From Chaos to Refuge

Man hand with lifebuoy ring over blue sea water

Have you ever asked God where He is in the midst of a storm? In a crisis situation, have you ever had trouble discerning the voice of God with the enemy’s lies of deception? Have you ever heard a voice prompting you, almost desperately harassing you, to do something irrevocable that does not line up with God’s Word? Do you believe in principalities?

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world,” 1 John 4:1-3

It was a beautiful sunny day at the lake, and little did I know I was about to test the spirits. I was there with my daughters and one of my daughter’s friends. The day started out pleasant enough just like every other day at the lake. We borrowed a blow-up air raft to relax on the cool water. Remember this is a blow-up raft.

After unpacking the car, carrying a heavy load down the long hill, we noticed the anchor and two life jackets were missing. It was a hot day, and the water looked inviting. Nicole quickly chimed in, “We do not need the anchor and the life vests. We are only going to be in the shallow end of the lake.” Famous last words!

There was a lovely breeze blowing across the lake with the sun glistening like diamonds. The sky was so blue and clear. We were all excited with anticipation to relax and float on the water. We put the raft into the water and took turns taking the rope and walking the raft around the shallow end of the lake.

When it was Nicole and her friend’s turn, they decided to go out just a bit, then a little further, and the next thing I see is the water is now up to their necks. The waves came rushing. I yelled for the girls to get on the raft. There was to be no more playing around, but both girls ignored my command. Within seconds, the raft drifted out where they couldn’t touch, and we were now approximately 30 feet from shore. The waves were raging as I pleaded with the girls to get onto the raft. They had other plans and decided instead to swim to shore.

I was very worried and filled with fear! The waves were strong. We were very far from shore and getting further away with every passing second. My other daughter, Heather, quickly grabbed the two life vests and decided to swim toward the girls to give them a life vest to hold onto.

One question kept badgering me. Are you going to let your children drown or are you going to try to rescue them? The voice was taunting me as the waves got stronger and I drifted further into the abyss of the lake. The taunting in my mind felt like I was being bullied. Are you going to let something happen to your children or are you going to do something about this?

Just as soon as panic began to set in, I heard another voice. This one was calm – a still small voice, peacefully telling me to stay put on the raft. I sensed that I was to stay put because I was older and not in any shape to fight the lake. I felt like the best thing I could do for my children was to call 911.

I was hearing conflicting voices at the same time. One was filling me with peace by speaking life over this terrible situation, while the other was cunning, full of chaos, and confusion spouting probable death.

I was not strong enough to swim against the turbulent waves of this lake because I wasn’t well. I was drifting further away with every passing second. I had a choice to make. I decided to listen to the still small voice and help my girls the most effective way I could.

The girls had their cell phones in a compartment on the raft. I grabbed one and immediately dialed 911. A nice gentleman answered the call and asked for my location. I pleaded to please help my children, and I began to explain landmarks of where I was.

This was extremely dangerous as this was a blow-up raft. I am now in the middle of the lake with no life vest. Normally, I would have panicked, but there was a peace, a shalom peace, that came upon me. It says in Philippians 4:7, “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I believe that was what was happening to me.

By the time the fire department arrived on the scene, they found the girls on the shore, but I had drifted so far they couldn’t locate me. (I’m glad I didn’t realize this at the time.) I focused on the truth that God was with me through the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. I was taking comfort in what 1 John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

I had a choice to make in the midst of this storm. Would I trust that still small voice telling me I’d be okay or the one that was desperately seeking to steal, kill and destroy? My emotions were all over the place but I knew the turmoil I was feeling was not from God. I could feel the Holy Spirit guiding me, gently pursuing me with peace and love to make the best decision for all involved, but more than that, this voice kept soothing my wearing soul so that I would break down in panic. It would be roughly an hour later, I was rescued, Glory to God!

Looking back now, I am convinced God was keeping all of us in His secret place. Psalm 91:1-3 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.”

I learned that day that the spiritual realm is not a fairy tale like Cinderella or Snow White. There are principalities in this world. There are forces of good and evil. The evil of the world tries to fill and cloud our judgment with deception and lies, while God’s voice tries to fill us with peace and joy even in the midst of scary circumstances.

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome.” It says right in the Bible we are going to have trouble, but we are to trust Jesus. Can you say that you trust Him in the middle of your struggles?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” That verse is so encouraging and inspires me to listen to God and to see the future He has planned for me.

I will be honest. I faced fear, but I also had enough faith to see me through all the dread. Faith is key to combating the lies of the enemy and to seeing victory in your life. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to believe what the Word says.

He takes that seed, waters and nurtures it, and faith begins to bloom. I learned that day that it’s vital to have confidence in God and His promises. The lies were trying to lure me to attempt to swim when I wasn’t physically able. But God was peacefully pursuing me, encouraging me to stay put.

