Acts Of War

If you normally read my blogs or articles, you know that I am a fan of writing from my own experiences and lessons learned in my journey with God.  I will never pretend to know it all, but there are indeed some things that I have experienced that I know He wants to use as Heavenly blueprints for others who are walking similar paths.  That’s actually one of my favorite things about the Body of Christ; I love how we all work together to hold each other up and help one another, as a whole, function in the way that God intended.

But how do you function in wholeness when you feel like you’re the target of an onslaught?  How do you stand firm when you feel as if an entire army has risen up against you?  What do you do when the warfare is so great that you feel like you can barely stand for yourself, much less for others?

Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand firm.”

Most mature believers know the scripture in Ephesians 6 regarding the armor of God.  We know that Romans 8:37 calls us “more than conquerors.”  We understand that God calls Himself our “rear guard” in Isaiah 52:12. There are so many beautiful scriptures that we can feast upon that describes us as warriors, being in war, and having God fight for us.  We know that victory is ALWAYS ours in Christ.

But what about when we are just plain tired of the war?  We are called to do “all” to stand, but what does that look like when our knees are wobbly and our feet (and hearts) hurt?

This is the season that I am walking out of.  It isn’t always easy and I haven’t always done it super well – but it has always been worth it.

God showed me in this last season that when I feel the most tired, the most worn-out, the weariest, then that is when I must respond with my own ACTS OF WAR.  Here’s a few from my personal life that I know will help you as you navigate your own battlefields.

1. First of all, I have learned to stop swinging the sword and just REST.  God told me years ago that I am a daughter BEFORE I am a warrior.  He said to run to Him first, and find my strength in Him (Proverbs 18:10).

2. Secondly, I “raise a hallelujah!”  Your praise is a weapon.  Praise is not a language that the enemy can speak, so raise it high and loud.  I promise it will break off the heaviness (Isaiah 61:3).

3. I also take communion.  Either alone or with my husband, but it’s always a very powerful moment. We like to visualize ourselves heaping everything upon the bread (since Jesus took all of our iniquities, guilt, shame and disease upon Himself on the cross) and we Praise God for our victory as we drink His blood (Isaiah 53:4).

4. One thing that I am actually growing in is intercession.  The Lord spoke to me a few years ago and said that every criticism is actually an invitation into intercession.

WOW.  I’ve started to live that way in my daily life and in how I see every situation, especially the heavy ones.  Prayer moves mountains, and praying until we see breakthrough changes us as much as the situations we pray about.  Included in this is spending 10 minutes a day praying in the Spirit and stirring up my inner man (Mark 11:23; 1 Corinthians 14:4).

5. Another major act of war for me is just sharing Jesus with someone. Whether in person, with a stranger, on Facebook or with a relative, just talking about Jesus gets my eyes looking up, my hope is restored and it helps me just remember…remember who I am, Who He is and the lengths that the Lord has gone to for us to walk in freedom and abundance.  It’s also a nice, big kick in the devil’s face *grin* (Mark 4:15).

The truth is that if we have done everything to stand, then we have truly done everything, including the harder things like lifting up praise even in battle.  Standing in warfare is not easy, even when we are fully clothed in the armor given us by Heaven itself.  The Lord says that He will fight for us to give us the victory (Deuteronomy 20:4), but doing these ACTS OF WAR actually increases your faith and builds your spiritual muscles.  

Let these things be your battle cry as you continue to stand!  Jesus is our victory, the lifter of our heads and our confidence.

“Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident” (Psalm 27:3).

 

 

 ~ Mandy Woodhouse

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What Size Is Your Portion, Really?

“Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion. I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands.” Psalm 16:5, TPT

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were lost together in worship.  I love to hear my husband sing, and I was ushered into the Presence of God as he sang over and over the words, “You’re my portion, YOU are my portion…”  

While singing, I entered into some kind of open vision.  Before me I saw two things. First, I saw a giant pizza-pie, like the kind I would be excited to eat in the New York area.  It was topped with everything that I love on pizza, and there was one giant slice that was removed from the whole and just sitting on a plate near the pizza.  I also saw one of the largest, longest tables that I have ever seen.

The table was incredibly inviting and covered with all of my favorite foods from across the globe.

I turned back to the pizza and went to grab the plate that held the already cut-off slice, when I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart: “Why are you going for that one piece,” He said gently.  “Why would you reach out for the one slice when you can have the whole pizza?  Don’t you know that the entire thing is for YOU?”

Then my vision switched back to the long table covered with food, and He reminded me that He has actually set a FEAST before us in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5-6).  

Song of Songs 2:4 says, “He has brought me to His banqueting hall, and His banner over me is love” (NASB).  And in the gospels, Jesus Himself compares the Kingdom of God to a giant wedding feast!  

