It’s Time to Fight!

Lion

Inspired!!  I mean over-the-top, fire-burning-in-my-heart inspired!!  Something ginormous is stirring in my spirit!!!  Before I get started though, let me tell you about my week.  It’s been one of those weeks.  You keep trying to be responsible and do the right thing, and it seems like for every step you take forward you fall two steps backwards, but you keep on going.  Then there’s this thing called social media.  I can’t knock it because it helps me get my message out; however, for whatever reason I’ve taken offense to some Facebook posts that were utterly insignificant.  I mean keep-on-scrolling, it’s-not-even-worth-stopping-to-look-at insignificant.  Well, since I’m not a confrontational person I read it, stew about it, keep it inside and don’t comment (see, that’s the responsible thing to do).  Then things started to change.  I read a post by Max Lucado and watched a short video by Lisa Bevere and something started stirring inside.  Then I remembered a post I had shared by Priscilla Shirer earlier this week and all of sudden what I had anticipated writing about suddenly changed.

I’ll share with a few phrases from these posts and videos:

“Our strategy as a church is to remind people of the power of prayer.  Prayer moves God, and God moves nations.  Our first and foremost responsibility is to pray.” Max Lucado

“If you are not praying the kind of prayers that scare you, believe me, they are not scaring the enemy. . . The world needs us to pray scary prayers instead of scared prayers.”  Lisa Bevere

“I resolve to stop using physical means to fight battles that require spiritual remedies, using instead the power of prayer to do what it’s always been designed to do.”  Priscilla Shirer

I’ll be the first to stand up and say “Father, forgive me for being distracted by the insignificant and not being the warrior you’ve called me to be.”  I will admit I have failed miserably.  We don’t have to look far to see people in need of our prayers, many within our own families.  Our nation is in the middle of presidential campaigns that will just about make you nauseous, and while these things are first and foremost in our thoughts and conversations, that’s as far as we take them.  We can find the time to talk about them, but we can’t find the time to pray about them.  We have direct access to our Heavenly Father, yet we don’t take it that far!  What’s even worse is we can find time to talk, post or tweet about our favorite sports teams – or the ones we dislike the most – or what player did this and what player did that, or gossip about our neighbors, or even worse our church members, and I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture; however, we’re not willing to put aside these distractions and fight for what really matters.

I’ve been doing some reading and studying on covenants recently.  When two families entered into covenant with one another, they didn’t have the same weaknesses and strengths.  Where one might be weak in one area, the other was strong, and they drew on each other’s strengths.   We have entered into a new covenant with God through the blood of Jesus Christ where we have direct access to Him and we draw our strength from Him!  Not only do we have access to Him, but He’s given us HIS armor.  Ephesians 6:10-11 says “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].  Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.” (Amplified)  Versus 13 says “Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”  You need to get that – it’s HIS armor!  He has equipped us with everything we need.  It’s time to wake up and take a stand against the enemy and fight for our families, friends and church families, and our nation!  I’m not talking about wimpy prayers.  As Lisa Bevere put it, we need to be praying “scary” prayers, not “scared” prayers.  We have been empowered through our union with God, we are heavily armed and we’ve got everything at our disposal that we need to be victorious!

I’m not going to encourage you this week, instead I’m going to challenge you to dismiss the insignificant and fight for what truly matters – those that are lost, your family and friends, your church – whatever needs God brings to your mind – and most definitely our nation!  I once heard a minister speaking on the fight of faith, and a lady came up to him after the service and said “Well, I’m just not a fighter.”  His response to her was “Well, that’s not okay.”  It’s not okay!  God hasn’t given us the means to fight to just sit on the sidelines and watch.  It’s time to fight!!!

 

Who – or What – Are You Magnifying?

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“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My life makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad.  O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”  Psalm 34:1-3 (Amplified)

Bless the Lord ALL the time?  Praise CONTINUALLY be in my mouth?  Just exactly how are we supposed to do that, especially in this day and time?  Within the past 10 days within a 30 to 35 mile radius of where I live (which is a small community) there have been two suicides, a murder/suicide, and two high school students tragically killed in an automobile accident – and we’re supposed to praise the Lord through all this?  There have been families left with unanswered questions.  There will be a tremendous feeling of loss when students return to school this week and their friends, schoolmates, and teammates are no longer there.  It’s not just in this community; it seems to be everywhere you turn, in all kinds of circumstances.  Maybe it’s not something that’s felt by a community, but more personal.  Maybe your marriage is falling apart, or you’re having some pretty hefty financial difficulties, or a devastating sickness has hit you or a family member.  It seems the phrase “The struggle is real” abounds in conversations and social media.

I will be the first to admit that when tough times hit praise usually isn’t the first thing out of my mouth.  But when I’m not praising God in these times and magnifying Him, am I not magnifying someone or something else?  When my conversation revolves around all the bad stuff going on – either in my life or even the world around me – am I not magnifying the bad stuff, the evil, even Satan himself?  When you listen to the news, is it not magnifying the bad (at least most of the time) instead of the good?

