Saturday, August 25, 2018

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This blog all began with a Bible study on the expression, "the kingdom of God is like" this.  By putting together all of the similes the Lord used to compare to the kingdom of God, we were able to get a relatively good picture of God's kingdom -- a mosaic of sorts.  Later came other articles of a similar nature that helped to show us what the kingdom of God is like.  I hope these prove useful to you as you grow in your understanding of how things operate in God's kingdom.  If you have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, you need to re-learn how to live, since the way God works is very different from the world.

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, 'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.'"  (Luk 18:16-17)

The Kingdom of God is Like This The Secret Kingdom God's Supernatural Hand in Crisis
The Link Between Two Realms God's Supernatural Provision Using People The Kingdom of God as Revealed to James Agboola
A Time for Everything The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom An Incomparable Inheritance
All of His Works Praise Him Thy Kingdom Come The Day of Small Things
Why is the Body So Divided? A Biblical View of the Poor Paradoxes of the Kingdom of God
God's Way to Greatness Faithful in the Little Things Multiplying Your Talents
Against Entropy Changing the Atmosphere The Power of Two or Three
Dependence in God's Kingdom The Authority of the Believer

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Image credit: "Suffer the Children to Come Unto me" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Authority of the Believer

If we as believers realized the authority that we have in Christ, we would not allow the devil and his demons to do the things they do to us and to others, but would exercise that authority to the fullest extent. So what authority do we have according to God's Word?

Made in God's Image
In the beginning man was made in God's image. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:26-27). This is our fundamental starting point, because God's original design was for man to be in His own image.

Being made in God's image has many aspects to it, including things like the ability to love, to know God, to worship, to reason, to think independently, and to understand. It also includes the aspects of our physical features, as well as our spirit man. It also means that once we are born, we exist forever, since the human soul cannot be destroyed and even after the death of the body the soul continues on its existence in either heaven or hell. But the aspect of being made in God's image that I want to discuss today is that man was given authority on earth. What does that entail?

Authority to Subdue the Earth
First it involves authority to subdue the earth. "God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Gen 1:28). The word "subdue" here comes from the Hebrew word "kabash", which means to tread down, conquer, subjugate, bring into subjection, or subdue. God gave man authority to subdue the earth, which includes everything in it such as the ground, the trees, the plants, and the wildlife. But let's not forget that the wildlife includes the serpent, which represents the devil. This means that God originally gave man authority to subdue the devil and all of his demons.

Authority to Rule Over the Earth
The second aspect that is involved in man receiving from God authority on earth is the express authority to rule over it. God said to them, "...and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Gen 1:28). God gave man authority to rule over every living thing on earth. The Hebrew word for "rule" here and in verse 26 means to have dominion, prevail against, reign, or rule. Once again, this not only applies to every living thing that is seen but every living thing that is unseen as well, including the devil and his demons.

Perhaps you may question whether God originally gave man authority over the devil and his fallen angels before the fall, so that he might subdue them and rule over them. But there are some very good, biblical reasons why I believe Adam and Eve's authority extended even to the unseen spiritual realm of satan and his demons. Let me enumerate them.

1. To be made in the image of God, as the first Adam was, means he was a type of Christ, who is the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45). Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that he had the same level of authority on earth, before his fall, that Christ the second Adam had on earth, which included authority over all demons.

2. The term "image" of God comes from the Hebrew word "tselem" meaning "resemblance or representative figure." It can also mean "idol or physical image," similar to what we would call a statue, except that a statue is an inanimate object and Adam was a living human being. The Greek word used for "image" in the Septuagint is "eikon," meaning "likeness, representation, statue, or image." From this Greek word we get the modern English word "icon." This is the same Greek word the apostle Paul used in reference to Christ in his epistle to the Colossians, in which he wrote, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." (Col 1:15).

The apostle says in Hebrews that Christ is the "exact representation" of God's nature (Heb 1:3), which is what you would expect an icon to be. If you hold a mirror in front of you, you expect to see an exact representation of yourself reflected in it, and so it is with Christ's representation of God. Likewise, since Adam was also made in the image (eikon) of God, we should expect that he accurately represented God in all respects, except for His actual divinity. The Lord is God and God alone, but as one made in his image on earth, Adam possessed that same God-given authority that the Lord walked in. We would not expect anyone who is a representation of God on earth to lack authority over the devil and his demons, because we know God most definitely does have authority over all of them.

3. Adam was "the son of God," according to the genealogy of Christ in Luke 3:38. This doesn't mean he was the son of God in the same sense that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, because Adam was not divine, as I have already stated. Although Jesus was fully God and fully man, Adam was fully man and not God at all. But the term "son of God" with reference to Adam does mean that he was a direct creation of God, and not an offspring of someone else that God created. The term also implies by parallelism or analogy that he walked in the same authority over the devil and his angels.

4. The Lord would not have put man on the earth to subdue it and rule over it, knowing that the serpent was here to tempt man, subdue him, and rule over him as the god of this world. That would have been setting Adam and Eve up to fail, if the authority God had given them to subdue the earth and rule over it had not included authority over the serpent. In fact, the Scripture explicitly names the serpent as one of the wild beasts (Gen 3:1), so there can be no doubt that the serpent was included among "every living thing that moves on the earth," over which God had given man authority.

Therefore, according to Scripture, God gave man authority to rule and reign and to have dominion over the devil and his demons, and every other living thing on earth. His plan was for man to rule over the earth (Gen 1:26), which was the original state of man made in the image of God before the fall.

Image of God Marred
However, the image of God was marred by the fall of man into sin. Up until that time everything that God made was good. He created it and He saw that it was good. That pattern is repeated all throughout the six days of creation (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). In fact, when He finished, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." (Gen 1:31).

