Viewing entries tagged
wars

What is causing the fighting?

Friends

Have every wondered why people fight all the time?  If you turn the TV on that is about all you hear.  Everywhere you turn somebody is fighting about something.  It is everywhere all over the world.  If you look through history it is a part of our lives.

If we were to make a list of all the famous battles in history we could start with ancient battles like Thermopylae, Marathon, Tours – famous battles of ancient history.  We could go to battles of the Revolutionary War – Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Yorktown.  We could go to wars in the Civil War in America.  Gettysburg and Antietam, which was by the way the worst battle ever in history for American soldiers– twenty-three thousand people were killed or majorly wounded in Antietam.  Go to the great battles of World War II.  The battle for Stalingrad, the battle for D-Day, the ‘Battle of Midway’, the ‘Battle of the Bulge’.  Some of us still battle that one; oh, I see that some of you have furniture problems too – your chest has dropped into your drawers!

The Bible says that one day there is going to be a great battle called the ‘Battle of Armageddon’ which will be the end of history.

This coming Sunday I want us to look at the personal battles we are facing right now.  I don’t mean the battles going on around you; the war on terrorism, the cultural wars, all the media induced wars. I want you to consider the battles going on inside you.  The fight that goes on every day, the battle that perhaps no one even knows you are fighting. The struggle that you have been fighting in some way your whole life.

The fact is, life is a battle.  Everyone want to agree with that?  Nothing comes easy in this world. It’s not a picnic.  It’s not a party.  The Bible explains to us the reason too.  Ever since Adam and Eve ate the apple, the world has been broken.  Ever since then, the struggle has been around us, and IN us! 

You are going to have to fight for anything that’s worthwhile in your life.  Here’s a great example: health and fitness.  It does not just come automatically.  You don’t wake up one morning with a six pack (too bad huh?).  You must fight for good health by working out every day.  It takes energy to do that. 

In the Bible, there is a lot to say about the personal battles you go through.  In fact, the second most used analogy in Scripture for the Christian life is that of a soldier.  Number one is an athlete and number two is a soldier.  In the Bible, there are words that are used to describe the way you are going to live if you follow the path God has for you.  Words like “fight… conquer… strive… battle… war… overcome… victory.”  These are war terms, friends.  As I said life is not a picnic, not even a Sunday picnic in the park.  It is a battle. But GOD gives us what we need to WIN!

There is an entire book in the Bible about fighting.  It’s called the book of Joshua.  God promised the children of Israel the Promised Land, but He didn’t hand it to them on a silver platter, they had to fight for it.  And there are things that God wants to do in your life the rest of this year but you are going to have to fight for those things.  The questions I ask you are, “What are you fighting for?  Who are you fighting with?”

Remember there is a spiritual battle between good and evil that is constantly going on around us. It’s easy to ignore them, or to not recognize them for what they are, since the spiritual forces at work are usually invisible.  Angels and demons are no less real than other people are, however, and their impact on us is significant.

The Bible urges us to pay attention to the battles taking place in the unseen spiritual realm that surrounds us.  We cannot afford to waste away the gifts that God gives us by ignoring our roles in battles that will have eternal consequences. As Christians, it’s vital to engage in spiritual battles, because the more we do, the more we can overcome evil in this fallen world by God’s power working through us. This is where reading the Bible on a regular basis will really help you. (I told you He already gave us the tools to do battle!)

Here are a few more ways to fight and win spiritual battles for eternity:

•Ask God to give you spiritual eyesight.  Pray for the ability to see how unseen spiritual forces impact your daily life.  Ask God questions about anything you wonder about angels, demons, heaven, and hell.  Keep in mind that God welcomes your questions and wants to give you the knowledge, wisdom, and discernment you need to fight and win spiritual battles.

•Get to know how Satan operates.  Don’t let the unpleasantness of thinking about Satan prevent you from learning what you need to know about this demon who leads the spiritual forces of evil in our world.  God created Satan as a holy angel, but Satan rebelled against God and fell into sin, becoming the leader of the fallen angels who are caught in sin and now work for evil purposes.

Satan tries to lead people astray by appearing desirable even as he pursues evil actions with evil motives. He twists the truth with lies designed to pull us away from God. Satan’s primary strategy for tempting us to sin is urging us to focus on selfishness and pride rather than on trusting God’s purposes for us.  Keep in mind, though, that Satan’s power is limited, while God’s power is unlimited – and if you are a Christian, you have the spiritual authority you need to overcome any of Satan’s schemes against you. Pay attention when you get that nudge in your heart/mind when you are making a decision-you know the one that feels like maybe it’s not really the right one? - that’s the battle going on between you and Satan. And the Holy Spirit is giving you that nudge to get you going in the right direction. LISTEN TO THAT NUDGE.

•Use the power of prayer to fight.  When you pray, God will bless you with power, protection, and provision.  Pray in Jesus’ name, calling upon His resources, merit, and strength.  Aim to pray by faith, in humility, with a pure heart, consistently, and with devotion as an act of worship.  When you pray like that, your prayers will be effective against evil and help usher good into any situation.

