Christ's Glory, Not Mine

Devotions, advice, and book reviews from science fiction author Andrea Joy Graham

Attacked

> I am 19 years old and was brought up as a Christian. I’ve sort of back
> slidden away from my faith since I’ve started university and working,
> and I think this has resulted in spiritual attacks. Between one and four
> nights a week, I have bad nightmares and night terrors, sometimes they
> feel like I am physically fighting with a presence. It’s really
> starting to effect me now more frustration than fear as I’m not getting
> good quality sleep. When I wake up from these nightmares I often sense
> a weird feeling in the room and have thoughts in my head such as ‘tell
> someone you are being attacked.’  I believe this is spiritual. Is there
> anything I can do to stop this and get back into my faith?

 

It does sound like you have done something that has painted a target on your
back and that Satan is happily throwing darts at it. One caution, though,
two things in general can draw us into spiritual warfare. One is sin. The
other is serving the Lord and threatening Satan’s kingdom.

In the first case, the recipe is to repent: confess your sin to God, ask him
to forgive you, and stop doing it, trusting God to graciously give you the
strength. Sometimes that’s enough, but sometimes you have to go into the
mode of the second case thereafter. The second case requries putting on the
full armor of God, grabbing your sword (standing firm on God’s word), and
fighting back. Resist in the name of the Lord, while in right relationship
with God and confident of who you are in Christ, and the devil will flee.
The more sin has weakened you, the stronger the enemy’s stronghold in your
life, and the more difficult the fight will be. Keep at it, and you will
eventually get the victory. Only complication would be if the enemy has done
physical damage and God opts not to heal it miraculously. I suspect that
won’t be the case for you, however.

The enemy has attacked me in dreams and while I was at rest on multiple
occassions. Every time I sensed a monster or person attacking me in a dream
was actually a demon, and I rebuked it to its face, telling it to leave in
the name of Jesus, I woke up at once, often with the words on my lips.

“‘Tell someone you are being attacked” sounds like the Holy Spirit. This
means a couple things. One, attacked strongly implies you are still God’s
possession, not the enemy’s possession, though the enemy will try to deceive
you into thinking otherwise to gain power over you. Two, God is fighting to
hold onto you, which is promised in God’s word. God won’t ever leave you or
forsake you, Mia. This is happening because you do have the freedom to leave
God and forsake God. He loves you and doesn’t want to lose you, however. God
will do and allow whatever is necessary to draw you back into relationship
with Him, with one huge exception. He won’t change who He is simply to
please you. A side effect of that is that God never budges one nanometer on
His stances on right and wrong.

God’s stances aren’t popular with the world. In fact, the world condemns God
as hateful. This is ignorant at best. At worst, it is the extreme arrogance
of the pot telling the potter how the potter’s creation should function. Do
you know what it does to the Lord when we are Christ’s and we don’t live
according to what Christ has taught us? Every sin we commit contributes to
the extreme pain of a member of the Trinity bearing our sins and being
alienated from God so that we can be reconciled to God. That is why love for
Christ should instill a desire to obey Christ in us. Love God first, even
when you don’t understand why God said “no” to something. It hurts our
precious Lord and Savior. If we love God, what more of a reason why do we
need?

In Christ,

Andrea Graham

 


“Haters Gonna Hate” or “Seek First the Kingdom”

Dear Andrea,

Some fellow Christians I know and love have said critical things about Christians having their own “Christianese” language, their own books and movies,  their own methods for finding a spouse, etc. They accuse fellow believers who try to live according to the Word and defy the ways of our secular culture of living in a bubble and can be so harsh and condemning. It is hurtful and confusing when Christians say such things. What should I do?

