What Spiritual Warfare Looks Like–Acts 17 Part 1

Paul and his companions were changing the world.  From city to city they were preaching the Gospel, reasoning with the spiritual leaders and watching men and women come to faith.  Amazingly, however, the enemy was equally tenacious.  In each city, the religious leadership was not happy with the impact Paul and Silas were having.  They went out into the communities and raised the rabble of the town to protest and riot against the preaching of Christ and its transformative affect.
 
It was ironic that the enemy was backed by the “religious folk”.  They were seeking out those with whom they would never associate to start violence and disruption when their lives and teaching were all about order and rules.  Spiritual warfare brings out the best in the faithful and the worst  in the enemies of God.  Still, in the midst of the daily battles, the church was thriving and growing in every community where Jesus was preached.
 
In our current culture, warfare is at a peak. The enemy is seemingly carrying the day and the hope of revival among those in our nation seems to be dimming. As the Church, we have to get back on our knees and cry out for God’s healing and restoration.  We need to seek his grace and mercy and turn the ship to come into alignment with his plan.  We must be wary of the religious folk and their attempts to water down the truth of faith.  We can lead a movement that will bring Christ back to the forefront of our thinking.  But, even if that does not happen, we must battle on to the end knowing that Christ has won the war already and we are saved by his grace and carried by his power.  We will be like Him and we will not be left to lose the war.
 
God Bless You
When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

God’s Plan is Always Right–Acts 16 Part 1

So Paul and Barnabas split.  Paul and Silas started off for a second journey. Soon into the trip, Paul met up with a young man named Timothy.  It became apparent to Paul that God had a plan for young Timothy, and therefore, Paul prepared Timothy and took him on the team to help with ministry. Timothy would go on to become Paul’s right hand and dear friend.  Timothy took ministry seriously and while young he became a pastor and led many to Christ–but, hold the phone…

What if Paul would have agreed to take Mark and he and Barnabas would have set out as originally planned? Would Paul have taken on a new young man to mentor? So much of what we do day to day can have real impact on the kingdom of Heaven.  The problem is that often those things that have the impact are not readily apparent. That is why it is the job of those that follow the Lord to remain faithful and simply keep moving forward.

God can often times even use our knuckleheaded moves to advance his kingdom.  We simply have to trust that he has a plan for us. We daily rise with the intention to follow him closely and humbly. As we travel through our day, we remain focused on the prize and honor him with our lives.  Finally, he takes our daily journey and uses it to conform us into his image; and, in that process we influence others to know and follow Christ.  There is never a short cut, but there is always a path to an abundant and amazing journey.

God Bless You

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

2 Samuel 22–God’s Favorite Psalm

David was quite a song writer, you may have heard of his greatest hits album—Psalms.  Also known as Worship With David and Friends. In the collection you can hear ballads by David, the sons of Korah and even Moses. But, as the Bible winds up the story of David’s Journey, God throws in one of his favorites—God My Deliverer.  Amazing, the truth is that I and II Samuel tell David’s story, but the Star of the story is still God our deliverer. That is the truth of the Bible, and the truth of Life.  Many great men have lived and died walking in the path of God—David, Solomon, John, Paul, Moses, Elijah, Billy Graham, Martin Luther and DL Moody just to name a few. As we learn their story and study their journey, we see a common theme—Those men were their greatest when they were submitted to and walked in God’s leadership.

Common themes can be great teaching tools.  If we were to take the risk and submit to God; then we could also see his hand of mercy, faithful leadership and true greatness in our lives.  History reminds us that that process is difficult.  It promises trials, tribulation and temptation that are unmatched. BUT, it also shows–that a life submitted to God is one he takes seriously.  He will move mountains to protect, provide and propel his chosen ones.  All he seeks from us is humility, submission and faith…graciously, he provides the rest.

God Bless You

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield[a] and the horn[b] of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
from violent people you save me.

“I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

“In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears…

12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark[e] rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Stealing Hearts–2 Samuel 15 part 1

God’s prophecy was coming true. After years of pursuit and civil war; after establishing a united kingdom—David’s sin had unraveled all that God had built.  His Son Absolom was starting a revolution, but, in a different way—he was stealing the hearts of the people.  No violence, no disrespect—a smile and a hug.  Absolom promised justice and help and slowly, after years of gentle deception, he was ready to steal God’s throne from his father.  Problem was, God was neither surprised nor ready to deviate from his plan. 

