Seven Steps toward a Victorious life In Christ by Pastor Don
These verses are the path to spiritual maturity. Pastor Don gave a brief review.
Isaiah 7:10-11 Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.”
It begins with asking for a sign and as we mature we will begin making right choices, and discerning between good and evil.
By the time we get to verse 17 (The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.” ) we are more mature, we are no longer babes in Christ. God permits the Assyrians to come into our lives.
This can be a spanking for a rebellious child, or the Assyrians can be coming in to strengthen up a child, giving them a chance to test their spiritual “muscles” of faith. God will permit you to be tested and tried with the adversary, but he will define the exact perimeters of the test. We won’t succeed unless we ask God’s help.
Our strength is with resolve to live the VICTORIOUS LIFE. When we have a trial and tribulation in our life we need to realize that God permits it. There is no testimony without a test and we need to press in. The process gives us fiber to make it.
Ephriam and Manasseh are sons of Joseph – Ephriam departed from Judah. Judah means praise. The Jews received the Messiah and the Gentiles were grafted in. We are praisers to God.
Pastor Don gave us a land mine statement. He said that if we care about spiritual growth we need to examine ourselves to see where we are in the process. We need to do the work of examining ourselves.
There are six steps in the process. Pastor Don covered this over two studies, so I am going to combine the notes to make one entry.
1. EXAMINE OURSELVES IN THE AREA OF TEACHABLE.
Paul knew that he had more to learn and grow. What do we need to learn or are we still searching things out? Pastors are most guilty for they want to protect their place and status. We are not to forsake the assembly of the brethren, and it is important to seek knowledge and understanding. Pastor Don spoke about how many pastors do not go to conferences to enrich their lives. If we do not keep teachable maturational growth stops and comes to a grind. We need to examine who and what we are and take correction and suggestions.
2. SPIRITUAL WARFARE
We are doing warfare in UNION with God. It is not all about me, me, me. We are fighting against the flesh and fighting with the Spirit of God, doing warfare about the flesh and the enemies of the Kingdom. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
When we are babies our spiritual warfare is all about self and sin, fighting demons like alcoholism and lust. Most of Pastor Don’s warfare is not about willpower now, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to stop fighting. For example, resisting the temptation to eat a cheese Danish. As we grow and gain more dominance over our flesh, we move from fighting the flesh to fighting demons in other people or fighting other people. We can get hung up on people stuff – for example you cannot enjoy the choir because Sister So and So is in the choir, or you don’t like the Pastor’s sermon, or you are tired of hearing about tithing. Your battle is still about people.
Sometimes, when your children are pulled to negative behavior, it has nothing to do with the child but with the spiritual forces around the child.
Even an adult who should be mature may act like a child, having an arrested adolescent spirit. Sometimes the problem is us and our baggage. We want a return on our investment, and when we do not get that return from in the time frame that we think it should come we get discouraged. But these people are God’s children on God’s schedule. We need to be fighting against powers and principalities.
So our spiritual warfare will progress from the sins of our flesh, to other people, and then to powers and principalities. We need to get past the sins of our flesh and our dealings with other people to get to where the battle really is – with the powers and principalities.
Moses was humble, and he was constantly interceding for his people.
We will know that we are more mature when our prayers are more for others than ourselves, and we truly believe that our stuff is taken care of and thus we are freed to focus on the struggles of others.
Isaiah points out the maturational process the Messiah has to go through. We want to stay the course with no distractions.
3. OUR BELIEF SYSTEM STARTS TO CHANGE
The believer begins to agree with God, believe what God says. Questions and doubts begin to lessen and our response to God gets shorter. We obey quicker. We need to arrive at the point where we can say, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it, and then do what God says.” At this stage we finally surrender our money to God in obedience. We believe the promises concerning tithing and offerings, and do not make the mistake of King Saul. We are positive that God has our situation. King Saul got worried and did not obey the priest, Samuel, and wait for Samuel to come and make an offering. The enemy was pressing in and the people were murmuring, and King Saul got worried and stepped in and made the offering to God. Samuel came and asked King Saul what he had done. King Saul basically said that he feared the people might rebel – he feared the people more than he feared God. Only the priests were to offer sacrifices, and King Saul paid a high price for his disobedience, he lost the Holy Spirit and ultimately King Saul lost the whole kingdom.
