Spiritual Battle Around the Bible
If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus
God teaches beyond what any human is capable of. God teaches how, what and when others can not. God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, teaches us through the Bible in combination with the elements of our lives.
The Bible isn’t a book of words like other books; it’s inspired by God. It’s a foundational tool that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us. Life is in God’s words. When we mediate on His truth in faith, it transforms our souls.
To realize that God uses the Bible unlike any other venue is fundamental to understanding it. In connection with the Holy Spirit, the Word is dynamic, alive and transcends the pages in which it’s written. It’s not just a book but a gateway to the presence of God when it’s taught to us by the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit transforms the words written into a powerful tool that penetrates our hearts, minds and souls. If we are seeking, God is speaking His power and love into our spirits regenerating us into new creations. In response to His instruction, we trust and place His truths at the helm of our lives. When we do, truth is at the forefront of all else – as it should be. Psalm 119:24 Isaiah 28:26, 29
The truths of God can only be spiritually discerned; therefore God gives us a Helper to aid us in our learning. We can’t understand them with our physical reasoning capabilities. Therefore, the Holy Spirit instructs our spirits, spirit to spirit. It’s this method on which Christ builds His body, His church. When Peter said Jesus was the Christ, Jesus replied that his understanding did not come from man, but of the Spirit and it’s this spiritual revelation in which Christ would build His church. Matthew 16:17-18. He builds His body by revelation through the Holy Spirit not by carnal reasoning or the instruction of human means.
We have the perfect Teacher and we are able to learn, understand and comprehend the Bible because the Spirit teaches us. We don’t need to rely on anyone to show us the deep truths of God. God teaches the simple and humble His truth. Psalm 25:9 He gave us His Spirit to be well equipped to learn what we need to know. 1 Corinthians 2:10, 1 John 2:27
If you feel that you can’t learn about God through the Bible from His Spirit, dismiss that thought. It’s not from God. Satan knows how powerful the Truth is and what it will do in your life. He will do all he can to distract and discourage you by whispering in your ear that you are too busy, you can’t understand, or you need to rely on others. We have the most incredible Teacher who holds a full-time position to guide us.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Not only are we taught by the Spirit, but the Spirit plays another crucial role. He reveals the lies, deception and misconceptions beyond our awareness. This role of the Spirit is essential to learning truth about God, us, others and this world. If we believe a lie it hinders the truth. This blinding quality is why lies and deception are so harmful. How difficult is it to search out our own hearts out to discover the lies we believe? We are the ones that are deceived. We need a pair of pure eyes examining our souls, which we have in the Holy Spirit.
This is a critical role of the Spirit because what we believe affects how we view God and our relationship with Him. By holding onto false truths we distort who God is to us. When I believed in Santa Claus, I filtered the world around me based on that belief. Though it was a lie, to me it was the truth and I assimilated the world to fit that lie. The Spirit keeps us from trying to fit the Bible to our beliefs and instead fit our beliefs to the Truth.
Further, holding false beliefs about God greatly hinders our relationship with Him. In a marriage, when false assumptions are believed, a barrier is constructed blocking intimacy. Sometimes this miscommunication can get so severe it leads to divorce. We all come to God full of lies, beyond our consciousness. The Spirit’s job is to peel back the layers of our soul and instill truth. Because He is more knowledgeable about us and Himself than anyone else, He is the perfect one to search out our hearts and instill truth. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13, Proverbs 1:23
In the past when others were my teachers, I thought I owned truth because I had nothing to compare it to. Once I started to seek God to be my Teacher then Truth started to penetrate my depths changing me inside out.
God is the most wonderful Counselor, Instructor and Guide we will ever experience if we let Him be. He has told us that He wants to be our Teacher and the choice is ours to accept Him as such in our lives.
If your heart is to know God He will lead you into all truth and He won’t lead you astray. We need to put God first to make His body, the church, strong. It all begins by choosing Him as our Teacher, abiding daily in His Word seeking the guidance of the Spirit, and seeking His instruction in the elements of our lives. Stir the deep with the One you were meant to stir it with, God.
A PODCAST (click here to listen) is available on the deeper meaning of fasting you often don’t hear discussed. You can also get it at Itunes. Search for Stirring the Deep under podcasts.
