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Entries in Spiritual Warfare (5)

Monday
Apr242017

Checkmate and the Rulers of this Age

1 Corinthians 2:6-12.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on April 23, 2017.

In the game of Chess many different strategies can be employed, both defensive and offensive.  Regardless of how sophisticated a strategy may be, the proof of one’s superior ability is to put the other player’s King in a conquered position called checkmate.  They have no moves available to keep the opponent’s next move from taking their King.  Now, in using this illustration, I do not want to give the impression that the Devil is God’s equal in a cosmic game of Chess.  However, we do need to understand that the Devil has made many tactical blunders throughout the course of history, first of which is his choice to rebel against the Creator.

In our passage today we see that the cross may not have been the checkmate per se.  However, it was an irrecoverable error and all moves since are moving towards an inevitable checkmate in which he is out of moves.  Even the moves he employs since the cross are only possible because God is giving time for pawns on the Devil’s side to rebel against the rebel and come back to the Creator.  So the real question today is not so much how many moves or time is left.  Rather, the pertinent question is this, “Which side are you on?”  Are you on the side of the Father and His Son, Jesus?  Or, are you on the side of the Devil and his angels?  Let’s look at our passage today.

Jesus and the Crucifixion are God’s Wisdom

We are going to focus on verses 6-8, but to do that I want to point out verse 2 of this chapter.  Paul told the Corinthians that when he was among them he was “determined not to know anything among you except, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  The distinction is important because Jesus is the wisdom of God both in his being, and in his doing.  He is the wisdom of God before He ever opens His mouth.  When He speaks we are receiving the very wisdom of God.  And, when he acts, the decisions that he makes and the things that he goes through, are all part of demonstrating the wisdom of God.  Now, no matter how Christians want to be perceived by the world, we must hold firmly to this foundational understanding: God’s wisdom is very different from the world’s wisdom.  Not only this, but the world’s wisdom will never accept the wisdom of God in Jesus.  Yes, it may take hold of it and twist it into something and someone different, so as to embrace it. But it will always be an idol of their making and just as vain.

Paul wanted the Corinthians and us to understand that the rulers of this age were ignorant of the amazingly wise thing that God was doing in Jesus.  The Corinthians had embraced Jesus, but held onto wisdom and pathways of thinking that came from the rulers of this age.  You can’t keep the wisdom of this age and really follow Jesus.  The word translated as “ruler” here is used of both earthly and heavenly beings.  Now a human interpretation of this term would most likely be true.  If Caiaphas, Pilate, et al, had known what they were doing they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus.  However, there is very good reason to believe that Paul is also speaking of the Devil and his angels.  They are the true rulers of this age.  What evidence leads me to believe this?  First of all, Jesus often references the spiritual powers that were working.  In the Gospel of John he references the “ruler of this world” that was coming,” and who was about to be “cast out.”  Paul in Ephesians 2:1-2 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”  This “ruler” is clearly a spirit being and only ruling in the air as opposed to the heavenlies.  Later in Ephesians 6 Paul speaks further, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Again Paul is clear that these rulers are not flesh and blood, but rather spiritual hosts of wickedness.  There is another reason to recognize the spiritual rulers being referenced in this passage.  The “fallen angels,” as they are often called, operate in rebellion to the God of heaven.  As such, they have historically promoted an alternate wisdom to mankind.  As the serpent twists the truth in order to bring Eve into an alternate understanding, so they have always twisted the truth and used a wisdom that is particular to them in order to manipulate mankind.  The ancient nations even bragged that their wisdom was from the “gods” and their rulers were “demi-gods.”  The Corinthian culture is part and parcel with this Gentile penchant to be enamored with the wisdom and philosophy of the gods they served.  Paul is showing the Corinthians that these great “gods” were ignorant and so were the human rulers who were leaning on their wisdom.  They are not ignorant of everything.  Rather they are ignorant of the wisdom of God found in Jesus.  The spirits at least knew who Jesus was, and they knew that he was there to fight them.  But they did not understand how he was going to bring about the kingdom of God.  This was a mystery.  Yes, the wisdom of this world is vast and immense.  But, in the end, it is at war against the wisdom of the God of heaven.  More than that, it does not lead mankind to utopia or salvation.  It leads us to fight against what will save us, the wisdom of God.  Thus the wisdom of these great spiritual rulers has led them to a tactical blunder that will lead to their eventual checkmate.  The Book of Revelation makes clear that their end is the Lake of Fire, as does Jesus in Matthew 25:41.

