Archives

“It’s Time to Awaken Love!” by Faith Marie Baczko

I recently heard the Lord say the words, “Will you marry Me?” I sensed in my spirit that this was a very weighty and loaded question – a question embedded with the Lord’s desire for absolute surrender for the journey ahead and a new level of consecration to Him. I heard the Lord saying “Consecrate yourselves; times are about to accelerate and the cloud is preparing to move.” (Photo via Pixabay)

Marriage is two becoming one – in body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul – and with Christ it is also a marriage in purpose within the context of  LOVE – love for Him and the world He gave His life for! The last two decades an accelerated work of preparation has been taking place in the Body of Christ to get ready a Bride for union with Christ – a Bride through whom He will complete His purposes and His Father’s will on earth. The Holy Spirit has been growing us up IN LOVE to the fullness of the stature of Christ (see Ephesians 4:13).

Three times in the Song of Solomon we are warned not to “Awaken love until she desires.” In Song of Solomon 3:5 and 8:5 the image is of one of a bride who has been prepared and perfumed in the wilderness coming out leaning on her beloved. The Lord must have a mature Bride who has learned His ways of love! On the journey of sanctification, God, with our willing submission, fashions us and instructs us in our ignorance to His ways for the removal of the arrogance of our ways. On this journey, His ultimate goal is that we are transformed in love to become channels of His agape love.

Love is Attained Within the Context of Unity!

Unity begins within the individual in body, soul, and spirit – hence the need for healing and deliverance. From the person who is whole, it naturally flows corporately in the local family in the form of honor. The natural progression of unity in Christ will then move from the local to our cities and nations, producing the bridal paradigm.

During a powerful praise and worship service, where everyone was caught up in worship, pouring out their love and adoration to the Lord, I heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit say, “I love that you welcome My presence and love Me with such passion! However, I would say to you…will you love the person on your left with such passion? Will you honor and celebrate the person on your right? Will you honor My presence in their lives and celebrate the destiny I have called them to?”

In the Bible, the disciples were together, united in one place and of one accord, when the Father commanded the blessing and the Holy Spirit fell upon them. The Greek word for “one accord” implies a togetherness that was fierce and passionate…and it is in that place God commands the blessing! Jesus gave His life for a Bride, that all – Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female – might become ONE body: THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDE HE WILL RETURN FOR.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing – life forevermore. Psalm 133

Agape Love

The Body of Christ is presently camping out on the borders of the most powerful and historic moves of God to hit Planet Earth since the crossing over of Israel into the Promised Land and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. With understanding of the dynamics of this move we can then begin to have insight into THE CAUSE OF THE DELAY! The central focus of this coming move is the Harvest, and the central component is the agape love of God – for the world!

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

One of the chief intentions of the Holy Spirit in our lives is that in Him we become so saturated in the precious agape love of God that it might then be shed abroad to others THROUGH US, impacting and transforming lives and communities! (Photo via Pixabay)

Ministry, revelations, crowds, gifting and anointing, eschatology, prophecy, and the best of Christian living can become intoxicating and cause us to forget that the One whom we follow laid down His life for His friends…this is love!

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21

AGAPE LOVE is the highest form of love, sublime and transcendent in its attainment, yet fully accessible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

What the World Needs Now is Love! Always Has, Always Will!

Jesus came and gave His life in love – LOVE was the central focus of the Cross! Love still remains the central dynamic in the summing of all things in Christ and it will be poured out through a people who have been prepared in fire to carry it. They are united with Christ in mind and heart and prepared to become a Bride, prepared to reap and care for the Great Harvest of the world in love. God is looking for a people prepared in love…to love!

Why were the disciples told to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father? Having been trained by Jesus for three and a half years…what was still lacking? The Power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s purposes, and the agape love of God through which the power flows. Both power and love are divinely united in the Holy bundle that is THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER. In God’s wisdom, His power must be married to His love!

The disciples were still filled with much prejudice toward Samaritans and Gentiles, and they needed a baptism of love and fire. Baptized in love on the day of Pentecost, these men were transformed and became new men. Their focus shifted from power and competition to releasing the Good News to a Harvest that included all cultures. The great outpouring that we are longing for will be the removal of the log jams of judgment, criticism, cold hearts, religion, pride, self-righteousness, and hatred causing division. The powerful current of the Holy Spirit will allow the river of His love to be released once again to flow to its FULLNESS.

God is looking for a people like the apostle Paul, who will travail in love for His Bride to come forth. As Paul stated, love is the ultimate virtue and without it we are nothing and all our works are in vain! As the Lord once told Jill Austin, “The key to apostolic authority is love. If people want to move in signs and wonders and miracles, if they want to see Heaven breaking in to take whole territories, then they need to discover My heart and My compassion. Then I will give them power to set the captives free and the anointing to see the sick healed and the dead raised.” (Photo via Pixabay)

The Way of Love

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

—1 Corinthians 13:1-7 The Message

The Bride Makes Herself Ready! It’s Time to Awaken Love!

The trumpet is sounding continually, warning us to get ready! Get the house in order! Prepare our hearts! The Bride must make herself ready! It would be wise to now ask the Holy Spirit to rate the condition of our hearts and corporate houses to show us their true condition and the quality of our relationships and fellowship. Ask Him to give us strategies for breaking down areas of offense and cold hearts.

The river of love that was initiated at Pentecost will be completed at Tabernacles, timed with the arising army of the headstone generation – a people who have ascended to the place of union with the Bridegroom – married to Him in mind and heart, willing to lay down their lives in love for the cause of Christ. A new mature man in whom pride has suffered a great blow, the jealousy of Cain is annihilated; competition, comparison and criticism are exchanged with love, friendship, family, and the preferring of one another. Where the agape love of God is unblocked and judgment swept away by the River, and the love of God flows freely, breaking forth from hearts broken by the love of Christ.

As we fix our eyes on Christ, we must do so with arms linked in cords of love; on such an altar, on such a sacrifice, the fire of God will fall! On a people who will pick up their crosses, not afraid to die, who love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and body and also love their neighbor as themselves – the two greatest commandments:

‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

God is looking for a sacrifice that is a sweet savor, a sacrifice of praise in the midst of pain, a sacrifice to choose love and forgiveness instead of anger or revenge; a sacrifice to lift up someone else when you are waiting your turn! It is easy to worship God and to love Him, but God is looking at the motivations of our hearts, for hearts willing to love others. The trumpet is sounding and His call to us is: “Consecrate yourselves, prepare your hearts, and get ready to ride the wave of love.” To the Bride who has willingly allowed the Holy Spirit to prepare her in obedience for such a time, to be made one in body, mind, heart, soul, and purpose, the Bridegroom approaches to ask: (Photo via Pixabay)

“Will you marry Me? It’s time to awaken love!”

Faith Marie Baczko, Executive Director
Headstone Ministries International | Schools of The Last Wine

Email: contact@headstoneministries.com
Website: headstoneministries.com | faithmariebaczko.com

Faith Marie Baczko is the Pastor of Yahweh’s House Fellowship and the President of Headstone Ministries International and Schools of The Last Wine. She brings significant revelation to mobilize, equip, and strengthen the Body for this momentous time of history. Her teachings are rich with revelatory insight released to undergird the work of preparation for the saints to be fashioned into a holy sanctuary for the coming of the Lord. She is a prophetic preacher, encourager, author, and international speaker, ministering the Word of the Lord to the nations. She has held many conferences and seminars in South America and the Caribbean, and her books are all available in Spanish.

