1. Prospective Marriages
2. Preparing for Marriages
3. Marriage & Divorce
4. Why Marriage Fails, Forever - for now
5. Building Blocks for Marriage
6. Soul Ties & Toxic Relationships
7. Help for Leaving Homosexuality (to come)
8. Relationships, Prayer & Forgiving
9. Curses - Are you Feeling Cursed?
10. Guidance - Direction & Changes
11. When we can't hear God
12. Your Identity, Purpose and Calling
13. Guidance - Spiritual Seasons
15. Godly Principles in Finances and Business
16. Loss & Grief (to come)
17. Anxiety & Stress
19. Overcoming Depression
20. Depression & Mental illness
1. PROSPECTIVE MARRIAGES
2. Preparing for Marriage
There are a couple of challenges that make preaching on divorce and remarriage especially difficult. One challenge is that there are so many legitimate approaches I could take with this sermon.
I could make the sermon a warning: “Marriage is sacred. Remember your vows. Jesus never encouraged divorce. So don’t do it.” I could legitimately preach this way because the weight of the New Testament falls on the side of warning against divorce.
But I could also use the sermon to talk about God’s compassion for those who have been hurt in marriage, or those left behind in marriage, or those sinned against in marriage.
I could take the sermon in a different direction and encourage those who have sinned in divorce or sinned in remarriage to repent and receive God’s merciful forgiveness. I could also take more of a theological approach and try to explain the acceptable grounds for divorce and remarriage, asking questions like: Are there any justifiable reasons for divorce? If so, what are they? And if you may get divorced under certain circumstances, what about remarriage?
I wish I had time to go deep pastorally and theologically in all these way, but I just can’t in one sermon.
There are as many scenarios as there are couples in the world. How do we know what’s right in each situation, especially when so many of the scenarios have no parallel in Scripture? The simple thing is to turn a blind eye to divorce in the church. Just pretend it doesn’t happen. Don’t ask people about it. Don’t bring it up. Don’t say anything during a membership interview. The hard thing is to take a few biblical principles about marriage, divorce, and remarriage and then try to apply them prayerfully and wisely to a thousand different situations.
Let me give you seven biblical principles on divorce and remarriage.
1. Marriage is the sacred union between one man and one woman and God’s intention is for marriage to last a lifetime.
Look at Mark 10:1-12:
And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
This was a trap. The Pharisees were not genuinely inquiring of Jesus’ position. They wanted to test him and make him look bad. Everyone in Judaism agreed that divorce was permissible. You can read all the same scholarly stuff I’ve been reading and the same Jewish documents and see that people on all sides of the divorce issue agree first century Judaism allowed for divorce, even required it in some situations. The Pharisees certainly allowed for divorce, and as we’ll see in a moment, probably for a lot of reasons. But they have a suspicion that Jesus will be stricter. Maybe they heard his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe they just assume he will be strict. Maybe they want to get him in trouble with Herod, who already killed John the Baptist for objecting to his divorce. Whatever the reason, they are setting a trap.
Like a good teacher, Jesus answers their question with a question. “What did Moses say?” “Well,” they answer, “Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife.” They’re thinking of Deuteronomy 24, which we’ll come back to in a minute. Jesus doesn’t reject Moses’ teaching, but he recasts it. “Yes, Moses allowed for divorce. But this was a concession to human sin. Certainly not a requirement. The law was making the best of a bad situation.” Then Jesus takes them back to the very beginning. “Deuteronomy gives Moses a concession, but Genesis gives God’s intention. Marriage is one man and one woman. The two become one flesh. They leave their family behind and this new family takes priority over all other allegiances except to God. Marriage is a sacred union. God himself joins the couple together. And what God puts together, no one should separate.”
The main thing Jesus wants to say about divorce is this: don’t do it. It’s not God’s intention for marriage. It’s not what you promised before God and a room full of witnesses. In fact, Jesus says pretty flatly in verses 11-12, anyone who divorces husband or wife and remarries someone else commits adultery. Why? Because the divorce shouldn’t have happened in the first place. There’s no reason this man and woman shouldn’t still be married. So for them to be married to someone else, presumably having sex with someone else, is like committing adultery. You may be sleeping with someone who is your husband or wife, but you aren’t sleeping with the person who still should be your husband or wife.
Before we see anything else about divorce and remarriage we have to feel the weight of what Jesus is saying. The Pharisees want to talk about acceptable reasons for a divorce. Jesus wants to talk about the sanctity of marriage. They want to talk about when a marriage can be broken. He wants to talk about why marriages shouldn’t be broken. If all you hear are the reasons a marriage covenant might be broken, it’s like learning to fly by practicing your crash landings or training for battle by practicing your retreats. Whatever exceptions there might be, the main thing is that marriage is supposed to be permanent.
2. Divorce is not always sinful.
Is every divorce the product of sin? Yes. Is every divorce therefore sinful? No. That’s why it’s not always a fair comparison to say, “Look, you Christians are so worked up about homosexuality, but you don’t do anything about divorce.” Certainly, Christians have too often turned a blind eye to divorce, but the situations are different because divorce, unlike homosexuality, is not always wrong.
Think of the Christmas story. When Joseph, who was engaged to Mary, found that she was with child, the text says that “Because Joseph was a righteous man he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” The first thing we notice is that Joseph had to divorce Mary even though they were only engaged. Jewish betrothals were legally binding in the first century. Leaving that aside, we also see that Joseph was considered righteous for divorcing her quietly. He is commended for the quietness mostly, but the divorce didn’t seem to reflect badly on Joseph. Mary, it was thought, had committed sexual immorality, and so Joseph was considered righteous for divorcing her quietly.
We also see in some Old Testament texts that the Lord divorced his people. For example, Jeremiah 3:8 says, “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.” God’s people were spiritual adulterers and so the Lord after putting up with them for generations, finally said, “Enough, you’ve broken the covenant for the last time. Here’s your certificate of divorce. Be gone.” Now, the love story is that God still woos his wayward bride back to himself, and welcomes her home when she turns and repents. But if the Lord can divorce his adulterous spouse, then divorce must not always be wrong.
One other thing to note is that marriage is not indissoluble. This means marriage really can end. Now, usually they shouldn’t. But they can. The covenant can be severed. When Jesus says, “What God has joined together, let no man separate” he implies that the couple can be separated. I mention this because sometimes people will argue against remarriage, saying “She’s still married in God’s eyes.” I don’t think that’s the right way to talk about the situation. Divorced couples are divorced. They are not married in God’s eyes. The question is whether they should still be married and hence, they ought not to be with another man or woman.
3. Divorce is permitted, but not required, on the ground of sexual immorality.
We need to look at a few different passages, starting with Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.
The key phrase is in verse 1: “something indecent” (erwath dabar). It’s a very ambiguous phrase, and the Jews argued about it constantly. The phrase is actually used a chapter earlier in Deuteronomy 23:12-14.
You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.
You can see that erwath dabar means in general something repulsive, something indecent. It’s not a precise phrase. Because of this ambiguity, two different rabbinical schools emerged. On one side was the more conservative Shammai school, and on the other, the more liberal Hillel school, both well known around the time of Jesus. The Mishna records:
The School of Shammai says: A man may not divorce his wife unless he has found unchastity in her, for it is written, Because he hath found in her indecency in anything. And the School of Hillel says: [He may divorce her] even if she spoiled a dish for him, for it is written, Because he hath found in her indecency in anything.
They referred to the same verse, but Shammai emphasized “indecency” and Hillel emphasized “anything.” Jesus is going to side squarely with the more conservative school. Turn to Matthew 19. This is the same incident we read about earlier in Mark. The Pharisees have come to test Jesus. They specifically ask him about the grounds for divorce and what Moses commanded in Deuteronomy 24. But notice Jesus’ words here are a bit different. They include an exception in verse 9: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness [porneia], and marries another woman commits adultery [moichaomai].” Divorce is not allowed for any reason whatsoever (like Hillel said), only for martial unfaithfulness (like Shammai said). Sexual sin breaks the marriage covenant because sex is the oath signing of the covenant. Having sexual experiences with someone other than your spouse is like trying to sign on someone else’s dotted line. That breaks the covenant and is a ground for divorce. Divorce is still not required, but it is allowed.
Of course, all this raises the question: why does Matthew include the exception clause when Mark doesn’t? Some people have argued that Matthew’s gospel isn’t talking about sex during marriage, but sex before marriage. In first century Judaism a betrothal was legally binding. That’s why Joseph was going to divorce Mary after he found out she was with child. They were only engaged at the time, but even breaking off an engagement required a divorce. So the theory is that Matthew records these words so his readers will be clear that Joseph wasn’t doing anything wrong when he planned to divorce Mary for what seemed to be fornication.
Some Christians I really respect hold to this view, but I don’t think it will work. For starters, the question from the Pharisees revolves around Deuteronomy 24 which was not about betrothal. Second, the word porneia is a broad word that includes all kinds of sexual sin, not just sex before marriage while engaged. And besides, Matthew 1 never uses the word porneia to describe Mary’s supposed sin and nothing in Matthew 19 explicitly ties the situation back to Mary and Joseph.
So how do we understand this—Matthew includes the exception, while Mark and Luke don’t? Remember these are parallel accounts. They are describing the same event. You could say the Matthew added something to Jesus’ words, but isn’t is easier to assume Mark and Luke left something out? And why would they leave the exception out? Because they wanted the saying to be more memorable? Perhaps. But I think the basic reason they left out the exception is because it was already a given. No one in Judaism disagreed that divorce was acceptable on grounds of sexual immorality. Mark and Luke didn’t have to include Jesus’ exception because they figured it was a given. It’s like when Jesus said, “If your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go be reconciled first” (Matt. 5:23-24). We naturally assume Jesus means “If your brother has something legitimate against you,” because Jesus didn’t go tracking down everyone who was upset with him. In the same way, when Mark records “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her” the implied assumption is “Whoever divorces his wife without cause…” I believe Jesus spoke the exception clause. Matthew included it to be clear, while Mark and Luke left it out because they thought it was already a given.
4. Divorce is permitted, but not required, on the ground of desertion by an unbelieving spouse.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 7. Let’s pick things up at verse 8.
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Paul would like everyone to stay as they are (cf. 17, 20), but if they have to marry, then go ahead and marry. That’s what he says to the singles and widows. This is what he says to the married.
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband.
Paul is saying, “This is not my own rule. I got this from Jesus.” (But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband) and the husband should not divorce his wife.
So if someone does get wrongly divorced, they should try to be reconciled with their spouse or stay single. They should not remarry after an illegitimate divorce.
12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord):
He means, “This command is not from the lips of Jesus himself, but it’s still a command you need to follow.”
...that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife.
Here’s the second ground for a divorce: desertion by an unbelieving spouse. Now, we should try to live at peace with an unbelieving spouse. After all, God may save your spouse through you. Reconciliation is still the ideal. But if the unbeliever refuses to live with you and leaves, let him do so. You are not bound to be married when your unbelieving spouse deserts you.
The traditional Protestant position—the position written down in the Westminster Confession and held by most evangelicals—is that divorce is permissible on two grounds: sexual immorality and desertion. In both case the marriage covenant is severed. In one case, because sexual intimacy has taken place with another. And in the second case, because the spouse just plain isn’t there.
