Friday, July 31, 2020

The Ultimate Safety Shield – Righteousness

Friday, July 30, 2020

…righteousness like armor on your chest, … Ephesians 6:14b

The Ultimate Safety Shield – Righteousness

The breastplate was perhaps the most important part of the Roman soldier's armor—it provided protection for the torso, which contains vital organs like the heart, lungs and so on.  After all, if a soldier lost a foot or an arm, he could still recover.  Without a breastplate, a soldier would be asking for death, as any attack could instantly become fatal. With a sturdy breastplate, the very same attacks become ineffective and useless, as blows bounce off the armor.  

What is your most dangerous vulnerability?  Our most susceptible area is our heart. The soldier’s breastplate covered the heart. Satan often attacks our hearts - the seat of our emotions, self-worth, and trust. God's righteousness is the breastplate that protects the Christian’s heart. We must focus our hearts on Jesus Christ and his righteousness. We must do all we can to protect that focus.  We can do that by living righteously – with integrity, honesty, and diligence. Righteousness keeps the heart from ever being wounded and losing its focus.

Righteousness = Safety

Being righteous directly affects how safe we are from the enemy.  Just like the breastplate the soldier wears protect him from death, being righteous protects us from the certain death that Satan is intending for us.  Walking in righteousness means that you actively live a life that has been changed by God. 

 We must understand that righteousness is something we are, not something we do.

Righteousness within us affects what we do, but what we do does not make us righteous.  Putting on His breastplate of righteousness is not "putting on" our own good works, integrity, or honesty. It is not "putting on" Bible reading and prayer. It is not "putting on" church attendance. We alone cannot make ourselves righteous. It comes to us from the righteousness of God 

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him.   2 Corinthians 5:21

The life we live either fortifies us against Satan’s attacks or makes it easier for him to defeat us Satan is the accuser, but he cannot accuse the believer who is living a godly life in the power of the Spirit. When Satan attacks the Christian, it is the righteousness of Christ that assures the believer of his salvation. When we are clothed in righteousness, we are impenetrable. Our positional righteousness in Christ, without practical righteousness in the daily life, only gives Satan opportunity to attack us. Be aware and stand guard.  Allow Christ to work His life and will in you. Allow His Holy Spirit to give you the power to live above sin. Every day intentionally live in His righteousness so it can protect your heart.  

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. Proverbs 11:4

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Belt of Truth - The Foundation of the Armor

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist… Ephesians 6:14a

We are fighting a war, and the stakes are higher than they have ever been in human history.  

One thing: This battle in which you and I are engaged is first and foremost the Lord’s battle, not ours. We are his troops, but the battle is not ours. Our job is simply to simply withstand the attacks of the enemy.  The battle is won already!  The victory is already God’s.  But the enemy continues to attack, and only the Armor of God will protect us.  

The Belt of Truth

The truth which holds every piece of armor in place is the gospel. Jesus was the One who came with truth as His belt. His truth is the eternal, and unchangeable, foundation of God’s universe.  Since the devil is a liar and operates through lies, the belt of truth is the foundational piece of armor in the attack.

Standing with truth like a belt around your waist means to be firmly established in the word of God.  Reading the bible and meditating on the word allows it to become a part of your mind set, and our minds is the number one place Satan tries to enter. Saturate your being with God’s truth and make it a fortress to keep out the lies of Satan. God’s word is truth and therefore makes it foundational to all other pieces of armor.  

What does a belt do for a soldier?  It holds everything important.  A holster, a scabbard, it allows for freedom for the soldier. It keeps everything in place.  Truth is immovable; non-truth does not stay in place.  Truth is eternal and unchangeable, and the Bible is God’s truth that is unchangeable. It is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There are multiple “truths” in the world. 

We are not talking about “truths” as in principals, but the truth upon which all other truth stands. The truth which God says to be true. That Truth inevitably conflicts with all other “truths.”
Any so-called “truth” in conflict with God’s Truth is no truth at all. 

The war between the Truth and “truths” is really the war between Truth and the Lie. But the Lie doesn’t come to us openly announcing, “I’m false, I’m deceptive.” It comes to us pretending it is true.

