Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Do Bad Situations Mean God Has Forsaken Us/The Story Of A Salvation Army Bell-Ringer

I am so full of blog ideas that I don't know which blog to begin in! I have some ideas on items I can make and sell, and now I have ways I can incorporate the Gospel into them! I see God working in so many areas and so many ways, I could write on that blog about the wonders of God. But for right now, I am going to just write about things I am thinking about today, at this moment, which happen to be about how people who have come to Christ and are born again, seem to lose sight of God because of their circumstances.

  How easy it is to depend upon our circumstances to dictate to us whether God loves us or not. I used to do this all the time, before I was grounded in the word. We really do need to be grounded in God's word or we will not see Him as He is, and we will form our own ideas of what we think He is. Of course, the devil will come along and add things to our false belief system that sound plausible to us at the time. Add the devil's lies to our already false belief system and we set ourselves up for disaster.

   Moses was a man who really did not know God. He knew about God because of his ancestor's encounter with God. But one day, all that changed. Moses was not a young man anymore, and he was living in the land of Egypt, even though the Promised Land was promised to the ancestor's by God. Moses was used to the ways and thinking of the Egyptians, and he knew that they worshiped many gods that were false gods. Moses even defended one of his own people by killing an Egyptian who was fighting against the Israelite.

    One day, Moses noticed a bush that was burning, yet it was not being consumed. As he came closer, God told him to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground. God was going to begin the process of setting the people free from the slavery of the Egyptians, and God was going to use Moses to confront Pharaoh and the Egyptians concerning their departure. But God also warned Moses that Pharaoh would not easily let them go. As God was communicating with Moses, Moses asked God what His name is. God told Moses to tell the people that "I am That I am". As the process began and continued, Moses began to have struggles with Pharaoh and with the Israelites as well. There were times he wanted to quit. Then we look at the Israelites. They thought the idea was ok at first, but as soon as problems came about (which they always do), they wanted to give up. They even doubted God. At times, they doubted Moses too.

    Life was very discouraging for Moses and the Israelites. You have to understand, that these people did not yet have a good understanding of who God is. They were about to learn, but they threw in the towel before they had the opportunity to fully follow out the instructions God gave them. As a result, they ended up spending an extra 40 years in the wilderness, when they could have been in the Promised Land. They weren't ready for the Promised Land yet.

   Moses struggled with Pharaoh. Moses struggled with the Israelites. Moses struggled with God. Yet, in the end, it all worked out although Moses himself never entered the Promised Land because he was angry with the people and struck the Rock twice, when he was supposed to only strike it once.

   How do you think Moses felt during his adventure? I think many people assume that everyone lives happily ever after, especially if they know God, but is that true or is that just a fairy tale? It is a fairy tale for it is at the end of the classic story called, 'Cinderella'. Do you think Moses always was filled with faith? I don't. I think he got discouraged and had doubts at times. But God was faithful to what He had promised, even though the Israelites were not faithful to God.

   Or take Joseph, for example. God has revealed Himself to Joseph in some dreams already. But Joseph was hated by his brothers because he was one of Daddy's favorites (remember Jacob had two wives; Leah and Rachel. He loved Rachel, but he wasn't thrilled about Leah. Notice Jacob's attitude toward the two son's born to him by Rachel. They were his favorites). Joseph was thrown into a well and taken eventually to Egypt to serve there. He ended up in Pharaoh's house for a while, until Pharaoh's wife accused him of trying to rape her. Then he ended up in prison for a long period of time. Do you think Joseph was discouraged? I would imagine that he was continually tempted to believe that God had forsaken him. Ultimately, he understood that God didn't forsake him, and he ended up trusting in God.

   Joseph and Moses were not above being human. They were tempted to turn away from God, just like we are today. They had the devil's lies always before them. There were times of doubt. But God did not forsake them. Just as we have times of doubting God's love for us today, they experienced the same thing as we do. But in the end, they remembered and knew God was with them.

   Have you ever felt like God was far away, or that He does not love you? Have you ever been tempted to believe that, even though you had encountered God at one time, that God has left you or forsaken you? I know I have. I think this is a common temptation among human beings.

