Tag Archive: enemy


Now its Personal

Sometimes we just need a face to punch. We like our battles to be physical so we want to take it out on the things we see. No I am not a violent person but we like our battles to be physical. The unfortunate thing we learned last week is that our enemy is not flesh and blood but is the devil who leads a spiritual attack. We also learned that we need to be ready for war because the devil does not relent on us and then we can fight from a position of strength, knowing the victory has been won in Christ Jesus. This battle is fought with the only offensive weapon we have; the Word of God. We asked last week: When doing battle on a spiritual level what are the verse or verses that you constantly go to for strength? There was a large response to that call, which shows me that people understand the battle is very real.

The devil has been defeated and the war is over, but the battles continue until Jesus comes back again. Until then we must learn to fight the battles against our enemy the devil. Let’s get to know our enemy a little bit more and the tools that he uses to attack.

It would be so much easier if the devil came to us the way that we see him in our minds. I asked a group of kids last week in our children’s service to describe what the devil looks like. They came up with the stereotypical picture of the devil. He looked kind of like the picture below; red suit, horns, pitchfork, pointy red tail, etc.

The devil loves it when we have these images of him because then he can work in the background and get away with what he is here to do. Satan will continue in his rebellion against God until the very end. He continues because he hates God and all His plans and He wants people to worship him and follow his evil ways. He opposes Jesus Christ who in his very nature is God in the flesh here to redeem humanity from their sin,and restore their relationship with Him.

So if he doesn’t come to us in the form of a man with a face we could punch, how does he come? Paul writes to the church in Corinth and gives us a good idea.

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-14

So the devil doesn’t come as he is but instead disguises himself as something good. Who can argue with something good?

Let me give you an example of something good that the devil has used…This weekend is Labor Day weekend. A weekend to celebrate something good and God-given; the ability to work. Labor day arose out of a need to have a day of rest. Laborers were working from sun up to sun down and often with no complete day of rest. Labor day was intended to be a rest from the labors of work. Even as we recognize today that we need a rest from something good that God gave us, it is being used for evil in our country, and around the world, today. Work has gone from something that should be good to a tool the devil has used in us to ignore our families, ignore the poor and downcast, fostering greed and the need for power, and lures us into a false sense of security.

The tools the devil uses are often things that start out as good and healthy but can easily turn into our source of salvation, as we take our eyes off of God the only real source of salvation. The devil is tricky and is called the father of lies for a very good reason. He gets us to believe that we are doing what is right and good and when it gets out of hand we simply justify our actions by pointing out the good intentions.

Thanks be to God that we have the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Because I know of the good things that God has provided me with that have been used for evil. I am thankful for the Spirit of truth that leads me daily out the pitfalls of the devil. I am thankful and reminded daily of the war that has been won and the victory that Christ secured has been given to me and to all who place their trust in him.

So, I don’t need a face to punch because Jesus has already fought that war and won it.

When has the enemy used something good and God-given in you and turned it into something evil? How long did it take you to realize the evil that had occurred? What have you done to protect yourself from the same attacks?

Thanks everyone who commented last week. Have a great day!

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The Devil Lives in the Extremes

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” From the movie The Usual Suspects

There is a battle that occurs in the lives of believers everyday. This is not a physical battle that is played out flesh to flesh. It is not a battle that is fought with an army of soldiers. The battle that Christians face is one of a spiritual nature.

Here in our western mind and culture these ideas are viewed as crazy and far-fetched. When we talk about a spiritual realm in which battles occur that we can’t see, it is hard to understand. The real danger is that we have marginalized any idea of forces working behind the scenes. Instead we like to pick our battles with the people and ideologies we do see. We think these things are our enemy and we do what we can to tear people down and spend all our time and energy on the things we see because it is easier to attack what you see than what you don’t see.

Let me give you a real life example. We have a church in our area that attracts a lot of people; they would be considered a mega-church. We have had people leave our church and go over there to worship. There are some people who respond with a voice of hostility thinking that evil church over there is stealing our people. I respond every time the same way…we are not in competition with that church or any other church in the area. This is not where we should be spending our energy or time. Instead I point out the people in our area that have no connection with a church or with God. The devil loves when we take our eyes off the real issues and focus on trying to destroy other churches and their people.

