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Breaking Free from the Dungeon of Depression

Fear4Depression.

In 21st century America, we hear that word every day. While depression takes on a variety of forms, a “blanket” definition would be…

“the state of being depressed–a feeling of let down, of hopelessness.”

It can affect the body. It can cause an overwhelming sense of fatigue to come upon a person. In fact, there are studies that indicate that many psychological neuroses, as well as some fatigue diseases, are the results of living with depression.

A permanent cure for depression?

Is there such a thing? Statistics show that multitudes of Americans are hoping for the quick cure. In 2001, it was estimated that 28 million Americans were taking anti-depressants. In 2016, studies suggest that one in six Americans are on some kind of psychiatric drug, a figure nearly double the 2001 number.

When Jesus began His ministry, His very first sermon included a quote from Isaiah 61…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. 
~ Luke 4:18-19

In Isaiah 61 (the original passage Jesus quoted), He goes on to say…

“… And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

The Bible doesn’t call it depression. The Bible calls it the spirit of heaviness. There is a demon involved here. David called it “being cast down.” Depression is a state of mourning in your life, a state of heaviness over circumstances. You are under the circumstances of your life. A great many things can open your life to the spirit of depression; circumstances, illness, negative and unhealthy thought patterns, bad (sinful) habits, rejection, death and loss, lack of direction, failure, and loss of passion for God can all be contributing factors that allow the enemy to gain access to your mind. The symptoms of depression as as varied as the causes; feelings of panic, unrelenting dissatisfaction,  unstable emotions, oppression, and feelings of being overwhelmed or forgotten are all signs that you are heading down a dark and lonely road of depression.

So how do you hit the brakes? How do you recover when depression has you bound up? What can put you on the path to positive spiritual and mental health?

In order to be healed from depression, you must experience a fresh work of the Holy Spirit in your life! Isaiah 61 (then again in Luke 4) tells how Jesus would come to the depressed, enslaved, and the broken…

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord anointed Me….”

Jesus came with an anointing, a yoke-breaking, depression-crushing, life-giving, freedom-announcing anointing. All you need to do is ask Him for it. Then ask for a fresh word from the Lord. He says, “I’ve come to proclaim. I’ve come with a word.” He is our help and our salvation!

The third thing you need is a fresh worship offering to God.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. ~ Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

Remember Jesus says to, “Put on a garment of praise.” Don’t be afraid to let God do something different in your worship life.

You say, “Well, Brother Ron, I just praise Him in my heart.”

I can guarantee that when you get up tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., no matter how tired you are, you will get dressed for work. You can’t walk into your workplace with no clothes on, saying, “I didn’t feel like getting dressed; I thought I’d just skip that today.” God said, “I’ll give you a garment of praise.” You put on a garment whether you feel like it or not. Your heart may be heavy. You may have been through some painful stuff, but shout to the Lord anyway.

The devil can’t take away the blood of the cross. Satan can’t take away the resurrection of Jesus. He can’t take away your salvation. Proclaim along with Job…

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…”
~ Job 13:15a  (NKJV)

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth”
~ Job 19:25 (NKJV)

This devil of depression must be rooted out, or its impact will be devastating. If the depressed father doesn’t take these steps to overcome it, it could take his wife and it could take his children. Grandmother, it could take your grandchildren. You had better get rid of it.

I used to have to fight this spirit of depression every Christmas. Because of difficulties in my youth and the memories that would flood me, I feel myself begin to withdraw even as my children and friends around me were celebrating Jesus’ coming. God has used my kids to pull me out of this seasonal attack of depression.

Demons can’t possess Christians, but they can obsess, compress, and depress you. They can live in you like a rat or a cockroach. You have to drive them out. I didn’t get rid of them by telling them, “Well, I’m just so sorry you’re here.”  I just told them where to go. “Get out of my life, heaviness!”  And by the power and blood of Jesus, those spirits must flee!

~ Adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare
Copyright © 2010 Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma House Book Group

Worship

Breaking The Code: Hope For The Last Days

I recently talked to a very prominent leader in the energy business. There has been found in America another huge oil and gas reservoir that is as large as or larger than the Dakota discovery. The Dakota discovery and the fracking there has moved America toward energy independence. These new finds will make our nation an economic powerhouse.