Overview: Fasting is an area that is greatly misunderstood and misused. When we understand the spiritual implications behind it, then it has tremendous power in our lives.
Here I discuss this act and the spiritual depth and meaning behind it. I hope this explains unanswered questions about it. Hint: it’s much more than not eating.
John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
What would you do for your children and grandchildren? What acts/behaviors would you do for their well-being, joy and safety? What would you do to be closely united to them? Why do you do what you do?
You do what you do, because you love them. This faithfulness to them is an act of obedience. It doesn’t feel like obedience because normally we associate that gritty word with acts we don’t want to do but should. But when it comes to our kids, we want to “do what’s right” because we love them so it doesn’t feel like obedience.
Now take that mindset and apply it to God. We desire to do His will because we love Him. When we know God to a certain depth; His truth, goodness, freedom, peace, rest, joy which are all consumed in love, then we want nothing more than to be united to Him. He is life. He is love. He is the home of our desires. He is our great reward. He is our portion. We desire as much unity as possible, so we strive to walk His paths (obedience) so that we walk with Him.
Love is based on truth; not assumptions or lies because then there is no true bond. It would be all imaginary. Therefore, an aspect of true love is we don’t assume we know what pleases another; we want to make sure we know, therefore we seek. We want to know what brings another joy and delight. We want to know what will foster a deeper purer union. When we do and we act upon that knowledge, then the union solidifies because we are walking within an oneness of will and mind.
When we truly love God or want to love Him, we desire to know Him and His will. We don’t want ignorance, fears or anything else to separate us from Him; therefore we seek. We long to be as close as possible to God even to walk in His footsteps. Therefore we seek the truth of His will in the Bible with the instruction of the Holy Spirit and walk in that will. It’s our utmost desire because of the love we feel.
How can we do what we don’t know? How can we know without seeking? If we truly are desiring unity with God we will seek to know Him. We will have a passion and hunger for His truth so we can walk in unity with Him.
As we draw near in truth, we begin to surrender to whatever God’s will may be because of His inherent perfection. We fight any compulsion to hold back because we’ve experienced and know His goodness. When you know His goodness and love, you can let go and trust.
Therefore, obedience is the fruit of love, or love in action. It’s the result of knowing God and His truth finding its home in our soul. If we are seeking a true union with God, then we will desire to obey. Our life will show the fruit of that obedience. Faith (belief in and love of God) without works (walking in His truths) is dead. If there is no fruit of walking in His truth, then the truth isn’t in us.
Salvation comes by grace. A testimony that we understand this gift given to us is obedience. Salvation came from God that we might be united to Him. If we aren’t fostering unity in cultivating a deep and real relationship, we missed the whole point of that saving grace. Our heart to walk the path of life that fosters unity with God reveals our understanding of the grace we’ve been shown. It isn’t self-imposed obedience that anyone could do that testifies to our awareness. It’s the flowing desire to want to obey and walk in God’s truth because that truth is in us. Heart-motivated obedience comes from God’s spirit within us.
If you feel resistance to walking in God’s will, then you simply need to know God deeper. When you seek to know Him with all your heart, soul and mind you will encounter His magnificent love and goodness and in return you will love Him and desire Him to a point of being consumed. Therefore to be united to God in love begins by seeking to know Him personally, deeply. God desires you to be in a bond of love with Him that deepens with obedience. Seek Him in truth by abiding in the Bible with the instruction of the Holy Spirit. As you draw near you will know and abide in His love. In time, you will desire to walk in His will because you know of His goodness and that doing so enhances your union with Him.
This obedience is the kind God desires; an obedience driven by love.
John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
John 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
Once we truly set out to seek God with all our heart, mind and soul we start to change. We are drawing ever close to the presence of God. More of who God is, is filling our lives. His Spirit is working and molding us inside out. 2 Corinthians 3:18
One area this transformation in our souls becomes apparent is with relationships with non-believers. When we are truly born of God and growing in our new life in Him, these relationships change. It’s more than engaging in different behaviors. It’s more than having a different focus, direction, and mind-set. It’s more than having different values, though all these come into play. There is a divergence occurring on the deepest level of our being.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
At the core, believers and non-believers are dwelling in different places; one in Christ the other not. One is growing in truth and love, the other is not. Only from God comes truth and love. Only by being connected to Him can we truly know these. One is an eternal living being and the other is not.
