How Do You Fight Against the Unseen World?

Today, we are blessed to share with you a message from guest Voices Against the Grain devotional writer, Minister Bryan Williams of Charlotte, N.C. Thank you Minister Williams for presenting a word to embolden us in our faith walk. -Nicole

 

Min. Bryan Williams

Minister Bryan Williams, Voices Against the Grain Guest Devotional Writer

How do you fight against the unseen world?

I just finished up a series where I was teaching teens on “The Benefits of Having a Godly Man in the Home” and “The Side Effects of Not Having One” and I must say that this study took on a life of its own. From that, the Lord impressed upon my heart to transition from that topic to talking about ‘Demons and the Unseen World’ and I felt led to share this word with you.

So how do we fight against demons and the unseen world:

 

 

1)      “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10)

If we’re going to fight against the demonic spirits in this world, then the first thing that I encourage you to be is STRONG IN THE LORD! I mean:

  1. a) Strong mentally
  2. b) Strong physically (with keeping your body healthy and in shape)
  3. c) Strong in your word, knowing and proclaiming it
  4. d) Strong in your faith
  5. e) Strong with filling up in the Holy Spirit

With all that is happening all over the world, Orlando, ISIS, planes being shot down, who our next president will be, gun control and the demonic spirit that is homosexuality, it is a must that we are and remain strong in the Lord.

2)      “We have to put on the WHOLE  armor” (Ephesians 6:11)

The Word teaches us that we need the WHOLE armor (and not some or one) but the WHOLE ARMOR to fight against what is constantly before us. One of the main weapons that we need to make sure is sharp is ‘the sword of the spirit,’ which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Now what I’m about to mention is not one of the weapons but I believe it flows along with having the armor on. Verse 18 in Ephesians 6 talks about ‘praying in the Spirit’ and in order to fight against spiritual wickedness, we must be praying IN THE SPIRIT, BY THE SPIRIT, THROUGH THE SPIRIT AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD. Not only that, verse 19 of Ephesians 6 talks about speaking boldly. My brothers and my sisters, stand boldly on the Word of God and tell those who are lost about His love, His forgiveness, His grace and mercy and never leave out that He’s coming back (Matthew 24:36).

 

Armor of God

3)      “Recognize that our fight is NOT with flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12)

During this fast, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that our battle is NOT with people (or flesh) but our battle is against unseen spiritual wickedness that is all around us. It’s not the people but what it’s trying to possess, control and persuade people to do the very opposite of what Christ has instructed us. Don’t engage in arguments with non believers and the rebellious. Stand firm on the Word and do what #4 below says in calling out the spirits.

4)      “We must call out those spirits” (Mark 9:25)

Instead of engaging in meaningless arguments (about the truth) with people who are being rebellious, while giving them “a soft answer that turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1), speak to the spirit within them and call them out. You who carry the cross, you who carry the name Jesus in your spirit and in your heart, you who display the image of God, with the power of His might, call the evil spirits out.

5)      “Understand that only some things comes through FASTING & PRAYING” (Mark 9:29)

I encourage the Body of Christ that not only do we need more praying in the spirit but I encourage you to proclaim a fast for you, your household and your church. I so appreciate those who are on their knees and face but I encourage those (under the sound of my text voice) to fast and pray in the spirit. I hear in the spirit that some walls need to come down, some doors need to be opened, some family members need to be healed, set free and delivered. I believe that God’s order, plan and commands need to be re-established, that the Men of God need to reclaim our Dominion and that fasting and praying is needed and so necessary for a time such as this.

6)      “We must display God’s love through the image of God through us” (Acts 4:13)

Food for thought: If I were to see you Monday through Saturday night and if I never spoke to you, could I tell you were a Christian? Would I want to know God based off your actions? Would I be able to see Christ through you (outside of church)? I lift this up because, now more than ever, lost people don’t just need to hear a sermon but they need to see one as well. How else are the lost going to turn toward Christ unless they see God’s love and compassion displayed through us? Christ is calling us (the children of light) into dark places so that His light can shine and expose what’s been hidden in the dark but trying to overpower the light.

 

Minister Bryan Williams, who says “I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody about somebody, who can save anybody,” recognized his gift to encourage at a young age. As he grew up in church and started hearing from the Lord (in a today generation voice), he recognized that he was set apart and in 2007, he accepted his call to the ministry. Not only did he recognize his call but he learned early that his passion was for the youth. Min. Williams volunteers in the community, is part of various teen girls’ organizations and mentors teen boys in the process. Min. Williams resides in Charlotte, N.C., and is the son of Walter and Helen Williams and has one brother, Walter Williams.

