Tuesday, December 01, 2020

The good armor (3)

Being encircled (girded) by truth, what a nice thought from my previous blog. We can survive in a world full of lies when we are protected by the truth!

Let's continue to read about the spiritual armor as described in Ephesians 6. Verse 14 speaks about a breastplate of  RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Now, in general, most of us don't walk around in medieval clothing items anymore, but I think the idea of our righteousness being able to take a beating (attack) is quite clear.

The Bible says that no one is righteous by nature, not one! (Romans 3:10). Only God is righteous. Jesus is also called the Righteous One. Why? ๐Ÿ‘‰Because He came to earth to present His righteousness in exchange for our failures and mistakes, for our sins.

Righteous means as much as: good, virtuous, upright, worthy, ethical, principled, moral, high-minded, just, honest, innocent, faultless, sinless, uncorrupted, pure, noble... well, you get the idea, it ain't about us! Within Christianity, as well as in all major world religions, we can see people trying to achieve some form of righteousness by working hard and following all kinds of rules. But then again, the more people try, the more they feel like failing.

This is exactly why Jesus' offer is so crucial. Our sins in exchange for His righteousness. What a deal! He offers forgiveness for our iniquities and thereby declares us righteous. ๐Ÿ’“That righteousness (knowing that we are forgiven!) is our armor; it protects our whole being. In Romans 3:221-2 it says:  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. 

Not because of good deeds, but because of faith we are declared righteous before God. This eliminates guilt, shame, failure, fear, and judgment. Knowing that we are forgiven... we should wear it like impenetrable armor. If you have made the choice for Jesus, don't let anyone tell you that things are not right between you and God. This is an area where many spiritual battles take place.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The good armor (2)

Thank you for joining me in this new blog series. Spiritual warfare, oh my goodness, such an important topic.

There are different ways to arm oneself in the battle between good and evil. Some people opt for aggression, others for cynicism, and still others for campaigning. Defense, attack, or run away, it is all possible.

The Bible also speaks of armor that we can reach for. His weapons are of a completely different order, a spiritual order.

You can find the basic text for this series in Ephesians 6:10-13. It will help you to read it regularly, as a reminder that 1) there is a spiritual battle, 2) God gives us weapons, 3) we do not fight against people and 4) we can stand firm (yeah!).

If we continue reading in Ephesians 6, we come to verse 14, which is a strong appeal: Stand ready, the Good News translation says. In other translations: Stand firm! Be prepared! The message is clear: get off the couch!

The first weapon God gives us is TRUTH, to wear as a belt. We must gird ourselves with truth. To gird means to encircle or bind with a belt or band, to surround; enclose; hem in, frame, encircle, encompass.

We live in a world where the opposite will happen if we are not careful, we are surrounded (girded) by lies. I hear it almost daily in conversations ... who speaks the truth? How do I know if this is true? Why do people lie under oath? etc. etc. In order to have a somewhat clear understanding of the thousand things that come our way each day, it is crucial that we are enclosed by the truth, that we have embraced truth.

When we are encircled (girded) by truth, we look to the outside as through a filter. A truth filter. And you know what, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Apart from Him, apart from the truth, we cannot stand in battle. If you believe in Him, He will give you the Spirit of Truth, who comes to live in you and will be with you always. ๐Ÿ‘‰ He gives truth counsel.

PS: In my book Spirit of Truth I go deeper into the root cause of deception, which is twisted truth. I believe it is a must-read for such a time as this. Kindle and paperback are available on Amazon.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The good armor (1)

That we are engaged in a spiritual battle on a global scale is quite clear. Rulers, authorities, and powers of darkness are fighting for dominion. We sure can feel that on a personal level as well.

How are we supposed to fight against all the disturbing and contradictory messages, news items, and opinions we are bombarded with each day? How do we stand firm and keep on standing? As a Christian, how do we stay positive and hopeful within our realm of influence?

We all struggle with this, to some degree. I have decided to write a series of short blogs about the spiritual armor as described in the Bible. Yes, we are called to be peacemakers, but that does not mean we can neglect to arm ourselves for this spiritual battle.