Though a believer’s love for non-believers grows as they draw near to God, the ability to deeply connect begins to wane. A true believer and a non-believer can’t be truly yoked. Being yoked is connecting to others on a deep level within our souls. We connect when we are in a similar place internally. When we connect at this level, there is a powerful depth and intimacy that is shared. There is a special connection that is made and each life is greatly influenced by the other. Yoking is what we desire in our marriages and our closest friendships. It’s a deep connection between two souls.
Recently, I learned a great lesson in unequal yoking. I have a friend from my days prior to having a relationship with God. I called myself a Christian. I presumed I was saved, but I didn’t seek God. I didn’t walk with Him. During that time in my life though she was a non-believer, we were in a similar place internally and our souls became yoked.
As I started to seek God and His ways, a gap between her and I started to form. Our relationship became strained because I was no longer where I used to be – in that internal place where we so strongly connected. The spiritual battle in our relationship grew. You could feel the underlining tension as the gap widened. My love for her didn’t fade, but my ability to connect with her as I once had did.
For months, I didn’t understand what was happening. I prayed for our friendship. I tried to nurture our connection. I thought it was a phase. Then one day as I was praying for counsel in this relationship, the Holy Spirit cut through the whirlwind in my head as I tried to get my mind around what was happening and impressed upon me the verse above. We were unequally yoked. I can’t be how I once was with her. The love remains, but our deeper connection is gone.
The Holy Spirit simply told me what had already happened and what I knew deep down – our connection as it once existed was gone – the yoke was broken. I needed to accept it for what it was and let go.
The connection between a true believer and non-believer is limited. They are simply in two different places spiritually. It doesn’t mean we can’t have relationships with non-believers. It means that it will only be at a certain level, and should be at a certain level. We shouldn’t be trying to form a “yoke”. We can be very blessed by relationships with all kinds of people of all walks of life. However, when it comes down to connecting with others at the depth of our soul, being yoked, we are to focus on connections with believers. With non-believers we can only connect so much, there will always be a gap as there is between life and death. And what communion has light with darkness?
For your relationships with non-believers, seek God’s will for you and them. Sometimes we have to let go. Sometimes we have to embrace the limitations. Sometimes we have to reconnect at a different level.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and HIS righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
This past week God adjusted my perspective in two significant ways.
Years ago, God opened my eyes to the powerful truth of Matthew 6:33. If I simply focused on seeking Him and His righteousness, then He would take care of the rest. I lived by this truth and put all aside and sought Him. The freedom was remarkable, and He did take care of everything else. My focus would wane here and there, but for the most part it was on seeking His kingdom and His righteousness.
But lately my perspective started to alter and stay in that altered state. As God exposed my heart this past week, it unveiled the two areas that had slipped to the top of my seeking heart instead of His kingdom and His righteousness.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
First, I started putting seeking my life purpose above seeking His kingdom (His presence) in my life. I was getting too wrapped up and anxious about the next steps. God reminded me that seeking Him comes first, then all else follows. When we seek Him, we are able to trust Him with the rest. We are able to let go and know He is leading and guiding us in the perfect way right now.
When we seek God’s kingdom, our focus is on His love among His other characteristics. We can let go and trust God with areas of our lives, like our life purpose, when we trust in His love toward us. If we deeply believe in His love, then we would never worry or be anxious for anything. We would pray and trust all to His care. We would let go of all concern, trust He is working it out in our lives, and fall into His arms, free without holding onto anything.
However, when we doubt His love, we hold onto our ways and expectations of how our life should be playing out. We get nervous, anxious, and doubt He is in the midst of our situation. We question if He is helping us or wants to. We aren’t able to trust in His ways, which are very different from our own. We aren’t able to fully trust He will fulfill our desires like living a purposeful and meaningful life, good health, fulfilling relationships, emotional deliverance, and provision. Therefore, we try to take control, push forward and hold onto our methods and ideas because we think life isn’t playing out as it should if He was helping us. We intervene trying to make our life fit how we think it should be moving forward.
