In case you missed my post from earlier this week, you may want to catch up and read it here so that this one will make a whole lot more sense. As I shared, I recently went through a really intense spiritual battle in my life that had me fighting hard for belief and victory in and through Jesus everyday. Seasons of suffering or darkness tend to be when we learn the most, because we need and rely on God more than ever, and through our weakness, we find our strength in Him. I want to preface this topic by reminding those of you in Christ, that positionally, you ALREADY have victory. Jesus suffered a brutal death on the cross so that all who believe in Him could have victory over sin, death, and the devil. But the problem is that often the victory we have in Christ is not our reality in life because we still have our flesh, the world, and the devil that wage war within us from this day forward until we see Jesus face to face. I wanted to share some resources that God used mightily in my life to take victory and freedom in Christ, that I once believed theoretically, to my actual experiential reality that I walk in today. I DID write this list in order of which ones were most transformational for me, however (with exception to #1) it might be different for you.
1. The Bible
I hope that this one goes without saying, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. You will have absolutely no victory without this book. I repeat, you will have absolutely no victory without this book. Hebrews 4:12 says the word of God is alive and active and sharper than any double-edged sword. Go look at a child, a dog, or in the mirror if you have to and come back. God's word is alive like that. IT'S ACTUALLY ALIVE AND ACTIVE YOU GUYS. Ephesians 6 also calls the word of God a sword in the battle. The sword that Paul was referring to in this text was actually the sword of a Roman solider, whose battle swords were wide and short, which made them the most effective for face to face combat against the enemy. Do you ever feel like you're in face to face combat with the enemy? The bible is your sword. To be really practical, I have a stack of note cards with specific truths from God's word that I needed in combat. I took them with me everywhere. If I felt like doubt, fear, thoughts contrary to God's truth, or anything negative at all was starting to creep up, I pulled out my truth cards, my sword and started speaking them (often screaming them) and praying through them OUT LOUD. If it happened when I was in the car, I pulled over. If it happened when I was with my kids, I excused my self and came back in 5 minutes. If you're in a serious battle you need to be as strategic and proactive about fighting back with truth that then enemy has been about pursuing you. I could talk about this forever, in fact, I almost stood up to type it because I was getting so excited. On to our next resource!
2. The Armor of God Study by Priscilla Shirer
I picked up a sample of this bible study at the Influence Conference last fall, read the first page and immediately ordered the whole book. We may be in a battle but God has not left us unequipped and without armor. Many of us may have heard of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6, but if we don't know how to use it, it doesn't do us any good. This study will show you how to PUT ON the armor and win the battle. Priscilla is an excellent writer and communicator, and I honestly don't know where I'd be without this study.
3. Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ as Reality in Life by Beth Moore
This is another workbook style bible study that I did years ago, and knew I needed to bring it back out during this season. This book changed my life. It is actually probably tied with the Armor of God as one of my favorites. Here's a line from the introduction that might give you discernment on whether this is the book for you or not: "A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God has planned for her." If you're held captive by anything hindering abundant life, this book really walks you through how to apply and walk in freedom in Christ. I wanted to note that I have the original version of this bible study, and now there's a newer version with a different design on the front. However, I think it's the same content, probably with even more added good stuff!
4. Get Out Of That Pit: Straight Talk About God's Deliverance by Beth Moore
If you haven't caught on, I'm a huge fan of Beth Moore. Outside of God himself, she's probably been one of the most influential people in my faith. Until I opened this book, I thought I was the only one experiencing some kind of dark season that I couldn't actually put a name on. I literally devoured this book in less than a week, it was so good. I finally felt understood and helped through Beth, and ultimately, delivered by God.
5. Victory Over Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ by Neil T. Anderson
I saw the cover of this book and felt like the guy kneeling on the floor, begging God to be like the guy at the ending standing solid and firm. I think every Christian would benefit from reading this book, but if you're going through a season of darkness, which includes all of us at one time or another, you'd especially benefit from it. If you don't ever read the whole book, there's a section in chapter 6, that I think is a helpful template for every believer to know. The author takes a biblical truth and phrases a sentence of preach to himself on why he shouldn't, or need not think that way anymore, which was transformative for me. I'll give just two examples without giving away too much of his content: "Why should I ever be in bondage when where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom? (2 Corinthians 3:17)", and another "Why should I be confused when God is the author of peace and He gives me knowledge though His spirit who lives in me? (1 Corinthians 2:12, 14:33)"
6. Praying God's Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore
Sorry not sorry, it's another Beth Moore book. This is different from all the other books because it's mainly a book of prayers and not meant to be read straight through. In my darkest hours when I just didn't even know what to pray anymore, I grabbed this book and started praying through pages and pages of these prayers, which changed me to speak them out loud. It is a topical book, ranging from overcoming the enemy, depression, deception, unforgiveness, food-related strongholds and more. Each topic includes personal stories and encouragement on the topic from Beth which is helpful.
Before I go on, I just wanted to mention that you need to discerning though the Holy Spirit on which books are right for you. If you're in a particular season of darkness, you're in a vulnerable state. Some messages might be good for someone, but they might not be good for you right now. I suggest that you pray and ask God to show you the messages you need to hear and read everything with a high level of discernment, and as always, make sure your reading the Word of God the most. It is the filter through which we read all of these other books. With that said, I would ask you to especially read these next two with discernment. I liked some things about these two, but I also found some things that raised a red flag for me.
7. Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind by Joyce Meyer
I think this book had a lot of good content, but I didn't appreciate the author's tone. I felt like she was speaking down at me in many parts in a way that left me feeling like a failure. I only read about 2/3 of the book before I put it on the shelf, but I know many people have loved this book and have found it to be helpful.
8. Strengthen Yourself in The Lord: How to Release the Hidden Power of God by Bill Johnson
Honestly, I'm mostly asking you read this with discernment because it's been probably 7 years or so since I've read it cover to cover, and I can't vouch for what kind of discernment I had when I was 20. However, I know that it was extremely helpful to me at the time and as I page through it, I see that I underlined and high-lighted every other paragraph, and I still agree with many of the author's points today.
Also, I believe that music can do something for the soul that words can't. Not to mention, we can't always stop our lives to read a book, but we can blast some music while we wash the dishes or play with the kids, or sit in stillness and listen to the truths being sung over us. For that reason, I created a spotify playlist of many of the songs that worshipped my heart out to until they became my reality. The themes of these songs are of freedom in Christ, trusting God in all circumstances, and Christ always being enough for us. I titled it "Songs of Deliverance" after Psalm 32:7, which says, "You are a hiding place for me; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."