us all things. He is our combat trainer. He is training our hands for war and our fingers for battle. He is teaching us to ascend. He is teaching us to fight from higher ground, from the place of victory.

About a year ago, I was in the midst of some exceptionally intense warfare. It was one of those seasons where nearly every day was a painful struggle. In the middle of everything that was going on, Holy Spirit spoke gently to my heart. “You don’t have to stay down there,” He said. “Come up here with Me.”

The battle is real. We are in it. Yet, in Him, we are exceedingly elevated above the skirmish even as our bodies are in it. Even as our boots are on the ground, our spirits are united with Christ high above any demonic name that can be named on the earth.

Today, ask Holy Spirit to open your eyes to your breathtaking position seated with Jesus. When you learn to operate from the place of victory that is yours, it will make all the difference in the world.

He’s ready to airlift you out!

If you would like to better understand how to go up higher, you can find more on that here.
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Hannah is also a delightfully gifted photographer and videographer! You can follow her on Instagram (@hannahmattner) and subscribe to her YouTube channel,