Satan attacks with lies.  As we know, he is the father of all lies. When we know the truth we are able to withstand his attack.  He specifically focuses on discrediting God’s promises, just like he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Are you sure that’s what God said…  He only has to be successful in getting us to believe one lie, and then it snowballs into discouragement, confusion, and defeat.  We must know what we believe and cling to it. We have to be strong. Bring security to your life with the unchanging word of God.  

 It is impossible for God to lie. Hebrews 6:18
His truth offers steadfast and sure hope for the soul. Hebrews 6:19

Satan will also try to make a strong Christian believe lies about themselves. Lies like My life is not worth living, or God does not care about me at all.  He knows that we are more likely to believe his lies if we acknowledge them as our own thoughts and speak them from our own mouths. He knows our weaknesses, he knows where our confidence wavers and he will attack to cause us to be less useful for the purposes God has for us.  1Corinthians 10:13 tells us  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  This is a truth of God we need to remember at all times! 

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will
disclose to you what is to come. John 16:13 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Four Weapons Every Soldier Needs

Wednesday, July 29, 2020
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Four Weapons Every Soldier Needs
In the passage above, Paul assures us that we are in a battle, a spiritual battle that requires spiritual weapons.  This fight is not with flesh and blood, but with Satan and his host of demons that work to defile, destroy, harass, tempt and bring the downfall of mankind.  The good news is that with Christ we can not only resist the devil’s sway in our own lives, but we can help destroy his influence in the lives of others.

First Weapon – PRAISE: Without a doubt, PRAISE is a major weapon against Satan. Satan and his demons just HATE hearing people praise God; especially when they do so from a pure heart. Praise releases the presence of God in a way that Satan cannot resist.  When we confess the greatness and mighty power of God, it makes Satan and all his helpers silent!  With praises from children and from tiny infants, you have built a fortress. It makes your enemies silent, and all who turn against you are left speechless. Psalm 8:2  

Second Weapon - THE WORD OF GOD: Through much study and meditation on the Word of God, that Word comes to live in us, consume our thoughts and make us strong in the Lord.  Jesus promised that if we abide in Him, and His Word abides in us, we will ask what we desire and it will be done for us (John 15:7). This will include victory over Satan.  The bible is full of God’s promises for us to claim and proclaim.  The Word of God, spoken in the power of The Holy Spirit, will bring victory over Satan to the believer who is following after God. 

Third Weapon – PRAYER: Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle. We are commanded to pray without ceasing. The enemy is waiting to attack our weakness with temptation whenever we let our guard down and fail to keep the lines of communication open with God.  God has made many promises regarding prayer and we need to fill our hearts and minds with these promises.  
It’s especially important to draw strength from your close relationship with God when engaged in spiritual warfare. A prayer life filled with regular prayers of praise, thanksgiving, and confession are what nurtures and grows that close relationship. Remember and take to heart the truth that you have eternal life with Jesus.  He is your strength. With him, there is nothing to fear.

Fourth Weapon – TRUTH:  Satan is a liar by nature.  In fact, the Bible says he is the father of lies.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44b He is both self-deceived and a deceiver (Revelation 12:9). The best way to defeat a lie is with the truth.  Christ is the truth; He is the way, the truth and the life… and Satan cannot stand against the truth.  If we take away his ability to deceive, he cannot use his devices against us.  Truth is one of the most powerful weapons we possess in our spiritual arsenal.  Satan is out to deceive us, trick us, and make us believe his lies are the “new truth”.  He seeks to keep us from the truth and the truth from us.  It is in standing for and knowing the whole truth about God, about salvation and our personal relationship with God that a Christian will win.  

God has given us mighty weapons to counter evil influence and activity, but in order to be effective in our warfare, we must know what these weapons are, and be willing to use them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Know Your Enemy

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Know Your Enemy

When you are in a battle, you must be aware and know your enemy’s strategy.  You have to pay attention and not lose concentration for one minute, and even more so in spiritual battle. Most importantly, you have to be certain of who your true enemy is.