After that the only thing that was not good was for man to be alone. Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Gen 2:18). So God put Adam into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs out and closed up his side, then made a woman out of it and Adam called her Eve. They became one flesh together as husband and wife. "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." (Gen 2:25). So obviously that was good, too! It was all good.

They also had something holy, which was the seventh day that God rested on, which God blessed and sanctified (Gen 2:2-3). And they had a command from God, too. The command was not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Aside from the positive commands to be fruitful and multiple, to subdue the earth and rule over it, this was the only negative command God gave them for something they were not allowed to do. They were allowed to eat from any other tree in the garden except for that one.

Then entered satan into the scene. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Indeed, has God said, "You shall not eat from any tree of the garden"?'" (Gen 3:1). The serpent subtly tricked the woman through deception to eat of that one tree that God had commanded her and Adam not to eat from. Once she ate from it and tasted its fruit, she also gave some to her husband and he ate it. This implies that Adam was right there with her when the devil deceived her and she ate it, and it explicitly states that he also ate of the fruit after that when she gave it to him. This is how man fell into sin and the image of God he was made in became marred.

In order to understand the magnitude of what happened at that moment, we have to remember that Adam and Eve were made in God's image and given authority to subdue and rule over the earth. Eve was supposed to have dominion over the serpent, subdue it, and rule over it, but instead she allowed it to subdue her, deceive her, and get the upper hand over her. By allowing him to do that, she sinned against God, and she relinquished her authority to the serpent. Once she did that, then he was able to rule over her as one of his agents to get Adam to do his bidding also. Once Adam ate of the fruit, and committed his first sin, he too allowed satan to subdue him and rule over him. Now the tables were turned and God's original design was twisted. The image of God in man was now marred.

At that point we see Adam and Eve ashamed, covering themselves and hiding from God. This is the point at which they become separated from God, which is one of the terrible consequences of sin. God comes looking for them, questions them, and then pronounces a curse on the serpent and consigns him to crawling on his belly, licking the dust beneath Adam's feet all the days of his life. He says the serpent will still be able to do damage by striking and bruising man's heel, but that man will bruise him on his head. This is also a prophetic allusion to the work of Christ on the cross, bruising the serpent's head. And God said there would be enmity between the serpent's seed and the woman's seed. This, too, was another prophetic word about Christ the woman's seed being at enmity with the devil's seed. There was destined to be warfare between Christ and the devil, as well as between all who are Christ's and all who are the devil's.

God then pronounces a judgment over the woman for listening to the serpent, being deceived by it, and eating the forbidden fruit. He also sentences the man to punishment for listening to his wife. God then makes coverings for them out of animal skins, so they can cover their shameful nakedness, which is a type of Christ. It typifies Christ giving His life just like those animals did whose skin Adam and Eve were covered with, so that He could take away our sin and enable us to cover our shame before God.

But at that point the image of God they were made in was marred. They had to be removed from the Garden of Eden, so that they would not eat of the tree of life any more and live forever in that condition. That was how mankind fell into sin and his authority was first abdicated to the devil.

Now since all men have sinned, the image of God that man was originally made in at the beginning has become disfigured by sin. It's like when you look at yourself in one of those concave or convex mirrors at the amusement park, and you see yourself looking either too fat or too skinny. You no longer look the way you are supposed to look, but you appear very strangely. That's what sin has done to the image of God in fallen man. Now man has a caricature of God's image that is distorted and no longer accurately represents God on the earth. This is satan's plan, since it brings pain to God's heart and goes against His will.

Image of God Restored
When a person repents of his sin and puts his faith in Jesus Christ, because of His finished work at the cross paying the price of sin for us, and rising from the dead, then his sins are forgiven. Then God begins to restore His image in that person. The apostle Paul said, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2Co 3:18). It's a kind of metamorphosis like a caterpillar goes through when it becomes a butterfly. We go from being lowly worms, crawling on our bellies like the caterpillar and the serpent, into beautiful butterflies that float and fly effortlessly through the air far above the serpent and the ground. We who know Christ are being transformed from glory to glory into the same image as Christ.

That means the image of God in us is being restored to it's original condition. That means we also begin to exercise the authority originally given by God to man to subdue the earth and rule over it and every living thing in it, including satan and his minions.

Authority can only be given, it must never be usurped. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to the Lord Jesus Christ. "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" (Mat 28:18)

He has given authority to His disciples over the devil and all disease. "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mar 16:17-18).

As you read through the book of Acts, you can see the acts of the Holy Spirit performed at the hands of the apostles. "The Lord...confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders." (Ac 14:3, NIV). And the Lord continues to do the same thing today through his disciples around the world.

Jesus gave us power and authority over all the demons, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And He sent us out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. (Mat 10:1; Luk 9:1-2). We  have received of the fullness of Christ (Jn 1:19).  We have the authority to do the same works that Jesus did, by doing them in His name (Jn 14:12)

Now we can say with the apostle Paul, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (2Ti 4:18) Now we can say as T.L. Osborne did, "The Man at God’s right hand, Jesus Christ, who loved me and died for me now lives in me." (Gal 2:2). The devil and his demons are eternally defeated, since Christ has triumphed over them through the cross (Col 2:15).  We as believers have overcome them, because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). Jesus has given us authority over all the power of the enemy and nothing will injure us, when we exercise it (Lk 10:19). In all our difficulties, we have complete victory through Him who loved us (Rom 8:37).