God reminded me that all is secondary to seeking His Kingdom. If we seek Him then the rest follows as it should. When we seek His kingdom, our focus is on Him and all that He is.
Joel 2:13b And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful , slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
This morning God impressed this verse upon me. Do I really trust in His great kindness, mercy, grace, and patience in my life? If I do, why am I worried or anxious about anything? When we seek and focus on God, our trust grows in His immense love and we are able to let go of what we are holding onto other than Him because we know He has us in His protective embrace.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and HIS righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Second, in seeking for healing in a particular area, my focus moved from being on God’s righteousness to my own. My obedience was about my righteousness, not love. My healing was about my righteousness, not His love. If I obeyed God near perfectly in a particular area, then I’ll be healed – was what I thought. By focusing on my obedience as the solution to being healed, my thoughts were about my righteousness not His.
Now, sin can be connected to health issues. Sin corrupts, destroys, decays. And when we are walking in sin then our bodies can suffer for it. Sometimes we suffer in our bodies to draw attention to a sin we are living in that we need to repent of and seek deliverance from. Sin hurts us and others. God doesn’t want us living in it blindly as we sometimes do. Physical aliments can be a way to get our attention that something is amiss in our spirit. However, healing comes from the acceptance of God’s love and mercy toward us, nothing that we do. We trust in His mercy alone, in Christ’s righteousness that covers us for healing. When it was about me walking in “perfect” obedience for healing, it became about my righteousness. God doesn’t want us to be slaves of righteousness, but sons of righteousness – (meaning we are righteous because we are born of Him)
God also reminded me that all I do is to be driven by love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 We are to be obedient to His Word, but the motive of the heart is love nothing else – like punishment and reward. I needed to let go of the punishment and reward focus in this area and let my attention rest on letting His love flow through me for what He was asking me to do. Obedience is about love. John 14:23 We do what we do because we love God.
Instead of trusting in my obedience (my righteousness) for healing, I needed trust in Christ’s righteousness, and then walk according to His ways out of love not punishment and reward.
With these two adjustments of focusing on seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, incredible burdens were lifted. I had no idea now much I was carrying. I’m so thankful for the Spirit’s instruction in these areas – truly an incredible week.
For several years I worked on a book, Stirring the Deep. As I enquired, what now Lord? God told me, “Rachel, people don’t need another book. They need THE book, the Bible. Lead them to read my Words, the words of life.” Now that may seem disheartening, but it actually wasn’t but exciting.
We’ve all been encouraged and inspired by the words of others. It’s a sweet fellowship to connect to another through their words. But now more than ever, God desires us to come to Him in a very intimate way, not through middle men and women (leaders, pastors, writers, etc). God is calling us to abide in a rich deep union with Him, one-on-one. He is revealing Himself to those who are seeking Him with all their heart, soul and mind in powerful and personal ways. It’s an extraordinary time. It’s time to remove all that hinders and dive in deep into Him.
Books, like teachers and pastors, can often impede the development of our intimacy with God when we lean on them when we should be dependent on God. Books can be encouraging and enlightening. God uses others in our lives in many ways. However, we can easily depend on them when we should be depending on God. That is what happened to me.
Years ago, the majority of books on my bookshelves were self-improvement, Christian and non-Christian. I wanted deliverance, healing and to be the woman I envisioned. I figured the knowledge in those books would take me as they seemed to promise. Reading them was exhilarating, uplifting, and motivating, but it was more of an emotional high then anything substantial happening in me. After I had been reading the Bible for a couple of years, the spirit prompted me to get rid of all those books. For the next couple of years, they were expunged from my life. I didn’t read one. At the time, I didn’t fully know the reasons why or the impact it would have, but I knew it had to do something with learning to abide and trust in God’s Word first and foremost, which it absolutely did and more.
During that time of solitary focus, I developed a solid foundation with God and on His Word. It became my source of truth. It opened me up to a powerful communion between me and God. It imploded truth into my life. As the years passed of abiding in His Word getting to know God, the deliverance I sought (often in those books) started to come. I wasn’t abiding in God’s Word to be healed, but that is exactly what happened. I wanted to get to know, draw close to Him. But the healing came and it wasn’t just the healing, but abiding in His Word started to affect EVERYTHING in my life. That difference fueled my passion in writing a book about it. I wanted to share what I discovered with others.
