MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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Escape was within reach. Why didn’t Jesus RUN?
We have two free, sharable resources for Good Friday and Easter. They are a sampling of some of the new, free resources we’re beginning to churn out through Godfactor.
Watch Why Didn’t Jesus RUN? by clicking here.
Or, watch it and other videos on the go with our free Godfactor App.
(Get the app in your iTunes or Google App store.)
With the Godfactor App, you can also enjoy more three minute videos – and forward them to friends:
- Enjoying Jesus.Understand how enjoying Jesus is where life starts.
- God’s Calling On Your Life.God has plans for you. Embrace it. Live it.
- Did Jesus Call You To Do It?Many “voices” may be calling you, pulling you, distracting you. Only One voice is important.
- Our True Revival series shot on location in the Solomon Islands. Renew your life, your family or your congregation buy watching these brief videos on spiritual renewal.
We also want to thank our Ministry Partners who make these kinds of resources possible through their prayers and financial support. Thanks to you, we’re reaching people globally, for the glory of God. To support this ministry or learn more about being a Ministry Partner, click here.
Enjoy our resources, and enjoy Resurrection Weekend! And, if you live in or near York, Pa, come and visit us at Grace Fellowship for what we call the “Grace Awakening.” God is moving, and we are moving with Him.
With Passion Week here, I’ve decided to encourage a good listen to my most recent podcast, “The Death of Death.” You can find it in the “Recent Sermons” area of our free Godfactor App, on iTunes, or in the “Sermon” area at graceyork.com. Take some time to comprehend the death of death. Doing so could help you live.
You might think you understand what Jesus went through on the cross. But have you considered what He endured beforehand? And why? “The Death of Death” podcast will help you appreciate what Jesus went through, so you can soar.
I’d love to hear your comments, too. And, don’t forget to join us this Friday night (April 18), for our special Good Friday Awakening Concert at 7 pm, and again on Easter Sunday at Grace Fellowship in York, Pa.
Everything the devil does is reactive. The best he can do is react to what he sees God doing. But that’s nothing to belittle. It’s serious. You need to understand the devil’s tactics – and your own – which seek to undermine the abundant life God has in store for YOU. All of us have our own understanding of what an “abundant” life is, but God’s definition is the one we need to embrace and enjoy.
GOD STILL DOES MIRACLES, and yesterday we witnessed a real one at GraceYork.com. To relive it, listen to the companion podcast to today’s blog post (see below). You’ll be blessed, significantly. It involves the true story of a woman who stole money from the church offering basket on two occasions – and was caught. She repented, and then experienced the blessing of God in a dramatic, life-changing way. In turn, we were all blessed. It was a huge win for everyone, as repentance often is. Repentance opens the door to reconciliation, healing, wholeness and the blessing of God. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. I’m still jumping with joy over the black eye the devil got yesterday as God’s people at Grace Fellowship did the right thing, the right way, and pursued the glory of God in a difficult scenario. Had we not, the abundant life that is found only in Jesus Christ would have eluded not only the person who stole, but also our whole church.
Most of the time we hear of church “discipline”, and it’s more akin to a church brawl than “discipline.” I prefer the word “restoration” over “discipline” because only God can really discipline His children. It’s our job to pursue restoration and reconciliation. Restoration and reconciliation are hard work – but they are God’s work, and therefore the most important work. There is nothing more important in life than restoration and reconciliation. Life is relationships. Try to separate any area of life from relationships and you will see that it is difficult to do. Eventually, everything in life has a way of impacting relationships, for better or worse. When we prioritize healthy relationships, everything in life gets better.
Some of us have a hard time with Jesus’ words in In John 10:10. This is where Jesus says something that should stop us in our tracks. We may have heard it before, but that’s the problem. The more familiar we are with the words of Jesus, the more we think we understand what He means – when we really are only scratching the surface. Jesus’ words deserve to be read, re-read, applied and re-applied perpetually – or we will miss out on God’s best. Read the words of Jesus, again, for the first time:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
We have a problem with the word “abundant.” But we need to get over it, and embrace God’s deepest desire. God’s desire is, indeed, to give you an abundant life. To really understand what that looks like, you really need to read and apply the blueprint for living that He authored, the Bible. It’s where God’s definition of abundance is defined and offered to us again and again and again.
What about you? Do you want an abundant life – the kind of life Jesus envisioned for you before the beginning of time? How badly do you want it? It’s yours for the taking. Jesus wouldn’t offer you something He can’t deliver. Read the Bible – but don’t stop there. Put it into action. This is what makes all the difference in the world, and the world to come. The Bible is God’s blueprint for an abundant life. Why wait to fulfill your destiny?