 

 

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We’re OUTRAGED. Now What?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Anger. Despair. Disgust. Egregious. Heartbroken. Horrific. Incomprehensible. These words describe some of the feelings and thoughts that have charged many of our written and verbal communications over this past week’s unjust sentencing decision rendered by  Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky: a six-month sentence to county jail and probation for 20-year-old Brock Allen Turner, a former Stanford swimmer who while drunk, raped an unconscious 23-year-old woman behind a dumpster last January. Two Swedish men bicycling near the scene (heroes) saw what was happening and pursued Turner, getting him off of her. For this egregious act, prosecutors pushed for a six-year sentence for Turner but Judge Persky reduced his sentence to six months given that he had no previous criminal history and that “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” according to Persky. What???

According to The Guardian and other news sources, the woman who during the sexual assault was unconscious from a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the rape and who had no memory of the attack, said at the trial:

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she said, reportedly directly to Turner. “I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt.” 

The woman also read aloud in the courtroom her 12-page authentically powerful, raw letter (her letter has been published with several media sites though we’ve chosen not to link to it as it may reopen wounds for others).

Mercury News

Former Stanford student-athlete Brock Turner plead not guilty Monday morning Feb. 2, 2015, in a Palo Alto, Calif., courtroom to charges related to an alleged rape on campus. Turner was represented by attorney Mike Armstrong. (Karl Mondon/Mercury News Staff)

Judge Aaron Persky

Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky has come under fire for his six-month lenient sentencing (instead of the prosecutor recommended six years) rendered against Brock Allen Turner, stating that “A prison sentence would leave a severe impact on him.” Photo courtesy NY Daily News.

In learning more about this case, you, me and the wider public have been outraged all week. In our anger and frustration about the violent act further impacted by a miscarriage of justice, we’ve expressed choice words about this situation. Even as a Christian whose mind has been renewed, unladylike words and thoughts entered my mind and were stopped short of leaving my lips by the Holy Spirit. I was outraged and I saw your messages of outrage and disbelief too.

What outrages us? 

We’re outraged by Turner’s choices and actions that inflicted unthinkable violence upon this woman. We’re outraged that the woman was asked all kind of irrelevant questions by Turner’s lawyer such as, “Are you serious with your boyfriend? Do you have a history of cheating? What were you wearing?” We’re outraged by Judge Persky’s unjust and too lenient sentencing because  a longer prison sentence would devastate Turner and his future. We’re outraged at Turner’s father writing a letter, concerned that his son was unable to eat his favorite meals because he’s so upset. What???

1 in 4. Statistics suggest that 1 in 4 college women will be raped, sexually assaulted or a victim of attempted rape in her lifetime (although we believe the numbers are higher). Forty-four percent of victims are under age 18. Eighty percent are under age 30. Every 107 seconds.

We’re outraged that in 2016, after all of the “Take Back the Night” and similar campaigns have been conducted, articles published, panel discussions held, myriad conversations, initiatives, events to educate and prevent, we’re STILL talking about sexual assault. This outrages us. We’re outraged, frustrated and heartbroken that in reading this, we know the devastation of such violence whether we’ve experienced it first hand or have comforted, listened to, cried with, ministered to or helped loved ones, friends, family members and others, in addressing it and healing from the brokenness of it.

We’re outraged. Now what? 

I ask this question as a frustrated human being over the wickedness that lies within mankind’s heart. I ask this question in understanding your anger and frustration too. Yet, the Holy Spirit challenged me to view this very differently and from a spiritual perspective.

In asking “why is this injustice (and frankly all injustices) still happening?,” here’s the rub: Frankly, we’re asking a lot of a world that is riddled with sin. We’re asking a lot of a world that is fallen, whose desires, hearts, thoughts and wills have not sought God. We’re asking a world to “get it together” as they’ve purposely chosen to fulfill carnal appetites and are spiritually bankrupt and spiritually-dispossessed. We’re asking a sinful world to “know better and do better” when they’ve divorced themselves from seeking, knowing and loving God and have no desire to love others, to be transformed in their hearts by Christ.