Why were these great angels ignorant?  Paul states that it was a hidden mystery that God had kept from the very beginning.  The incarnation of the Son of God and his substitutionary death had been kept secret from the devil.  He had no idea that Jesus wanted to be killed and that it was part of his plan.  By crucifying Jesus, he and his angels commit a capital offense and bring a capital judgment upon themselves and those humans who join them.  From the Garden of Eden on, they have abused the knowledge that God had allowed them to know.  In Job 38 we are told that the Sons of God shouted for joy when the foundations of the earth were laid.  Thus, the “angels” who are called “Sons of God” were created and present for the creation.  The extra-biblical, book called 1 Enoch, which is quoted by Jude and Peter in the Bible, pointed out their involvement in the pre-flood world.  The fallen angels had taught mankind technological arts and used them to pervert mankind away from God.  Thus the weapons of warfare and the arts of seduction (clothing, adornment, and make-up) came from these technologies.  As I said before, the post flood cultures bragged that this information had survived and was the reason for their greatness.  Yet, God had hidden certain things concerning salvation from them.  They don’t know everything.  They are not God.  He most likely hid it because He knew that there would be a rebellion.  So what can we learn from this?  We can learn to be confident in the wisdom of God, and we can remain humble before the world.  Yes, we know the mystery of the incarnation and the cross.  But, what more do we not know?  This is not a time for arrogance, but rather humility.

I would also point out that technology is not itself the problem.  We see this today.  Technology can be used for good or for evil.  However, we need to understand that the drive behind increasing technology comes from a manipulative, spiritual origin.  When man is in rebellion to God, no amount of technology can save him.  In fact, it will only make things worse.

Paul also points out the ancient origins of this mystery.  Although I have already spoken to this fact, I would remind us of a couple of verses in the New Testament.  1 Peter 1:19-20 says, “… the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”  Revelation 13:8 says, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him [the wild beast], whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.”  Notice that the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection were always the plan.  Even before He started Creation, God had already planned to save mankind.  In the unseen councils of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have agreed to the plan of the cross, which condemns all wickedness and redeems all who will humble themselves and put their faith in Jesus.

Verses 9-12, bring this to a point.  Jesus and the Gospel have been revealed to mankind by the Holy Spirit.  The mysteries of God and the wisdom of God that had been made known through the Apostles had its source in the Holy Spirit of God, and not the evil spirits of the Gentile nations.  The Corinthians were trying to follow the man Jesus on the outside all the while listening to the wisdom of evil spirits on the inside.  This will never work.  In fact, all Christians of every generation have had to wrestle with this tendency.  American Christians today wrestle with following Jesus while keeping a cultural wisdom that has its source in evil spirits.  The same is true of any other nation as well.  The wisdom of God has been given to all mankind through the man Jesus and by the Holy Spirit of God.  With it we are able to spoil the greatest beings of the universe outside of God.  We can be saved, seeing through their lies and the destructive tendency of their wisdom.  We can deliver ourselves and rescue others.  We have everything that we need to know for this age.  Sure, God has things prepared for the age to come, after Jesus comes back.  Until then, we can be confident in what God has given us now.  But if we choose the path of arrogance and a particular fascination with demonic wisdom then we will find ourselves in the same plight as the Jewish leaders in the first century.  So we end with the question, “From what spirit are you getting your wisdom?”  The answer to this makes the difference between death and life.

Checkmate audio

Thursday
Oct272016

Society under Siege: The Paranormal Paradigm Shift

Acts 16:16-19; Ephesians 6:10-12; Revelation 9:20-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 23, 2016.