Refusing to acknowledge the truth has no affect on the truth. Truth stands regardless of how we see it. But how we see it can definitely affect how we live. The truth is that evil spirits roam this earth – and they’re looking for someone to latch onto. You need to make yourself “greasy”, so any spirit looking to latch on can’t hold on. Here’s how . . .
[T]hree truths you need to know about demons that will most likely have a significant impact on your life:
- They prefer a human host.
- They create chaos.
- They are tenacious. They don’t give up easily.
You may not believe in the reality of wicked spirits, but your unbelief will not affect the truth. How do we conclude the above three things about evil spirits? Jesus, in Luke 11:24-26 explains:
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
Notice that the beginning of this story has the demon (an unclean spirit) inside a person. It has a human host. It then leaves the person, for whatever reason, and finds itself dissatisfied with the world at large. So, it returns to its “house”. But when it returns, it’s home is not as it was when it was there earlier. It is now “swept” and “put in order.” This is a contrast to the chaos experienced by the person when the demon was living there. Disliking the remodel, the demon demonstrates significant tenacity by finding seven other demons with worse reputations, to help it regainits territory. They simply don’t give up easily.
What about all that chaos in your life? Could it be that it isn’t merely because of your lack of management or organization skills? If we take Jesus’ words to heart, the answer is “yes.” Not all chaos is demonic, but dismissing the potential for chaos to be caused by a demonic entity is simply not biblical. Chaos can have a supernatural cause.
What should you do if chaos is the norm in your life? What should you do if you simply can’t seem to get your head above water, and you seem to be repeatedly experiencing fierce chaos? The first thing you should do is evaluate your own life and see if there are any changes you should make. Are you using your time wisely? Have you taken on more than God has asked of you? Make adjustments, accordingly. But you should also ask God to reveal the presence and influence of unclean spirits, demons. Ask God to reveal to you, in a non-hurtful way, whether the chaos is demonically caused. Praying this prayer is an important step in the process of determining the cause of the chaos engulfing you.
You also need to understand and embrace the importance of truly submitting yourself to God. The Bible tells us in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Submit. Resist. But the question is, how do we submit to God in such a way that the devil must flee? James 4:8-11 gives us a glimpse:
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
The picture James paints is of a person truly, thoroughly repenting of sin. Repentance is humility. Notice the mourning and weeping. It’s not possible to be humble before God without repenting. And, it’s not possible to resist the devil without doing so. Spiritual warfare, in a word, can be summed up with one word: humility.
True repentance makes your life greasy. The enemy simply can’t hold on to someone who walks in repentance. If you want the devil to run with his tail between his legs, you must embrace a lifestyle of repentance. This is what it means to be humble before God. And when we are, it makes the devil shake in his boots. If he had a pair, that is . . .
If we’re not careful, life will . . . suck the life out of us. We can end up being alive without really living. Our tendency is to begin drifting rather than piloting. There is a world of difference, and that is what determines whether or not we really enjoy our journey. Pay attention – life is happening.
Think often about the brevity of time. Your time. Don’t let it discourage you. Let it inspire you. Consider, often, that you won’t be here forever, and neither will the people around you. Live like you mean it. Do this, and you’ll never be bored. Do this and you, while alive, will be truly living.
Here are a few quick thoughts that can yield long-term benefits if you apply them immediately and perpetually:
1. Pay attention when someone else is talking. Talk less. Listen more.
Why do you think James 1:19 says what it says? Because God knows how to help you live a life that satisfies, thrills, excites and impacts the world. Your world. Right now. Go get your Bible and read James 1:19. Let is soak into your way of living. Listening is a forgotten command from God Himself. Listen more. Talk less. Chain your chatterbox. If you do, you won’t just be alive. You’ll be living. Pay attention – life is happening.
2. Put yourself in the shoes of other people. Enter into their hopes, dreams, aspirations. You will learn things about them, things about yourself. Things about LIFE. You will be living the way you’re supposed to live, and you will be a better, happier, more fulfilled person.
Cell phones and “smart” devices have a way of making us dumber, clouding the real intentionality for which we were created. Live life by interacting with the people right in front of you, right now. What’s important is what and who you are around in real-time, face-to-face. Remember what it means to be engaged in a conversation? Maybe not. It’s become culturally acceptable to be disengaged. But that doesn’t make it acceptable or beneficial for you. In fact, it is a complete detriment.