Removing those books from my life revealed my dependency on them. I realized how much I was seeking deliverance from those human writers. I believed reading their words was a sufficient replacement for reading the Word. I thought truth was truth. But reading God’s Word isn’t just about gathering knowledge it’s about cultivating a relationship, a relationship with God. In that relationship your life truly changes; not because of your efforts but because of His presence and promises at work in your life. Nothing can replace that dynamic.
At first it was hard (though I knew those books weren’t “working”), because those books were easier to read and more straight forward. And I was so use to thinking that is what you do. But they are the words of man. Though they may have been expressing God’s truth, they weren’t God’s words. They lacked the power of what dwelling in His pure Word trusting His Spirit to teach you imparts.
A couple years later, I picked up my first Christian book. I couldn’t believe the contrast! It had good content that back in the day I would have been reveling in. The writer spoke truths of God that He had taught me early that year. It was incredible. But what stood out to me is how the author’s words paled in comparison to what I received from the Word – which was powerful beyond my expectations. To fully understand the difference, you have to experience it. The gap between abiding in God’s Word verses someone else’s is enormous. Why would we settle for human words when we have His?
It’s easy to become dependent on others, whether authors, preachers, teachers, and/or leaders, when we should be on God. But this dependency makes them into an idol. And often we don’t realize our dependency until they are removed from our lives. If we don’t have a dependency, then we can live without them and God is more than enough.
Putting away those books was one of the best actions I took for my relationship with God. Previously, it was like I in a marriage with my husband and everyone else and often spending much more time with everyone else. When it is just you and God, the intimacy gained is astounding. This is why abiding in the Word of God alone during your quiet time is so critical. Give sole attention to God, and read those other books at another time. Give Him all of your attention, the attention He deserves. You may feel you get more from the other books so that you need them, but that is because you truly haven’t experienced a deep intimacy with God that is far greater. Allow time for that intimacy to develop. It isn’t instant. Though it may be tough at first because you are use to those other voices, if you can stick with it – it will reap tremendous benefits. Then when you do read another’s book, it’s a sweet fellowship, not dependency.
I’ve been reading, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman. It’s a good book. It resonates with much of what God has taught me over the past couple of years. I enjoy the way the writers state aspects of God’s truth. But reading the truths these two men have learned doesn’t replace me learning those truths from God. When we learn from Him, He changes us and it becomes our truth. We don’t want to exchange the intimacy we could be gaining with God by being reliant on others’ experiences of God – it’s a grave loss.
As for my book, it was a tremendous time of healing, renewal, learning and growing. God used my writing to focus my mind on the truths He was teaching me in His Word. It laid the foundation for what I do today and probably will do in the future. It laid the foundation for passion I have in helping others cultivate a real relationship with God. I wouldn’t change those years spent writing for anything.
My passion isn’t for people to read my book, but to read God’s book for it’s a fountain of life. And not to read it like a text book, but to dive into its pages as you would spend time with a loved one to cultivate a deep relationship. I’ve learned the difference between man’s words verses God’s Word – I want you to have the very best and to abide in His for there is where the power lies.
We only obtain a relationship with God if we start talking and listening to Him ourselves; not from reading about another’s journey with God but living our own.
Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
Back to the question if we do divorce (understanding what it creates from the Part I), God’s Word seems to say if you remarry you commit adultery – unless you reunite to your ex-spouse (if they haven’t remarried since the separation) or he/she dies.
Romans 7:3 “So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”
This truth may seem tough, that if one divorces then they aren’t to remarry. However, except for the two reasons above, it seems the Word of God says it is better for us and others not to remarry. As I’ve dived into this issue the past couple of weeks, I wonder why I’ve rarely heard anything about this topic of remarriage? Am I missing something in the scriptures that makes it a non-issue so that we can remarry regardless?