   Before I was grounded in the word, and in my understanding of God, I was one who looked at situations through a black and white lens. If I prayed for something and the opposite happened, even if it were a small issue, I would look at it as if God had forsaken me.

   When I was in Child Evangelism Fellowship, we were taught how to do 'open air' work, in which we took the wordless book and used the colors to tell the Gospel story with. We learned to pray for God to provide people for us to talk to before we went out. Well, I did that some times, and people did come out to talk with. One time though, I prayed that prayer and went out, and there was no one to talk to. I felt like I was rejected by God. I had prayed for Him to bring people out to talk with and no one was there. I misunderstood how God works, and I was interpreting the situation without the mind of Christ. And that brought doubt into my mind and caused me to pull away from God for a short season, because I thought He was choosing to not work through me for some reason. I felt rejected. But I was the one in the wrong.

   Another time came about when I did this very same thing. We had gone through weeks of training to learn how to counsel people after this special meeting was to take place on the church grounds. I went to the trainings and prepared to counsel with people. I remember we were all sitting on a curb, and I was on the end of the curb. When the invitation came, people came up to those who were trained to counsel. No one came to me though, and I felt, once again, utterly rejected by God. I cried while I was there, and the lady in charge had to help me through and counsel me (I was so distraught that I don't even remember anything she said!).

   It really wasn't until I understood God's love for me that I began the process of not feeling rejected when things like that happened. God's love casts our fear and unbelief. If we are in Christ, God does not reject us. If circumstances go the opposite way of what we think they should have, we know God is sovereign and we are at peace with that. We do not take that to mean that God is punishing us or pulling away from us. Until we understand who God is, based upon Scripture, we will not understand this concept.

   Does God work in our circumstances? Of course He does. He ordains our steps and uses the circumstances in our lives to bring us closer to Him. They are not intended to bring doubt to us. If we don't understand that the devil lies to us and confirms our wrong thinking, then we will continue to live by what we see and feel instead of what is true. Our feelings do not dictate truth to us. Only God tells us what is true.

   We might not like our circumstances. God knows that. He understands. But He has a plan and will use the ugly things in our lives to make us depend upon Him more, and also, so we will continue the process of sanctification in our lives. We tend to take for granted the good things God gives us, but when hard things come our way, we question God and His love for us.

   I will briefly tell the story of a woman who was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. I will call her Mary. I love giving tracts and talking with the Salvation Army bell ringers, and so one day, I went up to Mary and gave her a tract. Then I asked her a question. I asked her if she had any children, because I had some imprinted items to give to them if she had children to give them to. Just as I was asking her this question, the thought came to my mind that maybe I shouldn't have asked this question. What if she did have children and something happened to one of them? Maybe it would be a sore spot with her. As she told me about her four children my concern was true. She told me all about how her 31 year old son was killed almost a year ago by a hit and run driver while he was on a bike going to work. She rehearsed the whole story in detail to me. That pain must have been hard for her to handle. It was a very sad story indeed, but, as she went on in her story, she told how the Lord met her and helped her. As soon as the deputy (or whoever it was who was in charge of this case) identified her, she asked if there were someone else present who would be with her while she explained what happened. Mary said she just fell to her knees and asked the Lord for help. I think this is where most of us go wrong. We have this subtle idea that things like this don't happen to God's people, so we start questioning and doubting God. But God came through for Mary. He comforted her and provided for everything so her son could have a decent funeral. Mary went into all the details of the Lord providing for different needs that came up with the funeral and burial. (Mary had no money, but God provided money for her to dress her son, pay for the funeral, and all the other expenses that went with this). Mary was not bitter either. She was openly praising the Lord because of what He had done for her during this dark season of her life. I was the one who was crying. She hugged me. We hugged each other. God had obviously carried this woman through this season, and she was not bitter, but healed. It was a lot of pain for her to go through this, I could tell, but the grace of God was there for her in a strong way. Not many come through that type of situation like that!

   I intended on sharing the Gospel with her, but she ended up ministering to me! I know God brought her across my path to show me something very hard, but very important to learn. God does not forsake us when bad things happen to us. Conversely, when good things happen to us, it is not necessarily because God is blessing us, although it is possible that He is indeed blessing us with His goodness. God promises sunshine and rain on all of us, even unbelievers. But when it rains, God has not forsaken us, but is giving us opportunities to know Him more intimately.