To subscribe to The Elijah List go to:
http://elijahlist.com/subscribe

Advertisements

Spiritual Chameleons by Howard McGlamery

Cameleon Spirit
Corinthians 5:17-19
What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! 18 All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.

Here in South Carolina we have a small lizard that is a chameleon. It can change its appearance to blend in with the environment. If it

Definition of a “Spiritual Chameleon” – A spiritual chameleon is a person who pretends to be something they are not. A spiritual chameleon changes their color to present the image of what they think you want to see. You will find them in any church, ministry, or singles group.

At some point, we all want to present an image of being something we aren’t – more wise – more understanding – more spiritual. We try to hide our pride and rebellion.

True Colors
When Christians use the colors of a relationship with Christ as a tool to manipulate other believers, the church ceases to be a haven from the world.

In order for a Christian to maintain effectiveness in the world, we must maintain integrity in our relationship with Christ and with others.

Tonight I want to talk about some of the different types of Spiritual Chameleons and about how to strengthen integrity in a relationship. My main emphasis however will be on the last type of Chameleon, the Romantic Chameleon, because that is the most dangerous and destructive to Singles.

1. The Fellowship Chameleon

This person steals from people their time, their prayer life, and their dedication in the guise of Christian friendship. – They have little or no true desire for a deeper spiritual relationship. They like being around Christians because we are open and accepting.

Illustration – A good friend of mine took a job at a car wash owned by a “good” Christian. He would put scripture verses and sayings on his marquee. On the job he would swear like a sailor and treat his employees like slaves. He would manipulate their time cards to cheat them out of any wages he could. – BUT – When the preacher came by it was “Praise the Lord”. He would turn on the piety. He would hide his true colors.

2. The Leadership Chameleon

This person likes being in the forefront. They care more about being a leader than they do about people. They often try to impress people with their gifts or abilities.

This might be the Pastor, the televangelist, the Singles leader, etc. – Who uses and manipulates people for the purpose of building something. He dislikes being under anyone’s authority. – He is the authority and you better not challenge him.

Illustration – Leader who stands up and tells his people, “God has opened the door for us to purchase this piece of property for only $XXX and at only 7% interest. We must purchase this. Six months later he comes back and tells his people, “It is a sin to pay this interest. It’s God’s will to pay it off. Sell your TV’s and your jewelry and give the money to the Lord.” He keeps his jewelry

Overcoming Demons in the New Testament by James Goll

James Goll
Summary of Jesus Dealing With Demons

  1. Characteristics of Demons in the New Testament:
    1. They have the 3 basic elements of personality
      1. Knowledge – Mark 2:24 “I know who You are.”
      2. Will – Matt. 12:44 “I will return to my house from which I came.”(Compare Satan’s rebellious self-will in Isa. 14:13, 14: “I will” 5 times.)
      3. Feelings, emotions. They shriek in terror (Mark 5:7, 1:26; Mark 9:26). They tremble (James 2:19).
    2. They prefer to inhabit human bodies than wander without a body (Luke 11:24) They would prefer the body of an animal to being without a body, but their preference is human beings (Matt. 8:31).
      Note: These are to be distinguished from fallen angels who do not seek to inhabit human flesh, but are content with their own bodies (1 Cor. 15:40).
    3. They have assigned territories. They call the bodies they inhabit ‘my house.’ (Matt. 12:44; Luke 11:24) They prefer to stay in the country they currently reside in than to be banished (Mark 5:10). Compare the designation of spiritual princes in Dan. 10:13, so where they are assigned to certain kingdoms.
    4. They are ranked according to levels of wickedness. “He takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself.” (Matt. 12:45; Luke 11:24)
    5. They are commonly named by the way they defile, afflict, tempt or torment not by names of people Biblically. Jesus used the common designation of foul or ‘unclean spirits’ (Matt. 10:1; 12:43; Mark 1:23, 26; 3:30; 5:2; 7:25; 9:25; Luke 11:24). This term was used for demonic spirits in general, covering everything from a ‘legion’ of demons (Mark 5:2, 8), to spirits causing sickness (Luke 9:42), to spirits of war (Rev. 16:13,14).

      Other names were, dumb spirit (Mark 9:17), deaf and dumb spirit (Mark 9:25), spirit of infirmity (Luke 13:11). Paul the apostle spoke of a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16), a spirit of bondage (Rom. 8:15), the spirit of the world (1 Cor. 2:12), seducing or deceitful spirits (1 Tim. 4:1), a spirit of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). John spoke of ‘the spirit of antichrist’ (1 John 4:3).

    6. “One of the key marks of demonic activity is restlessness’. Matt. 12:43 – reveals the demons going about seeking rest.
    7. They are stubborn at times and must be overcome with proper preparation and steadfastness (Mark 5:8; 9:26-29).
  1. How Jesus Expelled Demons
    Notice the variety of methods employed to expel the demons:

    1. Command of faith – Mark 1:25; 9:25.
    2. Laying on of hands – Luke 4:40-41
    3. Anointing with oil – Mark 6:12-13.
    4. The presence of Jesus caused them to manifest – Mark 5:6, 9:20
    5. Believing the word of Jesus – Matt. 15:28; Mark 7:29; 2 Cor. 4:13
    6. Prayer and fasting – Matt. 17:21
      Note: Jesus’ ministry was birthed in prayer and fasting. Matt. 4:1-2. He expected His followers to do it regularly – Matt. 6:5, 17; 9:15.

The Victory of the Cross

What put the finishing touch on overcoming Satan and his legions, was not the liberation of individuals alone from demons, but the destruction of the very base of satanic rule. Lucifer’s base had been established through pride, rebellion, disobedience, deceit, darkness and destruction. Now he was contending with the King of Glory walking as a man (Phil. 2:8), humble (Phil. 2:7), in submission to the Father (John 5:19, 30), and natural authority (Luke 2:51), in every point obedient (Heb. 4:15), full of exposing truth (John 8:45-47), shining brightly as the light of the world (John 1:4-5, 9; 8:12), not destroying but saving, healing, and restoring lives (Acts10:38; Luke 9:56).

His sidetracks in the wilderness were seen and overcome with the word of God (Matt. 4:4, 7-10). Finally, the time had come. Jesus speaking of that hour said to His disciples on His final night with them, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John notes, “This He said signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:31–35). He said, “This is your hour and the power of darkness,” to the hostile mob come to arrest him (Luke 22:53). To His disciples at the Last Supper He revealed in John 14:30 – “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”

He voluntarily yielded to the hands of sinful men inspired by Satan and his demons to bring suffering and mockery to the Holy Son of God (John 10:17-18, Mark 14:65; 15:16-32). What the prince of darkness and his hosts failed to discern was that for every drop of blood they caused to drop from the Savior’s veins, untold thousands were being released from the domination of this proud, twisted creature (1 Cor. 2:8; Heb. 2:14-15; Col. 1:13-14).

This is the altar of sacrifice where he destroyed the works of the devil. The sin and sickness, the suffering and torment, the rejection and shame, the poverty and abandonment were all taken by the Son of Man on that tree where in exchange the human seed, before bound to the strong man, were now freed to receive by faith all that belonged to the eternal Son of God (Isa. 53:3-6; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 2:9).