Perhaps the issue of why it seems to be a non-issue is we often don’t seek God’s will but our own. We listen to our own justifications and rationalizations and those around us. We listen to society that says we have to be married to be fulfilled. Yet look at the many unhappy marriages? Perhaps God is right? It is better for some to stay single. Our leaders haven’t helped much either. Many church leaders have followed their own will in regards to divorce and remarriage and therefore reinforce it in their listeners. We let passions rule us instead of God’s will, truth and love. And as long as we are ruled by our will instead of God’s, pain and destruction is what we will create and receive.
Seeing this issue of not remarrying as difficult is looking at it from society’s perspective and giving into its emotional rule in our lives. We need to trust that God’s will is truly better for us and everyone else. And that perhaps we really would be happier and more fulfilled by not remarrying. Who knows what God has in store for us? How He will use us and fulfill us in other ways that satisfy us beyond our imagination? How little we really trust Him. If it is His will and we honor His will, don’t you think He will give us what we need to fulfill it?
Society makes us believe if we don’t remarry we are missing out, but then again society doesn’t lead us to the path of life, but the path of death. Society leads us in so many ways away from God’s truth and will. We have to re-associate our thoughts according to the Word of God. What truly equates to life according to Him? This isn’t about legalism, it’s about love and what is truly loving.
1 Corinthians 7:39-40 “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment–and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”
Psalm 31:19 “Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!”
Psalm 112:1 “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments.”
Our deliverance from this growing epidemic of divorce is to heed God’s Word and seek His love. We need true love to choose the right spouse, to love that spouse, and to make the right decisions if divorce occurs. God designed this world to work in a certain way. We need to trust His counsel because He is the only one that truly knows the right answer and He is love. We’ve proven we don’t know it. And if more people realized that they shouldn’t remarry after they divorce, perhaps they would and be slower to marry in the first place and not give up so easily when problems arise, but seek how to live in a fulfilling marriage by the power of God.
Every commandment of God comes down to love. Only He knows what is truly loving in any situation. We need to trust Him at His Word that His truth is best for us and others. 1 Timothy 1:5 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith”. We each need to seek the counsel and wisdom from the Holy Spirit above all others in this area of our life.
If you have been divorced and remarried. What is done is done. Consider that it may have been outside God’s will and move forward in truth and abiding in love in your present marriage. Never underestimate the extent of God’s mercy and love, especially for the choices made in ignorance. God can renew you, your spouse and your marriage as if it was your first marriage and give you a tremendous gift in that mercy. He can make all things new. I’ve witnessed it. Psalm 57:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17 And moving forward in future decisions, walk in His truth and will.
The answer to all this mess we’ve created is to focus on seeking God’s Love, abiding in Him and in His Word, and cultivating a deep and real relationship with Him because that changes everything – this is our deliverance from ourselves, which we so desperately need. The best thing you can do for your marriage or if you are single preparing to marry is to cultivate a personal and intimate relationship with God.
Someone referred me to this paper written by John Piper on the issue. He breaks down the Biblical verses related to this topic. I found it very interesting. It is worth the read. Divorce & Remarriage: A Position Paper
Titus 2:4 “that they (older women) admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,” — We need more admonishing toward love.
As I read and hear about all the unrest around this issue, I felt compelled to share part of my story with you. This is a difficult topic to talk about – no doubt. My prayer is that you will listen with an open heart and that you will get from it whatever God has for you.
This second video is my thoughts on an issue that is often raised when people mention leaving the church system – the assembling of believers mentioned in Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
I’ll be posting more related videos in the following weeks.
First Video Transcriped . . .
Out of the Church System – Into His Arms (Video Transcribed)
Hi, I’m Rachel with Stirring the Deep and I wanted to talk to you about what has been happening in the church community regarding people leaving the church system – not the true church, the body of believers, but the system, the institution, the business. I see a lot of restlessness occurring, so I wanted to share with you my story. Now, I know this topic brings up an lot of different questions and issues. I want to address some of those – not in this video but in a later one when I have more time. For example, the verse Hebrews 10:25 where it talks about not forsaking the assembling together, issues about young Christians, fellowship and those sorts of issues.
But here I want to tell you about my story.