   If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ yet, or if you have never put your trust in Him in repentance and faith, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com or test4gp.wordpress.com to learn more about salvation. God will never force you to respond to Him, but, all of us will face Him on the Day of Judgment, and if we remain in our sins, He will tell us to depart from Him and we will end up in hell forever. Please consider the seriousness of this situation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Listening To Bullies And Suffering The Consequences - A.K.A. Throwing Oranges At Cop Cars

  This morning I was listening to my favorite audiobook, 'The Cross And The Switchblade', and remembering the whole story of how David Wilkerson obeyed God and went from a country church in PA to NYC. He ended up reaching many gangsters with the Gospel. They were looking for a way out as Davy's (as the gangsters affectionately called him) words ministered to them.

  The situation in NYC in the 1950s was beyond horrible. Every corner was leaking trouble. One of the worst things happening there was the drug pushers who waited outside the schools to get the kids hooked onto heroin, ultimately. A naive kid would be approached by a drug seller. The drug seller would start him on something 'safe', but quickly got the kid started on heroin. The drug pusher gave the kid free samples and eventually the kid was addicted. At that point, the child either had to resort to crime in order to pay for his new habit, or he had to become a drug pusher himself/herself in order to pay for the habit. In other words, last week, he was just an innocent student. This week, out of necessity, he is a drug pusher.

    Many students in NYC died from drug overdoses. Being on heroin is so horrible, and if one becomes a 'mainliner' he or she can never get off unless detoxification takes place (which, in itself, is beyond horrible).

   Lots of people died because they got onto heroin and couldn't get off. It was a trick of the devil to get them onto the drugs in the first place. I can just see the devil laughing at these students, and now they are stuck in an unbelievably horrible eternity, unless they came to Christ before their deaths.

   When I was 7 years old, we moved into a house which was next door to a family which had a lot of children, and they were all openly bad. The children in this home were so bad that they had been kicked out of Catholic school (which is where most of the children in this town went to school). One of the girls was a year or two older than I, and she would tell me to do certain things, then she would sit back and laugh when I got into trouble. I have to admit, I was pretty naive at the time and it took a couple of her tricks before I figured it out.

   One day, there must have been an orange tree nearby (not sure why there were orange trees in N.J.). This girl instructed me to take the oranges and throw them into the street, to which directions I followed. Stupid me. I had only thrown a couple of oranges when a cop car came around the bend and he saw me throwing the oranges. He stopped his car and hollered at me. Of course, my neighborhood friend was sitting back laughing because I got into trouble. Fortunately, for my sake, that was the last time I ever followed her instructions on anything.

   I think sin is like that though. Jesus says, 'Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin...' (John 8:34). Paul also compares us to being set free from the slavery of sin and becoming slaves of Christ. (Romans 6:18). While the devil can't 'make' us sin, he certainly will tempt us to sin. Why? Because when we sin, we are ensnared in sin. It is like being addicted to heroin, but worse. It's worse because God is opposed to sin and sin brings His wrath upon us. The devil knows this and he wants us to be ensnared in sin, and under God's wrath.

   It's like the devil lies to us, tempts us, watches us fall into his trap, then laughs at us. Not only that, but the devil is the 'accuser of the brethren'. He makes us feel guilty and stupid because of our sin. He tempts us, then mocks us when we sin. How is that for a rotten deal?

   That's why God makes a big deal out of sin. Today, people do not fear God and they even openly sin in front of others. We have perverted people who say things like 'homosexuality is normal. God gives some people a special orientation that they must live out'. Another big lie is that we should get out of our marriages if we are not happy in them, or if we don't love our spouse anymore. If that is the case, then everyone who is married would end up divorced at some point. Maybe that's why the divorce rate is so high in our land. Do you realize though, that this is a lie from the devil to get you to fall. He wants your marriage to end, and he wants your spouse destroyed. He wants marriages destroyed, and he wants babies to be murdered. He sits back and laughs every time a woman has an abortion. That's because he loves death, and people are tricked into thinking that having an abortion is a good thing, when the Bible says it is evil. Not only is a baby killed, but the mother and doctors who kill the babies will be charged as guilty of murder before God on That Day.

