Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Shifting Atmospheres Chapter 3

My Study Buddy and I continue our review and discussion of the book Shifting Atmospheres by Dawna De Silva.  We believe everyone can benefit by applying the principles found in this book to their life and we hope you will consider your privilege and responsibility to partner with God and shift the atmosphere around you to expand His kingdom here on earth!

Chapter 3 – Tactics of the Enemy

The primary tactic of the enemy is lies or Deception.  The extremes of disbelief or obsession with the demonic are noted as being equally destructive.  I think this is an important understanding as we consider that the enemy gets the upper hand under either scenario.  It is not important to the enemy what we believe, so long as it hinders our relationship with God.  If this is true then our primary focus should be our relationships over our beliefs!

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  (John 8:44)

Having a balanced perspective is important.  The following quote from the book about churches can also apply to the individual.  “When churches focus too much on the enemy, undercurrents of fear and suspicion spread throughout their congregations.  Churches that remain ignorant of the spiritual realm corrode internally as their blind leaders stand by unaware of the underlying spiritual attacks.” 

“By tricking us into believing their mindsets, demons get us to partner with their schemes.”  Agreement over time develops strongholds.  This causes us to act against God’s original design for our lives.  These lies typically exist at a subconscious level, possibly from birth.  This makes us often unable to identify their presence.  We need to ask and allow the Holy Spirit to point out any ungodly mindsets we may have.

Yeshua (Jesus) has full authority over the enemy.  Fighting harder, longer, and louder does not compensate for a lack in authority!  “When we know who we are and who is covering us, we can stand firm in the midst of any spiritual assault.”  I loved the point Dawna made about how identity is linked to authority, no matter how much fighting we do, if we aren't living out of the identity of Messiah Yeshua then none of our efforts work because we are not living out of the authority Messiah has: he conquered, so we are also conquerors. 

I had never connected Romans 8:19 to identity.  Creation wants humanity to be living and operating out the identity of Messiah; creation doesn't want a bunch of caretakers that are deluded and powerless or stuck in mindsets of lies!  How can we be good stewards of this earth if we can't even take ownership of ourselves?  As Dawna mentioned, "Make sure you take ownership over yourself and bring any issues before God."  And it's not complicated: it's a simple declaration, "I don't partner with that lie (thought from the devil), this fear, etc."  Then move on and live out of the freedom God has given you!  This is so liberating!

To combat the darkness we need to partner with God and release His opposite.  A really good point about how when we are faced with enemy activity we should always approach it from God's perspective.  I want to keep learning more and more the heartbeat of God so I can partner with Yahweh (God) in all situations and actually be effective!

Fear is a common tactic of the enemy.  Being fearful keeps the enemy in play.  “Renouncing partnership with fear is one of the quickest ways to disarm demonic attacks.”

Temptation is another tactic of the enemy mentioned in this chapter.  Being tempted in a way that is not normal is a good indication of a spiritual attack.  Submit to God through worship and prayer and don’t give in to the temptation. 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7)

To do this we must take every thought captive.  When God is speaking in our thoughts, we will feel His character of love coming through.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  (1 John 4:1)

Sin hinders our communication with God.  Partnering with sin gives the enemy access into our life.  Four main areas the book mentions of ways to partner with sin:  Fear, hatred / bitterness, sexual sin and dealings with the occult.  I might also add pride to the list.

We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.  (John 9:31) 

For success in spiritual warfare make sure to take ownership over yourself and bring any issues before God.  This is not a passive or defensive stance, but an offensive one.

I love how simple spiritual warfare is when we walk in our God-given identity.  I know that the enemy can't bother me because Messiah in me has crushed the enemy; so even if the demon sent to disturb me comes back I have command over him.  I am not subject to the powers of darkness: they are subject to Messiah in me!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Shifting Atmospheres Chapter 2

We continue with our thoughts and summation to chapter 2 on the book Shifting Atmospheres by Dawna De Silva.

Chapter 2 - Spiritual Strategies

The opening passage in this chapter is Ephesians 6:10-11 that reminds us to don the full armor of God in order to stand against the schemes of the devil.  Each piece of the armor has a strong correlation to our Messiah, so another way of saying this is to put on Christ.

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.  (Rom 13:14) 

We are made up of body, soul, and spirit which are intimately connected and effect each other.  Satan may attack us in any part, but his primary way is through the mind.  To be an effective believer, we must have authority over our mind.  We do this by identifying and rejecting thoughts not from God and replacing them with His truth.

A point brought out regarding evil / darkness is how it can grow as more people tolerate or participate in it.  This gives the enemy a stronger influence over our lives and can spread from a person, to a household, to a neighborhood, to a city and beyond.  John 8:34 says if we practice sin, we are its slave.  The fiery arrows of the enemy are lies and deceptions that distract from God’s truth.  Our defense is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  (Eph 6:17)  A key quote from this chapter:  “To be effective in spiritual warfare requires partnership with God’s Spirit and His Word.”

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  (Heb 4:12)

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)

I think another important point brought out in this chapter is that our motivation for discernment and shifting atmospheres to spread God’s kingdom should be based on love with the goal of bringing the goodness of God into every aspect of life.  It is crucial to have the right heart and motivation.  Yeshua (Jesus) is our model for success.  Another point of consideration is that to be truly successful takes discipline, prayer, fasting and a strong connection with the Father to help us grow in authority over the enemy.  We must avoid taking shortcuts that may be offered by the enemy.  Just as in the physical, to excel requires training and practice, so too with the spiritual.

This chapter is about Spiritual Strategies, and I feel that Dawna is showing us a different one in each section.  Here is a list to help us remember them:

Identify thoughts--whether they be of God (truth) or from non-God (lies).

