Who’s The Real Enemy? 

Psalms 83:1
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!”

Prayer takes on many different forms. Sometimes it is appropriate to offer praise for the many blessings we receive from God, other times it is important to intercede for the needs of others; and we must never forget to take time to petition God for the issues that affect our personal lives. Here in Psalm 83, we find another essential element of an effective prayer life, as the Psalmist pleads with God to deal with those who have gathered themselves against God. He describes those who have consulted together with the goal of removing the influence of God and His people. In response, he pleads with God to intercede by defeating these enemies. It seems that his prayers are motivated by a desire to free the people of God from oppression, as well as a desire to see the enemies of God saved. He declares;

Psalms 83:16 “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord.”

Psalms 83:18 “That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

It seems we are in an age where the enemies of God are at an all time high. We are surrounded by those who want to silence the Gospel, or at least rewrite it. If we publicly declare the message of Christ, we may receive an onslaught of ridicule, or be marked as  bigots, and accused of inciting hate. Now is the time for believers to increase the kind of prayer recorded in the 83rd Psalm. It is important to keep in mind, the real enemy of the Christian is not the outspoken atheist or the unrepentant coworker. Our real enemy is the devil, who seeks to hold men and women captive in their sin. We are not praying for God to destroy those who oppose Him, but to reveal Himself to them for their own sake.

Pastor Jim

 

Victory

Numbers 24:17
“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.”

Unknown-1.jpegThe final prophecy from Balaam, regarding Israel, declares God will defeat all their enemies. The nations that surrounded Israel, as well as those who lived within its borders, would be brought under the mighty hand of the Lord.

As believers we should take great comfort in this. We all face constant attacks from without and within. Not only do we struggle through the difficulties of life, but we are also faced with inward temptation and trial. It is good to know that the enemy will be defeated. As we continue to walk with Christ, we will find that He carries us through the trials of life, and gives us victory over the struggles of our flesh. Even if you are struggling to keep your head above water, you can look back at the faithfulness of God and rejoice in the things from which He has already delivered you. This should give you a deeper desire to allow Him to set you free from whatever struggle you might currently be enduring.

God is faithful and will always be victorious. Pauls declare we are more than conquerors because of the work of Christ (Romans 8:37).

Pastor Jim

 

Under Attack

Ezekiel 38:1-2
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, . . .'”

Ezekiel takes us on a fast and furious ride into the future. He describes a time when a coalition of nations will come against Israel in a final attempt to wipe them off the face of the planet. The players in this coalition will come from the far north, perhaps modern Russia, and will include Iran and North Africa. Ezekiel explains that although Israel is greatly outnumbered and ill prepared for such an onslaught, God will intervene, protect them, and bring about a devastating defeat on their enemies. This prophecy is remarkable for a number of reasons.

First, it portrays a time before the return of Christ when the nation of Israel will exist, and be under the threat of annihilation by some of their neighbors. For 1900 years it would seem almost ridiculous to think that this prophecy could be taken literally, since the Jewish people had no land of their own. Regardless of your eschatology, or your view of Israel, we must at least concede that the picture painted by Ezekiel, is not only plausible, but even likely, when we consider the events currently being played out on our world stage. Ezekiel goes on to say, the scene will continue to develop until Israel finds itself under attack by armies from the North, perhaps led by Russia,  and is miraculously delivered by the Lord.

Second, this is a vivid picture of the ability of God to protect those who belong to Him. We, as believers, are constantly under attack from our own flesh, and from the circumstances that surround us. We often feel as though there is little or no chance that we will make it. We wonder if a year from today we will still be standing and following Christ. What an encouragement to know, when God is for us, it does not matter what coalition of armies are against us. This reminds me of the words of Isaiah who wrote:

Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn.This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,”

There is a strength given to the child of God, greater than anything we are forced to face. Joseph learned it in the pit, David in the caves, Daniel in the exile, Paul in the prison cells, and we can learn it no matter what obstacles we might be facing today.

Pastor Jim

 

Achilles’ Hill

Ezekiel 6:11

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘Pound your fists and stamp your feet, and say, “Alas, for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”‘”

When I read of the fall of Judah I am reminded of Achilles, who was one of the more famous characters in Greek mythology. He was the central figure of Homer’s Iliad, and the hero of the Trojan wars. The legend tells the story of Achilles, who was held by the ankle and dipped in the river Styx, providing him with supernatural protection in battle. As a result, his only weakness was his ankle that was not covered by the magical waters. It was this weakness that ultimately cost him his life.

Unlike the story of Achilles, Israel truly had supernatural protection. The great armies of Egypt, Canaan, and Assyria were no match for a nation who received its protection from the Lord. Their safety was never in their vast armies, high walls, or military ingenuity. It was the Lord, who was a mighty fortress protecting His people against their foes.