   Yes, the devil tempts us, then sits back and laughs at us when we fall for his traps, which are so subtle. Then God is also set against us because of our sin, which now we are enslaved to.

   It is hard to be free from sin, once we choose to get into it. Remember too, the devil is not going to tempt you with something that is obviously wrong for you to do. He will provide plausible reasoning as to why you should do such and such. When that reasoning makes sense to you, you will justify sinning against God, and the devil will laugh at you because you fell into his trap again.

   Be on guard against the Enemy of our souls, and his schemes. If you do not yet know the Lord Jesus Christ, if He is not your personal savior at this time, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com   or    http://test4gp.wordpress.com
There is hope for those who want it. There is no hope for those who laugh at the Gospel and reject the only hope available. They will spend eternity with the devil who deceived them and who they believed in, by falling for his tricks.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Do Men And Women Shirk Their God-given Responsibilities Today?

   I see a phenomenon currently in our culture. Men and women shirking their God-given responsibilities and again, I am puzzled.

   But the one I want to focus on is the 'dead-beat' dad syndrome. Why do we have dead-beat dads anyway?

  I guess the simple answer is that we are all sinners, including the dead-beat dads. But that still doesn't answer a lot of questions. How can a dad leave his children without support? How can a dad not love his children and want the best for them? Do dads who have had several women during their lifetimes, ever wonder if any of the children out there might be theirs?

   But why would a dad be a dead-beat dad? Beats me! I see it everywhere. There are women who are raising children, and have to go out to work or build a career so their children will be fed and clothed.

  I am totally against divorce, but I have seen amicable divorces where the ex-husband sees to it that his former family is taken care of, especially the children. If we have to have divorces, why can't they all be like that? Are dads capable of turning off their emotions when it comes to their children?

   What I see, is what I just wrote above, where fathers leave their wives, many times for another woman, and just stop any payments to the woman or the children he fathered. Do these dads realize what kind of damage they are causing for their children? Do we realize the ramifications down the road of what this kind of thinking and living out will result in?

   I could think of a number of divorce cases (and I know it is not always the man who is at fault) where parents have divorced and children are affected. I think of one in particular. Authorities says that divorce does not harm children. While it is true that sometimes children from dysfunctional families are able to pull themselves out and do everything in their power to overcome their circumstances, and children from 'normal' homes turn out bad occasionally, children do seem affected by their parent's divorces. One case I know of, where a very intelligent son came from a divorced home, and is now on drugs and back and forth in prisons. All that potential and now the young man lives in an illusionary world. No one can tell me the divorce doesn't hurt children. It does. It affects them, whether we want to believe that or not.

   The main reason, I believe, that we shirk our responsibilities today, is simply because we are selfish, and we live in a society where selfishness is encouraged. In some places, it is even taught that God will give into our selfishness as well. People can get away with crime and there is little fear of God in our land today. Fifty years or so ago, people understood how life worked. They could put two and two together and see that when they made a wrong decision, there would be consequences. Not so today. Today, we go to court and lie, and get away with it. Most murders never are solved. Rape is rampant. Men basically do whatever they want, and so, that's what they do. If a man wants to sleep around, he'll find someone to join him. If he doesn't want to pay child support, he just doesn't pay. Then the ex-wife has to press into the law to get him to pay.

    Men, if you are a dead-beat dad, I would like to ask you a question. What is it that you are doing with your life anyway, that is so important or money consuming that you don't want to pay money for your children to be able to have the things they need? If you have a job, where is your money going? What are you spending it on? Is that so much more important than the future of your children? Can you see beyond today into the future of what your children will be like, or what they will have missed because you chose to spend your money on something other than their welfare?

  In writing this article, I am well aware that there are women who are shirking their God-given responsibilities as well, so I don't mean to be picking on men only! These questions really apply to all of us, but they just look a different way in different situations.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Really Struggling With This Subject

  I have delayed writing this post until I have more clarity on it. However, when I see people influenced by those who put God into a box, I feel like I have to speak.