It is interesting that as drug abuse has sky-rocketed, so has alternative spirituality and paranormal activities.  Historically drugs have been used to make it easier to connect with the spirit world.  However, America’s fascination with the paranormal began long before the 1950’s.  In the 1800’s a large influx of eastern mysticism came to the United States and spawned groups that sought to explore the spirit world.  Séances and contacting spirit guides began to catch fire among certain groups.  Contrary to popular conception, we are not becoming more and more anti-supernatural in our society.  Actually more and more people are adopting a spiritual world view that is alternative to the biblical view.  These alternative views typically teach that all things are connected and that the living can tap into this cosmic connection or force in order to obtain information.  They do not believe in a personal God that will judge our life.  Rather, they believe that we are all part of God, along with everything else in the universe.  This paranormal paradigm shift that is happening in America is really a going back to the ancient world views.  I do not mean that there are huge numbers of people worshipping Zeus.  However, they are reaching out to entities and conversing with “ascended masters,” whether they go by the name Zeus or not.  In many cases American Christians are not prepared for the reality of where this is headed.

It is past time for Christians to get acquainted with what the Bible has to say on this issue and be ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope that we hold.

The Early Church Had A Supernatural World View

In Acts 16:16-19, we join the Apostle Paul in the Greek city of Philippi.  Now a large percentage of the modern Church has rejected the supernatural element of the Bible.  Yes, they will acknowledge that there is a God, but the idea of angels and demons interacting with the world is just too much for them.  Miracles are too much for them.  Thus they explain away the miracles and supernatural events of the Bible.  We will see in our passage today that this is completely foreign to the first Christians.  Such a “belief” is not true Christianity.  It is something else entirely.

To set up this encounter in Acts 16, we need to understand that the Bible presents the reality of spiritual beings.  Just as there is a hierarchy among the peoples of the earth, so there is a heavenly hierarchy within the spirit world.  The Bible presents a cosmic problem.  A rebellion against the Creator has begun in the spirit world and mankind has been caught up in it.  There are good and evil spirit beings that are of lesser or greater power.   There are holy and fallen angels.  Now when Paul entered Philippi, he had come to preach the Gospel of Jesus to those who would listen.  At some point a young girl began to follow him around loudly proclaiming that Paul was a servant of the Most High God and people should listen to him.  This went on for several days.  No doubt Paul was praying about what motivated this girl and what he should do.  We are told that the girl was possessed with a spirit of divination and was used by her master to make him money by telling fortunes.  The word translated “divination” is literally python.  She had a python spirit.  This snake spirit was connected to the god Apollo and was supposed to be responsible for the amazingly accurate prophecies given by the oracles of Apollo.  Now this is not a story of Greek mythology.  Paul meets a real slave girl who is apparently good enough at fortune telling to make her masters money.  Notice that this spirit that possesses the girl operates in a “benign” way in order to give her information.  This is quite the opposite of the spirits that possessed the Gadarene demoniac that Jesus met on the sea of Galilee (Luke 8).  Those spirits manifested in a raging and insane manner that scared the daylights out of anyone who met him.  Thus some spirits are predatory in a malignant and dysfunctional way.  But, other spirits are predatory in a seemingly benign and somewhat functional way.  The ancient world was afraid of the spirits.  This fear and yet desire to know how to be safe in this world is how Satan kept the ancient world under his sway.  The early Christians knew that demons and deceiving spirits existed.  Any fortunes that this girl was ever able to give were part of a deceptive game plan to keep the Philippians under the control of the evil spirits.

Notice how Paul responds.  He is annoyed by what the girl is doing.  However, his problem is not with her.  He knows that the real problem is that python spirit that possessed her.  Early Christians knew that their warfare was not against people, kings, or nations.  They knew that their warfare was against spiritual entities that Satan used to manipulate the people.  This girl was not just a slave of men.  She was a slave to a predatory, evil spirit. 

