Warfare, Relationships & Forgiveness

We had a great time in our Facebook Live Event with Dr. Ed Laymance last night as we dealt with Spiritual Warfare, or as Dr. Ed said “Spiritual Intrusion.”  I learned a lot personally & will go back to see him privately to talk through some of the things he shared that impacted me.  One of those things I want to talk with him about is related to the diagram he used that helped me see how the enemy builds spiritual strongholds in our lives, and how we can tear them down.  If you missed it, I hope you’ll find some time to watch it on the Grace Fellowship Facebook page; it’s long but very eye-opening. You can get free downloads & further helps from Dr. Laymance at http://Impactcounseling.com

One thing I realized is that I had a long-term relationship I needed to make right because I left the relationship and never told the person involved why.   Yeah – I was that guy.  I contacted them this morning and they were so grateful to know the reason and told me it meant a great deal to them for me to let them know. The break wasn’t over any offense or hurt and I don’t have room to explain; it was more of a business/friendship type relationship. However, I realized that when I leave a relationship (like this one) and don’t tell the person why I left, that opens a side door to the powers of darkness & those spiritual powers of darkness will exploit the situation in the other person, in me and sometimes in those we know. It’s not usually something we do intentionally, but I don’t think most of us realize how much this can be used against us and others in this spiritual war.  When there’s an offense or hurt involved it becomes even more ripe for the enemy to exploit because those involved need to have opportunity to ask for forgiveness or give it. Forgiveness is huge in shutting down the intrusions of the powers of darkness.   Forgiveness doesn’t mean trust or the relationship is always restored, but failure to deal with the hurt as Jesus outlined, opens the door for the enemy to intrude in the lives of those involved & in the lives of others.     BTW – When there’s an offense, we need to do what Jesus said in Mt. 18:15-18 and it starts by going to the person(s) involved privately.

Last night helped me see even more clearly how all of this is linked to this Invisible War we’re all engaged in.  Hope this provides some food for thought and is a reminder of how important it is to choose a life of humility and obedience to Christ, and do our part in forgiving and offering forgiveness in our relationships.  As Dr. Ed said last night – regardless of how the other parties respond, “forgiveness is for my benefit.”

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What God Says About Me

When we make a decision to believe and receive Christ as Lord and Savior, we become a brand new person.  Christ is in us and we are in Christ.

Colossians 1:27 NLT says:  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Ph says: For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ; and he has made us agents of the reconciliation.

A great article on what it means to be in Christ can be found at: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-stupendous-reality-of-being-in-christ-jesus

When we put our faith & trust in Christ; believing and receiving Him, we become a child of God with all the benefits of being in His forever family. Our true identity is found in who we are in Christ and in what God says about us in His Word.

In fact, God sees me and you as VALUED.  Value is usually determined by who owns something and what someone is willing to pay for it.  Several years ago someone paid $130K for a 52 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card because they valued it that much.

When it comes to how much God VALUES you, think about this:

“You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him…”     1 Corinthians 7:23 TLB

If ownership and price equal value, remember God paid for you with the life of His own Son so you could become a part of His family forever.  God says you’re infinitely valuable to Me.

You have a position (or standing) with God because you are “in Christ”.  He lives in and through you.  As a result of our POSITION IN CHRIST…

WE ARE FORGIVEN: Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:13-14

WE ARE ACCEPTED:  John 1:12, John 15:15, Romans 5:1, 1 Corinthians 6:20, Ephesians 1:1 & 2:18, Colossians 1:14

WE ARE SECURE:  Romans 8:1-2 & 8:39, Philippians 1:6 & 3:20, 2 Timothy 1:7, Hebrews 4:16, 1 John 5:11-13 & 5:18

WE ARE SIGNIFICANT:  2 Corinthians 5:18 & 6:1, Philippians 4:13, John 15:1-5 & 5:16, Ephesians  2:10 & 3:12, Matthew 5:13-14

Here are a couple of other resources that may help you if you want to understand your identity and position in Christ more clearly.