No matter what you are facing in your life right now, know that God is a stronghold in times of trouble. God alone is your mighty deliverer and champion. God was my anchor, my life vest, and my refuge that chaotic day on the lake. He alone delivered me from the evil one’s trap, and friends, I am certain through my story, He wants to encourage you. You too can hear His voice in the middle of chaos. Instead of tuning into fear, zero in on that quiet voice… the one telling you no matter how bad your circumstances seem, you will be okay.

Beloved one, if it is time for you to truly trust God’s love to find your place of refuge, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and believe that God’s Word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come to an agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen!

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. Has there been a time in your life that things were going along smoothly then suddenly something unexpected happened that caused you to feel out of control but you weren’t sure what direction to take? What voice did you listen too?
  2. Recall a time that you felt bombarded with accusations and condemnation stealing your peace. What are some verses that you can lean on next time so that the enemy doesn’t rob you?
  3. What are some steps can you take to nurture and water your mustard seed of faith so that you can start discerning God’s voice while drowning out the enemy?
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Don’t Count Out the Holy Spirit

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I had just moved into a town house in a new city. It was not a good time in my life – just my dog Mickey and I starting over after a long relationship suddenly ended. Four days into unpacking boxes and adjusting to this new reality, I parked in my drive to find landscapers left my back gate open.

I instantly knew Mickey was gone. He was a runner and couldn’t resist wandering off. I drove around for hours along with a friend – each in opposite directions until the sun set. There was nothing more we could do. I was devastated.

All sorts of horrible thoughts drifted through my mind. Thoughts like:

  • He’s lost in a new city.
  • He couldn’t know his way back as we’d been there less than a week.
  • He’s been run over, hurt, stolen.
  • I’ll never see Mickey again.

Many tears were shed. I had all ready lost so much – I couldn’t bear to lose my dog too.

Around 10 pm, I headed upstairs and climbed into bed. I was exhausted, but I knew I wouldn’t sleep. I believed in God, was saved, but wasn’t really living my life as a born again Christian. But something inside prompted me to begin to speak out loud what I wanted to happen. I asked the Lord to bring my dog home, and then I began to declare how.

“God, please bring Mickey home. Let him walk through the open gate and burst through the dog door. Let me hear the jingle of the nametag against his collar. Let Mickey come flying upstairs safe. He will jump on my bed. I will hug him and hold him tight. He will be covered in red mud, but I will not care. Thank you God for bringing Mickey home.”

I said this loudly between wiping tears and blowing my nose. I was praying without ceasing for the first time in my life. I was heartbroken and needed a miracle.

About 11:30 pm, I was barely awake but still mumbling my prayer when I heard a man whistling (the way you would to get a dog to come to you). Faint at first, the sound got louder and louder. I sat up confused why I was hearing a man outside my second story window. But just as soon as I did, Mickey burst through the dog door, flew up the stairs with the tag jingling and jumped into my arms covered head to toe in mud! It was the manifestation of my prayer!

But who was whistling? I ran downstairs out the front door. No one. There had to be a man. I opened the back door to find nothing but the open gate. I knew the whistling was not my imagination – I heard it, but no one was there to be found.

I gave Mickey a bath when it dawned on me I had a supernatural encounter. I had not heard a man, but for the first time heard the Holy Spirit. It was by His power my prayer was answered.

Interestingly enough His whistle comforted me and gave me hope. In that moment I felt I wasn’t alone and like someone was listening and responding to my fear and pain.

Right there on the floor of my bathroom, I began to thank God for what had happened. I was moved and desired to know more. The Holy Spirit had met me where I was at and blessed me abundantly.

I knew things about Jesus and God. I had sat in Bible Church long enough to grasp them as two very distinct parts of the Godhead; however, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the Holy Spirit. Just the words “Spirit” or “Ghost” caused confusion for me – I had the “Casper the friendly ghost” view of Him rather than understanding His place as the third person in the Godhead.

I think many can identify with me as the enemy has done a great job of perverting our perceptions of the Holy Spirit reducing Him to merely a “symbol” and not a living entity. In fact, the Christian Post* reported

58% of all U.S. Christians believe the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a symbolic reference to God’s power or presence.

The Barna Research Group** conducted a study of 1,871 people from across the 48 continental states and found most Christians don’t think the Holy Sprit is a living force. George Barna, Barna Group founder and book author commented, “Most Americans, even those who say they are Christians, have doubts about the intrusion of the supernatural into the natural world.”

Even more disturbing is that 47% of those who agreed the Holy Ghost is only a symbol also agreed the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles, even though the Word clearly describes the Holy Spirit in great detail.

Do you see the problem here? Satan has successful discredited the Word of God to the point deceived Christians are picking and choosing parts of the Bible to fit nicely into their idea of life. If it doesn’t feel good or make sense… throw it out.

It’s actually pretty ridiculous when you stop and think about it. We love it when our pastors preach about how much God loves us, but when they dive into anything that goes beyond our comfort zone, we shut down, stop listening and judge them harshly. We’ve become a feel good society and will reject anything that threatens it.

