Not unlike ancient times, this generation struggles to have faith. The key, I believe to having faith is in trusting God no matter what the outcome. THAT takes a humble and surrendering heart! Hmmmmm…..I think Jesus talked about that a lot. So, why don’t we just do it? We act as if this life on earth is the be-all end-all and it’s not. There is a glorious eternity in the arms of Jesus ahead. It’s true, there is a battle going on for your heart and soul. It’s a battle that has been already one by Jesus. Just make sure you are on the right side.
It’s hard to imagine a battle raging around us trying to draw us to the dark side and out of the light, but if you think about it, it’s true. Of course we want to envision soldiers, warriors, angels and demons with wings and horns. The truth is…. it’s an invisible battle that is so visible sometimes we can touch it! It’s called Spiritual Warfare!
Mark 9:19-20 (TNIV)
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus is about to heal this young boy and what happens? Satan snarls and the boy goes into a tailspin! It’s interesting to me that Jesus detects the lack of faith of those on the scene. We hear a biting rebuke come out of His mouth, “You unbelieving generation”. However, we will see in the coming verses that faith is restored, so is the boy, and it doesn’t take much.
I have seen often that when Jesus is about to make a difference, Satan and his demons get downright upset and cause trouble! They roll up their sleeves and look for a stick to throw between the spokes. Their goal is derail our faith.
The key to faith is to recognize and accepting the outcome, continuing to fight the battle with truth, honesty, integrity, compassion, and love instead of bowing to untruth, losing your integrity, bitterness, anger or hate. With faith, we know that ultimately Jesus WILL win! You see, we can’t win the battle using Satan’s weapons. That’s the biggest lie we fall for is when Satan looks at us and says, “Hmmm, I see you are having some problems. Here are some weapons that will help you battle the problem.” Satan knows that if you use his weapons, you will continue to lose the battle. Don’t fall for that maneuver!
I have said before that I often see, that when someone is baptized (often, but not always), all hell breaks loose in their life……BUT……when they cling close to Jesus, everything subsides.
Indeed, when our church, LifePoint began this journey to becoming a more permanent part of our community in 2011, a tree hit our building. I remember being interview by a news crew outside the building and being asked by the newscaster how I felt about the turn of events. “Well, in all honesty, we must be doing something right”, I said. This caught the newscaster totally off guard and he looked at me quizzically and said something like, “Come again? Your building was just practically destroyed!”. I told him, “Sir we must be doing something right. There are forces that want to stop us. We aren’t worried.” You know, that tree turned into a blessing. Through that incident, as a church, we got into the strongest financial position we have ever been in and now are in the beginning stages of seeing that vision God gave our elders come to a reality!
Additionally, as we get closer on the journey of fulfilling this vision, the battle wages, but we choose the right weapons and fight with. Even today there have been many things happen that try to pull us away from the task at hand, things that try to take our eyes off Jesus, but we stand strong with our Savior!
Here is the ultimate key to understanding spiritual warfare: Satan can only throw a last gasp of a blow before Jesus brings relief and wholeness. Trust in Jesus, have faith in all things….indeed….have faith in the outcome.
Just like that tree that destroyed our building, dashing our dreams of fulfilling God’s vision, the truth is, God turned it around (I believe, because of our faith) for the good and it became a weapon against Satan. “Damn!” he says (please forgive me, for using that word, but Satan wouldn’t say darn), “Didn’t work! Got to get their eyes off Jesus! Foiled again!”
Trust in God’s wisdom, His words for us in Scripture. Trust in Jesus. Have faith, no matter what the outcome seems. You are indeed safe in Jesus’ care!
Take that Satan! Foiled again!
Someone on my FB page just posted a rcrefenee to a sermon that contrasted hypocrisy from sin. The main point was that sometimes we have the desire to do something specific and we claim that desire out loud, but then we end up doing the opposite because we fall short of our goal. This would be an example of sin. Our desire is in the right place until it isn’t.Hypocrisy, on the other hand, is lying without shame, by claiming you are following a certain standard of conduct or adhering to a specific principle, when you know full well that you are not what you claim. This, also is sin, of course. But the difference is that you know what you are doing, and have no intention of changing.I think it’s easy to accuse people of hypocrisy before taking the time to investigate what is really happening in their hearts. For instance, if a pastor begins preaching a series on sexual purity and appears to be overwhelmed with passion regarding this topic, I tend to suspect that perhaps he is under conviction for something that is taking place in the shadows. If it is discovered that he actually is in the middle of an affair, I would not brand him a hypocrite yet. If he acknowledges his sin and is repentant, it is likely that all that talk about sexual purity was the Holy Spirit convicting him through his own sermons. In this case, the man needs grace, rather than condemnation for saying one thing and doing another. If, on the other hand, the pastor caught in an affair, sweeps it under a rug so to speak and then begins judging others in the church for their acts of sexual impropriety without humility or at least acknowledging his own sinfulness in this area, he is playing the hypocrite.An interesting example in the Bible of possible hypocrisy was when Nathan confronted David about his behavior toward Uriah after he found out that Bathsheba was pregnant. The hypocrisy revealed itself when David became judgmental toward the man in Nathan’s story who took his neighbor’s one sheep for a feast rather than using one from his own flock of hundreds. However, the hypocrisy was short-lived, because when David was confronted, he immediately took ownership of his sin, and started the process of repentance. A more blatant example of hypocrisy in the Bible is in the book of Acts, when Ananias and Sapphyra claimed without hesitation that they had sold their property and had given all of their money to the church. Both of them were struck dead when they were confronted by Peter.I think one difference between David and the New Testament couple was that David was wrestling with his conviction, even though he was trying to hide the evidence of his sin. Ananias and Sapphyra were purposefully trying to win approval of others through trickery and were unashamed of their lies. Another difference might be that David had a habit of showing his faults and weaknesses, based on several of the Psalms, but he allowed himself to get caught in a trap of his own making, and saw being confronted by Nathan for his lies as a way of escape. Ananias and Sapphyra had no reason to lie except to win the approval of others so when they were confronted with their lies, they felt no conviction toward the truth. Therefore, they were struck dead by God without mercy. I think another excellent example of hypocrisy was when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus’ statement he who is without sin, cast the first stone was confronting their judgmental attitudes toward the woman and toward Jesus, himself. Although we cannot know for sure, there might have been one or two of the men who actually slept with the woman at risk of stoning. These men would be considered hypocrites, in my opinion, because they were claiming to stand against the very sin they were committing and they knew without doubt what they were doing.I tend to think that spiritual blindness and hypocrisy are not the same thing. Therefore, the cries for mercy from Jesus on the cross and from Stephen during his stoning, Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do, were both attesting to the fact that the human judgment being poured upon them was still redeemable. And most likely, because of that call for mercy, people like Saul, who became Paul, and Peter and many others began the journey toward repentance. Ananias and Sapphyra did not receive that mercy because their eyes were wide open when they committed their sin.Hope this discussion helps somehow.