IMG_5198America is awash with energy resources, so much so that if the government allowed us to bring them up, our wealth as a nation would dwarf the rest of the world and turn our nation back to its place of economic authority.

This would take our enemies’ hands from around our throat and bring down energy costs. America would experience the greatest boom in its history. I believe God is ready to bless America and the world if we will begin to stand by faith on the principles that we know work. I believe in the Rapture and Second Coming, yet it is time we put our hands down and understand we are not leaving this world as losers.

Jesus said, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13, KJV).

How then can we live confidently in these last days?

We can embrace biblical hope!

CandleSeveral years ago there was an article in Parade magazine that made an impact on me. It was the story of self-made  millionaire Eugene Lang, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem, New York. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of fifty-nine sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get this group of predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. “Stay in school,” he admonished, “and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you.” At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student: “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling.” Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

Hope is such an interesting word. By definition it means “to desire with expectation of fulfillment; to expect with desire.”

All real hope must have a foundation to stand on. I might tell you that I hope to play center field for the Atlanta Braves next season, but you and I both know that is not hope based on a firm foundation—that’s called wishful thinking.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” ~ Proverbs 13:12

Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica about the end times. Many in his day were afraid they had missed the Rapture. Their deferred hope was making their hearts sick and fearful. Although his main focus was on the theme of judgment, Paul continued to encourage the church constantly about their future hope:

• He gave them hope and joy about the return of Jesus (see 1 Thessalonians 2:19).
• He exhorted them to live holy lives in anticipation of His coming (see 1 Thessalonians 3:13).
• He declared that we do not have to be shaken or disturbed but that we can live in hope (see Titus 2:11–13).

We Are Called to Live in Hope and Not Fear.

CoffeeAs a pastor for more than four decades, I have witnessed many changing events in the world. As I pen these words, ancient hatreds continue to boil to the surface in the Middle East. The war in Iraq has left many confused and dazed as to our purpose for being there. The war in Afghanistan continues to drag on, while Iran thumbs its nose at the international community. It continues to build a nuclear weapon for the purpose of annihilating Israel. Many believers have failed to recognize the conflict is being waged on a higher level. It is a conflict of immense spiritual proportions.

The world is on fire. People are living in fear and without much hope. Sad to say, this sense of hopelessness has infected the church. Instead of believing that darkness will overwhelm us, we in the church must recognize that the truth of the Word of God will always triumph over the infernal forces of the enemy!

Hiram TombMy purpose in writing my new book, The Hiram Code, is to give hope back to the body of Christ and outline strategies that not only will enlighten you, but also give you a clear direction for the future. In it, you will discover…

• A clear “sound” has been released to this generation—a sound of hope and not fear;
• God is not finished with the nation of Israel;
• The connection that exists today between the ancient civilization of Phoenicia and Israel;
• Who King Hiram was and why he was important?
• The lessons we can learn from Isaac, and how he was able to walk in the hundredfold blessing;
• How to face your giants;

• … And so much more!

My prayer is that the truth in The Hiram Code will replace fear with faith and we will have a hope firmly grounded in the truth of God’s Word that will cause us to remember we are on the winning side!

~ Adapted from my new book, The Hiram Code
Copyright © 2015 Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma House
Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group

Creación_de_Adám hands

Do You Possess the Heart of a Warrior?

Whether it is in the movies or real life, with all of the violence in the world today, there is a word we hear quite often…

Warrior.

Wallace SwordWhen we think of a warrior, it brings to mind images of a knight in shining armor, wielding a massive sword, and ready to take care of business. For some of us who remember the movies of the ’80’s and ’90’s, it may conjure images of Rambo or William Wallace in Braveheart. We want to think of a hero; someone of great strength and integrity, willing to face insurmountable odds for the betterment of humanity.

However, we often don’t take into account what it takes to become a warrior. We don’t often understand the pain and sacrifice that an individual goes through — the commitment that it takes to carry the mantle of a warrior. Today in America, most armed services have a six- to thirteen-week period of what they term basic training. During that time, the recruits have a leader called a drill instructor. Throughout this basic training, the young soldier or sailor begins to look and act differently. They are preparing for the possibility of warfare, and train accordingly. They prepare to take down the enemy with extreme prejudice (deadly force) — an enemy that will not hesitate to kill both soldier and innocent civilian if given the opportunity.