Satan is the enemy of God. He actively seeks to oppose God, His purposes, and His people. The enemy has many different names:

  • Devil means “accuser,” because he accuses God’s people day and night before the throne of God (Rev. 12:7–11).
  • Satan means “adversary,” because he is the enemy of God.
  • Tempter (Matt. 4:3)
  • Murderer
  • Liar (John 8:44).
  • He is compared to a lion (1 Peter 5:8)
  • He is compared to a serpent (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9)
  • He is compared to an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13–15),
  • “The god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4, NIV).

He is crafty and deceptive but unlike God, Satan is not all-knowing, all-powerful, and cannot be present everywhere at the same time. Then how does he accomplish so much in so many different parts of the world? The answer is in his organized helpers.

Satan’s helpers - Paul called them “principalities … powers … rulers … spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12) Charles B. Williams translates it: “For our contest is not with human foes alone, but with the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark world; that is, with the spirit forces of evil challenging us in the heavenly contest” (WMS). This suggests a definite army of demonic creatures that assist Satan in his attacks against believers.  Soldiers, there is a spiritual battle going on right now in the earthly realm as well as the heavenly realm. 

We are spending energy and time fighting each other when Satan is the enemy.
We fight people (husband and wife arguing) when they are not the real enemy. Satan pits us against each other so he can get in between us and cause a division. Like the Bible says, a house divided will not stand: Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. Matthew 12:25 Satan knows exactly what he is doing. United we stand, divided we fall. Division always brings a breakdown when it is something that is meant to be united, such as a marriage, a church, or a country.

We are wasting our time fighting people when we ought to be fighting the devil who
seeks to control people and make them oppose the work of God.

Satan’s Abilities - Satan is a strong enemy and we need the power of God to be able to stand against him. The Book of Job tells what his power can do to a man’s body, home, wealth, and friends. Jesus calls Satan a thief who comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10). Not only is Satan strong, but he is also wise and subtle, and we fight against “the wiles of the devil.” Wiles mean “cunning, crafty arts, stratagems, or schemes.” We cannot afford to be “ignorant of his devices”! (2 Cor. 2:11) The enemy of our souls will do anything, use any means necessary to lull us to sleep while he removes even the mention of the name of Jesus Christ from public dialogue.  And if he can’t do that, he will try to reduce Jesus Christ, Savior, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, to a prophet, certainly not the “Son of God”.

Satan’s battle strategy is simple. He is out to deceive us, to trick us into buying his lies and temptations. He wants to divide us so that we destroy ourselves and turn away from each other and from God. He’s been at his plan for countless years, and he’s good at it. If we don’t know what God’s word says, if we’re not in tune with His Spirit, we are vulnerable and ultimately, we will fall for the lies.  He is on the prowl and ready to devour!  The battle is for glory, for the throne of creation. Praise God the outcome has never been in doubt.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever! Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18

Monday, July 27, 2020

Spiritual Warfare 2020

Monday, July 27, 2020

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

Spiritual Warfare 2020So many things have been uncertain this year and remain uncertain still. But one thing that is certainly clear is that we are in a battle, on many fronts. We have literally been fighting our way through 2020 and now that we are over halfway through, most of us just want out as fast as possible. We are fighting social battles, spiritual battles, and physical battles, and some of us have many more battles on top of these. We are battling an unseen virus, social issues, murder hornets, giant spiders, and the latest is reports of spaceships that could not have been created on earth. It actually seems logical that we throw some aliens into the mix. This is year has been one crazy battle on top of another.

But seriously, Satan is on the move. He is breeding despair and hopelessness. He is breeding fear and defeat. We are destroying one another with words and fighting in the streets. He is running rampant and having a heyday. We need to gear up and get ready to fight – to fight for our families, our homes, our churches, our schools, and most of all, our hearts. This is spiritual warfare!

Billy Graham explained the reality of spiritual warfare in his book Angels:

We live in a perpetual battlefield …The wars among the nations on earth are mere popgun affairs compared to the fierceness of battle in the spiritual unseen world. This invisible spiritual conflict is waged around us incessantly and unremittingly. Where the Lord works, Satan’s forces hinder; where angel beings carry out divine directives, the devils rage. All this comes about because the powers of darkness press their counterattack to recapture the ground held for the glory of God

Spiritual warfare, simply put, is a struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil.

From a Christian perspective, spiritual warfare is a war of good versus evil: its battles are fought daily between God and Satan; between the Christian Church and the world system ruled by our spiritual enemy; and between the Holy Spirit and the lusts of the flesh within every human heart. 

Spiritual warfare is not a new concept, as the Bible tells of countless battles.  From Genesis to Revelation, its pages reveal there are both physical and spiritual wars raging.  However, the primary focus of Scripture is the ongoing conflict between Christ and Satan, and like it or not, every single one of us is involved. In deciding to follow Christ, we accept the rule of Christ in our life (Jesus is Lord – his authority and rule). This NEW us yields “all of ourselves” to Jesus, but the OLD us doesn’t like it one bit. Then with his temptations Satan jumps all over the resistance of the old self, the old habits, the old lifestyle, and the old hunger for pleasures. The battle rages inside us and the devil causes us to wonder if we really are sold out to Jesus Christ.

The battleground for this intense spiritual struggle is not some piece of earthly real estate; it is the human heart.  Both Jesus and the devil are supremely interested in winning possession of our minds and hearts.  For this reason, Christians are called to be more than peaceful spectators or mediators in this cataclysmic conflict.  We must be committed front-line commandos. Satan wants us to fail and he wants us back because it will cut God's heart.

God is in control, but there is a real enemy that is in full-scale revolt, and that enemy has powerful influence all around.  Many of his victims do not even know there is a war going on so they make easy prey. It is an invisible war in that we fight against unseen forces. It is therefore a war which must be waged by faith, and not by sight. It is a war that we cannot fight in our own strength, but only in the strength which God Himself supplies.  Be aware and stay alert. Suit up daily and be ready. 

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Living In The Land Of The Giants Part III

Living In The Land Of The Giants Part III

Ephesians 6:10-18

When it comes to battleing giants, there is something every believer must be aware of…JESUS defeated Satan - YOU did not.  To fight him in the flesh is to assure defeat.  We need the power and the armor of God. 

  I.    The Battleground of Spiritual Warfare Ephesians 6:11-12

The method of the enemy’s attack is described in verse 11 as schemes.

The Real Battle Is Not With People!

It’s not people!  It’s Satan!  The issue is not “them” but the misunderstanding, the greed, the power, the hate, the jealousy…the devil!

You can’t win a battle against a spiritual force with fleshly or earthly power. 

II.    The Preparation for Spiritual Warfare Ephesians 6:13

Readiness is key to victory. 

The secret to withstanding the assault of the devil is in proper preparation.

III.    God’s Field Dress for the Christian Warrior 
Ephesians 6:14-17

Belt of Truth: “God secure me with your unchangeable truth!”

Breastplate of Righteousness: “God hide me in your righteousness and protect my heart eternally.” 

Sandals of Peace: “I am ready to stand in peace and share the peace bought on Calvary!”

Shield of Faith: “I hold high my faith and trust in your protection!”

Helmet of Salvation: “I receive the adornment and protection of Your eternal salvation!”

The Sword of the Spirit: “I take your Word as my weapon against evil!” 

  IV.    Engaging the Armor of God Through Prayer
Ephesians 6:18

We put on the Armor of God through prayer! 

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Weight Of Our Words

Thursday, July 23, 2020
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

The Weight Of Our Words
Does it seem like anything goes now or is it just me? We have gotten a pass on many things this year because of COVID-19.  The tax deadline was moved, extra time was given to get auto registration renewed, and anything else with a deadline has pretty much been moved or the deadline taken away altogether.  In some cases, too many passes have been given and people have taken advantage.  Everyone has been on social media more often, and emotions have been high. This year has been weird for all of us. All the changes and uncertainty bring a load of stress to us, and then throw in some racial tensions, rioting, looting, and fear and things become volatile in a hurry. Words begin to fly without thought, and that is usually not a good thing. 

There are both good and bad things that have come out of this time. One disturbing thing that I see happening is a basic lack of respect for others in many ways, one of them by posting anything that we want to say – about issues or politics, or anything. There doesn’t seem to be any limits on what people will say without regard for other’s feelings, or the fact that if they are Christians, they represent Christ and the church to the world. We have become insensitive and to some extreme apathetic. Other times I see really incredible things happening – people coming together and building one another up. This is what we should be doing now. We need encouragement and hope. We need building up and we definitely need grace, and we need to be spreading these things to one another.

The world is so broken right now. People are hurting and afraid. We have no idea what the months ahead hold and we are desperate for a light in the darkness. As Christians, we can be a light in the darkness and since we are somewhat separated, one way we can spread light is with our words. 

The heart and the mouth are connected, therefore we have to take care of our hearts to make sure we bear good fruit, like kind and uplifting words. The Bible says For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If our heart is filled with hate, anger, or bitterness, it will find its way out and usually it comes by mouth. Our words have power, either for good or evil and we be should giving more grace and helping to draw others closer to Christ. Satan is working against us, encouraging speech that will tear people down and destroy the work of Christ. 

The trouble with social media and texting is that it takes the personalization out of the message, and that takes the people out. When we aren’t speaking to someone in person, it is much easier to say things we would never say to their face. We can also be greatly misunderstood in text or posts. On social media, texting, or in person, we need to remember whose we are. We represent Jesus Christ and the church in all we say and do. Our words have the power to turn people away from the cross or cause them to decide that they don’t want to have anything to do with Christians or the church if we are the example of how Christians behave. Right now, everyone has strong feelings about the big issues. It is okay to keep our opinion to ourselves. 

We need to think before we post:

  • Could this message be misunderstood?
  • Could someone find this offensive?
  • Will I misrepresent who I am in Christ by saying this in this way?

We have a responsibility to not cause others to stumble. Wrong words or words spoken in the wrong way can cause others to stumble. Really think about what you say. Be the hands and feet of Jesus and also share life giving words in the darkness of this world. 

I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle. Psalm 39:1

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Clean Slate, New Choices

Thursday, July 23, 2020
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…  Romans 8:3-6

Clean Slate, New Choices

With all that has happened this year, I think I can safely say that we look at just about everything through a different lens. Some things that seemed so big before, pale in comparison to the things we really deem important. Of course, going through a crisis usually makes us take a second look at what really matters.

With everything being shut down, now twice, we have had some opportunity for do-overs, starting over, re-grouping. It seems like we are about to get another go at it. Trying to get back into the swing of things – again – gives us the opportunity to make some different choices. Life is about choices and our choices make us who we are. Those are some strong words if you stop and really think about it. 
When we make wrong choices in life, we often have consequences to pay.  So, what is the big deal?

The biggest deal of course is that God knows and is hurting for every wrong choice we make, even if we are the only ones who know the difference.  But there is someone else who knows too and that is you.  The weight of guilt can be unbearable when we are participating in something we know is not right.  Nothing feels better than the release of being free from the shackles of a sinful situation.  God does not want us to carry around the weight of our sin when we have asked forgiveness.  He also wants us to learn from our mistakes and not make the same wrong choices repeatedly. We have all made choices we wished we had not made, and we regret. Our wrong choices do not have to define us for the rest of our lives. It is true that our choices make us who we are, but that also means that our wrong choices help us grow, not bury us in shame. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Ephesians 6:10  

God and God alone can give us the strength to overcome the strongholds of sin in our lives.  Outside influences, even other Christians, may try to make you believe that what you are doing is no big deal, that you deserve to be happy and they may even tell you that God wants you to be happy too. They may try to make you believe that because no one else is hurt, no wrong is done.  Listen to what the Spirit of God is telling you.  You know the truth about your situation.  You know if you are disobeying God.  You know right from wrong and until you admit it, it will drive you crazy.  You are the one that has to live with this consequence.  You are the one that feels the pain inside of knowing your actions would hurt someone else if they knew.  You are the one that has to live with the knowledge that you are making the choice to disobey God and His law.  You have to make the decision to keep going or stop.  Regardless of what anyone else tells you, your decision should be based on what you need to do for your own personal relationship with God.   Can you go on like this?  For how long?

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  James 4:7-8

It is no fun to carry around the burden of sin in our hearts.  You don’t have to.  Make the choice to not sin before it happens.  Stand up against the influences with the strength God gives you.  While we are making so many new starts this year, take this opportunity to make new choices. Make the decision to live with no regrets today.

…and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.  2Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Eyes to See – Hope, Riches, and Power

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:18-21

Eyes to See – Hope, Riches, and Power
Is your vision cloudy? Funny how everyone thought 2020 was going to be the year of clear vision! Not much has been real clear this year and I don’t know about you, but if I look to the world, clarity has definitely escaped me. That is always the way it is with the world. Satan seeks to confuse us and take away our hope. He works hard to make us believe that we have no inheritance and that we are weak and far out of the reach of our God’s great power.  

There is only one place we can look to have clear vision. Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus and instead of praying for them to have riches, comfort, or health, he prays for them to have knowledge. He prays for them to have clear vision. God will give us clear vision, direction, and guide our every step. But He will also open our eyes to hope, a rich inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of His power. 

That you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…
We cannot live without hope. It is almost as vital to sustaining human life as air and water are. Without hope, we cease to fight to live, and we all know this life is a battle. But where do find hope in a world full of falsehood? Where we choose to find hope decides if we strive or if we thrive. If we put our hope in our circumstances, we will be striving in our own power to fulfill our own hopes. And that never ends well. If we put our hope in the world, we will literally see them disintegrate with the lies the world offers. The world is temporary and everything of the world will eventually fade away. If we put our hope in people, we will be disappointed. Even well-meaning people who love us will fail us simply because they are human. But God calls us to hope.  When we hear His word and believe in Him, He calls us to hope. The knowledge we have of God - what we know about Him to be true because His Word tells us - is the hope that will never fail us.

What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
The inheritance that Paul is speaking of here is our inheritance as God’s children. We have done absolutely nothing to deserve it, but a gracious Father, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, has adopted us and we are His heirs. So, we have eternal inheritance and we also have glorious riches here on earth as well. Our inheritance is not just for later. It is for now too. We are to live in that inheritance, as children of the King. Whatever happens in this life, whatever trials come our way, we know we have an inheritance that cannot be taken from us. It is the hope of this future glorious inheritance that helps us keep a kingdom perspective on all we go through in this life.

What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…
To get through this life, Paul knew that we would need to know what power is ours because we are believers. God’s power is working in us NOW. We have to know this - that He is at work in us with a power that cannot fail. We also need to know that we have this power to call on and to help us in all things. We cannot do this in our own power. We cannot do enough good things to save ourselves, the power that rose Jesus from the grave does that for us. That power puts our sin to death. That same power – that defeated death forever – is ours in Christ Jesus. 

Pray that your eyes would be open to the knowledge of the hope you have, the riches of His glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of His power that are yours because you are His child. 

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Reach A Little Further

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2

Reach A Little Further
How proud must Satan feel fight now? Imagine how he gloats as he looks over the world and says “See what I have done? The people live in fear. They are fighting in the streets and spewing hatred towards one another. They hoard things for themselves. They are all separated.  The doors of the churches are closed. The doors of the schools are closed. The unity of mankind is fractured – greater than it has been in a long time. Best of all, they are disconnected.”

People are tired. There is no end in sight to the mess we are living in that has disrupted our lives so much. We long in our hearts for fellowship and some normalcy. We long to look at each other’s faces and see the smiles beneath the masks. We need to see those smiles. We are isolated – and some have not had another soul in their life since this all began.  We haven’t been to church in so long we have forgotten what community feels like. As we grow more and more distanced from it, we will become indifferent and we will fill the need in some other way. This is exactly what Satan hopes – that we will give up the fight and give in. We will give up on going back the way it was, meeting together for worship, discipling one another, sharing life together. He knows there is strength in numbers and if he can isolate us, he can tear us down individually.