When I came out of the vision, I asked the Lord to speak to me more in-depth regarding what I saw and what He had to say about it.  He is so faithful and indeed spoke some very personal and wonderful things to my heart.  Here are a few things that He reminded me of, which I am happy to share as an encouragement to anyone who needs it.

1. Sometimes, we need to change our perspective on what our personal portions are “supposed to” look like.  God so graciously reminded me that I am a DAUGHTER, and not an ORPHAN.  He said to me that Jesus came to give me abundant life (John 10:10), so why wouldn’t He want me to have the larger, more abundant portion? Luke 11:11 speaks of the relationship between a father and son, and that a father would never give the son a snake if he asks for a fish.  Father God wants us to have abundant portions, not left-overs! A child is not polite either – a child takes as much as she/he wants because they know that they are a son/daughter in the house. 

2. We cannot be afraid to eat it ALL!  John records several times in chapter 6 that Jesus is the “bread of life.”  Why wouldn’t we want more of Jesus?  A healthy daughter or son will take all the cuddles and kisses that they can get, because that’s what a child does with their parents.

When my Mom gave me a plate of my favorite food, I never feared the consequences of eating every last bit of my favorite food on that plate!  I ate it all because it was her delight to give it to me, and it was my absolute pleasure to partake in all of its yumminess.  The same can be said for any portion of any blessing that the Father wants to pour out upon us.

3. You don’t have to work for your portion.  “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isaiah 55:1-2, ESV).  We don’t have to work for our salvation (it’s a free gift), or for God’s approval (thanks to Jesus!), or for our inheritance as children of God.  Therefore, we don’t have to work for our “portion” of His Presence.  

He longs to give us more and more.  He longs to have us seated at His banqueting table, in the presence of our enemies at that!  You are seated, with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), in the highest place of honor far above all powers and authorities (Ephesians 1:20-21).  You are seated in Christ, which means you are seated with Him at the right hand of the Father.  And He delights in giving you ALL of Himself.  Don’t settle for the smaller portion; the whole “pizza” is yours!

…God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

~ Mandy Woodhouse

Kind Words

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (Proverbs 16:24, NLT)

Sometimes, I think that I may be in the kindest environment in the world – or at least the kindest environment I have ever seen in my life.  My friends are super kind and generous with their words, and my Church and work environments are as well.

 I LOVE how people are choosing to speak life over each other and their circumstances.  I have been so moved and challenged by this!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the power behind these kind words.  In the past few weeks, when I have needed it most, I received cards or private messages with really kind things being said about me.  This isn’t a boast of how awesome I am or anything, but just a testimony to the love of my Heavenly Father who KNOWS when I need a kind word to bring healing to my soul.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad (Proverbs 12:25, ESV).

 What’s the best way that I can remove anxiety from my friend?  A kind word.  A word that, like Proverbs 16:24 states, is dripping from the comb and overflowing (Strong’s H6686).  The Hebrew translation behind Solomon’s words in Proverbs are so powerful as they state that kind words aren’t just simply like honey, they are DRIPPING and OVERFLOWING from the source!  Our tongues can drip and overflow life, health and repair to those around us.

He also says in Proverbs 18:21 that our tongues actually hold the power of life or death, and we reap the consequences of what we sow with our words.  WOW – how awesome if every consequence that I reaped was HEALTH and LIFE and COURAGE and JOY to my friends!  This sounds to me like a fantastic invitation into an assignment from Heaven.  I believe that I can partner my words with Heaven to literally lift up the countenance of my friends (and myself if needed).  Proverbs 12:18 says that the tongue of the wise brings healing, and I believe that if I surrender my tongue to the Lord, He will use me to repair people’s hearts.  

As my friends have challenged me with their kind words lately, allow me to challenge you:  Who can YOU be kind to with your words today?  Your tongue is like a sharp sword (Isaiah 49:2) and with your encouragement you can obliterate the anxiety and pain that weighs someone down.  

Let’s bring the dripping overflow of Heaven down to Earth today over someone with our kind words!  We have the power of LIFE, so let’s always choose life.

~ Mandy Woodhouse

A Dynamic Identity Calls For Dynamic Weaponry

Identity Definition: (noun) The fact of being who or what a person or thing is (thanks Google).

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (The Passion Translation):  For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide. We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. Since we are armed with such dynamic weaponry, we stand ready to punish any trace of rebellion, as soon as you choose complete obedience.

What does identity have to do with this dynamic weaponry?

Everything.

The identity of a Christian is perhaps the most attacked thing in a Christian’s life, apart from time in the Secret Place.  And again, the Secret Place is where we remember and learn our identity, thus our need for this dynamic weaponry that Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians.

 Ephesians 6 also talks about the armor of God, which is not just reserved for a cute children’s Sunday School art project. The armor of God is to protect our identity in Christ!

My good friend Pastor Tony Thompson says that the devil tries to steal a person’s identity in three ways:  

1). Through the temptation of performance.

2). Through power and possessions.

3). Through fear of man.  

I would even go as far as to add a fourth way, and that’s

4). Through discouragement while waiting on unfulfilled promises.  

Identity must be important if it’s always under attack.

Before Jesus even went into the wilderness, God instilled identity into Him (“This is my Son, in Whom I am well pleased…” – Luke 3:22).

How ironic that in Luke chapter 4 when Jesus is tempted in the wilderness, the first thing the devil attacks is this very identity:  “The devil said to Him, ‘if you are the Son of God, turn this stone into bread'” (Luke 4:3).  

If You truly are who You are…then perform for it….

But Jesus knew His identity, and used the truth as a dynamic weapon:  ” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’” (Luke 4:4).

The devil then tried attacking Jesus’ identity through the temptation of possessions. “And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours” (Luke 4:5-7).  But, of course once again, Jesus used scripture as a sword to overcome the devil’s lies.  Jesus knew Who He was and the authority that He carried, therefore showing Him what He could potentially gain was useless.

The last temptation that is recorded in the wilderness is from Luke 4:9-12 when the devil tries to bully Jesus and tells Him to throw Himself down and let His angels care for Him.  And once again, Jesus knows His identity well enough to give the devil the pushback needed, not falling into fear or the desire to show off.

My point is, Jesus KNEW His identity.  And it was a weapon.

I feel that the same is true for those who may feel discouraged.  When discouragement comes, it’s so easy to begin to forget your identity.  This is perhaps when we have to fight the hardest, when those dynamic weapons of warfare must be pulled out.  

We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. – 2 Corinthians 10:5

Anything that raises itself up in defiance of the true knowledge of God CAN and MUST be captured and brought low.  As one who is crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), who has been made a new creation and the very righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21), and as one who is indeed a partaker of Christ’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), this also refers to the true knowledge of YOU.  1 John 4:17 says that as Jesus is so are we in this world, therefore every deceptive fantasy that tries to come and tell us that we are less than what God says we are is a LIE and needs to be captured and brought low in obedience to Jesus!

Knowing not just who you are but also what Jesus truly did for you is the best and most dynamic weapon you have.  Knowing it, and then reciting it back to the devil when he comes to tempt you, is powerful.  Clinging to it with all your heart and mind when you feel discouraged is imperative.  

You have also been given heavenly armor to protect you (Ephesians 6), so begin to ask Holy Spirit how to use what He’s given you to protect who you are.

A dynamic identity calls for dynamic weaponry.  

When you have Jesus, that makes you the most important recipient of the most powerful and victorious weaponry.

~ Mandy Woodhouse  

 

 

 

Love Attacks

I had the most embarrassingly funny moment at a shopping center in Brisbane this week.  Like most of my crazy moments in life, God used it to show me something beautiful.  I just love His perspective.

Being an American in Australia, I got to the shopping center a little shaky.  I lived in Australia years ago so you’d think I’d be fairly confident at driving on the OTHER side of the road (competent, YES…confident, not quite yet).  Maybe it was the fact that I missed the turn off to the parking tower and had to circle the giant center a few times, or that it took me 5 goes at parking our new little Mazda 3 straight.  At any rate, I was super excited to be on an outing and having driven all by myself, though slightly flustered.

Inside I quickly found my current favorite shop and enjoyed browsing through the home wares section. After a few minutes, I looked up and saw a familiar face from a distance. There was a guy standing some yards away intensely eyeing a kitchen knife, and I was certain this was our good friend Rod (who I had not yet had the pleasure of seeing since we’ve been back in Australia).  Rod seemed to have cut his hair super short since I last saw him last in November, so being ME I figured I’d sneak up and give him a big, surprise hug from behind and then shower him with love as he’s a dear friend of ours.  

I got super excited as I prepared my sneaky love-attack…..and when I pounced, I did it with all the affection and silliness of a little sister-type!

And y’all….much to my horror….this man was NOT Rod.

He was most likely taken aback, but could have been a little less direct and rude with me when he informed me that he was not who I thought he was.  Of course I apologized and my face was probably several shades of maroon as I crept away from him in humiliation.  I actually had a hard time looking at him in the eyes for a second as he very quickly walked away from me (actually, it looked almost like he was escaping from me!).  I made a quick exit as well, giggling to myself as the initial embarrassment wore off.  

Again later, I saw him from a distance and he seemed to have a lighter attitude and more of a spring in his step.  I hoped I had not freaked him out too much and he was now able to laugh about it.

When I shared this story with a friend that day at lunch, she made a most interesting comment that got me talking to God about it. “What if that’s the only hug that man has ever received from Jesus,” my friend said to me.  1 John 4:17 says that as Jesus is, so am I in this world.