Our default mechanism is to focus on ourselves rather than others. We’re more enamored with ourselves than we should be. There is beauty, there are lessons, there is life happening apart from us. When we have conversations, we tend to drift, seeking ways to insert our story, share our thoughts, express our hearts. Stop the drift. What about the other person? Ask them questions – and really listen. You’ll find this also makes you far less selfish, and far more happy.Do this with one relationship as an experiment, and see what happens to it. It will shock you. Begin doing it with everyone, and your revolution is on. Pay attention – life is happening.
3. Show people you love them, often – in ways they need to see, hear, feel it. Love people in the ways that mean something to them, not you. And mean it when you express it.
Love is the cure for boredom. When we “love” people in ways that mean something to us, but not to others, we miss the whole point of love itself. The best love is expressed in the language of the people. Some people feel loved when hugged. Others when told. Still, others feel most loved when we spend time with them. Who are the people who love you – and whom you love? How are you loving them? Speak their language, not your own, and you will find the rewards nearly overwhelming over time. Don’t aim meaninglessly in your expressions of love. Find out the kind of love others need, and give it to them on their terms, not yours. Pay attention – life is happening.
Being alive is not the same as living life. Live like you mean it. Right now, wherever you are.
There you have it. Three quick thoughts taken from a few of the observations from my own mistakes and failures that I hope will help you succeed. You can live like you mean it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
“It happens to all of us eventually. We find ourselves dry, floating in a sea of doubt – or at least drifting toward one. What can you do? More than you think . . .”
The circumstances of life will pound you – or rock you into a state of indifferent numbness. Sooner or later you could find yourself in a position where you just don’t have the depth of faith you wish we had. It happens to all of us eventually. We find ourselves dry, floating in a sea of doubt – or at least drifting toward one. What can you do? More than you think. Here are a few things from experience that I’ve learned can build faith, and help overcome a faith crisis:
1. REMEMBER THAT YOUR FAITH IS NOT YOUR OWN, AND THAT IS A GOOD THING. Somebody other than you is the founder and the perfecter of your faith. His Name is Jesus Christ, and He is the original fire-starter.Hebrews 12:2 says that we are to look to Jesus, the “founder and perfecter of our faith.” If Jesus is the One who creates and matures your faith, which is what Hebrews 12:2 is saying, then the starting point of all faith is to ask Him – even if you don’t feel passionate about doing so – to intervene.
God is the original fire-starter. He can start a fire in you. You may recall the story of Elijah calling for the wood and sacrifice to be drenched with water – three times, but God still consumed the altar and the sacrifice. Here’s the story from 1 Kings 18:30-39:
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
In other words, there is not enough water on the planet to quench a fire God wants to start – and God wants His fire burning in you. God is the founder and perfecter of your faith. Ask Him to mature your faith, and He will light the fire. It may not be instantaneous, but it will come – because God knows how to start a fire. Your job is to simply ask Him to start it in you, and believe that eventually the embers will be rekindled and become a fire once again.
2. UNDERSTAND THAT FAITH IS KINDLED AND RE-KINDLED IN PROPORTION TO YOUR TIME IN GOD’S WORD, THE BIBLE. Did you read that right? You sure did. Your faith is a consequence and a reflection of your time spent soaking up the Bible. Romans 10:17 says this:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
If you want to build your faith, read the Bible. Don’t skim it. Skimming is not the same as reading. Really read it. Soak in it. If you were admitted to the hospital with a critical illness, doctors would take extreme measures to bring about a change of health. If you find yourself in a faith crisis, take measures accordingly, to reverse it. Be urgent about your spiritual health, even if that means you are not emotional about it. Faith is not about feeling spiritual, but about doing what you should do regardless of how you feel. Feelings often follow actions. It’s not the other way around.
Don’t expect a deep, rich faith from a shallow skimming of the Bible. Take serious measures if you want serious faith. Make time to immerse yourself in the Bible in the morning, afternoon and evening – and make sure you put what you are reading into practice. Approach the Bible intentionally, seriously. To do so is to take God seriously. If you take God seriously, over time God will build you up with serious faith. That’s the way it happens.
Don’t make light of the power of God’s Word to overcome a faith crisis. In my own life, I have found that oftentimes my faith is weak and frail – only to find that my time in God’s Word has been likewise. A lack of faith is often the result of biblical negligence. Neglect the Word and your faith will be affected.
You don’t need a complex strategy to get results with God. He has made it so that He is easy to approach and easy to find. Why? Because He wants to be found by you. But you must take a step in His direction. You must call out to Him.He wants to have a true, deepening relationship with you.
Remember that God is the original fire-starter and He wants the fire of faith in Him burning in you. Remember that your faith will be built up as you soak in God’s Word, the Bible. Keep it simple. As James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
And by “you”, God definitely means you.
I’d love to hear your comments as we sojourn together.