In spiritual warfare, a timid, untrained army is no match for hell’s terrorists! No, we must get into spiritual shape, pick up our armor, and go to the battlefront. The destiny of humanity hangs in the balance. David trained his four hundred soldiers with the truth we find in Psalm 18, which contains six basic charges every warrior needs to hear.

I. Get under authority — submission.

For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks. ~ Psalm 18:27

The soldier must begin the day knowing how to obey orders. From the moment of arrival in boot camp, nothing belongs to the recruit any longer. His hair is cut, his clothing is selected for him, and his schedule is determined by his leaders. For a season, freedom is lost and submission is taught. One of my high school buddies was always a rebel at heart. His dress was unconventional, as well as his attitude. Finally, he quit school to live free. His choice? He joined the Marines. I laughed when I saw him after boot camp… his long hair was now a crew cut, and he wore a crisp U.S Marine uniform instead of jeans. He had learned to live under orders.

It is essential to understand that putting the devil to flight requires submission to God. James 4:7 tells us, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Hebrews 12:1-2 gives the Christian his or her marching orders…

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

II. Get on fire for the cause — passion.

For You will light my lamp. ~ Psalm 18:28

The second goal of boot camp is to inspire the recruit to have a passion for the cause of the nation. All things being equal, the one with the most passion for the fight will win. In our struggle against the enemy, we must be on fire to win the souls of men for God’s kingdom. One admirable thing about Islamic fundamentalists is their unbridled passion for their cause. They are willing to die in order to further their purposes. While their teaching is in error and their methods are horrific, they’re on fire for what they believe. All the weapons of a militia cannot stop such passion; it must be met by Christians who have a passion for Jesus Christ.

III. Be prepared for warfare — discipline.

The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. ~ Psalm 18:28

God will “enlighten” His soldiers. We have been given the right armor and the right instructions. Every church must become a spiritual armory, preparing its people for the struggle against the darkness.

IV. Believe you can win — vision.

For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God, I can leap over a wall. ~ Psalm 18:29

Here the recruit confesses his faith. By the power of God, He can overcome a troop. With the strength of God, he can leap over a wall. The enemy’s army and obstacles fall before the spiritual soldier who has faith.

V. Know your weapons — power.

As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect… He teaches my hands make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. ~ Psalm 18:30-32, 34

Notice first that God has a perfect battle plan. The word perfect means “absolutely complete”. We must fight according to His plan.

Secondly, Yahweh has given us a sharp, two-edged sword — His Word. We must wield this sword effectively if we are to live the Victor’s life.

Furthermore, God grants us a shield of protection: faith.

Also, Yahweh exercises our gifts so our hands will be strengthened to make war. We can use our “bronze bow” to judge the enemy. Spiritual archers can shoot down the principalities in the heavens.

VI. Go to the next level — excellence.

He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. ~ Psalm 18:33

Boot camp moves us to the next level of battle. We can conquer the mountains before us. Our feet must be strong so we can walk with a sure foot. The feet of deer ‘track,” which means the rear foot will always land where the front foot leaves. Our God allows us to walk in His footsteps, tracking hard after Him.

David’s manual, here in Psalm 18, molded the four hundred outcasts into a military machine that would take the kingdom. We too can go to the next level if we become informed and disciplined.

So what about it? Are you ready to become the warrior for the Kingdom that God has called you to be? Are you ready to know your enemy, understand the battle, equip yourself for the fight, and walk in victory? The battle lines are drawn. The Commander awaits.

Will you answer the call?

— Adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare
Copyright © 2010 by Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma Media / Charisma House Book Group

Stone-Phillips

When Legends Come to Life

Halloween is traditionally a time of ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. For many, it is a time of parties, costumes, and candy (lots and LOTS of candy). According to Alliance Data Retail Services, Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that prompts people to spend money, behind Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.

Sleepy Hollow stampWhether it is stories and folklore from the likes of great authors such as Washington Irving or Charles Dickens (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol come to mind), or stories and characters based on actual historical figures that have morphed into legend, there has always been something about stories of suspense and mystery that intrigue people. One such popular Halloween figure is Dracula, who is actually based on Vlad III (Vlad the Impaler), Prince of Wallachia (Romania). A brutal and merciless killer, he preferred to be known as “Dracula”, which means “Son of the Dragon”.