No one wants a battle, no one wants opposition, no one wants war. But hiding our heads in the sand is not the right answer. ๐Ÿ‘‰ The Bible prepares us so we can stand firm in a time like this. Ephesians 6 is all about that. You may have read that chapter a hundred times, maybe never. Either way, I hope you will receive encouragement, insight, and revelation from the upcoming blog posts. The basic text for this series is Ephesians 6:10-13, I broke it down into pieces:

  • Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
  • Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
  • For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
  • Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.
  • Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

I hope you will join me in this series. Feel free to share the posts!

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Eerie feeling?

I don't like it when it happens, but from time to time I have that eerie feeling come over me, that feeling that we can't be sure of anything anymore. 

Anyone with me? Or is it just my imagination?

What was wrong yesterday, is right tomorrow. What used to be normal is now regarded as weird and what was logical is now unexplainable. Talking about confusion...

I was pondering about that this morning and the thought came to me that God is not a God of confusion, He is a God of order, of peace, and of love. I really felt He wanted me to write a blog about the 'surelies' as we can find them in the Bible. You know, where someone, or even God Himself, starts a sentence with SURELY....

'Remind the people about My surelies...' So, okay, here we go. I hope this post will be an encouragement to you.

  • Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6)
  • Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me (Psalm 54:4)
  • There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off (Proverbs 23:18)
  • Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
  • Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear (Isaiah 59:1)
  • ๐Ÿ‘‰And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28:20)

Well, if that does not get you excited, I don't know what will. God's Word is our treasure, true riches at hand. And the most beautiful thing is that everything may change around us, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” (Romans 14:11).

Saturday, October 31, 2020

A call to resistance

One of Jesus' most famous sayings deals with the battle between darkness and light, between evil and good, between Satan and God. He keeps it simple:

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come to give life, life in all its fullness  (John 10:10).

If He keeps it that simple, we should not complicate matters. How do we know if the enemy is at work? When we experience theft, killing, and destruction. How do we know if God is at work? When life in all its fullness becomes visible.

The work of the enemy is visible on a worldwide scale. Quite a few things are being stolen from us at the moment: freedom, joy, rights, and privileges, etc. All kinds of diseases are killing people and among things being destroyed are relationships, culture, economy, entrepreneurship, common sense, morals, values, friendships etc.

The Bible warns us ... Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith (1 Peter 5: 8). Folks, it's a spiritual battle we're in. We don't have to blame politicians, world leaders, or health experts for being where we are. They are just doing their best to keep things under control...

๐Ÿ‘‰But we are not called to control the work of the devil, we are called to resist him (if you are a Christian, that is)!

I am amazed that I hardly ever hear a word from within the Christian world about how this whole crisis is the work of the enemy. Yes, I read beautiful, well-meaning, soothing messages about how to cope with the current circumstances, about how to keep our faith, and how to reposition the chairs in our churches at a safe distance. While we walk around in our churches with a measuring stick, the devil goes around devouring people.

I think the message is very simple (read it in James 4: 7):

  • Humble yourselves (submit) before God,
  • resist the devil,
  • and he will flee from you.

The fight is never against people, no matter what position they are in. A believer's fight is against the powers and forces of darkness. Dear friends, if we are not willing to submit to Jesus Christ (who gives life), then we submit to the enemy (who takes life). There is no middle ground!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6: 12-13).

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Is your love growing cold?

That we live in 'turbulent times' is probably an understatement, although I believe each generation has its share of ups and downs, blessing and drama, prosperity and pain. There is no such thing as a constant in life...

You may think whatever you like about everything we are experiencing in our world today. The opinions, thoughts, and interpretations of the current state of affairs are endless and quite diverse. I strongly believe each human being is entitled to voice his or her thoughts on any topic, as long as we listen to each other and respect the fact that not everyone thinks the same ๐Ÿ˜

As Christians, we are warned (more than two thousand years ago) for times like this. Jesus clearly spoke about the future (which is now) and the things to expect such as wars, earthquakes, and pestilences. ๐Ÿ‘‰Read Matthew 24 for yourself and see how accurate His predictions are.

I want to focus on verse 12 in that chapter, where Jesus says: Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. To me, that is the scariest thing of everything He had to say that day. Our love growing cold, a very troubling thought... and yet we see it happening every day, right in front of our eyes.

People divided and hating each other over politics, over mouth masks, over conspiracies, over religion, over about everything. And if that isn't enough, 'social distancing' is being preached as the new norm which is somehow accepted by many, many people as something to get used to. Really? Synonyms for distancing are dissociation, separation, isolation, segregation (!), alienation, disengagement etc. etc. Think about that, please!

