Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Our Struggle Is Not Against Flesh And Blood

12For  our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

     10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Don’t believe me? Read the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and seek help from the Holy Spirit and thus keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

When You Stand For Christ, Do Not Expect People to Praise You

No matter how obviously God used Paul as His servant, there have always been detractors, those who mock or speak meanly of him. To be sure, Paul was a powerful messenger of the Lord. If boasting of himself were appropriate, he would certainly have reason to boast. However, Paul remained humble in thinking and speaking of himself.

When we become disciples, or learners, after Christ and try to share the good news of the gospel with others it is a spiritual fight we are engaged in. When you stand for Christ, do not expect people to praise you. We must choose how we respond and engage, but do not do so without time in prayer with the Lord and the help of the Spirit to guide us. Unlike other religions based on men’s false beliefs, we are not to force anyone to accept and follow Christ. This would be meaningless. We have power of truth on our side. The historical facts are actually overwhelmingly supportive of the truth of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Son of God.

We must also not change God’s instructions to His people and keep the name of “Christians”, as so many do today. They identify as Christian and then reject what scripture teaches and try to redefine God in their immoral image.  Rather they should be changing their immoral behavior to line up with God’s character and teaching. He even had it written down so as to have a record we could all access… the Bible. Rebuke and correction of our brothers and sisters who depart from truth in God’s revelation is part of the role of a true follower of Christ, as Paul demonstrated repeatedly. We rebuke because we love, not because we hate.

2 Corinthians 10

Paul Describes Himself

     1Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! 2I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

      7You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 8For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, 9for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. 10For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” 11Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.

      12For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. 13But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. 14For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; 15not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, 16so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. 17But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD. 18For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.

Let us live apart from the world, though in the world. Let us set a holy example for others. Boast not in yourself but in God. When we stand for Christ, we will come under attack by men… even, and at times especially, from people who identify as Christian. They want to wear the label of Christ but not live according to His teaching. Look not for the approval of wicked men who twist God’s word or even your own self approval, but rather seek the approval of the Lord as His humble servant.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

There Is A Battle… If You Don’t Prepare, You Lose

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

      10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Don’t believe me? Read the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Recognize The Enemy. Know From Whom Your Strength Comes.

All too often, people dismiss the reality of demons and how they affect people. This denial is dangerous. Equally important is to remember that Satan is not all powerful and all knowing… only God is those things. Let us take care not to give Satan too much credit for all things that seem difficult or different than we desire.

However, if we are to engage in spiritual warfare, we must first recognize that there is a war and we have an enemy. We can not win if we do not recognize the enemy. We can not win if we do not recognize from whom our strength comes.

Our enemy is Satan. Our strength comes from the Lord. We should study the Bible closely to continue to learn and understand more about spiritual warfare and how to win.

Mark 9:14-29

All Things Possible

      14When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.19And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” 20They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22“It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. 28When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”

Faith and prayer are important aspects of connecting to God for His help in overcoming Satan and his demons. Do not ignore spiritual warfare and do not assume everything that happens is spiritual warfare. Sometimes a flat tire just means you drove over a nail. However, Satan is out there prowling like a lion looking for someone to devour. Be prepared and seek to recognize him by studying how he works in the documented scriptures of the Bible.

To learn more about spiritual warfare, read our teaching, Spiritual Warfare.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

“Have You Lost Your Senses?”

Many of us who follow Jesus will at one time or another be essentially mocked or called out as “out of our senses”.  The world struggles to understand how true disciples of Christ think and act. To follow in the example of Christ is very different from much of their world view.

I can think of several examples simply ranging from declaring Jesus as God to giving generously while seeking nothing in return. Just declaring evolution as the false doctrine it is may be sufficient to evoke these kinds of responses. In fact, I remember one event where someone generously bought dinner for a large group at a restaurant which was unexpected. Rather than simply saying “thank you” and recognizing the person was “giving generously”, some actually mocked him as crazy for spending money that way. The world does not understand followers of Jesus.

But take heart, Jesus experienced similar reactions. It may well be a good indicator that you are living apart from the world’s way. After going up to the mountain to appoint the twelve disciples, Jesus returned home to quite an uproar. The crowd gathered such that they could not even eat a meal. People said Jesus had lost His senses or was  possessed.