Let me just add that I am sympathetic to and yet extremely cautious about finding other grounds for divorce. On the one hand, I think it’s possible that God did not mean to give us every possible grounds for divorce in the New Testament. Jesus gave one and Paul (admittedly, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit)mentioned another one relevant to the Corinthian situation. So might there be one or two other grounds for divorce? Perhaps. And yet, if you say that you open up a Pandora’s box of trouble. People will argue that psychological abuse is a ground and emotional neglect is a ground and maybe terrible unhappiness is a ground for divorce. I think it is safer biblically to maintain that there are two acceptable grounds for divorce. But having said that, I could envision in extreme situations the elders might conclude: “This man (or woman) has not completely disappeared but his life is tantamount to desertion.” If a guy is strung out on drugs, gambling all their worldly possessions, and has repeatedly beaten his wife, might that count as desertion at some point?
This is why each case needs to be dealt with individually. It’s also why we need biblical principles, so we have something to apply in these gut-wrenching, difficult sinful scenarios.
5. When the divorce was not permissible, any subsequent remarriage (to someone other than the original spouse) results in adultery.
We’ve already seen Jesus make this point in Mark 10. If you are illegitimately divorced, then the remarriage is also illegitimate. This doesn’t mean you aren’t really divorced and you aren’t really remarried. It means you shouldn’t have been divorced. The covenant hadn’t been broken and shouldn’t have been severed. Consequently, you shouldn’t be married to someone other than your original spouse. And that means if you are remarried that new sexual relationship is sinful. So what do you do if you are already in a sinful second marriage? I’ll come back to that in the last point.
6. In situations where the divorce was permissible, remarriage is also permissible.
Now what about remarriage? Remarriage is clearly allowed after a spouse dies (Romans 7:3). But what about after a biblically sanctioned divorce? Let me give you a few reasons why I think remarriage is permissible.
First, I think grammatically it is more likely that the exception clause in Matthew 19 modified both verbs. In other words, when Jesus says “except for marital unfaithfulness” that covers “whoever divorces” and “marries another.”
Second, all scholars on every side of this divorce and remarriage debate agree that it was a given for first century Jews that remarriage was a valid option after a valid divorce. To be granted a legal separation meant de facto that you were no longer bound to anyone and thus free to remarry. No one in Jesus audience was thinking that remarriage wouldn’t be an option. If Jesus wanted to teach that remarriage after every divorce was unacceptable, he would have made that new teaching much clearer.
Third, the phrase “is not enslaved” in 1 Corinthians 7:15 probably implies that the spouse who has been deserted is free to marry. This would have been the default Jewish position and it seems to be the same idea found clearly in v. 39 (“she is free to be married to whom she wishes”. The Greek word is different in verse 15, but they are related words that convey the same idea.
Of course, just because a divorced person may be free to remarry does not mean it is necessarily a good or wise idea. A lot of other considerations come into play. But the general principle is, after a legitimate divorce, there is freedom to remarry.
7. Improperly divorced and remarried Christians should stay as they are, but repent and be forgiven of their past sins and make whatever amends are necessary.
This is where things get really messy. What if you are in a second or third marriage that you now realize is sinful? Should you get a divorce? I don’t think so. The principle in 1 Corinthians 7, repeated in verses 17, 20, and 24, is “remain as you are.” God does not want you to add to the sin of a remarriage the sin of another divorce.
Does this mean those Christians have gotten away with sin? Not at all. We are never better off for having sinned. There are consequences in our relationships. There may be consequences in your spiritual life. And if you look back at your sinful divorce and remarriage and think “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t know all this ten years ago” that is a dreadful sign that something is very wrong in your heart. If the Spirit is at work you will not think “Phew, I really got away with one here.” Instead you will think, “O Lord, I am so sorry. I was ignorant of the Scriptures. I was blind to my own sin. I have broken your law and sullied the name of Christ. Please forgive me. Have mercy on us Lord.” And you’ll not only ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, you’ll make things right with your ex-spouse, with your kids, your parents, your in-laws—you’ll make amends and ask for forgiveness with anyone else you hurt by breaking your marriage vows.
Let me just finish by very briefly addressing three groups of people:
To the married: Stay married. Guard your marriage. Don’t think you are above falling. Don’t think you are above temptation. Pray together. Take walks together. Get away from the kids to be together. There are few things more precious in life than your marriage. Do not take it for granted. And if you are contemplating divorce, please talk to someone. Please don’t give up. If you have biblical grounds for divorce, consider what glory it might be to God to patiently work toward reconciliation. And if you don’t have biblical grounds, consider what offense it will be to God to break the promises you made in his name. Consider the harm to your kids. Stay married.
To the divorced and single: If you had grounds for a divorce, the leaders want to do everything we can to make sure no one looks down on you. If you have been sinned against, we do not want to treat you as the sinner. We do not want you to run from the church, but find grace and fellowship here.
If you are divorced but shouldn’t be, can you find hope in your heart that God might be able to reconcile you and your spouse? It would be a great trophy of his grace to bring you two back together. If that doesn’t happen, don’t get remarried. Don’t think you can always repent later. You never know: the next time you blatantly sin may be the time the Lord gives you over to the hardness of your heart and puts you beyond the pale.
To those who have sinfully divorced, to those whose sin caused the divorce, to those who are now remarried when you shouldn’t be: run to the cross. It is not light thing to tear asunder what God joined together. It is no small mistake to pursue an adulterous second marriage. But God’s grace is not light and it is not small. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin. There is mercy yet for you. But the contrition must be real, the admission of guilt must be honest, the repentance must be earnest. A broken heart and a contrite spirit the Lord will never deny. Run to God. Plead with God. Know his adopting love. Experience again his justifying free grace. There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.
Forever, for now
Harry Connick Jr, the modern day Sinatra-like crooner, limbers cheerfully through the “romantic” lines “if nothing lasts forever; then I’d figure I’d better take you forever, for now”, presumably unaware of the significance his wisdom carries.
He describes the era in which we live. An era where we are washed daily in a new moral code, reprogramming our thinking and therefore our actions. Before we are aware of it, even Church leaders can subtly concede that sexual promiscuity is permissible, multiple partners acceptable and marriage temporary. Before you know it homosexuality might be considered an acceptable new “revelation”. Marriage has become, even to so-called men of God, a case of “I’ll take you forever, for now”.
This code of thinking has hit even the highest ranks of Christian leadership around the world. Men who lead churches of thousands have left their wives to marry their secretaries. The so-called theology of “soul-mates” releases Pastors from covenants made, so they can marry the women “God made for them”.
The travesty is that one high profile marriage failure spills, domino-like, through congregations and minor ministries, as the programming of “acceptable” sin floods the ranks of the Church from both the media, society and even our own “Fathers in the Faith”. How will God hold these “shepherds” responsible for their actions? With great mercy and grace, we pray.
In a recent visit to a large church I failed to find one “normal” marriage situation. A “mistake” is regrettable. A few failed marriages is painful. But when there is an obliteration of all we consider sacred in a whole congregation, that’s disastrous. It’s a tragedy. It seems the spirit of the age can so capture our thinking as to render us totally insensitive to our mis-adventure.
God still hates divorce (though not the divorced). He still loves the family. He loves the purity of it. The strength it can give. It is his place for dreams to be fulfilled, sexual appetites enjoyed and the fortress from where the battles of life can be fought.
So why are ministry marriages failing? Here are the top reasons leaders have given us. We have chosen not to look at adultery and physical unfaithfulness specifically, but rather the breakdown in a marriage that can lead to such actions.
The most re-occurring comment we’ve had from leaders is that wives can so easily become “widows” to the ministry. While vision driven men charge off into feats of vision and sacrifice, their women gradually become the forgotten partners in ministry. Eventually they call a halt to their side-lined existence by communicating in the only way their husbands seem to hear – separation.
Surprisingly, so many men have told us they had no “signs” of distress from their partners before splitting up. It’s hard to believe there weren’t any. The reality is that many men simply don’t “see”.
One pastor recently told me “I thought my marriage was doing great. Then one day I asked my wife how we were doing. To my amazement she said, “we’re on the rocks!”. I couldn’t believe it. She had become a “ministry widow” and I hadn’t even appreciated it!”.
This couple completely re-designed their lives to protect their marriage.
Calling Above Covenant
It is interesting to note that many leaders become so purpose driven it becomes easier to entertain thoughts of living without their spouse, than it is to consider living without the call of God on their lives. This displays a flagrant disregard for vows made in marriage and indicates sheer arrogance towards their callings, as if God could not get through without them!
One minister with a tremendous international ministry suffered the tragedy of his wife falling into a near “vegetable” state through illness. Many of his companions and colleagues urged him to pay a nurse to care for his wife, while he continued in itinerant ministry. “She’s so ill she doesn’t even know who you are!” they advised, “and what about the call of God on your life?”.
Filled with integrity and a deep understanding of Gods heart, he turned to his advisors and with a stern rebuke scolded them: “She might not know who I am, but I know who she is! The call of God may be great, but I made a much greater vow to that woman when we married and I will fulfil it. That is my first priority”. He cared for his wife until her death after a prolonged illness.
Partners That Don’t Facilitate
In many cases of marriage failure, it could be uncomfortable to point out that many outside the marriage see obvious signs of frustration years before its collapse. Husbands who refuse to let wives get jobs, have certain friends, ministries or engage in hobbies. Wives that begrudge any visionary escapade on their husbands part, or even the slightest attempt to improve their spiritual life.
The sad fact is that if you fail to facilitate your partners dreams, they may find someone who will. Someone who believes in them, releases them and cheers them into the fulfilment of their hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, our partners dreams may not fit our own expectations of a wife or husband.
One of my own spiritual fathers wisely taught me, “most relationships fail due to unfulfilled expectations”. We all have secret agendas and expectations of people. Expectations of a partner can be made without a word being said or dreams related. While they may not be as stereotyped as a hope for a wife that is “bare-foot, pregnant and in the kitchen”, many of us have our own dreams of marital bliss, developed in our hearts from childhood.
Some dream of a quiet or homely wife. Others expect intelligence or visionary drive. Some wives expect a DIY expert; others masterful leadership and inspiration. Some expect a wife who will lead worship or pray through the night; still others a husband whose romantic sensitivities give the greatest screen god a run for his money! That’s TV; this is life!
As these expectations go unfulfilled so frustration builds up in marriage. We become fearful, rather then facilitating; controlling, instead of contributing to our partners dreams.
I was chatting to the leader of a renowned revival centre in the north of England and he brought a new angle to the recent state of ministry wed-lock: “Many marriages are failing and it’s not all because of lust. Some are just finding confidants in people other than their partners. This leads to dependence for love and understanding from someone other than your spouse.”
If your secrets and dreams find a compassionate response in someone other than your partner they become your confidant. The dictionary puts a confidant as “someone entrusted with a private affair”.
To continue that thought, any re-placed source of admiration regularly sought from someone other than your partner, leads to relationships that could be deemed “unfaithful”, even if only in mind or emotion.
It is easy to replace someone who no longer makes you feel respected, admired or pampered. It’s hard to fall out of love with the one who does. We all desire to be loved and admired. If that source of respect and admiration, affection or encouragement, springs from a source other than your spouse, then you have a problem in the making.
Failing in Fun
A majority of our contributors to this article stated that too many leaders marriages “fail in fun”. Ministry can become a non-stop onslaught of meetings, counselling and sacrifice. Partners start to be taken for granted. The relationship becomes one of “ships that pass in the night”.
While ministry can be a source of fulfilment, that is not the same as fun. It is not the same as laughter and frivolity, “play-time” and rest. Many leaders do not have hobbies and frequently feel guilty about holidays and days off. We must set a sentry over the fun in our marriages if we are to survive.
I heard one apostolic figure speak of the time he said to himself “I need to go and spend an hour with (another apostolic friend) before I commit adultery”.
Most leaders don’t have that sort of relationship with a friend or father. Many are isolated. Many have no-one to turn to when plagued by debt, loneliness or lust. Who can a leader open up to about a problem with pornography, as many leaders do at some point in their lives? Who could a leadership couple sit down with and say “let’s be friends” at a deep level? Now while that might sound strange to many in the “pews”, all senior leaders will know and appreciate what has just been said.