 Galatians 2:20 says that I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives IN ME.  And what about Romans 8, which states that I have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead living within me?!  

What if it was a complete GOD SET-UP because this man NEEDED A HUG???  That’s a different perspective indeed.

The more I processed this with the Lord the more He spoke to me about it from several different angles.

 What if God Himself desires to sneak up on us with that same kind of love and excited affection, yet we abruptly shoo Him away like this man did to me?  What if, like this man, we are too intense and focused on our tasks that we forget that God just wants to give us a cuddle?  

How often have I pushed Holy Spirit away because I’m so focused on getting stuff done that I don’t feel like I have time to allow Him to love on me.  And what if the man’s attitude changed because he actually did encounter the love of God for a second, through me?

How much more does God want to love on us, celebrate us and see us changed by just a moment with Him.  

And sometimes, all we need is a good hug and someone to celebrate us.  How amazing to know that Jesus always celebrates us!

As you can tell, I took away a few important lessons from this most embarrassing moment.  I do think that if I had the opportunity again, even through the embarrassment, I’d still do the same thing.  

The Love of Jesus transforms the world, even through a stranger’s hug.  I’ll never apologize for how I carry the Love of Christ.

I think I’ll go allow Him to hug on ME for awhile now.  There’s nothing in the world like His love.

~ Mandy Woodhouse

When God Moves You

When God Shifted ME Instead of the Mountain

My husband and I recently transitioned our lives from a little town in South Carolina all the way to Brisbane, Australia. We sold our house and all of our belongings, sold off our vehicles and flew across the world with six suitcases and two little dogs.  

God spoke, we heard Him clearly, and with wise counsel and radical abandonment we counted the cost and took off on perhaps the greatest faith adventure of our lives.

The transition has been one of the smoothest, most amazing God-stories that we have ever known.  The Lord ordered each and every single step and surrounded us with great favor.  We got to Australia a few weeks ago and it felt like an Ephesians 3:20 dream (better than we could have asked for or imagined).  Unlike many other times that I have traveled, there was not one single glitch – until, that is, we had to get the dogs from quarantine.

To be fair, the mix-up in dates was entirely our fault.  We got excited and neglected to read the email correctly, so we drove nearly nine hours to collect our precious fur babies an entire 24 hours early.  Thankfully we had accommodation and the rental car sorted, so our mistake did not cost us what it could have.  But not having seen our puppies for 14 days was wearing on our hearts, and the idea of not collecting them on the day that we planned was gut wrenching.

And just like God…this turned out to be a significant lesson for me on so many levels.  

When the government officer from the post-entry quarantine department gently explained that we could not see our dogs on that day, I went to war in my Spirit and with my words.  I know that I have the power of life or death in my tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and I know that I can speak to mountains and see them move in the Name of Jesus (Mark 11:23), so I began to declare, decree, and believe that I would see this mountain move and hold my puppies that very day.  I know that I am seated with Christ in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) and can therefore push Heaven down to earth over my circumstances (which I boldly did, and with great authority).  

As I sat in the car while my husband was out trying to make sense of it all, I remained calm and confident that I would see my dogs and be driving off with them within moments.  

Now allow me to be honest… in the past, I would have been riddled with anxiety.  I would have worried about their little hearts, and would have driven my husband crazy with my fancy ideas and suggestions on how to solve the situation (*cough cough* control is actually a better word).  I would have allowed fear to come and make me act irrationally, and I would have most likely cried my eyes out with anger and worry.  But this time was different.  

As I continued to declare and decree the promises of God over our lives, our situation and our dogs, something shifted for me.  I seemed to press into the whole situation with a new confidence in God, and I gracefully kept my calm in every way.  I was convinced that as the officer walked off to triple check our details that he would return and open those giant, official gates and let us drive in to collect our babies.  After all, “Surely GOODNESS and MERCY follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6, ESV).  

Yet the official man very kindly and humbly denied our request.  We had mistakenly come several hours before the quarantine period was to end, so we had to return tomorrow as per government rules.  I had decreed, declared and believed with great faith, yet the mountain did not move.

But you know what?  It was actually ME that shifted.  Something in me changed, and instead of feeling anger, frustration, anxiety or worse – I actually felt a sense of expectation.  

Here’s what happened the more I verbally declared aloud God’s written word over my circumstances:  Peace began to flood my heart, and the nervous heat in my chest disappeared.  My brain got quiet...super quiet!  I began to feel fully awake, as if I was more aware than before of the atmosphere around me.  I could even sense angelic activity!  I began to feel super bold and confident as I prayed with authority, and what would have been a once all-consuming fear actually did not exist at all in my mind or body.  