Look at Ephesians 10-13 for a moment.  This is the famous armor of God passage.  Notice that this is about spiritual warfare against spiritual entities.  The armor of God is also spiritual.  They are to arm themselves with: Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, The Word of God, Prayer, and a Watchful Disposition.  He says in verse 10 that these things are needed to stand up to the schemes of the Devil.  Do not let yourself be deceived.  Our real enemies are the spiritual powers that hold the world under their sway.  Our job as Christians is to labor to set people free by the Truth and Power of Jesus Christ.  Of course, most people in Philippi were not possessed by an evil spirit.  Most of them were only “possessed” by the teachings of these evil spirits.  The devil doesn’t have to have everyone possessed.  He only has to manipulate and influence the larger masses to do all his bidding.  This young girl was set free by the Apostle Paul because he first recognized it and then called upon the authority of Jesus to set the girl free.  She needed an exorcism first and then the truth.  But most people Paul ran into needed simply needed the truth of God to cut through the blindness that they had embraced.  We don’t have to look for evil spirits.  Paul wasn’t doing that.  Rather, he was doing what Jesus had sent him to do.  He was looking for people who would listen to the Truth.  Those evil spirits that had dominion over the city didn’t like it and that is why this manifestation occurred.  So focus on people and their need for the truth.  As you are successful at counteracting the lies that these spirits promote in our society, you will start to run into opposition and perhaps even a person who is possessed.  Remember, they don’t all look like the foaming at the mouth girl in “The Exorcist.”

The Failure of Scientific Materialism

The West has come under a world view that is sometimes called Scientific Materialism.  It teaches that there is no spirit world and that all things can be explained through natural processes.  If there is something that can’t be explained we are given a kind of promissory note that promises that science will eventually figure it out.  This materialism points to the supernatural beliefs of the past and labels them all ignorance.  This itself is ignorant, but let’s press on.  It is partially true that the ancient supernatural beliefs were because of man’s ignorance.  However, because it rejects a spirit world, materialists do not recognize that much of the ignorance was because of meddling, evil spirits.

Materialism has problems though.  If humans are just biological machines and our thoughts are merely the random firing of synapses (i.e. just natural processes), then there is no right and wrong and there is no purpose or free will.  A crushing hopelessness lies at the end of such a belief.  It also runs into a logical contradiction.  If there is only material then the material had to either bring itself into existence or it is eternal.  Yet, if it has always been (if we can eternally go back to an earlier time) then time would never have gotten to us.  You cannot have an infinite regression of a material thing (space, time, matter).  This adds to the weight that few humans can actually follow such a world view.  It is too cruel and too inhuman.  Something in us cries for something beyond.  The weakness of scientific materialism has given rise to a new wave of the old spiritual ideas and paranormal activity like Paul encountered in Philippi.

As I said earlier, this began in the 1800’s as gurus and Tibetan masters interacted with the West.  The mystical world view of the East promoted a mushy spiritual paradigm.  Everything is God and we can learn to tap into it and the collective wisdom of all the spirits.  Thus séances, channeling, the occult, and many other vehicles became popular ways to connect to the spirit world.  Now surely there were charlatans who were out to make a buck off of the superstitions of suckers.  But, some activity could not be explained with this.  Early debunkers were not entirely successful.  Of course they didn’t have the scientific know how that we do today, right?  But then explain why even modern debunkers have trouble explaining away every experience and story that comes along.  Explain why our colleges and military still conduct experiments in the paranormal.

This alternate spiritual world view was different than the biblical world view.  However, during the 1800’s many Christian denominations began to give up the idea of the supernatural and miraculous.  Thus the Church was seduced to embrace scientific materialism and create a hybrid that allowed for a God, Jesus and not much else.  Jesus became a mere example and most of what is said about him never happened.  These moralists on one side and a harsh scientific materialism on the other side became a perfect dichotomy for funneling people toward something more and something spiritual. 