Yours,

Gentle Reader

Dear Gentle Reader,

Christians having their own Christian culture isn’t wrong. In fact, the Bible says we are a holy nation, citizens of spiritual Israel, and we should live like it. We are called to forsake the culture of the Children of Darkness and walk as Children of the Light. The Word warns us also that the Children of Darkness sometimes falsely claim to be Christians. You can spot such wolves in sheep’s clothing and their disciples by the fact they call themselves  our brothers but openly hate us, lack the fruits of the Spirit, and walk in darkness, that is, they wallow in indisputable, textbook sins without any twinge of conscience.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing have blasphemed the Holy Ghost in their hearts and put themselves beyond redemption.  Don’t regard your friends as that sort unless you’ve heard them blaspheme the Holy Spirit with their own lips  and/or have discerned Holy Spirit confirming it as such souls are beyond help and are abusive to the citizens of Heaven. Once God exposes a wolf, maintain minimum safety clearances unless God personally directs you otherwise.

The Bible tells us to remove known wolves from the local church so they don’t poison the whole body, but we must leave them alone otherwise. Our brothers who’ve been taken captive by the enemy may look a lot like them, and we don’t want to mistakenly shoot our own brainwashed POWs.

So assume they’re POWs being brainwashed into attacking their own country and pray for them to have their eyes opened and their hearts convicted that they should be Citizens of Heaven first and allow the Holy Spirit to both reveal to them and assimilate them into the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, there are three basic problems with Christians and Culture:

1) We remain so separate from the mainstream cultures of the various nations our people have dual citizenship in, we have no contact with outsiders.

This is the problem the enemy gets the above POWs focused on. He distorts it in an attempt to keep them from allowing God to fully assimilate them into the Kingdom of Heaven, a tactic that renders the victim ineffective at best.

2) We’re so assimilated into the mainstream cultures of the nations of our earthly citizenship, those who don’t have dual citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven can’t tell that we do.

All Christians who weren’t raised by parents already fairly assimilated in the Kingdom of Heaven suffer this problem at their rebirth. Even Christians raised in the Kingdom from their physical birth who remain in it have their blind spots where they’re not really in line with Kingdom ways, but think they are. None of us are off the hook here, in terms of the lesser degrees of this extreme. If we’re prone to problem 1), Satan attempts to distract us by tempting us to focus on this one. I’m afraid I have direct personal experience with that.

3) We treat outsiders like they should of course be in the know on Christians’ language, traditions, values, beliefs, and expect them to know and adhere to the rules of a Kingdom they haven’t been born into.

This is another problem Satan wants us to focus on, but he doesn’t mind if we’re guilty of it in our own way, so long as we only take issue with others’ ways of messing up here. His end goal is to get us to accept the deceitful “solutions” he offers us that again at best will neutralize us as a threat to him.

The truth is, when a non-Christian steps into a Christian’s space, they should feel like they’ve crossed over an international border and entered a foreign country, as they sort of have. The Kingdom of Heaven is wherever its citizens abide. However, we should always be kind and respectful to strangers and help them navigate our peculiar, foreign land as best as we know how.  To convince them to become citizens of Heaven and embrace life in our culture, they need to feel welcomed, but they also need to see a clear difference between our way and the way they’ve already got and be shown, through our testimonies of what God has done for us, proof that God’s way works where theirs doesn’t.

Our concepts of love and right and wrong are extremely different from our enemies’ concepts,  though, and some Children of Darkness are hardened past the point of redemption. No matter what we do, “Haters  gonna hate ” if we’re seeking first the Kingdom of God that we’re naturalized citizens of. So let us learn to rejoice and be glad when we suffer for the Kingdom’s sake, for God will reward us  greatly, and restore to us in full everything we lost for Christ’s sake.