Through faith in Christ, all things are possible to us (Mk 9:23). Because we have faith in God, we say to this mountain, "Be taken up and cast into the sea." We do not doubt in our heart, but believe that what we say is going to happen. It will be granted us. All things for which we pray and ask, believing that we have received them, they will be granted us. (Mar 11:22-24). Once you begin to get a hold of this, understand the authority you have in Christ, and begin to obediently exercise it, then I can truly say with the apostle Paul that the God of peace will soon crush satan underneath your feet (Rom 16:20).

Illustrations
There are many examples that I could give to illustrate what it means to have dominion, and I will not attempt to give them all. But a couple will suffice.

One evening when I was in Bible school, I had gone out for a prayer walk in the neighborhood adjacent to our campus all by myself. When I returned and was coming up the walkway to my dormitory, a vicious dog charged at me unexpectedly from in front of me off to my right. I cannot recall what kind of dog, but seem to remember that it was a German shepherd. I had never seen this dog before and it was unknown to me. In an instant he was standing right in front of me barking ferociously, looking up at me with his jaws located right between my legs. I steeled myself from showing any fear that my natural man was inclined to feel at that frightening moment. I said to him in a loud, commanding voice, "I bind you in Jesus' name!" I may have also said, "Go!" but I am not certain about that. At that point, he immediately stopped barking and ran away. That is an example of taking dominion over the wild beasts, and I've done the same thing with other threatening creatures like wasps, whereby I command them in Jesus' name to go.

The other examples would be related to healing, miracles, and casting out demons, which I have experienced firsthand over the past 30 years. One time when I traveled to Bulgaria, I preached at a gypsy church in Kalekovits, Bulgaria.  Fourteen people wanted healing, and the Lord healed many of them. One young lady manifested a demon that made her mute, and received deliverance after about 45 minutes. She was able to speak again! As the demon was coming out, she began coughing and spitting up blood. She later told us that as we were casting it out, she could feel something like a heavy, metal ball in her stomach that began coming up through her throat.

At another church here in the States in New Hampshire, my wife and I ministered to the sick one evening. One lady had suffered from scoliosis since age fourteen. After having her sit down with her legs out in front of her, I checked them and found that her left was longer by one-quarter to one-half inch. I spoke to her right leg and commanded it to grow out, which it did right before our eyes, until the two legs were perfectly even. She was then able to walk around without pain. She later said she felt a gentleness and had a vision of grapes when I prayed for her healing. My wife was led to minister inner healing while laying hands on her chest. She later said she felt a lump come up in her chest as my wife prayed.

All the glory goes to God for what He did for these people. They were healed and delivered by faith in Jesus' name according to Scripture. Without Him we can do nothing. My purpose in sharing these examples is to illustrate what I am teaching, and to emphasize the fact that this is not something that man taught me, but it is something I have experienced firsthand in my life.

Putting it All Together
To summarize, man was originally made in God's image with authority to subdue the earth and rule over it. However, that image became marred by man's fall into sin. That problem remained until Christ came and died for us on the cross, paying the price for sin, and rising from the dead, so that we could have peace with God and be restored to our original state before the fall. That restoration includes all respects of the image of God that Adam was made in.

By putting your faith in Christ, you receive a full restoration to the original condition that God intended for man when he was created in the beginning. That means you are put back into right standing with God and fellowship with Him like they had in the Garden of Eden, when God walked with Adam in the cool of the day. It also means you are transformed from glory to glory into the same image as Christ. Therefore, the same authority that Christ walked in on earth, we also have in His powerful name.

The reason that some disciples are not experiencing that dominion on earth is that they deny the power of God in their lives through doubt and unbelief. But we are not among those who do so. Rather we are those who believe the full gospel and have experienced His power first-hand in our lives personally. We have seen the wonderful results of taking the dominion God has given to us in Christ and exercising it, and it is glorious. That same dominion is available for every true disciple of Christ, and it begins with receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted.  Kingdom Authority image may be subject to copyright, courtesy First Baptist Church Loveland, used per Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading Supernatural Power for All Disciples, Baptized with the Spirit, The Laying on of Hands, The Power of God to Heal, Healing is in the Atonement, Against EntropyDelivered from Voices and Dizziness, Pastor Raised from the Dead, Healed from a Breathing Obstruction, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music, Sin, Satan, and the Submerged Sphere, The Kingdom of Darkness, Holy Fire Baptism, Changing the Atmosphere, The Link Between Two Realms, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Walking by Faith, Against Entropy, Demonology 101, and The Role of Demons. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Dependence in God's Kingdom

Every year, Americans around the world celebrate Independence Day on July Fourth, marking the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. While I am very grateful for America's independence from England and it's crown, I would like to talk about the need for dependence in the kingdom of God and why that is so important.

Someone I love and care about recently said to me that dependence is a problem. This person happens to be a former follower of Christ, who is no longer following or serving the Lord. He no longer wants anything to do with the Church or the Lord. But I think that this false notion that dependence is a problem is a worldly and a demonic one that has crept into the Church, and it threatens to choke the life out of those who believe it.

All throughout the Word of God we see dependence, as well as interdependence, in God's Kingdom. Here are some of the verses that teach us about it:

Dependence on God
Obviously the primary dependence that we all have is on God. He is the One who gives us all life and breath. As the apostle Paul said, "He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else." (Ac 17:25, NIV). Every breath you take, every beat of your heart is a gift from God. Job said, "If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust." (Job 34:14-15, NIV). Isaiah said the Lord gives breath to the people on earth, and life to those who walk on it (Is 42:5). Just think about that! The very breath of God is in your nostrils. So at the most basic level of life, which are your vital signs, you and I depend on God.

