Fighting & Winning Your Everyday Spiritual Battles

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We all have our battles.

Some of them are physical…

Others are emotional…

And, a lot of them are spiritual.

Truth is we face spiritual battles every day in the form of temptation, lies, fear, pride, selfishness, hopelessness, and a whole bunch of other things.

The bad news is that the one fighting against you (the devil) has been fighting a long time, and he’s good at it.  He knows how to push your buttons and he fights dirty.

The good news is that even though the devil has been doing this a long time and has lots of ways that he can beat you, he’s not invincible.

These are battles you can win.

But, it’s going to take the right kind of strength, the right kind of armor, and the right kind of strategy to beat him.

If you want to “stand firm against all strategies of the devil,” and “resist the enemy in the time of evil,” then you need to consider doing these three things:

Fighting your daily spiritual battles with the Lord’s strength and not your own.  (Ephesians 6:10)

One of the reasons why we end up losing our spiritual battles is that we try to do all that we can to fight the temptations and lies of Satan first, and then we ask God for help.

The problem with that is that we’re weak and beatable in our own strength.  But, our God is strong, and He’s already won the ultimate spiritual battle.

Putting on all of God’s armor every day (for a full list of God’s armor, look up Ephesians 6:13-17).

You might know all the right answers (belt of truth), and work hard at being a good person (breastplate of righteousness), but if your faith is weak, the devil knows that…and guess where he’s going to attack you?

You need to put on all of God’s armor every day, because the devil will always attack where he knows you’re weak and the most vulnerable.

Praying in the Spirit at all times throughout your day.  (Ephesians 6:18)

How often do you talk to God during the day?  At meals?  Whenever something bad (or good) happens?  When you feel like you need Him for something?

We tend to think of prayer as something we do only at certain times or in certain places or for certain things…but prayer is something we should be doing all the time.

Think of it as an ongoing conversation with someone that doesn’t ever really stop…

Sometimes you’re talking.

Sometimes you’re listening.

And, sometimes you’re just sitting quietly together.

That’s prayer…and it’s a great strategy for fighting against anything and everything the devil throws at you.

We all have our spiritual battles.

The question is…how will you fight your battles today?

 

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  (Ephesians 6:10-11)

 

 

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Being thankful is a choice

Thanksgiving is just a few days away.

And, while many Christians will go into the day with lots to be thankful for, many others may go into it wondering if they really have anything to thank God for.

Perception is reality, you see…

And, sometimes we perceive that God has forgotten us.

Or, perhaps that He doesn’t care about us.

Or even worse, that He’s out to get us.

None of this is true, but we can certainly think that it’s true if any number of bad things have happened to us this year…

We lost a loved one.

We lost a job.

We lost a relationship.

We lost something we worked hard to earn.

We lost our own good health.

We lost our identity…our purpose.

We lost hope.

The truth is that bad things do happen.  Christians are not immune to that reality.

We all live in a fallen, broken, messed-up, unfair world.

The question is…

How will you choose to look at the reality that is your life today?

What (or who) will you choose to focus on?

Where will you choose to find your purpose and identity?

What will you choose to be thankful for today?

Being thankful is a choice.

And, the reality is that God has not forgotten you…and He’s not out to get you.

He cares about you.

He cares about you enough that He promises to never abandon you on this earth (Hebrews 13:5) even while He’s preparing a place for you in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16).

A place where bad things don’t happen…

And, a place where loss is no longer a reality.

Life on this earth is short.

And the reality is that we have an eternity in heaven with God to live for and to look forward to.

So, while we wait, let’s choose to be thankful and trust that God’s best is still ahead of us…

Whether you think you have a lot to be thankful for or not.

 

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18

 

 

 

 

An Election Day Prayer

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An election day prayer…

“O God, would you stir the heart of our next president?  Would you stir their heart to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly?  (Micah 6:8)

O God, would you stir our own hearts toward the next president?  Would you stir our hearts to submit to the governing authorities whether we voted for them or not?  (Romans 13:1)

O God, would you stir up a heart of repentance in us?  Would you restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts?  (Isaiah 57:15)

O God, would you stir up a heart of revival in our nation?  Would you wake us up and clothe us with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ?  (Romans 13:11-14)

O God, would you have mercy on us this day?  Would you not abandon us, for we have had more than our fill of the scoffing of the proud and the contempt of the arrogant?  (Psalms 123)

O God enthroned in heaven, we lift our eyes to you in a time of great need for our nation.  We keep looking to you for your mercy.  Please remember us today.”

Amen

Are you a Jesus-consumer or a Jesus-follower?

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The crowds loved Jesus.

Every day, He’d pull off another miracle…

He’d heal sick people, cast out demons, bring people back from the dead.

And, the people loved it.

One day, He even fed thousands of them with only five loaves of bread and two fish.

Life was good.

You could watch Jesus do His thing AND get free food.

But Jesus never was into the crowds as much as they were into Him.

At one point, He even calls them out in John 6…

“…you want to be with me because I fed you…”  (John 6:26)

Jesus knew that the crowds just wanted to be entertained with His miracles…

They didn’t want to follow Him.

They were just consumed with what He could do for them.

Later on in the story, most of the crowd showed their true colors and walked away from Jesus…

“At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.”  (John 6:66)

Apparently, He wasn’t entertaining enough for them any more.

Have you ever really thought about why you want to be with Jesus?

Is it just for the next miracle He might pull off…the next entertaining thing He might do?

Or just for the free stuff you might get out of it?

(The truth here is that Jesus’ miracles are still happening today, and His salvation is still offered to us as a free gift…but there’s more to following Jesus than just being entertained by Him and getting free stuff.)

So, why do you want to be with Jesus?

Jesus-consumers want to be with Jesus for the entertainment, feel-good value.

Jesus-consumers want to be with Jesus for the free perks of the relationship.

Jesus-consumers want to be with Jesus for what’s in it for them.

On the other hand…

Jesus-followers want to be with Jesus not primarily for what He does for them, but for who He is.

Jesus-followers want to be with Jesus, because they understand the amount of love it took for Him to pay the huge cost of their sin.

Jesus-followers want to be with Jesus, because they know no one else can save them from themselves.

Which one are you?

 

66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.[a]

John 6:66-69

 

 

 

 

Letting go of the weights of life

The other day I read about a guy who dead-lifted over 1000 lbs (500 kg).

And, then he passed out and almost died.

Apparently, there are limits to a man’s physical strength…even for a guy who can lift more weight than anyone else in the world…

It seems you can only lift and carry so much weight before it will kill you.

Which got me thinking…

Life is a lot like that.

We can only lift and carry so much “weight” in our lives before it will ultimately kill us.

The weight of worry.

The weight of fear.

The weight of expectations.

The weight of addiction.

The weight of comparison.

The weight of perfection.

The weight of peer pressure.

The weight of self-pity.

The weight of performance.

The weight of fitting in.

The good news is that you don’t have to lift and carry all that weight around.

The good news is that there is a God who is far stronger than any man…yes even stronger than that guy who dead-lifted 1000 lbs.

And, He wants to take that load off your back today.

Question is…will you let it go and choose to trust in His strength and not your own?

 

“…God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”  I Corinthians 1:25b

“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  Ephesians 6:10

 

 

What will you overcome today because God’s gracious hand is on you?

It was a total disaster.

The city of Jerusalem was in ruins.

It’s temple…the main place of worship…had been torn down.

The wall that protected the city was one long heap of rubble.

Jerusalem was a mess.

Then two people decided to do something about it.

Two men believed that God could use them to rebuild the temple and the wall.

The city of Jerusalem could be great again.

And, all it needed was people like Ezra and Nehemiah…people who believed that God was big enough to change the hearts and minds of kings, and do great things.

What do you believe God is big enough to do in your life?

What great things can He help you overcome?

What will you overcome today because God’s gracious hand is on you?

 

27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem.  (Ezra 7:27-28)

 

The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”

With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”  And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me.  (Nehemiah 2:4-5 & 8b)

 

 

You can’t…God can.

“That’s impossible.”

“I can’t.”

“I don’t know what to do.”

Every day, we face new challenges.

Some of them are more personal…

They come in the form of difficult relationships, sickness, a lack of time, a lack of money, weariness, bad choices, losing a close friend or family member…

Other challenges we face impact lots of people…

They come in the form of Hurricane Matthew, a broken political system, racism, gender debates, terrorist activity, oppressive governments, disease…

Chances are good that you are facing some kind of challenge right now.

And, it feels impossible.

You think you can’t do anything about it.

You don’t even know where to start.

What is it for you right now that seems impossible?

What do you feel like you can’t do?

What is it that’s leaving you feeling overwhelmed or helpless?

Name it.

Call it out.

And, give it to God.

He is the God of the impossible…you are not.  (Luke 1:37)

He is the God who can do what you can’t do.  (Ephesians 3:20)

He is the God who gives you wisdom when you don’t know what to do.  (James 1:5)

And, He is the God who gives you grace when you need it the most…

 

16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  (Hebrews 4:16)

 

What do people think when they hear about you?

“We’ve heard so much about you!”

No doubt you’ve heard someone say that when you’re meeting them for the first time.

And, at that moment, you’re probably wondering…

What exactly have you heard about me?

Is it good…bad?

What do people think when they hear about you?

It’s the kind of question that reminds us that all of our words and actions are basically on trial every day.

Our reputation is at stake…

But even more than that, God’s reputation is at stake if you call yourself a Christian.

Are you who you say you are?

When people hear about you, do they think more about what you’ve done with your life or what God has done in your life?

Have they heard that God is with you?

God wants to show Himself to people, and one way He does that is through the people who already know Him.

So, what have people heard about you?

Do your words and actions make people think that God is with you?

The truth is God wants to show Himself to the world through you.

He wants you to be known as a person who walks with Him, so that when people live life with you, they can learn how to walk with Him too.

Imagine what God could do through you if people heard that God is with you.

Perhaps they’d say something like what the prophet Zechariah recorded in chapter 8 of his book…

“Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”  (Zechariah 8:23b)

 

 

Time to hit the reset button

Summer is past…

The break is over.

For many Christians in North America, summer is not just a 3-month break from school…

It’s become a 3-month break from church.

The truth is we fill up our summer weekends with all kinds of “good” things, and before we know it, we’re waiting until after Labor Day to get the family back to church.

Vacations.  Weekend camping trips.  Sports tournaments.  A lazy Sunday at home…

It’s easy to see how quickly we can become disconnected from church life.

If your summer was anything close to what I just described, hear me out on this…

Church matters.

You need the church and the church needs you…

You need the church to grow and the church needs you to grow.

You need the church to serve and the church needs you to serve.

Man didn’t invent church to be a feel-good time killer on Sunday mornings…God created the Church to give life to His people and then to send them out to give life to others the other six days of the week.

If summer has left you feeling disconnected from your church, now is the time to get reconnected…

Now is the time to be recommitted.

Now is the time to rethink your priorities.

Now is the time for a fresh start…

Now is the time to hit the reset button.

 

24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.  Hebrews 10:24-25

If you believe God is real…prove it.

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It’s back to school day today for many students, and there’s a good chance that at some point during this school year, they will be asked the question…

Do you believe God is real?

It’s kind of an intimidating question really.

The kind of question that ends up labeling you on campus and makes you choose a side when it comes to religion and spiritual beliefs.

How would you answer the question?

If you choose NO, then I’d want to know why you don’t think He’s real.

I’d say to you…

“If you believe God isn’t real, then prove it.”

If you choose YES, then I’d want to know why you think He’s real.

I’d say to you…

“Okay, if you believe God is real, then prove it.”

So, how exactly do you prove God is real?

You love like Jesus…

You love with compassion.

You love with kindness.

You love with sacrifice.

You love with humility.

You love with grace.

You love with truth.

You love with forgiveness.

In other words, you love others like Jesus loves you.

The world is looking for proof that God is real…

Be the proof.

 

12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.  (I John 4:12)

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”   (John 13:34-35)