But communicating our needs with others can be so difficult. Do you want to share with someone who may betray, or at least remember your time of weakness years later? Where can we develop trust, recognizing we are all ensnared by sin at some point? We must be allowed to fail, struggle, sin, repent and be brought back to God’s fulness through compassionate counsel.
The university of the modern media would love to teach us all is lost. Its tutors and prophets, wonderful crooners like Connick Jr., pump out its message to a good tune. But Christian leader, don’t be taken in by its silky notes and melody. It is abominable sin he sings of so tenderly. It is children unloved. It is the collapsing purposes of God. It is men of God ridiculed and godly wives driven to cynical sidelines. It is pages in Church history tarnished, never to be re-written; our heroes stained by high profile failure, trumpeted throughout our media driven world.
Pray. Talk. Ask the hard questions. Re-design your life. Do what ever you must to ensure you keep your vows “until death do you part”. Forever means, forever.
5. BUILDING BLOCKS FOR MARRIAGE
6. SOUL TIES & TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS
By Julia Garrett
A soul-tie is a spiritual linkage from one person to another. Demons can travel into this linkage and influence the people involved. The soul ties can be formed by sexual relationships, friendships, family relationships. An example of soul ties is when one person still has feeling for another even though the couple broke-up 10 years ago. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your memory any unholy soul ties that are in your life and speak the soul tie breaking into the atmosphere. Believe that it is done in the name of Jesus Christ.
Declare aloud "I break all unholy ties between me and _____ in the name of Jesus Christ. I send back to _____ all parts of him/her that are in me washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. I return all parts of me in ____ to me washed in the blood of Jesus. I thank you Jesus that I am free.
Although prayer for another is not a bad thing, it is a way to open up your spirit to another, so if you do continue to pray for him just always remember to break any soul ties and sever it. Determine in your heart that you are going to move on and not let this relationship enter into any other area of your life and what God has called you to do in any area of your life.
Many people pine for another all there lives and it is a form of idolatry. Now I realize that you would not as a Born Again Christian knowingly go out and worship another God but when we continue to have abnormal feelings for someone who is toxic for us then we are actually putting them before God. As you break the soul ties you might want to push through these times where you feel drawn to think about this person...and make a point to confess it and ask the Lord to give you the thought that he would like for you to dwell on. It is difficult at first because you have become accustomed and actually addicted to this behavior but as you confess it as ask the Lord to help you not dwell on the past then the Lord
will help you and it will become easier and easier until one day you will realize that you have not thought of this person at all in a very long while.
I would advise you to not even pray at all for this person until your feelings or longing for him has utterly ceased. When that happens and only until that happens don't pray for him. I know that you might feel that I am leading you wrong by saying this but God is able to keep this person whether you pray for him or not. I am not saying that your prayers are not important but your emotions are playing tricks on you at this point because of the soul-ties...and your prayers are being prompted from a soulish level which is not actually the Spirit of God but an evil spirit trying to keep you hooked or addicted to this man or toxic relationship!
10. GUIDANCE - DIRECTION & CHANGES: The Door won't open!
THE YEAR OF THE OPEN DOOR
I shared previously, 2014 is the “Year of the Open Door.” See http://www.awakenations.org/prophetic-word-2014/
As I pondered the vision, it became apparent that the Spirit was saying that many have been attempting to move through the door into their destiny by their own efforts and in their own strength resulting in them encountering strong resistance from the Devil and his hosts of wickedness.
I saw a man standing at a door trying to push it open. On the other side of the door was another man who was placing all of his body weight against the door. It was obvious that he was attempting to prevent the door from opening. The more the man tried to push open the door, the more resistance he met. Eventually, he became so tired that he could no longer continue his efforts. He took a break and then tried to push the door open. All of his attempts were in vain.
Then from heaven, a voice spoke saying, “You’re going about this the wrong way; pull the door open.” The man realized his error and reached for the handle and pulled the door toward him easily opening it. Meanwhile, the person on the other side of the door fell through the door frame landing flat on his face. There was a look of surprise on his face. He immediately looked up at the man and said. “You figured it out. It’s too late! I can no longer stop you.” The man then stepped over the man on the ground and across the threshold with no resistance and proceeded to walk toward a wide open field with beautiful scenery.
LISTEN AND LINGER
Moving through the door into Kingdom power, provision and direction in 2014 requires that we no longer strive in our own efforts. We must still ourselves to listen for the voice of God and for His clear instruction regarding how to go through the door. “Cease striving and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10, NAS).
By necessity, we will need to make a commitment to linger in the presence of the Lord until we hear clearly and comprehensively from Him. We must be like the prophet who said, “He wakes me up in the morning, Wakes me up, opens my ears to listen as one ready to take orders. The Master, God, opened my ears, and I didn’t go back to sleep, didn’t pull the covers back over my head” (Isaiah 50:4-5, The Message). As we wait upon the Lord, we can rest assured that God will speak unmistakably. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21, NIV).
There are evil paths that lead to destruction. There are also many good paths that one can choose to walk upon, but the way to breakthrough is by finding the God-path in your present season.
Do not merely seek an “open door” as a sign of determining the will of God for their lives. There is a better way than this! In the New Testament the Holy Spirit wants to speak clearly to us. Why settle for ‘sign language’ communication when you can hear God’s voice and know His thoughts. Jesus said, “I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father” (John 15:15, The Message).
“In all your ways acknowledge [know personally and intimately] Him and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
“Commit your way [path] to the Lord; Trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).
12. SPIRITUAL SEASONS
Throughout our lives, we go through spiritual seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Sometimes we stay in season for a long time (years) and at other times things seem to change more quickly. You can be sure of one thing - we will keep going through seasons, as nature itself does, which is an indication of LIFE itself.
Life is ever changing and evolving and our spiritual lives need to be also, otherwise we will become stagnant, stale/dull and 'comfortable' but lifeless - so God takes us through revolving spiritual seasons for our maturing and stretching in order that we may be more fruitful and more like Him.
Let's look at what these spiritual seasons are and what they look and feel like in our lives.
Spring is a season when God gives us new beginnings, fresh starts, new boundaries to grow into, promotions, birthing new ministries, having babies, new jobs and new assignments. It is a time of freshness and catapulted faith to launch into the unknown. It is a time of seeing the first small beginnings of what God spoke in our winter tombs. It is resurrection power of hope, courage, and rekindled passion.
Summer is a time when we are growing in the assignments God has given us. It is a time of experiencing visual fruit, gifts, movement and productivity. It is a fulfilling time where we are fully launched, we are passionate and carrying out the plans God has spoken to us. Summer is a time of labour and delivery.
AUTUMN / FALL
Fall is a time of bringing things into completion. We harvest and conclude what we have been building. We organise it and settle it, and either store it for later or give it away. Just like the parable of the tares and the wheat, Fall is a time of release and letting go as we prepare for Winter. Fall is the beginning of death to self where God is tearing down structures in our lives instead of building them up. It is a time of drawing aside and our roots going down deeper.
Winter is a time of death to self-life; where we wait upon God to bring new life and hope. It is usually a colder time with feelings of isolation, separation and little outward or visible activity in God. In the darkness of one’s tomb, in the dark night of the soul, this is where we draw near to God by putting our roots down deep in Him. We cling in desperate times and He is there to reassure us and speak Words of hopeful promise of what is to come.
These four Seasons can be quickly rotating and ongoing in our lives. We can thank God for the season we are in and try not to rush the process to the next season. We are in this season for a reason!
However, God is drawing His corporate body together more and more. As God’s people become more aligned and in sync with Him, the greater the unity of movement on a corporate level. In such a case, the seasons in our lives slow down so that we can join His overall movement on the larger scale. The seasons of our own independence are slowing as we fit into His overall plan of moving a mass of people through spring, summer, fall and winter. It is a much slower change from one season to the next and each season can last years.
Who was I born to be?
What is my purpose in Life?
What is it I came here to do?
Let us face it, no one really wants to dance through their life with a cavalier attitude having never found the answer to these questions.
God did not design us that way!
We were born for a purpose!
We will not find true satisfaction until we discover our own DESTINY!
Because God as our creator designed us to be fashioned in his image and likeness we just can’t help but to desire more than just a meagear existence. Just as God created us and created the whole entire universe we are like him and once we discover some basic principles about our own desires, talents, strengths and gifts. etc. etc. these things will work hand in hand with his master plan for us. We can find the right path that will guide us and lead us to our DESTINY!
DESTINY does not just happen. One time I heard a message by the late, Miles Munroe and he stated that if you look at the graves in a graveyard you will see many there that died never fulfilling their life’s purpose. I don’t believe that any of us want to live our lives never fulfilling or at least being on the pathway that leads us to our ultimate goal in Christ Jesus, OUR DESTINY!
The most exciting news you can hear is that you do have a destiny. So many times we have a preconceived idea that we don’t have any choice in the matter or that if we just ride it out we will find it. Others, think that it will just hit them square in the face and that it is inevitably going to work itself out which is very far from the truth!
Therefore, what is your destiny? What is the thing in life that will make you the happiest and the most fulfilled? Simply stated, it is what you are best cut out for. It is what will give your life meaning, hope, joy and the deepest satisfaction.
That’s Right, destiny rocks.
Ephesians 1: 3-4
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,…
One of the most surprising things I have discovered about destiny is that even those challenges in life were designed to help us find our destiny. I am sure you have heard the scripture:
Romans 8:28 King James Version (KJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Say what? Yes, Challenges a part of my destiny!
Sorry! Yeah, those things that hold us back, keep us down, cause us to cry out are our proving ground that actually lead us to our destiny. But, those things don’t have to keep us down for ten years or more when one could easily learn the lesson and let it go in one week, perhaps!
Those life lessons come to make us stronger and God knows that for us to accomplish our purpose on earth we must be strong. We are not going to be able to fulfil our calling if we stay in the stage of babyhood all our lives. So therefore, we must be challenged and we must find out what we must do to win the battle. Yes, it is spiritual warfare and many do not want to fight. I understand that because it is not a pleasant experience and I wish I could tell you that everything is going to be peaches n cream but there is a proving ground and we must get through it to the other side, victoriously.
In our next instalment of these lessons I am going to give you some important tips about putting on the armour of God that will help you to win every battle you are going to face in order to not only find out what your DESTINY is but to pursue your destiny and fulfil your purpose on earth!
Now, I want each of us to realise that our destiny is “the customised calling God has ordained and equipped us to accomplish.” It is the purpose or reason we are here on earth and it will bring the greatest glory and achievement (maximum expansion) of God’s Kingdom!”
You are his masterpiece, and that is how he views you. As His masterpiece, you are that special, valuable, rare, named and known by Him. Everyday ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of that. You can say everyday to affirm it yourself, “I am special, valuable, rare and named by God!” “ I am His special masterpiece!” Speak it out with confidence each day until you believe it!
You relationship with the Lord should be first and foremost in your life and everything else including your spouse, your best friend, your children must revolve around it. As you make God your top priority by pursuing Him early in the day when you first awaken you are not going to struggle to find your destiny, because God will reveal it to you in the context of your ever increasing relationship with Him. So therefore, as you make God the central focus of your thoughts, actions, desires, time, talents and even your treasures you are going to find that he will make miracles happen out of the messes in your life.
Once you realise that God has called all born again believers in all professions to advance His kingdom on earth it will settle your uneasiness about whether you are called to Fivefold ministry or called to be God’s ambassador in another field or profession. In other words, not everyone is called into full time ministry or what is known as Fivefold ministry. It is okay to feel called by God to work in the field of medicine, law, public service, etc. etc. or even be an entrepreneur. It is okay to desire to do missionary work but to also hold down a secular job or profession in order to support your mission trips.