No matter what you undertake to do, you depend on God. If He is not doing it, then you are wasting your time. Whatever you seek to do, if the Lord does not undertake on your behalf, then your efforts are all in vain. As the psalmist wrote:

"Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain." (Ps 127:1)

The Lord Jesus Himself told His disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (Jn 15:5, NIV). Apart from Him we can do nothing. That is total and complete dependence on the Lord.

We depend on God for everything, including forgiveness, daily bread, and deliverance from evil, not to mention the salvation of our souls. That's why the Lord told us to ask the Father for these, as He taught us to pray:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one."
(Mt 6:9b-13, NIV)

Interdependence of the Members of the Body
Not only are we dependent on God and His Christ for everything, but the members of the Body of Christ are all interdependent upon each other.

One of the things my friend proudly stated to me recently regarding dependence was, "I do not rely on churches or...assigning myself to some groups." However, the Church is the household of God (1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19), also known as the Body of Christ, which is a worldwide group meeting in local gatherings. Hebrews 10:25 says, "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."

There is one body and each member of Christ's body belongs to all the others. "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Rom 12:4-5). If you cut your finger, arm, leg, or foot off your body, how long do you think that member of your body will survive on its own? All the parts must remain together and connected to the Head, which is Christ. When you cut off a body part, it rots and stinks and perishes, and that is what happens to anyone who becomes disconnected from Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

"Now if the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don’t need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don’t need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Cor 12:15-27, NIV).

Any time a member of Christ's Body says they don't need the Body, they are declaring their independence, thereby separating themselves and creating a division that ought not to be there. We depend on each other in many ways, even for things we may take for granted like prayer and encouragement. Pastors depend on God to provide through the generous tithes and offerings of the members of the Church. Missionaries, evangelists, and others in ministry rely on the generous financial and prayer support of others in the Body of Christ. You cannot get around this dependence, because it is built into the fabric of our lives. That's why our relationships to one another are so important.

Dependence in Nature
We see dependence all throughout the earth in nature. God has created the world in such a way that everything is dependent upon Him for life. Job said, "In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10, NIV). The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Isaiah about His provision of water for the wild animals:

"The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen."
(Is 43:20, NIV)

The psalmist also wrote about the earth's dependence on God:

"You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
    and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
    the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
    and the valleys are mantled with grain;
    they shout for joy and sing."
(Ps 65:9-13, NIV)

It's easy to see. The grass depends on God for the rain and sun, as well as on the nutrients in the soil. The sheep and deer and other animals depend on God for the streams of water, as well as the grass and other plant life to eat. The fish in the sea depend on God for the water they live in to be clean and for the food He provides for them, whether it is plankton or other fish. For there are countless inter-dependencies within the food chain, including marine life. In fact, the entire food chain is a series of inter-dependencies. If any part of the ecosystem becomes out of balance, lacking in some way, then it affects all the other members of the system.

In fact, you can even see the dependencies in our earth's atmosphere. We depend on God for clean air to breath, although man does things that pollute that air. We depend on God for protection from harmful cosmic rays, particles, and objects like meteors, asteroids, coronal mass ejections, ultraviolet rays, magnetic storms, and many other threats to life on this planet. Even the very distance of the earth to the sun is perfect. Otherwise, if we were a little farther from it, the temperature would be too cold, and if we were a little closer to it, the earth would be too hot. Likewise, even the angle of earth's tilt is lovingly provided by God to sustain our life here on this planet. He is gracious and compassionate.

Jesus said: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?" (Mt 6:26-30, NIV).

Dependence Magnified in Time of Need
One thing that really helps to show a person their dependence on God is to be in need. If a person finds himself suddenly unable to breathe, and he feels he is suffocating, that will do wonders to help him realize his dependence. Initially he may receive help from another person, so that he can breathe, but ultimately that help would be useless without God. And it is God who provides the other person to help, since all things are from Him.

Likewise, if a person becomes ill to the point of being unable to take care of himself, he will quickly come to realize that he is completely dependent on others to care for him, and ultimately that means he is dependent on God to provide those people. That applies whether it is the money to pay for professional care in a hospital, nursing home, hospice, or from a home care provider, or whether it is from members of church or family or neighborhood. If he is without any of these in such a situation where he has become an invalid, then he would surely die unless God miraculously sustained him. Therefore, nobody should proudly boast that they don't depend on anyone.

Nevertheless, that is not a reason for us to neglect our own responsibilities to work for a living and to take care of ourselves and our families. It is not a license to intentionally depend on others for a free ride through life, because idleness is not a virtue. For Paul the apostle clearly taught that  "You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (1 Thes 4:11b-12, NIV). Therefore, do your part to the extent that you are able, so that you will not be dependent on anybody, while understanding that we are all interdependent upon each other in the Body of Christ, and there are certain times when we may have to depend on others to help us.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen, dependence is not a problem as some may think. Rather it is embedded into all life, so that we may ultimately realize our dependence on God. He is our Helper, our Provider, our Healer, our Deliverer, and our Savior through His Son Jesus Christ. Our hope and our strength are in Him. Therefore, while man may celebrate his independence, we celebrate our total dependence on God.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zonervan, used by permission. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Power of Two or Three, God's Supernatural Provision Using People, God's Supernatural Hand During CrisisWhy is the Body So Divided?, A Biblical View of the Poor, The Bad News About the Good NewsIs Tithing Required for Christians?Where Should You Give Your Tithe?The Kingdom of God is Like This, Multiplication, as well as other articles found on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

The Power of Two or Three

The Scriptures have much to teach us about the power of two or three believers. Let's examine that in God's Word to see what it says.

All Things Established
Firstly, all things are established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. This was taught in the law by Moses and repeated in the New Testament, and I would like you to keep this point in mind as you read through the remainder of my points in this article.

