The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

See the source image

The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

James R. Aist

“For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

My second daughter, Liesel was a beautiful, musically talented, athletic, sweet and endearing little girl with a special sense of humor. I called her my “Lee-Lee Bell.” She had already professed her faith in Jesus at an early age, before she was 10 years old: in a Sunday School class, she told the teacher that she had accepted Jesus. Then, when Liesel was 10 years old, I had the precious opportunity to lead her in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Here’s what happened. Near the end of a sermon at church on a Sunday morning, Liesel leaned over and asked me, “When did you make your decision for Jesus?” I replied “When I was 8 years old.” “Is it too late for me to do it?” she asked. I replied, “No, you can do it any time before you die. Do you want to do it now?” After further discussion, we agreed that I would help her do it at home, after church. So, after we had lunch, I asked her if now was a good time, and she said it was. So, that’s when we prayed, and Liesel confirmed, by her profession of faith in Jesus, what God had been doing for! And she said, “This is the biggest day of my life!”

Unfortunately, in the ensuing years, as Liesel passed through her teens, she became unsure of her faith in Jesus. But, like the one sheep that had gone astray (Luke 15:3-6), Liesel already belonged to Jesus, and God was not done with her.

The following encounter that I had with God is not only pertinent, but essential, to the rest of the story. I was attending the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International Men’s Advance at Lake George in upstate New York. One day when they were immersion baptizing in the lake, I stepped forward to be immersed by Pastor Don Yarborough. We had never met, and he knew nothing about me. As I approached him in the water, he just stared at me straight in the eye with a blank look, and kept staring. I thought to myself, “That’s strange; he doesn’t seem to even see me coming.” Finally, as I drew near to him, he reached out his hand to me, we shook hands and I introduced myself. Then he said that something very unusual had just happened; it had happened only once before in his ~20 years of baptizing people. He said that as I was approaching him in the water, he received a prophecy for me, in the form of several Bible passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They all had to do with the head of the household being saved and all of his family with him. He then proceeded to share with me all five of those Bible verses. When he had finished with that, he gave me the interpretation of the message: God wants me to stand on and hold fast to these promises, which he is confirming to me and my children. Wow! Through this prophecy, God had just told me that all of my children will be saved! Needless to say, I was a “happy camper” the rest of that afternoon. But, I didn’t say anything to any of my children about this glorious promise at the time.

In August of 1996, Liesel had just turned 19, and it was time for her annual visit with me in Ithaca, NY, from her home in Norman, OK. As was my custom, I brought up the matter of her current position regarding her faith in Jesus, and we talked about that for a while. It was clear that she had a good understanding of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was all about, but she said that she didn’t want to profess faith in Jesus again unless she was absolutely sure of it. I was OK with that. Now, I had not yet said anything to Liesel about God’s promise to me to save all of my children. Nevertheless, she looked at me and somehow knew to ask this amazing question: “Daddy, have you ever received any indication from God as to whether or not I will someday become a Christian?” Well, this question blew my mind. I was so overwhelmed by it that, for a few seconds, I was unable to respond. How did she even know to ask me such a thing at that time? I had to conclude that God must have given her that question, and so I haltingly, but eagerly, proceeded to tell her about God’s promise to save all of my children. When I finished, Liesel was visibly pleased and very encouraged by this good news.

God had revealed, in a miraculous way, that He was continuing the good work that He had begun in Liesel when she was a young girl! That was one of the most amazing days of my life. Click HERE to read Part 2, the rest of this story.

(To read more of my article with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Promised Witness Shows up

See the source image

The Promised Witness Shows up

James R. Aist

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)

This encounter happened in the mid-1980s, when my first wife and I were struggling with the ramifications of an impending divorce. For me, these were times of incredible stress, anxiety, sadness and depression. I could see my most cherished dreams – dreams of a lifelong marriage, a stable and lasting family life, and three children brought up to know and love God – I could see all of that disintegrating before my very eyes. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I had already tried everything I could think of, to no avail.

