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Dressing For Intercession
How to Avoid Holes In Your Armor
Qualified To Minister
This is a series to understand what our spiritual armor is and how to put it on. Too many people don't understand what the spiritual armor (Eph 6:13-18) is. So they go though various exercises of putting imaginary armor on by faith. They put on an imaginary helmet, an imaginary breastplate, an imaginary belt, etc. The only problem is that if you put on imaginary armor, you only get imaginary protection, but the war is VERY real. We need real protection, so we need to know what the armor really is and how to really put it on.
Many intercessors get "taken out of the battle" before we ever get to the point of putting on the armor of God. Satan tries to disqualify us before we ever step onto the battleground of intercession. He does that for an important reason: as we take ground for God in intercession, as we build God's kingdom, we tear down Satan's kingdom. Satan does not like this, so he has to fight back. Satan has been involved in spiritual warfare for a long long time. He has learned that the most effective strategy is to take "the enemy" (that is us) out before they really get started or established. It is a very common strategy that Satan uses against intercessors. In fact, you if are an intercessor (or someone who likes to pray a lot) you have probably already encountered this type of attack. And if you have not, you will.
If you are an intercessor, there will come a time where the enemy will either try to disqualify you and he try to get you to disqualify yourself. He does this for a reason, as seen in James 5:16: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Satan does not want us praying because intercession is effective. He knows that our prayers advance God's kingdom and tear down his kingdom. So Satan tries to get us disqualified so that we won't step up on the field of intercession. If he can keep us from praying, then our prayers will not be a threat to him.
So, Satan tries to disqualify us in three ways:
We will look at all three, and we will see how God has already ordained the victory for us in each of these. After this, we will look at the various pieces of the armor and how to be fully equipped.
Satan will try to use circumstances against us to get us disqualified. He does this in three primary ways.
Satan used all three strategies against Joseph, yet God worked in each type of attack and brought His glory into the situation. And God will do the same for us. Let's look at the life of Joseph to see these in operation.
Joseph had a great call on his life, but he was immature when he first began to walk in it. The Lord had given him some dreams. These dreams were prophetic and accurate showing how he would rule over his brothers and his parents. But he did not use common sense or wisdom in how he shared this revelation. Joseph did not know how to make friends and influence people. Instead, through his immaturity and cockiness, he offended his family when he shared his dreams with them.
- His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
- Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."
- When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?"
- His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Satan capitalized on Joseph's mistake. Joseph blew it -- he was arrogant and boastful. Joseph suffered extreme consequences for that mistake. Yes, he was a bit of a jerk. But did that mean that he deserved to be ripped away from his family and sold into slavery? Of course not!
You might say that Joseph made a five dollar mistake and had to pay a five thousand dollar price tag for it. Have there been times where you have made a mistake? You did wrong, but you realized your mistake and repented but you still have to keep paying the consequences of that mistake over and over. Have you been severely punished for an offense that was not really that severe? If so, realize that Satan is working in the situation to try and get you disqualified. But the good news is that God will also work in the situation to turn it to His glory as He says in Romans 8:28.
God was with Joseph as he was in the midst of walking out the consequences of his unwise actions. Despite all that came down on Joseph's head, God was with Joseph and He prospered him. And God will be with you, even when you make a mistake, and will turn the situation to His glory.
Satan was actively involved in this situation, capitalizing on Joseph's mistakes, accusing and condemning him and motivating his brothers to jealousy/rage. Satan was the one who convinced Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery. But God's plans for us are greater than the enemy's plans against us. Even in slavery God prospered Joseph.
- The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.
- When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did,
- Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.
- From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.
Let's look at a modern-day example of this, from the life of Kathryn Kuhlman. Kathryn got saved as a teenager and at a relatively early age went to live with her sister and brother-in-law, who were in full time ministry. After some years of assisting and helping out with their ministry, Kathryn began to venture out and speak on her own. God showed up with power as she ministered. She went to one town for a series of meetings and the town never let her go home. They built a church for her and she became the pastor. It grew rapidly and became well known. Many respected ministers came to her church and ministered there.