When He cried on Calvary’s cross, “It is finished” and surrendered His spirit, it was more than the completion of His life on earth (John 19:30). It was the completion of the old regime. Darkness had lost. Light had prevailed. Heaven’s veil was rent in two. God and man could again enjoy Paradise. The guard to the tree of life was now able to admit all that repented and believed (Rev. 22:14).

Jesus was risen exalted and glorified (Acts 2:32 – 35), installed at the Father’s right hand (Psa. 2:6; 110:1-2), constantly pleading our case as Advocate (Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1), secure as God’s Son waiting until all the remaining rebels are brought into subjection (1 Cor. 15:20 –28), as a result of the reverberation of His triumphal death and resurrection resounding throughout the heavens and earth through the Church (Eph. 3:10).

In appearing to His disciples after His resurrection, He says, “All power, authority is given to me in heaven and earth. Go therefore …..” (Matt. 28: 18-19). No longer does it belong to Satan. The Worthy One regained the earth from the prince of the world system. And He sent His disciples into the world as the ambassadors of heaven to proclaim and reveal His Lordship (Mark 16:15; 2 Cor. 5:20). The first thing He said would happen as a sign of those who believed and went proclaiming was that they would cast out demons in His name (Mark 16: 15- 17). O, the victory of the Cross!

The Overcoming Early Church

  1. Jerusalem Community: Acts 2:42-47; 4:32 – 37
    With the birth of the Church at Pentecost, such a tidal wave of grace and power flowed out from Jerusalem that for the first four chapters there is released a taste of millennial life. Harmony and healings, charisma and community enabled the multitude to quickly take root and bear fruit.
  2. Ananias and Sapphira: Acts 5:1-10
    The first direct mention of Satan’s activity came with Ananias and Sapphire seeking to lie about how much they were giving to the community. They wanted to appear as giving all while keeping back some for themselves. That deception Peter said was due to Satan filling their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit. It’s a reminder that ground gained in a time of great grace must be vigilantly kept in watchfulness during dryer seasons. Ananias and Sapphira appeared to be members of the community in good standing, yet they allowed Satan to enter and fill their hearts. Once we’re free and experiencing grace is no guarantee the enemy won’t seek a new hold. Because of the dangerous potential that hypocrisy and lying could have put in the foundational stage of the church, the Lord severely judged these two with death. There is a principle that must be remembered – the greater the light, the greater the accountability.
  3. Satanic Backlash: Acts 5:11-42
    The resulting fear of the Lord caused new purity and intensity in the evangelistic outreach of the Church. The result was the reenactment of the works of Jesus, even greater works. As the shadow of Peter touched the sick and those afflicted by demons, they were being healed! Once Satan and the demons were directly dealt with, new and intensified persecution arose. Whereas before they were given a verbal reprimand, now the apostles were beaten.
  4. Stephen and Philip: Acts 7:51-8:8
    When Stephen exposed the hypocrisy of the present religious system, he was martyred and thus began a great persecution. But as they went, scattered abroad, the burning proclamation of Jesus was scattered like embers on dry grass. Their fire spread. As Philip proclaimed Christ in Samaria, many who had unclean spirits had them come screaming out and got healed. Afterwards there was much joy in that city. This story reveals one of the strongest weapons against the demons. The simple anointed proclamation of Christ.
  5. The Slave Girl at Philippi: Acts 16:16-21
    1. The slave girl had a spirit by which she predicted the future and she also was a fortune teller (Acts 16:16).
    2. This demonized girl was exploited for financial gain. This is just what the demons wanted (Acts 16:16).
    3. Paul and his party were known in the demonic world (Acts 19:15). The evil spirit followed Paul and his party for many days shouting “These men are servants of the most high God …” (16:17). This was:
      1. A demonic ‘word of knowledge’.
      2. False flattery and false advertising for the missionary team.
      3. A constant distractive and harassing thing for Paul and his party (spiritual warfare).
    4. It seems as if it took Paul a number of days to come to terms with this spirit. Finally, Paul became so troubled that he commanded the demon to come out of her in the Name of Jesus (the authority), and the spirit left her at that moment (16:18).
    5. Persecution of the team was the immediate results (16:19 – 23). This shows how the spiritual powers had a hold on the Philippian society and commerce. When the kingdom of God broke this stronghold, a violent reaction followed.
    6. However, the slave girl was free. Surely her emotional and social life became far healthier!
  6. The Ephesian Revival: Acts 19:1-20
    After the initial growth of the Ephesian church from Acts 19:1-10, a special grace was released through Paul. The anointing of the Holy Spirit was manifest through cloths that had touched his body with the result that diseases and demons left the sick (Acts 19:11-12). A particular way that demons are forced to leave is through a point of contact whereby the power of the Holy Spirit flows through that channel. These cloths are one example. Another is when the disciples cast out demons and healed the sick with anointing oil (Mark 6: 12). Another is where Jesus laid hands on the sick and the demons came crying out (Luke 4:40-41). All of these are physical points of contact where the Holy Spirit dealt with the demons.

    With the failure of the Jewish exorcists to get rid of the demons, in contrast to Paul’s success, many began to flock to Christ. They radically turned to the Lord by confessing their sins publicly and making a total and public break with the occult and idolatry, by burning their expensive manuals. As could be expected, with Satan again publicly shamed and humiliated he again stirred up public persecution. It goes with the territory (Acts 19:13-41).

  7. Demonstrating Jesus’ Rule in Acts:
    Thus, throughout Acts whenever Christ was proclaimed and His death, burial and resurrection portrayed, the Christians moved out in power and triumph over the demons. Peter, Philip and Paul clearly demonstrate that with Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Spirit, the demons retreat whenever they encounter disciples submitted to the rulership of Jesus forcing them to leave with their prayers, proclamations, commands and lives surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

    They cast out demons in Jesus’ name (Acts 16:18). The picture of a local magistrate enforcing the Roman Empire through the name of Caesar provides a backdrop for understanding the concept of ‘in Jesus’ Name.” Just as that magistrate had behind him all of the imperial armies and legions of Rome, when one disciple, under the authority of the Lord Jesus, says, ‘Come out, in Jesus’ name,’ he has behind him untold legions of angels, not to mention the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to enforce that word. Thus, bonds were broken, captives were freed, and whole new power equations had to emerge in the heavenlies as these spiritual warriors went forth in the name of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.

  8. Spiritual Warfare in the Epistles:
    There has been some question why there is not more discussion of casting out demons in the epistles. It’s important to remember that the epistles were written to growing Christians. The early church norm was to get rid of the demons at the time of conversion and baptism. After that is was not a question of getting the demons out but keeping them out by holy living, prayer, obedience and good deeds. The best defense is a good offense.

    So in this section we will consider the defense and offensive postures the apostles taught. Secondly, we will consider warnings they gave regarding evil spirits.

