Encountering God does more for us than simply punching our ticket to an eternal life with Him in heaven. Encountering God presents us with the opportunity to allow the authority and domain of God’s kingdom to miraculously influence our natural lives. The believed misconceptions of today’s generation speak against the heart of God to carry us into freedom, as they claim God is no longer in the miracle business and the power of the Holy Spirit only existed for the first generation of disciples. And as we’ve come to loosely use the word miracle in our hopes to see our children clean their rooms and traffic speed up in season, we’ve lost sight that as God is the same yesterday, today and forever, everything He does is on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (1 John 2:2). He was brutally beaten so we would walk healed and whole – body, soul and spirit (Isaiah 53:5). He was tempted in all ways so we would have a God who knows what we’re facing in every situation (Hebrews 4:15). He came to set the captives free and open blind eyes (Luke 4:18). He came so His Holy Spirit may be poured out upon us, allowing us to walk in the power and authority of His name, casting out demons, healing the sick and raising the dead – just as He did – so we would live a lifestyle which embraces God’s intervention in our lives for the purpose of being free. In this week’s message, Pastor Tracy opens our Encounters message series, by discussing how the devil seeks to deceive us into bondage, while revealing our authority in Jesus gives us the power to experience the miracle of deliverance.
Christianity is a battle ground, and contrary to what many believe, Christianity is not a war against flesh and blood. Rather, it is a war against the rulers, powers, forces of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). As we come to understand our position in the warfare against our addictions, bitterness, unforgiveness, lack of self-worth, depression, anxiety, poverty mindset and broken families, we must also understand how the enemy seeks to ensnare us into a place of complacency and temptation. Satan observes our conversations taking notice of what sets us off, pushes our buttons and captures our hearts attention, while sending out his army of demons to tempt us through our senses and desires. He entices us by subtly luring us into believing what he has to give us is good and uses his demons to teach us ideas and beliefs contrary to God’s word. Over a period of time, he deposits nugget after nugget of disbelief, unworthiness, weakness and worthlessness into our minds and hearts. He connects with the broken pieces of who we are, convincing us we deserve to have one extra drink because of how stressful our jobs are, that we deserve the affair because our marriage is falling apart and that we deserve to gamble because we made an extra few bucks this week. He sees what our hearts desire and presents us with a counterfeit version of God’s promise, and because we are unable to physically see whether the silver platter is coming from his hand or God’s, we often feast on opportunities we’ve longed for unaware that what we’ve been presented with comes from the hand of our enemy. It’s in these moments when the subtleness of the enemy’s deception carries us into a place where we lack self-control and give into our temptation – a place where our sin is conceived and the offense which, was once minimized enhances a roar of shame, guilt and judgement. It is in these moments death is brought forth into our lives, hindering us from experiencing the fullness of God’s glory (James 1:15).
The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing us he doesn’t exist; the greatest lie he ever told us was we are powerless – a lie which, when believed entangles us in the lies and deception used by Satan and his army of spiritual powers of darkness. Yet as Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly, He did so, in part, by giving us the power and authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (John 10:10, Luke 10:19). Jesus rendered Satan powerless when He died on the cross as a sinless man, and He gave us the power of His name so we may regain control of our lives from the hands of our enemy. Satan may have physical strength, but as we stand against Him in the name of Jesus, he no longer has authority over us; and just as we must come to understand how Satan attempts to deceive us, we must come to understand how we are called to use our authority over the schemes of the devil. The first step to living a life of authority is submitting ourselves under Jesus’ authority and the word of God. Submitting ourselves to God’s word allows His thoughts and power to reside in our hearts. It stirs up the truth within us, so when we are faced with the lies and deceit of the enemy we are able to combat Satan with truth and authority. Yet we can’t submit to someone we don’t know. Our submission to God’s word is a daily surrender, which entails us spending time with God, while allowing the Holy Spirit to impart God’s word and heart into ours. It’s a daily surrender, which not only trusts in God’s word, but exercises its truth above all else. The seconds step to living a life of authority is gathering an army of believers to fight with us. A general never sends out his troops alone. He sends them out together; but he also never has his troops train alone. They too, train together. God created us for community. He created us to need one another. We were never meant to fight our fight of faith alone. As we find ourselves in bondage and in our battles between God’s truth and the enemies lies, we must call on those around us who are able to pick us up, speak life into our lives, speak wisdom into our situations and pray for us when we are weak. The enemy seeks to isolate us, knowing that if we are alone we’ll be easier to deceive; however, God’s given us greater power in joining together with those we trust by promising that as two or more are gathered together, not only is He with us, but what we ask of Him will be accomplished (Matthew 18:19-20). The third step to living a life of authority and power is to do what we can in the natural and invoke the supernatural. Many times, we look at going to the doctors, seeking marriage counseling and hiring a financial planner as weakness. We believe the lie that because we need help from someone else, we can’t take care of ourselves and refuse to get help because of our fear of being shamed; and instead, we stay stagnant in our situation struggling to fight through our faith. Yet God anointed doctors, counselors and coaches just as He has anointed pastors, apostles, and teachers. A life of authority and deliverance is one which embraces the natural things God designed to help lead us into a life of freedom. Going to the doctors may not seem grand and doesn’t compare to the parting of the Red Sea, but it honors God by refusing to let our situations continue to control our lives. It moves us into a position of declaring our brokenness and bondage will no longer have a right to control our lives; and then we are able to call on God and invoke His supernatural through prayer. Doing what is natural taking the steps we can to see our deliverance arrive. Invoking the supernatural is asking God to take His.
- Would you consider your lifestyle one that regularly exercises the authority of Jesus? If so, how do you use the authority Jesus has given you? If not, what stops you from standing in authority and using the power God has given you?
- How can you increase your identity as a valiant warrior who has power, strength and authority over all powers of darkness?
- In what areas of your life have you allowed the enemy to steal ground by believing his subtle lies? What lies did he tell you? How do they compare to the word of God?
- How can you use God’s word to resist the enemy? How can you use God’s word to bring forth change and deliverance in your situations?
- Who knows what you’re fighting for? Who can you invite into your fight? What makes you hesitate to invite others into your battle?
- What can you do in the natural to help see God’s will take over your life? How can you invoke the supernatural into your particular situation?
Thank God for giving you power and authority over all the powers and principalities of darkness in the heavenly places. Praise God for placing Himself in you. Ask God for an increase in strength and valor as you claim your victory in your spiritual battle. Thank God for surrounding you with people who will pray for you, encourage you and lift you up when you need it, along with the courage to be transparent in your fight. Thank God that every name in heaven, on earth and below earth must bow and submit itself to the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10-11). Ask God for wisdom and guidance in what you should do in the natural, while praising Him for intervening supernaturally. Thank God for your deliverance.
If any one of your group members still feel ensnared by their bondage, pray over them with a prayer of deliverance from whatever they are struggling with. Lead your group members to scripture which speaks of their specific promise of deliverance. Remind your group members that doing what they can in the natural does not show a lack of faith, but honors God as they steward what He has given them. Remind your group members the same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives and breaths on the inside of them.