   So, what I will do, without attacking anyone (attacking people only brings harm and disunity), I will present the side I am struggling with, and I will talk about the strong points and the areas I agree with them on. Then I will present the side that I see the angle from.

   I know that this subject could take pages and pages for me to write, and I also could be tempted to sin. I will trust that God will guide me through what is on my heart to communicate. I also believe that when we hold things in, we become bitter. The best way to work through disagreements is to talk them through, without becoming enemies of those we disagree with.

   Lately, I have seen some posts and articles concerning Sarah Young's book, 'Jesus Calling'. I actually was given the book but I have never read it. I will not comment a whole lot on it, and it is the other comments that people say and relate to their articles that I am more concerned about.

   The main concern I have, and I have seen articles on this subject, written by Godly men whom I have learned from, is the question of whether or not God speaks to us today. There could be a lot of different answers here, but I will start with what I see is a problem and why I agree with the other side concerning some of the aspects of this topic.

   Some Bible teachers claim God does not speak to our hearts today. They say it is not in the Bible, and that God only speaks through His word. Basically, I understand what they are saying, but the examples they use to prove their point are just one aspect of how people claim to be hearing from God, and from that they have authority to tell someone else what God told them to tell that person. Number 1; that is just plain scary. If I went to a church and people were telling each other what God said about me or told them to tell me, I would feel paranoid. The spiritual gift these people are referring to is called, 'prophesy', although some understand it to be a 'word of knowledge' or 'word of wisdom'. The Bible has a lot to say about the use of spiritual gifts, and especially prophesy. When a person gives a word or prophecy, it must be weighed by others. For example, let's say I had an impression about someone and even some words in my mind were associated with it. I would not go directly to that person and tell them (unless it were something minor, and then with caution). I would ask those who are skilled in this gift whether they think it is a word for this person or not. When people give a 'word' they believe is from God, and they use the words 'thus saith the Lord' we have problems. The gift of prophecy or receiving a word from God does *not* have the weight of an Old Testament prophet. That was a different kind of office. Paul writes that we 'prophesy in part'. So people who are going around giving words to people, especially those they don't know, are really on dangerous ground. Everything needs to be submitted before we do this kind of thing.

    When the gift of prophecy is used in the church, it is not necessarily a word of direction or prediction of the future, although it can involve those. Any spiritual gift people use will only be used to build up the body of Christ. Sure, there are times God reveals things, such as when Spurgeon was preaching one time. He gave details from the pulpit of a person doing a certain evil activity. Spurgeon may not have known that he was using a spiritual gift, but the person repented when he heard the words Spurgeon was speaking. Another time, Spurgeon was talking with an individual and told this person in detail what he was doing and that it was wrong. Again, the person heard the words and repented. That is how spiritual gifts should be used. They should be used among people who know and trust each other in the church. God can speak to our hearts in a lot of varied ways, and it could look different for each person. But if there is a person giving out some kinds of predictions concerning the church, and especially if we don't know him or her, we need to be careful. It is likely not from God, no matter how much he says, 'Thus saith the Lord'.

   So, I agree that going up to people and saying, God told me to tell you ....., is not edifying. It is possible that that could happen, but that is not the norm. The gifts are for edification, not for tearing down. With so much abuse going on today (abuse is a form of power), people who think that God told them such and such, could really only be an expression of a heart that is power hungry and wants control.

   On the other hand, what my concern is, that God's power is being limited. Many say, God only speaks through His word. I agree, generally speaking. Yes, the word of God is eternal, applies to all time, infallible, complete, sufficient, inerrant. God has spoken and given us His story in His word. We feed upon His word. We take it in and it becomes part of us. We relish it. But we also have to ask ourselves another question: Can God speak to us apart from His word? Actually, the answer is 'no' for He never speaks outside of His word. But here is the difficulty: Our stories are not written in the Bible. Our churches today are not written in the Bible. Our cultures and what we do today is not written in the Bible. So, that makes it complicated for us to hear from God on a personal basis then, doesn't it?

   Everything God does, and everything God is, is based out of His word. But how does that apply to us today without taking God out of His word in order to hear His voice? Can this even be done?

