Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Evil One Cannot Touch us

What does it mean to surrender a loved one to God?  Does it mean you turn your back and walk away?

No, certainly not.  Surrendering does not mean abandoning.  It does not mean you no longer care.

Surrender is motivated out of love – such deep love for the person that you are willing to get out of the way and let God sit in the driver’s seat.  Admit it:  with us in the driver’s seat, things weren’t going quite so well.  There were just too many things we were powerless to control.

Surrender is choosing to yoke up with Jesus.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."                Matthew 11:28-30

Surrender requires a profound trust in God.  Trust that He will do a better job in the driver’s seat than we were doing.  Trust that He has our loved one’s best interests at heart, that His heart is inclined towards them.  Trust that He knows what He is doing, He knows every moment of the future, and that He never stops working.  Trust that even if it may appear that He has forgotten them, He has never taken His hand off them.

Kathy talked in class of this verse in Psalm 91:

For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
                                         Psalm 91:9-10

I hear her heart’s cry.  My heart cries out likewise.  It certainly appears that evil has befallen us, our families.  That we have been abandoned and unprotected. I look at my life, at your lives, full of pain and hardship, and I wonder, is God really working for our good?  Is He really protecting us?

            I am thinking of a parallel verse from 1 John:

… He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.                                                 1 John 5:18 NASB

And in the Amplified:

… the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him].                                                                                                                                                             1 John 5:18 AMP

It sure looks like evil has befallen us.  That the evil one has gotten his putrid hands on us and our families.

Let’s look up this word touch, lay hold, get a grip on.  It is haptomai in the Greek, meaning “to handle so as to exert a modifying influence; to connect; to bind.”

Hmmm… We cannot walk through our lives unscathed.  We are all “touched” by evil in that sense of the word – but haptomai means more than just that.  It means a deep binding to the enemy.  Because we belong to Jesus, the evil one cannot wrest us from His hands.  Satan can grope around for us, but he cannot get a grip on us.  He can handle us, but cannot exert a modifying influence on us.  He can nudge us, even collide with us, but he cannot connect us to him.  The evil one cannot haptomai us, for no one can snatch us from Jesus’ hands.

I have come to understand that belonging to Jesus does not guarantee no pain.  It does not guarantee we will not be affected by the wickedness of the world. It does not guarantee our lives and the lives of our loved ones will be untainted by trouble.  It does not guarantee that we will not make sinful choices with horrendous consequences.

Belonging to Jesus does mean that God is working for our good.  He has ordained each trial, each battle.  We are under His shelter of protection – and only He knows the full extent of what His protection really means:  that we are conformed to the image of Christ.  Satan may inflict pain in his attacks, but, just as we read in Job, in the end, Satan is still God’s servant.  God has the last word.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.                                                                                   2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Looking through eyes of the flesh, we may see lack of God’s protection.  But looking with eyes of God, we will see the eternal weight of glory.






6 comments:

  1. So Powerful, what a day yesterday. A sacred time of sharing our deepest fears and shining a light on a dark place. I pray daily and sometimes many times a day to release my son to Jesus. I watch our friend walk in His grace after loosing her son so tragically that it shows me there is life, my life would go on, God would use the worse thing I could imagine for His good and glory. I pray deeply that is one trial I avoid; however, I've learned to trust that all things are for His good and Glory through this class.

    I had such a spirit filled day. I was exhausted and grateful in prayerful thought all day. During the early evening Joe was out running and errand and I heard someone playing basketball. (I bought a hoop a couple years ago much to our neighbors unhappiness). It is allowed by our condo association. Joe came home and our drunken neighbor who always complains if someone plays basketball came up to him and told him to tell the boy playing to stop. Joe wasn't even playing, he just got out of his truck. She yelled and cursed at him and then pushed him with her hand back and told him to "make the kid stop". Joe said it wasn't his business and came in the house. He told me "he handled it". I was ok with all of that right up until he told me she pushed him, that was it. All the prayer and patience flew out the window as fast as I made it over to her home to tell her never to lay a hand on my son. With her 2 barking consistently wiener dogs I asked her what was the difference between 20 mins of basketball noise and the constant barking of dogs, well the dogs I'm told were family. As I turned to walk away realizing I would get no where she yelled out that "She wished my son would die"!. Really??? Who could say such a horrible thing over some other boy playing basketball. For the sake of our wonderful security guard she lives today and I'm not in jail. I took the hoop down only for the security guard (a wonderful Christian man) to say it was his grandson's bday and he would love a basketball hoop. He picks it up tonight. We laughed and said really God we would have just given him the basketball hoop. Why such evil and hate had to accompany it. I failed the test of patience and kindness at that moment. I did pray for her this morning forcefully but did so. It makes me think of the spiritual warfare discussion, would you consider this to be so in this case ladies? I just don't know. I know I'm disappointed with my reaction. I should have been still and know that He is God and just be proud of the fact that Joe did not touch her physically and just walked away. I found it very interesting after our discussion yesterday that the woman would shout out my biggest fear.