Earlier this year, the movie Noah was released in theaters. While there was much of the story that deviated from the historical account we find in Genesis, one of the elements in the movie that drew an inordinate amount of attention were the Nephilim — if you saw the movie, they were represented by the giant “rock people”. Although the portrayal seemed rather fantastical, the producers of the film attempted to address something that is an often overlooked part of the Genesis account. It is one of those afore-mentioned historical facts that have morphed into legend (if not even cartoonish characters).

Caesarea By The Sea2

So, who were the Nephilim? Were they real or just figurative characters in the Bible? Let’s take a look…

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. ~ Genesis 6:1-2 (NKJV)

Here we have the intermarriage of the descendants of Cain and Seth with embodied demons. This produced a race of people called “giants” in the English Bible. They are literally Nephilim, which means “fallen ones”.They occupied the land of Canaan (this view is supported by both Falvius Josephus and Philo Judaeus). These beings produced a subhuman or hybrid race prior to the Flood. These hybrid beings could be the beings that became the ancient mythological gods (see John Fleming’s The Fallen Angel and the Heroes of Mythology and Thomas Horn’s Nephilim Stargates). This race brought vile immorality, crime, terror, and war on the earth. We have a grievous picture of what this means in Numbers 13:32-33…

 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (NKJV)

As we can see, these hybrids were present when the children of Israel entered the land of promise.

David would finally wipe them out (we assume). The human race seems to have experienced this activity before the Flood, and in seizing Canaan during the Exodus. In the last days, this pit will be opened, and the Antichrist will be the seed of Satan born to a woman.

These fallen angels, Nephilim, left their own estate and cohabited with women and produced horror for the earth. These demons disrupted God’s order on earth. This is why the Flood came. It explains the order by God to kill the inhabitants of Canaan. Many of them were not fully human.

For the sake of clarity, it needs to be explained that while this initial population of Nephilim were eliminated by the Flood, the abomination happened again. In Genesis 6:4, we read…

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (NKJV)

This indicates that after the Flood, these fallen angels came again and procreated with “the daughters of men”.

So again… is it just a “story” from the Bible? Could it really have happened?

The wonderful aspect of this is that God’s Word is true, and truth does indeed “spring from the earth”. The subject of the Nephilim is, as some have said, “the elephant in the room” for the archaeological, anthropological, and scientific communities. Here are some interesting facts…

  • In AD 1692, a skeleton was found near Angers, France, of a man measuring seventeen feet, four inches.
  • In 1950, in the Euphrates Valley of Southeast Turkey, several tombs were found containing full skeletons of giants fourteen to sixteen feet tall.
  • Digs in China have uncovered skeletal remains of giants over fifteen feet tall.

But the evidence is not relegated to just skeletal remains…

  • I once visited the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete, and there exists an exhibit of ancient bronze battle-axes from as far back as 1700 BC. This is not that unusual until you consider that the axes are over five feet in length. These are not, as some assert, decorative, but show signs of use in battle.
  • In the Great Orme Copper mine in the coastal town of Llandudno in North Wales, sledgehammers of over sixty pounds have been found. These hammers, used in the mining of copper, would have had handles of approximately nine feet.

You may say, “These are all very interesting stories, but what do they mean to me, for my life today?”

These things, and countless other facts, artifacts, and historical records bear out the truth of the Bible. “The rocks cry out” and declare the truth and glory of God! The psalmist bore witness that Creation itself testifies to the handiwork of God when he wrote…

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~ Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

If we make the decision to ignore the empirical evidence that supports God’s Word, then we choose to live in ignorance and disbelief. However, if we choose to believe the Bible as truth, then we must believe it in it’s entirety. The same Word that tells stories of floods, giants, angelic visitations, and miracles also gives us this dire warning…

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. ~ Matthew 24:37 (NIV)

Immorality, crime, terror, war… any of this sounding familiar?

But there is also hope, for the same Word also gives us this promise…

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16 (NKJV)

Salvation is here, my friend. His Presence in your life is only a prayer away.