   Here's an example of a question someone had one time concerning this subject: What if God were healing someone of a stomach problem today, and God revealed to a person to go and pray for the person with the stomach problem? That's not in the Bible. So, do we discard it? Of course not.

   Does the Bible teach that God heals? Yes, definitely. In Third World countries, people are often healed and even dead people are raised to life. The Gospel is precious to those who live in Third World countries and the people are quick to give God the glory for the miracle. But in America, we are divided. Part of the problem is due to the belief system that some hold today. There are well known Bible teachers who teach that spiritual gifts have ceased. They do not expect God to do miracles, so no miracles take place. I don't think the people in Third World countries are arguing about whether the spiritual gifts have ceased or not. I don't think that people in Third World countries are fighting over whether the king James version of the Bible is the only correct version and all others are from the devil.

    Here's the thing: The Bible is God's word. We all know that and believe it with all of our hearts. But, in order for the Scriptures to work in our lives, God's word must be activated by His Holy Spirit, or the words will be only writing on paper. They will be meaningless to us.

   But if we back off from the work of the Holy Spirit, how do we get God's word activated in our hearts? Basically, because we see people using the spiritual gifts in a wrong way, we have closed our hearts to the Holy Spirit and we are in danger of trying to live the Christian life in our own strength. We are trying to be the church in our own power.

   I find this quote disturbing by Dr. John MacArthur. I give credit to this man for his knowledge of the Gospel and generally, he seems to be a very good Bible teacher overall, but to say something like this either doesn't come off right, or, it sounds degrading to God. ""Show me a person obsessed with the Holy Spirit and I'll show you a person not filled with the Holy Spirit." First of all, if a person is obsessed with the Holy Spirit, is that a bad thing? Is the Holy Spirit God, and if so, why is it wrong to be obsessed with Him? If a person is obsessed with the Holy Spirit, then if the Holy Spirit is at work, He will glorify Christ. That is that response of the Holy Spirit. Also, if a person is obsessed with the spiritual gifts, that is not the same as being obsessed with the Holy Spirit.

   Certainly people can be hung up on the spiritual gifts. There can be wrong motives and wrong hearts associated with the spiritual gifts. People can misunderstand the spiritual gifts and use them for their own glory or to control others with. The reason why this happens so easily is simply because there is very little discipleship going on in the church today. When people live independently of each other, there is no relationship, and where there are no relationships, dangerous things can happen. Things can get out of order. People can get seriously hurt. It could take people away from God instead of bringing them closer to Him.

   Bottom Line: I am concerned that we have taken the word of God and replaced the role of the Holy Spirit with the Scriptures. We really need to examine the Scriptures concerning the Spiritual gifts and we need to look at our own hearts and see if we are quenching the Holy Spirit in our lives.

   I have written the story of Orlando somewhere, I'm sure, but briefly I will write it here. A man who did evangelism was getting ready to go out that evening, when God spoke to his heart and told him that he was meet a man named Orlando, and he was to tell Orlando to 'get ready to come home'. I am sure that the evangelist most likely had no idea what those words meant, but he went out and did meet a homeless man named Orlando. The evangelist ministered the Gospel to Orlando, and Orlando came to Christ. I assume he gave Orlando the message to 'get ready to come home'. On Sunday morning, the evangelist went to the area where Orlando was staying at. As he got there, he couldn't get in because there were emergency vehicles everywhere. He asked where Orlando was, and someone replied that Orlando was riding his bike to get something for breakfast and he was hit by a car and killed. (The person who told me this story knows the person who was the evangelist in this story).

   So, my question is, does God speak to our hearts today? Can God speak to our hearts today, or is He silent and do we only hear from Him while we are reading our Bibles? Is the Holy Spirit still active or does He just sit back and do nothing today? Is God distant or personal? Is God still powerful or is He giving His power a rest?

   One more thing to think about: I don't believe that God gives any more revelations that pertain to the Scriptures. In other words, we will not receive new revelation that should be included in Scriptures. God can reveal Himself to us, but nothing in the spiritual gifts weighs equally to the Scriptures. If God tells me to pray for Debby's healing, and I pray and she gets healed, that is not added to the Scriptures. But everything about that event is based on the Scriptures.