    I'm in prayer thought over this today, can't seem to shake it but I know I will in God's time. Celeste your thoughts today were spot on and the most perfect words to help me find balance, comfort and healing.

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    1. Cristina WilliamsApril 2, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      WOW, Lori! What a story! Thank you for being so honest about your reactions. First, Joe is a fine young man (surely, his momma had something to do with that)!

      As for your question as to whether or not I think it was spiritual warfare, YES! Here's why I think that. Yesterday, was a big day of growth and the Holy Spirit working through you! I've found throughout many times in my life, and especially since the beginning of this class, that anytime I'm about to move into the next level of healing, intimacy with Christ, advancement of God's Kingdom, and closer to what I believe is part of my calling, I have been TESTED and BATTLED, in a much more intense manner, sometimes seemingly unbearable. Think Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

      You are in the middle of experiencing tremendous release from the bondage of fear. You are in the middle of surrendering your greatest treasure (Joe). You are in the middle of trusting Christ like never before. The enemy wants to stop you from that. I think he's smart enough to know you are a strong woman of God! You aren't going to give up, but he will do his best to sideline, distract, and condemn you. I think what happened to you is an example of that.

      Certainly, it could be a test from God to see how serious you are about truly surrendering. I've found God also does that. For example, I declare I'm going to hold my tongue. Two hours later, I'm upset and cussing like a rapper in my apartment or car. I declare 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." Next thing I know, I'm a little sweaty, can tell my breathing is off, and am unsettled in my body due to anxiety. I could give you lots of examples.

      Clearly, there is more of God's Word and emotional healing that needs to take root. Or, as we're learning, God is not done with what He is doing through our suffering in a particular area. Regardless, God allows those moments, the trials, to reveal where we are in that process and draw us nearer to Him. It's an opportunity to pray and reflect on what it is we still need to bring to Him (yes, maybe even again or for the thousandth time).

      I am guilty of wishing I hadn't reacted on emotion in certain instances. Yep, repeat offender. However, just because we are Christians doesn't mean we have to stuff our emotions and allow all the behavior we see around us to continue, especially when it pertains to one of our loved ones. Too many times I've believed the lie that because I am a Christian, I can't have a voice, the lie we must allow everything to slide. As Celeste mentioned in class yesterday, there is a fine line between when we surrender and allow God to control, vindicate, care for, etc. and when we exercise our responsibility.

      Mind you, I do think when we walk in conviction to address something, that it should be accomplished with God's ways guiding us. Despite the number of times I've failed, it would be a lot worse, had it not been for all the times I pray, even quickly, for God to give me the words and steps to get through a particular situation. If I went off into one of what Nick calls is my "Real Housewives of Miami" moments where I act first and think later, I pray for God to show me what the root issues are and how I can approach a similar scenario in a way that is pleasing to Him for the future. Fortunately, those moments are now few and far between as I conform to the image of Christ (or stuff my emotions - still working on that extreme as well). The point is that we are all transforming!

      And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
      -2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

      As the striking and special illustration on the card Donna gave us reflects, remember that throughout our transformation, we will face a battle. Therefore, we must put on the full armor of God!

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    2. Cristina WilliamsApril 2, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      PS - I know you didn't ask me directly whether I thought it was spiritual warfare. I wrote that line in my reply as a response to you asking the "ladies"! I may be hairy, but I'm still a lady. Alright, with all seriousness, I just wanted to clarify that. I'm part of the group, but didn't want to respond on everyone's behalf regarding my thoughts on your incident and spiritual warfare.