Sin (everything that goes against God's moral standard for living and thriving) will be rampant everywhere (some translations say there will be an increase of wickedness) and at the same time our love for God, country, and each other will grow cold. We must be careful not to go with that flow. Do NOT let your love grow cold, guard it, exercise it, share it! 1 John 4:18 says there is no fear in love.

Let's keep fear at a distance, not each other!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The meaning of life

'God has a plan and purpose for your life'. I don't know how many times I heard that phrase before I believed it! I struggled with the thought that there would be meaning to individual lives in a world with almost 7.8 billion inhabitants and so much suffering.

Thank God I do know better now. ๐Ÿ‘‰God has a plan and a purpose for each individual before they are even born. More on that precious womb phase in my book Breath of Life, by the way.

I am currently reading through the Psalms again in my Bible. And I noticed two scriptures that make it very clear that 1) God is the One to fulfill that purpose and that 2) God is the one to work out that plan. We need to ask Him, we must pray about it and we should go on a quest to find out what this is all about. I promise you will discover great things.

I cry out to God most high. to God who will fulfill His purpose for me (Psalm 57:2).

I find that so exciting and well for several reasons. 1) There is a purpose for my life. 2) It is His purpose, not mine. 3) He is the One to fulfill that purpose and 4) He will do so, even if I feel nothing is happening! I got so encouraged reading that passage, I must have read it twenty times in a row until the words finally took deep root in my heart. Then, I came to Psalm 138:8.

The Lord will work out His plans for my life.

Truly Lord? You will work out YOUR plans for MY life? Despite my failures, despite my mistakes, despite my fears and doubts? How awesome is that!  May I encourage you to find out more about God's purpose and plans for your life? Set time apart, turn off your tv, sit, listen, and read through the psalms. You will be richly blessed as you begin to discover why you are here on earth!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hope brings life

Hope brings life. That thought came to me last week. And with that another thought, a simple conclusion really: Without hope, there is no life.

We all need hope. Hope for recovery, hope for better times, hope for the future. Without hope, a person withers away. We can see that when someone is seriously ill and there is no one who dares to speak words of hope.

If you read/see most news stories today, one would almost believe that the world is hopeless. We suddenly found ourselves on this escalator of increasing madness ... an escalator that keeps moving, even when we are standing still.

But you know what? We are not supposed to be dragged away like that. A person is not meant to live without hope. We can all make the decision to either let ourselves be dragged away passively or to take steps actively.

The most important step we can take in life is to turn our backs on hopelessness and to put our trust in God and no longer in the world, its systems, leaders, and programs. The hope that God gives does apply to our earthly existence and even more so to our eternal future. ๐Ÿ‘‰Biblical hope is always focused on Jesus the Messiah, not on improving worldly conditions.

The times we are living in right now, calls for a decision: do you want to live without hope or do you want to surrender your life to the God of all hope? He will bring peace and tranquility to your heart and,  above all, He will give you hope for the future; here on earth and in the world to come!

Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Yes, you can!

They did it again! Fellow bloggers and writers Jeanette Levellie and Beth Gormong named their second joined effort 'Yes, you can!'

After their 2019 release of Hello Beautiful! they decided to get together again and write another excellent devotional. Their second collaboration comes at a crucial time in our world, when people need hope and help from above.  If you love to read short inspiring and uplifting stories, then this is the book for you.

Yes, you can! is filled with forty devotional stories. Through modern-day true accounts and biblical examples of women who overcame impossible odds, Jen and Beth show the reader how to:
  • Receive and believe God’s undying love
  • Trust in God’s willingness to answer our prayers
  • Tap into God’s power to achieve our goals
  • Walk in God’s wisdom to navigate hard circumstances
  • Find God’s strength to overcome impossibilities
And (this I absolutely love) each chapter includes a journaling prompt or coloring page to help you personalize the life-changing truths.

Blogging is often the step that precedes publishing articles or books. We all have stories to share, right? May Yes, you can! be an inspiration and encouragement to you and who knows... one day you might write your own story.

You can read more about her new book or leave a note on Jen's weblog.
You can order the paperback and e-book on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Encouragement for writers

In my blog post of April 13, I wrote that 2020 would become the most creative and productive year I have had so far. Simply because I refuse to be a victim of the thief's schemes who wants nothing more than to paralyze us as we passively watch the world go crazy.