    1. The Wrestling Match
      Paul taught that we are in war now! He pictures a wrestling match with ‘persons without bodies’ (Eph. 6:12 LB).
    2. Against Princes and Their Territories:
      A principality is the area over which a prince rules. A principality is simply whatever territory that a particular Satanic prince is assigned to rule over. Even today, there are geographic principalities such as Monaco in the French Riviera.
      However, in the spiritual a principality is not necessarily limited to geographic boundaries. A principality (sphere of rule) can be as small as a human or as vast as a large kingdom, with many subordinates operating underneath the Satanic prince assigned.
    3. Against Powers (literal authorities)
      This refers to the realms of authority that the rulers operate in. For instance the realm of authority of the prince of Persia in Dan. 10:13 was the kingdom of Persia.
      Another way to look at this is the realms these spirits have a legal right to work in. If the Christians are being submissive to the earthly rulers representing their heavenly counterparts, the evil spirits don’t have a legal right to touch them. But if they disobey, the spirits can then legally come against the Christians. Thus we find James, Peter and Paul exhorting to first be submissive to God and authority (Eph. 5:22-24; 6:1,5,10; 1 Peter 2:11-15, 4:12, 5:9), before we wage warfare against the evil spirits. Why should the rebel Satan submit to me if I’m in rebellion? Even in speaking of higher angelic majesties, the Christians were warned not to rail but be respectful (2 Peter 2:10-11; Jude 9-10).

      It’s important to remember that even when the apostles disobeyed the earthly authorities it was in a submissive spirit. Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, forbidden to preach the gospel (Acts. 5:29-42). They rightly said, “We must obey God rather than men’ when God’s law dictated. But they submissively received the punishment they underwent for that decision.

      From firsthand experience Peter gives us insight in his first epistle. He commands submission whenever you touch human authority, government, employment (1 Peter 2: 14-18), family (1 Peter 3:1-7), church (1 Peter 5:1-6), but he also releases insight to what is happening behind the scenes.

      He contrasts suffering for disobedience with suffering for obedience (1 Peter 2:19-20). Even when obeying and submitting to earthly authorities, the spirits will stir them up to opposition causing us to suffer. At that point, we’re following Jesus (1 Peter 2:21 – 23). For every blow, act of mistreatment, drop of blood they caused to spill, they were destroying their own kingdom. In such times the Spirit of Glory and of God rests upon us (1 Peter 4:14). He releases new angels to come and assist us in the battle and the powers of darkness lose again (Matt. 4:11; Luke 22:43-44). Suffering submissively is a powerful weapon in taking ground from the enemy’s camp.

      But on the other hand, if we walk in rebellion and disobedience to earthly authority, we give an open door to the kingdom of darkness, to bring judgment against us and bring suffering (Rom. 13:2). Thus Peter’s admonition, ‘For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:1)

      Thus, it is as we submit to God, that we then can resist the devil and he will flee from us. One can think he’s getting somewhere by casting a few minor demons out in Jesus’ name while he or she is living a life of lawlessness and rebellion, but Jesus warned, “Many would come to me on that day saying ‘…didn’t we cast out demons in your name?’ And He will say to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matt. 7:21-23) It is as we submit to Him in the intimacy and love of the Bride of Christ that He causes us to become the victorious army. Paul pictured the Bride of Christ followed by the warfare of the army (Eph. 5:22-33; Eph. 6:10-18).

      This illustrates the importance of recognizing the earthly counterpart to the satanic princely realm. We saw earlier that behind the human prince of Tyre in Ezek. 28:2 was the angelic king of Tyre in v. 12. This explains why in several places the phrase ‘principalities and powers’ refers to the earthly rulers (Tit. 3:1; Rom. 13:1), whereas in other places it refers to the Satanic forces behind those earthly powers (Eph. 6:12; 1 Cor. 2:6-8). We are to be submissive to the earthly rulers but are to resist their counterparts in the heavenlies. Our kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

      Paul also spoke of Jesus delivering us from the ‘authority of darkness’ (Col. 1:13). Demons have legal right to operate in the realm of darkness. But when a person comes to the light, exposes his darkness, and continues to walk in the light, the demons lose their authority. The Satanic locusts in Revelation have a limited realm of authority for five months. There are set times and bounds in which they can afflict (Rev. 9:3-11). Always remember, that only God is omnipotent.

    4. Against the World – Rulers of the Darkness of this Age
      World rulers mean those who dominated by force and strength in this world system, behind the scenes during this current age. This is a picture of Satan’s ‘SS’, the spiritual ‘Gestapo’, controlling the other demons and angels with fear, torture and force, the heinous henchmen of our adversary (Eph. 6:12).
    5. Against the Spiritual Hosts of Evil in the Heavenlies
      This is a picture of the countless thousands of foot soldiers that are under the control of Satan, his fallen angelic princes and his world dominators. This is a picture of the many demons and lower angels assigned to individuals, families, neighborhoods and cities in the satanic hierarchy (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-6).
  9. The Spiritual War
    Paul explained to the Corinthians that we don’t war according to the flesh. We’re not to fight with fists and guns, but with spiritual weapons. Once the demons are out of a person, the main realm of warfare will be the mind. Old ways of thinking that have become strongholds, reasonings that seem logical but are rooted in pride and self, every high thing exalting itself over knowing God. Thus we are to take every thought captive.

    Capture them on the way in as a guard would examine someone coming into a walled city. Find out their place of origin – do they acknowledge Jesus, are they sent to glorify God, are they according to Scripture, do they promote self or Christ, do they further Christ’s kingdom or hinder. If they’re sent from the enemy, bring them to Jesus for Him to deal with.

    Paul closes with this statement, “And we’re ready to punish all disobedience whenever your obedience is complete.” Many believers are living in compromised lived in both kingdoms now so that if punishment were exercises on the spirits in the way Paul spoke of, they would come under serious judgment. This time is soon to come. It behooves each of us to fully walk in the light and make no provision for the flesh and darkness (Rom. 13:11-14).

How to Stay Free

The offensive way to stay free of Satan’s snares was to practice forgiveness regularly (2 Cor. 2:6-11; Col. 3:13), walk in humility as a servant (1 Pet. 5:5-9), overcome evil by doing good (Rom. 12:21), focus your thoughts on the things of God and Christ, on the things that are holy and edifying (Col. 3:1-2; Phil. 4:8-9), and live an obedient life (Tit. 3:1-3; Rom. 13:1-2).

Consistent praise, prayer, rejoicing and thankfulness enable the faith shield to be steady (Phil. 4:4-7; 1 Thess. 5:16-18; Heb. 13:15;). The armor of God – the girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, shoes of the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:13-18) – has been consistently shown to protect your front side, but not your back. We are never to run from the enemy. He pictures two weapons there – the spoken word of God in combat with personal attacks and the “weapon of all- prayer” as Wesley called it. This enables us to go on the offensive all over the world led by our guide, the Holy Spirit. Paul also spoke of the armor of light (Rom. 13:12). Simply walking in the open light with Christ and the Body of Christ is one of the greatest defenses against demon activity (1 John 1:7).

Warnings on Continued Watchfulness

That the enemy could regain ground if due vigilance was not exercised is repeated throughout the New Testament by Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus warned of the unclean spirit returning to his former house and finding it neat but empty, then reentering with seven others more wicked than himself — a clear warning not only to get demons out but to have them replaced with the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the virtues of Jesus (Matt. 12:43-45).

Paul spoke of the Galatians being bewitched by legalism (Gal. 3:1). Regarding this he spoke to the Romans of a spirit of bondage leading to fear again (Rom. 8:15) and of being in bondage to the elemental spirits of the world to the Galatians and Colossians (Gal. 4:3; Col. 2:20 RSV), these legalistic spirits resulted in the fruit of sinful patterns reemerging (Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:5-9).

Again he warned of deceitful, seducing spirits coming with doctrines of demons to accuse believers to depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-3). He also warned the Corinthians against receiving a different spirit or a different Jesus than they had originally received (2 Cor. 11:2-4, 19-20). James spoke of believers having bitter envy and self-seeking in their hearts. He said this wisdom was demonic in its source (Jam. 3:14-15).

