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Reader’s Question: Law of Partnership

Just as the law of gravity orders our physical world, spiritual laws govern the spiritual realm. The law of partnership is one of those laws. In my Real Talk interview with Pastor Lily Olgiati I explained that in this law of partnership, God is a gentleman. Meaning that He waits for our engagement with Him, never intruding on space we have not offered. In contrast, the devil is terrifyingly intrusive, taking ground that was never intentionally offered.  Any experience with addiction, anger, or fear quickly verifies this. We may open the door to a temporary experience and find we have fallen down a slippery slope of painful behaviors. 

Throughout the Old Testament, we read statements like this: “If you would only obey Me, then…” (see Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 4,5,6, 1 Samuel 7) Is God on a big power trip about obedience? No, rather I believe He created this law of partnership, that He LONGS to bless us, pour good into our lives, IF we will only PARTNER with Him. God cannot force blessing upon us but eagerly waits for us to open the door to Him.  Similarly, if we partner with the enemy, we have empowered him (the devil and demonic spirits) whose goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. (Jn. 10:10) We see in scripture that when God’s people pray, fast, dedicate themselves, and obey, then peace follows. God delivers them from oppression of every kind and pours out blessing and rest. And when God’s people wander from Him and follow (partner with) other gods, the door to oppression, sickness, and lack opens.

How can we identify partnerships in our life? Think about the last experience you had that felt off, uncomfortable, or confusing. As you reflect, ask yourself- was I holding hands with fear? Anger? Rebellion? Or in this situation was I truly participating with faith, patience, obedience? We can partner (participate, hold hands) with the enemy in many subtle ways. Let’s take fear for example: maybe we come from a family who worries a lot. In every situation we have been trained to look at what could possibly go wrong and how we could be in danger. Even though we are Christ-followers, fears tumble out of us, keeping us awake at night as we fret over the health of our children, our finances, careers, politics, and so on. We partner with fear by obsessively controlling our relationships, health, and environment, constantly scrolling, posting and speaking our fear multiple times a day.

I was at a women’s group once where I heard a woman say to four different people that she had gotten a mammogram that day because her mother had breast cancer as did her grandmother also. All day and throughout her life she rehearsed this fear and spoke it to anyone who would listen: my grandmother and mother had cancer and I fear that I will as well. What would partnering with faith look like in this situation rather than holding hands with fear and foreboding? She could acknowledge her fear to God and hand it to Him to carry. She could then speak life over herself saying something like I am a blood-bought daughter of Christ the King! He says I am beloved and blessed. I am so sorry for my grandmother and mother’s experience but that is not my inheritance! I believe that God’s goodness will follow me all the days of my life because His plans for me are not for calamity but for good. (See Jeremiah 29:11) Throughout her life she then partners with God’s design for health in her eating, drinking, relaxing, and speaking. 

Have we opened doors to the enemy by partnering with rebellion rather than obedience? (I share my story of this in my Real Talk interview with Pastor Lily- watch it here: https://youtu.be/KZhNtOhpEwA ) Have we spoken fear over our life and now feel almost bullied by dread and foreboding? Have we held hands with a political spirit so much that we have alienated friends and family? 

When we discover how we’ve partnered with the enemy, we need simply to break that alliance. I’ve woken up some days in a pissy mood and then declared out loud I will not partner with this spirit! This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! And the power and love in God’s Name comes to me. Whatever your situation, say to the Lord I am holding hands with You today. I will not hold hands or partner with_____. I renounce it and break all ties with it. I command that spirit to leave in Jesus’ Name. I ask You Jesus to fill in all that space with Your peace and love. Amen

A friend asked how I developed this understanding of partnerships and laughing, I said, “I’m not that smart- I’m just a good reader!” My professor from Fuller Seminary, Dr. Charles H. Kraft brought this law to light. I highly recommend his books, I Give You Authority and Deep Wounds, Deep Healing.

An easy way to partner with God is to daily open the door to spirit-filled information and dialogue. You can get fresh input into your spiritual life by checking out my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. You can find it on my website (along with this blog) www.MargaretAllen.org or anywhere books are sold. Next week we will explore powerful ways to partner with God to open doors of His blessing and protection.

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Reader’s Question: Bible Study

I receive questions from readers and young people in my life. Here’s one I’ve heard frequently as we begin the new year: What’s the best way to study scripture? Do you read the Bible through every year? Do you focus on topics or just let it fall open to a new page each day?

Christians read, study, and memorize the Bible to KNOW God. Sure, scripture can add all kinds of perks to our lives—wisdom, peacefulness, love, guidance—but the purpose of reading scripture is to encounter a living God and grow in fellowship with Him. The why behind the what truly matters. It’s easy to lose sight of why we study God’s word (to know Him) and begin focusing on our effort (which can bring shame or pride based on performance) or knowledge acquisition (becoming puffed up full of facts about God but devoid of friendship with God). If the Bible is God’s love letters to us, and if scripture truly is the instruction manual to life with Him, it makes sense to read it every day, while also studying, memorizing, and meditating on it.

WHY we read the Bible: “For, though God is a great king, it is not his wish to live at a distance from his subjects.  Rather the reverse: He made us with the intention that he and we might walk together forever in a love relationship. But such a relationship can exist only when the parties involved know something of each other.” (P. 110 Knowing God by J.I. Packer) 

HOW do we study? Simple! Set aside some time every day to meet with God through scripture reading, reflection, and prayer. Once a week, create margin for a longer, more concentrated time with Him. Monthly, set aside an entire morning or afternoon to bring life into focus before God and His word. Then, take an annual retreat just you, God, the Bible, and a journal.  I call this retreat my “mountain moving” session as God works transformation in my life. This natural rhythm of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly encounters with God builds a beautiful history with Him. It is merely a guideline—not a burden or chore. Do we miss some days? Sure! There’s no performance rating though, because our goal is simply fellowship with God!

WHAT is the structure of our Bible reading? I’ve gone years where I participated in church groups that were doing “fill in the blank” types of studies or rehashing the pastor’s sermons each week. These have the potential to breed immaturity and a weak foundation. Here’s what I like to do: read through the entire Bible using a bible reading plan every other year. Many plans and apps guide one to read the entire Bible through in a year (see http://www.mcheyne.info for example). I personally only like to do this every other year. On the alternate years I like to read at a much slower pace, choosing specific books in the Bible to do a deep dive, or specific topics that I want to research in the Word. This alternate year schedule offers greater flexibility and more prayerful, Holy Spirit directed study. Hopefully, you own a Bible in either the NASB, NIV, or NKJV versions with cross-references included. Anytime you need help understanding a verse, just search it on BibleHub.com

When I became a Christian at 16, I memorized Jeremiah 15:16: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.”  His Word has been the joy of my heart all these years. I hope you will experience God’s goodness and His speaking voice through scripture today! Go to www.MargaretAllen.org to learn more.