One evangelist came through and somehow a romantic spark developed between them. He was of questionable character, but had a charismatic personality and did a good job of concealing his character flaws. One of his most blatant flaws was that he happened to be married to another woman and had a few kids, unbeknownst to Kathryn, while he began to woo her. He went home one weekend, divorced his wife and abandoned his family. They never saw him again. Then he let it out that he had been married but that his wife divorced him. By this time, he had wooed Kathryn and she was willing to accept his word at face value that his wife rejected and divorced him. Various ones in her church warned her not to marry a divorced man. She struggled with this herself because he had won her heart but she also had a heart for the Lord. She finally gave in and decided to sneak off and elope. (Her close friends believed that he did not love her, that what he loved was her ability to draw a crowd with her dynamic ministry style).
Apparently, Kathryn realized she was doing wrong. She fainted during the wedding ceremony and had to be revived to finish her vows, and instead of spending her wedding night with her new husband, she hopped in the car and went to her best friend's hotel room, where she cried and repented and said she would have the marriage annulled. A repentant Kathryn went back to her church, hoping to explain and get the church's support and forgiveness. But the church would not extend that grace to her. They threw her out and basically drove her back into her husband's arms. Kathryn spent the next 6 years sitting on the platform crying while her husband preached. She knew she was missing the call of God on her life. She finally divorced him and tried to venture back into ministry. She had some meetings scheduled. But just before they were to start, the sponsoring pastor heard that she had been married to a divorced man and cancelled them. For two long years the mistake of her past kept popping up in front of her face and keeping her from being able to minister.
Finally, God established her and she was used mightily for Him. The sick were healed and many were saved. But it took years before the consequences of her marriage mistake stopped interfering with the ministry that God had called her to. She literally paid for that mistake for over 8 years. But God eventually worked in the situation and brought His glory, and she was used powerfully to do His kingdom work with Him.
Okay, now back to Joseph's story...
Joseph learned his lesson. He did not make any more disqualifying mistakes. But Satan tried again to get him disqualified, this time through false accusations from Potiphar's wife.
The gist of the story is that Joseph had become very loyal to his master and walked in integrity regarding all that was entrusted to his care. He had matured incredibly from his previous "lesson". Joseph was now making the best of his circumstances and walking in holiness in all he did. My guess is that Joseph was both physically handsome and also had a charismatic personality. The anointing of God rested on him and as the saying goes "the anointing attracts".
Potiphar's wife took notice of Joseph and wanted him to have an affair with her, but he was determined to walk in holiness. So she orchestrated a situation to get her own way with Joseph. But Joseph did not respond the way she wanted. At that point she was a woman scorned, and she got angry and wanted revenge so she fabricated a lie against Joseph to discredit him and get him in as much trouble as she possibly could:
Gen 39:7-8, 11-14, 19-20
- and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!"
- But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.
- One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside.
- She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
- When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house,
- she called her household servants. "Look," she said to them, "this Hebrew as been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed.
- When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger.
- Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined.
Talk about unjust! Joseph was never even given a chance to defend himself. He was being punished for something he did not do. Potiphar never even asked Joseph for his side of the story. He was misjudged and mistreated by the very one he had been faithful to.
Has this ever happened to you? Have your motives been severely misjudged or your character slandered? Have you been falsely accused and unfairly treated? Were you never given a chance to tell your side of the story and never allowed to explain? Were you rebuked or punished for something you did not do, something that goes against your very character? Have you ever been put in a position of leadership and served there faithfully, then someone came along and wanted your position and told lies about you and the leadership was ripped out of your hands based on those lies?
This is hard and painful, but you are in very good company. You see, Satan uses this tactic on many that God plans to use powerfully to further his kingdom. And the Lord will be in the midst of this type of circumstance. He will work in your heart to empower you to forgive and to release the bitterness that comes from being mistreated. Walking out this forgiveness is a step you must pass through to move on to the fullness of God's plan for you.
