148. Be still and know

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

In seeking to build our spirit, we have seen how important it is to give God first love, first place, first priority in our lives, and also how praying and singing in tongues is a key. The third point, which we are going to consider in this post and the next one, is waiting on the Lord and being still.

Be still

Be still, and know that I am God (Psa 46:10).

What does it mean to be still? Firstly it means we do not move; that we stop whatever it is we are doing. And then we can know that He is God. If we are always ‘doing’, we are not allowing Him to be God in our life.

The NASB translates this phrase as ‘Cease striving’. God wants us to stop fighting (‘striving’ comes from the word ‘strife’), and surrender. We need to stop striving to do things in our own strength and submit to Him. We have to stop doing things in our way if God is to lead us in His way and into the destiny He has prepared for us.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
And do not lean on your own understanding
(Prov 3:5)

He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside quiet waters
He restores my soul
He guides me in paths of righteousness
(Ps 23:2-3)

Physical calm

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest (Heb 4:9-11).

This requires diligence: we have to actively pursue God’s rest, His peace. For every one of us, there is a place of rest that He wants us to find and enter into. God rested on the seventh day of creation, and He intends rest for us. We do not get just one day in seven: we get every day, because our rest is in Him. In relationship with Him, we allow Him to work through us and our destiny can be fulfilled.

Focused attention

relay

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:1-2).

Those witnesses are the men in white linen who are appearing in various places around the world, the saints of old who have gone before us. They are cheering us on. In a 4x400m relay race, the first three runners do not pack up and go home once they have completed their lap: they stand and cheer and encourage the last runner. I believe God is saying that we are on the last leg, and all those people are watching us and cheering us on. I have met some of them, and they want to be involved in our lives and help us.

‘Let us lay aside every encumbrance’: if you are running a marathon, you do not wear a suit of armour, unless you are foolish (or running for charity – people wear all kinds of strange things when they run for charity). No, you get prepared, you wear a running vest and shorts, and proper shoes. Maybe you even cover your body with Vaseline so that you won’t rub. You do not carry anything with you that is not essential. We have to get rid of everything that will hold us back and keep us from running effectively. God wants to set us free from the things that are holding us back so that we can run the race. We do not want a ball and chain around our leg.

‘For the joy set before Him’: The joy set before us is that of achieving our destiny, just as it was for Jesus. Each of us has a destiny prepared for us to fulfil, and there is a race to be run if we are to get there. It might be 100m or it might be 26 miles: every race is different and will require something different of us, but we all have a race that God has prepared and set before us. Are we going to run it? Are we going to allow God to prepare us for it, to train us and to equip us?

And how are we going to run? Fixing our eyes on Jesus. We take our eyes of all that surrounds us, we take our eyes off ourselves, and we fix our attention on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He authored our faith by dying for us on the cross, to set us free, to release our destiny to us, and He will also enable us to complete the race if we keep our eyes fixed on Him. He did all that for the joy that was set before Him – and the joy that was set before Him was us.

When He embraced the cross; when in the garden He looked into a cup and saw all of our sin  (yet still said ‘not my will but Yours be done’); when He took every sin, every sickness onto Himself, onto His own body on the cross; when He died our death which is the wages of sin; He went through all that because He loves us. He did it because He wants us to enter into our destiny and fulfil the joy; He wants His joy to be in us, and He wants our joy to be full and overflowing.

And then, when He had done all that, He sat down at the right hand of God, higher than every authority in heaven and earth, and He wants to raise us up to sit with Him in those realms of authority too.

Let be

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

‘Nothing’ and ‘everything’ do not leave much room for argument. We do not need to be anxious about anything at all if we are handing control of our life over to God and trusting Him to meet our need, to provide for us. If we are willing to surrender and stop trying to do it ourselves, He will do everything we need in our lives.

