Carry on, Soldier!

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

Jesus made this statement to His twelve disciples as He was preparing to send them out into the surrounding areas to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Jesus was warning them about the spiritual warfare that they would encounter as they served the Most High God. The sword that He was referring to was a weapon used not in peaceful situations, but in fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Jesus also explained in the verses following Matthew 10:34 that division in relationships would occur as a result of their steadfast faith. We will experience the same things as we follow Jesus and serve the Most High God.

When we make a genuine decision to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, it is life-changing in many ways. However, we rarely realize that we have also enlisted in a very real war in the spiritual realm. Life is not easy in general, but lives that are surrendered to the Most High God and His Son, Jesus Christ, include the reality of ongoing spiritual warfare at various levels and intensities throughout the Christian journey.

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.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

The Lord has provided many spiritual weapons for us to use as we battle against Satan’s kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. Ephesians 6:14-18 contains a list of some of the weapons that are necessary and successful in the spiritual battles we face in our Christian lives. They include truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer.

If we are going to be effective in the battles, we must live a life of truth just as our Lord Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Righteousness—godly standards and principles—must also be followed in order to avoid giving the enemy any right to repel the weapons we are using against him and the kingdom of darkness. During warfare, we cannot shift back and forth from one side to the other. We must choose God’s side and stay there. If we continue to practice known sin, we align ourselves with the armies of the kingdom of darkness. Opposing the enemy requires us to reject and repent for sin and to resist the temptation to join the devil’s side by being in agreement with his lies, deception, and all other sinful and evil behavior.

Quoting Scripture, the Word of God, is a powerful weapon that will cause the armies of the enemy to flee. Becoming diligent about praying every day, as frequently as needed and for as long as necessary, is essential in the fight against the attacks from the devil and his helpers.  Praise and worship are also huge weapons that are highly successful in fighting the good fight. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord while they were in the most horrific prison, resulting in their miraculous release (Acts 16:25-40). 

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Psalm 24:10 (NKJV)

It is not the Lord’s will for us to fight in this warfare alone. We must always remember that the Lord our God fights for us! Our Most High God is also the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Heaven’s armies! When we need help, warrior angels are ready to assist us in the battle against the kingdom of darkness. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for us, God’s sons and daughters. Asking Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, to send them to help us fight spiritual battles is crucial for victory, especially when we are feeling beaten down and weak.

Spiritual warfare can be extremely exhausting—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Twila Paris’ song, The Warrior is a Child, is a great reminder that “even winners can get wounded in the fight” and “even soldiers need a quiet place to rest.” No follower of Jesus Christ is strong enough to constantly fight spiritual warfare without times of rest away from the front lines. We all need those times of refreshing and recovery. We also need the prayers of other genuine believers to help fortify us in the battles. The principles of warfare in the natural realm of never leaving anyone behind and supporting the other soldiers to the death are even more important in fighting spiritual warfare!

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 2:4 (NKJV)

Staying focused on our calling as soldiers in God’s kingdom against the kingdom of darkness is also essential if we are going to be effective in spiritual warfare. The devil and his helpers will do their best to distract us with worldly matters and activities to trap us in their web of lies and deception to the point that we lose our concentration and ability to respond appropriately when attacks are launched against us. To please our Most High God and be ready to fight the spiritual battles that come our way, we must not participate in sinful behavior and we must avoid people who directly or indirectly discourage us from following Jesus’ example. During spiritual warfare we can never drop our spiritual weapons, and we must resist the temptation to run away—going AWOL—in the same manner that a member of the armed forces is absent from his or her place of assignment without official permission. We must carry on to the best of our ability using the weapons that the Most High God has provided for us and continue to fight the good fight of faith to the very end. Carry on, soldier! The victory celebration will be glorious when we meet the Lord face to face in Heaven.

Kathy Shelton

One More Time—Falling and Getting Back Up

Do you feel like a failure? Are you brokenhearted? Have you struggled with the same behaviors or addiction for years without victory? Have you felt like giving up? Don’t! It takes courage to get back up when we fall. Be courageous and the Lord will strengthen your heart.

Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 (NKJV)

If you have sincerely asked Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior, then you can hope in the Lord. We all occasionally miss the mark of perfectly following and obeying the Lord. However, practicing known sin on a regular or daily basis is not missing the mark. That is rebellion and willful disobedience to God.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV)

Our faithful God will forgive a repentant person who is genuinely sorry for their sins and makes the choice to change their behavior. God is ready to forgive.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)

Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are good! However, no person is good all the time—no one. Human beings have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Falling short of the glory of God does not make us hopeless cases. It means that we are human.

Just because you have failed once, twice or even hundreds of times, that does not mean that you cannot succeed. A friend of mine once told me that a high-ranking officer in the military shared with him that he would rather have someone under his command who had fallen and gotten back up than someone who had never fallen at all. He knew that the one who had fallen and gotten back up would not easily succumb to defeat. The person who has failed at receiving healing from past pain and trauma, but continues to pursue their freedom is very likely to eventually be victorious. Do not lose heart!