Rise and Walk

It’s time to stop living under a cloud of shame because you’re damaged goods. It’s true that sin has damaged you, but what the devil isn’t telling you is that everyone is damaged goods. We’ve all been damaged by sin of some sort, and only one sin is unforgivable, blasphemy of the Holy Ghost, which comes from a seared conscience and a hardened heart. If you’re feeling shame, you haven’t committed the unpardonable sin. So kick Satan to the curb already. Confess to the Lord that what you did was wrong, ask him to forgive you, accept that you are forgiven and that your sins have been washed away in the blood of the Lamb, get up, and walk in faith and victory, according to the Spirit at work within you, transforming you into God’s perfect image and clothing you in Christ’s righteousness.

I have no idea who this is for, and what put a fire under me had nothing to do with you. If you feel like it was meant for you, though, or otherwise were blessed and wish to follow up with me, please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me privately.


Are We Sons or Slaves?

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,  but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children,were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law,  so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:1:7)

To an extent, the answer to the question “Are we sons or slaves?” may at first be fairly considered to be “Yes.” The bible uses both the imagery of slavery and adoption in reference to our relationship with God. Trouble is, we come across passages like this, which state explicitly that we are either slaves or we’re sons and cannot be both at the same time. So how do we make sense of the passages which use slavery imagery?

Let’s go back to the beginning of the Galatians passage:  ” the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave.” Though we are adopted as sons by God, slavery metaphors can still be apt so long as we’ve not fully matured and received our full inheritance in God’s kingdom.

In this passage, Paul is speaking to Christians who’d been swayed by Judaizers who were insisting converting to Judaism and keeping the Jewish law was necessary for salvation along side the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. In reality, Christ fulfilled the Jewish law on the cross and we must trust Christ alone for salvation. That was what Paul was gunning after. He viewed Jews who refused to accept Christ, and the Christians who taught that we have to also practice Judaism,  as behaving like sons who refused to grow up, put away the things of childhood, and accept the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood.

In another sense, though, no Christian on this earth is a fully mature saint since the fall has corrupted/damaged both our software (spirit) and our physical hardware (body.)  We won’t fully come into our own as God’s children until we physically die and awake in  the new bodies we’ll receive in Heaven.

Christ died to save us from our sins, free us and make us sons–both men and women have the full rights of inheritance and freedom that only sons had when the Bible was penned. However, Christ did tell us, if we love him, we’ll obey him. God yearns for  his children to obey him freely out of love and trust, not fear and obligation. Only obedience  from a grateful heart that sincerely desires to please him more than ourselves or anyone else and is acting freely rather than under compulsion is pleasing to the Lord.

Let’s remember also why “love” should motivate us to “obey.”  If we are in Christ, Christ is in us.  Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. He experiences everything we experience. When we mistreat ourselves or someone else and suffer the consequences, God suffers them right along with us, and what God declares righteous or sin isn’t arbitrary, it’s based upon 1) how he designed creation to operate and 2)  his personality/tastes.  When we sin, we either bring bad things on ourselves and others due to violating how the world is supposed to work, or we’re doing something he finds disgusting, and usually it’s both. Whenever Christians sin,  we’re hurting God.

What is more amazing, though? That the one being who has the right to be above the law chose to be born under it and thus subjected himself to it, or that he who knew no sin willingly endures  experiencing all of our sins  right along with us while he repairs us?

Lord, you are amazing. Thank you for freeing us from slavery and adopting us as your own children. Thank you for the work you are doing in our lives to restore us to reflect your righteousness as you intended us to from the beginning.  Open our eyes to the ways in which we are grieving your spirit and causing you pain. Give us the strength to love you enough to turn from anything that hurts you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


Pray With Me For Revival

Lord have mercy upon all who read this. Draw us closer to you today. Purify our hearts. Fill us with peace, joy, patience, faith, and courage. Empower us to walk in your wisdom, your love, and for more of your righteousness to manifest in our lives today according to the working of your grace. In the hour of temptation, show us the source of the influence that is not in accordance with who you intend for us to be. Remind us of the truth and prompt us to resist the evil influence, to take captive and refute any lying thought, and honestly lift up to you any new emotional toxins that manifest. We thank you for hearing us and for your work in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.