Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Don't Suffer
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the
prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the
good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having
rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.... --1 Timothy
Yet the ministry is one of the most perilous of professions. The devil hates
the Spirit-filled minister with an intensity second only to that which he
feels for Christ Himself. The source of this hatred is not difficult to
discover. An effective, Christ-like minister is a constant embarrassment to
the devil, a threat to his dominion, a rebuttal of his best arguments and a
dogged reminder of his coming overthrow. No wonder he hates him.
Satan knows that the downfall of a prophet of God is a strategic victory for
him, so he rests not day or night devising hidden snares and deadfalls for
the ministry. Perhaps a better figure would be the poison dart that only
paralyzes its victim, for I think that Satan has little interest in killing
the preacher outright. An ineffective, half-alive minister is a better
advertisement for hell than a good man dead. So the preacher's dangers are
likely to be spiritual rather than physical, though sometimes the enemy
works through bodily weaknesses to get to the preacher's soul. "Lord, the
battle is intense and the enemy is strong. I pray for every one of my
fellow-servants this morning, especially those who may be close to
succumbing. Give Your great grace and victory today. Amen."
Search the Scriptures
"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation
all the day." - Psalm
I remember James M. Gray, the noted Bible teacher, telling of a Christian
brother, a Michigan farmer, whose spiritual life had suddenly blossomed
until there was an overflowing of God's presence. Many in the man's
community recognized the change in his life and personality and sought
spiritual counsel from him. Dr. Gray had opportunity to ask the man about
the transformation of his spiritual life and witness.
"Dr. Gray, I began to devote myself to the Scriptures for my own need," the
man humbly explained. "Something happened when God opened my spiritual
understanding as I studied the book of Ephesians. I cannot really explain
what the Lord is doing for me and through me, but it has come through
prayerful meditation in the Word of God."
None of us can expect to get the rich, transforming blessings from God apart
from the Scriptures....
Too many of us ministers and Sunday school teachers are content to reach for
a commentary on the Scriptures. What we need most is to search the
Scriptures for ourselves. Men Who Met God, 47.
God Calls Those Least
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:11
"Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God himself were
speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the
strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in
everything through Jesus Christ. All glory and power belong to him forever
and ever. Amen." NLT
I never questioned whether or not God called us to be missionaries, but at
times I questioned his choosing me for this job. I used to think that God
called only the Spiritual Elite to be missionaries. That idea went out the
window when he called me!
God has shown me that in many cases he purposely calls those who are least
qualified. He does this so He receives all the Glory. Anything good that
comes from my life comes as a direct result of God's Spirit within me. I
have always come up empty when I tried to think of gifts or talents that I
had to offer, but in a way that’s good. God has shown me that He is all I
need. God did more through my life in the last six months than I had done in
the last twenty years.
The difference has not been because I am more spiritual than I used to be.
The difference is that I stopped inviting God to join me in all my plans,
and I started looking for how I could join God in his plans.
It sounds very simple but it took me more than two decades to figure it out.
After watching this unfold in my life I am absolutely convinced that if
Christians would ask God what he wants, and stop inviting him to join in our
plans, incredible things would happen!
You may not want to be a missionary any more than I did, but the happiest
and safest place to be is in the center of His plan for your life. God will
do amazing things thru anyone willing to step out and let God catch them...
If you feel like you come up short in the gifts and talents department, look
out! God may be getting ready to do amazing things through your life, and
keep the Glory for Himself.
Worldliness is such a opaque and mysterious thing for many modern day
Christians. We need to re-capture and understand the great evil sin of
allowing "worldliness" to pervade and undermine the effectiveness of the
Church of God. The promise of Scripture stands firm: "For the grace of God
that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and
godly in this present world." -Titus 2:11-12.
"The chief danger of the Church today is that it is trying to get on the
same side as the world, instead of turning the world upside down. Our Master
expects us to accomplish results, even if they bring opposition and
conflict. Anything is better than compromise, apathy, and paralysis. God
give to us an intense cry for the old-time power of the Gospel and the Holy
Ghost!" -A. B. Simpson
Personal Life: Accountability to God
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
It was the belief in the accountability of man to his maker that made
America a great nation. Among those earlier leaders was Daniel Webster whose
blazing eyes and fiery oratory often held the Senate spellbound. In those
days the Congress was composed of strong, noble statesmen who carried the
weight of the nation in their hearts and minds.
