Friday, September 14, 2007

Be Alert and Pray

We are being opposed. The Church, men and women following Jesus together, are being opposed. Not by the government or atheists, but by the unseen forces of the spiritual realm. Satan, whose very nature is sin, opposes God’s will. That means he will oppose us as we seek to do God’s will. Put this in context with your life. You make an effort to be more loving towards your husband, and then he comes home and takes out his frustration at work on you. You are left exhausted and unappreciated and you wonder why you made the effort at all. You try to live a life of hope and you pray as your son goes in for tests, and you feel abandoned by God when the test results come back cancer. As we move towards God’s will every step we make will be opposed by the Evil One.

The apostle Paul wants us to be aware of this spiritual conflict that is raging all around us. He writes in Ephesians 6:
10 Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. (vv. 10-12; NET)

We are in a struggle. Not with other people, but with the dark forces that are in opposition to God and His Kingdom. If we choose to be part of this Kingdom, that is the Church, we can expect our lives to be opposed. We need to expect to fight.

It is so easy to ignore this war and focus on the “culture war” that exists in our society. We can make ourselves believe that they are the same thing, when they are not. The “culture war” is about getting people to live by a certain standard of morality (I am not saying this is a bad thing) while the spiritual war is about setting captives free. It is about helping people find freedom from their addictions, from abusive situations, from guilt, and anything else that keeps us enslaved. This is the very purpose of why Jesus came:
16 Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to tell them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read." (Luke 4:16-21; NET)

Jesus tells us that this passage from Isaiah is about Him. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would set the captives free and make the wrong right (giving sight to the blind). We as the Body of Christ are to give our lives to this same mission.

We are in dangerous enemy territory. Satan wants to take us out, leave us wounded and cause us to lose heart. If we are not on our guard we will not make it. If we don’t care for each other we will become more casualties in this great conflict. For this reason Paul urges us to pray:
18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. 19 Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak - that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20; NET)

We are to be alert and pray. Keep in mind that Satan is out to get us so that we will pray for each other and for protection from the Enemy’s schemes and wisdom to unmask his lies. Pray that we might have courage to speak the Truth so that others may come to see the light of God’s love and truth.

Prayer is a vital part of this spiritual battle that we find ourselves a part of, yet don’t fully understand. Prayer helps us seek out God’s truth and His will as we engage the forces of darkness. Through prayer we will be strengthened and be guided by the Holy Spirit to do the things God has planned for us to do. In this spiritual conflict we find ourselves in the best thing we can do is recognize that there is more going on than meets the eye and pray to our Lord and Father in Heaven. Then our eyes will be open and we will see what is really going on more clearly.

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