I know, what the Lord has called me to be, and that is to be His faithful mouthpiece, regardless of the circumstances, I should add. This morning I read Psalm 57: 2 in my NLT, it says: I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Such verses excite me ... He will fulfill His purpose for me. No doubt about it. He will do it. Phew, relax.

Anyway, 2020 so far. On May 1st my new English book True Worshipers was released. In the same month, a Russian edition of my book In My Name was released and soon an Italian edition of the same book will also be released, which will be distributed in Italy through CLC.

Last week, I was notified that In My Name also ended up as a finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards, hosted by American Book Fest. Category Religion: Christian - inspirational. Whether that makes any difference in book sales or publicity doesn't really matter to me. I take it as a nice boost and encouragement... my work will not be unnoticed!

I have been working on a theme frame for a new book but currently, we are busy with a house renovation which takes up time and energy... mind you, we are camping out in the yard ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, I have hope and expectation when it comes to my writing journey, certainly because of encouraging words such as found in Psalm 57!
What about your writing, work in progress, ideas, or plans?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Genuine relationship with the Father

Recently the 8th book in my series about the Ten Commandments in the 21st century has been released. It is called True Worshipers and it is based on the second Commandment (which talks about idolatry... the worship of idols) in connection with the discussion Jesus had with the Samaritan woman.

Jesus prophesied to her that the time was coming when by the power of God’s Spirit people would worship the Father as He really is, offering Him the true worship He so desires. Have you ever wondered what true worship would be like? It begins where idolatry ends.

This book is not so much about singing or music or any of the things we call 'worship'. ๐Ÿ‘‰It is in reality about a genuine relationship with the Father, without all the bells and whistles. When I wrote the foreword for my new book, back in February of this year, I had no idea the words would gain prophetic relevance. I wrote:

'What would be left of our modern-day Christianity when all is taken away: the buildings, the meetings, the money, the power, the titles, the theology, the music, and the concerts? What would be left?' I had no idea something like that could happen in just a few weeks, and not just locally but on a worldwide scale. But it did.

Looking back at the writing process, which began in January 2019, I realize the message in this book is very timely. Yes, I am aware of the fact that it might be the worst time to release a book. No meetings, no conferences, no travels, no speaking engagements or book table venues. Nothing... 

But I also know the current circumstances do not change the message in this book. On the contrary, they might enhance it! 

The Paperback edition is now available on Amazon for just $9.95. 

I challenge you to evaluate your relationship with God.
Yes, especially during this time of turmoil!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Power games

In Him we live, we move, and have our being
(Acts 17:28).

One of my favorite Bible texts. Such depth in a few words! The 'Him' being Jesus Christ Himself.

For the biggest part of my life (well, up until now) I did not know or understand this. I thought I was the master of my life and my future. I had one life to live and wanted to make the best of it. Nothing wrong with that of course, but without the Giver of life... such goals are unattainable ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know now!

No matter how good and lofty our intentions are to make life great, we will find opposition, we will encounter immense struggles. As long as we do not acknowledge the One who holds the universe in His hands, we will keep bumping into obstacles in our limited little world.

In my previous blog I wrote I wrote about and commented on the vicious battlefield we find ourselves in nowadays, whether we like it or not. We are seeing immense power games in our world today. Political leaders, nations, organizations… all acting as if the world would stop to function when they are no longer there. Such arrogance and misconception.

The truth is: the whole world exists because of Jesus, the whole universe is sustained by Him and by His powerful Word. This is our foundation, this is our hope for today and the future. The world may crumble, but the powerful Word stands forever. I love how it is written in Colossians 1:15-17,

Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things. For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him. Christ existed before all things, and in union with him all things have their proper place.

๐Ÿ‘‰We do not need to learn more about the world, we need to learn more about the Word!

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Why do conspiracies exist?

Nowadays there is a lot of talk about conspiracy theories and just as many warnings to stay away from them because they mostly fall in the category 'fake news'... well, so we are told.

The more information that is available, the harder it gets to filter true and false stories. It seems that with every secret revealed, a contra-theory rises up. It is a vicious battlefield we find ourselves in, whether we like it or not, whether we follow conspiracy theories or not.

