Stay the Course

Stay the Course

Written by Dr. Christi Butler – Nov. 21, 2016

About six weeks ago, during a time of prayer, I was asking the Lord to give me a message for the Body of Christ. After praying, I fell asleep, and the middle of the night, I awoke to hear the Holy Spirit say, “Stay the course.” Out of curiosity, I went to my computer and looked up this phrase.

One definition of “stay the course” is to keep going strongly to the end of a race or contest.[1] This reminds me of the words in Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In this passage, the writer of Hebrews compares the Christian life to running a long distance race. Just like runners must train, prepare, and run with a clear strategy in mind. So to, Christian believers are called by God to become skilled in the realm of the spirit. They are to become spiritually “fit” by exercising their faith, drinking the water of the Word, and feeding on Bread of Life [Jesus Christ].

Furthermore, believers are called to “lay aside every weight and sin,” so they will be able to run this race successfully. Spiritual weights and sins might manifest as guilt, shame or fear. They might be associated with old thinking patterns from the past. They might have to do with personal idols that need to be rejected or perhaps heart issues like materialism, greed, pride, unforgiveness, or unbelief. Unhealthy relationships and abusive communication patterns could also make the list, and so on.

However, the point of all of this is that God has called believers to violently throw aside anything and everything that would hinder them from being able to “keep going strongly to the end of the race.” Believers are called to focus on the finish line and run with endurance. The Greek word translated as “endurance” is hypomone, which means steadfastness, consistency, and endurance. This hypomone is the “characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”[2]

In other words, a person who endures is a person who stays the course until he or she reaches the finish line. Like the Apostle Paul, this type of believer will be able to stand before the Lord and say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7 NKJV). Hallelujah!

Upon further study, I discovered that the phrase “stay the course” is also frequently used in the context of a war or battle, meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism.[3] This is interesting since, in Ephesians Six, the Apostle Paul compares believers to soldiers who must be dressed in the “Armor of God” to resist the schemes of Satan. In this life, Christians are engaged in a spiritual warfare that requires perseverance, endurance, and the will to overcome.

Seven times in seven letters to seven churches, in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ proclaims prophetic promises for those who stay the course and overcome (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5-6, 12-13, 21-22). In fact, in Revelation 3:10, Jesus Christ mentions that believers have been given a “command to persevere.” The Greek word translated as “persevere” in this verse is the same as the word translated as “endurance” in Hebrews 12:1 — hypomone. In other words, the believer has been commanded by God to remain, persevere, and endure with a steadfast commitment to God no matter what external circumstances look like. Another way of saying this is that believers are commanded to “stay the course.” Hebrews 6:12 in the Message Translation reads, “Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.”

In light of the increasing turbulence and uncertainty in the world system, this is an important message for believers to hear. All those who love Jesus are called to stand strong and endure in the face of trials, tribulation, and difficulties. As Jesus said in Matthew 24:13, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” Christians do not have to endure alone or in their own strength. They have been given the anointing of the Holy Spirit, given spiritual weaponry that is mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, given authority through their union with Christ, and given all things that pertain to life and godliness (Lu. 10:19, 2 Cor. 10:4; 2 Pet. 1:3). Believers have all that they need in Christ to stand and having done all, to keep on standing (Eph. 6:13). Therefore, let us pray as the Psalmist in Psalms 119:33 of the Message Version, “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what You tell me – my whole life one long, obedient response.”

References:

[1] “Endurance.” (1998). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. New American Standard Bible. (Updated Ed.) #5281. Retrieved from: http://biblehub.com/greek/5281.htm

(Accessed Nov. 21, 2016).

[2] “Stay the Course.” Wikipedia. Retrieved From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stay_the_course

(Accessed Nov. 21, 2016).

[3] “Stay the Course.” Google. Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=definition+stay+the+course

(Accessed Nov. 21, 2016).

Becoming a Living Flame of Love

By Dr. Christi Butler  Feb. / March 2016

Recently I was invited to share a message entitled, “Becoming a Living Flame of Love,” in Temecula, California at Legends of Faith Church. I believe this is a timely Word for the body of Christ, as well as a word that is near and dear to my heart, because it reflects the vision the Lord has placed in my heart for God’s people in these last days.

I have a passion to see the body of Christ as a whole come to full maturity in the faith and do great exploits in the Name of Jesus as they spread the influence of God’s glory across the face of the earth. I believe God’s people are being called to become “burning ones.” In other words, individuals who are radiating the light, life, and love of God everywhere they go.

Believers are being called to come up higher, to become “living flames of love,” that cannot be stopped, quenched, or contained. A clarion call is going forth in the realm of the spirit. God is preparing His Bride. He is calling for His people to go deeper into His fiery heart of love. He is calling the church into a passionate love affair with the Son of God, and He is becoming all believers to awake, arise, shine, and take their place in God’s end time army of soul winning warriors for Jesus. Hallelujah!

There is a flame that should be burning in the heart of every believer. It is a flame that has burned in many notable men and women of God throughout history. As I write, I am reminded of Charles Finney, John and Charles Wesley, William Booth, John G. Lake, Katherine Kuhlman, Aimee Semple McPherson, Maria Woodwoth-Etter, Smith Wigglesworth, T.L. Osborn, Oral Roberts, and so many other firey evangelists that could be named. I love to study the history of revival just because I want to catch the fire these people carried and spread that fire to the next generation. I hope all the readers of this article want the same thing!

At any rate, the fire of God has been one of the subjects rolling around in my heart this month. The church needs some fresh fire. I think there are many Christians in the church who have heard about the day of Pentecost; they have read about how the fire fell on those who were gathered in the “upper room” in prayer; they have heard Acts chapter 2:1-4 quoted in church, but they have never actually had a divine encounter with a living God of Fire. They have never been touched, overcome, and totally transformed by the fiery God of love that scripture describes.

This should not be the case. If Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday, today, and forever,” as the writer of the book of Hebrews claims (Heb. 13:8), then the same God that came of the Day of Pentecost should be showing up in our churches today. Every believer in Christ should know what it means to be tangibly touched by the fire of God, and every believer in Christ should be a living flame of love that is burning brightly in this world for Jesus. The world should be able to look at every Christian and know, without a shadow of a doubt, Jesus is alive and living in His people today!