God was with Joseph in the midst of these circumstances, and He will be with you in the midst of yours. Look at how He worked His glory in this situation:
- the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
- So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.
- The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Isn't that ironic! Joseph was thrown in prison for being untrustworthy. Yet this same "untrustworthy" person is almost immediately trusted with the running of the whole prison! Joseph was not disqualified after all, he was just "relocated" temporarily.
Now, don't get this wrong. Prison is no picnic and Joseph did not enjoy this. He wanted out very much, as we see a few verses later. But in the midst of the false accusation, God brought His signature and worked His glory. And God did a deep maturing and character work in Joseph as he walked through this "attack".
Perhaps God has been doing this in your own life as well. I know He had me walk through it. It began when I prayed a prayer asking the Lord to bring me into the fullness of all He had for me: to walk in His power and speak His words and do signs and wonders, and to be effective in prayer and intercession. At the time, I was a pastoral intern in my church, and had a lot of leadership responsibilities. Someone became jealous of me and went to the pastor with some false accusations. I was never even told what those accusations were, I was simply ripped out of leadership and this person suddenly "inherited" all of my responsibilities. This happened a few days after I prayed that prayer.
At first I was in shock and could not believe what happened. I asked to be told what I was accused of, and to be allowed to respond to those accusations. I was told that I was "demanding my rights" which demonstrated that those accusations against me were true. It was a very painful time for me, so painful that I considered walking away from God. But of course no one who has tasted intimacy with God could really walk away from Him. I struggled with this for over 6 months. I was mad. I would replay things in my mind over and over and I would demand justice from God. God told me to lay down my rights and forgive. That was a very tall order and took me months to work through. And to make matters worse, God would not allow me to leave that church. I had to stay there and serve. Many would come to me for pastoral care or ministry. I would try to send them away because I was no longer in leadership, but there was not always someone to send them to and they just kept coming back to me. I found myself caring for others even in the midst of my struggles. After about a year, I was totally free from the hurt and bitterness and had truly forgiven. I found that as a result of walking through this wrong and forgiving, I had gained an authority in the spirit to pray blessings. I became active on the pastoral intercession team. Eventually the pastor recognized that people were still coming to me for pastoral care and that I was caring for them well and being faithful and walking in integrity. I would pray blessings and do all I could to support. I never asked to be put back into leadership, but I was invited back into leadership in the very church where earlier I had been "disqualified".
God turned the circumstances for His glory. He did this for Joseph. He did this for me. And He will do this for you.
If Satan cannot discredit you, he will try to make you feel that what you do makes absolutely no difference, hoping you will give up and stop doing it. He did this with Joseph while Joseph was in prison.
Not only did Joseph administer the whole prison on a daily basis, he also ministered to various individuals there. We see a few examples of this ministry recorded in Genesis. I suspect that Joseph did quite a bit more ministry than what was recorded. I believe Joseph faithfully did quality ministry for many individuals for a long time. But he went unrecognized for it.
Gen 40:12-14 tells how he interpreted the cup bearer's dream. Joseph mentions to the cup bearer that he really hated being in prison and begged this man to act on Joseph's behalf once he got out of prison. In Gen 40:21-23, we see that Joseph's interpretation of the dream came true. But cup bearer developed amnesia and conveniently forgot to tell Pharaoh about Joseph. Joseph was left to rot in prison for another two long years.
It does not take much of a stretch of our imagination to realize that Joseph may have struggled during those two long years. He probably felt frustrated and wrestled with hopelessness.
Have you had a similar experience? Have you served faithfully for a long time and no one noticed or said thank you. Are you made to feel that if you were to suddenly disappear, no one would notice or care. Does it feel like your prayers do not make a difference? Do you do your best, but you don't seem to get anywhere? Remember that this is a battle of the mind, for discouragement wants to set in. But we have to choose to remain faithful and trust God to thrust us forth at the right time.