However, when we turn our focus towards God and magnify Him and His goodness, something begins to happen.  It’s then that we put ourselves in a position for the Lord to wrap His arms around us and comfort us and bring peace to us in a way that no one else can.  He reminds us of His promises that we can rely on.  He brings His strength to our weakness.  If you’ll read on down to verses 17, 18 and 19 of this same chapter, the psalmist writes these words “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles.  The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.  Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  (Amplified)

I’m also reminded of Romans 4:20-21 “No unbelief or distrust made him (Abraham) waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.”  (Amplified)

I encourage you today to focus on the Lord, and magnify His goodness and greatness.  Even though the “struggle may be real”, let God make His peace and love “real” to you.

Slamming the Door on Fear

Fear

“Full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!”  1 John 4:18 (AMP)

 Fear of heights, fear of flying, fear of the dark, fear of death – just a few common fears we may be familiar with.  Then there are some we’re not so familiar with – fear of sourness, fear of garlic and even fear of swallowing.  Fear is such a prevalent force in our society that they even have names.  It’s reported that psychologist have categorized as many as 500 phobias (which is actually an excessive and irrational fear reaction) – and that was in 2008.  While some of these fears may seem silly, they are very real to the person experiencing them.  Sometimes our fears may not hit the extreme level, but even the slightest fear brings with it a feeling of uneasiness.

Some would tell us that fear is healthy, that it’s a natural defense mechanism.  However, numerous times throughout the Bible we are told not to fear.  I once heard a statement that fear is faith perverted.  It’s the exact opposite of faith.  Whereas faith is stepping out and taking God at His Word, fear is stepping out and believing what Satan tells us.  Have you ever read or seen something that triggers a brief thought and before you know it you have a full-blown scenario playing on the big screen in your mind?  Or maybe you feel a little twinge of pain in your body and your mind immediately races towards the worst case scenario.  Thank goodness for the internet!  You list out your symptoms and find your suspicions are confirmed – your family will likely be making funeral arrangements tomorrow!  I know this sounds facetious – and admittedly taking things to the extreme – but this is also how the enemy feeds our fear.  While you’ll more than likely make it through the night, deeper thoughts have been planted in your mind that could easily take root.

I believe fear is the greatest weapon Satan uses against us.  It’s what he uses to pervert our faith.  When our first reaction is to fear, then we’ve taken the first step in the wrong direction and away from faith.  We can’t be full of fear and full of faith at the same time.  When we open the door to fear, we shut the door to faith, and even though we may just barely open the door, the enemy is going to be right there to kick it all the way open – unless we stop him.

So how do we slam the door shut on fear?  First of all we recognize that these thoughts that are bringing fear are from the devil and we immediately cast down imaginations and bring every thought into captivity.  Second Corinthians 10:3-5 says “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (KJV).  I like the way the Complete Jewish Bible says it – our weapons “have God’s power for demolishing strongholds.”  Our thoughts have a tendency to race rapidly so the quicker we do this the quicker that door closes.  At first it may take us a little longer to recognize what’s going on, but the more we do it the sooner we will respond.

Then we stand on God’s promises that we can apply to our specific circumstances.  If it’s concerning sickness, find scriptures on healing; if it’s financial, find scriptures on God’s provisions; if it’s concerning safety, find scriptures on God’s protection (Psalm 91 is a good place to start).  Write them down and put them where you can see them throughout the day.  You have to remember that Satan is a liar, but God’s promises are true.  Make a decision that you are NOT going to fear!

First John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out fear.  What is perfect love?  Look at 1 John 2:5.  “But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected:  hereby know that we are in him.”  The Greek word for “perfected” here actually means to complete.  Perfect love is mature love; it’s a love that is completed by treasuring and keeping God’s Word, by following His instruction and abiding in Him.  (You might want to read my “Vital” blog.)

I couldn’t end this blog without including some of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, Chris Tomlins’ “Whom Shall I Fear”:

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful

Finally, let this be your prayer:  I refuse to fear!  Your divine power has given me all things that are necessary and vital and suited to life and godliness through the full and personal knowledge of You who called me by and to Your own glory and excellence.  By means of these You have  given me Your precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them I may escape by flight from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of the covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers and partakers of Your divine nature.  (2 Peter 1:3-4)  I keep and treasure Your Word – I bear in mind Your instructions and observe Your message in its entirety – therefore truly in me has the love of and for God been perfected, completed and reached maturity.  By this I perceive, know and recognize and am sure that I am in You; I abide in You, I walk and conduct myself in the same way in which You walked and conducted yourself. (1 John 2:5-6)  This full-grown, complete and perfect love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!  (I John 4:18)  I cast every care on You, Lord, and will not be anxious about anything for You care for me affectionately and watchfully.  (1 Peter 5:7)  Amen and Amen!

Are you ready to slam that door in the devil’s face?