Because God has created you with some very specific desires and motivations ask these questions:
What captures my attention
What makes me feel alive
What would I choose to do if I could do any work?
Now once you have identified your passion then you can figure out how your passion connects to eternal values. Pray about your passion and ask the Lord to show you how to pursue it in a way that will expand His kingdom on earth. For example: Say you have a passion for selling something online as an entrepreneur and the money or revenue you get will help you to feed the homeless or to go on a missions trip, or to help orphans, etc. etc. The list could be endless but whatever you put your hand to can prosper through Christ and can be the very thing needed to expand God’s kingdom on earth through finances!
God’s guidance will very often come just one step at a time. He is waiting for you to take the first step in developing your passion into something he can use. In other words, just because you don’t have the larger picture or vision should not keep you from moving forward with your passion. The main thing is to not let your passion be your main focus! Always keep your focus on the Lord and step by step pursue your passion.
If you have a talent then use it for the Lord whatever that talent may be. Each born again believer has spiritual gifts that are available. We are to desire the best gifts according to God’s word.
1 Corinthians 12: 30-31
29All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30All do not have gifts of healing, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
Once you know what your gifts are then you can stir them up(Ask me How?) and use them to better serve others and to further the kingdom of God on earth. Your gifts and talents don’t have to be limited to church services, etc. etc. as so many have thought but can be used to minister to others outside the four wall of church. They can also be used in the church, as the Lord leads!
If you are an artist you can use this gift both inside and outside the church just use it for the Lord! Or if you are a singer you can use it both inside and outside the Lord as the Lord leads you to do.
Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
Each and every day that God gives you contains wonderful opportunities to fulfill your destiny. As you maximize your time being a good steward and doing what he desires you to do you will find that things begin to work more smoothly in life and you will become more successful!
Yesterday’s message was about a horse that became harnessed to the Lord. As one makes that commitment to follow hard after the Lord not holding anything back life begins to make more sense and have balance and greater fulfilment. It is true that God might change some of our own plans and we will begin to see things through a new perspective as we allow him to lead us. I have desired things in my life that did not bring lasting fulfilment and God changed my dreams and plans a few times over my life until I found that pearl of great price, which is Jesus and his plan for my life. As you make that full commitment to him you will begin to know God in a way that will lead you to your purpose but in the meantime stir up the gifts, pursue those things that you are passionate about and allow your commitment to God to lead you in those pursuits!
THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU ARE LEARNING GOD’S PLAN:
Cooperate with God as He trains you to depend on Him
Develop a lifestyle of worship
- Aim to work for the Glory of the Lord rather than your own.
Take a free spiritual gifts test: click Here
Take a Free Fivefold Ministry Test: Please click Here
Julia Garrett, Apostolic Restoration
7. WHEN WE CAN'T HEAR GOD
Things that Help Us or that Might Hinder us in Hearing From God!
Help # 1 - Spending Time in His Presence
Spending time with the Lord is probably the best way one can develop their spiritual ears and eyes and we are told in John 15: 15:
15 I don’t call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. But I’ve called you friends because I’ve made known to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father.
We must realise that when we first meet someone we don’t know them very well. We might just be acquaintances with me. We might have learned a few things about them such as their name, where they live, what they do for a living, etc. etc. but we don’t really know them until we have spent more than likely hours and hours of time getting to know them better. So it is with the Lord we may know all about him but until we spend that one on one time with him we can’t really say that we are a friend of his. So therefore, our relationship must be developed over time.
Communication is the key that opens the lock to the door of our understanding of and knowing God’s best kept secrets!
Bonding Time is essential in the development of relationship with both God and man and therefore the more bonding time one on one is what is needed. Now there really is no other substitute for it. I am not even talking about going to a church service and worshipping. Now this is a special time but can’t substitute for that time we spend with him when we are not really expected to do it through groups, etc. etc. Don’t confuse this or think I am saying God can’t speak to us during an anointed time of worship in a church or other places where we gather to worship! God can speak to us anytime, anyplace! Amen!
Help # 2 -The Exercising of One’s Senses
As we exercise we will become to understand and hear the voice of the Lord with crystal clear clarity and by doing this we will gain the confidence we need to step out in faith. We should always be on the look-out which includes listening and praying for perception in those things that we are seeing and hearing. We have spiritual ears and spiritual eyes as we begin to reach out and begin to do some of the activation exercises it will help to sharpen our vision and magnify our hearing both progressively and exponentially.
We can do this through the Activation exercises we do online but we must also realize that the Lord is also helping us and working through us as the Holy Spirit begins to examine our hearts and even our motives for what we do or even say. We find this in Job 23:10;
10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Help # 3 - Obedience
Simply put, we must be obedient to what God speaks to us! If he gives us instructions we must be willing and obedient to do what he tells us to do. God may tell us things about ourselves that are good but if we don’t believe him then what good was it for God to speak to us. We must believe what he tells us. Don’t allow your own heart to criticize and berate yourself no more than you should criticize and berate others. Make the choice to believe what God says about you! Don’t turn a deaf ear to what God is speaking to you sometimes over and over! Amen!
Help # 4
We are to also remember to covet the gifts. How do we do that? We choose and begin to “desire” spiritual gifts according to God’s word. I have so many people that come to me and ask me to pray that they will get these gifts supernaturally. Many people seem to have the idea that these gifts are just something that God drops down on them without any effort on their part. Now I am not saying that that cannot happen in that way because all things are possible to those who believe but we are told in God’s word to earnest desire the best gifts and especially to prophesy.
Read the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 and also 1 Corinthians 14: 39 which instructs us to “Covet to prophesy.” Which means we are to go after it and desire it passionately. We might feel a little fearful that we are going to make a mistake but with God all things are possible and he will give us the strength and the capacity to operate in these gifts if we will step out in faith! This is another reason why I teach and train the body of Christ to move in the gifts. I also try to provide a safe environment for those to practice and to stir up those gifts as evidenced in the Activation Class Portal.
Apostle Paul instructed his student, Timothy to Stir up the gifts.
2 Timothy 1:6 - Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
Some of you think that you have to have a prophet or minister prophesy over you that you are going to operate in these gifts which is not totally the correct understanding of what God is saying to us through this scripture. If we are told to covet to prophesy and we are told to desire the best gifts then we can choose to ask the ministry to lay hands on us to receive the gifts then after we have done so we can begin to stir those gifts up by using the means and ways that other ministry has used to develop those gifts. It is a scriptural way to go about learning to hear God and being used in ministry in the Body of Christ. It is time that we shed these misconception that are being taught or being thought in the Body of Christ. It is great to have a prophet come to town but if the prophet does not come then we have been given the gifts that are operational through the body of Christ as the individuals both collectively and individually allow the Holy Spirit to use them in that capacity.
If you have a desire for these gifts and begin to cultivate them you will find that they are more likely to show up when they are needed in the Body of Christ. Your part or your portion is sorely needed to help fulfill the plan of God in the fellowship where you are planted! It is time to bloom where you're planted. Also, don’t limit the gifts to the church house! The gifts can operate through you at any time they are needed even in the supermarket, in the home, at work, etc. etc. It is high time we get out of the box of religion and begin to do the work of the ministry whenever and wherever it is needed!
Help # 5 - Hearing God is a Lifestyle
As I mentioned above don’t limit Hearing God to the church house . We must not keep the things of God in the box! We have a lost and dying world out there that we have been commissioned to go out and to share the good News of the Kingdom. We need the gifts in order to effectively do this. As we become trained and proficient in doing so we will be witnesses and carriers of the anointing of God to bring forth deliverance to others who are in need of what we have to give. Amen!
Help # 6 - EveryOne Can Hear!
Let us remember, ordinary people just like you and me can hear God’s voice. Don’t think that this is just for a special big name minister because that is so untrue. The word of God teaches us that “My sheep hear My voice.” The entire congregation or flock of believers can hear God. You may be thinking, “Why am I the only one that cannot hear God for myself?” That is a lie from the pits of hell and is going to isolate you. You are also not the only one that feels this way because I talk to hundreds and hundreds of people online who feel this way and feel so dependent on the clergy to hear from God that they are paralyzed to even think for one minute that they might be able to hear, too! It is time to debunk that myth and to realize once and for all that everybody can hear the voice of God!
Those are six very good helps for us but let us talk about a few of the hindrances that keep us from Hearing!
Hindrance # 1 - DisobedienceJeremiah 22:21 - I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.
What happens when we refuse to obey the Lord’s voice? Our hearing becomes dull! Yes, We become dull of hearing when we refuse to listen and obey what he speaks to us. When we do that he shuts down, so to speak. If we don’t understand him, he will continue to speak to us but when He knows we have heard but we just refuse to speak forth what we have heard then eventually our refusal stops up the flow of hearing...It turns the channel off! We have shut the Lord down. We have heard him but our refusal to act upon what we have heard stops up the well. Our inner well, which is supposed to flow freely out to others is now stopped up and until we go back to our last act of disobedience we are hindered in our hearing.
Hindrance # 2 - Human Reasoning
This is when we begin to talk ourselves out of being obedient. We begin to pick things apart with our analytical thinking and by our own natural thinking. We begin to think logically and that completely undermines what God has spoken to us. We begin to be presumptuous and become like a doubting Thomas to what God has told us to do or say. Don’t allow your human reasoning to reject what God has spoken to you.
Hindrance # 3 - Fear or Fears
We then may begin to allow the fear of making a mistake hinder or even the fear of being rejected or criticized keep us from obeying and giving forth in faith, hope and love. When I first began to be used in prophecy back in the early 1980’s I had to keep this prayer in my heart and when I would step out in faith I would say this little prayer, “I take authority over doubt, fear and unbelief in the Name of Jesus.” As I took the authority over the enemy that was lying to me and telling me that I was going to make a mistake it became easier for me. I still at times would get nervous but over time the nervousness and fear became less and less. You have to get honest with God and tell him your fears and ask him to intervene and then you must grow a little bit of backbone and determine what would be worse: Would disobedience to God be worse than being embarrassed because you made a mistake! One time a prophet spoke to me rather candidly and said, “Who are you trying to please anyway, God or Man?” I am standing here today because I had to choose whom I would be allegiant to, God of Man?
Hindrance # 4 - Traditions of Man
It is true that not all traditions are bad but it is that tradition of religiosity that make the word of God of none effect. The traditions I am speaking of are the ones that we do over and over religiously because we think they are the thing to do. They have lost their effectiveness because we no longer giving God our heart service but we are doing them out of an act of religious duty or performance mostly to appease man or make man think we are very religious! We are giving lip service but our hearts are far from him. We are putting on the religious mask only to be seen by others to perpetuate the idea that we are very godlike when many times our hearts are not really there anymore!
Hindrance # 5 - Our own Opinions
Many times we infiltrate our own opinions into something that is based on the word of God but it is not necessarily what God has spoken to us. It might even be a good thing but it is simply our own opinion. The reason we believe that way is our own choice because it is just our own opinion of something.
Opinions can deter or hinder us from using righteous judgement! Once when I was praying for a group of people when I was a music minister I had an opinion of the people. I felt that they were being hindered in their response to our time of praise and worship because they were refusing to enter in. I felt God wanted me to reprimand them and give them a good scolding for not entering freely into the time of worship! Thankfully, I went to the Lord right before time of our service because I was prepared to give them the ultimate scolding and the Lord said, “I want you to tell my people that I love them and that I am very pleased with their worship when they come to me with a heart to follow closely after me.!” God stopped me in my tracks and that day when I spoke what God spoke rather than my opinion it was the best praise and worship service that we ever had.