The fire that fell on Pentecost was not an incident that was meant to be left behind in the annals of history. Instead, that fire was the express manifestation of a living person. His name is the Holy Spirit, and He is One with the Father and the Son [Jesus], and He is every bit as real and as powerful today as He was on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is called to help, strengthen, equip, and empower the body of Christ. Furthermore, it is by the presence of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ is “with us” and “in us,” until the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). The Holy Spirit is given the title of the “Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). Therefore, when the Holy Spirit is operating through God’s people, so is Jesus, and Jesus is the most anointed fiery evangelist that ever lived. He is the role model of a man who was living as a “living flame of love.” I pray that the church would come to a full realization of who it is that has taken up residence within their hearts.

At any rate, when Jesus left this earth, he left His followers with specific instructions about how to have this same empowering presence of God in their lives. He said, Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).In other words, Jesus told his disciples to come together and pray until they experienced being, “endued with power from on high.” Christians praying for an increase of the anointing of God is a totally scriptural concept and it is something the modern church needs to return to.

Furthermore, John the Baptist said, in Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” So, the endowment of power that Jesus talked about in Luke 24:49, actually involves being baptized or “immersed,” in the fiery presence of God. This is further proven to be true by the fact that the answer to the prayers of the saints in the upper room came as “a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2-3).

Fire was an express manifestation of God’s presence. This was true for believers on the Day of Pentecost and this has also been the witness of scripture throughout recorded history. For example, in the book of Genesis, chapter 15, God made a covenant with Abraham, and in the night, God came as a burning torch of fire and passed between the pieces of an animal sacrifice (Gen. 15). In Ex. 3:2, Moses encountered God in the flames of a burning bush. In Ex. 13:12, God led the Israelites out of Egypt and His presence was manifest as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In Ex. 19:18, God’s presence came down on Mount Sinai in burning fire and smoke. Later, when Moses set up the tabernacle in the wilderness, God’s glory was manifest and a fire that came from the Lord’s presence to consume the offering (Lev. 9:23-24). Furthermore, as worship was established in the tabernacle, the Lord commanded that the fire on the alter was to be kept continually burning as a symbol of the Lord’s presence in the midst of His people (Lev. 6:12-13). This fire on the alter in the temple was a shadow and a type of the fire that is to be kept burning on the alter of our hearts as New Testament Christians. (I have written previous blog articles entitled, “Tending the Flame Part I and II,” from July 2015, that discuss this fire in our hearts in more detail).

To be complete about this teaching, I must continue discussing God’s habit of manifesting His presence by fire throughout the Old Testament. In the book of Judges, Manoah and his wife provide an offering to God, the Angel of the Lord appeared to them in a flame of fire and consumed the offering (Judges 13:19-21). In 1 Kings18:24 the prophet Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest and the fire of God falls from heaven to consume the offering. Solomon also saw the fire of God fall from heaven and consume his offering when he dedicated the temple (2 Chron. 7:1). — And then there is the wonderful prophetic visions of God experienced by Daniel, Ezekiel, John and others where the prophets actually saw visible manifestations of God’s presence.

In Dan. 7:9, Daniel describes his vision saying, “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire.” Then in Rev. 1:14, the Apostle John writes, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire,” and so on …

The point of all of this is that Our God is a God whose presence is often experienced through the manifestation of fire. Paul tells us in Heb. 12:29, “Our God is an all consuming fire.” With these truths in mind, believers should be awakened to the reality that a baptism in fire is a complete immersion in the presence and anointing of God, and it is this type of immersion in God’s presence that is meant to empower and equip the church to bring in this last days harvest of souls. When the early church experienced the fire of God, the fruit of that encounter was that the church “turned the world upside down” with the power of the gospel (Acts 17:6).

If the church today is no longer effective, and the world is changing the church instead of the church changing the world, God has an answer. The answer is this: we need the fire of God! Therefore, let us contend, let us “tarry,” let us return to prayer and to the old paths. Let us dig again the wells of revival and see the God of the bursting forth of might waters come forth (2 Sam. 5:20). Hallelujah and Amen!

 

 

A Transformed Heart (5)

Article written by Dr. Christi Butler / Nov. 2015

In the last few blog posts I have been teaching about how to live before the Lord with a transformed heart. I thought I had finished this series yesterday, but when I woke up this morning the Lord reminded me of a few more scriptures that belong in this message. So, the post today is a continuation of what has gone before, as well as a compilation of thoughts I did not have time to plug into the previous messages.

In Matthew chapter 13 the Lord Jesus teaches a parable about a farmer who went into his field to sow seed. In this parable, the soil represents the condition of the human heart and the seed represents the truth of God’s Word that the Lord is trying to get people to receive. Unfortunately, it seems that only a small percentage of those that hear the truth are able to receive it. Jesus goes on to explain that sometimes the seed of truth falls by the “wayside” and the birds of the air (which symbolize demonic forces seeking to steel truth), come to devour the seed before it can produce anything (Matt. 13:4). The “wayside” is meant to speak to believers about a condition of the heart. People cast truth by the wayside when they brush it off, purposely ignore it, and refuse to pay any attention to it without giving it any consideration at all. People usually do this when they already possess a firm conviction about some other idea or philosophy. Or, they may do this if they truly do not want to know the truth because knowing truth would require change and they do not want to change. People are very stubborn in this way.

Next, in verse 5, Jesus talks about “stony places.” The stony places are symbolic of those with a heart condition that allows them to momentarily and outwardly agree with the truth. However, the truth is not able to take root in their hearts. Instead, they forget the truth quickly and it produces no real change in their lives. This type of  Christian with a stony heart is someone I would call a “cultural Christian.” In other words, this is a person who generally agrees with the Bible and thinks it has a lot of good ideas. This person may even think they are a real Christian because they were raised in a Christian home or a Christian culture, but really the truth has no strong root system in their life and the minute standing for Jesus becomes difficult or their faith is challenged, they will back down and let go of their so called Christianity.

In verse 7, Jesus goes on to explain that some of the seeds of truth being scattered fell among the “thorns.” Thorns symbolize those things in life that spring up circumstantially, or conditions occurring in the heart itself, that choke out the truth. Thorns are “weed seeds” that infect the heart. Usually these weeds take root because of lies or false doctrines that people embrace. These lies compete with truth and seek to replace truth in the heart. Thorns can also be roots of bitterness and offense that spring up and defile the heart (Heb. 12:15). Furthermore, Thorns can be anything in life that becomes an idol and competes with Jesus for the affection of the heart. For example: a job, a hobby, the TV, the computer, addictions, etc.