At this stage we believe even the parts of the Bible that we don’t like, and we do it speedily. We do check and get confirmation that the Word and Spirit agree.
Pastor Don stated that we need to do the Abraham thing – load the camels and just start going. David was told not to count his army and he did, and faced major consequences for that act of disobedience.
Also, some things for obedience seems to take us awhile to do, but we want to aim for instantly obeying God.
4. START TO LINE UP WITH THE WORD INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY.
We say we believe, now we begin to take action, line up in servanthood. When we discover flaws in our lives we want to line up with the Word. We want to face our selves and line up with the Word. In some areas this comes easy for us, in others it is hard.
For example, Pastor Don never took a day of Sabbath rest, he was constantly busy with ministry and work, and was fighting burnout. He had to force himself to take a day off to spend with the Lord and with his family. Afterwards he realized that you can’t be the best that you can be unless you give yourself a day of rest.
Someone can be in the Lord for 40 years and still be immature. Some love to constantly get their lives to a state of emergency, and their flesh works to create emergencies. The inner child of the past will stress you to death. Line up with the Word, no matter how much your emotions scream.
Step three is BELIEVE AND MENTAL ASSENT, step 4 is APPLY ACTION TO IT.
Ask yourself, do you line up with the Word. When you begin to line up with the Word, believing starts to become faith. Just because you believe something doesn’t mean you have faith for it. The devil believes in God and Jesus.
FAITH HAS FEET. We can believe a lot of things without having faith for them.
If you receive a prophecy that God has a particular ministry for you, don’t run out and print up business cards, first line up in faith.
Believing leads to mental agreement but not necessarily giving you the faith for it.
We need to get more mature. Ask God for maturity.
When the Bible talks about walking on water, only one guy had the faith for it. All believed it because they saw Jesus walking on the water, only Peter got out of the boat. Are you going to get out of the boat yet?
We believe God will get us through but we don’t have the faith to act that out in our lives.
God will never leave us or forsake us. When life is tough, people ask where is God in the midst of this?
Jesus immediately lines up with the Word out of his mouth and has faith for it. You can’t enter into His rest until you hear the Word and mix it with faith.
Pastor Don shared that the mustard seed is a hybrid, meaning it can’t cross-pollinate with any other plant which is why God compared faith to a mustard seed. We need to have faith as a mustard seed – not cross germinated with doubt and unbelief. Faith cannot be mixed. It needs to match the Word perfectly.
We can be a spiritual giant on Sunday, but Monday morning when the anointing has lifted are we still in faith?
5. SUCCESSFULLY DEVELOP POWER OVER YOURSELF, OVER OTHERS AND OVER THE ENEMY.
There is an order to this, first you gain power over yourself, then over others and finally over the enemy. If you don’t have power over yourself you will not be able to kick or battle with the devil effectively. We need faith over our willpower. When you are powerful, you dominate others by sheer will. Joe Naimeth used his will to dominate the football team he played for to begin to get them to believe and achieve the Super Bowl trophy.
Jesus had willpower over himself and made himself go to the cross, He could have avoided the cross if He had wanted to, but praise God, He didn’t.
6: FASTING TO REMOVE YOKES
Pastor Don then spent time talking about fasting, which is a good way to develop power over our flesh. But we want to do the fasting of God. Most people still do wrong during the fast and then wonder why their fast is not producing fruit.
Isaiah 58:3 “Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice? ” “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers.”
Are we fasting to do something for God, or are we wanting God to do something for us. We are not fasting to bribe God or twist Him to do our will. Why does everything have to revolve around us? Young people today are so self-absorbed, overindulged and it leaves them open to responding to the temptations of the devil.
Isaiah 58:4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.
Don’t have strife and debate and wickedness and then expect your voice to be heard on high, fast or no fast.
Isaiah 58:5-6 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
We fast to break bonds on others and on ourselves. What does hunger have to do with bonds? The fast helps US to lift bonds, life’s burdens and set the oppressed free.
Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?
What is the purpose of doing without food – turn that time you would prepare food and the money you would spend as a way of helping others in need.