Opinions are also like Mindsets! We may have been taught a particular thing for so long that we cannot deviate from it. Such as: What if God desires to change the order of the service in church? What if God spoke to the minister and said don’t do things the same way today as you do every time we come together. What if God said save the music to the end of service or what if God said to not even have preaching that day to just praise and worship the Lord rather than have that portion of the service. Many times we miss God because we have a set order of the way things must be done! Let us dare to venture out and obey God. Obedience is so much better than sacrifice!
Hindrance # 6 - Discouragement
If we are feeling discouragement and have gotten into despair we will not be able to hear the voice of the Lord. The “woe is me” mentality is not going to get us anywhere. We must learn to do as David did...he began to encourage himself when all things were going wrong in his life: read the entire chapter of 1 Samuel 30:6 -
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
David got out of the dumps pretty fast and came to know one of the greatest victories of his life as recorded in 1 Samuel 30. Remember when discouragement comes use it as your opportunity to come out on top! Encourage yourself in the Lord!
Hindrance # 7 - Too Emotionally Involved!
When I was being trained in the prophetic and learning to minister as a minstrel a prophet warned me of being too emotionally involved which was hindering me from moving prophetically as a minstrel. I had to learn to command my soul to not get overwhelmed by all the problems of the people we ministered to. The prophet was right because sometimes I would get so overwhelmed by their hurt and pain that I would become over emotional. I learned that when we become over emotional it cancels out what God wants to do for people through the spiritual avenue of flowing out and bringing forth a refreshing in the spirit! God does show us things through our natural senses but not so we can become overwhelmed by those things we are sensing through our natural 5 senses. Many times as I ministered in music or in prophesying to others I begin to pick up what they were going through physically and emotionally. God wants us to move with compassion but he does not want it to emotionally charge us to the point of exhaustion and grief. Many times as ministers we may experience something and think it is from our own life but in all actuality it is what we are picking up from others who are hurting. It is the way that God sometimes shows us what, when and how we are to minister to the people but we are to have control over our own emotions! Amen!
Hindrance # 8 - Guilt
If we allow guilt to overtake us then we begin to turn a deaf ear to what God is speaking to us. We simply can’t allow guilt to trip us up! Don’t even allow it in your vocabulary of expressions of your nature for it is not from God!
When God is Silent!
In general, remember that God talks and we hear if we are listening! So if we are in regular communication with him chances are we are hearing His voice. The only time he may not be speaking to us is when we are going through a test. God wants us to pass the test and therefore he allows us to recall from past times of hearing to see if we really are getting what he has been showing us.
Also, if God is not speaking in one particular area it is because he may desire to speak to you concerning another subject of great concern. For example, You may be asking the Lord when is the time for you to go into ministry but God desires to bring your own family into order before that time and therefore he will desire to speak to you about that concern rather than going into ministry. His greatest concern for those going into ministry is that they need to have things in their family life in divine alignment before they go into ministry. So therefore, God will not tell them when to go into ministry until they have heard his voice concerning their family life.
Another reason for His silence could be we have not been obedient to do the last thing he told you to do, when he last spoke to you. We dealt with disobedience up above but this is certainly something to remember when God seems silent!
What shall we do when God is silent?
We may at times fail our test and it might be necessary to take another lap around that same mountain and this time pass the test by being obedient, so we can move on beyond that particular point. The choice is ours to make. Do we want to continue around the same mountain over and over or do we want to move on?
Let us pray:
Lord, Thanks so much for showing us the hindrances and also the things that are going to help us and help us to pass the test all along the way. We submit our dreams, visions, desires, destiny to you and ask that you continue to lead us, guide us by speaking to us. Forgive us where we fail and help us to get back on the track even when we have faltered in Jesus MIghty Name. Amen!
9. Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and Stress is a spirit of fear. Do you struggle to connect with people! How about you try to reach out to others, but seems difficult to form deep and lasting relationships. There could be a spirit of fear working in your life and not allowing you to build close relationships because of a fear of rejection from others, fear of man, fear of rejection and even fear of vulnerability. Why, because someone hurt you at a very young age! This spirit of anger and rejection can also be passed down from one generation to the other.
From the moment you have conceived your spirit was alive, but events took place in the womb or life events took place after birth that profoundly affected your life, especially separation from the mother that could have been brief but the damage took place. Does this describe you and are you looking to become free from a spirit of fear?
How to Overcome Anxiety and Stress: What is anxiety? Anxiety is panic attacks you have no control over it.
Let’s look at symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks:
- Tense muscles
- Heart Palpitations
- Fuzziness or feeling like you is going to faint
- Stomach hurting
- Breathing Hard
- Extreme Fear, Anxiousness and Nervousness
- Physical twitches
- Loss of appetite
- To feel a need to stay busy (can’t be still)
- Inability to concentrate
- Exhaustion (feeling tired all the time)
Unfortunately, this affects your body such as the following:
- It affects your gastrointestinal System
- Immune System
- Central Nervous System
- Pulmonary System
- Cardiovascular System
- The mental state in the Limbic system
It is said that 80% of all diseases have no known medical cure. Your doctor gives you medication that is disease maintenance and not a cure or fix. In scripture, the Lord said “Fear Not” 365 times. He knew we were all going to deal with a spirit of fear.
How to Overcome Anxiety and Stress which is fear and comes in through bitterness, rejection, personal family sins, your sins, traumatic events, and usually unresolved mental, emotional, and spiritual issues leads to anxiety. From a spirit of fear, which is the opposite of faith, you can develop all kinds of diseases if you are not able to overcome a spirit of fear.
- Generational diseases
- Specific Diseases
- Fear, Anxiety and Stress Disorders
Jesus was sent to give us the keys to overcoming the snares of the enemy and have victory in our lives. Thank you for taking the time to Read How to Overcome Anxiety and Stress in your life and find deliverance.
Deliverance from Anxiety & Fear
- Thank God for everything He has done in your life.
- Appreciate Him for giving you the Spirit of boldness, love and sound mind.
- I bind the spirit of fear in my life, in the name of Jesus Christ.
- I break every evil covenant that has brought fear into my life, in the name of Jesus.
- All negative doors that the spirit of fear has opened in the past, be closed now, in the name of Jesus.
- In the name of Jesus, I refuse to fear, because God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
- I refuse to be intimidated by any demonic nightmare, in the name of Jesus.
- I reject, renounce and destroy every evil agreement or covenant in the environment, in the name of Jesus.
- Let every power contrary to the power of God operating to suppress people in my environment be bound and cast into hell, in the name of Jesus.
- I bind every spirit of frustration, defeat, delayed blessing and fear in my environment, in the name of Jesus.
- I bind the spirit of death, armed robbery and assassination in my neighborhood, in the name of Jesus.
- My tomorrow is blessed in Christ Jesus, therefore, you spirit that is responsible for the fear of tomorrow in my life, I bind you, in the name of Jesus.
- Let every territorial spirit working against us in our neighborhood be frustrated, bound and cast out, in the name of Jesus.
- Every disease, oppression and depression that came into my life as a result of fear, disappear now, in the name of Jesus.
- I command every terror of the night that has brought fear into my life to stop and move from my environment, in the name of Jesus.
- You spirit of fear, loose your hold upon my life and my family, in the name of Jesus.
- I command all human agents using the spirits of fear to terrify me in the night to stumble and fall, in the name of Jesus.
- No weapon of Satan and his agents fashioned against me shall prosper, in the name of Jesus.
- My life is hid with Christ in God, therefore nobody can kill me or harm me, in the name of Jesus.
- My destiny is attached to God, therefore I decree that I can never fail, in the name of Jesus.
- Every bondage that I am subjecting myself to by the spirit of fear, I break you, in the name of Jesus.
- All arrangements of the devil concerning my life, home, work or business shall not stand; neither shall they come to pass, in the name of Jesus.
- I destroy all efforts of the enemy to frustrate my work or business, in the name of Jesus.
- I nullify every writing, agreement or covenant against my prosperity, business or work, in the name of Jesus.
- Father Lord, increase my greatness and comfort me on every side, in the name of Jesus.
- Every enchantment and invocation of fear being made against me, I neutralise you and I command you to fail, in the name of Jesus.
- I close every door through which the enemies have been working against my life, in the name of Jesus.
- I open wide all doors leading to my blessings, victory and breakthroughs which the enemies have closed, in the name of Jesus.''
By Patrick Conaty
Do you ask yourself this question?
Have you tried treatment & endless meetings ..... And realize, "That's just not me!"
Well, I did too and I came to realize several very important things I will
share with you that you will have to REALIZE before you can finally
be sick and tired of being SICK and TIRED!!!
There are vast amounts of information out there on the subject of alcohol
and drug addiction, and my goal is to keep it real. I've seen what
can work and I know the potential each human has and can choose to
use, if the desire is there and the right information and motivation
I must emphasize that I believe in the value of each person, and like
myself, each must come to terms with who they are, what they desire,
and their own way of finding it. My purpose here is not to convince
anyone of how right one way is or better than another, but to share
what I have learned in the process and hope that it will encourage
others to do the same.
I have often heard the question, “Why do I drink or drug?” Or, “Why
can’t I stop using alcohol or drugs?” These questions, I believe,
miss the mark. The more important question is the “what”
question. “What do alcohol and drugs give me?” “What has life
presented to me that I believe cannot be handled without my loyal
six-pack or pipe?” “What would happen to me if I could not depend
on using alcohol or drugs?”
The answer is simple and nothing new. Those who drink or drug will do
anything to avoid fear. "What" they get is a temporary fix
or way out. It is human nature to choose what we perceive will give
us the most happiness at any given moment. Fear hinders this process.
Fear is often secondary to the disease concept in most recovery programs.
I believe this gives people a “false hope” that if they obtain a
mastery over this insidious disease they will obtain a life of
happiness. However, they find out this is not the case when they are
presented with a negative life experience and end up using alcohol or
Why? Because they believe (perceive) the situation will be unmanageable if
they do not run and hide in a liquor bottle or crack pipe. The
avoidance of fear is greater than resolving the conflict in a
Addiction is our ability to control fear in a way we perceive as most effective
for a particular situation. To control this fear is the motivation
and alcohol and drugs serve this purpose well.
In the end, the person struggling with an addiction must come to realize
that his/her individual worth is not because he/she is “sober” or
“addicted” but because he/she is alive.
The addict will continue to use until he/she is convinced that they can
successfully live life without the use of alcohol or drugs.
There Is A Way & You Have A Choice!
I must expand here for I do not believe the alcohol or drug user is
inept or deficient in any way. They are not any different than the
non-addicted person. Sure they may have a mess to clean up with
family and friends, but their desire to avoid fear and obtain
happiness is the same as anyone’s. Some overeat, some exercise too
much, some close themselves off and become bitter, some work too
much, some drink or use drugs, etc. The bottom line is balancing how
we cope with our fear in life and still be able to function in a
But how do we decide this balance? How do we determine what is healthy or
unhealthy for each of us individually?
The question I often ask myself is "What statement do I want to give
to the world?" This is individual and powerful for each
individual. It cannot be taught to them or forced upon them with
consequences and threats. Consequences and threats can be a
motivation to change only if the person realizes their current choice
of behavior does not match their inner desire and focus of who they
want to be and choose for their life.
So the answer lies in our ability to realize who we are and who we want
In the mean time, be Radical for God!!!!
Whatever you may be addicted too, the Lord can set you free if YOU are willing to go through several steps.
