Sunday, January 19, 2014

War - What is it Good For?





Do you remember that song from the 60's/70's?

I had a couple of events merge in real time last week and cause me to sit down and really think about warfare....actual warfare and spiritual warfare.

One of the things that has been in the news a lot lately is Operation Redwing and the story of Marcus Luttrell.  Marcus is a NAVY SEAL who has written a book entitled The Lone Survivor which documents the events of Operation Redwing in which he and three other Navy SEALs  were on mission to locate, get as much information on and possibly kill a Taliban/Al Qaeda operative who was hiding in the Afghan mountains.  As events would have it, Marcus was the lone survivor of the mission.

I went to see the movie last week which was really unbelievable because I have a thing about watching violent, bloody movies.  I can't do it.  However, I knew the story, and decided that I would go with my husband to see it.  Well, I hid my eyes with my hands a lot of the time or I had my head down on my husband's arm so I couldn't see what was going on when it was particularly bloody, but the movie is nothing if not extremely moving

I hate war.  I don't like when people kill each other or try to harm each other.  So don't get me wrong here.  I am not glorifying or advocating warfare.  But what struck me about this is how each side was trying to get up higher than the other so they would have the advantage, and how they would shoot and kill a few members of the other team and then the SEALs would be forced (because there was only 4 of them as opposed to 100, more or less of the Taliban/Al Quaeda fighters who had the advantage and WERE up higher than them) to jump off the mountain.  They would roll and tumble and hurt themselves even more than they already were and then they would begin again to climb the mountain and begin fighting again.  Their ability to persevere to the point of death and how much they could take was amazing. 


Also this week, I finished my Bible study on the book of Ephesians.   As you probably are aware, the sixth Chapter of Ephesians (the last Chapter) tells us that we are in a warfare, too...a spiritual warfare and that we are to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against all the schemes of the devil. 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 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. 

Those military men had not gone unarmed into the battle and they had trained unimaginably hard to learn proper offense and defense in situations where it doesn't seem like they will be able to survive.  That's what they're known for.  Isn't what I described above basically what we're doing every day of our lives against Satan, His demons, our flesh, and the world and its temptations.   We battle by reading the Word of Truth, the gospel of salvation, taking in the ingrafted word which is able to save our souls.  We battle by taking up the shield of faith and batting away the incoming shots against us from the devil and his minions.  We take refuge behind our helmet of salvation which protects our heads from shots and protects our thinking, we put on the breastplate of Jesus Christ's righteousness which protects our vital organs, and without which we will never stand in God's presence .  We put on our shoes which help us to be ready and prepared to take the good news of Christ's gospel wherever He sends us.  We hold it all together with the belt of truth which is Jesus himself, whom the Bible tells us is Truth.  Further, we take up the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God and which we know is sharper than any two edged sword and able to cut between muscle and bone. 

Plus, we battle from a higher position than Satan and his angels, principalities and rulers and authorities.  We battle from the same position as Christ, from the throne of God himself.  We don't have to try to work our way to positions more favorable for there is no position more favorable.  Christ has defeated Satan. Period. And because Jesus lives in us, we can rest assured that we, too, can defeat Satan.


The book of Ephesians tells us in Chapter 2, verses 4 through 7:
  
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Last, but certainly not least, He tells us to "be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints".  Just like in actual warfare, the SEALs had each others' back, we are to have our brothers' and sisters' backs by praying for them; lifting them up...covering them with prayer. 

We are at war, brothers and sisters,and I know who wins the war, but He puts us in places where we have to fight against the enemy, too...to strengthen us, prepare us and to enlighten us.  Have you readied yourself for the battle today?


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Motto for 2014: BE HOT FOR GOD...GET WISDOM THAT WON'T LET YOU DOWN OR LEAD YOU ASTRAY!!



Anyone out there besides me who desires more of God's wisdom?  James 1:5, 6 tells us that "...if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to ALL and without reproach...BUT let him ask in faith, without any doubting, FOR THE ONE WHO DOUBTS is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind....that person must NOT SUPPOSE that he will RECEIVE ANYTHING from the Lord."

Let me see, that means that if we want wisdom, all we have to do is ask God (all knowing, all powerful, all present and FILLED with wisdom) and He will give to us.   Ahh, ahh, ahh, not so fast.  You must ask in FAITH without DOUBTING that He will give it to you.   Faith?!  You know - the conviction of the truth of anything!   So:  Ask, Believe in Faith that He will Give it to you; and He will give it to you GENEROUSLY and without REPROACH (rebuke or disapproval).