I grew up in the church. Like a lot of us that grew up in the Church, there comes a time when you have to make God your God and the faith your faith. God brought me to a point in my life where He basically turned everything upside down. Where I was just tired of my life. I wanted God to take over. It came to a point that I wanted a relationship with God that was real. I didn’t want a religion. I didn’t want to go through the acts anymore. I wanted a real relationship with God.
So I started seeking Him in His Word. But now when I read, I was reading on a daily basis getting to know Him – asking God who are you? Show me who you are. I want this to be real because that is what a real relationship is, right? It is communication back and forth. It’s really getting to know somebody. And God started to open up His Word to me. It was slow . . that development of a relationship with Him because I had a lot of things I had to let go of. It was a process. But that is what started to happen in my life, this relationship developing. I was no longer reading to do a Bible Study or to “fix” myself. I was reading to build intimacy with God.
Around this same time, I was involved in a church, highly involved. My husband and I would go to Bible Studies and small groups. We helped out at the church, and built a great sense of community, friends and support. It was wonderful what we had. But over time, a gap started forming between the cultivation of our relationship/intimacy with God as we spent time in His Word one-on-one, listening to His Spirit in our life AND our church involvement. It wasn’t just that we disagreed about different truths in the Bible. It was more than that – it was a bigger gap happening underneath it all. This gap created a restlessness in us that at first we really didn’t understand. As this restlessness continued, we decided to take a break from the church. Whenever you are so wrapped up in something it’s very hard to hear clearly. We said, God we just want to be still and be with you and give ourselves time and not be influenced by all these other things, including our own thoughts because we had enjoyed all that community, all the social aspects and all that it offered. We had to honor that restlessness and figure out what was going on.
We sat with God day after day seeking, reading in His Word – old prophets, Revelation, reading everything. Over time, from His Word and the prompting of the Spirit, we felt that God was calling us out of the church, not the true body of believers. We’re always connected with them, but the church system, the business, the institution. This was a radical thought, because I had grown up in the church. I had always been in the church. It was a part of my life. Can this be? But the more I prayed and the more I read, I felt YES, this is exactly what you’re hearing. I started seeking around and other people where feeling the same thing and had already left the church. It was incredible.
Having been in the church for so long, we decided to go back and see how we felt in our spirits. This is now we often are – we ask God and He answers us in His Word, confirms it in our spirits, and through other people, but we still say, are you sure God?
Leaving was such a big deal and it was hard because we had a community of friends. But when we went back, it was like the spirit was pushing us out the door. It was undeniable that we weren’t supposed to be there. We haven’t been back since, that was 2004. It wasn’t to go find another church that is also something else that was very clear. It was to come out of the church system.
It was difficult and I continued to pray, why, is this right? Because I have friends and family in the church. But the message has only grown clearer and stronger over time. The basic message was, that I’m reading from God’s Word, judgment is coming upon the church. And part of that judgment is that the sanctuary, the house of God, will be given over to the enemy. It talks about this in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations and so on and it all connects back to Revelations – it’s incredible. That’s prophecy and that’s what is going to happen, I believe. God is going to call His people out and He will protect them. Those who are really listening to Him will follow Him, His voice wherever He leads. He will be their sanctuary, their Shepherd, and protect, guard and provide for them in every way. This message is what I’ve been seeing happening exactly. You see what the church is starting to and has become. How the enemy is taking over the sanctuary. How people are giving into a big delusion. The church has become the center and not God. People are trusting in the church and man for their provision, protection, comfort, and teaching. Everything is really centered on the church. They can’t pull away from it because they wonder what’s going to happen to them. That kind of dependency means that is where your trust is thus your idol. And all of this is exactly what God’s Word talks about. Our trust should be in God. God can use different things, but who is the source of our trust – our dependency will tell us.
Anyway, God continued to unfold His Word and lay out this plan. It has been hard because being outside the system isn’t where the majority of people are. But the choice really came down not so much leave the church or not, because you can give all these reasons why church can be bad or good, but it was about whose voice was I going to listen to, man’s or God’s?