Be receptive

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

Abiding in Him speaks of a relationship. We cannot produce fruit of any eternal value unless we are connected to the source through the Vine (Jesus). We may be a branch of that Vine, but the branch does not provide the nutriment and supply of life in itself. If you cut the branch off, it dies. The life is drawn up through the roots and the plant to produce the fruit. Fruit in our lives comes from the flow of being receptive to the life of God flowing through us. If we want to fulfil our destiny, the call of God on our lives, we need to abide in Him.

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident… (1 Cor 3:12-13).

When fire comes, gold, silver and precious stones survive. Wood, hay and straw do not. If we do anything outside of God and our relationship with Him, it will be burnt up and be worthless in eternity. We trust Him, we live in Him, we allow Him to live in us, and we produce the fruit that is lined up with our destiny.

Spontaneous Flow

Our spirit needs to flow in the life of God. We need the living flow of the life of God in us and flowing out of us to transform the world around us. It is His spirit and His power which will bring about that transformation, but He has chosen to flow through us to achieve it.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:38)

We will look some more at what it means to ‘be still’ in the next post.

Related articles from Freedom ARC

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147. Present A Living Sacrifice (3) – practice

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Because of practice

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant,.But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Hebews 5:13-14).

If we have received revelation, we must act on it. All that we are learning, we have to put into practice. Things do not just happen automatically for us because we have read about them, or even by doing them just once or twice. It takes practice. But even though we call it practice, of course we are doing it for real.

For example, presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice. We have posted about this on a couple of occasions: now we are going to practice doing it (I do it myself every day). As part of that, we are also going to practice stepping in and stepping out of the presence of God.

I suggest that you stand, if you are able. When we step in, take a step forward; and when we step out, take a step back. It is just a practical cue here in this realm, a step of faith into His presence. It reminds us that the kingdom is always right there in front of us and that we can step into it at any time.

Let’s pray along these lines each day:

Father I thank you that You have made a way
for me to come into Your presence

By faith I step in… [step forward]
to the realm of Your presence
into the holy place in the heavenly tabernacle

I stand before the altar of incense
and present myself as a living sacrifice to You
Jesus, my High Priest.

Today, Jesus, I desire and choose,
as an act of my will,
to abdicate the throne of my heart.

I ask You to crucify and kill my flesh
I choose to deny myself all my rights
and to give You my life, to gain Your life.
I am dead to sin and alive to righteousness

I ask You to remove my head
as I surrender to Your lordship.
I choose not my will but Your will in my life.
I give up my right to free will
and choose to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness

I ask You to skin me
and remove every covering I have placed around my life.
Remove everything I use to make myself acceptable to You and others.
I renounce all dead works.
Remove all my masks, pretences, defence and coping mechanisms

I ask you split me open down to my bones and marrow.
Cleanse my heart and its motives.
Purify the thoughts and intentions of my heart.
Restore my heart
Give me Your desires.
Renew my mind
Heal my emotions
and strengthen my will.

I ask You to remove my legs
I surrender my walk to You
I choose to do only what I see the Father doing
I choose to walk by faith and not by sight

I step out of heaven… [step back]
back into this realm
I choose to let You do Your works through me
as I become a channel for Your kingdom to manifest
in this world around me.

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146. Consider It All Joy

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

We shared in the last post two diagrams that can help us deal with our behaviours, so that we can change. Here is one more, and listed down the right hand side are the basic steps we take.

Truth in the heart

Forgive and release

Whatever it is that troubles us, we forgive and release it. We do not hold on to anything, or we end up in the torture chamber, being tortured by the enemy. If we do that, we will not only feel much worse, we will also continue to repeat the same patterns of behaviour.

Own it

We cannot change unless we own our behaviour. It does not mean that we take our identity from it, it means we recognise the issue and that we want to change.

Confess it

If it is sin, we confess it as sin. We do not dress it up as ‘my little problem’ or ‘this weakness I sometimes have’. We call it what it is, repent of it and renounce it, and God will change us. If we try to pretend, nothing will change.

Renounce it

“I am not going to act like this any more. I am not going to operate in this way of thinking any more. I renounce that: I am going to operate according to the ways of God.”

