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Battleground

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” ~ Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

As Christians, we stand with Jesus to usher in His plan of love for the world. We stand with Him as His very name inspires a bend in our knees and awe in our hearts. We stand with Him as vessels to be used to heal, to love, to spread peace. We stand with Him simply to rejoice in His presence. We do all this and so much more. And sometimes, we stand with Him in battle.

As Christians, we do have a constant enemy. We don’t need to fear him necessarily (though he’d like us to!) because in the end Jesus is stronger. But we do need to fight him. His name is Satan and his sole aim is to kill, steal and destroy God’s plan. As stewards of this plan, we are automatically at odds with him. And he will use deception, distraction, literally any means he can come up with to keep us from fully doing our Father’s work.

Now, there are 7 main principalities that we fight, with a powerful demon at the head of each one (keep in mind though, they are not as powerful as Jesus and you can defeat them). These principalities are:

1) Spirit of Witchcraft

2) Spirit of Antichrist

3) Spirit of Infirmity

4) Spirit of Death

5) Spirit of Lying

6) Spirit of Mammon (wealth, provisions, socio-economic status, etc)

7) Spirit of Perversion

Right. Well, now that we have identified these principalities of the enemy, fighting them can seem like a daunting task. But luckily, God gives us examples throughout the Bible and a blueprint of what we need to do do defeat Satan and his minions.

Once such example, and it’s a fabulous one, is the book of Esther (which you can read here). Esther’s story at first seems nice enough, with a brave Jewish girl defeating the odds to save her people. But the more you delve into the book, the more you realize: Esther was a spiritual warrior, tried and true, who defeated the enemy and walked in victory to save her people. Here’s the thing: of those 7 principalities I mentioned above, Esther had to battle 6 of them. Six! All at once, too! Here’s the breakdown of what she was up against:

1) Spirit of Witchcraft: witchcraft was a common part of Persian culture in Esther’s time – spells, healers, divination, the works. King Xerxes himself is widely thought to have been a zoroastrian, a religion that used fire and water in its worship. To be fair, zoroastrianism forbade demon worship and consequently witchcraft, but given the use of the elements in its practice, it was a pretty short jump to make and a lot of sects practiced witchcraft anyway. One of King Xerxes’ advisers, Ostanes, was a magi and considered powerful in occult practice.

2) Spirit of Antichrist: In the book of Esther, Haman (favored by the king) makes all bow down to him to show respect. We bow as a form of worship, making this requirement full-blown idolatry. This, we can surmise, is why Mordecai refused to do so.

3) Spirit of Death: In retaliation against Mordecai, Haman’s wife and then Haman himself wanted to impale him. This escalated until Haman convinced the king to issue a decree to wipe out the entire Jewish population of Persia.

4) Spirit of Lying: This one is subtle. Still, we see a general attitude of mistrust and deception occurring in Persia: for starters, Esther did have to hide her identity, for her safety. We see false loyalties among the palace guards and a plot to overthrow King Xerxes. We see Xerxes’ notorious and borderline paranoid rage, and we see Haman overreacting to Mordecai’s slight.

5) Spirit of Mammon: Hamon wanted to not just kill the Jews, but plunder them. Take all their wealth so that no Jew anywhere would be able to recover it and recirculate it within their faith. Conversely, when the Jews retaliated they (for various reasons) refused to plunder.

6) Spirit of Perversion: This one was all over the place in the book of Esther. Queen Vashti was initially deposed due to not wanting to parade herself unveiled in front of a bunch of drunk men – 7 days drunk, to be exact. At a time when men and women were dining separately at separate banquets, the king’s request that she do this was nothing short of degrading. I applaud her for refusing, but ultimately it cost her the throne. Esther was chosen to be the new queen because of her beauty and virginity – a sort of ‘virgin pageant’. During her preparation for this she lived in a harem with the other maidens. After a night with the king they would then return but live in a different part of the harem – a part for concubines. Read between the lines here: the king of Persia, Esther’s eventual husband, had a different virgin every night. Once Esther was chosen, the king was unfaithful as a husband and even held a second ‘virgin pageant.’ So yes, I think it’s safe to say the spirit of perversion was alive and well in Persia during Esther’s time.