The alternative spiritual world view offered something that was new and exciting to many in America and the Western countries.  Thus many unwittingly opened themselves up to evil spirit with malignant designs.  The Bible warned us about them, but we have been set up to disregard what the biblical prophets had to say.  These spirits are deceivers and they cannot be trusted.  This is why God forbids and warns against attempts to contact spirits.  Christians are to pray only to God Himself.  We interact with only His Holy Spirit.  Don’t get me wrong.  The “wisdom” of these spirit beings can be powerful and seductive.  But like Satan with Eve, they only seek to steal from us what we have.

So What Should Christians Do?

First we need to quit running away from the Bible and start believing it.  You do not have to reject the reality of science in order to embrace the Bible.  You might have to reject the world view that some scientists have.  But, many scientists are Christians too.  Some of them do not have a biblical world view, but some of them do.  So what is the biblical world view?  God created both the spiritual and material world.  A rebellion in the spirit world came into the material world, when Satan tricked mankind into disobeying God.  God then gave mankind over to the desires of their heart and they became enslaved to these spiritual beings, or false gods.  Yet, in His mercy, God provided a way for humans to be saved from this slavery and His eternal judgment.  Christians have been sent into the entire world to set people free from the rule of these false gods and their demonic spirits.

In fact, Revelation 9 reveals that in the last days before Christ returns, a spiritual prison called the bottomless pit will be opened up and the earth will be inundated with malevolent spirits who will angrily attack mankind because they know their time is short.  The earth is not becoming less spiritual.  We are headed towards a time of great spiritual deception and attack.  Revelation 9:20-21 says, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”  This is where we are headed.

We should also be busy warning people about these deceiving spirits and the deceptions they have promoted in our society.  Many are enslaved by the teachings and ideas that come from these evil spirits.  Science is not our enemy.  Our enemy is using science and a deceptive interpretation of its findings to deceive mankind.  He wants us to be caught off-guard by his true intentions.

Lastly, Christians must walk in the authority of Jesus Christ.  Paul said to the demon, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”  A little girl was set free that day because Paul knew that these evil spirits cannot stand up to Jesus.  We have been sent on a mission from God to tell people about Jesus.  If you read the entire chapter of Acts 16, you see that Paul got his first convert by preaching by the river where people gathered to pray.  Lydia believed in Jesus and asked Paul to stay and teach her more.  The world would call Paul a cultural murderer.  But, He knew he was operating under the authority of Jesus who is Lord of all Lords and King of all kings, both on earth and in the heavens above.  Let’s trust Him and be about our Father’s business.

The Paranormal Paradigm Shift audio

Monday
Jun162014

Stepping In His Steps

This weekend is Father’s Day and so I want to look at several verses in Psalm 37:23-24.  When Jesus called his disciples he used a certain phrase, “Come, follow me.”  Those who responded became his disciples.  Notice that this same thing is happening today, 20 centuries later.  Of course, Jesus is not physically here calling people.  But, the Holy Spirit is speaking to the hearts of individuals and through the lives of believers to call out to this world, “Come, follow me.”

Yet, this call to follow Jesus would be like asking a child to follow a professional rock climber.  Without help we are unable to follow Jesus.  Today’s passage makes it clear that those who respond to the call to follow Jesus are not left to do it in their own strength.  Rather, they are helped by God Himself.

The Good Man Fights the Good Fight

Verse 23 starts out by referring to a “good man.”  The word translated as good is a term that can also mean strong, as in strong for battle.  Because the context is not about physical strength it gets translated as “good” as in morally strong.  Perhaps it may be better to see it as strong in faith because that is what is in contention.  It is clearly a righteous man who trusts in the Lord that is in view.  In fact the whole chapter is a treatise regarding the righteous and the unrighteous.  So this is a good man, a man strong in his faith toward God. 

We see the Apostle Paul speaking of this in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  He has been a strong warrior for the Lord.  The good fight is not fought with physical strength, but with spiritual strength.

