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Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Don't Suffer Shipwreck

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 1:18-19

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 for Yourself

"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." - Psalm 119:97

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 Qualified

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. --Hebrews 9:27

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." - Jeremiah 23:21-22

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 Done

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 8:5

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 Name, Amen."

Five Phases of Grief

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 lives.

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 ourselves.

Other losses
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 relationship.

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