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  2. I am loving to watch the Spirit move and work through you two as you converse back and forth. I admire both of you for your honesty and for the passionate way you seek Jesus.

    I do believe Cristina is exactly right: Lori, you are in the midst of an immense spiritual battle, and are edging closer to the victory of surrendering Joe to Jesus. And I have seen and also experienced many times myself just what Cristina describes: the warfare intensifying as Jesus' victory in your heart comes near. It is no coincidence that she shouted your greatest fear. That came from the forces of Darkness, as ordained by our Sovereign Lord for His perfect plan. You are spiritually discerning to recognize that those words were no "coincidence," that God is up to something.

    I read recently in "Your Beautiful Purpose" by Susie Larson something that seems relevant here. She was pondering on how Satan seems to step up the attack when Jesus' victory is near. He cannot see the future. How could he possibly know?

    Susie writes about 2 Kings 6, when the army of the king of Aram was sent to destroy Elisha and his servant. The servant saw the vast Aramean army and came to Elisha in terror. When Elisha prayed for his servant to see God's army, his eyes were opened to see a mountain full of chariots of fire, surrounding himself and Elisha. "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Susie said that the only way Satan knows that Jesus' victory is near is because he sees the army of the Lord lining up for battle, to protect the one Jesus loves. And when he sees the massing of the Lord's army, he lines up his army also. He fights like a cornered dog when he knows his time is short.

    I lift you up in prayer, Lori, as you come to that surrender, knowing and trusting that those who are fighting for you are greater than those who are fighting against you.

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  3. You both having given such a beautiful perspective to those fiery arrows. I prayed on our beach long and thoughtful this morning, a hedge of protection around my home, rebuking Satan's attack, lifting Joe up to the Lord and for each of our precious ladies individually for their point of need. It was a blessed time and I feel comforted beyond words. I'm learning and growing so deeply, it's powerful, scary and exciting all at the same time.

    Just before this class started I had a horrible emotional time through the holidays, with work, home life, self thoughts and I realize that must have been the enemy trying to keep me from this class (as I shared I had to force myself in the door those first few times but was so glad I did). I don't enjoy taking out the box that I've buried under the floor and locked with several locks but it's been engaging and enlightening. It seems every time I open that box there is one less rock inside, it's just a little lighter and I'm just a crumb stronger and closer to our Christ.

    What a perfect time of year with Easter approaching, fasting and praying to be at the pinnacle of this class. I've never experienced such an intense moment with the Holy Spirit as last Tuesday and I want more and more of Him.

    I'm so grateful to both of you. Christina, you are such a gifted writer. You so clearly convey your deepest emotions and give me a true picture in my mind to match with my feelings. I love the Luke Skywalker analogy! To know that I'm human and allow myself to fall short and not condemn myself is something to work on for me. I get so caught up in the fact I sinned I sin more and more because my focus is off Him. Thank you for showing me that is a path not a place.

    Celeste, I love the analogy of Christs' army of Chariots! I'm going to envision that every time I dress for battle:) I love our ladies so deeply and you all have changed my life forever xo

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  4. Cristina WilliamsApril 4, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Oh how you ladies have changed my life as well, FOREVER!!! I was in a very dark place before starting the class and remember the temper tantrum I threw with God about how I was not going; I didn't really need to go (yes, you have permission to laugh)! I am blessed from now until all of eternity as a result of opening up my heart and mind, receiving God's gifts through Celeste's anointing, and allowing God's Word to take root deeper and deeper! I believe I am getting closer and closer to what God has prepared for me in the next level of my calling! I cannot fully describe how strengthened my relationship with Christ is as a result of taking this class (fortunately, you already know from your own experience)!

    Celeste, I LOVE the word picture of the chariots of fire! I believe you, Lori, and the rest of the ladies are part of my earthly chariots of fire. There are no words to describe how humbled and honored I am to know there is an even greater army in the spiritual realm, right now, helping me fight my Heavenly battle! Absolutely mind blowing that it's all for lil ole me!

    Lori, THANK YOU will all of my heart for your kind words about my writing! It's been a love of mine for years, ever since I was a little girl. It wasn't until I started writing more and more with a Christian perspective that I discovered a key part of my calling. Yet, I have my doubts (lies from the enemy) which cause me to question if what I'm writing actually touches and helps anyone. Truly, thank you for your encouragement!

    I love you both!

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