I shifted gears into complete and utter trust in God and His perfect plan for this situation.  Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 became alive to me (the living word!).  And this all caused me to be more excited and expectant than ever!  

“If the mountain didn’t move, then God must be up to something better than I could have imagined for myself” is what loudly rang in my Spirit.  You see it’s up to me to keep trusting my Father and to keep hold of my own spirit in the waiting.  He who rules his spirit is better than one who conquers a city (Proverbs 16:32).

And you know what?!  We got to spend time with friends that night that we would not have been able to see if we had the dogs with us.  God used us to bless others and minister deeply to a friend, which we would not have done had we been doting on our sweet furry friends.  There were so many other little factors that played out which made us see that God saw what was best all along. And when we finally got to see our puppies the next day it was a most wonderful experience with full attention all on them.

Sometimes it may not make sense to our natural minds WHY things don’t work out the way that we expected or declared, especially when we feel that we have done “everything right.”  But that does not mean that we are to stop declaring!  Daniel 10 records the account of Daniel praying, and the angelic help being held up for 21 days by things going on in the unseen spiritual realms.  

Sometimes things are held up because of the enemy, sometimes things are just meant for an appointed time…but God is never late.  And we are not to ever stop telling the mountains to move!

My advice?  Don’t give up.  But likewise, don’t despise the shift that could actually take place in YOU instead.

 

 ~ Mandy Woodhouse

 

 

Don’t Stop Believing

When you read the scripture that says “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), what goes through your mind?  

Do you (like me for so many years) skip over it without a thought?  Do you simply enjoy having it as a cute little saying on your favorite coffee mug, or do you engage with it fully and allow the idea of the impossible happening in your life build faith and expectancy in you?  

Or do you feel a twinge of disappointment and a bit of unbelief?  

So many amazing people teach on and believe the goodness of God and the ability, by faith, to enter fully into His promises for life, but many honestly struggle when it comes to what seems like impossible situations in the natural.  

Sadly at times, my own unbelief has held me back from so much of what God wanted to do through me and to show me.  He has been pushing this button in me for the past few months, and I have become so convicted to believe Him fully when He says He will do something.

Nothing is impossible with God is not just a cute saying for a mug.  It is a truth that we are invited into every moment that we breath.

Numbers 23:19 is very clear that God is not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that He would change His mind.  

Luke 1:45 (ESV) says, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

God never lies, He doesn’t suddenly change His mind, and He always keeps His promises – and we are BLESSED when we believe this.

The devil likes to twist truth, however.  John 8:44 says that he is the father of lies and there is zero truth in him.  ZERO truth.  In fact, if you read the account of his interaction with Eve and Adam in the garden (when they ate the fruit in Genesis 3), he actually twisted the truth just enough to cause Eve to stumble over what God had really said.  He’s a liar, a twister of truth and all he knows how to do is pervert the good things that God has given.  In fact, the devil’s only power over a born-again Christian is deception.  

So of course the devil will make what appears in the natural as “impossible” to be too big for God.  Which then causes us to doubt God and opens the door to unbelief.

Unbelief makes us powerless and actually can become a stronghold if not dealt with.

What a jerk.

If you are struggling to believe that God can and desires to do the impossible in your life, allow me to offer you an injection of hope (because hope does not disappoint – Romans 5:5).  GOD NEVER LIES.

Engaging fully with this truth changes everything.

Sometimes, the very things that look the most impossible in the natural are the very things that God uses to confound the wise and show off His glory.  For example:  He caused a virgin to give birth.  He caused His son, Jesus, to be raised from the dead.  He caused the Red Sea to part, a young boy to kill a giant with just a sling shot and a few stones, and He caused the greatest Christian persecutor of the New Testament era to become one of the greatest Apostles in history.  And personally, I have seen Him heal people of incurable diseases, I have seen deaf ears opened, legs grow out, infertile women give birth and I have even been the recipient of some massive financial and naturally impossible miracles in my own life and body.  

Perhaps the greatest impossibility of all is the transformation of my own heart, life and nature when I surrendered my all to Him and died with Him to become His new creation (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:6; 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).  These scriptures are the very weapons that I use against the father of lies when he tries to tell me that I’m not good enough for God to do the impossible in my life.

I may not be good enough – but Jesus IN ME certainly is, and 1 John 4:17 tells me that as Jesus is, so am I in this world.

With my God, all things are possible.

Even better than I could ask, expect or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

As the band Journey would say, “Don’t stop believing…”  Let Him wash over you with His truth today as you open your heart to engage with His promises again.  What the Lord promises, He will indeed do!

 

~ Mandy Woodhouse

No Darkness In You

How many times do we think thoughts similar to this:  

“What’s WRONG with me?”

“Why on earth did I respond that way, am I an idiot or something?”

“What’s going on in me to make me act like this?  I’m so messed up.”  