Our battle is not with atheists and other religions.  Rather, our battle is first of al with our own self.  The flesh has a powerful way of justifying its lusts and desires.  If we do not restrain it, it will pull us down into a quagmire of serving self.  We also battle against the corrupting influence of this world.  Its culture, institutions, systems and powers are difficult obstacles to overcome in the arena of faith.  Also, we have a spiritual enemy in the devil and his evil spirits.  They operate mainly through deception and temptation.  These three areas of Self, World, and the Devil take a man who is strong for battle.

Of course, none of us are able to conquer these three areas.  Only Jesus has been able to do that.  He is the ultimate warrior.  He has done what none of us could do.  However, this enables us to follow him.  When we stick close to Jesus and put our steps into his steps we will be able to have victory in these areas.  We will talk more about this later.

The Good Man Gets Direction From The Lord

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  So in Psalm 37 we are told that the Lord “orders” the steps of a man who trusts him.  Our paths or steps are a picture of the decisions and actions that we do in life.  Put in order we walk a certain way.  Now there really are only two ways in life.  God’s way will lead us to life. But “my” way will lead me to death.  Even if “my” way involves following someone that we look up to, other than Jesus, it is still headed in the same direction.  Yet, believers find that when we try to follow Jesus our way becomes a mixture of veering off the path of Jesus and then course correcting to get back in line.  This may seem futile, but recognize that God is able to direct us through it all.  He is not trying to control our every step so much as inform our every step.  Do you get your directions from Jesus?  Perhaps you wonder how that is possible.

We have the commands and example of Christ given to us in the New Testament.  We also have a powerful instructive picture in the Old Testament that helps us to understand who Jesus really is.  Thus his directions, in general, are given in the Bible.  As you read the Bible you will see that Christ does not call us anywhere that he hasn’t gone himself.  So if we cast off his commands and example we are trusting in our own thinking or the thinking of someone else.  The problem here is not that we are thinking.  Note in Proverbs 3:5-6 that we are only warned against leaning (i.e. putting all your weight upon) on our own understanding.  Yes we have questions and fears.  But we shouldn’t put our weight upon those things.  Instead we should trust the lord.  If we are truly listening, God will lead us and give direction to our path.  He will not force us.  He wants us to follow out of our own heart.  But know this, His direction will give you sure footing on treacherous ground.

The Good Man Is A Delight To God

You may not be particularly excited about your life right now, but God is.  He delights in our trust even when it is the trust of a spiritual babe.  He knows that it will grow and become the trust of a strong man of faith in time.

He also delights in the future to which He is bringing us.  He is leading us to a wonderful goal both in this life and in the life to come.  He sees the end that we cannot see yet and He is delighted in anticipation of the joys we shall have together.  Even when we are told the end goal, we cannot truly grasp how it will come about and what it will be like.  Thus it is our joy to delight in the discovery and realization of those things along with Him.

What about our failures?  Surely God doesn’t delight in us when we have failed.  The reality is that none of us will make it into eternity without having failed.  Only Jesus is the perfect warrior against sin.  God can see over the top of our failures to the person we are going to become.  He loves us, not just in spite of our failures.  In fact, our trust and love become more precious and more of a delight because it is over the top of cuts and bruises in this life.  Our trust becomes that much more precious, which brings us to the point of verse 24.

The Good Man Is Supported When He Falls

God promises to help us when we fall morally.  He knows that our frame is frail and that we are but dust.  This is precisely why He has pledged Himself to help us.  If you put your trust in Jesus, you will make it, period.

We might ask our self why we fell.  Did I fall because I desired sin?  Or, did I fall because someone else sinned against me and I couldn’t let it go?  Perhaps I merely lack skill in a particular area that he enemy is attacking and I am learning to follow Jesus.  Whatever the reason, Jesus knows your difficulties.  If you look to Him and cry out in the time of need, he will help you.

