In a few days, I will post 3 blogs highlighting our mission statement. The 1st will explain WHO we are called to serve – the “broken”. Jesus didn’t come for the healthy; He came to heal the sick. When healing starts taking place, the oppressed start setting free, and people accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation, we attract the attention of the one who doesn’t want people to be loosed of their yokes. The guy who gets thrilled by failure, broken homes, financial ruin and desperation. The one who would love more than anything to spend eternity in hell with you. The enemy. satan. The devil. The father of lies. The oppressor.
I became acutely aware of “spiritual warfare” when God 1st called us to ministry 9 years ago. He doesn’t like it when we surrender all to follow Him and His will for our lives… especially when that calling is to lead others to Jesus and proclaim the truths of God’s magnificent Word. I have also found that seasons when I was stagnant, complacent and just “going through the motions” that little “s” would back off. That being said, I treasure seasons of battle more than times when “s” cuts me some slack – because it just makes me rely more on my God, stay focused on Him and His calling and trust that what He has called me to He will lead, satisfy and strengthen me for the task. It can be grueling. When you choose to surrender anything to God (sin, life, finances, family, future…) little “s” is going to do whatever he can to sidetrack, derail and obstruct God’s work in your life. It is brutally important to “ARMOR UP” (Eph. 6) and “ABIDE IN HIM” (John 15) in order to prepare for battle. Engaging in spiritual warfare is no time to be lackadaisical. You may say, as I have, “I didn’t sign up for this!” but unfortunately (or fortunately) it comes with the territory.
A very, very dear friend gave me a book to start reading and I started it on Wednesday. I read chapter 1. Then on Thursday, I read chapter 1 again. And today, Friday, I read chapter 1 again. At this pace, it’s going to take me ‘til Julia’s graduation to finish… but there’s a LOT to chew on in here and I don’t want to miss what God wants to show me. The book is “The Three Battlegrounds” by Francis Frangipane (an in-depth view of the three arenas of spiritual warfare: The mind, the church and the heavenly places.)
The main thing I want to share today is something I’ve always wondered – WHY? Why does it have to be that if you go full-throttle for Jesus that you have to face such opposition? Francis answers that in chapter 1 and it makes sense to me. 1st he notes that “Satan will never be given permission to destroy the saints” (that’s comforting) but he is allowed to sift us “like wheat.” He goes on to say, “God knows there is wheat inside each of us” and the outcome of satanic assault is to “cleanse the soul of pride and product greater meekness and transparency in our lives.” Finally, he concludes, “Before God can truly use us, in one way or another we will pass through a time of threshing.”
WOW! That brings the verse about how He works all things for good to another level! And Romans 5 and James 1 – how trials and testing produce faith and endurance leading to maturity and HOPE. Oh, I want nothing more than to be used of God – and with that comes the price tag of “threshing”. Let it be.
Let me conclude with some other quotes that stand out – have fun chewing!
“Wisdom must precede warfare and virtue must come before victory.”
“There are no shortcuts…”
“To defeat the devil, we must be renewed in the spirit of our minds!”
“God can never entrust His kingdom to anyone who has not been broken of pride, for pride is the armor of darkness itself.”
“The greatest defense we can have against the devil is to maintain an honest heart before God.”
“When the Holy Spirit shows us an area that needs repentance, we must overcome the instinct to defend ourselves.”
“When we come against the power of the devil, it must be from a heart in submission to Jesus.”
”Victory begins with the name of Jesus on your lips, but it will not be consummated until the nature of Jesus is in your heart.”