From: Our Daily Journey
As many have sadly experienced firsthand, an all-too-real problem is the failure of Christian communities to really embody Christ’s love. Author Mary DeMuth describes how, in an insidious way, spiritually abusive leaders can even distort the gospel into a “culture of fear and shame.” Such leaders use guilt and fear to manipulate others into compliance with their own rules.
How different from the way the New Testament describes the community of faith. As Paul explains, in the past God’s people did need an emphasis on “laws etched in stone” to motivate obedience (2 Corinthians 3:7). Yet just obeying the rules couldn’t transform their “hardened” hearts (2 Corinthians 3:14). On its own, the law brought condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:6,9).
But because Jesus has carried our guilt and shame and given us new life, we don’t need to be driven by fear or endless rules to change. We’re transformed simply by believing in Him (2 Corinthians 3:14,16). As we “see and reflect” His glory, the Spirit makes us “more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This means that the family of faith must never reject this “new way” and return to fear or legalism. If our fears drive us to manipulate others into compliance with “underhanded methods,” we terribly “distort the word of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2). Instead of drawing others to Him, our attempts at control actually turn them away from His love.
Instead, may we fearlessly let His love and power shine in the “fragile clay jars” of our imperfect lives (2 Corinthians 4:7). May we love others so much we’re willing to suffer for them so that “the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:10).
When the family of faith chooses love over fear, the world will be able to see the truth that, in Him, we can finally be free (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Put God First
Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be— absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God.
Put God’s Will First. “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9).
A person’s obedience is to what he sees to be a need— our Lord’s obedience was to the will of His Father. The rallying cry today is, “We must get to work! The heathen are dying without God. We must go and tell them about Him.” But we must first make sure that God’s “needs” and His will in us personally are being met. Jesus said, “…tarry…until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The purpose of our Christian training is to get us into the right relationship to the “needs” of God and His will. Once God’s “needs” in us have been met, He will open the way for us to accomplish His will, meeting His “needs” elsewhere.
Put God’s Son First. “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5).
God came as a baby, giving and entrusting Himself to me. He expects my personal life to be a “Bethlehem.” Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transformed by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be exhibited in me.
Trusting in the Name Above All Names
Craig von Buseck – Author
“Bed rest,” Dr. Omar declares. “The bleeding is caused by placenta previa — a condition where the placenta is located too close to the uterus’ opening. Unless this is reversed it is likely that you’ll lose this baby.”
You don’t always receive the words of your doctor — sometimes not at all. But they must be considered. Yes, they are often like the taunting from a giant across the field of battle. “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”
But you know who you are. You are part of the army of God — the one true God who created the universe.
How can this uncircumcised Philistine dare to say the things he is saying about your God? When he taunts you, he is coming against the Holy One of Israel — because you are His child, and the apple of His eye.
Yes, you know who you are — but the words must be considered.
While the threats try to fill your mind, other words are ignited in your conscience; familiar words of life that crowd out the words of death.
“He will live and not die, and declare the glory of the Lord.”
“No weapon formed against us shall prosper.”
“If God is for us who can be against us.”
Fight, we will. Yes, we will consider these words, and we will talk back with more powerful oratory — “The Name that is above all names.”
And so, bed rest it is. For while our weapons of warfare are not carnal, we will not put our God to a foolish test. Yes, we trust that God is well able to heal — through the hands of a physician, or any way He chooses.
After two days in bed, the bleeding persists. Three, four, five days and no change. We miss church on the sixth day, and the brethren are asked to pray.
The seventh day comes and still no change. Then the telephone rings. “We have been seeking God for a healing in our own lives,” the brother tells us. “We’ve been reading a book that talks about the bathing prayer.”
“Bathing prayer?” It sounds familiar, but I’m not quite sure what it is.
“The book was written by Francis MacNutt. In the bathing prayer, you play worship music and just pray until you don’t feel like praying anymore.”
Praying through — I remember the concept from church. “Sure, come on over.”
Worship tapes come in the mail every other month from Integrity music. They are soothing and inspiring. They usher you into the presence of God. We decide to play one of those while we bathe the baby in prayer.
The brother and sister come to the door. We live in an upstairs apartment so I go down to greet them. Mother is already in the ‘hot seat’ when we come into the room. That’s was what we call it at cell group — ‘the hot seat’ — the chair in the middle of the room that people sit in when it’s their turn to receive prayer. I turn on the worship tape and we start to exalt the Lord.
No matter what the enemy is yelling across the battlefield, our hope is in God. We will go forth in praise to meet our foe.
The battle is the Lord’s.
In time, the enemy is engaged. We will not receive the report of the evil one. One by one we pray as the Holy Spirit places the words on our hearts. When one is finished the others worship along with the recorded choir, or pray in tongues — allowing the Spirit of God to pray through us in a heavenly language. And then another prays in English, declaring the promises of God over the baby and Mother.
A half an hour goes by. Then forty-five minutes. Suddenly, a great boldness sweeps over me. The Devil will not have this child. Goliath will not feed our bones to the dogs. I begin to prophesy.
“This child will live and not die, and declare the glory of the Lord. For this child will have the spirit of David. He will be bold. He will not shy away from the lion or the bear. He will not allow the words of the giant to go unmet. He will have a warrior spirit within him. The Spirit of the Living God will be upon him and he will do great exploits in His Name.”
“Yes, the Name that is above every other name.”
Twenty more minutes go by, and then things grow quiet. We had prayed through. The tape comes to an end and the room is silent, other than a whispered: “Thank you, Jesus.”
Suddenly the brother speaks. “I don’t normally do this,” he says awkwardly, “but as you were giving the word of the Lord, I felt like God said this baby would be a boy.”
Mother nods her head, smiling. “Yes,” she agrees, “and the Lord said that we were to name him David.”
It is a moment. Each person in the room is confident that we have met God. Tears fill the eyes of the sister and she squeezes both of our hands tightly.
Two more days go by and it is time to visit Doctor Omar again. Would the giant have any more words?
“I don’t know what to say,” he exclaims, smiling and shaking his head. “The placenta is no longer compromised and the bleeding has all but stopped.”
We smile with him and give glory to the Name that is above all names.
David is in third grade now. He should be in second, but he finished Kindergarten in less than half a year, and first grade in the other half. His teacher tells us that he races through his lessons in school and has to wait for everyone else to finish. “If it weren’t for the trouble with his handwriting, I wouldn’t have any difficulty with him at all,” she tells us.
Whose report will we believe? The report of the warrior who says, “The battle is the Lord’s.”