1. The first step is acknowledgement, to yourself and to others that you have this addiction and that you need some help, because you can't get free from it on your own. The second step is repentance. Repentance means a turning around and doing the opposite of what you have done before. It is not just admittance and confession, it is a commitment to a change of lifestyle. So you need to come before the Lord and admit and confess everything to him first, and ask for his forgiveness... then you need to ask him to help you to change - or to change you from the inside out. Ask him to cleanse you and to give you his power and strength to overcome this.
2. The next step is to renounce. Renounce the addictions and the things have got a strong hold in your life - you can even write it down. Renounce it before the Lord and then follow the instructions he gives you. He is on your side and he is for you, not against you. He wants to help you. So you need to be committed to working with Him and with others to change your lifestyle. It is a often a slow process, but it is worth the effort in the end to see some the positive effects of this decision taking place in your life.
3. The next step is to go and get some help. This is part of your repentance and part of your renouncing and part of your recovery to wholeness. It takes humility (admitting you have an addiction) and it takes courage and strength to do this. You cannot do this on your own - you need people to stand with you, who you can be accountable too, who can guide you and stand with you in this process. So please go and get some professional help, preferably from professional Christians and ministers who can help you with the addiction and with all the spiritual aspects that are attached to it. If you are not willing to get help, then you will find yourself stuck in a repeated pattern of behaviour. Professional help and Christian counsel and deliverance can help you to get help out of that cycle. You will need this help (and possibly need to go into a rehab programme) until you are completely free and the habit is totally broken and new life and thought and behaviour patterns are established in your life. This takes time. Please do not leave the programme until you have completed it, because you will find yourself being drawn back into the old lifestyle and habits you once knew, and not in any better position than when you started.
4. Another step you need to take is to seek Christian deliverance from the addiction. With habits and addictions we have created demonic strongholds within us and we need these strongholds need to be broken in your life. Not only do the spiritual strongholds need to be broken, but also healing needs to take place in your life, that caused the addictions to form in the first place. Hurt, rejection, abuse, all sorts of life experiences can be the spiritual and emotional roots that cause people to become addicted. God wants to bring salvation, deliverance, HEALING and wholeness, to the whole of your life.
If you really want things to change in your life, you really need to make these steps, make these decisions, and in time, you will see the fruit of this in your life. In time, you will be free, whole and delivered. God needs you to give him permission to work in your life. He will not force this on you, and neither will anybody else. He loves you and wants to help you, and even if you fail, he will hold out his hand and help you to get up and get going again.Some addictions can be generational, e.g. your father or grandfather may have been an alcholic, and so the spiritual roots of this needs to be broken.
So I pray you will hear me, really hear me and hear my heart and hear the heart of the Father - He wants you to be free, because He loves you and has already paid the price for you. I pray you will make the right choices over this concerning your life.
Toxic Porn, Toxic Sex:
A Real Look at Pornography -
Find freedom from porn addiction, see the 9 lies of pornography and how to
By Gene McConnell
Porn & addiction...sex out of context
On a cold, dark night, there's nothing better than a blazing fire in the
fireplace. You can pile on the wood and let it burn nice and warm.
It's safe, warm, relaxing and romantic. Now take that same fire out
of the fireplace (which was built for it) and drop it in the middle
of the living room. Suddenly it becomes destructive. It can burn down
the whole house and kill everyone inside. Sex is like that fire. As
long as it's expressed in the protective commitment of a marriage
relationship, it's wonderful, warm and romantic. But porn takes sex
outside that context.
It's a big business that makes a lot of money and doesn't care how.
They'll show you whatever they think will make you come back and buy
more. "There were 11,000 porn video titles last year versus 400
movie releases from Hollywood last year...[and] 70,000 pornographic
What Fuels Porn Addiction?
One of the most vital parts of mental environment is a healthy idea of
who we are sexually. If these ideas are polluted, a critical part of
who we are becomes twisted. The porn culture tells you that sex, love
and intimacy are all the same thing. In porn, people have sex with
total strangers -- people they just met. All that matters is my
satisfaction. It doesn't matter whose body I'm using, as long as I
get it. Porn gets you to think that sex is something you can have
anytime, anywhere, with anyone, with no consequences.
The problem with porn's shallow perspective is that relationships are not
built on sex, but on commitment, caring and mutual trust. In that
context, like fire in the fireplace, sex is wonderful. Being with
someone who loves and accepts you, someone who is committed to you
for your whole lives together, someone you can give yourself
completely to, that is what makes sex really great.
To Find Freedom from Porn Addiction: Recognize the Lies
You can't learn the truth about sex from pornography. It doesn't deal in
truth. Pornography is not made to educate, but to sell. So,
pornography will tell whatever lies attract and hold the audience.
Porn thrives on lies -- lies about sex, women, marriage and a lot of
other things. Let's look at some of those lies and see just how badly
they can mess up your life and attitudes.
Lie #1 - Women are less than human
The women in Playboy magazine are called "bunnies," making them cute little animals or
"playmates," making them a toy. Penthouse magazine
calls them "pets." Porn often refers to women as animals,
playthings, or body parts. Some pornography shows only the body or
the genitals and doesn't show the face at all. The idea that women
are real human beings with thoughts and emotions is played down.
Lie #2 - Women are a "sport"
Some sports magazines have a "swimsuit" issue. This suggests
that women are just some kind of sport. Porn views sex as a game and
in a game, you have to "win," "conquer," or "score." Men who buy into this view like to talk about
"scoring" with women. They start judging their manhood by
how many "conquests" they can make. Each woman I "score"
with is another trophy on my shelf, another "notch" in my
belt to validate my masculinity.
Lie #3 - Women are property
We've all seen the pictures of the slick car with the sexy girl draped
over it. The unspoken message, "Buy one, and you get them
both." Hard-core porn carries this even further. It displays
women like merchandise in a catalog, exposing them as openly as
possible for the customer to look at. It's not surprising that many
young men think that if they have spent some money taking a girl
out, they have a right to have sex with her. Porn tells us that
women can be bought.
Lie #4 - A woman's value depends on the attractiveness of her body
Less attractive women are ridiculed in porn. They are called dogs,
whales, pigs or worse, simply because they don't fit into porn's
criteria of the "perfect" woman. Porn doesn't care about a
woman's mind or personality, only her body.
Lie #5 - Women like rape
"When she says no, she means yes" is a typical porn scenario. Women
are shown being raped, fighting and kicking at first, and then
starting to like it. Porn teaches men to enjoying hurting and
abusing women for entertainment.
Lie #6 - Women should be degraded
Porn is often full of hate speech against women. Women are shown being
tortured and humiliated in hundreds of sick ways and begging for
more. Does this kind of treatment show any respect for women? Any
love? Or is it hatred and contempt that porn is promoting toward
Lie #7 - Little kids should have sex
One of the biggest sellers in pornography is imitation "child"
porn. The women are "made-up" to look like little girls by
wearing pony tails, little girl shoes, holding a teddy bear. The
message of the pictures and cartoons is that adults having sex with
kids is normal. This sets the porn user up to see children in a
Lie #8 - Illegal sex is fun
Porn often has illegal or dangerous elements thrown in to make sex more
"interesting." It suggests that you can't enjoy sex if it
isn't weird, illegal or dangerous.
Lie #9 - Prostitution is glamorous
Porn paints an exciting picture of prostitution. In reality, many of the
women portrayed in pornographic material are runaway girls trapped
in a life of slavery. Many having been sexually abused. Some of them
are infected with incurable sexually transmitted diseases that are
highly contagious and often die very young. Many take drugs just to
Pornography makes a profit from the ruined lives of young women and entraps men
who will spend lots of time AND money succumbing to their product.
We might think that the things we see and hear don't affect us. Yet we
all admit that good music, good movies and good books add a lot to
our lives. They can relax us, educate us, move us or inspire us. Just
as uplifting media can benefit us, pornographic images can negatively
Images are not always neutral. They can persuade us. Businesses know that if
they can get a persuasive image of their product in front of you
during a highly emotional moment, it will sink into your subconscious
mind. The advertising scientists are so good at what they do, they
can predict just how much more of their product you will buy if you
see their ad. Sometimes, viewers don't even see the name of the
product. Reeses Pieces paid a huge price just to have their candy
shown for a few seconds in the movie "ET," and sales of
Reeses Pieces skyrocketed. Why? Because the emotions connected with
watching that small boy reaching out to the alien were transferred to
the visual image of the candy. If a split second view of a product --
even when it's not the center of attention -- can affect people's
behavior, imagine the effect of a movie that keeps your attention
glued to the screen for an hour and a half with sexually explicit
What are the effects of pornography on a man?
What kinds of ideas is porn putting into our heads? If the wrong things
keep getting dumped in, your mental environment can get so polluted
that your life is going to have problems. One of the most vital parts
of mental environment is a healthy idea of who we are sexually. If
these ideas are polluted, a critical part of who we are becomes
Porn Addiction: The Pull of Pornography
Not everyone who sees porn will become addicted. Some will just come away
with toxic ideas about women, sex, marriage, and children. However,
some will have some kind of emotional opening that allows the
addiction to really grab hold. The porn companies don't mind at all
if you become completely addicted to their product. It's great for
business. Dr. Victor Cline has divided the progress of addiction into
several stages; addiction, escalation, desensitization, and acting
out. For porn addicts, I've found that there is another stage that
comes first -- early exposure. Let's look at these stages:
Most guys who get addicted to porn start early. They see porn when they are very young and it gets its foot in the door.
You keep coming back to porn. It becomes a regular part of your life. You're hooked and can't quit.
You start to look for more graphic pornography. You start using porn that
disgusted you earlier. Now, it excites you.
You start to become numb to the images you see. Even the most graphic
porn doesn't excite you any more. You become desperate to feel the
same thrill again, but you can't find it.
ACTING OUT SEXUALLY
This is the point where men make a crucial jump and start acting out the images they have seen. Some move from the
paper and plastic images of porn into the real world, with real
people, in destructive ways.
Porn Addiction: Am I Addicted?
If you see any of these patterns in your life, you need to put the
brakes on right now. Is porn becoming more and more in control of
your life? Do you have trouble putting it down? Do you keep going
back for more?
Porn Addiction: What Can I Do?
The first thing you've got to do is admit that you struggle with
pornography. Believe me, you are not strange or unusual if you do.
Millions of men are at various stages in the struggle with porn. It's
really not surprising. The porn industry has spent billions of
dollars trying to snare you. Is it really shocking that they have
succeeded? For some of you there may also be issues in your past,
such as abuse or sexual exposure, that makes porn addiction even
harder to shake. There is only so much you can do in fighting
addiction without help.
You need someone to help you break this addiction. Overcoming the secrecy
is absolutely vital. You probably can't escape addiction without it.
That doesn't mean everyone has to know you're struggling. Pick
someone you can trust who counsels men who are having problems with
addiction -- a pastor, youth group leader or counselor. Someone you
can completely trust, feel safe with and has experience in the area
of addiction isn't going to be surprised.
Is There Any Freedom from Porn Addiction?
1. Pornography entraps you with lies. In contrast, God can lead us into truth. Jesus
said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you
2. Those who heard Jesus say this were offended and countered, "We have
never been slaves of anyone, how can you say that we shall be set
3. And Jesus explained that people are enslaved to sin, but that He can set
4. Sin not only enslaves us, but it distances us from God. And no one is
perfect. No one is righteous in God's eyes. Instead we're told that
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to
his own way."
5. We all deserve God's judgment and punishment. Yet God, who is holy and
loving, provided a solution for our sin, so that we would not have to
be justly condemned. He personally took the punishment for our sin on
Himself. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was tortured and died on the
cross for our sin so that we could be forgiven. Three days later
Jesus rose from the dead, just as He said He would. And He now offers
you a relationship with Him. One of the most amazing statements in
the Bible is this one, "If we confess our sin, he is faithful
and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all
6. The Most Important Relationship
In your search for intimacy and love, pornography is an empty substitute
for real love. We have been created by God to have our intimacy needs
met most deeply by God Himself. "For God so loved the world that
he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life."