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

The enemy of our souls, Satan, encourages genuine Christians to feel defeated and discouraged. If we allow him to accomplish that in our lives, he has won the battle. However, he does not win the war! The Bible makes it clear that Satan and his forces will be completely defeated in the end. We must hold on to that truth as we fight the good fight of faith.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

Regardless of what you are facing today, do not give in to the temptation to give up! Yes, there are horrible storms that come into our lives. Those situations can cause us a lot of emotional, spiritual and/or physical pain, and trauma, but our victory is found in overcoming through the Lord Jesus Christ.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)

We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ!

Do not give up! If you have fallen again, get back up one more time and fight for your victory. You will succeed with the Lord Jesus Christ by your side. Take His hand and let Him lead you into freedom. He loves you and wants that for you more than you can imagine. I have witnessed Jesus Christ set hundreds of people free from past pain and trauma. He can do the same for you!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

For suggestions regarding how to receive help, check out our HELPFUL RESOURCES page. Your freedom from sin, addiction, and past pain and trauma is worth fighting for. Be filled with hope today!

Kathy Shelton

No More Games!

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”

 Matthew 16:24 (AMP)

Are you a genuine Christian, or just playing games?
Do you still have one foot in the world?
Are you in rebellion to God and His Word in some areas of your life?
Are you obeying our Most High God at all costs?

This is the message [of God’s promised revelation] which we have heard from Him and now announce to you, that God is Light [He is holy, His message is truthful, He is perfect in righteousness], and in Him there is no darkness at all [no sin, no wickedness, no imperfection]. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].

1 John 1:5-7 (AMP)

Sincere Christians do not continue to live according to their own wills and ignore God’s commandments and directions. They do not continue to intentionally live worldly lives. True Christians do not walk in darkness—they walk in God’s light.

No soldier in active service gets entangled in the [ordinary business] affairs of civilian life; [he avoids them] so that he may please the one who enlisted him to serve.

2 Timothy 2:4 (AMP)

Spiritual warfare is real. Our enemy, Satan, and his evil forces will fight us for the rest of our earthly lives once we make a genuine profession of faith in Jesus Christ, ask God to forgive our sins in Jesus’ name, and repent by changing our behavior to line up with the Bible. We must know which side we are on in this unending warfare. If we are children of God, we must be on the side of His kingdom and stay there. We cannot be victorious in spiritual battles if we are constantly switching back and forth between God’s kingdom and the kingdom of darkness! 

 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.  

Ephesians 6:12 (AMP)

Everything we do either pleases and honors Almighty God, or it pleases and honors the devil. Our actions must match our words. Our testimonies of being followers of Jesus must be demonstrated by our obedience to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not practice what I tell you? Everyone who comes to Me and listens to My words and obeys them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a [far-sighted, practical, and sensible] man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and yet could not shake it, because it had been securely built and founded on the rock.”

Luke 6:46-48 (AMP)

We will be judged by our Most High God based on the sincerity of our commitments to Him. He knows our hearts and every thought we entertain. God knows the motives for our actions and whether or not we are just pretending to be Christians, but in reality are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Our Holy and Just God will not welcome phonies into His kingdom to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

All the nations will be gathered before Him [for judgment]; and He will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right [the place of honor], and the goats on His left [the place of rejection]. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’

 “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Leave Me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons);’

“Then these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment, but those who are righteous and in right standing with God [will go, by His remarkable grace] into eternal (unending) life.”

Matthew 25:32-34; 41; 46 (AMP)

We cannot afford to be Christians in name only, nor should we ever desire to live a life that deceives others. That way of life leads straight to Hell. Jesus made this very clear in the following verses. 

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’

Matthew 7:21-23 (AMP)

If we say that we believe in God—and that Jesus Christ is God’s Son—and we have consecrated our lives to the Lord, we must act like it. Even the demons believe in God, and Satan witnessed the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The devil knows the truth about Jesus, but he is still the most evil being around. He inspires people to do wicked things. However, every human being has a free will and can choose to do good or evil. Genuine Christians are not perfect, but they do their best to live according to God’s will and not their own. 

But someone may say, “You [claim to] have faith and I have [good] works; show me your [alleged] faith without the works [if you can], and I will show you my faith by my works [that is, by what I do].” You believe that God is one; you do well [to believe that]. The demons also believe [that], and shudder and bristle [in awe-filled terror—they have seen His wrath]!

James 2:18-19 (AMP)

A person becomes a genuine Christian and part of God’s kingdom when the Holy Spirit draws them, convicts them of their sin and shows them their need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We either dedicate our lives to our Most High God, or we don’t. There is no middle ground. True conversions to becoming a child of God and following His Son, Jesus Christ, happen one time. Genuine believers will never need to “rededicate” their lives to the Lord, because they did that once and for all time at some point, and they never looked back. 

Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be surprised that I have told you, ‘You must be born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:5-8 (AMP)

Once a sincere confession of faith and acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior occurs, there is no turning back. From that point on, our whole perspective and focus changes to line up with God’s Word and His will. People who respond to altar calls, or invitations to accept Jesus, over and over have never before sincerely become born-again Christians. During difficult and frightening times, people may turn to God, but once the crisis is over, they often return to their wicked, worldly ways. Jesus taught about that in Matthew 13:18-23. Steadfast faith only happens if someone is truly born again.