Pastor Ron

 

Much of today’s content was adapted from my book Unexplained Mysteries of Heaven and Earth
(Copyright © 2013 Ron Phillips, published by Charisma House).

The Tear-Stained Pathway Into His Presence

The phone rang as I stepped out of the shower. As I picked up the receiver, I heard the voice on the other end say, “Mr. Phillips, your wife, Paulette, has been in a little fender bender.” I dressed quickly and jumped in the car.

As I crested a hill on the main highway, I was unprepared for what I saw. Through the rain, I spotted my wife’s little convertible, now a twisted mass of metal. An ambulance stood waiting, and workers were trying to free Paulette from the wreckage. The smell of gasoline was heavy in the air. I tried to get close to the car but was held back by emergency workers. I was frustrated and felt helpless knowing she must be desperately hurt and I was unable to offer comfort. However, God had provided someone at the scene to do that for me. A fireman, at the risk of his own life because of the potential for an explosion, removed a window from the car and climbed in next to Paulette. He covered her with an asbestos blanket, held on to her, and spoke life into her. It was his job to watch her carefully and keep her talking to be sure she wasn’t falling into deep shock.

Twenty-five agonizing minutes passed before the firemen and the Jaws of Life freed her from the car. And we didn’t know it then, but it would be six months before her crumpled body would allow her to return to a normal life. As I ran to Paulette’s side while they hurried her stretcher toward the ambulance, I remembered clearly hearing her say, “Thank You, Lord!” I know that in the midst of that tragedy, God was there, and He provided a wonderful young Christian fireman whose presence comforted my wife in that dark hour. His heroic presence was the touch of God. She felt carried in the Father’s arms.

Paulette returned home from the hospital after two weeks, but life at home was difficult. We had to rely on our extended family, our amazing church family, and heavily on the Lord to carry us through each day.

When tragedy strikes, we find ourselves in need of the assurance of God’s presence more than ever before. To that point in my life, I never needed the Lord more than I did in those first hours and days following her wreck. It is no coincidence that our ascent into the most secret place with God can occur during times of great heartache and tragedy. Tears have a way of driving us from ourselves and into His arms. Who hasn’t cried out in the dark night of the soul for comfort that can only come from Jesus? Expect to find the pathway to His presence stained with the tears of thousands of heartbroken saints before you.

Isaiah, the court prophet, cousin and confidant to King Uzziah, thought he had it all. His cousin king, although a leper, had given the nation peace and hope. Isaiah’s own ministry was one that sternly laid down the law to God’s wayward people. He had angered them, calling them stubborn, ungrateful children, and even went as far as to compare them to “rotten, stinking grapes”! (See Isaiah 5:4.) Surely God was pleased with Isaiah’s obedience in ministry. He surely had the ear and heart of his cousin, King Uzziah. Isaiah is like many of us. When you read the first five chapters of Isaiah, though inspired, you feel that something is missing in his life. There is a lack of hope and only a vague hint of what God is actually up to. Isaiah 6 gives us the turning point—an amazing “alone” experience with God that is vivid and clear.

After Isaiah’s dear cousin died suddenly, Isaiah felt his life collapsing. The hope that had sustained him and the promise of ministry in a peaceful Jerusalem that kept his eyes looking ahead seemed to evaporate. Tragedy is like that. Normally, it will either drive us to God or cause us to run away from Him. But Isaiah made the boldest decision any prophet ever made. He decided to charge into God’s presence! Isaiah turned purposefully toward the temple of Solomon, the three-room structure that housed God’s presence. Beyond the outer court, beyond the candlelit holy place, Isaiah knew there hung a thick veil. Beyond that veil, God promised to be present. However, the rules were clear—only the high priest could step behind the veil; anyone else would be struck down by God! Even the high priest could only enter the holy of holies once a year!

Isaiah came to the place of absolute self-abandonment, just as each of us must approach God. Death no longer mattered to Isaiah. He pushed his way past quiet worshippers and astounded priests to get to God. Isaiah needed help and hope, and had come to the end of his own resources. He was now a candidate for a miracle. He pressed past the veil into the holy of holies. The fearful protesters behind Isaiah no doubt backed away in fear, certain that this crazed man was walking straight into death.