The conclusion becomes obvious, there are many forces in this world warring against the soul and the spirit; there are many forces seeking to corrupt and pollute the heart. With this in mind, the exhortation to “keep” our hearts with all diligence becomes a clarion call of the utmost importance (Prov. 4:23). Furthermore, Jesus warned his disciples that in the last days, the love of many would grow cold (Matt. 24:12). As the church approaches the Second Coming of Christ this issue of living before God with a pure and undefiled heart will be the issue that divides the church from the world. This issue is the issue that will determine who belongs to God and who does not, who is part of the Bride of Christ and who is not, who is classified as part of the wheat harvest and who belongs with the tares, etc. The condition of the heart is everything.

Furthermore, when Jesus came to John on the Island of Patmos in the book of Revelation and began to leave him with a final message for the churches, Jesus was very specific about confronting issues of the heart. To the church of Ephesus Jesus says, “you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). To the church of Smyrna, Jesus warns of persecution and deception and calls the church to “be faithful until death” (Rev. 2:10). The church of Pergamos is called to repent of false doctrine immediately (Rev. 2:12-17). Thyatira is also plagued by false doctrine, called to repentance, and told to “overcome” (Rev. 2:18-27). To Sardis Jesus says, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). “Dead” is a spiritual condition of the heart. To Philadelphia Jesus says, “Hold fast and overcome” (paraphrased – Rev. 3:11-12). And finally, to Laodicea Jesus says, “because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Ouch!

Beloved, the condition of the heart is of the utmost importance. Every believer should come before God in prayer and ask Him to expose those areas of the heart that need adjustment. When the Lord begins to bring conviction, be quick to repent, quick to change, quick to respond to the prompting of the Spirit. Do not harden your heart, as in the rebellion (Heb. 3:8, 15), but instead be a person who loves to do the will of the Lord sincerely from the heart.

Blessings to you, in the Name of Jesus. Christi Butler

The Alarm is Sounding Part III: Joel 2:1

The Alarm is Sounding Part III: Joel 2:1

Written by Dr. Christi Butler / Oct. 2015

In Part I and II of this lesson I was talking about the fact that the Bible teaches that there are two kingdoms with two visions. The Kingdom of Darkness, which is ruled by Satan, has a vision to lead everyone in the world towards deception and away from Christ. The Kingdom of Light, which is ruled by Jesus, has a vision for the salvation, healing, and redemption of the people of the earth.

These two kingdoms presently exist in the world and the people who have citizenship in these kingdoms have been growing to maturity while living along side one another. In the book of Matthew, chapter 13 verses 24-30, Jesus told the following parable: Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

So, this is what the church needs to understand; the Lord is allowing good and evil to grow together in the earth until the time of judgment and both good and evil are in the process of coming to full maturity in the earth. The citizens of God’s kingdom are being transformed into the full measure of the stature of Christ. They are becoming the fully mature sons and daughters of God. The church is becoming the glorious bride without spot or wrinkle that Jesus Christ is coming back for.

On the other hand, the Kingdom of Darkness is also maturing. Wickedness is rising up until the cup of abominations is full. However, whenever the enemy comes in, like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against that wickedness in the earth (Is. 59:19). The glory that is being released to the church in these times is a response to evil in the earth. God never leaves His children in the earth without the grace and the equipment they need to deal with the present threat of darkness. God has fully anointed and fully equipped believers with all the authority and weaponry they need to deal with every work of evil. Praise God!

The call of God to the church in this hour is “overcome.” The last message that Jesus Christ left with the church through the Apostle John was this: The believer is called to overcome wickedness wherever it manifests, whether in the church or in the world (read Revelation 2 and 3). Seven times in seven letters, Jesus repeated this same message and gave promises for the overcomers. If Jesus felt the need to repeat this message seven times, in seven different ways, then this message is certainly something we need to take note of. Believers need to be taught to have a mindset that is focused on overcoming no matter what difficulties they encounter. Leaders in the church do a great disservice to the body of Christ when they do not teach people about the reality of the spiritual warfare that exists on this earth.

There are two kingdoms and these kingdoms are at war. Therefore, all believers are called to endure hardship as good soldiers (2 Tim. 2:3). They should not become offended with God when difficulties occur. Rather, believers should respond to difficulties by rejoicing in hope because the Lord has already told us that in the end, Jesus wins the war (read Revelation 19:11-16).

In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes about the struggle that all of creation has been enduring as God works out His redemptive plan. Romans 8:20-25 says, 20 “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

Paul is teaching that Earth itself is travailing in labor as it nears the time of Christ’s return. A woman in labor experiences an increase of intense pain and pressure before she is able to fully bring forth her child. In much the same way, the sons and daughters of God are spiritually coming to full maturity. The time of their birth is at hand, but at the same time travail, warfare, and difficulty may be occurring in the earth because Satan wishes to stop God’s plans at all costs.

I bring this up because I want believers to be mentally prepared to fight the good fight of faith and to continue standing in faith no matter what events transpire in the earth. The word of the Lord is “overcome.”

To listen to the complete audio message related to these blog post look up “The Day of the Lord Joel 2:1” on youtube and look for the Living Flame picture. Blessings to you in the Name of Jesus.

The Alarm is Sounding Part I

The Alarm is Sounding Part I

Written by Dr. Christi Butler / Oct. 2015

Note: Recently I was asked to speak at a home group meeting and the following article is a written version of the message that was shared. An audio version of this message is available on youtube. Search “The Day of the Lord Joel 2:1,” and the title screen says “Living Flame.”

In Joel chapter 2 verse 1, the prophet writes, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain. Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the Day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand.”

In this passage, Joel is speaking under the unction and inspiration of the Spirit of God as a prophetic watchman. He is speaking a word that has a specific application for his generation, but there is also a further depth of meaning in Joel’s words as he foresees a time in the distant future known as “The Day of the Lord.”

Joel is writing to urgently call his nation to prayer and repentance before an immanent time of judgment. This book was written some time around 800 BC just before the Assyrian Invasion that devastated the 10 Northern tribes from 740-722BC. Some areas in the Southern Kingdom were also attacked, but the Southern Kingdom of Judah did not suffer the same level of destruction.

At any rate, I am mentioning this to point out that Joel was warning about very real events that were coming on the horizon for Israel, and at the same time, he was declaring prophetic truth for a future generation that would be alive just before the “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.” We are that generation. Joel was calling his nation to humility, prayer, and repentance in the hope that many would turn away from sin and towards God. Joel believed that if the people would turn back to God, it was possible that God would display mercy towards the nation of Israel instead of judgment.

In much the same way, I believe there is an urgent call going forth in the realm of the spirit for America (and for the whole world), to repent and turn back to God. Joel says, “Blow the Trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm.” This message is meant to be the sounding of a spiritual alarm. Therefore, I have entitled this message, “The Alarm is Sounding.” Notice I did not say, “Sound the Alarm,” I said, “The Alarm is Sounding,” meaning that the alarm is already going off in the spiritual realm and it is time for the church to take notice and react accordingly.

