By Nina Medrano –
I was praying for a loved one who is trapped in a cycle of temptation, asking the Lord to deliver her as he delivered me, to protect her against temptation as he protected me; to tip the balance from living a lie to living in truth, as he did for me. I began to see a picture of a chase, a hunt, for her life. I saw words, like, SELF-DESTRUCTION, DEATH, VIOLENCE and HARM, seeking her out. A sense of urgency for her safety stirred my heart to pray. I asked the Lord to “hide her in the shadow of his wings” (Ps. 17:8), to “hide her in the cleft of his rock” (Ex.33:22), to “house her in the secret place of his most high” (Ps. 91:1). I prayed that these spiritual assassins would not find her and that they stop seeking her out.
As the picture of this spiritual chase played out in my mind, the Holy Spirit re-played the words I spoke to my loved one just a day prior. Sharply, I said to her, “You could be hurt or lying dead somewhere! What if something happens to you, I won’t know what to tell the police?” I was so afraid for her well-being that I didn’t stop to consult the Lord for wisdom. I just spewed out words from a place filled with fear and worry.
I have heard many messages, read scripture, and studied books that teach on the power of our words. But, this is the first time to visually see how my words are currencyin the spirit-realm with which I hire agents to carry out death or life assignments.
Humbled by his Spirit, my posture falls to the floor. It grieves me when the Spirit of God has to discipline me. Yet, his loving hand of correction re-aligns me to God’s word and I find myself thanking him again for the conviction. I sought forgiveness from my loved one, the Lord and from myself—and found it.
I feel a new sense of accountability to steward my words; to be more effectually in the spirit-realm by hiring godly agents to carry out life assignments!
Deuteronomy 30:19 New Living Translation (NLT) “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!
By Mary Sefzik –
“When did you leave for work?” I could tell by the tone of Mom’s voice something wasn’t right. “Our house has been burglarized.”
My heart skipped a beat. Mom said my bedroom had been trashed. I couldn’t concentrate on work that day. The list of possible missing items grew longer by the minute. My debit card, a collection of gift cards, my external hard drive filled with personal files. Most of my afternoon was spent on the phone—canceling my debit card and giving Mom more items to add to the list of possible stolen goods.
That evening I took a deep breath and sifted through the mess. My Christmas and birthday money from Grandma—five hundred dollars. Gone. If only that wallet could tell me whose hands had rifled through its pockets. Whew. My debit card was safe—tucked away in one of the back zipper pockets. All my gift cards were accounted for and my computer and external drive were untouched.
As I put my room back in order I remembered Jesus’s command to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth where moth and rust, destroy and where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19 NIV).
The loss of money angered me, but I was thankful God had spared a much greater treasure—my Mom. When she walked into the house she was greeted by the sight of a teenage boy standing on her bed with a tire tool in his hand. They had locked eyes. Mom, one of the gentlest people I know, hollered, “Get out of my house.” She must have sounded like she meant business because the boy jumped off the bed and dashed out of the house. I hope this experience served as a warning for that boy. His next theft could land him in jail.
This harsh life experience reminded me earthly treasures can be wiped out in a moment, but heavenly riches last forever. Just as we protect our earthly belongings with a security system we must protect our souls with the secure seal of the Holy Spirit. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12-13 NIV).
By Warren M Mueller –
Is there any evidence in the Bible that supports reincarnation? I recently met a person who claims that Matthew 11:14 supports the idea that at least some people are reincarnated. In this verse, Jesus says that John the Baptist is Elijah or Elias and therefore, John is either the resurrected or reincarnated prophet. Since Elijah was taken bodily up to heaven, he presumably never died and so John could not be the resurrected prophet (2 Ki 2:11). His mother was Elizabeth, a relative of Mary (Lk 1: 36, 57-60) and he was special even from birth being filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:15). Jesus said that there was nobody greater than John the Baptist ever born which certainly would put him in an exceptional class with Elijah the prophet (Mt 11:11). Mark and Luke both attribute prophetic verses from the old testament prophets Malachi and Isaiah to John the Baptist as the messenger who prepares the way for the return of the Lord Almighty (Mal 3:1; Is 40:3). So is the literal sense of Mt 11:14 what Jesus meant?
Some of the Jewish priests wondered who John the Baptist was and asked him if he was Elijah. John said he was not Elijah (Jn 1:21) which clearly conflicts with the literal sense of Mt 11:14. During the transfiguration of Jesus, Elijah and Moses appear and talk to Jesus who is changed such that “his clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” (Mk 9:3, NIV) Peter is present and offers to set up three shelters for each of them Jesus, Moses and Elijah.(Mk 9:5) This event happened after the death of John the Baptist so if he was Elijah reincarnated, why didn’t Peter and the others recognize him as John? Also, after the transfiguration, the three disciples ask Jesus why the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come before the Lord. In Mk 9:12, Jesus responds to their question and affirms that Elijah does come before the restoration of God’s kingdom. This is fulfilled in the appearance of Elijah before the death and resurrection of Jesus which establishes the kingdom of God on earth inside of believers (Jn 3:3; 1 Cor 6:19). The appearance of Elijah at the transfiguration of Jesus could also fulfill Mal 4:5 which predicted that Elijah would return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Jesus continues in Mk 9:13 to explain that John the Baptist is the Elijah that has come and suffered. John the Baptist is the last of the Old Testament prophets who were rejected and suffered at the hands of the kings and priests of Israel. Therefore, these verses describe both the return of the Old Testament prophet Elijah (at the time of the transfiguration) and John the Baptist as the last forerunner of the kingdom of God and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Reincarnation is not supported by the Bible which teaches that each person lives once and then is judged by God to determine eternal life in heaven or hell (Heb 9:27; 2Co 5:8; Rev 20:11-21:4). Jesus and Paul taught that every legal matter should be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Mt 18:16; 2Co 13:1). The diety of Jesus was witnessed by both Elijahs at the baptism of Jesus and his transformation. Jesus taught that faith in him leads to perfection and unity with God, not multiple human life experiences (Mt 14:6).
By Carol McClain –
Life can drag us down, and regardless of our religious philosophies, we don’t always get what we want, even if we do everything right. In my case, I divorced at thirty, and although I always wanted a large family, I only met my new husband long after I could no longer have a second child. My life wounded me. In high school I believed myself to be an outcast. I grew up in poverty under the hand of my family’s alcoholism. The consequences of sins I’ve committed in my youth left scars, reminders I’d rather forget. Loneliness stalked me, sometimes nearly devouring me.
And I’m not alone in my pain. Several friends battle breast cancer. Another friend’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack, and she found him in the back yard. Odd genetic abnormalities plague the children of a sweet, young family. Each person reading this could add to this list and attest to the fact that life can devour us.
However, several years ago I met a young man whose life made mine look like the pity-party it was. His life convicted me of my sin. I never met him in person, but only through his book of poetry, Journey Through Heartsongs and a few TV appearances.
Mattie J.T. Stepaneck was a peace ambassador for MDA. Born with mitochondrial myopathy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease, his life has been plagued with a chronic decline and loss of motor control. He’s had to breathe with a respirator, had a tube in his heart for medications, and endured weekly blood transfusions.
This disease eventually killed him as it did his brothers Stevie and Jamie and his sister Katie. It also afflicted his mother who discovered she had it only after she’d had four children.
What amazes me most about Mattie is not what he suffered, but the faith and grace that characterized how he faced his pain. Mattie had incredible poetic talent. He began writing at age three, by seven he wrote poetry with enviable sophistication. As a poet, Mattie tried to bring reconciliation to the world, and his poems speak poignantly of disabilities, hope and an indefatigable faith in God.
He knew sooner or later he would be “buried into heaven,” that he is an “echo caught between two worlds,” that his brother Jamie sent him gifts from heaven when he was sad, and that he was remiss if he failed to notice them.
In one poem, he asked his mother if God would extend His right or left hand to him when he died. His mother responded that God would extend both. In a hug. Mattie couldn’t wait for that hug which he received on June 22, 2004, three weeks before his fourteenth birthday.
Reading about this young man who earned a black belt in karate, who dreamt of being a grandpa, who wanted to hold on forever to his holy family, and who held on to a holy God, convicts me. What is my pain? How frail is my faith? How unseemly is my attitude toward God?
I need to remember, I’m a part of a holy family and will ultimately be hugged by God.
(Poetic excerpts taken from: Stepaneck, Mattie. Journey Through Heartsongs. NY: VSP Books—Hyperion, 2001).
By Heather Allen —
He summons his advisors; he’s had a dream, and someone better tell him what it means. Magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, and enchanters are scratching their heads. How could they possibly know what Nebuchadnezzar dreamt? But it is their job to know. So they have two options: interpret the dream or be cut into pieces.
A guard comes for Daniel. The dream has not been interpreted, so Daniel’s life is required. Daniel pleads for time, and is granted it. He summons Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and together they seek the Lord. Miracles occur when we gather and pray. God gives Daniel an understanding of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its meaning.
God has used a proud king’s dream to foretell future events. The dream involves a giant statue and accurately predicts the kingdoms that would rule from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon until the end of days when Christ’s kingdom is established on the Earth. Nebuchadnezzar’s empire was represented by the golden head atop the statue. His empire would be the first of the last. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that the kingdoms of men would ultimately be destroyed by the kingdom of God.
Nebuchadnezzar builds an enormous statue. I guess he was inspired by his dream. Perhaps he wanted others to see his greatness, his place as head of the empire. He decrees that the wise men and leadership of Babylon be rounded up so they can bow down and worship his statue. This time they can look forward to being thrown in a fiery furnace if they decline.
Someday this scenario will repeat. Revelation 13:15 says an image honoring the Anti-Christ will be constructed, and all humans will bow or forfeit their lives.
Somehow Nebuchadnezzar missed the import of his dream. His kingdom was temporary and would be crushed.
And that has me thinking. We as believers are given the same reminders. We are told to set our hearts on things above and to travel lightly, like strangers in this world. This world will pass in a flash. The next will last forever. Anything that is built for our glory will fall.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood when everyone else bowed. They knew the dream’s end. They knew that kingdoms built by men do not last. They were willing to stand alone. They laid down their positions and pride, willing to look foolish in order to walk right before God. They reverenced the true King. They would bow to Him alone.
These three men willingly walked death row. They were delivered and then promoted. The pattern repeats through the entirety of the book of Daniel.
I believe promotion comes from God, that a man who walks humbly with His maker is able to handle grander tasks because he has no illusion that he is able to accomplish them on his own. I also believe that God will lovingly keep us where we are positionally if promotion would fuel our pride rather than our dependence. Dependence enables us to stand when others bow. It enables us to walk a harder course, but in the end, we are choosing dependence over pride and life over death.