Isaiah 58:8-9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
Pastor Don pointed out that there is nothing in this passage that says that God removes the yoke – who removes the yoke? YOU. YOU remove the yoke from your midst and YOU do not point your finger, and YOU do not speak wickedness THEN you shall call and the LORD will answer you.
Isaiah 58:10-11 If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Here is the connection. If you exercise power over your self, the power is converted to ability that allows you to take the yoke from your midst. The yoke is the flesh and body. The fast is your exercise to develop willpower to dominate the flesh, then you become a spiritual giant.
Love can only operate in the reality of free will, and cannot exist without free will.
Innocence does not require evil, the fact that evil exists does not mean that you have to partake of this.
We fast because we desire to develop willpower over ourselves and that leads to power over others and over everything which appeals to the flesh.
When we are faced with a demon who is trying to dominate us, we want the inner will and faith to withstand his onslaught. What appeals to our flesh is obvious to a familiar spirit and that is what the demon would use to control us in that area, and that area of weakness could prevent us from dominating the enemy.
Someone could command a demon to leave and that demon could say, “You have no authority to drive me out because of your sin.” For example if you are trying to drive out a sexual demon but you have a weakness in that area, say an addiction to pornography, you can’t drive the demon out. You need power over yourself.
Great men and women of God are given the power of God without repentance. God will not take a gifting back, even if a person falls back into sin, they may still be used of God. For example, Billy Sunday, later in his ministry went back into alcoholism, and ended up dying early. Your can be used, but it is hard on you, and often your ministry does not have the same degree of impact it had before you fell into sin.
What sustains you if you do achieve the heights in ministry is your character. At some point you have to grapple with power over your self, over your character, or you won’t have power/influence over others or over the enemy. There are choices we have to make.
Nothing God wants to do for us is without qualification. There is no greasy grace. There is stuff we have to do to overcome the struggles we face, and that will qualify us for better things, if we don’t work on our character and our struggles we can be disqualified.
People are watching us, watching how we act, how we raise our children. They are looking to see if we are the same Christian on Friday night as we are on Sunday morning.
When your yoke is loosed – it is up to you to walk out of it. We can be saved, but still stay in the jail of our bondage. Jesus did not save us to leave us stuck in a position of bondage.
When you stand before a demon possessed person the demon will read your mail.
Pastor Don shared that one time a minister invited an evangelist to his church to cast out demons, and the demon told the evangelist that he couldn’t cast the demon out because sister so and so was sleeping with the pastor. Your ministry can be compromised by hidden sin, for it inhibits how you work and what you teach.
Jesus was the most powerful in exercising self willpower, for He made Himself go to the cross.
7. TRUE WORSHIP
We want to worship until we develop a lifestyle of worship unto the Lord. We need to worship and make everything about our life to the glory of God. We want to see the glory of God in everybody and everything. Love on people (even if they are still broken, hurting and unlovely) for they are God’s child. We want our existence to point to the glory of God. We want our life to become a song to God. We just want to make Daddy happy, to live for Him and honor Jesus.
Things that are not of God you begin to find offensive, and you don’t want to do this or that because it would not honor God. We just don’t want to do it.
We become ready to do Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
You are conscious all the time of God, when you are in Wal-mart, doing your work, at home, at the field, even when you feel you are losing it. Because we are the Temple of God, anything we do we do in the sanctuary, and that does not permit a casual lifestyle. Worship changes our view of sin.
When we were baby Christians sin was a big deal, but with a life of worship, our view of sin is like a washing machine that constantly washes out our sins, we come quick to repent and ask for forgiveness. Jesus died for all our sins.
We see sin in the people around us and it is part of the process, but we don’t get disappointed, we just know that the more word a person gets into them the more sin is pushed out of them. Jesus forgave sinners – and did not then preach a sermon after that to them.
Worship changes our views of sin, and also our views on death. We are not going out of our way to die, but we sure are looking forward to Heaven. Paul chose to stay around for the believers, but also looked forward to death. As we face challenges on this earth we realize that everything on earth that leads to death is not such a bad thing. When life throws challenges at you we want to go to a place of worship.
We are set free, but we become slaves of righteousness.
Romans 6:18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
This was a powerful teaching.
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