The alarm is sounding and the Day of the Lord is at hand. In the Bible, the Day of the Lord has a few meanings. [As a side note, I highly recommend doing a study of all the passages in scripture having to do with the Day of the Lord, or “that day,” because there is far more to learn about this than I have time to teach on in this blog post]. At any rate, the Day of the Lord is both a literal day and a period of time that covers events occurring several years before the return of Christ and follows into the 1000 year Millennial reign of Christ on the earth. Therefore, the Day of the Lord, according to scripture, involves all of the events described in the book of Revelation (such as various judgments being poured out on the earth, cosmic signs, the wrath of God, Armageddon, and so on), but it also involves the blessings associated with the establishment if the Kingdom of God on this earth (meaning the healing of the nations of the world after the Second Coming of Christ). So, the Day of the Lord involves both a period of wrath and a period of blessing.

For more on this study read the following scriptures and read them in context: Is. 2:10-21; Is. 13; Jer. 46:10; Ez. 30:3-4; Joel 1:15 – 2:17; Joel 3:9-16; Amos 5:16-27; Oba. 1:15-16; Zech. 14; 1 Thes. 5:1-10; 2 Pet. 3:10-14; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Rev. 6:16; Rev. 14:10

The Shaking of the Heavens – Is. 13:13; Is. 2:19-21

The Blessing – Is. 4:2-6; Joel 2:18-27; Joel 3:18-21; Zech. 14:8-11; Hos. 2:16-23; Amos 9:11-15; Ez. 34:23-31; Ez. 37:24-28

This article will be continued tomorrow with Part II. Have fun studying!

Pleading the Blood of Jesus

Article written by Dr. Christi Butler on September 19, 2015

Recently, I was praying with some friends, and a good friend of mine who was listening to my prayers asked this question,” “What does it mean to plead the Blood of Jesus?”

It is unfortunate that so few people in the modern church understand the idea of pleading the blood of Jesus in prayer. There is great power in the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is a strategic weapon of spiritual warfare against the kingdoms of darkness, but if no one in the body of Christ is ever taught about the power of the blood or how to apply it in times of prayer, the church will remain like a warrior, stripped naked by ignorance, and left ill prepared and disarmed in the face of the battle. In the book of Revelation the Apostle John writes:

     “And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Rev. 12:11 NKJV

If we want to overcome the devil by the blood of the lamb, we need to know what the blood of Jesus means to us and how to apply the power of the blood in prayer. There is not time to do a complete teaching on the power of the blood in this brief blog post. I could easily teach an entire bible college class just on this one subject, but I highly recommend purchasing and reading many of the excellent books that exist explaining the significance of the blood covenant and what that means for us as New Testament Christians. Just this week I will be proof reading a book that a friend of mine has written on the blood covenant. I cannot wait. This is such a wonderful and amazing subject to meditate on.

At any rate, let me respond to the question at hand, “What does it mean to plead the blood?”

In the 12th chapter of the book of Exodus, the Bible records the story of how the children of Israel were commanded by God to kill a lamb and apply the blood of the lamb to the doorposts of their homes. In our modern era, the idea of taking blood and smearing it all over the top of the front door sounds repulsive, but God had a very good reason for asking the Israelites to do this.

In fact, there were at least three reasons why God commanded the Hebrew descendants of Abraham to do this. First, the blood was meant to be a symbol of the covenant relationship that already existed between God and the descendants of Abraham. The blood on the door spoke to God and the people about the Abrahamic covenant that had been established some 400 years previously (see Gen.12, 15, 17). In that covenant God promised to bless the descendants of Abraham and bring them into a great inheritance.

Secondly, the blood of the lamb was meant to paint a prophetic picture of what the Messiah (Jesus) would do when He came into the world to save and deliver the human race from slavery to sin. Jesus Christ became the “Lamb of God” that was slain for the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Finally, God used the blood as a sign for the death angel. The death angel knew that any house that was anointed with blood was under the direct protection of God. God was defending and protecting His people because of His covenant relationship with Abraham and his descendants.

In much the same way, anyone in the modern era who enters into a blood covenant relationship with God the Father, by believing on the shed blood of Jesus Christ, will be considered to be under the protection of God. The blood of Jesus is a sign in the realm of the spirit that what is “under the blood” is going to be protected and defended by God Himself.

Therefore, the New Testament Christian can speak out in prayer to spiritually apply the blood of Jesus to their lives, their homes, their families, their relationships, their finances, their property, their health and so on, and when they do this, they are invoking the power of the blood covenant that was made between Jesus and the heavenly Father when Jesus shed his blood on the cross of Calvary.

In prayer, a believing Christian can say, “I apply the blood,” or “I plead the blood,” or “I claim the power and protection of the blood.” The terminology is not what is important, the key lies in understanding and believing in what the blood of Jesus has done and what the blood of Jesus makes available to the Christian who has faith. No one can have faith in the covenant if they do not know what covenant is or what the covenant promises of God are. The power in the blood comes from understanding and believing in the power of covenant and the power of what was accomplished on the cross.

Just like the Old Covenant made with Abraham and his descendants, the New Covenant is a legal arrangement between God and Jesus Christ, and between God and humankind. (Read the following scriptures: Jer. 31; Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; Lev. 17:11; Heb. 8:7-12; Heb. 9:14-15).

Therefore, when we talk about the idea of “pleading the blood of Jesus,” we are talking about communicating with God in prayer on the basis of His law and His legal Covenant.

Some people have come up with the theology that Pleading the blood is not scriptural. They say, “Pleading is begging and we do not need to beg God for anything the blood has already purchased for us.” This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the scriptural concept of “pleading.” What is more, this is a divisive and tedious argument over the semantics of a word. Pleading the blood is a short and concise way of claiming what has been purchased for us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The believer could just as well say, “I come to you Father to make a legal case in heaven according to what has been purchased and paid for by the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. According to the new Covenant that has been ratified and sealed with the blood of Jesus, I ask for provision, protection, healing, deliverance, etc., and I command the enemy to take his hands off what belongs to me by faith in the power of the blood.” The Christian could say all of that, but it is a lot easier and less time consuming to say, “I plead the blood.”

The meaning of the word “plead” from Webster’s Dictionary is as follows: (1) To present a case in a court of law. (2) To argue a case. (3) To make an earnest appeal or entreaty (4) The pleading of evidence, contractual, or civil rights (5) To declare oneself guilty or not guilty in answer to a charge. (6) To offer an excuse or defense.