Moses wrote, "A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed." (Deu 19:15)

Likewise, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "This will be my third visit to you. 'Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'” (2 Co 13:1, NIV). It's interesting to see how Paul even applied that verse from the law to his visits to the Corinthians. He considered his third upcoming visit there to be a confirming one that would establish the matters there that he was writing to them about.

The Holy Trinity
God Himself is one God in three divine Persons, and we see this Trinity all throughout Scripture.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:26-27)

As I wrote in my article, The Holy Trinity, the Hebrew word for "God" here is "Elohim", which is a plural noun. In order for it to be plural, that means it must refer to more than one, even though we know that God is one (Deut 6:1). And even if you don't know any Hebrew, you should be able to easily see in these verses in Genesis 1:26-27 that there is more than one divine Person, since God speaks of Himself in the first person plural. He uses terms like "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." He was certainly speaking of Himself in the plural form.

Another example of the Trinity all in one verse is the words of Jesus before His ascension, when He said, "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luk 24:49). Here we have Jesus speaking about "the Promise," which is the Holy Spirit, and the Father, so the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all in one verse.

Then again He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:7-8). Here we have Jesus speaking of himself when He says "My" witnesses, and of the Father when He says, "times or epochs which the Father has fixed," and of the Holy Spirit when He says, "the Holy Spirit has come upon you."

The last example I will give is from Revelation. John wrote, "John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—" (Rev 1:4-5)

In these opening verses of his apocalyptic book we again see all three Persons of the Holy Trinity. We see the Father as "Him who is and who was and who is to come," and the Holy Spirit as "the seven Spirits (or seven-fold Spirit) who are before His throne," and finally we observe "Jesus Christ" the Son. For more on this topic, please see The Holy Trinity.

So this power of two or three originates with God Himself who is three in One. The members of the Godhead are always in perfect agreement together, and He has existed like this throughout eternal ages past, without beginning. Therefore, the power of two or three is embedded in the very nature of God Himself, and perhaps it even has some connection with His other attributes, such as His omnipotence.

Triune Man
Likewise, man is made in God's image with a spirit, soul, and body. In other words, you are a spirit with a soul in a body, which means you are one person with three parts. The apostle Paul wrote, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Th 5:23)

I am not saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are merely three different parts of God, because they are actually three distinct and divine Persons, not parts. But there is an analogy that can be drawn between the triune nature of God and man.

A Cord of Three Strands
A cord of three strands is not easily broken and two are better than one. Solomon wrote:

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." (Ecc 4:9-12)

This is self-explanatory. There is no question as to the wisdom and truth of this instruction. Two are certainly better than one for multiple reasons. For one thing, they can perform at least twice as much (if not more) work as one person.  Another thing is that one will lift the other one up if he falls. Moreover, two are able to keep each other warm.

I recall that this was an Army survival tactic in cold weather when I was in the infantry, and perhaps it still is. In fact, the Army's "buddy system" uses this same principle to ensure that the two buddies assigned to each other look out for each other in all aspects of training and warfare, not just cold weather survival.

Another reason two are better than one is that they can better defend themselves against an attacker. And finally we see the wisdom of this principle proven in a cord of three strands, which is not as easily broken as a single strand would be. Anyone who is given the choice to climb the face of a cliff using either a cord of three strands or a rope made from a single strand will choose the cord of three strands unless they have a death wish.

Church Discipline by Two or Three
The power of two or three also applies in matters of Church discipline, such as taking two others with you to address a brother who has sinned. Jesus said, "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed." (Mat 18:16)

Agreement of Two or Three 
If two or three agree as touching anything in prayer, it shall be done. Jesus said, "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 18:19). That is an amazing promise the Lord made to us based on the agreement of two or three believers.

Praying alone is wonderful, but you also need to pray with others. You need to have a prayer partner. So if you are a believer married to another believer, then you already have a prayer partner. If not, then ask the Lord to give you a prayer partner. This is also why group prayer meetings that have at least two or three people are even more powerful than when individuals pray alone.

In the old days, after making a significant point while preaching, fiery preachers would sometimes shout, "Can I get a witness!?" Then someone would shout, "Amen, brother!" or "Hallelujah!" When you understand the power of two or three, you will realize when someone says "Amen" (meaning "so be it") to a prayer or to some part of a message being preached, then the two come into agreement in the spirit, which powerfully establishes whatever they have agreed upon.

Two or Three Gathered in Jesus' Name
Wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name, He is there. That means if they are gathered for prayer, worship, fellowship, evangelism, hospitality, or whatever purpose -- as long as it is in Jesus' name, then He has promised to be there. He said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Mt 18:20).

This is one reason why you should be a part of a congregation, because there are no lone rangers in the kingdom of God. I learned this the hard way as a new believer over thirty years ago. As a young infantryman in the US Army stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia in the United States, I had only been saved for about three months before I received a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to Berlin, Germany. I brought my Bible with me to Germany, along with my Christian music recordings, and Christian music videos, but I could not find a solid Christian friend to fellowship with. I also did not agree with something about the way the Protestant chapel conducted services, so I did not attend them. Instead, I tried to walk with Jesus alone, without any fellowship, and this led to me drifting away from the Lord for the first few months I was in Germany. You can read more about that in my article Drifting Away. It was not until I went back to church and repented for my sins that I came back to the Lord six months after being transferred overseas.

That's one reason why the Bible teaches us that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves. The apostle said, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb 10:24-25, NIV). There is power when two or three gather in Jesus' name, and the presence of the Lord is there.

Let me also say to you that this point, combined with my previous point about the power of agreement among two or three believers, is one reason why Life Transformation Groups, as well as small home group meetings and house churches are so effective. It is easier to have two or three or ten or twelve people in agreement that to have three, four, or five hundred people all in perfect agreement. The larger the group, the less likely it is that they will all be in perfect agreement.