John spoke of the spirit of antichrist that would try to lead them away from Christ (1 John 2:18-24; 4:1-3).

Each of these illustrate the fact that beginning is not enough. We must, as Peter said in 1 Peter 5:8 – ‘Be sober, be watchful, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’

In short, demons have authority to operate in the realm of darkness. Once delivered of demons, if Christians go back to walking in the darkness of sinful patterns, they open themselves again to demons having legal access to their lives.

The call of the Apostles was ‘stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage’ (Gal. 5:1). Once a person is set free, he is to stay free by putting into practice the life of the Son of God.

The letters then, in a very practical way, teach us how to occupy the land we have taken from Satan through our Lord Jesus and see it bear fruit for God. Each of us then becomes a soldier in His army, participating in His Love and bringing many others from the ‘authority of darkness to the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son’ (Col. 1:13).

The Power of the Lamb: Overcoming in Revelation

  1. The Lamb’s Victory over Satan
    We come to the end of Scripture with one of the strongest and most encouraging pictures of victory in the entire Bible: the Lamb’s final victory over Satan. Regarding demons in Revelation we can see several key areas that continue to be emphasized in the early church understanding of demons.

    1. Demons were worshipped in the guise of idols – Rev. 9:20.
    2. Pagan religions were manifestations of Satan – Rev. 2:13.
    3. False teachings were inspired by Satan – Rev. 2:24.
    4. The Devil motivated the persecution and martyrdom of the Christians – Rev. 2:10.
    5. Satan was the ruler behind the scenes for the antichrist – Rev. 13:1-14; 19:19.
    6. Demons were released to torment men – Rev. 9:2-11.
    7. Demons were behind war – Rev. 16:13-14.
      Demons had filled the religious and political system called Babylon- Rev. 18:2. A type of the World System organized independent of God with Satan at its head.
  2. The Power of the Blood
    What caused Satan, the fallen angels and the demons to be overcome is found in Rev. 12:11 ‘And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.’ It is first all the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sins in his atoning death of Calvary. This is the blood that speaks better things than the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:24). It cries for mercy for us, not judgment. It is by His blood that we have been redeemed from Satan (Eph. 1:7; Psa. 106:10). It is by His blood that our sins have been for-given, thereby removing Satan’s base of accusation (Eph. 1:7; Col. 2:13)

    It is by His blood that we have been justified (Rom. 5:9; 14), as Derek Prince says, ‘Made ‘just as-if-I’d-never sinned.’” It is by His blood that we have been sanctified, made holy, set apart to God (Heb. 13:12). It is by His blood that heaven has been opened, the very throne of the Father, for us to come and have intimate fellowship with Him (Heb. 9:22-24; 10: 19-22).

  3. The Word of Testimony
    Secondly, it is the word of our testimony. The word for witness is ‘martyros’ in Greek, from which we get the word, martyr. It implied being one who will testify of Christ, His Word, His Blood, even if it cost him his life. The example in Revelation was Antipas known as, ‘My faithful martyr’ (Rev. 2:13). John the Baptist was such a witness (Mark 6:14-29). Stephen was such a witness (Acts 7:54-60). All of the apostles were such witnesses (John 21: 18-19; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). Paul spoke of the word of God as the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). It is when the believer courageously speaks his faith that the powers of darkness are pushed back.
  4. Not Loving Our Lives unto Death
    Thirdly, it is not loving our lives, even unto death. Closely linked with the first two points, we find a most necessary prerequisite in spiritual soldiers – the willingness to die. When Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit, He said, ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses.’ (martyr-witness, witnesses unto death – Acts 1:8). The power to be a witness living the life of a martyr-witness enable the early church to so quickly expand and de-throne the demonic strongholds (Acts 8:1-8). The writer of Hebrews had spoken of Jesus releasing those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14-15). Once a man considers himself dead with Christ, he is truly free. Paul said, ‘I die daily’ (1 Cor. 15:31). He said he didn’t count his life as dear to himself (Acts 20:24). This is the way of the Lamb lived out in His church.

    It is especially the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus that precipitated the destruction of Babylon (Rev. 17:6, 24). From this we see that the blood of the Lamb that speaks in heaven also flows through His Body on the earth.
    When a martyr is slain, it is Jesus’ blood that is flowing afresh. The judgments of God are loosed against the demons whenever they cause a saint to die. God’s weapons are the disciples fully yielded to the Holy Spirit, with no other agenda than doing the will of Jesus.

Conclustion
In conclusion, we find this is a book in the making that already has an ending. Satan has been judged (John 16:11). His ending is the lake of fire along with all his legions (Rev. 20:10, 14-15; Matt. 25:40-41). The submissive bride becomes part of the victorious Army to return ultimately with the Lamb/Lion of God, where He sets up His never-ending Kingdom Glory be to God and to the Lamb forever.

Blessings!
James W. Goll

Consecrated, Contemplative Prayer – The Fasted Life by James W. Goll

The Origins of Fasting

A. From the Old Testament

1. The Life of Moses
The first mention of the discipline of fasting in Scripture is the 40-day fast of Moses when God met with him on Sinai (see Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9). There he received directions about building the tabernacle and the Ten Commandments. Moses did a second 40-day fast (see Deuteronomy 9:18) during the time the tablets of stone were replaced.

2. Historical Development
The verb “fasting” comes from the Hebrew term tsum, which refers to self-denial. The noun, tsum, means voluntary abstinence from food. Most scholars believe fasting began as a loss of appetite during times of great distress and pressure.

a. Hannah – She was greatly distressed due to her barrenness and “wept and did not eat” (I Samuel 1:7).
b. King Ahab – When he failed to purchase Naboth’s vineyard he “would eat no food” (I Kings 21:4).
c. David – David used fasting to express his grief at Abner’s death (see II Samuel 3:35).

3. Day of Atonement – The Required Fast
The only required yearly fast was on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest would offer acts of sacrifice for the sins of the people (see Leviticus 16:11,15,21,29). Leviticus 16:29 states, “This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls, and not do any work…” The people fasted for self-examination and to demonstrate remorse.

Sackcloth and ashes4. Expression of Grief and Desperation
Fasting became a natural expression of human grief and a custom to fend off the anger of God. Eventually, fasting became a way for making one’s petition effective to God. (Photo courtesy: Marc Israel Sellem)

When fasting became a national call, it was used to seek divine favor, protection, or to circumvent the historical judgment of God. Therefore, it became a normal practice for a group of people to combine confession of sin, sorrow, and intercession with fasting.

B. From the New Testament

1. By the Pharisees
It is believed that the Pharisees fasted Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11,12).

2. By Disciples of John the Baptist
John the Baptist was a Nazarite from birth (see Numbers 6:2-8; Luke 1:15-17) who came in the spirit of Elijah. A Nazarite was “a person of the vow.” Fasting was a part of his lifestyle. Therefore, His disciples followed in His example of sacrificial living (see Matthew 9:14-15).

3. By Jesus Christ
Jesus began His public ministry with an extended fast. He also observed the Jewish yearly fast on the Day of Atonement as part of His heritage. But Jesus gave little specific recorded guidelines to His disciplines concerning fasting. He taught that their fasting should be different from that of the Pharisees in order to be seen by God and not to impress men (see Matthew 6:16-18).