“Here I go again….must be something broken on the inside of me.”

<can you see me raising both hands?>

But let me share what God showed me is INCORRECT about these thoughts that I was having.  Y’all, this revelation set me FREE!

If you’re born-again, you’ve actually been crucified with Christ (see Galatians 2:20).  Being crucified means that you’ve DIED.  You’re dead.  And if you keep reading that verse you’ll see that you’re actually so dead that it’s now Christ living IN you.

Romans 6:6 says it in a similar way:  “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

If you don’t believe me, have a look also at 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[b] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We’re new creations…reconciled to God…no longer enslaved to sin…He makes an appeal through us, calling us His ambassadors….and we are His righteousness.

And what does Romans say?

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. – Romans 8:9-11

One more, just for good measure.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own…” – 1 Corinthians 6:19

Now you may be asking, “God lives inside of me…yeah, I get it. What’s your point?”

1 John 1:5 states that there is no darkness in God. And if there’s no darkness in God – and God lives in you – isn’t the logical conclusion that there’s NO DARKNESS in YOU???

And Ephesians 5:8 says it this way:  “for at one time you WERE darkness, but now you are LIGHT IN THE LORD.  Walk as children of light” (capitalization mine).

Darkness doesn’t necessarily refer to just evil such as murder or worse. The word “darkness” in 1John 1:5 is the Greek word skotia which means lack of light, but also wickedness as well as things done in private that result in misery.

So the thoughts that we think that don’t produce or increase the Light but bring misery – such as, “what’s wrong with me” are NOT coming from within us.

Let me ask you this question:  Who told you that something was “wrong” with you?  It certainly wasn’t Holy Spirit.  The Bible says that there’s no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (so He wouldn’t speak in condemning or guilt).  The Bible says that’s it’s the kindness of the Holy Spirit that leads to repentance (“something’s wrong with you” definitely isn’t a very kind thing to say).  The Bible also says that Holy Spirit comes to convict the world of sin BUT believers of righteousness (we were convicted of sin when we first got saved…now, He exposes any lies that we may be believing that would cause us to act contrary to our righteous nature, but He’d never tell us anything is WRONG with us because HE LIVES INSIDE US and we have a NEW NATURE and 1 John 4:17 says that as Jesus is so are WE).

I am CONVINCED that thoughts like these come from external, demonic sources.  The devil is a liar, and the father of lies and there is no truth in him (John 8:44).  The devil is rejected, without hope, without peace and incredibly ticked off so he will do whatever he can to taint the thinking of a born-again soul and thus contaminate your mind and behavior to be like his.

Perhaps we need to repent of agreeing with his lies and start to partner again with what Holy Spirit says about us.

Precious friend, there is nothing WRONG with you.  There is only something wrong with your thinking.  You have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and the helmet of salvation to guard your mind (Ephesians 6:17) and you have weapons of warfare that are NOT of this world (2 Corinthians 10:4).  Maybe this is an invitation to USE them!

Remind yourself who you are.  There is no darkness in you!  

Ephesians 1:6 says that He has made us accepted by the Beloved.  You are accepted.  Loved. Chosen.  Valued.  You are not rejectible, and there is nothing wrong with you.  You are the sweet aroma of Christ.  And by faith you do nothing BUT shine.

So keep shining that Light!!!!!

 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life 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

 

 ~ Mandy Woodhouse

Functional Upgrade In Our Thinking

The Holy Spirit has been challenging me (once again) on not just what I think about myself and my life in Christ, but also what I believe to be true about my identity.

Am I fully engaged with the truth that the Bible teaches about my new nature in Christ?  Do I regularly partner with the Holy Spirit in the Secret Place to allow Him to wash over me with His truth about me, or do I constantly “work at” and strive to be something that I already am by faith in Jesus?  

I want to be vulnerable with a snippet of my conversation with the Father this week while fighting off feelings of anxiety and insecurity over our transition overseas.  I believe what He showed me and the scriptures He gave me will be helpful to you also as you navigate through your own identity in Christ.  

While trying to get myself organized for the trip, I had a moment when I realized that literally ALL of my personal possessions now fit into only 4 large suitcases – though some things could not fit due to the airline’s 50 pound maximum.  My first response to leaving some things behind was anxiety, and I melted down like a toddler.  As I began to fully engage with the thoughts of leaving so many other things behind as well, I actually opened the door for the enemy of my soul to speak yet more lies to me.

The devil tried his hardest to keep me from the Father’s loving embrace by then causing feelings of insecurity and inferiority to come at me. “What if I don’t fit in? What if I’m left out?  What if…what if…what if….” Now the devil is crafty for sure, but the Spirit of the Resurrected King is within me and is much greater than anything that comes at me (1 John 4:4; Romans 8:11)!  I knew the Holy Spirit was telling me that this thinking was indeed incorrect, but the devil jabbed me with one last attempt by trying to convince me that something was indeed wrong with me for feeling anxious, insecure and nervous about the future.  