Notice verse 24 says that though a man fall, he will not be cast out.  It is one thing to fall, but quite another to never get up again.  Everyone who has fallen reaches that moment when they realize that they have survived and need to get up, and in fact must.  Can you imagine if the first time you fell off your bicycle you just quit trying ever again?  Though it sounds silly, what if you never got up off the ground and continued to cry and get angry for years on end?  Things that don’t happen in the natural often happen spiritually.  Many people are still laying in the road of some misfortune long ago and, instead of getting up, they just lay there refusing to move on.  Please know this, God is not looking for an excuse to get rid of you or throw you away.  He knows you will fail and He is committed to helping you get up and keep riding until you get it.  However, you must want to get back up and keep trusting Him.  People may cast you aside, but Jesus has pledged, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  And, that means even when you fail.

In fact, the Lord promises in verse 24 to support us by His own hand.  Allstate insurance can only do so much for you.  But there are far better hands in this world and they are God’s.  The support or bracing of the Lord holds us up so that we do not fail beyond recovery.  Of course we may not want to fall and wish God would keep that from happening.  However, we will never learn if God protects us from the effects of our decisions.  The hand is the symbol of power.  The power of God is Jesus.  He is the hand of God that has come down to save us.  When you trust in those hands they will lift you up through this life and through times of failure and bring you out the other side.  Jesus does this through the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit’s purpose is to come alongside of us and provide the help that we need.  If this is His purpose then He is also working in believers to be such a help to other believers.  I point this out because in engineering bracing is always done through triangles.  Thus God supports us directly by his Holy Spirit and indirectly through other believers.  This triangle of God, You, and Other believers is magnified by the multitude of relationships we can have with other believers.  Let the Lord support you.  If you aren’t a part of a group of believers that are trusting God and helping each other through life then you are missing a great part of how God intends to support you.

Now, the enemy wants you to stay down and refuse all help when you fall.  If you let him, he will get in your head and poison your thinking.  He will lead you to believe that it is impossible for God to love you because you have failed so badly.  In fact he only needs to insert the idea and walk away.  You will do all the work for him by trusting in what he says.  Don’t do that.  You will never recover from failure until you reject the lies of satan and believe the truth of God.  “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  It is not over.  God is not done with you yet.  Trust him.  Rise up and walk!

Stepping in His Steps Audio

Tuesday
May142013

The Holy Spirit Helps Moms

This was Mother’s Day weekend and so we want to be thankful for moms and encourage them.  I am going to use the series we have been doing on the Holy Spirit to do exactly that.  However, I also want this to be an exercise for all of us in which we see how to take biblical truth and apply it to our particular life.

Being a mom is often a thankless job.  We do not want to be like the 9 lepers who did not return and thank Jesus.  We need to often go back to the moms in our life and recognize what they have done for us. 

Now, moms and dads are tasked with raising their family for God and being a continuous influence towards Him on into their lives.  We see this early in the Scriptures in Deuteronomy 6.  Parents are instructed to teach the Word of God and thus the Ways of God to their kids as they go about each day.  It is an on the job learning experience.  Moms, you need to know and trust that the Holy Spirit is helping you in this task.  As we look at the different ways He is helping you, first make sure these are happening in your life and second share these things with your family.

He Helps You Bring Your Family To Salvation

In John 16:8 we are told, “when He [The Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”  The greatest need for any person is to be in right-relationship with God and, thus, to believe on Jesus.  It can be easy to throw our hands up and want to quit when kids seemingly don’t respond as we hope.  In fact, many will continue this into their adult lives causing much grief and sorrow for moms.  Let me just encourage you, mom, that the Holy Spirit hasn’t given up on your kid.  He is working every day to point out their sin, show them what is right, and warn them of judgment.  You might grow weary in these things, but He doesn’t.  Take strength from that.  Keep strong even when you feel unappreciated because God knows how you feel.

Now, God’s best plan is a mom and a dad encouraging each other in this as they cooperate with His Holy Spirit.  However, even a single-mom is not alone in this battle.  God will supply even more grace for those who do not have the best situation.  If your kids are without a father, then trust that in a way you may not understand, God will become their father.  In fact, for yourself, though you be without a husband, God himself will give you extra grace if you will look to Him for it.  Now for us in the Church, we need to have the heart of God that sees those who are “without” and choose to step in and fill up the gap.  Thus we cannot say to moms, “Just trust in Jesus.”  As true as those words are, if we say them so that we don’t do anything, then we are denying the very heart of who Jesus is.