4. The Early Church
The Early Church practiced fasting, especially when ordaining elders or setting people apart to a special task or ministry (see Acts 13:2). Fasting was also practiced by Paul and other Christian leaders regularly (see I Corinthians 7:5; II Corinthians 6:5).

C. Accounts from Church History

1. Epiphanius – Bishop of Salamis born in 315 A.D.
Early in Church history, Christians began fasting twice a week, choosing Wednesdays and Fridays to prevent being confused with Pharisees, who fasted Tuesdays and Thursdays. Epiphanius stated, “Who does not know that the fast of the fourth and sixth days of the week are observed by Christians throughout the world?”

2. In Preparation of Special “Holy Days”
The practice of fasting for several days before Easter to prepare spiritually for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection was also practiced. Later, this was turned into a time of special seeking of God’s face during the time of Lent – a 40-day period prior to Easter. Partial fasting was typically observed. Fasting was also encouraged in the second and third centuries of the Church as preparation for water baptism.

3. Fasting In Revival Movements
The discipline of fasting has long been associated with reforms and revivalistic movements throughout Church history. The founders of the monastic movements practiced fasting as a regular part of their lifestyle. Each of the 16th century reformers (and those earlier) also practiced fasting, as did the leaders of the evangelical great awakenings. John Wesley would not ordain a man to ministry unless he fasted two days every week. Jonathan Edwards was known to have fasted before God before he released his now famous message “Sinners in Hands of an Angry God.”

PrayerDuring the Layman’s Prayer Revival in North America in 1859, Christians fasted during their lunch hours and attended prayer meetings. This prayer revival broke out in the large industrial cities of the northeast part of the United States and spread across North America.

If Charles Finney, noted revivalist, felt the Spirit’s anointing lift off his life and preaching, he would retreat and fast till it (He) returned!

Nine Biblical Fasts

The following material is inspired from the writings of Elmer L. Towns in his book “Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough.”

A. The Disciples Fast

1. Purpose: “To loose the bands of wickedness” (Isaiah 58:6 KJV) – freeing ourselves and others from addictions to sin.

2. Key Verse: Matthew 17:21 (KJV)“This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

3. Background: Jesus cast out a demon from a boy whom the disciples had failed to help. Apparently they had not taken seriously enough the way satan had his claws set in the youth. The implication is that Jesus’ disciples could have performed this exorcism had they been willing to undergo the discipline of fasting. Modern disciples also often make light of “besetting sins” that could be cast out if we were serious enough to take part in such a self-denying practice as fasting – hence the term “Disciple’s Fast.”

B. The Ezra Fast

Undo the heavy burden1. Purpose: To “undo the heavy burdens” (Isaiah 58:6 KJV) – to solve problems, inviting the Holy Spirit’s aid in lifting loads and overcoming barriers that keep ourselves and our loved ones from walking joyfully with the Lord.

2. Key Verse: Ezra 8:23“So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.”

3. Background: Ezra the priest was charged with restoring the Law after Babylonian captivity. Despite this permission, Israel’s enemies opposed them. Burdened with embarrassment about having to ask the Persian King for an army to protect them, Ezra fasted and prayed for an answer.

C. The Samuel Fast

1. Purpose: “To let the oppressed (physically and spiritually) go free” (Isaiah 58:6) – for revival and soul-winning, to identify with people everywhere enslaved literally or by sin and to pray to be used of God to bring people out of the kingdom of darkness and into God’s marvelous light.

2. Key Verse: I Samuel 7:6“So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and they fasted that day, and said there, ‘We have sinned against the Lord…'”

3. Background: Samuel led God’s people in a fast to celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant from its captivity by the Philistines, and to pray that Israel might be delivered from the sin that allowed the Ark to be captured in the first place.

D. The Elijah Fast

1. Purpose: To “break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6) – conquering the mental and emotional problems that would control our lives, and returning the control to the Lord.

2. Key Verse: I Kings 19:4,8“He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness…he arose and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights…”

3. Background: Although Scripture does not call this a formal “fast,” Elijah deliberately went without food when he fled from Queen Jezebel’s threat to kill him. After this self-imposed deprivation, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah in the wilderness.

E. The Widow’s Fast

Share bread with the hungry1. Purpose: “To share [our] bread with the hungry” and to care for the poor (Isaiah 58:7) – to meet the humanitarian needs of others.

2. Key Verse: I Kings 17:16 (NIV) “…the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”

3. Background: God sent the prophet Elijah to a poor starving widow – ironically, so the widow could provide food for Elijah. Just as Elijah’s presence resulted in food for the widow of Zarephath, so presenting ourselves before God in prayer and fasting can relieve hunger today.

F. The Saint Paul Fast

1. Purpose: To allow God’s “light [to] break forth like the morning” (Isaiah 58:8), bringing clearer perspective and insight as we make crucial decisions.

2. Key Verse: Acts 9:9“And he (Saul, or Paul) was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”

3. Background: Saul of Tarsus, who became known as Paul after his conversion to Christ, was struck blind by the Lord in his act of persecuting Christians. He not only was without literal sight, but he also had no clue about what direction his life was to take.

After going without food and praying for three days, Paul was visited by the Christian Ananias, and both his eyesight and his vision for the future were restored.

G. The Daniel Fast

1. Purpose: So “thine health shall spring forth” (Isaiah 58:8 KJV) – to gain a healthier life or for healing.

2. Key Verse: Daniel 1:8 “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.”

3. Background: Daniel and his three fellow Hebrew captives demonstrated in Babylonian captivity that keeping themselves from pagan foods God had guided them not to eat made them more healthy than others in the king’s court.

H. The John the Baptist Fast

1. Purpose: That “your righteousness shall go before you” (Isaiah 58:8) – that our testimonies and influence for Jesus will be enhanced before others.

2. Key Verse: Luke 1:15 (KJV) “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.”

3. Background: Because John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, he took the “Nazarite” vow that required him to “fast” from or avoid wine and strong drink. This was part of John’s purposefully adopted lifestyle that designated him as one set apart for a special mission.

I. The Esther Fast

1. Purpose: That the glory of the Lord will protect us from the evil one (see Isaiah 58:8).

2. Key Verses: Esther 4:16, 5:2“…fast for me…[and] My maids and I will fast…And so I will go to the king… (and) she found favor in his sight.”

3. Background: Queen Esther, a Jewess in a pagan court, risked her life to save her people from threatened destruction by Ahasuerus (Xerxes), king of Persia. Prior to appearing before the king to petition him to save the Jews, Esther, her attendants, and her cousin Mordecai all fasted to appeal to God for His protection.

Fasting Accompanied By…

A. Biblical References

1. Prayer

Prayer and supplicationEzra 8:23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

Nehemiah 1:4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of Heaven.

Psalm 35:13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart.

Daniel 9:3Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

Luke 5:33Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?”

2. Worship

Nehemiah 9:1-3Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God.

3. Confession of Sin

I Samuel 7:6So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah.

Nehemiah 9:1-3Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God.

4. Humiliation

Deuteronomy 9:18And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.

Psalm 35:13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart.

Psalm 69:10 When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach.

I Kings 21:27So it was, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his body, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about mourning.

Nehemiah 9:1Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.

5. Reading the Scriptures

Reading the ScripturesNehemiah 9:1-3 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God.

Jeremiah 36:6You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the Lord, in the hearing of the people in the Lord’s house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities.