     Therefore, Pleading the blood is legal terminology to be used in the Heavenly court of appeals.

I think there is a problem that has developed in the body of Christ where people have learned to religiously say the phrase, “I plead the blood of Jesus,” without having any idea what they are saying or what this phrase means. Whenever something is done in church as a matter of religious repetition, it will lack power and authority. Power and authority comes when people know what they mean and can exercise faith for results.

“Pleading the blood” is simply about using legal terminology in prayer like a lawyer would use in a court of law. We have a legal covenant with God sealed and ratified in the blood of Jesus. Like a lawyer, the believer is to go before God the Father, in the Name of Jesus Christ, through the power of blood. The blood of Jesus is the ultimate reason why God should hear and answer our prayers; it is the blood of Jesus that gives all believers access into the Holy of Holies to make their appeals in the first place.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is our High Priest, our Advocate, our Intercessor, and our Heavenly Mediator. Jesus is our ‘go between.’ He goes between us and the Father. He speaks on our behalf. In a sense, He is our heavenly defense attorney (1 Jn. 2:1; Heb. 7:25; 1 Tim. 2:5).

We are to appeal to God based on our legal covenant in the Word of God. The Word of God is the law book we refer to. It is a written account of the New Covenant we have with God through the blood of Jesus.

So, to sum up what I am saying — when we “plead the blood,” we are claiming the right to come before God legally and make a case in the Heavenly court of law; we are explaining to God why we have access to Him and to everything He has promised.

When we plead the blood, we are arguing according to scripture; we are making an earnest appeal or entreaty based on the finished work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. When we plead the blood, we are presenting our evidence. The blood of Jesus is our evidence that we have contractual and civil rights to claim the blessings of the covenant. And furthermore, if we were being tried as criminals, if we plead the blood we are explaining the evidence for why we should be acquitted and forgiven of all our sins.

The blood of Jesus is the answer to give when we are confronted by the “Accuser of the Brethren.” The believers entire case before God hinges on the blood. The blood is the reason why God the Father should hear and answer our prayers. We are to come to God through the blood, for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins (Heb. 9:22). The blood is the only thing that provides for us to have access to stand in the heavenly courtroom in the presence of Almighty God.

There were times in the bible where people living under the Old Covenant would go to God as though He would be their defense attorney. For example, in Psalm 119:154, the Psalmist writes, “Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.”

This was the Psalmists way of asking God to move on his behalf and to defend and protect him against his enemies. This type of prayer was asking God to be the advocate or defense attorney. There are several other scriptures like this. I will not take time to go through them all, but what I want readers to realize is that there is a very legal and binding relationship between God the Father and Jesus, and when the believer, “pleads the blood,” by faith, he or she is able to lay claim to everything that was purchased on Calvary through the blood.

This word plead, in the Hebrew is reev, and it means to strive or contend, to conduct a legal case in a court of law. – The Psalmist was crying out to God to legally defend and protect him based on the Abrahamic Covenant. If New Testament Christians have a “better Covenant based on better promises,” how much more should we be able to cry out to God in prayer and expect the Lord to protect and defend us from the works of the enemy.

In Isaiah 43:25-26, God says through the prophet, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted.”

The word translated in this scripture as ‘contend’ can also be translated as ‘plead.’ This is the Hebrew word shawfat and it means to plead as in a controversy; to seriously and passionately assert. God tells us to come before him and plead our case. As I said before, our whole case before God can be summed up in three words, “I plead the blood.” The blood of Jesus has given me access to the Father and access to the answers.

Finally, the last point I need to make about pleading the blood, is that the blood itself speaks on our behalf to defend us before the Father.

     Hebrews 12:24 says, “To Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling thatspeaks better things than that of Abel.”

       If you remember the story from the book of Genesis, Cain murdered his brother Abel, and the Bible said that Abel’s blood was crying out from the ground. The blood of Abel ways crying out for vengeance and justice, but the blood of Jesus speaks before the throne of God day and night crying out for mercyfor all those who place their faith in Jesus. Jesus’ blood speaks.

When I plead the blood, I bring God in remembrance of the argument that the blood is making before Him day and night. I’m in Christ Jesus, He is in me, and He already paid the penalty for my sins. Therefore, I deserve mercy not judgment. I plead the blood and obtain mercy in a time of need because the blood is my legal argument. Hallelujah!

There is a perpetual and eternal work of mediation occurring before the throne of God day and night as the blood of Jesus speaks and cries out for mercy on our behalf.

H. A. Maxwell in a book entitled, The Power of the Blood, said, “When we plead the blood of Jesus, it immediately pleads for us, because it is speaking blood” (p.32).

When we plead the blood we are bringing God in remembrance of the argument that the blood is making day and night for Mercy.

For more on this subject, I recommend reading “The Blood and the Glory,” by Billye Brim – There is an excellent chapter in that book on pleading the blood.

Blessings to you in the Name of Jesus!

Tending the Flame Part II: Sacrificial Offerings

Written by Dr. Christi Butler   July 2015

In yesterday’s blog post I began to teach about the need to tend the fire of God in our hearts. If you did not read the post entitled, “Tending the Flame Part I,” you may wish to read that now because it is the first half of this lesson.

In that previous post I discussed Leviticus 6:12-13 which says, And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. 13 A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”

Under the Old Covenant the priests were given a command to tend to the fire of God and to see to it that the fire never went out. In the New Testament, the believer is the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19), and the fire of the Spirit of God is to burn eternally on the altar of the human heart. Under the Old Covenant, the priests had to care for the fire that God had provided by grace. In much the same way, in the New Covenant, we (believers) are called to watch over, care for, and guard the fire of God that came into our hearts by grace through faith when we invited Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior.

With this in mind, I was considering the various offerings that were made by the priests, because in many ways the offerings were used to fuel the fire. They were used to keep the fire perpetually burning on the altar. Therefore, I wanted to see if there was something I could learn about fueling the fire of God in my life by looking at the various types of offerings that were ordained by God under the Old Covenant. This is what I found —

There are many types of offerings listed in the law. In Lev. 1, and also in chapter 6:8-13, the Burnt Offering is described. The burnt offering was of a male lamb, a male goat, a male dove, or a young pigeon depending on what the person who was giving the offering could afford. This offering was to be a voluntary offering given freely from the heart as a “propitiation” or payment for the sin of the person making the offering. The individual making the offering would lay his or her hand on the head of the animal that was to be sacrificed, thereby symbolically transferring their sin to the animal. The animal would then completely consumed by fire on the altar.