7. In contrast to the darkness and destruction that pornography can bring
to people's lives, Jesus said, "I came that they might have
life, and have it more abundantly."
8. God offers you his forgiveness through a relationship with Him. Do you
want to ask Him to forgive you and come into your life? You can tell
Him right now. If you need help putting this into words, here is
prayer that might help:
"Lord Jesus, I am aware of my sin, and I know that you are also. I ask you to forgive me and cleanse me. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I ask you to come into my life right now and begin to work in my life. Direct my life as you see fit. Thank you for your
forgiveness and for coming into my life right now."
12. Overcoming Depression
When his father had a sudden heart attack and died, Jack Lawson was devastated. He withdrew from friends and family, was unable tosleep at night, and just couldn't stop crying. It took him a good six months to resolve the resulting depression, but afterwards he
said he felt "better put-together than before."
Depression is something most of us grapple with at some time or another. As Dr. Frederick Flach, professor of psychiatry at Cornell University, explained, depression is a normal reaction to many of life's situations, such as the loss of a loved one, a valued object, or job, or experiencing divorce.
Depression is only destructive if we fail to resolve it. When we work through it, our life, like Jack Lawson's, can be enriched. Until resolved,
however, its symptoms can be very painful and include a loss ofself-esteem, appetite or libido. It can induce indecisiveness,
alcoholism, sleeplessness, irritability, bad temper, tearfulness, dejection, procrastination, apathy, headaches, backaches, chronic
fatigue, nausea, digestive upsets, and many other ills.
Its causes can be many and complex. They can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. There are no simple answers, but once we
understand and treat the causes, we can resolve and get on top of our depression.
Physical Causes. For several years Joan was plagued by fatigue and depression. A thorough medical examination showed that she had low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). After a short time on a suitable diet she was back to her old, bright self.
Considerable depression is caused by repression of negative
feelings such as anger.
Physical exhaustion, burnout, an unbalanced diet, too much refined sugar, lack of exercise, a chemical deficiency in the brain, or hormonal
changes can make people vulnerable to depression too. The latter is especially true for women during their menstrual cycle or
pregnancy, immediately following the birth of a child, or during menopause.
Some depression is the result of normal mood swings that most healthy people experience at some time. Other depression can have
its roots in painful childhood experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or from a feeling of not being fully loved.
Lack of purpose without meaningful work and worthwhile goals, not using one's abilities, too few friends and loneliness, unmet
needs, and unfulfilled dreams, can all cause or increase depression as well.
Considerable depression is caused by repression of negative feelings such as anger. Dr. Theodore Issac Ruben, eminent psychiatrist and author of The Angry Book, reminds us that when we deny our true feelings and smile when we feel like snarling, the suppressed anger can
lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, psychosomatic illness, alcoholism, frigidity, impotence, and downright misery.
Anger turned in on ourselves can drive us down into a spiral of depression. No wonder the Bible advises, "Don't sin by
nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly."
1. Depression can be a denial of emotions. This is why the healthy reaction to adverse situations is to accept our feelings and express them
creatively—verbally or through writing—whatever they are.
Faulty thinking is another cause of depression. Many counsellors believe that feelings follow thoughts. That is, negative feelings
follow negative thoughts while positive feelings follow positive thoughts.
When his father had a sudden heart attack and died, Jack Lawson was devastated. He withdrew from friends and family, was unable to
sleep at night, and just couldn't stop crying. It took him a good six months to resolve the resulting depression, but afterwards he
said he felt "better put-together than before."
Depression is something most of us grapple with at some time or another. As Dr. Frederick Flach, professor of psychiatry at Cornell
University, explained, depression is a normal reaction to many of life's situations, such as the loss of a loved one, a valued
object, or job, or experiencing divorce.
Depression is only destructive if we fail to resolve it. When we work through it, our life, like Jack Lawson's, can be enriched. Until resolved,
however, its symptoms can be very painful and include a loss of self-esteem, appetite or libido. It can induce indecisiveness,
alcoholism, sleeplessness, irritability, bad temper, tearfulness, dejection, procrastination, apathy, headaches, backaches, chronic
fatigue, nausea, digestive upsets, and many other ills.
Its causes can be many and complex. They can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. There are no simple answers, but once we
understand and treat the causes, we can resolve and get on top of our depression.
For several years Joan was plagued by fatigue and depression. A thorough medical examination showed that she had low blood sugar
(hypoglycemia). After a short time on a suitable diet she was back to her old, bright self.
Questions such as the following can be helpful:
- Am I hurt or angry? Am I not forgiving someone?
- Are my needs for love and acceptance being met?
- Have I learned to recognize and express my feeling creatively?
- Have I resolved any impaired relationship or feelings of guilt?
- Am I using my abilities?
- Do I have a purpose for living with worthwhile work and meaningful goals?
- Have I accepted full responsibility for my life and my feelings?
Merely talking about problems or feelings is not helpful. We need to see, confess and resolve the feelings our problems cause.
Is the cause mental?
Remember, when we feel down, we tend to dwell on self-defeating, negative thoughts. Exchange these for positive
affirmations such as, "Thank you, God, that you love and accept me as I am. Because you do, I love and accept me too."
Concentrating on positive thoughts—even though you don't feel like it—and doing something worthwhile to help get your thoughts
off yourself is also helpful for overcoming depression.
Is the cause spiritual?
Dr. Paul Tournier, world-renowned Swiss medical doctor and psychiatrist, states, "All my experience has taught me the limitations of medicine and psychology, because the supreme and universal need of man is to find God."
Augustine (354-430 AD) aptly described man's need for God this way: "You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."
Man finds total inner peace and wholeness only as he is in harmony with himself, others and God.
If you are depressed, talk to your doctor, a close friend, your pastor, or a competent counsellor. Live a balanced life and
remember, with help, faith, and persistence you can overcome your depression. Above all, talk to God. He loves you and cares for
you. Ask him to direct you to the help you need, to give you the courage to face the cause/s of your depression, and to help you
grow through your pain.
1. Ephesians 4:26, (TLB).
2. Philippians 4:8, (NIV).
Ill mental health and depression is very common, in fact, four of my own family members suffer with ill mental health, ranging from dementia, major depression, to bi-polar with schizophrenia affective disorders, sometimes involving hospitalization. It is very painful and difficult for those suffering, and for the families and loved ones around them to see them suffering and to manage the symptoms and behaviours that result, and to manage its effect on the entire family. When one family member suffers, we all suffer, and we all need support.
One of the first things we need to do is to recognize and understand the symptoms of depression and other forms of mental illness, and not judge and condemn those who are suffering; but support them, get along side them, and help them to find a way of managing and find healing for their pain, anxiety and distress.
Mental illness, like all sickness and disease, stems from the Fall of mankind in the Garden where sin, sickness and disease entered into the world. Mental illness is just another form of sickness, but in the mind, and we should not be afraid of it, nor avoid people who suffer. Many are born with learning or educational disabilities or disorders, or physical disabilities, which tend to be inherited, or may come after a serious illness or accident, or genetic fault. These are also the result of the Fall (not personal sin), and not the fault of the suffer, or their immediate family, and they need lots of love, understanding, practical help and guidance, and the whole family needs support. They may also receive total healing, especially when we confront the spiritual root causes.
Many questions are raised by Christians as to whether mental illness (not disability) has demonic roots, or whether they are demonised. Personally, I believe mental illness is manifested as a medical illness, just like any other form of illness, and the symptoms (not the causes) can be treated with medication - BUT it has spiritual roots, just like all sickness has spiritual roots. I also believe that demonic activity is at the root of mental illness, often coming through OPEN DOORS of trauma or abuse, unforgiveness or bitterness, or through genetic inheritance/curses down the generational line, or through drug misuse, eg cannabis; stress is also a major cause of mental illness, and bereavement and loss, and sometimes mental illness is inherited. However the illness began, the suffer no longer has control over their symptoms, and need a helping hand so the Lord can heal them.
I believe that people who suffer with mental illness are demonically affected, oppressed, or demonized, and need help, counsel, prayer and deliverance, alongside medical treatment to help them manage their symptoms until they are completely healed. There are generational spirits, spirits of heaviness and despair, self-pity, attention seeking, spirits of mourning, and tormenting and lying spirits which can attach themselves to one another, forming a stronghold in peoples lives; but 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us that we can pull down strongholds and demolish every pretention and argument that sets itself up against God (and this includes his children), AND we can take captive every (depressive) thought and make it obedient to Christ.
Some people with serious mental illness need a low dose of medication throughout their life to keep them stable, and I would not discourage this if it helps them to lead a normal, healthy lifestyle and stay symptom free; but I would also encourage them to seek healing from the Father who alone can heal the causes and completely set them free. However, we cannot force people to receive counsel, inner healing or deliverance as part of the healing process; some people will not be free from mental illness, unless they really want to be – they need to choose to forgive and let go of the pain, trauma and fear, lifestyle, or whatever the initial cause, ongoing causes, or open doors are. They need to shut the doors on the past, receive inner healing, and choose to move forward with their life; but it is their choice, not ours.
So how can we help those suffering with depression and other forms of mental illness?
Firstly, we need to know and recognize the symptoms of mental illness and depression, without putting blame or condemnation on the person. We can research into these illnesses via the internet or books and via people with knowledge and personal experience, preferably, professionals. Secondly, we need to know there is healing through Jesus.
Symptoms, Causes & Healing
The symptoms of major depression are: depressed moods, diminished interest in activity, disturbed sleep and eating patterns, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, poor concentration, and thoughts of suicide. According to the medical profession, they may gain some help and relief via exercise, proper rest, good nutrition, therapy and anti-depressants, and family and friends supporting them. God’s plan is to heal us completely, and this he can do, if he is given access and permission.
Some other causes of depression, alongside those mentioned above, are negative feelings that occur when we experience dashed expectations and disappointment, failure to gain recognition and acceptance, discouragement, marriage breakups, family disputes and separation, job loss and loss of income, financial and business problems, bullying, rejection, abandonment and failure, and emotional triggers from past painful or traumatic events. Whatever seems to be the cause, our enemy, Satan, is behind it. He wants us to give up hope, and to become despondent and despairing. He wants to steal our life and joy and hope, but the Lord Jesus wants to give us life abundantly, and to give us joy, hope, faith and strength.
Joyce Meyer believes that depression can be healed by counter-acting the causes of depression by believing and applying the truth from the Word of God ....for instance, if the cause is disappointment (not achieving our goals), we need to let go of the past, and make new plans and goals to aim for.... we need to get a new vision, plan, idea, fresh outlook, a new mindset.... because in Philippians 3:13 it says, “but one thing I do (it is my one aspiration): forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Also Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us not to remember the former things or consider the ways of old, because God is doing a new thing, and we need to perceive it... he is making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. New things are now springing up.
Joyce Meyer also teaches us that we need to resist the devil on the onset of depression. We must not flirt with him, because once we open a door, he will get a foothold, and will come in and form a stronghold within us. He will do it subtly but will destroy the life within us if we play games with him, eg by excusing ourselves from forgiving and becoming angry and bitter, or by allowing ourselves to enter self pity and start attention seeking; this gives Satan permission and a license to enter and stay, and it allows the depression to grow deeper and stronger... that is why we must resist these temptations at the start, and consciously choose to submit our thoughts and feelings to God, and allow Him to minister to us instead of allowing the enemy to take us down. We need to resist depression immediately by submitting ourselves to God and by using the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Jesus used the word of God to resist temptation in the desert, and we can also learn to do the same, and Satan will flee.