It was when I was at my lowest point, crying out for relief from the stress and confusion, that Satan literally spoke into my mind one day, as if he were sitting on my left shoulder. He said words to this effect: “Jesus isn’t the son of God. You don’t really believe that he is, do you? Look at how much stress that’s causing you. Why don’t you give up on that and just go along with the flow? That will make things a lot easier for you.” And he repeated the same message. But, when he would say this to me, something glorious would happen. As if He were an angel sitting on my right shoulder, the Holy Spirit would simply speak into my mind saying, “Remember what I told you when you were saved: ‘Believe that Jesus is the son of God. Don’t ever let go of that; it’s the most important thing you have.’” When this back and forth, spiritual battle for my soul between Satan and the Holy Spirit was over, I was still holding on to my faith in Jesus, and Satan was defeated. Praise be to God!

I found out later that this witness of the Holy Spirit was a direct fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in John 15:26, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me…” And Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” That witness of the Holy Spirit was the only thing that got me through that dark and sinister time of intense, diabolical testing. What’s more, that witness of the Holy Spirit helped me hold on to the only real friend I had at that time, Jesus Christ. I believe that Proverbs 18:24 is speaking of Jesus when it says “… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

The lessons I learned from this encounter with God and the devil are these: When everything and everyone else has failed you, remember that you still have Jesus; He is all you need to see you through; and, the Holy Spirit will ensure that Jesus will remain your friend no matter what, or who, attacks your faith (Romans 8:38-39).

Of course, these lessons apply only to those whom God has saved. Have you let God save you yet? If not, what are you waiting for? He’s waiting for you!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

Healing, Forgiveness and Demonic Indwelling/Oppression

See the source image

Healing, Forgiveness and Demonic Indwelling/Oppression

James R. Aist

“…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

The Bible is a remarkable resource of spiritual revelations that can rightly inform us of otherwise-hidden truths that can greatly affect our lives. This article focuses on a set of interconnected spiritual truths that, I believe, are not common knowledge within the mainstream of modern Christianity but are, nevertheless, important to our living as “more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37). I will present three pertinent scriptural truths in bold lettering, followed by biblical references that support each one, respectively.

Demonic indwelling and infirmity are often causally related

Matthew 9:32-33. As they went out, they brought to Him a mute man possessed with a demon. And when the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke…”

Matthew 12:22. Then one possessed with a demon was brought to Him, blind and mute, and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.

Mark 9:17-27. One in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. Wherever it takes hold on him, it dashes him to the ground. And he foams at the mouth and gnashes with his teeth and becomes rigid. So they brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit dashed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. He rebuked the foul spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter him no more.” The spirit cried out and convulsed him greatly. But it came out of him, and he was as dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Luke 4:40-41a. Now when the sun was setting, all those who had anyone sick with various diseases brought them to Him. And He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons came out of many, crying out, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

Luke 13:10-16. He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years and was bent over and could not straighten herself up. When Jesus saw her, He called her and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” Then He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. …should not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound these eighteen years, be loosed from this bondage on the Sabbath?”

Acts 10:38. “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

Forgiveness and healing occur together

James 5:15. “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”

Luke 5:17-25. Now some men brought in a bed a man who was paralyzed. They searched for ways to bring him in and lay him before Him. When they could not find a way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his bed into their midst before Jesus. When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” The scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” He answered them, “Why question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” He said to the paralyzed man, “I say to you, rise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

Something causes forgiveness and healing to occur together

I have yet to find direct, biblical evidence for this scriptural truth, yet I do believe that the evidence is in the Bible. For example, consider the case of an unbeliever who is indwelt by spirits of infirmity, and gets saved. This new Christian is instantly forgiven of all past sins (we call this “justification”) and is made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Holy Spirit then indwells the new Christian, and any previously indwelling demons will be cast out, because the Holy Spirit will not abide co-habitation of any evil spirits in the new believer (Psalm 5:4; 1 John 4:4). Thus, one may surmise that when the sins of a newly born-again Christian are forgiven, healing may follow because spirits of infirmity have been cast out. This is a causal relationship that would bind forgiveness and healing together, which is exactly what we were looking for.

To broaden this causal relationship to include all born-again Christians, one need only to remember that the born-again Christian is not indwelt by spirits of infirmity (because, that is impossible; see above), but only oppressed by them so as to cause infirmity. In this case, the evil spirits would not be literally cast out, but, instead, bound (i.e., expressly forbidden to continue oppressing the Christian and ordered to leave him alone. See Matthew 18:18).

Note that, in either scenario, forgiveness and healing occur together, because the influence of spirits of infirmity have been removed.