We’re asking a prideful and arrogant world to invite God/give God full access to all areas of their life so they may walk in His ways. People don’t want to embrace such obedience or “sacrifices” that will have God telling them “no.” And if they do invite God in, He’s only allowed to speak to them during a crisis. Otherwise, God should remain quiet and not interfere with how they desire to speak, behave, think, carry themselves, interact with, etc. (Isaiah 65:2)

While you and I may have surrendered all to Christ Jesus, others haven’t. You and I may be walking in Romans 12:1-2, but others have chosen not to: “Therefore, I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2- Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (New International Version)

God is a Holy God of love, mercy and justice. Because God created us, man and woman, in His image (Genesis 1:26-27), we also long for justice—it’s in our very makeup. Therefore, we become outraged when justice has not occurred. Yet, many want justice without inviting God into their lives. Oh yes—we want God to rectify injustices delivered by other people (sexual assaults, shootings, fraud, etc.), yet we won’t invite Him to work with us on the injustices we inflict upon others through our derogatory speech, ungodly thoughts and actions. We say, “God fix them but leave my stuff alone.” We’ve not surrendered to Romans 12:1-2.

clean heart

No doubt some acts are more egregious, horrific and more devastating than others. But as a Holy God, He views all sin equally. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

All offenses grieve God. Until we surrender unjust actions, thoughts, speech, behavior to Christ Jesus, we’ll continue to experience injustice in this world. Without Christ, we’re left to our own devices and it becomes a slippery slope. Without inviting the Holy Spirit into our hearts, it’s foolish thinking to consider ourselves “good.” As a dear sister in Christ says, “We underestimate our sin. We underestimate who we are.”

I’ve also asked His forgiveness in the unjust thoughts I had toward this incident. Will you give Him full access to transform you into Christ’s likeness, to help stop the further reproduction of more injustice?

Heavenly Father, I know you fully understand our anger, our outrage at the injustices carried out in this egregious situation. As Our Creator, you created us to also pursue justice. Heavenly Father, we pray for Your amazing love to heal the broken places in this young woman’s life and others affected by such actions. We pray that she and others would lay their anger, hurts, pain and shame at the foot of the Cross to receive true healing and freedom through Your Son Jesus Christ. We pray for Your justice to be rendered. We pray healing for victims and perpetrators. Lord, please raise up more principled and wise public servants who will administer true justice and exercise greater care over those they’ve been entrusted to serve.

Heavenly Father, you are a Holy God and view all sin equally. Forgive us for the injustices we’ve inflicted against You and others by our ungodly actions, thoughts and words. Lord, may we have an understanding for how all offenses grieve You.  Lord, may we obediently desire to surrender to you our unjust words, thoughts and actions to stem the further proliferation of injustices in this world.  May those operating in justice, in Light and Love as the Body of Christ continue to do so. Thank you and we love you. 

In Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

 

 

In For the Long Game

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Patience, patience, patience. This past week I experienced a couple situations that tested my patience with others. People running much later than expected for scheduled appointments. Another didn’t have all of their stuff together. Since I asked God’s help two years ago in further developing me in the nine fruits of the Spirit (faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control; found in Galatians 5:22-23), He’s been strengthening my patience with and love toward others more than anything else. Another word the bible uses is “long-suffering” or “forbearance.”

In this development and extending the fruits of the Spirit to those I encounter, I’ve definitely noticed growth. Several things that used to shorten my patience no longer grate me. I experience calm and peace beyond what I thought possible in those situations. Yet, there are events such as those that occurred this past week that stretch me beyond the threshold of patience I’ve been exercising toward others. I mean stretched me to the point of frustration with some of God’s children. Just when I thought this area of my life was settled and accomplished, I realized that I still have more to grow.

This past week’s events on “patience” reminded me of a good word shared by a dear sister in Christ. She said, “God is doing the long game. We’re more focused on the short game because that’s all we can see.”

Whether within me, or you, or those who are seeking Christ Jesus, God is always working.  As creatures of limited scope on this side of heaven, we look for the tangibles. We need to see immediate evidence of things changing, improving, shifting, God’s Hand at work. If we don’t see those immediate changes or if the changes are gradual but not occurring at the speed we desire, we can become frustrated. But trust that God is ALWAYS working, particularly on the eternal piece.

Snail Run Near The Finish Line

As told to us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (NIV).

As we seek God for our continued development and perfecting and as we pray for others, engage with others, plant seeds, minister to, let’s remember that God is in it for the long game. The Lord will perfect that which concerns you (and me) (Psalm 138:8)

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

I’m in for the long game. Will you endure? While you endure, will you do so in Christ’s love and patience? Will you be in for the long game? You may not see everything right now, but trust that the work is being done!

God bless you,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.