The fact is that our real enemy is not people, churches or even other religions. The real enemy is the devil and the evil forces that come from him. I know that people can be evil all by themselves without the devils help but that does not mean we can ever believe the devil is not real. The devil disguises himself as a child of the light and will attempt to lie and deceive to achieve his evil goal. The devil will take our personality (something that God created us with to set us apart from others) and use it in ways that hurts others.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

The devil lives in the extremes of our life. He prowls around waiting for the right time to pounce. Whenever we take something to the extreme it can used for evil. For example, food needs to be consumed for our health, but taken to the extreme we can eat ourselves to death. We can see that even extreme devotion to religious causes can be taken to a radical extreme. The good cause can overshadowed when we fight to the death anyone who might oppose it. The cause may be just and right but taken to the extreme we become no better than the Pharisees of scripture.  The Pharisees guarded the laws that they spelled out to the highest degree. They were so blinded by their own traditions that they missed the messiah as he stood in front of them. In our extremes, whatever they may be, the devil can use it not only to draw us away from God but others around us. This is the real battle that exists in the lives of every believer. You might not believe in the devil but he sure does believe in you.

So what can be done about the battle that rages on? What can we do with the devil to keep him at bay? First we need to recognize that he is real but we don’t have to have an unhealthy interest in him. Second, we need to realize that spiritual battles need to be fought on the spiritual realm. Hear from Paul as he speaks to the church in Ephesus about the spiritual battle.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-17

If you notice there are a lot of defensive weapons that are mentioned but only one offensive. The Word of God is the only offensive weapon that we need against the devil’s attacks. We need to be in the Word to make sure we have the weapon to fend off the devil’s attacks. This is the whole reason why Christians are encouraged to be in the Word on a daily basis. Those daily encounters will equip us for the battles we face over a lifetime.

As Christians we have the weapons and the armor from God himself, why not use them? What are the scripture verses that you go back to time and time again when you are faced with battle? Please share, as you can be an encouragement to others that are facing similar battles.

Strap on the armor and carry your sword as God goes with you today. Be blessed!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

When I hear the word Respect I automatically hear the voice of Aretha Franklin (pictured in the video above) playing in my head. As I asked other people around me I wasn’t alone. Aretha sings to a man about wanting a relationship exchange. She is willing to do all kinds of things and have a relationship but not without his respect. So where am I going with this? My question is, how do you gain respect?

When it comes down to it, everyone wants respect! Everyone has a felt need to be respected. Respect is easy to identify but hard to define. So, what is respect? A definition that I liked said: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.

As Christians, I believe that God’s Word gives some guidance in the area of respect and the practice of it. In 1 Peter 2:13-ff Peter talks about the submission to rulers and masters. Verse 16 says, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” He then follows up with an implied how do you do that in verse 17, “Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” We should respect everyone!

Building a Community of Character series is built on the belief that these pillars of Character Counts are offering nothing new or original to the world or to Iowa (Where we are located). Jesus Christ embodied these characters long before there was ever the thought of Character Counts. Jesus showed respect and was respected.

In the Gospel of John (8:1-11) there is a story about a woman who was brought before Jesus and had just been caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisee’s called her a sinner, but Jesus saw her as a child of God. The Pharisee’s would have rather seen her stoned to death; Jesus had compassion. Jesus showed respect to all people. It doesn’t mean that he consented to their way of life, but he saw all people as worthy of respect.

We live in a world of party lines: republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, poor, middle class, management, workers and many, many more. This also happens in Christianity all too frequently. If you are in another camp opposed to mine you don’t simply have a different opinion, you are wrong and often times the enemy. As an enemy we discredit, dishonor and show no respect to the other side.

As we prepare this week for the topic of RESPECT ask yourself how you might respond to some of these questions: How do you define respect? What areas do you find it difficult to respect someone? Would it be possible to show respect to someone without consenting or agreeing with them? Do you believe that our culture and communities could ever be like that?

Feel free to respond here or on Facebook. Thanks!

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