Spiritual Warfare

Written October 16th, 2012

“All war is based on deception.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Ephesians 6
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul used the imagery of a soldier preparing for battle to describe the spiritual battle that is being waged by the forces of evil. Just to be perfectly clear, God has already won the victory and we live in that victory. But we still live in a world where  the power of evil is a dangerous force. We cannot  be complacent or passive. We must arm ourselves, as Paul said, so that we can stand firm against evil.

It is very dangerous to underestimate the spiritual forces of evil. The evil one is a despicable enemy without rules. If he cannot get to you, he will go after your children or your grandchildren. His main weapons are lies and deception. It’s been that way since the beginning.

I was listening to a pastor on the radio on my way to work one day a a few months ago. In his message for that day, he read something that was written by a 17 year old in Los Angeles, who wrote, “The devil is a “cool dude” who lets you do whatever you want.” On the other hand, this young man said, “God has too many rules”.

All war is deception, and this young man, without a doubt, has been deceived. The shame of it is, that young man, whoever he is, believes that God is real and that He exists. We can only pray someone will reach him with the truth of God’s word, that true freedom is found in faith in Jesus Christ.

I shared this with my Bible class this past Sunday and I felt a burden to share it with all the dads and grandfathers in our church. Young people today are being targeted like never before, young people like our kids and grandkids. Twenty years ago, it would have been almost unheard of for a 17 year old to think of something like that, much less put it in writing and have it published. We must arm ourselves, as Paul said, with the full armor of God. We must call on God’s strength to help defend against the ever increasing spiritual attacks against us and our families. We have a weapon too. Paul called it the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Also, in the last verse of that passage from Ephesians, Paul reminds us to pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests. In John 14, Jesus said, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

God’s word, and the power of prayer: Nothing else compares!

Blessings!

Living Water

Written October 11, 2012

Water is essential to all life. The locations of cities and towns all over the world were dictated by the availability of abundant sources of water. As American settlers moved westward, they relied on natural springs to replenish their water supplies. A look at a map of western states reveals a number of communities with the word “springs” in their names.

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman, she was drawing water from a well. In the account from John chapter 4, the woman was somewhat surprised when Jesus spoke to her to ask for a drink of water. Jesus required food and water like any of us. From that same passage of scripture, we also know He needed to stop and rest every now then, like anyone else. Jesus was fully man.

And at the same time, Jesus is fully God. He continued his conversation with the Samaritan woman, gently addressing her spiritual condition by saying to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

She was still thinking of the human body’s physical need for water. She asked “Where can you get this living water?”  She probably thought it would be great if she didn’t have to keep lugging water jugs to and from the well.

As they continued their conversation, she came to understand who was standing in front of her. She came to believe in Jesus, as did many other Samaritans.

So exactly what did Jesus mean when he said would give “living water”? In verse 14 of John 4, Jesus said “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Without water, plant life withers and dies. People and animals will suffer from dehydration and eventually die of thirst. We can live longer without solid food than without water. Water sustains life. Jesus said he would give living water, and whoever drinks it will never thirst again.

Just as water sustains life here on earth, Jesus sustains our very souls. Planting the seed of God’s word and all growth thereafter  must take place here on earth. That’s just the way God designed it. But the very power and love and presence of Jesus Christ is we all need to sustain us for all eternity. That is “living water”. It’s water we simply cannot do without.

A Short but Powerful Prayer

Written on October 4th, 2012,

Jesus was teaching his followers in the Sermon on the Mount when He spoke these words which are recorded in Matthew 6 verse 7:

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

Jesus was talking about prayers that really amount to nothing more than rituals. Ritual prayer can mean repeating certain phrases over and over, or reciting some prayer from memory in such a way that it really doesn’t help a person connect with God in a personal way. According to what Jesus taught, people who pray like are just babbling.

Jesus was not in any way suggesting we should limit our prayer time, or just pray short, brief prayers. When we as believers genuinely seek to make that connection with God, we pray as the Holy Spirit leads us and this might mean praying for an hour, or praying for a few seconds.

I prayed one of the latter a few years ago. In the spring of 2008, I learned that my former son-in-law was being deployed to Iraq. Being that he’s the father of my oldest grandson, I said a brief prayer on his behalf. I simply asked God to protect him and keep him safe while he was in Iraq. If that little prayer lasted ten seconds, it would be a stretch. It was probably more like five seconds. But what power there was in that prayer!

A few weeks after being deployed, I learned that he had been wounded in action. He was riding in a Bradley personnel carrier when it was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. The Bradley is a very lightly armored vehicle and usually when one of those takes that kind of hit, the survival rate for the soldiers riding inside is very, very low. On this day however, everyone inside this particular Bradley survived. There were injuries, but no one died. And as I learned later, the RPG hit the Bradley right beside the fuel tank.

My former son-in-law suffered second and third degree burns over a large percentage of his body and he was evacuated to Germany. From there, he was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for further treatment and rehabilitation. UPDATE: He fully recovered and remained on active duty at Fort Hood until he retired in October of 2014.

When I heard he had been wounded in action in the early summer of 2008, I instantly recalled that short little prayer I prayed for him a few weeks earlier. It was a short yet very powerful prayer. I will go to my grave believing that this young man’s life was saved by the power of that brief and short little prayer! And, of course, more than anything else, by the power of God!