Sent Out Two by Two
Jesus sent the Twelve out two-by-two in six pairs to preach that men should repent. "And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;" (Mar 6:7). Likewise, Jesus later sent the Seventy out two-by-two in thirty-five pairs (Lk 10:1). They were instructed to heal those "who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" (Luk 10:9). They went out, and returned afterward rejoicing. "The seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.'" (Luk 10:17). Once again it was the Lord's power demonstrated in pairs of two people who were in agreement in Jesus' name. This was the apostolic pattern followed by Peter and John, as well as Paul and Barnabas, as well as Paul and Silas.

Twelve Witnesses
Jesus chose Twelve to be witnesses of His life, death, and resurrection (Mk 3:14-19; Ac 1:21-22). The fact that He died and rose again from the dead, and all that He taught during His earthly ministry, are established by the testimony of the Twelve.

Three Synoptic Gospels
Consider the fact that there are three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that testify of essentially the same things, plus a fourth gospel by John to overlay a spiritual layer of understanding. The Lord established the gospel not with one witness, but four.

Not Good to Be Alone
It is not good for man to be alone. Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Ge 2:18). This was true of Adam when he was all alone in the world without a companion, and it is true today as well. There are many lonely people in the world, such as widows and widowers. Many of these people are shut-ins and they are all alone. Others may be in the hospital, the nursing home, or even in prison, and while they have people around them, they are lonely. They need a visit from someone who cares.

This Scripture doesn't necessarily mean it is better to be married than single. As I wrote in my article, The Gift of Celibacy, some remain single for the sake of the kingdom; and it's best for them to do so. But that doesn't mean they are supposed to be a "lone ranger" and go through life all alone. While they may not be married, they still need fellowship. And even those in ministry need to have a ministry partner. Sometimes this will be a family member or someone else in Christ that they serve with in ministry as the early apostles did.

Two Become One
The two (man and woman) shall become one flesh. This is repeated many times in Scripture.

"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Gen 2:24, NIV)

Jesus said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Mt 19:5. NIV)

In Mark's gospel, he records that Jesus said, "And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mk 10:8, NIV)

The apostle Paul wrote, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Eph 5:31).

This illustrates how two people can be one in the same way that the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity are One. And since there are two of them, then as long as they come together in Christ, they are a microcosm of the Church. They both have a partner to agree with in prayer anywhere they go in the world.

Jesus Had a Witness
Even Jesus had a witness. He had the Father and the works He did by the power of the Spirit.

He said, "If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form." (Joh 5:31-37).

Jesus identified His two witnesses: 1) "the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me." I believe this implied the Holy Spirit through Whom He did all of His works; and 2) "the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me." So the Father and the works that Jesus did by the Spirit provided the powerful testimony that established all that He did and said, as well as His divine identity.

Two Final Witnesses
Let me also remind you that there will be the two final witnesses who prophesy for three and a half years.

"And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." (Rev 11:3-4; cf. Zech 4:11-14)

These two witnesses operate together in Jesus' name and we can assume based on Scripture that the Father does for them whatever they ask of Him in agreement. If anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouths and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire." (Rev 11:5-6)

Three Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration
We also see the power of two or three in that Jesus took three apostles with Him onto the Mount of Transfiguration. "Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves." (Mat 17:1).

Two Prophets on the Mount of Transfiguration
Then there was the appearance of Moses and Elijah - two witnesses on the mountain with Jesus.

"And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'" (Mat 17:2-5)

That was an amazing experience that was powerfully established by three witnesses from heaven -- God the Father, Moses, and Elijah, as well as three witnesses from earth -- Peter, James, and John.

Witness of the Spirit
We have the testimony (or witness) of the Spirit.

Paul wrote, "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God." (Rom 8:16)

The apostle wrote, "And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying..." (Heb 10:15). After saying this, he quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. This illustrates that the Holy Spirit as the author of Scripture testifies to us as believers through the Word of God.

Satanic Trinity
Even satan has an evil counterfeit trinity, consisting of himself the dragon, the beast (or antichrist), and the false prophet. Apparently satan seeks to play a role corresponding to the Father, while the antichrist attempts to replace Jesus Christ in ruling the world, and the false prophet performs miraculous signs and wonders that counterfeit the works of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle John wrote, "And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names." (Rev 13:1). In this verse we see the dragon or devil and the beast or antichrist.

John continued later in the same chapter, "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon." (Rev 13:11). In this verse we see the false prophet, which together with the devil and the beast comprise the satanic trinity. The devil, too, understands the power of two or three. He knows this power is evident in the Holy Trinity, and is embedded in all life that God has created. He will seek to counterfeit it on earth during the three-and-a-half year Great Tribulation. During that time he will seek to rule the whole world through the beast and the false prophet, but will do so to his own ruin. For the Scripture tells us of his final demise in Revelation 20:10. It says, "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Rev 20:10). Their condemnation is deserved.