God's Word tells us in Romans 10:17:  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

To obtain faith, we need to be hearing the Word of God.  So the equation looks like this:  

Faith(hearing the Word of God) + Ask + Believe = Receive

Isn't that interesting?  The book of Proverbs tells us much about wisdom in its first three chapters.   Chapter 2 tells us the moral benefits of wisdom:

 1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. 20 Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

First, we see that "fear" of the Lord is the "beginning" of wisdom.  Fear the Lord.  That's right.  He is not your bosom buddy, he's not your main man, or your "pal".  You must have reverence, awe and respect for the one who created you, the world and everything and everyone else in it.  When you start to see how small you are in the grand scheme of things, and how big God is, you begin to have wisdom.

So, too, the knowledge of God leads to proper respect, awe and fear of the Lord, and you only gain the knowledge of God by seeking Him.  The world is full of people who want to teach you about God, but it is my opinion that the only way to really seek Him is through reading and studying the Word of God yourself and by listening to people who read, study and ADHERE to what God's Word says in its entirety.  The whole truth and nothing but the truth, in LOVE.    Don't listen to people who want to merely win you over by telling you what you WANT to hear.     2 Tim.4:3

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
  Our ears must be tuned to what God has said in His Word which does not change.  God does not change:  He is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY and TOMORROW.

In these verses of Proverbs, we are also given conditions which we must meet in order to receive proper knowledge of God and fear of  him:

First, we must receive (accept) His words.  How many times have you heard people use words similar to these:  "I just can't believe in a god who would do that" or "my god just wouldn't do that"  or "my god is not one who would hurt anyone or anything, he is a god of love."  Friends, there is a lot to know about God and we will never completely understand Him or His ways.  We must not be presumptuous about Him but read His Word with our ears open, and our mind and heart willing to learn about and accept Him just as He presents Himself in His Word.

Secondly, we must treasure his commandments.  I know what you are thinking.  Yes, it is hard.  Because we are sinful and love sin, it is hard to hear, accept and love what He commands us to do.  (Old and New Testament both are still 100% in agreement.)  We must treasure them enough to read them over and over and over and retain what we are taught.

Third, we must make our ears attentive to wisdom.  You read that right.  We MUST MAKE our ears ATTENTIVE to wisdom.   That means when we read, no matter how hard or unappealing it is to our ears, we must submit to what we read, take it in, absorb it and, when we are being taught by another who is also wiser and knows more about God than we do, submit to what they know from reading, receiving, treasuring and submitting to God's Word after years of practice.   Then, you can be more successful when you go to the next step of...

Inclining our hearts to understanding.  When we involve our hearts in the treasuring of His Word  and making our ears attentive to wisdom, then it is a given that we will have a passion for what we have learned and we will increase our pursuit of God and His wisdom through His Word and others who have a like passion for it.

It goes without understanding then, that as you do these things, you will cry out to God to increase your knowledge of Him, your fear of Him and your understanding of His wisdom, His design, His plan, and His love for you.  I see it as a circle; unending and ongoing until we die or He returns and takes us home.

I have been crying out for God's wisdom.  I know that in the year ahead there will be trouble; there will be pain, and there will be challenges.  I know that I need Him and His wisdom to get through these things.   I have written this out in blog formation so that I can check against this list to see if I am pursuing God in a right manner.

I know that God keeps His Word...He keeps His promises.  I know that God is the Creator, filled with wisdom and knowledge and understanding FAR beyond my comprehension.  I know that God loves me.  No one else I know would be willing to be spat upon, beaten beyond recognition, have their beard pulled out of their face, hung on a cross with nails in their hands and feet, and die. for. me because I liked to sin or because I wanted to sin, or because I was compelled to sin.  Nope, no one.  Only Him.  Only Jesus.  Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, my Savior.

And so, yes, I have the knowledge of who He is, and I have knowledge of what He can do.  He has all the power in all the universe to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that He purposes to do.  He can rain down fire from heaven and destroy cities; He can cause a person to drop dead as a result of trying to deceive Him, and He holds the key to Hell.  What have I got to  fear from man when God can not only destroy this body of mine but also throw me into hellfire fore eternity?

Yes, so I have the beginning of wisdom.  My prayer for this new year is that I will receive His words, I will treasure His commands, "Make" my ears attentive to wisdom, "Incline" my heart to understanding  and cry out to Him for discernment and understanding.

I pray that you, too, will catch fire for God and not be found to be a laodiciaen.   Don't be lukewarm about God.  That will not get you wisdom.   My motto for 2014...'BE HOT FOR GOD...GET WISDOM THAT WON'T LET YOU DOWN OR LEAD YOU ASTRAY!!"

Father God, this is my heart, my prayer for the next year:  Please give me your wisdom and how to deal with life in this evil generation.  Give me more love for you and for my fellow man and woman.  Give me discernment and give me steadfastness and determination.  Don't let me give up.  Inspire me to keep on keeping on and to keep coming back to you for more.  In Jesus' name.