Saturday, October 25, 2014

Victory After the Battle

The other day I heard these words, "Quit praying for peace, instead pray for victory!" I believe it was the Lord trying to make a very important point. It shows that there is a battle to be fought. Instead of praying for conflict to be avoided and for peace to come without a fight, we need to pray that we win the battle we are faced with. We are faced with unavoidable conflict. We can be victorious in the battle, but not if we ignore that the battle is there. If we stick our head in the sand, that won't make it go away. Peace comes after a victory, but victory comes after a battle! 

"While they are saying, "Peace and safety!
then destruction will come upon them suddenly..."
1 Thessalonians 5:3

Paul is talking about those who walk in darkness and are not aware of the signs of the times regarding the day of the Lord. The Lord doesn't want His people to be ignorant regarding what's going on in the world and how it relates to His Kingdom. He wants us to see what is going on through His eyes and from His perspective. When we do, we have time to prepare for tough times. 
"The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord."
Proverbs 21:31
We must not think that our own preparations and strength will win the battle for us, however we are still to prepare. The horse is prepared, so go ahead and prepare for the battle, but  it is the Lord who gives the victory. The best way to prepare is to be on His side and as close to Him as possible so you can hear His instructions. Remember that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, our weapons are not of the flesh. We bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
Romans 16:20

God is in control. We don't need to be afraid. Our victory comes from Him, yet we need to recognize that we are in His army. We're told to fight the good fight of faith. We're told to put on the full armor of God so we can stand against the schemes of the devil. We're told to resist the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. These are fighting words, but we're also told that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Put on your armor, pray, and prepare for the battle, but remember that victory is from the Lord and will follow the battle!

1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:12; Ephesians 6:10-17; 1 John 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

America's Grief Cycle

Whether we realize it or not, America is suffering loss. We have been losing the American lifestyle slowly and subtly for several years. Our freedom is under attack. When an individual suffers loss there is a grieving process he or she goes through. The same thing is happening in America. We may not be aware of it, but a grieving process has begun.

First there's been denial. Many have been unable or unwilling to admit that anything has been lost. They might see the country today as making many advances--more freedom--when in reality this is not the case. Our economy and our defense has taken a very large hit. We have gotten so distracted in trying to bring fairness to every single situation, that we have not noticed the looming threat building up against everyone. 

It's been very subtle, just as an aging parent or loved one slowly declines into ill health. When you see them every day you don't notice the decline as much as when you compare their quality of life to 30, 40 or 50 years ago. As Americans begin to wake up to the losses she's been suffering--through restrictive laws, violence or threats and fears of violence--some may choose to stay in denial because if they admit the reality of what is going on, it's just too uncertain and fearful for them. Denial feels better, but of course is a dangerous place to be.

Then there's anger. Many are awakening, coming out of denial and getting angry. They see how far our defense has fallen as we begin to experience, not only threats, but actual attacks of violence and greater frequency of less noticeable attacks like fraud and identity theft. This is where many people are right now--some in denial, some in anger. What comes next?

Once a person wakes up out of denial, the anger needs to be dealt with. Some anger is felt towards lawmakers and some towards the violent, the lawless and the intimidating. Some may be directed inwardly, for example if we have not voted or voted without being informed, resulting in lawmakers who do not have the country's best interests at heart. However, when we allow the anger to change into energy for prayer and, if necessary, repentance, then we will gain the humility and wisdom that is necessary to put us on the right path to recovery. Proverbs 11:2 says that with the humble is wisdom. Humility will open our hearts for the wisdom of God to be revealed to us. 

We need wisdom so we don't act impulsively and let our anger take us in the wrong direction. Yes, it may be that the government has gotten the country into a mess, but who is the government?--We the people. We don't want our anger to lead us to do impulsive and foolish things, yet, we are not to cower in fear either. A fearful heart is in panic, is impatient, impulsive and irrational. None of these are from the Spirit of God which He promises to those who believe in the Lord Jesus. We must make our decisions while influenced by the Spirit of God--from a heart of faith, peace, patience and love. This is a trustworthy, stable path. When we truly understand the love that God has for His people, we will be able to trust Him and follow wherever He leads us. We will understand that He is the only one who can truly lead to green pastures and still waters.

Take a look at what is going on in America and in the world today, but don't get overwhelmed and stick your head back in the sand as you begin to see it. Humble yourself before the Lord and pray, seek His wisdom and get going on the path He has for you. Do it confidently knowing that the safest and most productive path to be on is the path of His will for you.

Ecclesiastes 9:14-18: There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, "Wisdom is better than strength." But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lift Up Your Heads!

"But when these things being to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near." 
Luke 21:28

Jesus said when things begin to take place that indicate He is coming soon, to lift up your head because your redemption is drawing near. Jesus is physically returning to the earth and we are to prepare for that. We will physically lift up our heads to see Him. This indicates our spiritual condition and frame of mind as well. We will be lifting up our heads spiritually because we see Him and know Him, before we lift up our heads to see Him physically. 

The church is not to be in a position, when Jesus returns, where we are hanging our heads low, walking with a slouch in defeat or shame. No! We are to lift up our heads having the confidence that He is our redemption. We are not defeated in shame or cowering in fear, because the blood of Jesus Christ has purchased our salvation and redemption. Our trust is in Him, not in our own abilities to justify or defend ourselves.

Jesus said we are to be the light of the world. However we don't shine our lights in such a way that we are glorified, but so He is glorified. What we do is not for our own glory or for people to think highly of us. Our purpose is to glorify the Lord in everything. As long as we have learned to walk humbly with our God and our desire is to honor and glorify Him in all we do, then we can walk as Jesus did in the earth revealing the Scripture and the power of God. We walk in His love, which brings confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world.

What is your spiritual posture? Are you feeling defeated by guilt and shame? There is a posturing of repentance and humility that we all must do. But remember that your redemption comes from Jesus. Remember that He suffered so you could be free from all that. You can never be good enough to free yourself from guilt and shame, you must trust the Lord. We must take the postures of both humility and confidence. We can be confident because our trust is in the Lord, not in ourselves. If we remain only in a posture of repentance, that indicates we don't recognize the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse our sin. His blood is more powerful than your sin!

Lift up your head! Lift up your hands! Do it now! Imagine the washing and cleansing of the Lord Jesus. Imagine Him washing off all that which would defile and dim your light. Rejoice in that and let your light shine in such a way that He is glorified! Worship Him! He is your hope, your strength, your confidence and your deliverance!

Psalm 24:7-9; Daniel 11:32; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:14-16; 1 John 4:17; 1 John 3:2-3; Hebrews 2:1-4; Hebrews 9:14