Tower of Babel
One last example of using the power of two or three for evil was when the people of Shinar decided to build a tower that would reach to the heavens. God went to see it for Himself and "The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'” (Gen 11:6-7, NIV). Thus the tower was never finished and became known as the Tower of Babel. But it serves as an example of the power of two or three in agreement, because had they continued what they were doing, nothing they planned to do would have been impossible for them.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from Scripture, there is amazing power in two or three in Christ. This applies in many different ways to every area of life, whether to Jesus being in the midst of two or three believers gathering in His name, or the Father doing anything that two or three believers agree about and ask Him for in Jesus' name. It also applies to matters of Church discipline, as well as marriage and ministry. In fact, as we have learned, all things are established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I hope this has helped to build your faith, strengthen and encourage you, and show you another important secret of the kingdom of God. Now go put it into practice for the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB., copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zonervan, used by permission. Photo image copyright Saint George Island United Methodist Church, used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Dependence in God's KingdomThe Holy TrinityLife Transformation Groups, How to Start an LTGThe Gift of CelibacyOutpouring of the Spirit, The Link Between Two RealmsDrifting Away, and Supernatural Power for All Disciples, as well as other articles found on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Changing the Atmosphere

We hear a lot these days about how the earth's atmosphere is changing. We also hear about geoengineering, in which man is intentionally changing the atmosphere. While that can and does occur in the natural realm, it can also occur in the spiritual realm.

Here is another illustration on a smaller scale that we can all relate to. Have you ever walked into a room and discovered that it had an odor you didn't like, and you decided to open some windows to refresh the air? That's just a simple example of one way to change the atmosphere in the natural realm. Likewise, there are times when the spiritual atmosphere needs to be changed, and there is a biblical way to do so, which we will examine together in detail here in this article.

Link Between the Spiritual and Natural Realms
As I explained in my previous article, The Link Between Two Realms, there is a direct connection between the natural and spiritual realms. Things that we do in the natural realm transfer over into the spiritual realm, and things that are happening in the spiritual realm transfer over into the natural realm. For example, if there is an oppressive spirit in a particular place, then it will be reflected in the way people feel. Consequently, their words, actions, and attitudes in that place will be in accordance with that oppressive atmosphere, unless they resist it. Likewise, if the music in a place glorifies satan, like the way rock music does, then there will be a tangible darkness in that place and the actions of the people there will be in accordance with it.

Conversely, if there is a spirit of faith in a given place, then it will lend itself to a tangible openness and a heightened expectation for miracles and healing to happen. I recall that it was this way on the Bible school campus that I attended at Zion Bible Institute in Barrington, Rhode Island. And indeed miracles were rather commonplace there. On the other hand, I have been to other places where there was a spirit of darkness, doubt, and unbelief. In Jesus' own hometown, even He was unable to do many miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them, because they didn't believe in Him. (Mar 6:4-6). In fact, He wondered at their unbelief.

Now let's give some examples from Scripture of changing the atmosphere.

Jesus Changed the Atmosphere
At the synagogue ruler's house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. Let's observe how:

"While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, 'My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.' Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples." (Mat 9:18-19, NIV)

"When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, 'Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.' But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region." (Mat 9:23-26, NIV)

Why did Jesus put the crowd out of the house? It was because they were noisily mourning the girl's death, playing sad and mournful music on the flutes, and the atmosphere was not one in which to raise her from the dead. It was not conducive--in terms of faith--to her being raised up, but a disorderly one that gave way to grief over the girl's death. It was an atmosphere of fear, doubt, and unbelief.

By putting them all out of the house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. That is also why he did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, James, John, and the child's father and mother (Lk 8:51). Then He went in and took the girl by the hand, her spirit returned to her body, and she got up.

Perhaps you think that Jesus raised her from the dead, because He was God. Certainly He was God from His very birth and even before He was conceived in the womb (see Is Jesus God?). The apostle John says that in the beginning He was with God and He was God (Jn 1:1). But the apostle Paul also tells us that Jesus emptied Himself of the glory and power He had with the Father before He came to earth. He said, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Phil 2:6-7, NIV).

This is known in Christian theology as His kenosis or self-emptying. In simple terms we can all understand, it was essentially His humiliation. He reduced Himself to the same level that all other men are at without ceasing to be God. It was like He tied both His hands behind His back in a sense, and had to do things the same way He expected His followers to do them, which is through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. That means that all of the miracles and healing He performed were done by the power of the Holy Spirit, as I wrote in my article, By the Spirit of God Alone. He Himself was baptized in water and with the Holy Spirit, and then declared that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, because He had anointed Him to preach the gospel, bring recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed captives free. (Lk 4:18). Therefore, He was our example in all things, and the way He went about doing things is the way we must go about them, too.

Peter Changed the Atmosphere
Following Christ's example, Peter also changed the atmosphere before raising Dorcas from the dead. All healing and miracles are done by faith, and he first removed all distractions that would interfere with faith, which meant the weeping mourners had to leave the room. Scripture states:

"Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, 'Do not delay in coming to us.' So Peter arose and went with them."

"When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, 'Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord." (Act 9:36-42)

Elisha Changed the Atmosphere
Do you remember how Elisha changed the atmosphere? It was through music.

"Then the king of Israel said, 'Alas! For the LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.' But Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there not a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?' And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, 'Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.' Jehoshaphat said, 'The word of the LORD is with him.' So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him."

"Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, 'What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.' And the king of Israel said to him, 'No, for the LORD has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab.' Elisha said, 'As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you. But now bring me a minstrel.' And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him." (2Ki 3:10-15)

He called for the minstrel to play his instrument, and when the minstrel did so, the hand of the Lord came upon him, so that he was able to prophesy. The music effected a change in the spiritual realm. Something changed in the atmosphere that made it conducive to prophesying. 

David Changed the Atmosphere
Not only did Elisha use music to change the atmosphere, but David did, too.  He did this in the presence of King Saul, who had an evil spirit that made him experience outbursts of anger.

"Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. Saul's servants then said to him, 'Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.' So Saul said to his servants, 'Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.' Then one of the young men said, 'Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.'" (1Sa 16:14-18)

"Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, 'Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.' So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him." (1Sa 16:21-23)

The Scripture says that whenever the evil spirit came to Saul, David would play his harp, and Saul would be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him. The music of his harp produced a change in the spiritual realm that changed the atmosphere such that the evil spirit would not want to remain there. Glory to God!