There in the holy of holies, lit by only the Shekinah glory of God, Isaiah did die, in a sense. He died to himself and all of his own ambitions! In this bold step, I believe Isaiah gave up on Isaiah! He met Yahweh, and nothing else mattered. God was in that place, high and lifted up, with His unmatched glory trailing behind Him like the train of royal robes billowing behind a sovereign. Angelic worshippers surrounded the throne crying, “Holy!” The place shook with the voice of the angels. Isaiah 6:1–4 paints a vivid picture of the scene that Isaiah saw when he stepped inside the holy of holies:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

At that moment, Isaiah had no choice but to die to his flesh and ambitions. “Woe is me…” he cried, in an expression that could be also translated, “I am doomed!” He understood that even his own mouth, the mouth of a man of God, was unclean. Angels brought cleansing fire to touch his preaching lips, and his life was transformed. Soon he heard the voice of God crying for volunteers to carry His message. “Here am I, send me” (Isa. 6:5–8) cried the transformed Isaiah.

No man can see the Lord and continue living like nothing ever happened! No, the old life will be burned away and a new life will begin. Isaiah stormed into God’s presence in the middle of his pain because he needed answers, comfort, and help. The New Testament puts it this way:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ~ Galatians 2:20

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~ Galatians 5:24

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ~ Galatians 6:14

In the secret place of God, we come to the end of ourselves. We come as a bride to take on Jesus’s name and nature. When we are willing to die daily, Jesus says to us:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” ~ Luke 9:23–24

 

~ from the book, The Power of Agreement
by Ron Phillips and Ronnie Phillips, Jr.
© 2014 Charisma House Book Group

Angels In The Snow

Ok… we’ve finally made it to summer weather (winter just seemed so unrelenting this year in the Tennessee Valley). Feeling the warmth outside as we head into the dog-days of summer, I thought I’d give you a brief respite from the heat and tell you a little story… about snow. Snow and angels.

Gena’s story…

There are angels among us. You never know if it’s that person standing next to you in the elevator, behind you in line in the market, or even the pizza delivery guy.

One of my dearest friends worked as a full-time nanny for a very nice family of five that lived way out in the Indiana countryside. Being a mother-to-be herself, she certainly had her hands full with taking care of their children… but she did an amazing job.

imageI’d gone over there one weekend to spend some time with she and the kids while the parents were out of town. It was a wonderful December day and had started to get late. It was time for me to leave. It really snowed that day, so everything was completely covered. After I’d warmed my car, I was trying to back out and had somehow found myself no longer on their driveway, but instead on their lawn. That’s when I got stuck. I tried rocking the car back and forth in my attempt to get the car out, but all that did was make a mess of their yard. Feeling just awful about it, I went back inside and announced to my friend, “I’m stuck.” My friend began looking for shovels, salt, two-by-fours… anything that might help. “Surely these folks have tools; they live in the country!”

No luck.

I’d gone back out to the car to have another go at it, and was getting really frustrated. By this time, it was around 11:00p.m., very cold, and although the snowing had slowed to almost nothing coming down, it was difficult to get around since the snow from the day was fairly deep. Back in the car, I sat there thinking that I didn’t want to worsen the near-ditch I had already dug in their front yard. I couldn’t believe this. “How could I have done this?” I asked myself, I didn’t even have anyone to call for help. I started to pray. After a few minutes, for some reason I glanced down at my odometer. To my ironic horror, it read the numbers 666. I became angry and yelled, “I rebuke this!” I quickly pushed the button, resetting the odometer back to zero.

Just then, a small car with a Domino’s Pizza delivery sign on top pulled up to the house. I remember thinking, “Way out here? That’s odd.” A man got out of the car. With a big smile, he walked over and chuckled, “Looks like you could use some help.”

I was giddy with thankfulness and replied, “Oh yes… thank you! Thank you so much!”

He laughed and said he’d give it a push while I gave it a little gas.

I sat in the car and looked behind me through the rear window. The man stood behind my car, and for a few moments, he looked at it in what appeared to be a very thoughtful way. It was like he was gathering information with his smiling eyes.

“OK, then!” he called out. I pressed gently on the gas pedal… I certainly didn’t want to fling the icy slush and mud on him.

He placed his hands on the trunk of my car and forward, up, and back onto the driveway I went. I thought, “Oh my! He didn’t even lean.”