Practical Significance

To me, the Scripture passages quoted above clearly demonstrate that healing, forgiveness and demonic indwelling (or oppression) are variously interconnected. Knowing this can inform us how to best approach the task of ministering to people in need of healing. Of course, we should always be quick to lay hands on the sick and pray for their healing, believing that God can and will do it; He often does. But, leading a person to salvation can also be effective in bringing about healing, because forgiveness of sins (justification) is an essential component of the salvation work that God does in the new believer, and healing may follow. Finally, because evil spirits can cause various infirmities to manifest, it may be that, in order for healing to come, such spirits must first be either cast out or bound. We know that born-again Christians have both the authority and the power to minister in these ways, because Jesus said so: “These signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18). So, let’s be bold and use the God-given power and authority that we have as believers, and see what God will do!

Further Reading

Morris Cerullo. Receiving and Ministering Deliverance. (click HERE)

Derek Prince. Spiritual Warfare: Demons of Sickness and Infirmity. (click HERE)

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

A Life of Obedience, Not Compromise!

See the source image

A Life of Obedience, Not Compromise!

James R. Aist

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin”? (Proverbs 20:9). In this regard, I must confess that I am “a work in progress.” And I would venture to guess that the same is true of most modern Christians. But, heaven forbid that we should ever regard this condition as acceptable! In this article, I intend to step on a few toes (some of which are connected to my own feet!) in hopes that we all will begin to more fully live like believers. My focus will be on what we are feeding our born-again spirits through the various media (TV, radio, movies, books, magazines, internet, etc.) . So, please take a deep breath with me and allow the word of God to minister to your conscience.

The central message I am sharing here is that God has not called us to a life of compromise, but of obedience. A Christian acquaintance of mine once declared, “Its OK for me to watch anything I want to, so long as it doesn’t cause me to lose my faith in Christ.” That’s exactly the kind of attitude I’m calling out here. In this present world, we are bombarded daily with opportunities (i.e., temptations) to fill our minds – and thus, to feed our born-again spirits – with thoughts, images and behaviors that are not good and acceptable and perfect according to the will of the God we claim to serve. Every time we yield to these temptations, we are behaving as hypocrites, not faithful followers of Jesus, who gave His life as a sufficient sacrifice for our sins! We do not always consider our sins to be as serious as God does, but we should.

So, what, exactly, are these worldly “entertainments”, or subject matters, that we should not be entertaining ourselves with? Here is a short list, for our consideration: pornography, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, gender bending, cursing, profanity, lawlessness and mocking God. Regardless of how these themes and messages get into our minds – through our eyes or our ears or both – to the extent that we allow these things to enter under the guise of innocent entertainment, we are being conformed to the world, rather than being in the world but not of it. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, the world therefore hates you. (John 15:19).” God chose us out of the world, and He expects us to stay out of the world, even if the world hates us for it!

Now, I am fully aware that there are a number of fellow Christians who insist that it is acceptable practice to use movies with immoral themes or messages as teaching tools to present the Gospel as a better way to live and prioritize one’s life. While its not my place to condemn anyone for using this approach, I do, nonetheless, have some questions to pose in this context: Is the Word of God no longer “…alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12); and is the Gospel of Jesus Christ no longer “…the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek? (Romans 1:16)? And, if God is going to save someone, does He really need us to resort to the use of immoral media entertainment to get their attention?

Finally, to more fully present, for our consideration, what the Bible has to say concerning these matters, I have assembled several additional and pertinent scripture passages for us to ponder, knowing full well that if one will not listen and learn from the Word of God, then one will surely not listen to me:

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11);

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18);

I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. (Psalm 101:3);

Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8);

But I say to you that for every idle word that men speak, they will give an account on the Day of Judgment. (Matthew 12:36);

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Philippians 4:8);

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5);

What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19);

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30);

Beware lest anyone captivate you through philosophy and vain deceit, in the tradition of men and the elementary principles of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8);

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15); and,

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (Romans 6:12).

Challenges

Our goal for this area of our lives should be obedience, not compromise. We must not put a question mark where God puts a period! So, if you will, pray this prayer with me, and let’s mean it together: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my concerns, and see if there is any rebellious way in me, and lead me in the ancient way.” (Psalm 139:23-24). And if you need it, then use 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Remember, there is no sin too great or too longstanding for God to rid you of it. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37).

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE)