Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

God Wants Us To Commune With Him

     God wants to converse with us and have a relationship with us. When He first created man and woman, He communed with them. But that relationship was destroyed when Eve listened to the voice of the Serpent instead of obeying God. Ever since that time, people have been born with sinful hearts and are separated from God. They do not hear God's voice any more.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:15-17 ESV

"Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23 ESV

God wants to have a relationship with us, and as you can see from these verses, He wants to commune with us. But there is a problem.

   Sin comes between us and God. But 2,000 years ago, God remedied that problem when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. He lived a perfect life, without doing wrong, yet, He was punished as if He were a criminal. He was given the death penalty and paid a high price for something He was not guilty of. But He did this so that we could live. He did this in our place, because of our sin. When we turn to Him in repentance and faith, we are completely forgiven of all our sins, and, we are reconciled back to God the Father. 

   The reason why I am writing this is because there are many today who put too much stock into their understanding of theology. Many are theologically astute, which, in itself, is great. But, there is a tendency to replace our knowledge of the Scriptures for our relationship with God. We downplay many things that God wants to do in our lives, because we are trusting that our relationship with God comes through the Scriptures. Simply speaking, we are replacing the Scriptures for the Holy Spirit.

   First of all, please do not misunderstand what I am saying. The Scriptures are so valuable to us and help us to understand who God is. The Scriptures tell us what God is like and why we have this problem of sin and being separated from God. The Scriptures are also a spiritual weapon against the Enemy of our souls. We need to feed on God's word each day to nourish our souls. We can't live without the Scriptures. 

  But our knowledge of the Scriptures, which should be helpful to us, sometimes gets in the way of our relationship with God. For example, God wants to commune with us. He wants to individually work in our hearts. He wants us to know Him and learn how to hear His voice. But if we don't believe that God can speak to our hearts today, because He only speaks through Scriptures, we are missing something important. 

  For example, God used a man who was an evangelist, to share the Gospel with someone named Orlando. (This is a true story). God revealed to this man that he would meet a man that night named 'Orlando' and he was to give a message to Orlando. Orlando was to get ready to meet God. I can't remember the words that were used, but the evangelist went out that night and met Orlando. He gave him the words God showed him in his heart. The evangelist also shared the Gospel message with Orlando, and Orlando came to Christ. The evangelist went to pick up Orlando to bring him to church on Sunday morning. When he arrived at the place where Orlando lived, there were sirens and emergency vehicles and he couldn't find Orlando (Orlando lived in an area where homeless people lived). Someone told him that Orlando went on his bike to get something for breakfast, and someone hit him with the car. Orlando was killed. But Orlando was alright, because he knew the Lord Jesus Christ and met Him a couple of days before that.

   Many times, God helps us to connect the Scriptures so we understand the bigger picture of who He is and who we are in His plan. God's word has wonderful principles He wants us to learn. But, unless His word is activated in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, they will not have meaning. 

   The devil knows God's word inside and out, backward and forward. It is important to know the word to do battle against his plans against us. But we must listen to what God says to us. We cannot replace our knowledge of the Scriptures for hearing God's voice. The Holy Spirit makes the word of God come alive to us.

   Everything God says will be based out of His word. Nothing He tells us in our hearts will ever go against Scriptures. They will work with Scriptures. 

  Another example would be similar to the situation in the book of Acts where an angel of the Lord tells Philip to go on a road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. He met the Ethiopian Eunuch there. The Ethiopian Eunuch was probably seeking after God, (God had prepared his heart), and was reading the book of Isaiah, which today would be chapter 53 (this was before the Bible was divided into chapters.) Notice in chapter 8 verse 39 where it says that the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and join this chariot." Philip didn't argue and say to himself, 'That isn't in the Scriptures and God only speaks through the Scriptures, so I guess it really wasn't God speaking because I can't find this direction to join this chariot in His word.'. Some might argue today that since the command to preach the Gospel to every creature is in Scriptures, that means that there isn't a need for a voice to tell us to go to specific people. But here it is in Scriptures, and we see what happened when the evangelist (described in a paragraph above) heard God's voice and obeyed. 

   The point is, God wants to have a growing relationship with us. He wants to commune with us, and I wonder if we stop short because that violates our thinking of God only being able to speak to us through Scripture. God can't give individual instruction through Scripture. We must never neglect the Scriptures or go against them. But we need to wait upon God and listen to what He tells us, which will always be in accordance with His word.

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 ESV

Monday, February 27, 2017

Will "But I Didn't Know Any Better" Be An Acceptable Excuse Before God On 'That Day'?

   When you were a child, did you ever want to do something, yet, you knew if you asked your mom or dad if it were ok for you to do that activity, they might say, 'no'?

  I played that game when I was a kid. I never wanted to risk hearing the words, 'no, you may not do that', so, I never asked. I thought that I could play ignorant if I got caught, and if what I were doing was wrong. That way, I wouldn't be charged with wrongdoing if I got caught or if something bad happened to someone else, or at least, so I thought I could plead ignorance and get away with my crime.

  Can we play that game with God, though? He sees right through our hearts and motives. Would He forgive us if we 'conveniently' didn't look at the rules or if we 'forgot' to seek Him on certain issues?

   Here is a summary of my thoughts on this:

* People like to play ignorant
* We are not ignorant of God
* Our ignorance of God will not excuse us on that Day

Today, people like to play 'ignorant'. If they hear the rules, they just 'ignore' them. Perhaps they were never taught the rules. In our society today, many have not even heard of the 10 Commandments. A large amount of people, for example, have no idea that God will judge those who are sexually immoral.

We really are not ignorant of God. At least, not as ignorant as we think we are. Deep down inside all of our hearts we do have a knowledge of God. We have an awareness of Him, and we do have some idea of the difference between right and wrong, and good and evil. We can deny this and turn to Atheism, if we want. But we are not going to be playing the game of ignorance on that Day.

Our ignorance of God will not excuse us on that Day. It is our responsibility to seek after God. The problem comes when God's will crosses our will. Who will win? Usually, we do. We are not really interested in hearing God's voice on anything. We believe the lie of the Enemy of our souls, who would tell us that if we seek after God and desire to know His thinking on something, that God will take all our fun away. God is not out to take our fun away. That is not the point of why God has boundaries.

Finally, here is what the Bible has to say on this. It comes from Romans 1:18-23  ESV

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things."

   You might have been able to fool your parents as a child, but God will never be fooled. We will all stand before Him on that Day, and none of us will be able to say that we didn't know better. 

For more information on how you can be made right before God, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Freedom From Sin Or Freedom To Sin?

When Jesus died to pay for our sins, He also provided the way for us to be free from the entanglements of sin. But many see it differently.

Some think that Jesus came to set us free, but not from sin, but from the limitations that sin puts on us as well as from the consequences of sin. In the minds of some people, their understanding leads them to believe that we are free because the limitations or boundaries of sin around us are removed. But is this what the Bible teaches us?

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1,2 ESV)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1,2 ESV)

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8: 31-36 ESV)

   So did Jesus die for us so we could do what we want, but without the boundaries and consequences? Like the verse above says, 'By no means'. 

   We live in a 'free' country. What does that mean though? Are we free to do whatever we want? Are the boundaries taken away so we can do anything that pleases us? What exactly are we free from?

   If you look down through History, you will see that it is extremely rare that people lived in countries that were 'free'. People did not elect kings. People had to do whatever the authorities said to do. That was how it was.

   Before our country came together, the king also presided over the church. There was a combination of royalty and clergy. No one could vote on this, whether they wanted to or not. There was no voting option. That is a big reason why our country got started in the first place.

   Throughout History, women did not have rights. Women, in many cultures even today, are considered like second class citizens. We have the privilege in America to vote. Voting is not only for white males either. Citizens who are of age can all vote. This is unheard of in most countries, at least the way it is carried out here.

   One reason people misunderstand freedom is because they feel 'entitled' to whatever they want or think they need. Freedom is costly for some. Think about the Cross. Jesus died on the Cross so that we could go free. It cost Him something, and He paid a grand price for our freedom. 

   There are boundaries with freedom too. We have freedom of religion in our country. But our freedom cannot violate someone else's freedom. For example, if our religion tells us to kill people who won't submit to our religion, then we cannot carry that action out. It would be like saying, 'I have rights but you don't, because your rights will end when I kill you, and I can kill you because we have freedom of religion here and my religion says I should kill you unless you submit to my religion."

   So the answer to the above question is, not freedom to sin, but freedom from sin. Sin traps us and is the weapon Satan uses to destroy us. We can't see all that is involved in sin, but we can see the affects of sin in the lives of many people, including ourselves, many times.

   We don't have freedom to sin, but we can be totally set free from the slavery of sin!

We so easily get tangled up in sin. Sin is a snare and will trap us

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Gospel, The Only Cure For All Our Evils In Our Society Today.

Have you noticed how many evil things are going on around us? There are angry people marching in different places. There are people getting killed because they are cops. An angry man surprises a class room and shoots everyone in the room. Name calling. Back-biting. And it's not only on the streets and in buildings. Even the church has been affected by this kind of evil.

We can talk about these issues all day long and we certainly can write about them in our blog posts, and we probably should, but, we could also become consumed and overwhelmed by the amount of evil that we see around us. We could talk about these situations the whole time we are awake until we go to bed. But is there a solution? Or better yet, is there some kind of preventive measure we can take that will help stop this evil momentum from continuing?

In David Wilkerson's book, The Cross And The Switchblade, Wilkerson talks about a situation he found himself in when he was new to New York City. As he was becoming acquainted with the gang members (whom they fondly called Wilkerson, Davey), he was realizing how serious the problem of heroin was becoming. When a person is addicted to heroin, it is hard to break that addiction and it will cost that person his or her life, at some point. Wilkerson studied the situation and learned the growing statistics of heroin addiction in New York City, and became overwhelmed and was ready to give up the call to 'help those boys' who were in the gangs on the streets of New York City and Brooklyn. But the Holy Spirit reminded him of an incident that happened when he was a young boy.

   There was a boy named 'Chuck' who was a bully. Wilkerson's family just moved into this town and the kids warned him of this bully named Chuck. Chuck was especially fond of picking on new kids in town and preacher's kids, of which Wilkerson was both. Wilkerson pondered this potential problem in his mind, and the verse 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts'. Well, the day came when the encounter with Chuck the bully met Wilkerson. Chuck poked fun at Wilkerson, and for a moment, Wilkerson forgot all about the Bible verse. After a couple of minutes of picking on Wilkerson, the verse came to his memory again. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts. So, as the bully started in with bodily force, Wilkerson repeated the verse to himself. He continually reminded himself of what the Bible said. The bully then punched him but it didn't hurt. Then something really strange happened. The bully gave up and walked away. Not only that, but whatever happened from the bully's perspective, the bully looked at Wilkerson as some kind of fighter. In reality, God did the fighting for him.

The Cross And The
Switchblade - David

   God will do the fighting for us. We have to follow His principles and it is of utmost importance, that we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We have to use the spiritual weapons as discussed in Ephesians 6 and other parts of Scripture.

  The reason we are in this situation with our country, to begin with, is that we dropped the ball when it comes to holding the things of God as precious. We began that process when we allowed a woman to go to the Supreme Court in the 1960s to take prayer out of our schools. Then the false idea of 'separation of church and state' came in as meaning that any governmental facility or association could not have Bibles or religious content in them. This is definitely not what our forefathers had in mind! As a result of all this, people are not familiar with the word of God. Americans today do not understand that the God who created us is holy and has standards. We don't know what His standards are because they have not been taught to us. Some of us older people know, but many do not treasure God's word and have not stored it in their hearts, and as a result, it never got passed down to the next generation.

   I think we have a weak view of who God is, in our churches today. Could that be the reason why only 2% of those who are members of Christian churches do the work of evangelism? If we genuinely had an encounter with the true and living God, would we still continue to live self-centered lives like so many of us do today? If we understood the grace of God, and what a debt we owe because of our sin, would we be indifferent about sharing the Gospel message with others?

   The Gospel will bring light to a darkened world. God is light. The god of this world is Satan. He masquerades as an 'angel of light' but is really and angel of death and works in deception. Could it be that if we preach the Gospel message, people will be reconciled to God, will have a new heart, and will help society to experience more light, and with this light, expel much of the darkness that is here?

  Can we bring back the 'fear of the Lord' again? Can we bring to people the knowledge that, the works they do in secret will be known by God? God will expose everything, one day. But if we know God is watching and keeping record, maybe we will think twice about our actions and the decisions that we make every day. Maybe we will be able to look at our selfish hearts and exchange them for a new heart that loves God and people. Maybe society will look different and people will be able to see God for the first time. Maybe many will come to know the Lord and experience healing here, and eternal life forever.

(For a good course in learning to do evangelism, please go to the link for the Proclaim Course - http://www.proclaim.typepad.com/proclaim/
Also, Living Waters has some excellent videos, audios, courses and tracts. Visit them at http://www.livingwaters.com).

This article contains affiliate links.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

God Holds All The Atoms In The Universe Together

Here is a pic of what an atom looks like.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=295612

Atoms are very small. Imagine all the atoms around us and in us. Imagine all the atoms in the Universe. God knows each one and He holds everything together.

Here is what the Bible says about Jesus:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."*

So, according to those verses, Jesus is holding everything together. A person might be proud of his or her accomplishments or who he or she is, but the person is not really the one holding himself together. Every breath that we have comes from God. He gave us our first breath and will give us our last breath. 

Atheists, like everyone else, die. We are all appointed to die one day. After we die, we will face God in judgment. We will face the One who holds everything together and give account of our lives. Will we be found in Him, or will we be covered in our sin and shame?

For more information on this subject of where we will spend eternity, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com

* Colossians 1: 15-17 ESV

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Not Everyone Who Says To Me 'Lord, Lord, Will Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven

Here is something written by a Facebook Friend. I had thought of this many times, but never was able to put it into words. This is something we need to seriously consider.