Jeremiah 36:10Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court at the entry of the New Gate of the Lord’s house, in the hearing of all the people.

6. Mourning

II Samuel 1:12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

I Kings 21:27 So it was, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his body, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about mourning.

Esther 4:3 And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

Nehemiah 1:4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of Heaven.

Joel 2:12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

Ezra 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity.

7. Weeping

WeepingII Samuel 1:12And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

Nehemiah 1:4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of Heaven.

Esther 4:3 And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

Psalm 69:10 When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach.

Joel 2:12“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

8. Abstinence from Sexual Relationships

I Corinthians 7:5Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

B. Contemporary Issues to Consider

In the 21st Century, there are several additional issues that could be considered as a form of sacrifice, abstinence, or “fasting” before God. The following are not abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. But they are contemporary issues of today’s society that could be considered as a form of fasting for a period of time to seek God’s face.

Entertainment1. Entertainment – Movies, videos, television, radio, video games, secular dancing, etc. (Photo courtesy: AP/Paul Sakuma)

2. Athletic Events – Professional sports, athletic events, other forms of recreation, etc.

3. Reading Material – Magazines, books, newspapers, other news media, even Christian fiction.

4. Computers – Internet activity, E-mail, games, etc.

5. Speech – Phone calls, amount of talking, limiting topics of conversation, a special vow of silence, etc.

6. Dress – Avoiding certain types and styles of clothing, or the wearing of specific types and styles of clothing, etc.

7. Foods and Drinks – Partial fasting – limiting intake of specific foods or drinks.

8. Sleep – Early morning prayer, all night prayer vigils, prayer watches at various hours, etc.

9. Social Functions – Limiting outside engagements, conferences, seminars and even normal church activities for short specific periods; times of purposeful isolation.

10. Work Schedule – Taking hours or days off from secular work or even ministry engagements to seek God’s face, etc.

The Bridegroom Fast

A. In the Last Days

1. Joel 2:28,29 It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

2. Desolation – Consecration – Restoration
The book of Joel paints us a picture of the last days period in which seeking God’s face with fasting (see Joel 2:12) precedes the great latter rain outpouring (see Joel 2:25) and a worldwide display of His glory (see Joel 2:30-32).

B. The Return of Christ

1. Acts 1:1The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach…

2. Second Coming
Neither, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, nor even the great restoration nor reformation of the Church is our primary goal. It is nothing less than the reappearance of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

C. A Love-Sick Heart

1. Matthew 9:15And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

As Mike Bickle says – Jesus was saying that fasting is directly related to experiencing the presence of the Bridegroom. And that is, in essence, His highest purpose for this discipline: to develop in us a greater spiritual capacity for intimacy with our Bridegroom God.

Jesus assured those questioning Him that when He was taken away (through His death on the Cross) they would fast because of their grief. He knew that His disciples had grown so accustomed to enjoying His presence that after He was gone they would mourn the loss of it and begin to yearn for a sense of closeness to Him.

Yearning for the one you love is commonly called love sickness. Can you imagine whole-hearted lovers of Jesus today becoming so filled with holy lovesickness that they freely choose to live fasted lifestyles? This is what Jesus was prophetically speaking of.

You may be wondering what practical results you can expect from the Bridegroom Fast. Here are three of them:

a. You will receive more revelation of God while poring over His Word. Imagine receiving more revelation of the beauty of God that fascinates our hearts!

b. You will receive a greater measure of revelation in an accelerated way. When people tell me, “I just can’t wait to receive more from God,” I tell them to add fasting to their loving meditation on the Word. This type of fasting speeds up the process of receiving from God. It also speeds up the process of getting rid of old mind sets, old strongholds and hard-heartedness.

c. The revelation we receive will touch us at a deeper level. A heart tenderized in love is the greatest gift the Holy Spirit can work in a worshipper. To live feeling loved by God and feeling a reciprocal, passionate love for Him is the most exhilarating form of existence.

Focus on Jesus the BridegroomIf you want to experience more of Jesus in a deeper way, start fasting with a focus on Jesus as the Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit gives grace and revelation to His people who aren’t afraid to cry out for it. And when you respond to His wooing and embrace a Bridegroom fast – God’s feast for His Bride – you will mature and enter into intimacy with the Bridegroom. Then you will be able to assume your true identity as the Bride of Christ and be fully prepared for His return.

2. A New Order and Motivation

a. A New Day

A new day has dawned. The old rites and legal bondage of performing to earn entrance and acceptance before God no longer remain. We enter freely through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Though Jesus’ disciples would fast again, they would never return as it was before. They would fast out of a new heart and a new motivation.

b. From Arthur Wallis – God’s Chosen Fast:

“Before the Bridegroom left them, He promised that He would come again to receive them to Himself. The Church still awaits the midnight cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). It is this age of the Church that is the period of the absent Bridegroom. It is this age of the Church to which our Master referred when He said ‘then they will fast.’ The time is now!

“These words of Jesus were prophetic. The first Christians fulfilled them, and so have many saintly men and women of succeeding generations. Where are those who fulfill them today? Alas, they are few and far between, the exception rather than the rule, to the great loss of the Church.

A new generation, however, is arising. There is concern in the hearts of many for the recovery of apostolic power. But how can we recover apostolic power while neglecting apostolic practice? How can we expect the power to flow if we do not prepare the channels? Fasting is a God-appointed means for the flowing of His grace and power that we can’t afford to neglect any longer.

“The fast of this age is not merely an act of mourning for Christ’s absence, but an act of preparation for His return. May those prophetic words, ‘Then will they fast,’ be fulfilled finally in this generation. It will be a fasting and praying Church that will hear the thrilling cry, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom!’ Tears shall then be wiped away, and the fast be followed by the feast at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’…’Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:17, 20

c. The Contemplative

The contemplative fasts out of a lovesick heart! Passion for His presence; longing for His return; brokenness as over a lover who has left waiting for His return, is now the new motivation of the Bridegroom fast!

Blessings!

Dr. James W. Goll
Encounters Network • Prayer Storm • Compassion Acts Team

Email: info@encountersnetwork.com
Website: encountersnetwork.com

Dr. James W. Goll is the President of Encounters Network, Director of Prayer Storm, and coordinates Encounters Alliance, a coalition of leaders. He is Director of God Encounters Training – an e-school of the heart, and is a member of the Harvest International Ministries apostolic team. He has shared Jesus in more than 50 nations worldwide teaching and imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry, and life in the Spirit. James is the prolific author of numerous books and has also produced multiple study guides and hundreds of audio and video messages. James was married to Michal Ann for 32 years before her graduation to Heaven in the fall of 2008. James has four adult children who all love Jesus, and continues to make his home in the rolling hills of Franklin, Tennessee.

An Important Key to Unlocking Daniel Chapter 9

An Important Key to Unlocking Daniel Chapter 9.

“I believe the reason Daniel went into repentance when he understood that the time of Jerusalem’s captivity was nearly up was because Jeremiah 25 declares that God’s judgment would come after Jerusalem’s captivity was finished. As a result of the impending judgment, God commanded leaders and shepherds to wail and cry in repentance (Jer 25:34).”

A Wedding and A Feast – Pt 2 by Connie Chamberlain

The Jewish wedding customs so perfectly illustrate our relationship to Christ and once-veiled truths become all the more clearer to our understanding.  When God speaks to us saying, “I will betroth you to Me forever,” —Hosea 2:19-20, we have a deeper appreciation of what this means.