As New Testament Christians, this should remind us that all of our sins were completely transferred to Christ when we entered into a faith relationship with Him. He became for us the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). He also became our “propitiation,” or ransom payment for sin (1 John 2:2). Just as the burnt offering was completely consumed by fire on the altar, so to our sins were completely consumed by God Himself when Jesus died on the cross. Hallelujah!

So, what does this have to do with us maintaining the fire of God in our lives? I think the Lord placed all of these instructions about sacrifices in the Bible so we could consciously look at the Word and remember what Christ has done for us. God wants us to come before Him in prayer “voluntarily,” (just like the Old Testament saints did when the Burnt Offering was made), and He wants us to lay our hand on Jesus; He wants us to hand Him all of our sin and receive back the grace of forgiveness that is available to us because He has become our propitiation.

God wants us to remember that our sins were consumed by the death of Christ on the cross, and then He wants the reality of that truth to ignite thanksgiving and praise. God wants the revelation of Christ as our burnt offering to fuel a flame of passionate love for Christ that can never be extinguished.

The next type of offering that was burned on the altar was the Grain Offering or Cereal Offering (see Lev. 2, and 6:14-23). This was an offering of flour, bread, or grain made with olive oil and salt, and was also accompanied by the burning of incense. This was a voluntary first fruits offering. In other words, the worshipper gave the first portion of his or her grain harvest to the Lord as a freewill act of thankfulness for God’s provision in their life. The offering was made with incense to symbolize worship ascending to heaven as a sweet-smelling and pleasing offering to God.

This offering should remind the New Testament Christian about the reality of God as our provider. Just as God provided the grain for the harvest under the Old Covenant, Christ now provides for us both spiritually and physically under the New Covenant. He is the ultimate source for all spiritual and physical sustenance. Jesus is “the bread of life” (John 6:35), and He has become the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:20-23) of those who will be raised from the dead. He is the first of the harvest of redeemed human beings from the earth.

Therefore, as Christians, we are to look at this type of grain offering under the Old Covenant and we are to remember with great praise and thanksgiving how Jesus is the first fruits of the harvest. He has gone before us into the grave and been raised up to the right hand of the Father. Therefore, we can know with certainty that because we believe, we will also be raised from the dead and given eternal life in the presence of God. Meditating on this truth should kindle fresh fire in our hearts to continually praise the Lord and give Him the first fruits of all of our increase. Furthermore, our prayers of praise and thanksgiving should ascend to God as a sweet-smelling aroma like the incense that was burned on the altar.

Next, Leviticus described the Fellowship Offering or Peace Offering (Lev. 3, and 7:11-36; 22:17-30; 27). This was also a voluntary offering of any animal “without blemish” (and in some cases this could be a grain offering). This offering was given to God as an act of thankfulness for God’s many blessings. Secondarily, this offering was made when a person wished to make a vow or special commitment to the Lord (see Gen. 31:43). As the name, “Fellowship or Peace Offering” implies, this offering was about being in covenant communion with God. Peace was made between God and man through the shedding of blood, and it is through the shedding of blood that a person can enter into covenant with God. For without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin (Heb. 9:22).

As New Testament Christians, we should look at this offering and remember that Christ has made peace with God for us by dying on the cross for our sins (see Eph. 2:15). Jesus was the lamb that was offered “without blemish” so we could be brought into covenant relationship and fellowship with the Father. And now because He has made “peace,” we should give God our vow that we will serve Him in thankfulness all the days of our life. God has reconciled us to Himself through the death of Christ on the cross (Rom. 5:10). Let this truth fan into flame the fire of God in your heart.

The last couple of offerings that are mentioned in Leviticus are the Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering(Lev. 4:1-5; 6:24-30; 12:6-8; 13; and Lev. 5:14-6:7;7:1-6;14:12-18). The Sin Offering could be a bull, a male goat for the king, a male or female lamb or goat without blemish for the common person, a dove or pigeon for the poor, or a tenth of an ephah of flour for the very poor. The Guilt Offering was a lamb without blemish. Both of these offerings were mandatory and were for the purpose of cleansing a person from various sins.

The importance for the New Testament Christian is this: Jesus Christ has become our sacrificial lamb. He has become the mandatory offering to pay the penalty for sin on our behalf. Jesus Christ has paid for our intentional sins and our unintentional sins once and for all. As we meditate on this we should fully receive forgiveness for sin and lay hold of the tremendous power of grace in our lives. These truths should kindle the fire of God within us and keep it perpetually burning on the altar of our hearts. Praise God, Hallelujah, and Amen!

Tending the Flame Part I

Article written by Dr. Christi Butler  July 2015

For quite some time now, the Lord has been impressing on my spirit the urgency of the hour we are living in. Jesus Christ is coming, and He is coming soon! With that being said, I believe it is more important than ever to exhort the Body of Christ to be fully awake, alert, and ignited in the realm of the spirit. Believers cannot afford to be living in a spiritual stupor. We must “arise and shine,” for it is time for our light to shine and for the nations to come to the brightness of our rising (Is. 60:1-3). We must stir up the gifts of God within us and fan into flame the fire of God in our hearts (2 Tim. 1:6).

In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus begins to tell his disciples a parable about 10 virgins who were waiting for the appearing of “the” bridegroom. The bridegroom in this parable is a pictorial type of Jesus Christ who will come again for His church (the bride). As the virgins wait, five are described as foolish and five as wise. The foolish virgins did not look after and care for their lamps properly. Therefore, they ran out of oil. The wise virgins, on the other hand, were diligent to care for the condition of their lamps. Therefore, they were ready and prepared to meet the bridegroom when He arrived.

The lamps in this parable are mentioned to illustrate to believers the importance of looking after and caring for the condition of the human heart. Christians must “keep their hearts with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23), because it is from the heart that the issues of life flow. The oil that was used to fuel the flame within the lamp is meant to speak to the reader about the necessity of abiding in Christ (who is the Anointed One and His Anointing), as well as being filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of Christ). Oil is frequently spoken of in scripture as a symbol for the presence of the Spirit of God.

This means that Jesus’ illustration is meant to teach that believers must look after and care for the condition of their hearts. They must see to it that their faith in Christ remains alive, active, and effective. And finally, they must pursue and maintaining a deep communion with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit who is with them and in them. Believers who do these things will be “wise” and they will be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom when He returns for His bride.