The book: Identity by Eric Geiger

The book: Lifetime Guarantee by Bill Gillham

The book: Who I Am In Christ by Neil T. Anderson

Here’s another link that you might find helpful on this topic: https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/core-christian-beliefs/the-believers-position-in-christ.html

God bless you,

BJ

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Putting On The Full Armor of God – Marc Moore

This Sunday we continue our series on The Invisible War. Several years ago we did a video with my buddy Marc Moore about his daily routine which includes a symbolic way of putting on God’s Armor.

I know it’s a little old, but we found it while looking through resources for this series and even though we won’t use it this Sunday, I thought some of you might enjoy it as we prepare for Sunday.

Here’s a link to the video: https://vimeo.com/343473229

God Bless,
Pastor BJ

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It’s Not What We Eat

In my time alone with God this morning I read Matthew 15:10-11 NIV10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

When you read that, what do you think Jesus was saying?

In essence, He was telling His Jewish listeners who were wrapped up in tradition and ritual that it’s not what (or how) you eat that defiles you.  They had all kinds of rules about washing their hands before they ate and making sure they only ate the right foods.  Washing your hands (not their rules) is still a good idea, and their approved food list was based on the Law from the Old Testament and the many laws they added to it.

To “defile” means to make you unclean or polluted toward God. I’m well aware that good nutrition is a key to physical well-being and I’m once again striving to eat clean.   Jesus isn’t talking about nutrition; He’s making a point that it’s the things coming out of your heart which make you unclean, not the things you eat. What’s in your heart will eventually come out in your words and actions.

We’re in a series on Spiritual Warfare right now, and I promise you our enemy constantly targets our heart, mind and emotions.  He tempts us with attitudes of the heart and mind that are eventually seen in our words and actions.   He loves to get us to hold on to things like pride, envy, bitterness, jealousy, anger, lust, greed, and hatred.   Satan will tempt us to hold onto unforgiveness or think it’s ok to say we forgive but refuse to attempt to reconcile a relationship which both lead to unclean hearts according to the New Testament.

Our enemy will also try and get us to believe that if we look good to people most of the time, then we’re ok.  When Samuel was charged with selecting a King for Israel, God made it quite clear that it’s not how we appear to others that matters.  1 Samuel 16:7 NIVstates: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

In Matthew 15:10-11, Jesus was telling His Jewish listeners that what’s in your heart is far more important than what or how you eat (or even how you may appear to most people).   The same is true today, so the most important thing we can do is a regular heart check. This past Sunday, as Pastor Chris preached, God’s Spirit spoke to my heart about an issue of pride within in me. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit pointed it out; I confessed it immediately and have a placed a passage of Scripture and some notes to myself in my office to help guard my heart against this element of pride I didn’t realize was in my heart.

If you struggle with heart issues take them to Jesus honestly.  A good book that can help you deal with some enemies of the heart is titled with the same words:  Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley.

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Starting Well & Finishing Well

It usually takes a lot of faith to try or start something new; it also takes sustained faith to see it through and finish well.  

I was reading the account of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14 yesterday, and took note of Peter’s incredible request and faith.   “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus told Peter to come to Him.  As Peter begin to walk on the water toward Jesus, he took his eyes off Jesus, focused on his circumstances, wavered in his faith and began to sink.  I’ve always thought about the fact that there were eleven other guys in the boat who didn’t have the faith Peter demonstrated; his faith to do something that seemed impossible was amazing.  He started well, but didn’t finish well in this situation.  However, he did do one thing well as he was sinking; he cried out “Lord, save me!” 

Peter is still one of my favorites in the New Testament; his faith story is worth studying as he had a number of ups and downs including the fact that he denied knowing Jesus just before the crucifixion.  Jesus’ meeting with Peter on the shore of the sea of Galilee after Peter’s denials and Jesus’ resurrection was an incredible meeting of grace and truth.  In the end, Peter did finish well and became one of the most courageous followers of Christ of the 1st Century who was martyred for his faith.  He not only started well – he finished well.

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Happy 16th Grace Fellowship!