Tragically, Israel had an Achilles’ heel; an area of weakness that would ultimately destroy the nation. That weakness was their wandering heart. Like Samson of old, their strength lie in their commitment to the Lord. Each time they set aside the Word of God and picked up another practice of the surrounding nations, they came one step closer to their fall. Over the years they had come to the brink of disaster, only to call upon God, receive his mercy, and in essence, a stay of execution. This mercy caused them to misunderstand God and sin, thinking of themselves as indestructible. Even with the Babylonian army encamped about the city, they still foolishly thought deliverance would come. What they failed to realize was, sin will weaken an individual and a nation.

As a child of God, you are protected against the wiles of the devil. All of his attacks are shielded by the grace of God. There is no weapon formed against us that can prevail (Isaiah 54:17). That, however, does not mean we are indestructible. That does not give us license to sin or compromise, thinking we cannot be defeated. Like Achilles and Israel, we all have a weakness and that weakness is sin. The solution is to remove it from our lives and cling tighter to the promises of God’s Word.

Pastor Jim

 

Battle Plan 

2 Samuel 22:35
“He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”

As the sun begins to set on David’s life, he begins to recall how faithful the Lord has been. As king of a nation surrounded by hostile adversaries, he was faced with constant battles. With the poetic expression he became known for, he attributes his success to the Lord.  It was never his strength that led to victory, but the enabling work of God.

Our situation is quite different than David’s. Few of us are facing armed adversaries attempting to take our kingdom and our life. That does not mean we are not engaged in continual warfare. Each of us faces constant attacks from within that attempt to keep us from growing in Christ, or serving Him. It is important that we allow God to “teach our hands to make war.”

It is important to keep in mind who the enemy really is. Christians are notorious for engaging in the wrong battles. We rally the troops to fight on the wrong fronts, and as a result, end up giving away vital territory. The greatest enemy of the Christian is our own self-centered desires, that drive us to disobedience. The battle plan for such an enemy is self-denial. Jesus declared that following Him required denying ourself. Our passions, desires, and emotions must be held in check by the word and Spirit of God. We need to pray that He would “teach our hands to make war.”

Pastor Jim

 

Greater Is He

Psalms 21:11

“For they intended evil against You;

They devised a plot which they are not able to perform.”


The thing that makes following Christ so difficult is the enemies we face. The primary enemy of the Christian is the devil and his minions. Scripture describes the devil as a schemer who seeks to derail us from following and serving Christ. He will use the weakness of our humanity as a tool to get us to stumble into sin. When at times, it may seem as though the temptations and the obstacles  are too great to overcome, we can be greatly encouraged by this promise. 


Psalms 21:11

“For they intended evil against You;

They devised a plot which they are not able to perform.”


Satan sought to destroy Israel the moment they stepped out of Egypt, yet God intervened and their enemies were drown in the sea. Later, the same demonic plan was orchestrated by Haman,  whose wicked scheme was stopped by the actions of Esther and Mordechai. 


It brings great comfort to realize that “greater is He who is you than he that is in the world” (1John 4:4).


Pastor Jim 

  

Allies 

Joshua 10:5

“Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.”

 

Joshua, Chapter 10, describes a great battle, where five nations join ranks to come against the Gibeonites, who had made an allegiance with the people of God. The battle that rages is driven by a group of people who are outraged against those who have chosen to ally themselves with Israel, and be a part of the furtherance of the kingdom of God. While there may be political applications from this story, I think we would benefit greatly from some of the personal ones. 

 

First off, there was great cost involved with becoming a follower of God. Sadly,we find today, like in Joshua’s day,  some people are attacked for no other reason than deciding to follow Christ. Perhaps, you have experienced it. Perhaps, you have found that people who were once your friends, no longer want anything to do with you. Not because of anything you have done, but just because you have chosen to follow Jesus. They may have even attacked your character, and thrown a barrage of accusations against you. Often, these attacks are triggered by a misunderstanding of Christianity that stems from buying into everything they hear on the news, or from others. In other cases, they are driven by a hostility owing to a bad experience that transpired sometime in their past, and they blame God. Whatever the case, Christians are often under attack, and it is important to  see our attackers, not as the enemy, but as the mission field. 

 

Second, I think it is worth noting,  Gibeon not only experienced attack, but they also experienced aid. As soon as the kings began their attack on the city, the armies of Israel were unleashed to come to their aid, and ensure their victory. What a perfect illustration of what is true of the child of God today. In response to whatever attacks we might find ourselves under, the Bible teaches that all the hosts of heaven are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Paul spoke of the fact that God will always lead us in triumph and that we are “more than conquerors” through Christ (Romans 8:37). When you are feeling under attack because you are following Christ, remember, He wants to come to your aid and ensure your victory. Keep in mind,  the victory includes influencing others to join you as you walk with Jesus. 

 

Pastor Jim