I hope that my story encourages you to seek God’s truth in this, not anyone else’s like your church’s, but what is God saying to you. What is His will? And give yourself time to really listen to His voice – that still small voice. If we truly seek and we really want to know the truth, then He will open up His Word to us. He will lead and show us His will for us. But we have to be willing to listen. We have to be willing to truly follow Him. It’s my prayer that you would have that seeking heart.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
With a background in psychology, I’m fascinated with why people do what they do including me. I believe seeking understanding of ourselves and others is tremendously valuable because a deeper understanding leads to compassion and true love.
However, this past week God taught me an important lesson — to have a more acute awareness of the conversations, circumstances and people that pull me into a mindset where I’m focusing on the flesh instead of the spirit side of me.
It is a temptation for me to dive into the whys of my life hoping that understanding will spawn a change for the parts of me I don’t like. The first step of change is knowing what needs changing. And to understand what needs changing we need to know the source of the problem. However, what I learned is summed up in Philippians 3:13 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”
In Christ we are a new creation. It is an incredible gift because, we have a new spirit connected to God that breathes new life into our bodies. Romans 8:11 We no longer strive to live by our flesh or self-will (those things which are behind) but by God’s will (those things that are ahead). Children of God desire God and His ways, but there’s a part of us that pops up unwanted and unexpectedly driving us against God’s will instead of along side. This part of us that is contrary to God’s truth and wisdom is referred to as the old man, old nature, carnal nature, flesh, self-will, and carnal mind. Though we have God’s spirit dwelling within us, remnants (sometimes huge chunks) of our carnal nature remain as long as we live in these flesh bodies. Once we are born of God, we get a bad case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, because our self-will co-exists with His will in us.
This duality creates an internal conflict in our souls. It is the pressing affliction of a believer. We want to do one thing but we do another. What I don’t like about myself stems from this flesh-life. Paul talks about this internal conflict in Romans 7 -8. He doesn’t say to try to tame, repair, or fix it. Instead we are to reckon ourselves dead to it and alive in Christ. Romans 6:11 In other words, we need to focus on our spirit that is of God. We need to push forward mentally in our spirit life. What we focus on grows. At any one time we are either focused on the flesh or the spirit. And focusing on the flesh (our will and wisdom) breeds death and focusing on the spirit (God’s will and wisdom) brings life. Romans 8:6
What I learned this past week – was how easily this flesh focus can slip in and I need to have a deeper awareness of those things (conversations, circumstances, and people) that pull me into that carnal mindset. This carnal part of us is corrupt and always will be. It has a focus contrary to God’s ways and wisdom. I don’t need to waste my time talking or thinking about it because I can’t fix, repair or tame it anyway. I’ve learned that it is what it is – so why dwell on it? God has set me free from it – so why live in bondage by focusing on it? He has given me a new life to focus on and seek understanding in.
Because of this duality of flesh and spirit, at any one moment we are either operating in the flesh or in the spirit. Which one is dominating affects everything; how we think, speak, act and feel. When we operate with a flesh mind we are fearful, overwhelmed, frustrated, discouraged, hopeless, depressed, jealous, judgmental, critical, and selfish. Our trust has shifted from God to ourselves. We aren’t living in God’s truth and promises that He is our provider, protector, defender, comfort, rest, freedom, peace, power, and life.
As I draw close to God, discerning when I’m in the flesh verses the spirit is becoming clearer. In the flesh, I feel burdened, frustrated, discouraged. I become self-focused, withdrawn and ineffective in my life. Those emotions are flags that my focus is on the flesh and it is time to pray asking God to pull me out of my mind trap. It can be difficult when I give into the carnal mind to get out of it. When I try on my own I run in circles, but when I cry out to God He always brings me out.
Our focus is to be on the spirit and building it up in our lives which we do by stirring the deep. Stirring the deep (spending one-on-one time building intimacy with God through His Word) nourishes our spirits enabling us to live from the spirit and not the flesh. It empowers our spirit and that is one of many reasons we need to dive into the Word daily. And we have to look out for those traps that ensnare us to focusing on the flesh. We need to be aware of those triggers, times, circumstances or people that tempt us to be in flesh-minded because they can pull us down to a carnal mind of fear, bondage, and pride. We need to flood our minds with God’s truth so that in those moments we have given ourselves a choice through awareness of whose voice we are going to listen to. Ephesians 4: 22-24