  • if the thought is not from God it will not lead you to Yeshua; if the thought is from God it will bring us closer to God and his virtues
  • discerning what's truth means we have to have truth within us - the Word of God

Technique 1: be grounded in Scripture

  • Scripture is truth and having truth in our system gives us discernment
  • Scripture is actually a weapon, not just a defense, and it attacks the darkness

Technique 2: prepare for battle

  • don't partner or tolerate with sin: this is the opposite of preparing for success in combat
  • sin creates open doors to the enemy
  • build a personal relationship with Holy Spirit who is our Helper

Technique 3: study the life of Yeshua

  • he lived out of love
  • “Love, heaven's greatest weapon, covers a multitude of sins; when released, it can crush the enemy's forces no matter how strong."
  • cultivate the culture Yeshua started: victory, love, etc.

Yeshua had... steadfast devotion and closeness to the Father

  • strong connection allows for our gifts and authority to increase and mature
  • surrendering to God allows for God to work miracles

Yeshua had... reliance on Holy Spirit

  • allows you to operate with a strong discernment

Yeshua had... an understanding of timing

  • he was content to operate in the Father's time frame
  • he allowed development to take place in his life (developed character and favor)
  • Yehsua was always prepared because of this
  • he set time aside to draw close to the Father--spiritual discipline: prayer, fasting, etc.

Yeshua had... submission; he did it God's way even if it meant dying on a cross

  • he recognized that victory lies in conforming to God's plan/strategy

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Shifting Atmospheres Chapter 1

Shifting Atmospheres
My plan is to post a blog for each chapter in the book Shifting Atmospheres by Dawna De Silva.  This book teaches us how to recognize the different atmospheres around us that we encounter from time to time and what to do about it!  How to shift the atmosphere of the enemy to the atmosphere of our King!  This is a topic that I believe everyone can benefit by learning more about and implementing in their lives with the end goal of expanding God’s kingdom here on earth!

I find it very helpful to have someone to study with.  It is great to be able to bounce thoughts and ideas off of each other and I find it interesting and insightful as to what another person may notice and elucidate upon.  This also provides accountability and motivation to press on with the assignment.  Special thanks goes out to my Study Buddy who is reading along with me.  Below you will find some of our thoughts and comments on the first chapter in this book.

(Visit Dawna's website: https://www.dawnadesilva.com/)

Chapter 1 - The Spiritual Realm

It is good to be reminded that we (humanity) are in a continual spiritual war, the effects of which have great consequences for the physical.  Being raised a typical westerner, I was not taught to think much about, and can easily neglect the spiritual aspects of the day to day.  The mentality of ignoring the spiritual leads to complete vulnerability of the enemy’s attacks, which in this case, ignorance is not bliss.  It is good that the author reminds the reader not to focus on the enemy, but to keep our eyes focused on God and His strength.  As stated in this chapter, demons can be given assignments to derail us, so as we advance God’s kingdom, we will be more likely to get attacked as we become a greater threat to the darkness, but we should ultimately succeed if we are in God’s will.

I underlined the phrase "our physical lives possess eternal purpose."  Wow; what I do every day, every moment matters.  I loved how Dawna said that our weapons "are not hate, jealously, or outrage."  Our weapons are spiritual and LIFE GIVING--"bringing God's goodness, love and, truth to the situation."  It is so good to be reminded that the enemy isn't the people but the evil forces advising and leading the lost people.  I need to always remember that every person has a heart of flesh, and I am going to search for that heart, letting God manifest the person he created and not seeing the person the enemy is trying to contort.

Another point brought out is how the spiritual realm affects our health, thought processes, and daily lives.  The enemy can and does attack us on several fronts.  Exploiting our weaknesses.  These weaknesses are where we abdicate our own authority by sin or even ignorance.  But thankfully we can fight back by wearing the full armor of God and bringing God’s goodness, love, and truth to the situation!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thoughts on Thoughts…

I have not posted on this blog in a while and was encouraged to make more posts by a recent comment on this blog.  Don’t under estimate the power of encouragement!  We are encouraged to encourage each other unto acts of love and good works in scripture. (Heb 10:24-25)  So do your part and encourage someone today!

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Heb 10:24-25 NLT)

Over the last several months I have been reminded how the enemy’s primary mode of attack on us is through thoughts put in our mind.  He likely has been telling us lies for so long that we no longer recognize them as such and believe it to be true and part of our identity.  We are not our thoughts!  This might not be something you have considered before but do we let our thoughts define us?  I have received multiple confirmations from different sources recently that confirms the statement that we are not our thoughts.  Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. (2 Cor 10:5)  We can only do this if we act outside our thoughts.  The goal is to recognize the source of our thoughts so we can reject lies from the enemy and embrace truth from our Creator. 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5 NIV)

To help with the taking thoughts captive process I have recently gone through a 21 Day Brain Detox by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  https://21daybraindetox.com/   (NOTE:  This course has an annual fee)  The idea behind this program is to take one toxic thought that you struggle with and work to replace it with a true, healthy, and Godly thought over a period of 21 days.  This online program guides you through the process each day.  We learn from Caroline that we can actually do our own “brain surgery” by breaking down and removing our old toxic thoughts and thought patterns and replacing it with healthy and life giving thoughts.  We actually change the topography of our brain during this process.  Her course is designed so you can repeat it again and again, addressing different toxic thoughts as needed with the goal of mentally and even physically changing the behavior and landscape of the brain!

We don’t have to be stuck in a rut with negative thinking.  With God’s help and some captive thought practice, we can bring hope and new life to our thoughts!