Knowing what she was up against, with 6 major principalities swirling around her, let’s look at what happened for her to fight them:

-First of all, Esther’s title of queen gave her no true power. Remember how easily Queen Vashti was deposed in the beginning. Esther was only chosen for the position because of her beauty – which is a superficial trait, but it’s also one that’s god-given – she was created for such a time as this, and if that meant she needed to be made pretty, well, that’s how God made her.

-Second, Esther was a non-practicing Jew. Think about that. She was hiding her identity from her husband – hiding in her own home. So she wasn’t partaking in the festivals, prayers, and was probably not following any of the dietary restrictions that the Jewish people normally follow. In short, she was doing nothing special to earn God’s favor – that just shows how merciful and faithful He is to those who petition in and stand for His will!

-What she did do, when she heard about Haman’s plot to wipe out her entire population, was to pray and fast for 3 days. She called for all the Jews in Persia to do the same thing. Now at first glance, she was fasting to prepare herself for the task at hand. And she was doing that. But if it was a matter of getting her heart right, maybe after a time of being distant from Him due to hiding who she really was, if that was all it was her time of prayer would have been between her and God. But it wasn’t. She called every Jew in Persia to fast and pray. We know that she had 6 principalities to fight. We know that the fate of her people was at stake. And we know that in Mark 9, Jesus heals someone possessed by demons. When His disciples ask why they couldn’t heal him in that, Jesus answered “that kind only comes out by prayer and fasting”. One more time: prayer and fasting casts out demons. It’s a big, big weapon we use. What was Esther doing? Praying and fasting. What were all the Jews in Persia doing? Praying and fasting. This wasn’t just a time of getting Esther’s focus together – this was a battleground. She was clearing the way, casting out these demons and making a way for God’s will to be done. She may have been in hiding up to this point, but He created her for such a time as this, and when push came to shove, she stood with Him strongly to bring His plan – the saving of the Jewish people – to fruition.

-Ultimately, God prevailed – He is stronger than these principalities and always will be! And we see His victory in the way that Xerxes extended favor to her both times that she approached him – even though her entrance to the throne room could have easily meant her death. We see His victory in how Xerxes not only agreed to listen to her but to dine with her, twice. Finally, we see His victory in Xerxes’ issuing a second decree which allowed the Jews to defend themselves and ultimately saved them. Everything Esther did after her time of prayer and fasting was met with favor – there was no more hiding, no more enemies in the way of God’s will. What a powerful God we serve!

My apologies for the super-long post. But it’s an important topic. And an important message: we were created for such a time as this. As this. You might be feeling on top of the world today – God has a destiny, a plan, and a task for you. You might be feeling like you’re under attack at this very moment – God has a destiny, a plan and a task for you. Stand with Him and you will prevail – “for if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

I invite you today to be intentional in seeking out Jesus’ plan for you. Join Him in intercession and ushering in His plan. Step onto the battleground with Him. Victory awaits – so claim it!

God bless!

Rebekah A

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“This Is Your Worship”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” ~Romans 12:1

This was the daily Bible verse on my phone the other day, just a simple little sentence, and my goodness was I convicted by it. I have written about our bodies being a temple before. I knew all about that, and the righteousness and holiness and standards we are called to uphold. But in spite of all these ‘clues’, I’m not sure I ever thought of my body as a symbol of worship.

I know, I know, I should have made the leap a long time ago. I just never thought of it that way. I worship with my body, I use my body to sing and dance and lift my hands high as I exalt His holy name. But to have my body as a whole be my worship, my true and proper worship….that just takes things to a whole new level.

Our worship is a direct reflection of our beliefs. If we worship passionately (and mean it), we need to have a passionate heart, a heart that passionately believes God is everything He says He is. If our worship is just lukewarm, well, maybe we have our doubts about God right now or maybe we are letting worldly norms get in the way of our worshiping with abandon. Either way, our worship is a reflection of our hearts.