Someone asked: "Mr. Webster, what do you consider the most serious thought
that has ever entered your mind?"
"The most solemn thought that has ever entered my mind is my accountability
to my maker," he replied.
Men like that cannot be corrupted and bought. They do not have to worry if
someone listens to their telephone calls. What they were in character and in
deportment resulted from their belief that they would finally be accountable
to God. Echoes from Eden, 130.
"Lord, help me to live my life today in such a way that, should You call me
tonight to stand before You and give account, I would have nothing of which
I would need to be ashamed. Amen."
When God Has Not Spoken
"I did not send those prophets, but they rushed in; I did
not speak to them, yet they prophesied. IF they had stood in MY counsel, let
them announce MY words to MY people and make them turn from their evil way
and wicked acts and return to ME - says the LORD." -
Today, like has always been, there are self-proclaimed prophets who say they
are bring "a word to you" and prefix it with "THUS SAYS THE LORD." Since
there are three voices we can hear from -- the
ALMIGHTY CREATOR, ones own spirit, and Satan -- it is vitally imperative
that you are able to "DISCERN the source" of the message. The question that
we should ask is, "where did this message come from?"
GOD ETERNAL'S MESSAGE: "Who has marked HIS WORD and heard it? He who has
stood in the council of the LORD, and seen, and heard HIS WORD - he who has
listened to HIS WORD must obey and announce it." [Jeremiah 23:18]
"I did not send those prophets, but they rushed in; I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied. IF they have stood in My counsel, Let them announce MY
Words to MY people, and make them turned back from their evil ways and
wicked acts – says the LORD." [Jeremiah 23:21–22]
"I have heard what the prophets say, who prophesy falsely in MY NAME: 'I had
a dream, I had a dream.' How long will there be in the minds of the prophets
who prophesy falsehood – the prophets of their own deceitful minds – the
plan to make MY people forget MY NAME, by means of the dreams which they
tell each other." [Jeremiah 23:25-26] "Assuredly,
I am going to deal with the prophets – declares the LORD – who steal MY
WORDS from one another. I am going to deal with the against the prophets who
steal MY WORDS from one another…who wag their tongues and make oracular
utterances. I am going to deal with those who prophesy lying dreams…who
relate them to lead My people astray with their reckless lies, when I did
not send them or command them. They do this people no good - declares the
LORD." [Jeremiah 23:30-32]
OUR PERSONAL IMAGINATION or SATAN'S LIE: A message from an individual
originates in himself and focuses the attention on himself, causing him to
"appear more spiritual than others." It is words for people who have itchy
ears. Hananiah brought a message the people wanted to hear. Omnipotent GOD
concluded, "Listen, Hananiah! YEHOWAH did not sent you, and you have given
this people lying assurances. Assuredly, thus said the LORD: I am going to
banish you from off the face of the earth. This year you shall die, for you
have urged disloyalty (taught rebellion) to the LORD." [see Jeremiah
28:1-17] There was also a "lying spirit" in
the mouth of all the prophets of King Ahab. [1 Kings 22:23]
A worthless prophet will "lead MY people (Israel) astray." [Jeremiah 23:13]
"The prophets of Jerusalem are something horrifying: adultery and false
dealing. They encourage evildoers, so that no one turns back from his
wickedness." [Jeremiah 23:14] "Thus said the LORD
OF HOSTS: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.
They are deluding you, the prophecies they speak are from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD." [Jeremiah 23:16]
"They declare to men who despise ME - The LORD has said: ‘All shall be well
with you;' And to all who follow their willful hearts they say: 'No evil
shall befall you.'" [Jeremiah 23:17]
In the NEW COVENANT, the Apostle Paul said, "Let two or three prophets
speak, and let the others JUDGE." [1 Corinthians 14:29]
We desperately need to be able to discern the source of a message. When GOD
ALMIGHTY does speak, we should hear and obey promptly. When a message is of
man or from Satan, we need to recognize the source and not get caught up in
their lie and be deceived. For many "evil men and impostors" will become
embolden, and they "WILL GROW WORSE AND WORSE, DECEIVING AND BEING
DECEIVED." [2 Timothy 3:13] Let us take heart, the
LOVING GOD we serve knows what is ahead and has forewarned us. Stay alert,
for such a time as this!