Joseph had to remain faithful in obscurity for two long and difficult years. (Gen 41:1). Then God began to orchestrate circumstances that would set Joseph in his God-ordained place. Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret, and Pharaoh was greatly troubled by this. Suddenly it is in the cup bearer's interest to remember Joseph, gaining points for having a solution for Pharaoh's problems. So he told Pharaoh about this man of God who could interpret dreams. Joseph was whisked out of prison and given a bath and a shave and a decent set of clothes. Then he was given an audience with the ruler of Egypt.
- Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it."
- "I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires."
Notice that Joseph has matured even more in the prison. This is his big opportunity to shine. But he does not take any of the glory for himself. (This is quite a change from the arrogant boastful youth he started out as.) God did a big work in Joseph through those years of serving faithfully in obscurity. The devil wanted to make Joseph feel that what he did had no effect, so why bother.
What would have happened if Joseph refused to minister that day when the cup bearer was perplexed by his dream? Joseph could have said to himself "Well, I've been in here longer than he has. I have more troubles than he does and it is not fair that I was ever thrown in here in the first place. I served faithfully and got punished. What I do doesn't matter, so why bother?" If Joseph had taken that stand, if he had not ministered faithfully, then the book of Genesis would record quite a different history and Joseph's personal destiny may have gone unfulfilled. Joseph's obscure prison ministry really was effective -- it made quite a difference. But he did not see the fruit of it for two long years.
But God prospered Joseph and put him into the center of the plan and destiny that God had for Joseph since day one.
- So Pharaoh asked them, "Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?
- Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.
- You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you."
- So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt."
- Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.
- He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
Did you know that Joseph named his son Ephraim (Gen 41:52)? In those days they named their kids for what was going on in their lives. Ephraim means "God has made me to be fruitful in the Land of my affliction." This means that this was a tough time for Joseph. God allowed the enemy to try and disqualify Joseph. But God was with him in the midst of it all. God worked on Joseph's character and matured him in the fire of Satan's attack. And God assured that Joseph was established in the ministry that God had called him to. If God allows the enemy to try and disqualify you, be assured that He is working behind the scenes to orchestrate His perfect will in the circumstance. Don't give up and quit. Keep on keeping on.
GOD MADE JOSEPH TO PROSPER and He will make us to prosper too. Satan cannot disqualify us...
- What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
- He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
- Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
- Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.`
In summary, we saw that Satan tried to disqualify Joseph by:
Has Satan been using any of those strategies against you? Is he trying to get you to step off the field of intercession before you even have a chance to put the armor on? Is he trying to get you to give up and quit?
1. In the area of mistakes:
Have you made a little mistake and gotten clobbered bigtime for it? Have unfair things been happening to you a whole lot more than you deserve? Is it getting scary to step out, because you know you will get clobbered?
God wants to turn your mistakes for His Glory, to work with you to transform you and to turn the circumstances to His glory.
2. In the area of false accusations:
Have you been unjustly accused? Is someone slandering your character without cause? Have you been unfairly punished or rebuked? Have you been misjudged?
Turn your case over to God. Walk in forgiveness instead of in bitterness. Trust Him to take care of you. He will, just like He took care of Joseph.
3. Have you been taken for granted / unrecognized?
Perhaps God has called you to the business world, and you work faithfully, but you keep getting passed by for promotion by those who don't work as hard and don't do as much. Or perhaps you have given and given, you have served and served, and you are never recognized or appreciated? Are you made to feel that what you do isn't important or does not matter? Is Satan trying to convince you that your prayers don't make a difference?
Commit your way to God. Keep serving faithfully and trust Him to train you and make you even more qualified. He will make you visible and bring you forth at the right time. Don't become discouraged or despondent. Keep on doing your best and being faithful and keep on looking to God, the author and finisher of your faith. He will raise you up at the right time.
The Holy Spirit is present with you right now as you read this lesson. Allow Him to speak to your spirit and to minister to you. For God has not disqualified you. Commit yourself to His care and watch how He will turn your circumstances to His glory.