This is what we cannot let happen, no matter how long all the mess lingers on. We cannot give up the fight of getting back what we have lost. We cannot become indifferent to what is going on in each other’s lives, and more importantly in each other’s hearts. We must stay connected so we can continue on being of the same mind.

Where is our singleness of mind?  It is on Christ Jesus and His truth. There are so many uncertainties and it seems there are more every day. As Christians, we know what is certain and we need to fix our minds on Him. We need to meet together in small groups when possible so we can take care of each other the way He instructed us to.  When we are of the same mind, and loving each other, we can be Jesus to the rest of the hurting world so much better. He built us for relationship! 

Ways Satan tries to keep us isolated:

·         We stop seeking help from God – We believe the lies that we are unworthy, that we are a lost cause in His eyes. We believe He doesn’t care what happens to us and we deserve it.

·         We stop seeking help from others – We believe the lie that if others knew all the things about us, they would not want us in their lives; we believe the lie that we can handle things on our own; we believe the lie that we shouldn’t bother others with our mess – they really don’t want to know.

Right now we need to be caring for our souls and our relationship with Jesus, and loving each other better than ever. Loving each other and serving each other will bring us so much closer to God. Taking the focus off ourselves and turning to others heals brokenness and lifts the heaviest spirits. Reach out to your friends and loved ones. Reach out to your neighbors. Spread some love and care to those He has placed in your life, and then reach a little further to someone you don’t know. There are lots of people out there feeling very hopeless, who would benefit greatly from the love of Christ.

We can’t know God without others. We were built to be seen and loved, and that’s exactly
why the enemy of our soul wants to take that from us. Jennie Allen
Lara Cook

Monday, July 20, 2020

A Symbol of Victory

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 1 Samuel 17:50-51
A Symbol of Victory
Brother Van has been preaching about giants the past two weeks. The story of David and Goliath is familiar to most of us, but one particular part of the story that we don’t ever pay any attention to is very important in defeating our giants.  After David killed the giant, he cut off his head 
There are many different opinions on why David cut off Goliath’s head. Some commentators believe that the head represented the seat of wisdom and power for a person or group of people. By cutting off Goliath’s head, David was striking a blow at the Philistine belief of paganism, and more importantly, at anyone who would defy and God and His armies. 
And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers and ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well and bring some token from them. — 1 Samuel 17:12-18
Some commentators believe David brought the head of the Philistine giant to his father as a token.  What son would not want to show his father what he had done? After all, his father was not there to see what was the greatest victory David had known so far. I am sure the first thing he might have thought of, after thanking God for saving him, was that he wished his father had seen him kill that giant. He might have wanted his father to know he could be proud of him and that his other sons were safe. 
Maybe David cut off Goliath’s head as an extra measure of security. He had killed the giant and he wanted to make sure he was dead. In fighting our own battles, I think we need to take this same measure of extra caution in making sure our giants are dead for good by cutting off the head. 
We fight our giants and defeat them with God’s help but sometimes we secretly have them hooked up to life support because we don’t really want to let them go for good.
Maybe your giant is an addiction that you know you need to kill, but it makes you very happy. Or maybe your giant is a person that is not a godly influence in your life or someone that encourages you to do things that do not line up with a life surrendered to God. We want to rid our lives of the giants that are holding us back, but often we don’t want to give them up for good. 
We will never know victory in our lives unless we allow our giants to be defeated for good. We need to cut the life support and make sure that they are gone for good. Some giants will always be there and we have to learn to live among them, but some need to go for good.  If they linger somewhere in the background of our lives, an arm’s reach away, they will hold us captive and we will never be free. God gave us freedom so that we can know His victory in our lives and against our giants. 

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit
again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Living In The Land Of The Giants Part II

Living In The Land Of The Giants Part II

Numbers 14:9

Today we find out the difference between the ten spies who refused to fight and the two who were ready to go to battle against the giants.

 I.    How to Lose a Battle with a Giant Numbers 14:40-45

II.    The Giants of Life Have a Common Purpose Joshua 11:3-5

III.    Caleb The Giant Killer Numbers 14:24

·   Caleb’s Commitment

Caleb was not in to ‘SOCIAL DISTANCING’ from God! - Rabbi Samuel Nobles

Half-hearted Christians are faint-hearted Christians and they never learn to conquer the giants in their lives. 