While the people may have been fooled by Absolom’s ploy, God was not.  Things are the same today. Men are always about promising to be the one to care about our needs and justice for all.  Sometimes they are even convincing, but, truth be told, they are furthering their own agendas.  They press forward and ultimately tip their hand.  When their true nature is revealed, they have only their own desires in mind.  That is why we are to seek and follow God.  Men will always disappoint us and deceive us—But God is faithful to do what he promises and lead us to freedom.  We have to be wary of the promises of men and faithful in seeking the leadership of God

God Bless You

15 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”

Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.

God Corrects His Own-2 Samuel 12 Part 1

God disciplines those he loves.  David sinned greatly.  He knew it and God knew it. David had hoped that covering up the sin, would somehow make everything better, but, God was not going to allow it.  God sent Nathan to expose David’s sin, and to help David understand the import of his actions.  The parable put things into perspective for David—David saw for the first time that he had become what he despised.  That was the beginning of repentance and restoration. 

As his kids, God also intervenes in our lives to mold and shape us into his image.  When we allow sin to stay in our lives, God has a way of exposing the sin and helping us to recognize what it has done to us and to others. If we are sensitive to his leadership, he can guide us to repentance and restoration.  He is first and foremost a loving Father—his desire is to shape us to be like him and enjoy the peace and freedom that comes with that. Help me, Lord to be sensitive to your leadership and humble and discerning to your correction.

God Bless You

12 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man!

I Samuel 18 final—The Price of Fear

Fear is a crippling disease. It binds senses and causes perfectly decent people to do awful things.  Saul was anointed King of Israel.  He allowed the position make him selfish.  That selfishness drove him away from God and cost him his relationship with Samuel, and ended his legacy. It also made him extremely fearful.  He was deathly afraid of losing all that he had attained. Sadly, he had already lost it. But the fear also shaped his decisions, his relationships and his ability to lead.  He saw David’s success and knew that he was walking with God’s anointing.  He knew it because he had lived it.  He also knew that privilege was only afforded to Kings! Rather than repent and humbly follow the plan of God Saul was allowing fear to drive him to do mean and horrific things.

Today, we are all subject to fear. We know that God does not give us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power and of a sound mind (2Timothy 1:7).  Yet, when we try to be independent and ignore God’s plan—we, like Saul can be driven to fear and away from the peace of God.  Great news, though, If we will acknowledge our inability to live independent of God—Confess our sin; then humbly allow him to direct our journey—follow his lead; then he will give us peace. God is in the business of granting peace not causing Chaos.  He is there to bear our burden not cause it. It is the greatest of all heart issues—Commandment Number One—YOU SHALL NOT HAVE ANY OTHER GOD BEFORE ME!!!!! Let God be God in your life.  Fear will be replaced with peace and independence will be replaced with true and complete freedom.

God Bless You

Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

10 The next day an evil[a] spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns…

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.

30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.

I Samuel 17 part 3–What to Wear When Facing a Giant

Growing up in the country has a tendency to make one look at life more simply. When one has a task to complete you do not take courses, read books, hire consultants and buy a bunch of equipment.  Instead you assess the situation, take what’s near and trust your instincts and proceed.  That was David’s approach to defending Israel.  When he was commissioned by the King, he was Armed with the Kings finest armor, given the Kings very sword and helmet and coached by the King to use the equipment.  But David knew he was not used to that stuff so he set it aside, picked up some rocks and faced the giant with the one thing he knew would affect the outcome—God.

When life seems filled with Giants, we often prepare for battle by employing the newest tools, latest theories and counsel from the best and brightest.  We try methods and theories that for our purposes simply do not seem to fit and are extremely uncomfortable.  What we should prepare for battle is a few simple tools—a Shield of faith, the sword of the spirit—(God’s word) and the helmet of salvation.  Like David, we walk into battle armed with the one thing that assures victory—God. 

It is great to read and grow knowledgeable in theology and life tools. The clear truth is, however, that without the Lord being in charge, all other tools become obsolete! Help me Lord to trust you and follow your leadership.

God Bless You

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

It is all Perspective I Samuel 17 part 2

The Army saw a giant, but David saw a heathen. Goliath was 9’6″, and was by human standard and appearance unstoppable—But David, like God, did not look at the appearance, he looked at the power of God.  Compared to the God that created the universe, Goliath was a mere speck.  The idea of fear and or uncertainty was never an issue.  That was why David, the newly anointed king was a man after God’s own heart.

In our world, like David’s, our perspective will dictate our fear.  If we dwell on the giants in our lives, we will live enslaved by fear.  But, if we focus on the size and greatness of our God, we will be confident, protected and provided for.  God does not change, He simply is. We are the only ones that become a variable.  Paul Reminded Timothy, as a young pastor in a dynamic church—“God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power and a sound mind.” 2 Tim1:7

God Bless You

20 Early in the morning, David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

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