May I point out that the Bible speaks clearly about conspiracies. ๐Ÿ‘‰The question thereby is not whether a conspiracy is true or false, but rather why it exists. Let's take a look at one of the most intriguing questions in the Bible, as found in Psalm 2:1,

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

It could be a question asked by many people today. WHY do nations (corporate level) and peoples (private level) engage in plots and schemes? Why can't we live in peace together? Why all this uproar? David answers the question in verse 2: The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.

In the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) it is written like this: Why are the nations in an uproar, the peoples grumbling in vain? The earth’s kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together, against Adonai and his anointed.

Kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together against Adonai, against God and against the Messiah (Messiah means anointed one)... Somehow David received this insight, that all the violence, wars, and uproar of nations were acts of rebellion against God. I mentioned it in one of my previous blogs: ultimately this is all a battle between good and evil, between light and darkness, between God and satan. It would be dangerously ignorant to deny this, simply because it plays out right in front of our eyes, every day!

Yes, there is an evil plot to overturn all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. Yes, there was, is, and will be a plot against Jesus and what He stands for: love, grace, righteousness, peace, forgiveness, purity, and joy. The early believers acknowledged it: Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed (Acts 4:27).

The other day I saw a picture of an individual in a big demonstration. He was holding up a sign that said, 'if Jesus comes back, kill him again'. The sheer hatred against the Son of God who went around doing good and healing all who were sick and oppressed, plays out on an individual as well as a corporate level. Yes, there is a conspiracy (a huge one), there is no denying it.

Our reaction? We should pray as the early believers did (Acts 4:29-30): Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

Monday, June 22, 2020

If you could ask for one thing

If you could ask one thing of the Lord, what would it be? Restoration of health or finances? Peace in your country or in your heart? Family members to turn to God? The answer to that question is probably different for everyone.

A long time ago, God asked King Solomon that question and the King answered: 'Give me wisdom and knowledge that I may lead Your people'. And so King Solomon became the wisest man that ever lived and God added wealth, possessions, and honor like no other king ever had (you can read that amazing story in 2 Chronicles 1).

Health is important, but so are peace and wisdom. I was reading Psalm 19 in my New Living Translation and I noticed God offers all that we need, in His Word. Take a look at verses 7 and 8.
  • The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. Oh my goodness, how I need that every day! My health depends on a thriving soul!
  • The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Yes, please Lord, yes, let it be me!
  • The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. I know the joy of the Lord will be my strength, I need it!
  • The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. I must have this in an ever-changing world that seems to have gone insane.
Such riches in God's Word: instructions, decrees (laws), commandments, and commands. ๐Ÿ‘‰We may not always embrace such terms, but they are filled with spiritual riches. I discovered that in my own life when I started my writing journey.

While working on the book series about the Ten Commandments, I received a totally different perspective on God's laws and regulations. They are not restrictions, on the contrary, they offer great opportunities to heal our souls, to make us wise, to bring us joy, and to give us all the insight we will possibly need!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Antidote to frustration

While the age-old battle between good and evil, between darkness and light, intensifies... one might wonder whether we have any influence at all on happenings around the world. How can our voices be heard? How can our responses be of value?

A few thousand years ago, the philosopher sighed: History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Well, I would be a fool to contradict him. In general, humanity does not learn from the past. On the contrary, I would say. Humanity forgets the past rather quickly and conveniently and acts as if every happening is a new issue.

I was reading Psalms 9, 10, 11, and 12 the other day. David cries out to God about the increase of wickedness and chaos in his time. In Psalm 11:3 he asks the following question,

๐Ÿ‘‰The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?

Such a great question! Such a timely question for us today. What can we do as believers? How should we respond? What is it, Lord, you want us to do in such a time as this?

I believe prayer is the answer. Specific prayer that is! Personally, I don't think that praying for 'things to turn back to normal' will be effective. There are larger things at stake than our comfort. Remember: We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Once we truly realize that we are not in a natural battle between people, but a spiritual battle between powers and principalities, we can target our prayers and aim for God and His angels to move on our behalf. We should pray that:
  • the evil plot will be exposed, and thus lose its power
  • the truth will be revealed
  • deception will be replaced with discernment, and
  • love will be our language
I truly believe that targeted prayers are the antidote to frustration about the current world crisis.