My heart was humbled, hopeful and filled with joy this morning as 50 men gathered to pray at our monthly Men’s Prayer Breakfast at Grace Fellowship on the 16th anniversary of the beginning of Grace.    16 years ago, on Sunday morning, June 8, 2003, the Grace Fellowship family came together to worship Jesus in the Bridgeport High School commons.   HAPPY 16TH BIRTHDAY GRACE!   I’m blown away by what God has done as we’ve seen thousands of lives changed.  I’m grateful for those who went before us in prayer, sacrifice and faith to make Grace a reality, and for those who continue to do so. Thank you for being faithful to our mission to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you for INVITING, CONNECTING, GROWING, and GOING.  It is an incredible blessing to get to serve God with the Grace Fellowship Family at this “Miracle in the Cow Pasture.”

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Warfare Helps for The Invisible War

As CS Lewis said, There are two extremes to avoid when talking about the reality of Satan and demonic activity: to put way too much emphasis on it or way too little.

In other words – don’t think everything bad that happens is a result of demonic spirits.

On the other hand, don’t forget we are in a real life & death invisible war with demonic forces.

There are a number of things that can help you, but some great resources are:

Tony Evans  (you can use this link or find other info at tonyevans.org)
https://tonyevans.org/tag/spiritual-warfare/

Chip Ingram – check out Chip’s material online at Living On The Edge

If you have deeper issues we recommend Dr. Ed Laymance at Impact Counseling in Arlington, Texas, who is an expert in helping people deal with spiritual warfare.
https://www.impactcounseling.com

We will be doing a Facebook Live Event with Dr. Ed Laymance on Sunday, June 23. Watch for details.

We’ll also be talking about specific things (practical things we can do) related to this Invisible War throughout the month of June at Grace.

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Jesus Didn’t Do Many Miracles There…

I’m finishing Matthew 13 this week and read a verse this morning that brought back an old memory.

And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Mt. 13:57 ESV

The people in Jesus hometown who saw Him grow up and knew about Him and His family took offense at what God was doing through Him and refused to believe in Him. Therefore, verse 58 says he did not do many miracles there.

As I read this, I thought back to when Jesus changed my life as a 19 year old young man. I began serving Him immediately and a year later He called me to serve Him in ministry (to serve Him in a full-time capacity for the rest of my life).

Several years later I bumped into an old friend (who is a Christian) at a wedding. I’ll never forget what he said to me: “I could never come to your church because I know too much about you.”

In essence, he was not allowing for the fact that God could (and did) change my life. He didn’t have the faith that God could not only change me, but change the dynamic of our relationship.

Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in His hometown, because the people there decided to push back on faith. They chose to dwell in the past and missed out on the miracles God could have done among them.

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MARRIAGE HELPS

Janet and I will be married 42 years in July. We’ve had messy times and magnificent times together. We shared a little about this on Sunday, May 4th, during our Instafam series at Grace Fellowship. You can watch the message online at http://www.gf.church

As stated on Sunday, May 4th, I’ve listed some resources we think can help you. If you’re having serious problems please seek out a Christian Counselor! Most people our pastors counsel at Grace have been having problems for 3-7 years before they ever ask for help and by then, many of them feel like they have no hope. There is hope; get some help!

Here are some resources you may find helpful; they’ve been helpful for us!

Seriously – everyone should watch this!  Incredibly funny and poignant!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViuAblc-M0g

My blog on 40 Years of Marriage   https://bjrutledge.com/2017/07/18/40-years-of-marriage/

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage

https://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-proof Marriage   Willard F. Harley Jr

The 5 Love Languages  Gary Chapman

Love & Respect  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas

What Radical Husbands Do Regi Campbell

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Fruity Christians

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Jesus said by our fruit people will know us. If you’re a Christ follower, the fruit of your lips, the fruit of your attitudes, the fruit of your actions & reactions, the fruit of your social media posts all paint a picture to the world of what Christians are like. Sour posts, lips, attitudes, actions and reactions don’t help the cause of Christ. A thought from my time in Matthew 7 this morning. Just saying!

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