Along these same lines, I was reminded of a scripture from the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus chapter 6, verse 12 and 13, Moses writes some instructions for the Levitical priests that are very applicable for believers today. Moses says, “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. 13 A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”

In the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple, the fire that was used to burn the sacrifices on the altar was a holy fire. It was a fire that originally came from God Himself (Lev. 9:24). The fire was initiated and ignited by God. It came from heaven by grace and it was to be kept perpetually burning on the altar in the temple. There was never to be a man-made fire or a fire that was created by human effort. Instead, the fire that burned in the Temple was to be the fire that came down by grace and it was to be kept perpetually burning by the priests who tended to what grace had provided.

In much the same way, the Apostle Paul teaches that in the New Testament, believers are living temples who carry the presence of Christ’s Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). When a person becomes born again and filled with the Spirit of God, by grace through faith, the fire of Holy Spirit descends and ignites the flame of eternal life within the heart of the believer. A fire is kindled on the altar of the human heart, and from this alter, one’s life is to be presented up to God as a “living sacrifice” which is a holy, acceptable, and pleasing act or worship (Rom. 12:1-2).

Furthermore, just as the Old Testament priests were told to keep the fire burning, so to believers are exhorted throughout scripture to maintain a burning fire in their heart for Jesus Christ. Romans 12:11, in the Amplified Bible reads, Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, in the Message Bible, Paul writes, “Do not suppress the Spirit,” and in 2 Timothy 1:6, in the New International Version, Paul says, For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

The witness of scripture is clear. The human heart is a holy altar ignited by the living presence of the Savior, and as believers, we must care for the fire on the altar and see to it that the flames of our love for Jesus never go out. Be blessed as you go and fan into flame the fire of God that is in you.

Look for Part 2 of this message to be coming soon.

A Transformed Heart (4)

Article written by Dr. Christi Butler / Nov. 2015

This post today is part four in the series I have been writing about how to live before God with a transformed heart. If you have not had a chance to read the previous messages, I recommend going back and looking them over because today’s lesson is a continuation of what was previously taught.

Sometimes before change or transformation can occur in a person’s life, the person has to be able to see the need for change. Furthermore, when someone who is ill goes to the doctor, the first thing the doctor does is try to diagnose the problem so that the illness can be treated correctly. In much the same way, for spiritual change to occur, believers must first become aware of the areas in their lives that need to be changed. Transformation cannot occur if believers do not see the need for change and ask God for help. Therefore, in an effort to help people see the conditions of the heart that may need to be transformed, I would like to make an analogy between the condition of the physical heart and the condition of the spiritual heart.

In the natural physical body, the heart is an organ that is absolutely essential to life. If the heart is not beating correctly, if the blood is not flowing through it properly, if there is severe pain, or if the heart is misfiring in some way, the entire body will be affected. A person whose heart is malfunctioning will not be able to engage in the same active lifestyle as a healthy person. If the heart is sick, it will effect a persons ability to exercise, work, raise children, and so much more.

What believers must understand is that what is true in the natural is also true in the spirit. A spiritual heart that is “ill” in some way can impair one’s ability to live out the abundant Christian life that Jesus Christ died to make available to all who believe. In order to live the Christian life to the full, the believer must learn how to “keep their heart with all diligence” (see Prov. 4:23).

What does it mean to “keep” the heart? It means to tend to it, care for it, and watch over it. The believer is to watch over the state of their heart exactly like Adam was called to watch over and care for the state of the Garden of Eden. Believers must learn how to “keep” their hearts because Satan roams the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8), but if people in the church become skilled at keeping their hearts, Satan will not have a door of access to bring defeat into their lives.

In an effort to explain in more detail how to “keep” the heart, allow me to continue making the analogy I began with. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Natural heart disease is a killer, but so is spiritual heart disease. Many people are dying from heart disease in their physical bodies, but unfortunately, it seems that even more might be dying of spiritual heart disease.

In the natural, there are four stages of heart disease. The first stage has to do with having a simple genetic predisposition for heart disease based on one’s family of origin. In much the same way, all human beings on earth are born with a spiritual predisposition towards sin because of the Adamic nature. Thankfully, the Lord has prepared a way for people to overcome this tendency towards sin. God has made it possible to become “born again” through faith in Jesus Christ. When a person is “born again,” regeneration occurs and a new spiritual nature is received (2 Cor. 5:17; Heb. 10:16). Praise God.

However, even though the believer receives a new spiritual nature, he or she still has to contend with life in a physical body that continues to have certain desires that war against the new nature of the spiritual man. Secondly, even though a person becomes a “new creation” at the time of salvation, there will continue to be areas within the mind and soul that must be renewed to the knowledge of God’s Word. Therefore, even though the new birth creates a new heart within the believer, the believer must diligently work, on a daily basis, in cooperation with the Spirit of the Lord to “keep their heart” pure and undefiled before God.

This ongoing participation in daily crucifying the flesh, taking thoughts captive, repenting of sin, guarding the heart, and working out the sanctification process must become part of the Christians way of life. As Christians choose to live this way before the Lord, they will experience continuous growth and transformation.

In the second stage of physical heart disease, small structural changes begin to occur in the organ of the heart. The heart is not quite healthy, some plaque may exist in the arteries and the heart will not be getting the full abundance of the oxygen it needs. This stress on the heart will lead to problems like fatigue.

In the same way, I have noticed that when people are not being fed spiritually or when they are to busy and distracted by the cares of life, the Christian can become spiritually fatigued. In my own life I have been spiritually fatigued when I was trying to do to many things the Lord never called me to do in the first place. I have also met many Christians who have backslidden from the faith and they have told me that their trouble began by being overwhelmed and exhausted by all the demands of living in the modern world.

Beloved, we must all become consciously aware of the fact that we are in a spiritual war and one of the most effective strategies the enemy uses is the strategy of wearing out or exhausting the saints. This is even mentioned in the scriptures. Daniel 7:25 in the English Standard Version reads, He [talking about the anti-Christ] shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High.” With this in mind, Christians must become all the more diligent to study the word, pray, read their bible, worship, and participate in activities that will strengthen and encourage their spiritual heart.

Moving on, the third stage of physical heart disease begins to be evident when there is clear structural abnormalities and damage to the heart resulting in a marked limitation of all physical activities. At this stage, there will be some hardening of the arteries and a true lack of oxygen flowing through the veins.

Spiritually speaking, this stage of heart disease occurs when a person has a restricted relationship with the person of the Holy Spirit. For example, when a person resists God in some way, when they refuse to repent of known sin, when they are believing wrong doctrines that limit the way God can work in their life, etc.