"People that always talk scripture and doctrine but never talk about knowing Jesus, like they know Him, scare me.

They scare me because I fear for their Salvation!

If you don't know Him, chances are He doesn't know you either!

They don't demonstrate a relationship or love for Him.

Do you love Him? Are you cold and dead inside?

Do you see and hear Him?

He still speaks, do you hear Him?"
Written by Kelly Crabb.

These words are probably the scariest words in the Bible. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."*

There's a lot of people who would say they are 'Christians', but who live lives as if they don't really know the Lord or don't really care about what He wants. People are not going to be perfect after they come to Christ, but, there will be Godly desires in their hearts and they will be changing as the process of sanctification progresses in their lives.

Being a Christian isn't a matter of trying to do good to replace the bad. Neither is it just believing the things that are true. Just knowing the facts about the Gospel doesn't get us into heaven. We must let God show us our hearts so we can repent and turn away from those things that are displeasing to Him.

Instead of justifying our wrongdoing, and saying that it is all covered under grace (which it is when we truly repent and turn away from sin), we need to own up to our sin and realize who God is in His holiness and majesty. We will all stand before Him one day and all our justification of selfish living will turn us away from Him. God sees through all our self deception. But God wants to give us hope through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

So, the question is, 'Do you know Him?' It is not, 'Do you know what the Bible says?' The devil knows the Bible inside and out, way better than any of us do, but he doesn't have any chance for the forgiveness of his sin.

For more information on the Gospel message and how you can know God, please go to:

* Matthew 7:21 ESV

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Life Is Painful - Earth Has No Sorrow That Heaven Can't Cure!

  One of the hard things about life is that life is painful. Why do things have to be so painful? Can't we have a life without pain or hurt?

   I am going through one of those painful times. About seven months ago, my beloved parrot, Petra, died. I spent a couple of weeks playing hospice nurse to her, hoping she would recover. But she died in a seizure while I was holding her. I still haven't recovered from that one.

  We lost our cat last night. He got sick on Wednesday, and I took him to the vet on Thursday, and he died Saturday night. I didn't know that the nap I took on Saturday afternoon was the last nap I would take with Frankie.

  This past year, I think I have seen more people die, who I know, some were young too, than I ever have seen in my life. Friends died. A couple of men became widowers. It is very sad to see.

   Sometimes people go through grieving and become bitter toward God. They misunderstand Him and think that either He is punishing them, or that He is unaware of what they are going through, or that He doesn't care.

   Last year, I talked with a Salvation Army bell ringer. I enjoy talking to them and when possible, sharing the Gospel message with them. As soon as I asked the woman if she had any children, the thought came to mind that perhaps she had a child who died. I almost wished I didn't ask the question after I had that thought. She began to tell me her story. She told of each child, then she told me that she had a son who was killed almost a year before this.

   Great. Just what I feared. But the lady continued. She went through the whole story of what happened to her son, who was in his early 30s at the time of the accident. She was at a neighbor's house, early in the morning, and the people who went to tell her about the accident went to the neighbor's house trying to find her house. When they realized she was there, they told her she would need others around while they explained what happened. The woman fell to the ground reaching out to Jesus for help,  she says. She continued on with the story of how God provided *everything* for the funeral, and how the Lord helped her as she learned to cope with this tragedy.

   I was the one crying when I listened to her story. What impressed me was that she did not become bitter or angry with God because of her son's death. She didn't mention anything vengeful about those who were responsible for the accident. She really praised the Lord concerning this whole incident.

  What I learned from this is that we all have difficulties with some kind of pain in life. Pain can make us bitter and angry. But, that is the default, and we do not have to follow the default pattern for pain. We can trust God in pain, because nothing takes Him by surprise. He feels our pain, even though we don't understand that. When we become bitter or distrusting of God, we are the ones who suffer.

   I believe God wants to heal us. We will not see Him clearly when we are distrusting or angry at Him. He allowed the pain, and will use it as part of His plan as He works in our lives. Pain is not a punishment for us (unless our pain is a result of our disobedience to God) and God will comfort us if we allow Him to.

   If we are grieving, God wants to comfort us. If we are suffering, God will carry us through. God never promised us a painless life. But He promises to be with us and to give us the strength to go through the season of suffering. He also wants to heal us of the pains we have. Please give your pain and suffering to the Lord. He will be with you to comfort you, give you strength, and heal you if you allow Him to.

Here are the words to a song that I heard on the radio this morning. The song is called, 'Come As You Are" by David Crowder

"Come As You Are"

Come out of sadness
From wherever you've been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There's hope for the hopeless
And all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are
There's joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3