Repent of it

Remember, this is nothing to do with feeling sorry or doing penance. Metanoia is a change of mind so that we begin to think about something the way God thinks about it. Focusing on the problem only makes it seem bigger: we turn instead and look at Jesus. He is the solution, and He will enable us to change.

Meditate on the truth

We may have believed a whole load of lies because of our past. At Freedom we have often taught about ‘getting the lies out of our truth drawer’. More recently we have come across LieBusters and we wholeheartedly recommend and endorse that ministry.

We need to know the truth. Ultimately, Jesus is the Truth, and He will lead us into all truth. We can use some of the declarations of truth we know about who we are, and meditate on scriptures declaring the truth of our identity in Christ. We need to introduce the truth into our hearts and be led by the Spirit to get that truth firmly established there.

Hammer Familiars

If familiar spirits are present, we have to hammer them. Every time we hear a whisper in our head that is not God, we absolutely hammer it with the truth. We beat it up, take it into the heavens, and destroy it. We do not want to be listening to the enemy whispering in our ear, agreeing with him, and then living out of that agreement. We have to get rid of it: it takes some effort, but we can destroy those things.

Positive Confession

We speak according to our future, not our past. We positively confess (say the same thing as) the truth of what God says to us and about us. We confess our identity, who we are as a child of God. As we become confident in that identity, we begin to choose how we frame our reality. That is what God desires.

Deliverance, Healing

We may need deliverance, we may need healing: we are not ashamed to ask for help. We do not have to fight this all on our own. Some things we can overcome alone, but we can always ask someone to stand with us. If we are struggling to overcome a particular issue, we make ourselves accountable to someone.

Yes, that is scary, and it means we have to own it, admit it, talk about some of the things we have managed to keep hidden in our lives, but we find someone we can trust, someone who loves us, who is willing to support us, and we make ourselves accountable to them in the process we are going through.

Restoration

God wants to restore all of us. He desires that we become like Jesus, reflecting the image of God, demonstrating His kingdom on earth, but we have to be willing to surrender to Him, and deal with our own heart.

Changed priorities ahead

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

Now, you have a choice to make. Next time you are confronted, or experience feelings of rejection, what are you going to do? Are you going to do the same thing you have always done, or address it and become different by overcoming it? Treat the trial as joy, because joy will bring the strength of God into your life. If instead you oppose what God is doing, you will be fighting against God – and that is never a good idea.

We must embrace what God is doing, change, and grow through it. We will have to examine ourselves, and it may not be all that comfortable, but let’s not sail through life unaware of what is on the inside of us. It is not about navel-gazing, trying to find a problem where none exists; it is that when a problem arises, when a situation happens, when we know we have a problem in a certain area of our thinking, emotions or behaviour, we have the tools to deal with it and we can change.

It takes practice. Lasting change will not happen just by doing it once. We have to be consistent in applying this: Hebrews 5:14 says that it is because of practice that we have trained our senses to discern good and evil.

So are you content to carry on as you are? Or will you pursue transformation?

More resources from Freedom ARC
  • Forgive and Release – essential, foundational teaching by Deb Parsons (3-part mp3 audio series)

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145. Encountering Trials

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28)

As we go through life, things happen to us. How we respond to them will determine their eventual outcome. God showed me a way in which we can use those things that happen to us to learn from them and to grow through them. Here is a diagram which God gave me as I went through some things in my own life.

event-reactions-1

Event Reactions

This is how it works.

Towards the top left you have an event that occurred, and your reactions to it. It might be a situation in which you felt insecure, and you reacted defensively. or a situation in which you were confronted, and you reacted angrily or aggressively – or even passively. Sometimes we get criticised by others: how do we respond to that criticism? Sometimes we feel rejected by people. What does that stir up within us? We might be faced with injustice, fear, intimidation.

All these situations produce in us certain reactions or responses. Often they are automatic, and we probably think many of them are completely reasonable. But they are the defence and coping mechanisms we use to deal with the issues of life, and we have built them up over years.