Mark 3:20-27

      20And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” 22The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25“If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26“If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27“But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

Jesus certainly has a way of summarizing the issue.  How absurd that someone would say He is possessed by demons because He casts out demons! If Satan is the strong man in this scenario, then one greater than He must be present to “bind him” and cast out the demons.

Do not be discouraged when others do not understand the motivations and actions you exemplify in your life. Test to ensure that you are in line with Jesus Christ by studying and applying scripture. If that is right, keep on marching forward whether or not they think you may be crazy. Pray for God to help you be a light and draw others to Him through Christ.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Jesus Did Not Come To Heal Every Sickness

Jesus did not come to heal every physical sickness or cast out every demon personally. This is sometimes difficult for people to get their minds around. If they see others healed, but not the person they hope for, they often choose to dismiss that it was really God helping to heal others.

“Why would God heal some but not others?

We do not know that answer. There are many aspects worth highlighting. Faith is required. People came to Jesus, rather than waiting for Him to come to them. Jesus came to spread the truth of the gospel and lead people to right relationship with God by teaching and living the commands of God recorded in the Old Testament and to die as sacrifice for all of our sins so we could all have a chance to go to be reconciled to God regardless of our past sins and separation from Him. He did not come to heal every sickness and cast out every demon.

Let us take a simple example in Mark 1. He heals many and casts out demons. But he leaves while there are still yet others to be healed and set free. Why? Jesus tells us in verse 38.

Mark 1:29-39

Crowds Healed

      29And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

      32When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

      35In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36Simon and his companions searched for Him; 37they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” 39And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

Jesus came to preach truth to many, not to heal everyone in one location. Miracles and healing were a helpful part of His ministry to demonstrate who He was to those around Him and also to show love to many.

For any of you who may be angry or sad or confused about why someone you love has not been healed or was not healed… take heart. You can trust in our heavenly Father and in His plans and His decisions. We are to come to the Father through Jesus. We can petition Him with our needs and desires. Then we are to trust Him in His decisions, even when we disagree or do not understand… as a small child must trust his or her parents even when they say “no”.

Pray for God to help you with any hurt you are still dealing with in this area. Seek others you trust to pray with you. Reflect on all the signs and miracles Jehovah has given us that He is God and we can trust Him. Follow in the example of Jesus to come to the Father.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Jesus Is Different Than Other Teachers

To put it simply, Jesus Christ is different from other teachers. He is different from the established religion that is taught in many churches or synagogues.  He has authority. He has the ability to work miracles. Immediately upon beginning to teach, people recognized He was no ordinary teacher. That is because during His earthly ministry, Jesus was God in the flesh come to dwell among us. (We should take note that He did choose to come to the synagogue on Sabbath to teach, thus demonstrating His support of God’s instructions laid out for His people in the Old Testament.)

Mark 1:21-28

      21They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

Jesus still has power and authority that others do not. Those who follow Him should teach boldly and with authority as well, though with a certain amount of humility. There is only one way and Jesus is it. We should expect the fellowship of true believers to reflect their leader. When congregations or communities lift up Jesus as their leader we should be able to see that they are different than other communities in the world. We should expect them to NOT conform to the cultural norms but to God’s word.

Many false prophets will try to fake miracles and try to teach as if they have authority, even though they teach false doctrine. We must study the scriptures ourselves daily and test teachers (you should test me also!) against scripture. We are only to follow those who teach the truth about Jesus Christ, consistent with what scripture teaches. Do not follow teachers just because they have a lot of people in their building every week or a lot of followers on Facebook.

As we look for whom we should follow, let us make sure it is Jesus and not a “celebrity” pastor. We should follow the example of Jesus and study scripture. We should seek truth and live by it even when it is in conflict with what an established church may teach. We should help pastors by holding them accountable to God’s word, even when it is unpopular. Of course we can study and learn from many different pastors, but none should be looked upon as the source of knowledge and all must be recognized to be capable of error. Let us do these things respectfully and with grace and humility.