The Bride Price
In ancient Israel, the father of the groom would negotiate a bride price to be paid to the father of the bride, usually representing something of great value.

The price that was paid to secure God’s people as His bride was the precious life blood of Jesus.  Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.  (Ephesians 5:25) It is sometimes difficult to fathom the depth and degree of God’s love, that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” —Romans 5:8. “For you were bought with a price.” —1 Corinthians 6:20 At Calvary, there took place the transference of a heavenly exchange – His death for our life.  We do not want to be in danger, according to the writer of Hebrews, of counting the blood of the covenant a common thing.  (Hebrew 10:29)

It is the power of redemption, and the act of having been purchased by Him, that defines who we are and whose we are.  We belong to Him and submit to His ownership.  Let’s recall that we “were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb, without blemish and without spot.”  —1 Peter 1:18-19

Contract
A written contract, called the Ketubah, was drawn up to include the bride price, the rights of the bride, and the promises of the groom.

We have a covenant with our Bridegroom, written in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible outlines thousands of promises that God desires to fulfill in our lives as we believe what He has said. Personally, I have never counted, but some sources say there are over 5000 promises in the Bible. His Word also sets forth our rights and privileges. We are entitled to all that He said we could have.  It is by these great and precious promises that we become partakers of His divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

God gave His everlasting covenant to His people out of an act of divine love and grace and it only by our love in response that it can be kept. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep My commandments.”  —John 14:15

The promises of God are yes and amen. (1Corinthians 1:20) Within that declaration is the assurance that every single one of God’s promises will come to pass. However, with every promise comes a condition, whether stated or implied, of simply believing. Are we fully convinced that He is able to perform what He has promised? (Romans 4:21)

Cup of Wine
At this time, a cup of wine, the cup of the covenant, is shared between the bride and groom to seal the covenant.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband and a father to them, says the Lord.” —Jeremiah 31:31-32

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” —Matthew 26:27-28

As Jesus lifted up the cup, it foreshadowed that he would be lifted up on the cross.  Not only is the wine symbolic of Christ’s blood, it further indicates a radiant joy that comes from being in union and communion with Him, the wine that gladdens the heart of man (Psalm 104:15).  “Your love is better than wine.”  —Song of Solomon 1:2

Gifts to the Bride
Gifts were given to the bride and would serve as a reminder of the bridegroom’s promise to return for her. Today the usual expression from the bride to the groom is the ring.

The gifts that Christ has given His bride are representative of the Holy Spirit and all that He has to offer. “When he ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”  —Ephesians 4:8. We are told to desire spiritual gifts and that every good and perfect gift is from above. He has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Mikvah
The bride would undergo a ritual cleansing, known as a mikvah (or mikveh), which is the same word used for baptism. It was symbolic of leaving her old life behind to embark on a new journey, in a new relationship, with a new beginning to start a new family, and take on a new name and a new life.  Many Jewish brides today participate in the mikvah to prepare for the state of becoming one.

Water is often synonymous with life because our very existence depends upon it.  I found further evidence of water linked with life using a system known as gematria, which assigns a numerical value to the Hebrew alphabet. The molecular weight of water (H2O) is 18. There are two Hebrew letters which add up to18 and form the Hebrew word “chai.” Chai means life! (That science stuff sure stretches my brain!)

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death…even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  —Romans 6:4

The Long Wait
Although the couple is legally bound together, it is at this point that the Bridegroom will leave for His father’s house and the period of betrothal continues until He returns to fetch His bride. What happens in the meantime during this separation? Is there a purpose for this waiting between the time of the betrothal

Bridal contract

A Wedding and A Feast – Pt 1 by Connie Chamberlain

Having experienced the tabernacle and the union with God found in the Holy of Holies, it seemed fitting to me to look at another type and shadow that accentuates the oneness which God desires to have with His people.  I am often intrigued with the picture that has been painted for us of Jesus as our Bridegroom and His people as His Bride.  Scripture is replete with examples, symbols, and metaphors concerning the sacrament of marriage to represent our relationship with Christ, and, therefore, it seems the Lord would have us to more fully understand its spiritual implications.

What does it mean to be called the “Bride of Christ?”  Jesus, who referred to Himself as the Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15), lovingly and sacrificially gave His life for His Bride.  It is with a desire to more intimately know God that we will study some of the customs of the Jewish wedding and strive to discover how they have a current application and spiritual relevance for our lives today.

In light of this analogy, my hope is that we will come away with a better understanding of how God sees us and what He expects of us. God’s desire for us is plainly stated when He says, “that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead.”  (Romans 7:4)

It is God who instituted the covenant of marriage.  Yet the earthly bonds between a man and a woman are only temporary, while the spiritual union of marriage to Jesus is for a lifetime that spans eternity. God is working in His bride that quality of faithfulness, to the degree that there should be no relationship or possession that takes the place of relationship with our heavenly husband.

It is important that the concept of the Bride is grasped with our spiritual understanding, however, and not our literal and physical senses.  If taken with only our natural understanding, the term “bride” would leave out a large percentage of the body of Christ. The Lord applies the word “Bride” to all His people, both men and women, and it is seen no differently than the term “Sons of God” is used to refer to both genders.

The Betrothal
In ancient Israel, a young man and a young woman’s engagement, or betrothal, was legally binding.  The relationship was considered to be sealed by means of a contract from that point forward, except that they lived apart without physical union until the actual marriage ceremony.  The betrothal period could last about a year or more.

The Arrangement
The first aspect in the betrothal process is how the bride is chosen. It is the Bridegroom’s father who chooses the Bride, by way of sending his trusted servant and messenger. The bride may never have even laid eyes on her husband-to-be. We see this arrangement exemplified in Genesis 24 when Abraham sent his right-hand man, Eliezer, to fetch a bride for Isaac.

Abraham represents the Father who sends the servant of the Holy Spirit to acquire a bride for His Son, Jesus.  I had never quite made the connection until I found that Eliezer’s name means “God of help.”  The Hebrew word “ezer” is the same word used in Gen. 2:18. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help (ezer) meet for him.” The Holy Spirit is called our Helper (John 14:16, 26), also rendered Comforter and Advocate, meaning one called to the side of another for help or counsel.  It is the Holy Spirit as Helper who helps us to see our sinful nature and convicts us of our need for a Savior.  (John 16:7-8)

We, the Bride, have not yet seen with our eyes our Heavenly Bridegroom. Jesus, “whom having not seen, you love.  Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” 1 Peter 1:8.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29

Consent of the Bride
It was important to Abraham that the servant obtained the woman’s consent. “And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath.” Genesis 24:8  Once the Holy Spirit had located Rebekah as the potential bride, she was asked by her family, “Will you go with this man?”  And she said, “I will go.”  Genesis 24:58  There was no coercion or obligation involved in her decision.

God created us to function with the gift of free will. Even though He has chosen us, relationship is incomplete unless we “choose to be chosen.” It is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to choose His way and His will so that we belong to Him.  Behind the person of the Holy Spirit is the heart of God that woos and draws us to respond with “I do” and “I will.”

To what exactly are we saying “I do” and “I will?”  We will continue to explore the elements of the betrothal in our next study by looking into the nature of the bridal contract and its present significance for us, all for the purpose of understanding afresh the oneness that our Bridegroom desires for us to experience with Him.

I Am My Beloved Ring