Now we can act lovingly in all those situations, and if we do, things will turn out well for us. But what generally happens is this: our mind starts replaying the event. If ever we find our mind going over something like this, it is a sure sign of an issue we need to deal with. A little process begins. Our imagination can picture that event, so we can remember what someone said. Our emotions are involved, so we start to feel the same emotions. We start to use our mind to try to figure it out. Denial, projection, or other defence mechanisms might kick in. We go around that cycle, repeating it over and over again.

It is a form of meditation, and so those things go into our heart. Those are some of the stones, weeds and seeds that are in our hearts.They are things that have happened to us that we have not dealt with, that we have meditated on, and have allowed to find a place in our hearts and lives. Our heart can become hard because of things that have happened to us over years. Now those events have become memories in our heart, and motives for our behaviour.

Familiar spirits, who know us and know what is in our hearts, will always come in agreement with them. If we feel rejected, we get little words in our heads: ‘no-one likes you; no-one wants to be around you; you are not a very nice person at all, are you?’. We tend to listen to those words because they line up with how we are feeling, and take us just a little further down that road we are already travelling. Familiar spirits will affirm and agree with those ways of thinking, and they will put thoughts into our mind which we find ourselves agreeing with, and maybe even start to confess and speak out. In that way, the course of our lives can be changed, if we operate according to the stones and weeds that are in our hearts, and from the motives that are born out of these things that have happened to us.

It may have been an event that was sin. Then what comes into your mind? ‘You’re no good. God doesn’t love you. Call yourself a Christian? You’re a failure. Cover it up. Pretend. Now, what are you going to do to make yourself feel better?’ And so on, over and over again. When we face similar situations a number of times, we develop behaviour patterns according to what is in our hearts.

Forgive and release

But God wants us to see how each event, if we deal with it at the time, can be something we learn from, that benefits us, and helps us to grow. The first thing to do when you find yourself replaying a situation, or even, if you can, in the midst of the situation, is to forgive and release that situation to God.

Forgiving and releasing people is one of the foundational principles of the Word of God. Jesus said that if we do not forgive, we cannot be forgiven (Matt 6:15). In that case we get caught up and live in the torture chamber of the experience that we have faced, and we carry it around with us like a ball and chain, dragging behind us all our unforgiveness, allowing it to weigh us down and make us feel heavy.

So when something happens to us, regardless of whether we were right or wrong, the issue is, did we feel something in our heart? If we did, we need to forgive the person or people who caused that, and release both them and the situation. It might be that we need to forgive ourselves. If I have sinned, I need to receive the forgiveness of God by confessing that sin, so that there is no guilt, no shame, no condemnation. I do not put fig leaves on, cover it up, or try to hide in the bushes: I run to God, I receive His love and His arms of welcome, I receive His righteousness so that I can live in His presence.

It may be that someone has hurt me, rejected me. I have to choose to forgive them. Whether they deserve it or not is irrelevant. I have to choose to forgive them, and not just in my head. I release them from what they have done, and I release them into the hands of God, so that I can bless them. If you cannot truly bless someone who has hurt you, then you have not forgiven and released them fully. If we carry nothing negative in our hearts towards someone, then we can freely bless them.

Forgive and release is an absolutely key principle. But then, I need to deal with what happened. So I seek God’s counsel to evaluate what went on. I evaluate my thinking, my emotions, my behaviour, my attitude; whether I was aggressive, defensive, passive. I ask God to show me, and to show me His will, His heart and His mind. I ask Him for revelation about what happened.

If I understand the court system of heaven, then I can go to the courts, find out who is accusing me and of what, and deal with it by receiving God’s judgment on myself and being declared not guilty. That then gives me power to change. But if you do not yet know how to do that, you can still seek God’s wisdom, and ask Him to show you where the fault lies.