Pastoral Ministry: How Much I Could Have
And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord,
and then to us by the will of God. - 2 Corinthians
Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will be judged not by how much
I have done but by how much I could have done. In God's sight my giving is
measured not by how much I have given but by how much I could have given and
how much I had left after I made my gift. The needs of the world and my
total ability to minister to those needs decide the worth of my service.
Not by its size is my gift judged, but by how much of me there is in it. No
man gives at all until he has given all. No man gives anything acceptable to
God until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice....
In the work of the church the amount one man must do to accomplish a given
task is determined by how much or how little the rest of the company is
willing to do. It is a rare church whose members all put their shoulder to
the wheel. The typical church is composed of the few whose shoulders are
bruised by their faithful labors and the many who are unwilling to raise a
blister in the service of God and their fellow men. There may be a bit of
wry humor in all this, but it is quite certain that there will be no
laughter when each of us gives account to God of the deeds done in the body.
A. W. Tozer from his book That Incredible Christian, 105.
"Help me to give of myself completely today, Lord. I hold nothing back, even
if at the end of the day I'm the only one with a bruised shoulder. In Jesus
Five Phases of
These phases are often experienced in the sequence described below, but
individuals can cycle through these feelings in a different order, and can
return to previous phases as grief is processed. It is also entirely
possible to feel more than one emotion simultaneously, perhaps to a greater
or lesser degree.
Phase 1: Denial
Upon hearing bad news, the most common reaction is a feeling of numbness or
shock. We may experience disbelief: "That is not possible . . . there must
be some mistake . . . you must have the wrong person, the wrong medical
records . . . that can't be true or happen to me!" The mind-body has
incredible defense mechanisms. If we pretend that something isn’t true, then
somehow the blow is softened. At any moment, our loved one could reappear,
or so we imagine. Time seems to briefly suspend itself, at least until the
cruel reality of the truth sets in.
Phase 2: Anger
We may get angry at the messenger who delivers the news, the doctor, the
person who caused us this pain (even if that person is now deceased), at
anyone we can hold responsible for our grief, even at God. This reaction is
perfectly understandable. There is a need to know why this happened and
whether the loss could have been prevented. "Who is at fault?" we question.
Somehow pointing the finger allows us to divert the pain from the core of
our being where it rises up and threatens to overwhelm us. Others may turn
their anger inwards and blame themselves for what happened.
Phase 3: Bargaining
We may try to negotiate the situation, either with another person involved,
or with God: "Please give me one more chance and I promise things will be
better . . . I will change . . . If you will reverse this, then I will ___
in return." This is kind of magical thinking where we believe our actions
will meet with the desired outcome. Some people attempt to strike a deal
with their Higher Power: to stop smoking, to find more time to spend with
family, to offer an apology that’s long overdue. At some point, though, we
face our limitations in holding up our end of the deal. No matter what we
say or do, the bitter truth is that things will not go back to the way they
were before. And that’s when the next phase hits.
Phase 4: Depression
When we realize the loss is real and unchanging, we may sink into a deep
sorrow. Though Dr. Kübler-Ross dubbed this phase ‘depression,’ it is more
accurate to describe it as more a combination of loss and loneliness and
perhaps hopelessness. We may feel remorse or regret, rehearsing over and
over what we could have done differently. Or perhaps we feel guilty that we
are still able to enjoy life while our loved one no longer can. This intense
experience of sadness leaves us with sparse energy for housework or outside
activities. It is common to find ourselves sobbing over the smallest little
thing or crying for days on end. Whether or not we have a terminal illness,
we may feel our life is over. Some may consider or attempt ending their
Phase 5: Acceptance
Time, in and of itself, will not heal our wounds. We may miss being able to
share our life with that person, no matter how long it’s been since they
passed away. We don’t have to forget how much our loved one means to us in
order to move on. If we can come to terms with the reality of the situation,
recognize it as a fact of our lives, and gradually let go of the struggle
against the tide of emotions that we experience, we can move beyond our
suffering. Even with our new circumstances, we can find peace within
Some writers have expanded this list of stages, adding Shock, Pain, and
Hope in describing our reactions to loss. These stages have been applied to
circumstances that can include: the loss of a loved one; grieving after a
suicide; the loss of a pet; the loss of a job; the loss of a love