Also, through praising God and rejoicing, we can break the power of depression by changing the spiritual atmosphere and our levels of faith. We begin to see and perceive a great God, who is greater than our difficulties, who is able and willing to help and deliver us from our troubles. We begin to perceive our troubles as they really are, rather than magnified out of proportion. We can begin to declare things that are not, as if they were (Rom 4:17) meaning, we can pray and praise, establish in prayer by agreement, declare and decree the blessings and favour of God on our lives and in our situation and release it in the spiritual realm, which will then be released in the physical/natural realm of our lives. The physical and natural world follows the spiritual realm. When Paul and Silas began to praise God in their prison cells, the doors flew open and the shackles came off. There is great power in praise. Satan hates praise and will not be present when you are worshipping and seeking God. Praise and rejoicing can be one of our weapons of warfare against depression.
Several notable people in the Bible became depressed, including Elijah, Saul, David, and we are going to take a look at Elijah, and how the Lord helped him to recover.
Elijah became depressed after he defeated the prophets of Baal. He thought he failed God because the nation did not turn back to God, even after this incident, and when he heard that Jezebel was after him to kill him, he ran away, afraid and depressed. But God knew how to minister to Elijah and how to bring him out of depression.
God let him rest
Sleep is one of the best relievers of stress. It is the method that God has built into us to help us get all the stress energy out of us. Elijah probably had not had much sleep when he was preparing to face the prophets of Baal, so now he was exhausted and suffering from 'burn out.' He needed to sleep. If you are suffering from depression, then sleep is one of the best things you can do.
He made him eat
Our bodies need strength, and when we are depressed, we tend to lose our appetite. Elijah was woken up twice by an angel and told to eat. We are not sure what he ate, but it was clearly something that God provided to give him extra strength. If you are depressed then it is good to strengthen your body with healthy food and vitamins that are necessary to perk us up.
The body is important in your recovery from depression. A healthy body enables you to function in a way that gives you new hope, because then you can do the things you want and need to do.
God made him exercise
To help Elijah recover, God told Elijah to go up to the mountain, and wait before the Lord. This was not just a little hill, it was a mountain. This would have taken a lot of effort and Elijah had plenty of exercise before he got to the top of the mountain. Exercise has an amazing way of dealing with our emotional state. Some people major on this and exercise just for the effect that it creates. When we exercise, the body produces endorphins, which is a chemical that is released in our brain, which gives us a boost and a sense of well being, a bit like a drug. God certainly knows that we need to feel good, and our physical condition plays a large part on our victory over depression. Exercise is one of the methods we can use to get there.
He spoke to him
A depressed person needs someone to talk to, who can see things from a clear perspective. We need to talk to someone who will not only listen and sympathise with us, but will sympathetically disagree with the wrong way we have approached things. We can read the account in 1 Kings chapter 19:9:
And he came there to a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD [came] to him, and he said to him, what are you doing here, Elijah?
Notice that God did not condemn him or put him down. He simply asked him a question. What are you doing here?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword; and I, [even] I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
Elijah gave his answer to God's question, which showed quite clearly that he did not have all the facts. He thought that he had failed. His motives had been pure. He wanted to glorify God, not himself, but he thought that he was all alone in this, and that no one else supported him. He needed some words of encouragement and also a new direction.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; [but] the LORD [was] not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; [but] the LORD [was] not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; [but] the LORD [was] not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Elijah was looking for God in the wrong places. He was expecting a great manifestation of the power of God, because this is what he saw when he faced the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He had called fire down from heaven, and then he prayed for the rain. After that, he outran the chariot. After these events, Elijah was probably expecting a great move of God's power on the people, with some spectacular results of them turning back to God. This is one of the big mistakes we often make that lead to depression. We try to assume how things will work out, and when it doesn't work out the way we expected, we think that God did not hear us, or He does not care, but we often don't see what is taking place behind the scenes.
God came to Elijah in a still small voice. He did not need to look for big manifestations or revelation of God. The same thing applies to us. Some want to hear from a prophet of who has a great word of revelation or we want some miraculous sign from heaven, but we need only look into our own heart, and to listen to the still small voice within, because that is where He lives by His Spirit.
15 And the LORD said to him, Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when you come, anoint Hazael [to be] king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shall you anoint [to be] king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shall you anoint [to be] prophet in your place. 17 And it shall come to pass, [that] he that escapes the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and he that escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
Elijah needed a new goal to aim for, and he needed a new direction. A depressed person has no future goals. They don't know what to do next. So if we want to break free, we need to set some new goals, and we need something new to get excited about. We need something to aim for. God gave Elijah some very clear instructions on what he should do next. God re-directed him and gave him a new mission.
Often depression causes us to sit around and do nothing, but we need some activity to get to re-motivated, and the best kind of activity, is helping someone else. Elijah had a job to do, he was to go out and give out the anointing that was upon him. So he did, and took his eyes off his own needs and started looking at the needs of others. When we do this we open the doors to the blessing of God in our life. The wonderful thing about helping others, is that it seldom leads to rejection. People gladly accept unselfish love.
So one of the best methods for breaking free of depression, is to see the needs of people around us, and go out and try to meet those needs in love; so we change our orientation to an outgoing one, where we put others first, instead of ourselves. Giving out to others takes our mind off ourselves and it brings joy that is found in giving. It is always more blessed to give than to receive.
18 Yet I have left [myself] seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.
The final word of encouragement that God gives to Elijah, was that he was not alone. there were another seven thousand people who still served God and not the Baals. He had not failed at all. He had been faithful to do what the Lord had called him to do.
The Healing Presence of the Lord
Removing and healing depression is not simply a matter of applying a formula and getting results. We saw how God dealt with Elijah to bring him out of depression. Elijah broke free immediately, and went out boldly to do what God told him. After that, he went out in a blaze of glory, as he rode up to heaven in a chariot of fire.
We need to help people break free from depression because it is not something they can do alone. They need someone who understands and does not condemn them. They need someone who cares enough to get involved in their life. They need someone who can disagree with them in love. They need someone who can give clear direction on what to do. Ultimately, depressed people need to get into the presence of the Lord and hear His voice, but this is difficult for a depressed person, so another person who is hearing God can speak words of life to the depressed person. It is only the healing words of the Lord that can set people free from depression, because the Lord always accepts us without any conditions, and He who never condemns, but always has something good and positive to say to us. It is only He who forgives and gives a clear direction to us. He knows the end from the beginning, He knows us even better than we know ourselves, so He can tell us the things we need to hear. He can tell us where we should go from here. He can tell us the best set of actions to carry out right now, and He will give the depressed person a ministry task that will take their eyes off themselves and get them back to a place of balance, peace and rest.
There are some more serious forms of depression, such as Bi-polar or Schizophrenia, which can have deep and devastating effects on the sufferers and their families.
Bi-polar is a more serious form of depression, and involves a cycle of behaviours that range between mania and depression. Mania could include increased energy or rage, reckless behaviour, increased sexual activity, inflated self esteem, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, and sometimes drug and alcohol abuse. The mania may last for between 4 to 6 months, followed by months of major depression (as explained above), then the pattern of behaviour could be repeated. There are four different forms of bi-polar and this sickness may manifest itself in different ways in different people.
Schzophrenia or schzophio-affective disorders, have symptoms of major depression, hallucinations, which includes visual or audio hallucinations, eg hearing voices that condemn the sufferer, delusions of grandeur or persecution, behavioural problems or regression, disordered thoughts, e.g. believing their thoughts are being read or transmitted, apathy, and sometimes catatonic/physical symptoms, eg staying in a fixed position for hours, not speaking etc.
The cause or root of these sicknesses is spiritual, but the illness manifests itself in a mental illness. There are spirits of madness, depression and despair, lying spirits (accusations that condemn), spirits of confusion and many more that can attach themselves to a person, and attack their minds, causing great distress to the sufferer. God does not want this, He wants to see people suffering with mental illness, delivered and free. In Isaiah 61 it says: ...”He has sent me (Jesus) to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim FREEDOM for the CAPTIVES and to RELEASE prisoners from darkness ....” It is Satan’s job to bind and wound, destroy and kill the soul, but Jesus was come to heal the broken-hearted, set the captives free and brings liberty to ALL who are bound.... and this includes the mentally ill.
There are many more mental illnesses, and I cannot include them all here. We need to remember, suffers need our help, support and love, not spiritual bullying or rejection. Secondly, we need to offer help and God’s healing power, but use wisdom. Some people do not want to be helped, and it can be exhausting. We need the co-operation of the person affected, or we can go around in circles, accomplishing nothing; BUT we also need to understand that mental illness usually takes time to heal; it is a process, and we need to persevere and be patient - any support we give will need to be over a long term. We need to remember that medication helps with the symptoms but does not deal with the root causes, and that in order for people to heal, we need to deal with the root causes, gently, over time, with the full co-operation of the people involved. Healing for a person with depression or mental illness involves a mixture of approaches, and it is a process of Godly counsel, resisting the evil one, retraining of thought patterns and behaviours using a scriptural approach, taking care of the body and soul, and deliverance and inner healing over a course of time.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
Ps. 34:19--------------19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
Ps. 3: 8…………..Real help comes from God. Your blessing clothes your people!
I have had a sensing that many of God’s people are going through much affliction, needlessly! I have found that there are characteristics of afflictions and as you read them if you can identify with even just one of them it is time to realize that the enemy has been sent...an assignment has been placed upon your life. If you have afflictions that return even after you thought you were free of them then it is time to understand what you must do. Now I am not alerting you to this to terrify you but to give you the knowledge that is needed to destroy the works of the devil!
CHARACTERISTICS OF AFFLICTION:
1. It causes pain.
2. It causes suffering.
3. It causes a man or a woman to be knocked about here and there.
4. It causes embarrassment and harassment.
5. It causes a person to be knocked down completely.
6. It causes weakness.
7. It causes trouble.
8. It causes a person to be burdened.
9. It causes a person to be distressed
10. It causes oppression.
11. It causes torments.
12. It causes a person to be smitten.
Ulcer, diabetes, hypertension, failure, divorce, financial and so on are all killers. If you don’t rise up in the ability of our God and kill affliction, it can kill you or at the least cripple you physically as was as emotionally and spiritually. That is why the Bible says: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b).
Prayer to come out and pray each day and especially when affliction arises:
In the Name of Jesus every source of affliction in my life must die. Every arrow of affliction, in my life, back fire now. Every rain of affliction dry up and lose their power of control over and through my life.
Every power of affliction come out now by the roots. I uproot every assignment and every root so that it cannot thrive ever again. I render every affliction homeless by the Blood of the Lamb.
Every power that wants me to be ineffective in minister, profession, and life is rendered impotent and must die now and go to its grave. Every assignment against my health must be forever rendered powerless and ineffective over my life. For God’s word says that I am healed by the stripes of Jesus and that I stand healed before him, totally made whole right now. Every financial difficulty must wither and die for God says that I am the head and not the tail and I am blessed in every way for I wear the blessing of God as a cloth, as a garment that totally covers and cloths me and I cannot be afflicted. Therefore I stand up now and I speak to every affliction or assignment and I command it to go right now and not come back in the name of the Lord. Amen and Amen.
Don’t take no for an answer and every time the enemy raises his head in your life(remember he is under you feet) remember that you have the authority to destroy the works of Satan in your own life and in the lives of those who are under your care and those who desire to be set free who come to you for help! Amen!
I speak the blessing of God upon you as a garment and say that no weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue that rises up to condemn you, you shall prove wrong for you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! Amen!
With Much Love,
Julia Garrett, Founder of