He Helps Moms Set Their Family Apart For God

Romans 15:16 says, “…ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”  Like Joshua, we all need to make the resolution, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”  Your determination to share Jesus with your family will make a difference that sets them apart from others.  They will think differently from those who have never been taught the ways of God.  So make sure you are in the Word, living the Word, and speaking the Word into your kid’s lives.  Let them see that you too needed the Gospel to cover your sins.  Help them to know that before God you are actually their older sister, just teaching them the ropes.

Yet, moms also need a chance to “recharge.”  God designed us to recharge.  No one can last long without laying down and sleeping at night.  Often stepping away from a project for a moment can open the door to new creativity.  We need times to spiritually, physically and emotionally recharge and these are often closer together than we think.  They really are interwoven together.  When you step away from the task at hand you can grow in understanding that this is not a quick work.  It is a long range plan that works because line upon line, precept upon precept, one layer on top of another layer makes a difference over the long haul.  In fact we need to recognize this in one another and be quick to help each other recharge.  Find someone who “can’t take a break,” and help them get one, or seven. 

He Helps Moms Protect Their Families

Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Raising a family is warfare.  No, you are not fighting your kids, though it may feel like that at times.  First of all know that you must maintain your own spiritual health.  This is the first line of defense.  If Satan can discourage you then your young ones will become fair game as you wallow in despair.

Then be vigilant to demonstrate and teach your family to trust in God’s armor.  Teach them the value and necessity of Truth, Right-actions, Sharing the Gospel, Faith in God, Salvation, The Word of God, and Prayer.  Satan is not afraid of burly, muscle-bound, marines.  But he is afraid of a man or woman who will dare to trust God’s armor enough to make it their daily life.  Your presence in the home will help to protect against all that Satan would be free to do if you were “checked out.”

He Helps Moms Share The Gospel With Their Family

Though we may all feel inadequate to try and convince people of the Gospel, kids are an excellent place to “cut our teeth.”  First of all, they trust you probably more than anyone else.  However, they are difficult at times.  Help your kids to “get” the Gospel.  Though we are to correct our kids, our correction should always have direction.  Sometimes we can be so focused on stopping wrong action that we can forget that we are still sinners saved by grace ourselves.  We can use times of correction to remind kids of the reason why we need Jesus.  Use the correction to turn their eyes into the direction of Jesus and God’s provision for them.

He Helps Moms Pray For Their Family

Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.”  Raising kids will drive you to your knees, which is good.  However, we feel so inadequate at times.  The answer is not to tell ourselves that we are all-sufficient.  But rather, it is to recognize that God has promised to help us in our weaknesses.  When we are weak then God’s strength will become more visible.  As you pray for your kids know that God is praying with you.  And, when you are at a loss for what to pray, know that He is not.  The Spirit intercedes for you and on your behalf.  Take encouragement from this reality.

Final Thoughts

We need women who will choose to raise kids for Jesus.  In the midst of a world that looks like it is going to hell in a hand basket, courageous moms who dare to raise kids for Jesus are precious.  Choose to be that woman.  Even if you have failed, know that God can help you stand upon the failures of the past and move forward.  He is all-sufficient and will supply your need no matter how great it is.

We also need a Church that will come alongside of moms and lovingly assist them.  It isn’t easy raising kids and we don’t need a constant reminder of how far short we fall.  But we do need those who will come alongside and help lift us up. 

Lastly, we all need to remember that it is not ALL up to us.  Are you a big part of it?  Yes, of course!  But do you shoulder the sole responsibility?  No.  God Himself is in the harness with you, not to mention the personal responsibility your children have for themselves.  Take time today to rest and say, “Yes, Lord, I will continue to partner with you to point my kids in the right direction.  Amen.”

 

Holy Spirit and Moms Audio