I got out of the car and was so surprised, all I could get out of my mouth was a barrage of “thank you”s and a “Wow! You’re strong!”

He laughed and asked that I be very careful out there on the road.

I went to reach for my purse in the car to give him some cash for helping me out, and when I looked up, he’d already gone all the way back to where his car was on the road. He stood by his car and waved before getting in and pulling away.

I quickly jumped into my car and backed out to the road. He was gone. No taillights…

No tire tracks in the snow.

AngelsYour prayers matter to our Father and activate angelic assistance. Remember, no prayer goes unnoticed or unanswered. I realize that, to some of you, that doesn’t make sense, when you have prayed for healing and the healing hasn’t come, or when you have suffered greatly and there seemed to be no relief. However, our prayers have been entrusted to angels until their appointed time. As allies with the angels, we must be reassured by the power of prayer and spend time regularly with God.

— from the book, Our Invisible Allies by Ron Phillips published by Charisma House Publishers Copyright © 2009 by Ron Phillips

An Unexpected Stop on a Holy Quest

New MexicoCenturies ago there lived a young German monk. This devoted man took his holy orders seriously. His life was one of discipline. He had surrendered everything and viewed soberly the holy obligation of the church. Still, his struggling heart was empty. Finally, the young cleric decided that pilgrimage and penance was the way to God. He crawled up the high stairs in Rome where many made their pilgrimages, the staircase known as Scala Santa. Worn out and bloody from the journey, he still had no answer from God.

Returning home, the young monk was browsing in a library when he came across a complete copy of the Latin Scriptures. He was astounded, for he had never held the entire Word of God in his hands, in spite of years of Bible study as a monk. That day the light came powerfully to Martin Luther as one verse from God’s Word broke over his soul—

“The just shall live by faith.” ~ Romans 1:17

Luther knew that Paul had written those words, echoing the prophet Habakkuk, to the church at Rome. Now, 1,500 years later, the same truth that had become almost smothered by church traditions exploded in his heart. In that moment of revelation, Martin Luther had a profound conversion and filling of the Holy Spirit. He moved from religious ritual to a personal relationship with Jesus. Now, at last, his quest for life together with God was made possible by the journey to Jesus.

Luther went on to lead thousands of others to that same freedom!

Fast forward about 500 years…

Not unlike Luther, in 1989 I came to realize my own life had become one of religious works done to please God and to rise in denominational prestige and position. My early quest for life together with God had been swallowed by religious obligation. With a legalistic work ethic, I worked hard and achieved a measure of success — if nickels and noses were any measure in church life. Vacancy After twenty-two years in the ministry I found myself empty and powerless. My walls were lined with books I had mastered, a few I had written, degrees I had earned, and awards I’d received. Yet I had no close relationship with God. I had received His salvation, had dedicated my life to ministry, yet my soul was emaciated, starved for spiritual things. My pride in my knowledge kept me from talking about my hunger. I was opinionated and mean-spirited to those who didn’t agree with me. Being right was more important to me than being righteous. God graciously began to allow disappointment and difficulty to exhaust my flesh. I became so miserable that I could no longer stand myself, nor did I feel I could continue as a pastor. My life had reached critical mass… something had to give.

It was then that my life was overturned completely by what some call the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Up until that heavenly invasion, I had my faith neatly stacked into an orderly package. I believed that God did great things in the past and one day in heaven I would see Him. I was thoroughly orthodox and adamantly opposed the “mystics” who believed God could speak, act, and touch people like He did in the Book of Acts. Like a Pharisee, I had turned the written Word into an idol. I was a “Scripture expert” but a miserable failure at life.

AMotel Signt the moment I was ready to tender my resignation from the ministry, God met me in a hotel room in New Mexico. Oh, blessed invasion! Oh, divine disruption! I had a literal and personal awakening in the long night of my despair! God spoke to me, baptized me, filled me, and called me to an authentic relationship with Him. From that new relationship would flow a new ministry, wild and free like a rushing river. This experience was not an end but the beginning of a fantastic quest for intimacy with Jesus. All my life I have been in hot pursuit of an intimate life dwelling together with God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

—from The Power of Agreement
by Ron Phillips and Ronnie Phillips, Jr.
Published by Charisma House, © Copyright 2014