Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

What do you think of when you hear the term "Spiritual Warfare"?  Maybe you picture an actual war, with weapons, and deaths and such.  Allow me to offer you a different picture.

Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I have heard a man's testimony, it was powerful:  He sat on his bed with a gun in his hand, ready to end his life.  Then he gets a phone call.  An old friend who just wants to check on him.  His life was saved that day.  Why?  Because of one simple act of obedience.  If his friend had not called him, his life would have ended.  The enemy would have won.

One simple act of obedience saved a man's life.  When the friend had the desire to call, he may have not known why, but he called anyway.

What I would like to suggest is that our role in Spiritual warfare is the every day choice we make to be obedient to God or to ignore Him.  How many times have you had the idea to call a friend, or stop by, or take someone food out of the blue, or minister to someone in any way at all?  Now think of all the times you have ignored that feeling. 

Not all tragedies end in physical death.  If we responded in obediene everytime we felt the Holy Spirit's urgings to reach out to the world around us, how many every day tragedies could be avoided?  Tragedies such as divorce, depression, the feeling of lonliness or hoplessness, teen pregnancy, addiction, or any sort of sin.

Maybe if you called your friend when you had the thought to you could save a marriage, or maybe that person just needs to know someone cares.  Maybe when you get the idea to post that scripture or inspirational picture on your Facebook page,  there is someone out there that will read it that needed to hear that exact message or encouragement.  Maybe if you invite a friend over for lunch when you have that split second desire, you could be saving her from going to the mall to spend money she doesn't have in an attempt to fill gaps in her life only God can fill.  Maybe you could be saving a friend from going to the liqour store to drown sorrows that only God can take away.  Or maybe you would be saving a friend from engaging in an immoral relationship that could end in disaster like divorce, if it is an affair, or unwanted teen pregnancy.  Befriend the kid at school, or the coworker that looks lonely even if people may make fun of you.  Maybe they need a friend.

Who knows what kind of things could change if we acted in obedience to every single opportunity that God gave us?  Maybe someone had the thought to call Adam Lanza the morning of December 14th and ignored it because it was too uncomfortable, or because it was inconvenient at the time, maybe they planned on doing it later.

We may never know the why.  We may never know what crisis was averted by our acts of obedience.  It doesn't matter.  Respond to the Holy Spirit.  Call or visit someone when you feel like you need to.  Don't ignore it, whatever it is.  As Christians we have Weapons of Mass Distrution that are far stronger than any enemy we encounter.  Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 With God, all things are possible.  We should never look at anyone and say to ourselves, "They will never receive Jesus."  And if they don't, they don't.  But I know I would rather look back at a situation and know that at least I tried than to look back and wish I had done something.
Romans 11:33-12:2

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,

and his paths beyond tracing out!

 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?”

 “Who has ever given to God,

that God should repay them?”

 For from him and through him and for him are all things.

To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform 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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

All Things Through Christ

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  Phil 4:13

This is one of my favorite verses in scripture.  But sadly, I think it has been so misused lately that it has caused it to lose some of its meaning.  Exactly what does Christ give us the strength to do?

I love the fact that people use it to give Glory to God for their achievements.  But does it keep us from focusing on what Paul was really trying to say here?

Phil 4:10-14
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.   I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul is thanking the church in Philippi for their support of his work.  Further, he is explaining to them that when he has been "in need"  he really hasn't been in need because Christ gives him the strength to do his will whether he has money or not.  Christ has given him the strength to be content whether he has a lot of money, or no money. 

Is it only about our finances?  I don't think so.  It is easy to ask for God's strength when we want to finish a marathon, or win a football game, or to get through college, or to complete some hard task we have to complete.  But a lot of the times when I see that verse being used, it is for things that are of no worth to God and the furthering of his Kingdom. 

Can we just as easily recite that scripture in our mind when we face difficult tasks that God is calling us to do for HIM?  Do we say it to ourselves when we feel the urge to pray with someone, or to talk to someone who desperately needs to hear the good news of Christ, forgive someone who in our own flesh and strength it is impossible to do?  Do we remind ourselves to rely on God's strength to love someone who is difficult to love?  Do we use that scripture to help us walk away from a life, habit, or addiction that is not pleasing to the Lord?  Do we use this scripture when we are financially in a hard place and we must choose to use what money we do have for God, or ourselves?    Or when God calls us into a ministry that seems just too big?How about when you see someone struggling in sin, and you know you should talk to them, but you don't know what to say, or how they will take it?  Or how about when we need to break down walls of pride, bitterness, anger, hate, unforgiveness, jealousy, etc. in our own hearts?  Can we rely on Christ's strength as easily if it is something that takes us out of our comfort zone?

 Certainly, when this scripture is used, even if out of context, it is being used to give God Glory.  But what kind of changes could we see in this dark world if we used this scripture to fuel our days to live our lives for him?