Pray and bless

If it is something where you were simply an innocent victim of the situation, and completely blameless (this really does not happen that often, but let us take this as one end of the spectrum), you can pray and intercede for the person who attacked or hurt you, that God will bless them and they will be transformed (because you have already released them to God and forgiven them).

Sometimes we might have to confront the person if they carry on with the same behaviour. The best way, and the one recommended in scripture, is to go to them and try to resolve the issue so that there is no breakdown in relationship between you. We do that in love, because we want the other person to be blessed and their life transformed, not for revenge (if we are looking for revenge, we have not forgiven or released properly). Our motive is really important here.

Own it

If, however, you were not blameless, if it is your issue, own it. Do not deny it, excuse it, defend it: the only way you will be transformed is by owning your own issues. If you don’t admit you have a problem, how can you deal with it? If it is always someone else’s problem, you will never deal with yours. Projection is one of the most common ways of avoiding dealing with what is in our own hearts. We have to own our part in any situation.

It may be that I have a weakness, a sin area, or a character issue, that God highlights in this particular situation. If so, I repent. I renounce it. I seek the word of God, ask someone else to stand with me, to pray with me, and I start building myself up in the truth that confronts that situation in my life. I can work through this, if I own it and recognise it as a problem that God can help me with.

I might have what appears to be a weakness, but actually God does not want to change that in me. For example, if someone comes to me and says, ‘Mike, you are not very pastoral’, I will agree that they are right. I am not going to get defensive: being pastoral is not my gifting. I am not going to ask God to build up my gift in that area when in fact I know that I am called to be apostolic and to teach. That is why we need one another and we need all the ministry gifts to be operating, in different people. Other people here at Freedom are very pastoral, they have a great heart and a gift in that area.

Be honest

You need to be honest about what is going on in your heart and your life. If I am not supposed to be strong in a particular area, I need to encourage the people who are. I need to support them, and I can learn from them as well, but I am not going to try to be something I am not called to be.

But if someone comes to me and says, ‘Mike, you’re not very friendly, not very sociable’, that is different: that is an issue I need to address. I need to consider why it might be that people find me unfriendly or hard to approach. I might go and find someone who is good in this area and ask them to disciple me, and to teach me how to improve. They can help me to grow and become strong.

If it is my weakness, and I have an area of sin or character flaw, I need to identify where it has come from.

Has it come from an unmet need? For example, if I need acceptance and try to get that from other people, I am always going to be open to being hurt and damaged. I need to look to God for acceptance.

Is there an unhealed hurt in me? I can ask God to heal me and restore me.

Where did those things come from? Maybe from my nature, my DNA – my family might operate in that way. It could be a curse spoken over me or over my family. There may be generational issues: ‘we are all worriers in our family’. I do not need to be controlled from my generational past: I am a new creation in Christ, and God wants me shaped by my future, my destiny and my spirit, not by my past and the defects in my soul.

Then there is nurture, or upbringing. I might have been told that I am useless all my life and I have believed it.

All this process allows you to see the trials and the troubles and the situations that happen in your life, and to deal with them by letting God show you what is going on, what root this has come from, what soil is nourishing it.

You can do that in anything that happens to you.

On purpose

But you do not have to wait for something to happen to bring these issues to the surface. You can also do it by looking into your own heart, on purpose. You can choose to investigate your own behaviour, mindsets, coping mechanisms and emotions. Ask yourself, why do I feel like that? You walk into a room and you feel alone, even though it is full of people. Ask yourself why. You feel that no-one likes you: ask yourself why you feel that way. You can look at your behaviour, how you act in certain situations. and ask yourself why.

You can see how that works out on this variation on the diagram:

Event reactions2

We can deal with our behaviours, we can be honest about how we are living, so we can change. If we cover it up, or prefer ‘not to go there’; if we say ‘that is just how I am’, we will stay the same. If we really want to change, we have to deal with the things that are in our hearts.

Am I willing to ask God to search my heart and show me if there is anything that is directing me towards ungodly behaviours and responses? Because if I am, He will.

Related articles from FreedomARC

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