 “Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy; yet he has no [substantial] root in himself, but is only temporary, and when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away [abandoning the One who is the source of salvation]. And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.”

Matthew 13:18-23 (AMP)

It is time for pseudo Christians, wolves in sheep’s clothing, to be revealed for who they really are and, if at all possible, for genuine followers of Jesus to separate from those people who are just playing games. The sin in the lives of pseudo Christians will have a negative effect on God’s children if they allow those wolves in sheep’s clothing to influence their hearts and spirits—knowingly or unknowingly. Paul warned the Galatians about this peril in the following Scriptures.

You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth? This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven [a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers] leavens the whole batch [it perverts the concept of faith and misleads the church].

Galatians 5:7-9 (AMP)

Only godly sorrow for sin will result in a true born-again experience in someone’s life. There is no fake it until you make it in God’s kingdom. We are either sold out for the Lord, or we are on our way to Hell.   

For [godly] sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow [the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe] produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (AMP)

Living for—and obeying—our Most High God in every area of our lives is the only way to truly honor Him. Asking Him for forgiveness when we miss that goal and sincerely repenting by intentionally changing our behavior to be God-honoring will be a natural response for any genuine, born-again Christian. Only genuine, born-again Christians can receive the healing and freedom offered by our Most High God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives (Luke 4:18, NKJV), but we must be sincerely following Jesus and walking in God’s light to receive the peace and joy produced by those incredible gifts!

Kathy Shelton

 

Joy Comes in the Morning!


Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:4-5 (NKJV)

Genuine followers of Jesus Christ have all experienced the dark night of the soul at one time or another in their lives.  Those days, weeks, months or even years can seem like they will never end and be extremely difficult to endure.  Regardless of how much we love the Lord and seek His comfort, there are times when our souls—our minds, wills and emotions— refuse to be comforted.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted.
Psalm 77:2 (NKJV)


In Psalm 23:4, David wrote about walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  That valley is no fun to walk through, but the main thing to keep in mind is that we walk through it.  We should never stop and give up!  People who have sincerely asked Jesus Christ to be their personal Lord and Savior, asked Almighty God for forgiveness for their sins in Jesus’ name, and who have repented and changed their ungodly behavior will eventually experience joy in the morning.  That joy may come the next day after a traumatic event.  However, it may be weeks or months before that joy comes to our hearts, minds and spirits.  True Christians know that when we pass from this life into eternity, and we see the Lord face to face, we will be filled with joy!

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;
you have been faithful over a few things,
I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)


The cycle of experiencing grief, weeping, and sorrow and then returning to a place of joy is part of life.  However, some Christians can get stuck in the grieving part of the cycle and do not regain the joy of the Lord.  The joy of the Lord is our strength as it says in Nehemiah 8:10 and we must return to His joy in order to receive the healing we need from traumatic events in our lives.  We can only do that if we are one of God’s children, living our lives for His glory.

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)


In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, Paul wrote about many of the traumatic events that he experienced:

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (ESV)

Most of us have not suffered the majority of those types of horrendous situations, other than possibly sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, and being cold.  Nevertheless, many true Christians, including me, have been extremely wounded and devastated by traumatic circumstances which caused our hearts and spirits to be broken. 
Have you been betrayed?  I have.  Have you been divorced?  I have.  Have you been lied about by close friends or family members?  I have.  Have you been raped?  I have.  Have you been the victim of a violent crime?  I have.  Have you suffered the loss of a loved one due to their death?  I have.  Have you been abandoned?  I have.  Have you been rejected?  I have.  Have you been emotionally, verbally, mentally, physically, sexually, or spiritually abused?  I have experienced all of those types of abuse and more.  Have you been the victim of domestic violence?  I have.  Have you survived a natural disaster?  I have.  However, I am a survivor and more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ!  You can be too!! 

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].

Romans 8:37 (AMP)

Paul called the immense traumatic circumstances that he suffered “light afflictions” in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  He encouraged us not to lose heart and remember that the trials in our lives are only for a moment compared to eternity.  We must always try to keep God’s perspective as our focus—the big picture—that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment,
is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

So, when I write these articles, I am writing from a place of truly having lived through and survived numerous forms of extremely traumatic events.  My personal relationship with Jesus Christ has enabled the inner healing that He has done in my heart and spirit. The amount of emotional and spiritual healing I have received is amazing and it has allowed me to help others.  Jesus died for all my griefs and sorrows.  He died for yours as well.  Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus in these verses:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV)


Our Most High God has promised us that joy will come in the morning.  He does not tell us which morning, only that joy will come.  We must participate in the fulfillment of that promise in any way that He leads us to do so.  The main thing that we can do to see that happen in our lives is to worship the Lord regardless of what is happening in the natural realm.  As we obey and honor Him, we will experience increasing amounts of His joy! 

Kathy Shelton