Over the past two years, I have learned that in this type of moment I have to stop, turn to Holy Spirit and ask for a word from His heart to mine instead of continuing to engage with the lies that the accuser (the devil) is throwing my way.  When I paused and invited Him to speak to me, it was as if I was fine tuning a radio. Suddenly I heard not static and panic but the sweet voice of the Father say to me:

These ‘what if’s’ are the devil’s language, Mandy.  But MY ‘what if’ is this:  What if the only thing ‘wrong’ is not you, but how you are defining yourself in this moment, and what you believe about yourself?  What if there’s nothing wrong with you, just something missing in your thinking?”

What an important reminder!  

What if we learn to partner with the Holy Spirit immediately instead of engaging in the devil’s tormenting lies?  Let’s take anxiety for example.  If we define ourselves as anxious, we are speaking the language of the enemy.  We are not anxious people – we are new creations in Christ who partake in the divine nature of Christ, and we know that Jesus is not anxious (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4).  

What’s missing from our thinking is peace.  Anxiety is already dead and buried with Christ (Galatians 2:20), and peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  Peace ours in Christ, so rather than engaging with the spirit of anxiety we can work with Holy Spirit to gain greater access to what is already ours in Christ Jesus.  My husband calls it a “functional upgrade” in our thinking.

What if it’s not a matter of what we DO to be “better,” but what we believe about what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross?

No one who is born-again is ordinary.  And there is certainly nothing “wrong” with us if we are in Christ.  We have a real enemy who wants nothing more than to kill, steal and destroy us (John 10:10), and sometimes we are actually unaware of everything that Jesus actually did for us and who He made us.  

I’m so grateful for all my times in the Secret Place where the Word has come alive to me and where I have learned scripture for myself to be able to wield my sword when the devil tries to get me to think of myself as anything less than extraordinary.  1 John 4:17 has changed my life in this context:  “As He is, so am I in this world” (ESV).

What if being “alive in Christ” really is as simple as just fully engaging with Christ who lives inside of you?  Holy Spirit reminded me that day that this looks like knowing and believing my identity and agreeing with the Spirit’s prompting to access the things that Jesus died to give me.  It looks like partnering with Him to fill the gaps that are missing in my thinking.  I can envision anxiety on the cross with Jesus, dying with Him so that it is no longer a part of my nature because I was crucified with Him.  This means that I am no longer enslaved to it, or any other sin:  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6, ESV).

If I am feeling anxious, I can access peace.  If I am feeling insecure, I can access full confidence in Christ because I know that I am accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).  If I am feeling an unrighteous anger, I can ask Holy Spirit to come and remind me that I am actually a gentle person now and I can partner with the sufficient grace that He has given me to be a person of gentleness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  If I feel overwhelming sorrow or grief to the point of despair, I can walk in the joy that is already paid for by Jesus, simply by coming into the fullness of His Presence (Psalm 16:11).

What if we really learned to believe the truth about who we are and learn to engage with only those truths?  What if your world needs you to realize that you truly are “free indeed” (John 8:36)?  

What if I really AM as extraordinary as God says I am?

 

~ Mandy Woodhouse

Strategies For Faith

I am waiting on a Promise.

Well, I’m waiting on a few promises to be honest, but there is one in particular that is close to my heart.

The Lord has not yet released me to share it in detail, so for now let’s just say that I have a huge Promise that I am waiting on – and it feels like God is taking forever to fulfill it.

There’s a great church down the street where we used to live that always had the most encouraging signs. One particular sign that I will never forget said, “God always keeps His promises but He is often not in a hurry.” In my case, it feels like God hasn’t been in a hurry for about 11 years.

I don’t want to be negative here, but to be fully vulnerable I have to disclose that this has been a journey of ups and downs for many years.  I’ve seen other personal promises come to pass and there are still more things that I am waiting to see happen in my life. But for some reason there is this one Promise that seems to tug at my heart more than any other, and it has been a great battle at times to remember that the promise IS actually MINE.  That I’m not forgotten or forsaken.  And above all, that God WILL keep His promises to me.

 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20, 21 NIV). 

The worst part is that in the past I felt like such a hypocrite at times. I’ve been in ministry for many years, and I am always teaching people to have faith – to trust in God’s faithfulness and trust that what He says is true. God is most certainly faithful and He only speaks truth. But the number of times in the years that I have regurgitated this and spoken the same cliché statements without really believing it for myself has been too numerous to count.

Of course I have had times when I spoke it from a place of personal conviction, but as the years have grown longer and I have yet to see my promise fulfilled the more I’ve simply clung to the cliché and found myself struggling with the absolute truth that what I am saying to others is in fact FOR ME as well.

So why write about this?

Because I know that there are others out there who are kindred souls, waiting and waiting on a promise from God.

Because up until recently, my head has known His promises but my heart always met my mind with the sting of cognitive dissonance.

My heart would desperately cry out for the fulfillment of the promises of God while my head just sort of “knew” what is true. And as I have gone deeper into intimacy with Him in the Secret Place, He has given me a strategy for the waiting period that has given birth to a new hope in my heart. The dissonance is gone and in its place is expectation.  

Very high expectation.

And a knowing that cannot be thwarted even by the devil’s most crafty tricks and distractions.

1. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).

Most of the time faith comes by hearing…and hearing…and hearing it again! Verbalizing aloud the promise that God gave you not only activates something in your heart, but it also pushes the devil away because he hates the fact that you are declaring the truth. The more you remind yourself of God’s truth and Promises, the more you start to really believe.

Write it in your journal, in your Bible, and anywhere that you can look at it so that you have a record of it as well as a way to remember to say it aloud.  You have the amazing invitation to partner with God to see circumstances change.

2. Faith comes by hearing – but you have to KNOW His character too!

When you don’t truly know God’s character and His heart for you, it will be easier for the devil to come and steal from you. The Bible says that Abraham did not waiver in faith, and that he was “fully persuaded” that God could do what He promised. What helped me was diving into the Psalms and seeing how God came through time and time again for David and the other Psalmists. Psalm 33:4 (NLT) is one of my favorites: “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.” Until we know that we can truly trust Him, we will struggle with the cognitive dissonance in our hearts.  

Knowing His heart for you comes from intimacy with Him and a deep connection in the Secret Place.  This will look different for everyone, but I suggest starting with some worship music and your Bible in a quiet place, away from distractions.  He longs to meet with you.

3. Faith comes by focusing on the good things that God has done in the past.

You must fill your mind with good things. Remember past answered prayers. Remember how God came through for you and for others that you love. Read through Hebrews 11 (the “fathers of faith”) and meditate on stories in the Bible that show God coming through with His promises. Listen to music that builds your faith – do anything you can to fix your thoughts on what is pure, admirable, lovely, true (Philippians 4:8).

Remind yourself of all that God has done for you!  Ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you the things you may have forgotten.  God is so faithful, He can’t wait to reminisce with you over the goodness in your life.

4. Faith rises when we don’t stop declaring His truth over our lives!

It’s one thing to verbalize God’s promises aloud a few times and to sit down one day and remember all that He’s done for you – but it’s another thing entirely to keep declaring it until you see breakthrough. John 14:13 (NIV) says: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

In the original Greek, what it really says is “whatever you DECLARE in my name will be done.” Declarations are powerful because they activate conviction. They stir up faith! Proverbs 13:2 (NIV) says “From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things.” Good things will come when we declare them.

5. Faith explodes when we hang out with faith-filled people.

One of the biggest blessings during my 11 year wait has been the people that God has brought into my life who have helped increase my faith and my hope when despair tried to sink in. It seems like yearly God ads to my circle people who take God at His word and do not waiver. Sometimes I think that my best friend Lori and my cousin Karen have both believed in my promise more than I did at times!

They encourage me to keep going and often push me to focus on God’s truth when I forget it, as do my pastors. And trust me – I have had the nay-sayers too, those who cannot seem to look past the natural and believe God’s reality as my reality. The challenge is to not listen to anything that goes beyond God’s already spoken words over me even if it looks impossible in the natural. I have also had pastors and prophets that I trust pray over me and I only attend worship conferences and services where I know that the spirit of the place is full of faith. This has fed me more than words can express.

6. Faith comes when we pray for faith.

A very simple step, really. Just ask God to increase your faith. If He supplies us with everything that we need to live a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3), then why wouldn’t He also give us greater faith?

7. Ask Him for revelation.

God tends to speak to me in pictures and through His word. But He also speaks through music, nature, preachers and other spirit-filled believers. He recently gave me a picture of something (after I asked for revelation during this season) that completely put my mind at ease for the moment. He reminded me that He isn’t delaying my Promise, just holding it for an appointed time.  WOW.  What a perspective change!  Keep pressing in and He will speak to you like that.

I can honestly say that this strategy has certainly helped me come to a place where I am so rooted in hope that I wake up daily with excitement that this could be THE day. It took me a few weeks of consistency with these seven strategies, but for a year now I daily see the fruit of it.

We must always remember that God is good, and that He wants to do immeasurably MORE than we could ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If He has spoken a promise over you – consider it DONE in Jesus’ Name. Even if God does not appear to be “in a hurry,” He is always on time.  He has an appointed time for your Promise – and it will impact nations and generations for His glory!

Don’t give up.

 

~ Mandy Woodhouse