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

June 17, 2017

Friends
 
I love this time of year.  VBS, hot summer days, sticky afternoons, and a good old thunderstorm that can pop up at any time, and then the wind blows really hard!  Most people would love each day to be 70 degrees, blue skies and the sun shining; but, life comes at you fast.  No matter what type work you do or where you live, the wind of change always blows.
 
Last week in part one I mentioned that there is more adventure, more political intrigue, more death threats, more raw courage in the life of Daniel than all of the blockbuster movies put together.  I am talking about Raiders of the Lost ArkMission ImpossibleThe Bourne Conspiracy and Star Wars 41 or whatever the number is…and everything else put together.  And those are fake stories.  This life really happened to this guy named Daniel.
 
This amazing story starts when Daniel is about 15 years old and ends when he’s 85 and it’s an amazing, life-changing story.  He had nothing to do with the decision but he felt the effects; you might even say he was swept up in a real wind storm! 
 
The nation of Israel had fallen into a huge spiritual decline.  God was pretty ticked at them, because they had fallen into idolatry, immorality and injustice. Sound familiar? NO?? Just look around at our society today. Think God has a reason to be upset with us too?  Now in Daniel’s time, there were prophets like Jeremiah, Isaiah and Zephaniah who were saying, “Guys if we don’t get our act together we are going to lose our freedom.  We need to shape up, or our nation will look like a tornado hit it!”
 
If you read history that’s exactly what happened.  In 586 B.C. God allowed the most powerful empire of the time, the Babylonian Empire, with a guy named Nebuchadnezzar as the emperor, to swarm into Israel and devastate the country.  They destroyed the capital of Jerusalem and they took 25 percent of the population of Israel as prisoners of war back to Babylon for 70 years.  Some of those people lived and died in a foreign land.
 
One of those carried off in that prisoner of war situation was a young teenager named Daniel.  He was about 15 years old.  He was separated from his parents.  As far as we know he never saw them again, and he never got to go back to his home country!  But the rest of his life was an amazing ‘rags to riches’ story where he starts off as a prisoner of war and he ends his life as the most powerful man in the empire, except for the emperor. He saves the empire and actually outlasts three administrations.  Nebuchadnezzar and Belteshazzar (Daniel’s new name given to him by the emperor) not only led the Babylonian Empire, but had also taken over the Assyrian Empire.  Then when the Persians came in and Cyrus the Great took over their empire, this new regime killed pretty much everyone, except Daniel.  Daniel actually leads two of these three emperors to faith in God.  Daniel retires at the age of 85, but is then called out of retirement to save the empire one more time.  I think this is an amazing, amazing story.  In our new series-Is Your Tree House Sturdy- we are going to look at the different tests that you are going to go through in life.  You may as well know them.  God tells you in advance what they will be.
 
Last week we looked at the first test which is when you go through major change. You will go through major change many times in your life.  Remember those five things God wants to do in your life, the five things you need to learn when you are going through major change?  If you missed that message, please go to our website, and listen to it.  
 
This coming Sunday we are going to look at a different kind of test, not major change, but the test of social pressure.  Have you had any of that hard-blowing wind lately?  You know the ones that try to sway you in one direction of another?
 
Have you been pressured to conform to something that you know is not right- by your boss, by the government, by any authority in your life? How about by your friends, or peers, do they pressure you to do something that you know is not right?
 
You need to remember this one thing that I learned a long time ago: Before every blessing there is always a testing.  
 
It’s true! The Lord tests the heart. If you are going to be blessed by God you are going to be tested by God.  If you are going to be used by God He is going to show you that you CAN pass the test! He wants to show you that you are ready to handle the power, the blessing, and the influence – all the things He wants to give you.
 
He is going to test your character, integrity, humility, generosity, loyalty, faithfulness, and truthfulness.  When you pass the tests from God, you get promoted.  When you get promoted you get more power, more influence and God will tell you things that He wouldn’t tell anybody else.  This is why Paul was taught so much and wrote so much of the Bible, because God spoke to him so much more than anyone else.  Why?  Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 NCV,“We speak God’s message because God tested us and trusted us to do it.  When we speak, we’re not trying to please people, [he said I’m not conforming to anybody but we’re trying to please] God who tests our heart.”  So remember when the winds are whipping around your tree house, you are being tested by God for great things to come your way!
 
I want to close with a poem called “Pressed”
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength.
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul;
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends;
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends. 
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod; 
Pressed into knowing no helper but God. 
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings; 
Pressed into faith for impossible things. 
Pressed into living a life in the Lord; 
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.1

 
1.    Annie Johnson Flint, "Pressed," from Poems That Preach, compiled by John R. Rice (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1952).
 
 
Make Every Day Count!
 
Barry
 
See you Sunday, come and let’s pass the test together