The Holy Spirit has gotten a bad rap, and it is time that we as Christians realize that He is an important and vital part of the trinity… of the Godhead.

The Holy Spirit is alive! When we give our lives to Christ and are born again, the Holy Ghost breathes life into us. He dwells in us and works through us. He is the way we can be conformed into the image of Christ, because apart from His power, we are able to accomplish nothing good. His work is to bring each of us into a deeply personal relationship with Jesus so we can have access to our Heavenly Father.

It time to wake up! If we believe the Bible is true, then we must see the Holy Spirit as more than a symbol. He is the power by which we are healed, delivered and set free. He is the voice guiding us, protecting us and comforting us. The Holy Spirit tends to all our pains, brokenness and sorrows.

Jesus was led by the Spirit to face 40 days of temptation. The Spirit empowered Jesus to be the sinless man, as Jesus Christ did nothing apart from what He was told to do. The Heavenly Father was able to speak with His Son through the Spirit with in Him after He was baptized. If the Holy Spirit can do all that for Jesus, consider what the Spirit can do for you?

Jesus understood the power of the Holy Ghost and promised to send the Holy Spirit in His place. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever.” (John 14:15-16) That helper is the Spirit of Truth.

Jesus goes on to say that the Holy Spirit will live with us and will be in us. Is this not irrefutable proof the Holy Spirit is more than a symbol?

Jesus relied on the Spirit when He walked this earth, and we must follow His example. We must continually welcome and embrace the Holy Spirit into our lives, be thankful for His presence and surrender control over to Him.

If you invite Him into your heart on a daily basis, here are some of the amazing things the Holy Spirit will do in your life:

  • Speaks to you (Acts 8:29, 11:12, 13:12)
  • Imparts eternal life (Rom 8:10, 14)
  • Sanctifies you (1 Peter 1:2)
  • Comforts you (John 14:15, 2 Corinthians 1:4)
  • Bring you peace (John 14:27)
  • Empowers you with gifts (Acts 20:28)
  • Guides and leads you in your everyday life (John 16, Rom 8:14)
  • Convicts you of sin (John16:8)
  • Shapes and molds you into the image of Christ (Roman 8:1-17)
  • Helps you pray to the Father (Romans 8:26)
  • Assists you in understanding the Word of God (Hebrews 4:2)
  • Testifies about who Jesus is (John 15:26)
  • Prevents you from going somewhere or doing something (Acts 16:5-7)

If you are sick, hurting, financially strapped or struggling in significant relationships, it is time to realize you are in a spiritual battle, and it must be fought by spiritual means. You cannot defeat Satan on your own.

The good news is you’ve got a champion living inside you – the Helper. Jesus said we would be enabled to do even greater works than He did (John 14:12-14). If you are waiting for a miracle, desperate for a prayer to be answered, consider God may be waiting on you to trust that Heaven comes to earth by our union with the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit.

For all the skeptics and close-minded folks out there, the Holy Spirit occupies a lot of space in the Word. In fact, there are 38 unique names for the Holy Spirit in scripture. Be encouraged to go through the Bible and get to know the person that is the Holy Spirit. This revelation will change your life and help you access your God-given gifts.

Who couldn’t use a little more joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, happiness and love in their life? God’s ultimate goal is for us to be so filled with the Holy Spirit’s fruit we continually pour the goodness onto others.

Refuse to let Satan keep you and others from tasting and seeing that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of enjoying a fulfilling relationship with the Holy Spirit. If you are ready, repeat loudly the following prayer:

Father God, I love you. You are worthy of all thanks and praise. Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice and victory over all evil. Father I ask forgiveness for believing lies about the Holy Spirit and ask to receive the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit may your presence in my life be like air I breath. I need you to guide me, comfort me, lead me, protect me and teach me so that my life would reflect the glory of God. Thank you for the good fruit that you give me as a free gift. Assist me to stay keenly aware of your presence every second of the day. May my life be filled with your power to combat evil and overcome sin so that I may be conformed into the image of Christ. I desire more of your goodness, seek the abundant blessings you’ve planned for me and want to feel more of your love. I thank you I have not been given spirits of fear, but I have been given spirits of power, love and a sound mind. It is only through you Holy Spirit that I can know Jesus Christ and access the Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your baptism and the gentle way you work in me to transform me so that I may live out God’s plan for my life. I pray for more – May Heaven invade earth and miracles abound. In Jesus might name, Amen and Amen.

Questions to take you further:

  1. Have you believed the lie that the Holy Spirit has no place in today’s Christian life? If so, repent, seek forgiveness and ask to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
  1. What ways do you see the Holy Spirit is or could be working in your life?
  1. How different would your life look if you allowed the Holy Spirit to flow through you and out of you?
  1. What are your spiritual gifts and how are you using them in your life?

 

* Most U.S. Christians Don’t Believe Satan, Holy Spirit Exist by Jennifer Riley, Christian Post Reporter, April 13, 2009
* Research Study Conclusions found at barna.org