Caleb's confidence (faith) was in God's word and His promise 40 plus years before.

We all want Canaan without going through the wilderness. Ravi Zacharias

Our desire and belief do not qualify us to be given a place beyond our capability.  That would be God giving us failure.

Faith IS the Victory that Overcomes the World.

    Faith is a deep settled conviction that God will do what He has promised!  

     ·   Caleb's Courage

      Obstacles in the Quest for Canaan

    He Had To Overcome Grasshopper Vision.
    He Had To Overcome the Giants.
·   Caleb's Conquest

Friday, July 17, 2020

Unconventional Weapons

He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. He said to them, "Look at me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. "When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, 'For the LORD and for Gideon.'" Judges 7:16-18 

Gideon knew something about fighting battles, but God gave him some new knowledge on fighting His way.  The story of Gideon is so powerful and there are so many lessons we can learn from it.  

Unconventional Weapons Gideon was about to lead an army into battle – against an army much bigger - the Midianites. Gideon had started with more men, but God had narrowed his army down to 300 men. Gideon’s little army of 300 was going up against an army of thousands and I am sure all of their jaws dropped when Gideon told them what their weapons would be.  After he divided the men into three groups, he gave them each a trumpet, an empty pitcher, and a torch to go inside the pitcher.  He did not even give a “conventional” weapon, not a sword, bow and arrow or even a shield to hide behind.  These were the weapons that God told Gideon he needed for this battle.  As the verse above says, they were to blow their trumpets, smash their pitchers, hold their torches high and yell “For the Lord and for Gideon”.  That would make quite a display and be a bit startling in the middle of the night. And believe it or not, it worked! When the Midianites heard the trumpets and saw the torches surrounding  their camp, they cried out and fled in every direction, bringing a triumphant victory for Gideon and the Israelites. 

These were not weapons like we think of weapons.  These were common items.  But God takes the insignificant and makes it significant.  These pitchers were not strong.  They had to be able to break upon impact.  This weakness was not a liability like we think of weakness so often.  To serve the purpose God had for them, the weakness was effective.  The pitchers frailty benefited the ultimate purpose – allowing the light to be seen.  We are like broken vessels.  Sometimes our weakness allows Christ to be seen and darkness to be dispelled.  Your weakness is one of your greatest assets.  God’s presence and power are best seen when our large, impressive personalities aren’t getting in the way.   So welcome your weakness and allow God to use it for His purpose.  

Unconventional Wisdom
There are two important things to learn from Gideon, his army, and this battle.  The first is that God is usually not conventional.  The bible tells us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  There was nothing conventional or normal about Gideon’s strategy or the weapons.  This was an unusual battle strategy and unusual weapons.  God sometimes gives us unusual weapons for unusual battles.  Even if the weapons don’t make sense to you, God is still in command of the troops.

The second great thing to learn from this story is the fact that Gideon didn’t question God on this.  He had asked for proof from God that God would do as He promised but when God told Gideon how to position his men, what weapons to give them and how to attack, Gideon didn’t even blink.  He went to his men and did as God had said.  He trusted him completely to keep His promise.  His men did not question him either when he told them what their weapons were to be and how they were going to execute the attack.  Not one of the men refused, disdained, or tried to switch the weapons for something more conventional.  No one called Gideon a fool or argued with him on either point, the strategy or the weapons.  Gideon did not question or doubt God’s command and Gideon’s men did not question him either, even though they were outnumbered 450 to 1!  They all trusted completely.  

We are all fighting battles.  We all have giants we have to go up against every day.  Pray to God to reveal His strategy and weapons for the specific battle you are facing.  When it seems like none of it makes sense, trust the commander.  Gideon’s victory was won with unusual weapons which serve as a constant reminder of the Power of God.  He knows the battle and He knows the end of the story.  Don’t try to fight the battle on your own power or with your own weapons.  God calls us to do the impossible, not the easy, but He will equip us for the battle.

…but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, Corinthians 1:27  

By Lara Cook

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