Praise Changes the Atmosphere
In the same way, praise changes the atmosphere. That can happen when someone is praising the Lord without musical accompaniment (i.e., a Capella), or it can happen when someone sings praises to the music of instruments. The reason is simple: God builds His throne upon the praises of His people. David wrote in the twenty second psalm, "Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel." (Psa 22:3). Therefore, when the praises go up, the glory comes down. He lives within the praises of His people. I encourage you to try it yourself. Praise His name and you will never be the same. The glory of the Lord will fill the place where you are.

When I was in the Army, I came to know Christ, and He set me free from my life of sin. Now I found myself living in a military barracks as a young, single man with other soldiers that were still bound by sin as I had been, yet they had no intention of changing. The rock music, pornographic videos and magazines, cigarettes and alcohol, course joking and foul language, were all around me. The atmosphere during off duty hours was similar to college dorm life in that respect, except with a little more discipline. One thing I did to cope with this dark and ungodly atmosphere was to wear a portable audio-cassette player clipped to my belt that I could carry about as I went about my tasks in the evening. That was before the days of CD players and MP3 players. I wore my light headphones and listened to Christian music that changed the atmosphere for me and made it one that glorified God, so that I was able to bear living in that environment.

My wife Jennifer tells me of what she did on one particular occasion when she was a teenage girl experiencing a sense of darkness about her. At that time she was probably fifteen or sixteen years old. She went into her bedroom and put an album on her record player and the first song that came on was called "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." The vocalist on the album began singing the opening lines that go like this:

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

So she knelt down beside her bed and turned her face upward, turning her eyes upon Jesus. As she did so, the atmosphere in her room changed and she experienced the light of His glory and grace upon her.

On another occasion when she was a young, single adult in graduate school at Regent University, she was in her apartment feeling rather depressed. So she turned on her radio in her bedroom and listened to a two-hour, praise-and-worship radio program. She occasionally prayed, but she mostly just sat and listened to the praise and worship music. At the end of that time, her friend Janice came and knocked at the door to her apartment to get her for work. They both worked for Regent University's Housekeeping Department cleaning apartments there in the village. When Jennifer opened the door, Janice took one look at her face and said something to the effect that, "Wow! What's happened to you? You're glowing!" What happened was that she changed the atmosphere through praise and worship.

Likewise, in our home today, our children change the atmosphere through praise and worship. Sometimes it is when one of them is going about her chores, sweetly singing praises to the Lord. At other times, it happens when they gather around together while one of them plays the guitar, and perhaps another plays the keyboard, while they all join in singing praises to God. It creates a wonderful atmosphere in the house, which I am able to sense even when I am downstairs in my office. Heaven comes down and fills the place.

Paul and Silas Changed the Atmosphere
When Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi, they changed the atmosphere in that place through their prayer and praises. Prisons in those days were not like the prisons we have today, where there are beds, sinks, toilets, heating, and a cafeteria. They were cold, dark, probably dank, and infested with pests such as spiders, centipedes, perhaps lice, and various bugs, as well as mice, rats or bats. First they were beaten with many blows, and then after being thrown into prison, their feet were fastened in the stocks. Here is what happened in that place.

"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened." (Act 16:25-26)

At midnight, they could have been complaining or sleeping, but they didn't yield to their flesh. Instead these two men chose as an act of their will to pray and sing praises to the Lord. Prayer and praise changed the atmosphere, such that it actually caused a sudden great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison. What they did in the natural realm caused something to change in the spirit realm, which in turn affected a change in the natural realm in the form of an earthquake. Not only did the ground shake, but all the doors opened and everyone's chains were unfastened.

Scripture Reading Changes the Atmosphere
There are many other things that can change the atmosphere. One of them is reading Scripture aloud. When you begin to read the Word of God out loud or play back a recording of someone else reading the Bible, such as you can find on various audio Bibles available for free on the internet, you will notice that it changes the atmosphere. Light comes into that place. In fact, even if you read your Bible silently, it changes the atmosphere. When you open up the Bible, it is like a great flood light is shining up at you and as you read, that light will enter your soul. But reading it aloud is the best way to experience the most powerful effect of it.

Proclamations of Faith Change the Atmosphere
Another one is making proclamations out loud like the ones I have written about in my article, Personal Proclamations of Faith. If you begin to activate your faith and declare what you believe out loud, it will change the atmosphere. The demons fear your faith, and they will not want to be around if you keep boldly declaring those things aloud.

Thanksgiving Changes the Atmosphere
Finally, it will change the atmosphere when you begin to just give thanks to God for everything you can think of, such as I have written about in my article, Giving Thanks in Everything. Thanksgiving to God is a type of offering, and while it may be a sacrifice for you to do so, assuming you have your fair share of burdens and cares, it will bring a change in your environment. It will create an atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit feels welcome and God's presence envelopes you. Try it and you will see what I mean.

Putting it All Together
As I have just explained, there are positive ways that we can change the atmosphere we are in, according to the Word of God. They include removing the noisy voices of fear, doubt, and unbelief that are all around you, and entering into prayer, praises, and thanksgiving, as well as faith proclamations and Scripture reading, especially aloud. As you do these things, you will experience the shift in your environment. You'll be blessed because you did so. Something will change in the spirit realm and that will in turn be tangibly felt in that place.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted. Image by First Assembly Roxas Missions, Inc. in the Philippines is used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only. It may be subject to copyright.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading The Link Between Two Realms, Praise the Lord, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Crying out to God Loudly, Giving Thanks in Everything, Songs of the Holy Fire, and The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.