Jesus is most definitely different from the world. So, too, we should expect our church fellowship to be different as well. Let us choose wisely our church family and teachers. Let us seek many counselors and teachers and test everything against the word of God. Let us humbly seek God’s help in prayer for this important matter.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Earnestly Seek The Lord To Reveal His Gifts And Purpose For Your Life

Those of us who are true followers of Christ are all part of one body. We are to work together for the glory of His kingdom, not fight amongst ourselves to each scratch out our own kingdom by our own strength.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

      12For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

It is a wonderful and awesome thing to watch when we see our fellow Christians living out the gifts and purposes that God has created them for and working together as a body of Christ to bring glory to God’s kingdom instead of creating our own selfish kingdoms. We see such an example in Romans 13:1-12.

      1Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

      4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11“Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

It was through fasting and prayer and ministering to the Lord that Saul and Barnabus received their guidance from the Holy Spirit. They were not busy going about their own pursuits, but rather actively seeking and honoring God when they heard from Him.

A group of believers gathered together in prayer and fasting and laid hands on them to send them on their way. Their mission was one appointed from the Holy Spirit and that was important as they encountered spiritual resistance along the way. It was the power of God that allowed Saul (also Paul) to overcome the enemy who was coming against them… and what a powerful sight that must have been for those who saw it! It was enough for the proconsul to believe in Christ Jesus.

When God appoints you on a mission and you faithfully seek to fulfill it, He will provide the path and power to successfully complete it!

Have you heard from God what your gifts and purpose are? Have you earnestly sought after Him in prayer and fasting? Have you taken time to even ask Him and then listen for a response? Do you study His word and apply it to your life? Do you come humbly before Him in prayer? If not, challenge yourself to start today. Do not wait for tomorrow. Make time for prayer with our Creator consistently as if it is as important as the very physical food we eat… because it is that important.

Do not dismiss to easily the possibility that Satan is coming against you when you try to obey God’s commands and live for Him. Satan will absolutely come against you. With God’s help you will overcome! Gather together with other believers in fasting and prayer to seek God’s guidance and blessing for your life.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Prayer For Him Was Being Made Fervently By The Church To God

Have you ever experienced some breakthroughs in your life in terms of living for God only to find that the resistance and obstacles increase? Indeed that is common. Often when Satan sees a Christian or Christians having a significant breakthrough or possibly on the verge of reaching many for Jesus, he steps up his opposition. So, too, do men who reject Christ. Sometimes you face both at the same time.

In Acts 11, the early church was growing, reaching out to Gentiles and receiving them in large numbers. Fellow believers were helping one another, even across different geographies… not just home town help. Then Herod stepped up his resistance to followers of Christ, much to the pleasure of the Jewish religious leaders of the time. Herod killed James, brother of John, and then arrested Peter.

The followers of Christ were not strong enough on their own to resist or overpower the government at the time. Instead, they turned to the power which God provided. The believers responded with fervent, intercessory prayer on his behalf. Prayer is a powerful weapon and brings about mighty things from God. Do not underestimate it and do not limit yourself to half-hearted, “when it is convenient and I have nothing else to do” prayer. Fervent prayer for a righteous purpose made by those who submit to Jesus can be very powerful.

Acts 12:1-19

Peter’s Arrest and Deliverance

      1Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. 2And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. 3When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. 5So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.

      6On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. 7And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. 8And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 15They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” 16But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed. 17But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, “Report these things to James and the brethren.” Then he left and went to another place.

      18Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter. 19When Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time there.

There is no about how Peter got out. There can be no credible “conspiracy theory” that someone bribed the guards or such. The guards surely would have revealed it and brought Peter back … they were led away for execution due to their failure!

Trust in the power of God to protect us. Of course we must also trust in God’s decision about whether or not He does so and how. Remember that James was killed at Herod’s hands.

Perhaps the principle lesson we should focus on from this scripture is the power of wholehearted, fervent, righteous prayer on someone’s behalf, especially when a team of believers come together in this prayer.  This is specifically highlighted in this scripture and is pivotal in the situation with Peter.

Do you know of some specific individuals or situations which could use the kind of help that Peter received in Acts 12 from God? Gather together with other followers of Christ and pray fervently for God to act in this situation for the glory of His kingdom! Expect Him to answer and keep praying. You just might be amazed by the response you see from our Creator and Lord.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Prepare for Battle – Know The Enemy

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

      10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Don’t believe me? Read the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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