In the scriptures, Jesus provides a perfect example of third stage spiritual heart disease. In Matt. 13:15 and in Acts 28:27 Jesus warns people about having hearts that become “dull.” Their hearts are not totally hardened. These people are not spiritually dead, but they do have a serious spiritual deficiency forming in their lives. Matthew 13:15 reads, For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’”

In this context, Jesus is talking about the Jewish people who were listening to him preach. These people should have been able to recognize the time of their visitation. They should have been able to discern that Jesus was  their Messiah because of the scriptures. They should have been able to recognize the anointing operating in Jesus’ life. These people should have known God was in the flesh and speaking to them through Jesus.

Instead, the people could not see and could not hear spiritually. Their spiritual senses where defective. Oxygen (or the Spirit of God) was not connecting with their hearts. This same thing can happen to believers today. This happens when Christians go to church religiously and just go through the motions, but have no true heart connection with Christ. This happens when God is trying to move in a church, but no one is able to discern it and follow His lead. This happens when God shows up to heal, save, and deliver, but no one is connected enough with God to realize it. Finally, this happens when people quench the Spirit on purpose because the Holy Spirit is interfering with their man made plans for how a church service ought to flow.

I pray the church would realize that Jesus Christ is still supposed to be the head of the church, and when believers will not allow Him to operate in and through the church, something is seriously wrong. Repentance and heart transformation is the required remedy. (If you are interested in reading a couple more stories that illustrate third stage heart disease, read Luke 5:17-25 and Mark 3:1-6).

Finally I have come to the end, the forth and final state of heart disease. In the natural this results in severe pain, restricted oxygen flow, heart attacks, and ultimately, death. Spiritually speaking this kind of heart condition occurs when a person willfully resists all of God’s attempts to bring conviction and to call a person to repentance. For example, the Bible talks about Pharaoh and how his heart was hardened because in spite of all the signs and wonders God did in Egypt, Pharaoh still would not believe in the Lord and let the Israelites go.

Actually, the Bible says God himself hardened Pharaoh’s heart. I believe this is because Pharaoh had so mistreated God’s people that judgment was determined against Him. Therefore, God allowed His heart to be hardened to fulfill His purpose of Judgment. There are stages of rebellion believers can go through and God will deal with them over and over again trying to bring them to repentance. However, if someone continues to resist God, fight against His purposes, and grieve the Holy Spirit without repentance, hardening of the spiritual heart can occur.

This truth is also illustrated in the New Testament in the book of Revelation. In that book, the Apostle John described the spiritual condition of many of the people who take the mark of the beast and serve the anti-Christ. John says that no matter how bad the circumstances get they will not repent. Instead, these people hate God so much they come to battle against Him literally and physically in the battle of Armageddon (see Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9, 11).

Forth stage spiritual heart disease occurs when a person is totally given over by God to a debased or reprobate mind. The person with this type of thinking will be absolutely convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right. This is why Jesus said that during the tribulation people will kill believers and think they are doing God a service. They will be totally convinced that persecuting and murdering the innocent servants of God is the right thing to do. This is spiritual depravity taken to the extreme and it leads to spiritual death.

I hope this Bible study has been helpful and thought provoking. Blessings, Christi Butler

The Alarm is Sounding Part II: Joel 2:1

The Alarm is Sounding Part II: Joel 2:1

Written by Dr. Christi Butler / Oct. 2015

Earlier I began to teach on Joel 2:1. If you did not read the first post (Oct. 13, 2015), I recommend starting with that message because it is the introduction for what I am continuing to speak on in this post.

The main idea from the earlier message is this: there is an alarm sounding in the realm of the spirit. God is urgently calling His people to repentance and prayer for America and for the world.

I do not know if anyone has been paying attention to the news lately, but there are amazing events unfolding in the Middle East every day. These events should be viewed as neon signposts that are loudly and dramatically declaring to the world that, “The Day of the Lord is at hand.” Jesus Christ is coming and He is coming soon.

We are closer to the return of Christ than we have ever been and God is calling Christians in the earth to be like the sons of Issachar. The sons of Issachar are described in scripture as being men who understood the times they were living in. Furthermore, they had wisdom in those times to know what to do (see 1 Chron. 12:32).

In much the same way, Christians today must understand the times they are living in. They must be skilled at taping into the wisdom of God so they will know how to respond to the times effectively. The foundation for receiving the wisdom of God in any time has to do with knowing the truth of God’s Word. The Bible teaches that in this earth, there are presently two kingdom systems at work and these two kingdom systems are diametrically opposed to one another.

The two kingdoms are referred to in scripture as the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of Light. Satan is the ruler over the Kingdom of Darkness and God (or Jesus) is the ruler over the Kingdom of Light. Furthermore, there are two groups of people who have citizenship in these two kingdoms. Anyone outside of fellowship with Christ has his/her citizenship in the Kingdom of Darkness (this is because of sin and the consequences of the Fall). However, anyone who is found to be “in Christ,” through faith, has his/her citizenship in God’s Kingdom or the Kingdom of Light (see Col. 1:13; Eph. 5:8).

These two kingdoms, composed of two groups of people, each have a plan and a vision for the earth. Light (Jesus) has a plan. He has a plan to restore all of humanity back into a right relationship with God. He has a plan to completely destroy the works of the devil and to bring the world back to the purpose that God had intended for the earth, and for humanity, before the fall.

Darkness (Satan), has a plan to keep the world lost in darkness and deception. The devil desires to have the whole world under his own evil dominion. Satan was never able to obtain the throne of God in heaven. Therefore, he wants the throne of God on this earth. Satan has every intention of leading the people on this earth to worship him as the only true god. Notice the following scriptures:

The book of Daniel 11:36 says, “Then the king [talking about the anti-Christ], shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.”

In 2 Thes. 2:3-4, Paul writes,Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[a] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[b] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

In Revelation 13:5-8 the Apostle John describes the Beast (who is the anti-Christ) saying, “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue[a] for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe,[b] tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

 The conclusion is obvious, Satan has a vision and a goal of establishing a world system that will ultimately lead the world to worship him as god. The devil is doing this in phases so that hopefully the people of the world will be like frogs in a pot who do not realize they are being boiled in deception until it is to late, but God’s exhortation to believers is as follows: You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober (1 Thes. 5:5-6).”

 In conclusion, be like the sons of Issachar, discern the times, discern the kingdoms, operate according to the wisdom of God, and display the light of Jesus. Endure, persevere, and have a mind-set to overcome.

Note to reader: There was much more said in the audio version of this sermon. If you would like to listen to it, visit youtube and look up “The Day of the Lord Joel 2:1” and look for the “Living Flame” title page.

God Bless you.