To have our very bodies be that way though, with everything that our bodies do in a day, brings us to such a deeper form of worship. Everything from what we wear, to what we eat, to our appearance, to how we move, to how we talk, becomes a manifestation of our worship. How we care for our bodies, how we treat them both while alone and in the presence of others, the very thoughts we think and the words we say all play a part. Our bodies become, basically, a symbol of what we think the God we serve is worth.

Thinking of it this way, I realize I don’t do nearly enough to care for or present my body in a way that implies worship. Sure I do the basics. But after reading this verse I’m realizing I don’t do nearly enough.

Consider this post a call to join me, to live more intentionally and with fuller awareness of how our bodies do and do not glorify God in any given moment. To draw closer to God and go deeper in the ways that we, quite literally, walk in worship.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Fully Satisfied

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, In a dry and parched land where there is no water.” ~Psalm 63:1

I was reading Psalm 63 the other day (read it here in KJV or here in NIV) and was just really struck by David’s faith. I mean, here the guy is stuck in a desert. There’s no water. I don’t know about you, but if I were stuck in a desert with no water in sight, I’d be thirsty. Even if I’d brought water with me, knowing there was no more nearby would make me thirsty by default. avid was thirsty too, but not for water. His first thirst, looking around him and seeing nothing around that could sustain or nourish him, was for God. Looking around and seeing nothing, his being then longed for his Creator. That is faith. Big faith. I have faith, and yet my whole being would be longing for food and drink opportunities. David is on a whole other level.

He goes on to say that he’s seen God’s power and glory, and His love is better than life. Now, there are many of us who will pray when things go wrong; we will certainly lean on God when things go badly, and He is our ultimate Provider. But David isn’t leaning. David is praising. David is stuck in the desert thinking, “who cares if I starve to death or die of thirst? Who cares if I lose my life out here? God’s love is better than my life, and so I’ll get my praise on”.  He doesn’t really seem concerned at all about his physical circumstances or surroundings. He’s just interested in celebrating – in the middle of the dessert he is celebrating. Why? Because God is God, and that’s worth celebrating.

He even goes so far as to say that he will be satisfied as with the richest of foods. Without any food at all. I don’t know about you but that’s amazing to me. I am fasting sugar right now – I’m not going hungry, I’m just going healthy. I’m not going thirsty. And yet I have to convince myself to feel satisfied. My body is missing the carbs. David, though, his body could be missing everything, and yet he is ‘fully satisfied as with the richest of foods’. Incredible.

Only after this celebrating does he starting clinging to God. And even when he is clinging, he’s not too concerned. He knows God’s faithfulness too well to worry about much of anything – he knows God’s got him covered no matter what. He mentions being taken care of in the face of his enemies, and says “the king will rejoice in God”. Basically, no matter what his circumstances, this guy is rejoicing. Because God is God, and His very presence is enough to keep David fully satisfied.

What would our lives look like if we had a heart like that? If we were fully satisfied at all times, sometimes despite pretty bad stuff, simply because of God’s presence?

I am praying for that heart today, the heart to be satisfied as with the richest of foods, simply because I know God is there. The heart that celebrates God for being not just enough, but my everything. We should all be praying for this heart today.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

 

 

 

Just Because

As of two days ago, I was fasting sugar, all sugar, and in a haze of withdrawal. Today, I’m still hazy and not feeling great, though I’m happy to report that what seemed like a truck running me over in my sleep has been downgraded to a moped.

One thing is different about this fasting time. Usually, people fast because something bad is happening in their lives and they are pressing in to get through it. Or, they fast because their church is doing it. Or maybe it’s something they do routinely (for instance, I had a routine where I would fast one day/week and eat nothing for 24 hours, and pray every spare chance I got). Sometimes it’s a combination.

It’s rare, though, to fast simply because. It’s rare that we feel that pull when things are going well. But that’s exactly what this season is. It’s a time to draw near and fill up with His love – not because I’m currently lacking love but just because I am loved. Just because. It’s a Daughter bonding with her Daddy.

I have no idea what God is going to do, but I know what I want – more of Him!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Perspective

Tonight I am in a fog. Why? Well, ultimately it’s because God is doing some great things in the church I came from before I moved here, and He is doing some great things in me. He has completely lit a fire under me and I don’t want it to ever go out. Don’t worry, I’ll explain the fog part later.

The season I’m in has been months in the making. There is a very sick little girl that my old church has been praying for, which is perhaps a blog post for another day (a long one). Through a whole variety of things, God has shown us that He has some very specific and miraculous plans for her, and He wants us to stand with Him to carry them out. The time for that to happen is near, and so it is a time to press into God deeply. Nothing less than the purity of His truth and power will suffice.

While we have been waiting on that, God’s been growing us. Through a series of seemingly unconnected visions, dreams, and even random gifts, He has brought us to a season of tearing down high places within our hearts and churches, and again pressing in. And actually, He used me to reveal the connecting thread that brought us into this phase of deep growth in Him, which is awesome. It wasn’t an obvious connection and drew on prior knowledge that I had, that made God’s message clear when it was combined with this stuff that was happening. But I never would have spoken up (because it didn’t seem relevant), if my prayer partner literally the night before hadn’t had a word for me about speaking boldly no matter what I felt. So I listened to the word she delivered, spoke out, and it turned out to be right on the money. God is awesome in the ways He uses us. This is perhaps another long blog post for another day. My boldness has been increasing in leaps and bounds lately, and I’ve spoken out about a lot of things God has told me when I previously might not have had the confidence to do so, but this grew my boldness even more. Yay!

Anyway, the underlying thread of everything is that we are in a season to press into Jesus, to passionately and radically pursue Him. I like the sound of it already.

In an effort to ‘press in’, I have been fasting a bit more regularly. My typical fasting pattern is to abstain from food for a 24-hr period. Since this season seems like it calls for a more prolonged endeavor, I have gotten creative. I am fasting sugar. Detoxing from it, really. I know, I know. It’s a health fad. It’s a trendy kickoff to a trendy diet. Truth be told, I couldn’t care less about the trend. It is also something that my body is currently dependent on, and to me that is all that matters. I want my body to run the way it was created to run and to be dependent on nothing except for Jesus Christ Himself. It’s my physical manifestation of pressing in. The problem with detoxing from sugar is that you go through a mini withdrawal, and you get sort of sick for about a week. I am on Day 2, hence my brain fog. I’m also fairly convinced that someone drove into my bedroom with a Mack truck and ran over me while I slept, and then magically glued my walls back together. How they did it, I will never know, but I am definitely feeling the effects!

It has been interesting, to be spiritually on fire and physically foggy. I am pressing in, which is the whole point, and both reaching and expecting breakthrough. I am grateful for the season, because I am growing in leaps and bounds and am expectant that God will deliver on what He’s told me. I’m even grateful for the fog because it forces me to really focus to hone in on the spirit, and to depend on His help to get even mundane tasks done. I’m mostly grateful that God has given me some perspective on where I’m at, and where He’s headed both with me and the Body as a whole.  I can’t wait to see what He does!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Guest Post: Lindsay “Hunger in Mozambique”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. Thank you to Lindsay (who is currently on  a missions trip in Mozambique) for reminding us that sometimes we must become hungry to truly understand being filled.  

Last night we at Harvest celebrated the fourth of July the only way we knew how–DANCING the night away!  I came home covered in dirt, sweat, and full of laughter.

Today I am heading to village immersion.  I will be staying with one of the mamas in her home for the night and will help her in any way that I can.  Pray for God encounters, I have a very good feeling about this!

Now what I really want to share with you is what God has been speaking to me about over the five weeks I have been here: hunger.  Every Friday I work with 600 children from the village, my team of five does dramas, we give them the Gospel, and we feed each of them a heaping plate of rice and beans.  In all honesty, it can be very difficult.  The kids are very rough and loud and you lose your voice trying to share Jesus with them most of the time, but it gets really crazy when it comes to the rice and beans.

After we give everyone a plate of food many of the children line up for a second plate of food, but since we do not have enough for everyone to have a second plate we often have to turn them away.  When we start turning them away, it gets wild.  The children will beat each other viciously, they steal food from each other, they scream and fight and throw rocks, but they are hungry and I am learning from them.

Two weeks ago we set one plate on a ledge and there were about thirty children gathered around watching the plate.  When the plate fell not one grain of rice, not one bean even hit the ground.  Instantly the kids descended on it and it was completely gone, eaten in less than a second.  I have never seen hunger like this in my entire life.  And yet it is the very thing God wants me to gain from these kids.  A ravenous hunger that waits for one single drop from heaven, waiting, watching, wanting nothing but Jesus.

And yet Jesus has been telling me that in heaven He does not give us just a drop, He is ready to fill us to the brim and He does not turn us away when we come back for seconds because there is always enough.  He died so that there would always be enough.  But we have to be hungry.  Hunger invokes a response from God.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.  If you are hungry you have a promise over your life and you will be filled.

Without hunger, we will not eat, and if we do not eat we will die.  Jesus is inviting us to a feast and we must eat.  Hunger sustains us.  It is the only thing that will keep us alive.

So my challenge to you is this: get hungry.  Get hungry.  Get hungry.  Get hungry.  Get so hungry that your flesh actually cries out for God.  If you have to fast, then fast so you can know hunger.  Know it inside and out and you will know the overwhelming joy of being filled.

Getting hungrier and learning to go lower,

Lindsay

Lindsay has been a missionary since her early teens. She lives in Arizona but is currently in Mozambique with Harvest School (Iris Ministries). Learn more at http://www.irisglobal.org/missions/harvest/

Published by permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com. 

Below is Like a Fire by Planetshakers.  It’s the song I finally picked as my solo at church last night and it feel so in line with this. Jesus- I’m desperate for You. Jesus- I’m hungry for You. Jesus I’m longing for You. Lord You are, all I want. ~Rebekah M. 

This Too Shall Pass

girl_on_stairs

I’ve been struggling a bit over the last couple of weeks. For the most part, I’ve kept this completely to myself. I tend to share the good things going on in my life and hide the not so good things. Last week when it was my turn to post on Being Rebekah, I just posted a simple prayer because I wasn’t ready to let the blogging community know about my struggle. Indeed, I’m still not ready.

But as things have a way of doing; my struggle has come to the light. I whispered a text to a friend to let her in. God Himself whispered a word of knowledge to several others. I’ve alluded to these struggles before on such posts as: Confident in His Love, Disquieted, and When Sadness Creeps in.

The amazing thing is that since things have come out into the open, God has rallied a wonderful support team around me. They have offered godly counsel, a shoulder to cry on, prayer and have even fasted for me. I am truly blessed. And yet, I’m still struggling. I feel incredibly guilty about that.

They give me good advice: you need to worship through it, you need to praise through it, you need to choose God, you must choose to hold on Him, don’t try to overcome by your own strength; you need to rely on Jesus etc. etc. It’s all wonderful advice, it truly is. But what I hear is: You’re screwing it up, you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong. The problem is not with the advice, the problem is with me.

They are all working so hard to support me with love, prayers, and fasting that I feel pressured to report that things are magically all better. I feel if I admit that I’m still struggling that I’m letting them down. I’m failing despite everyone’s best efforts. I owe them better and I owe God better.

I don’t know what the solution is. I’m not writing with my grand spiritual revelation on how I got beyond my struggle with the help of the Lord. I have no idea how to get beyond it and this blog post is simply my attempt at not sugar coating it the way that I’m tempted to do. Here’s what I do know: through Jesus, this too shall pass.

In His Love,

Rebekah L