Skip to content
February 21, 2013 / wopod

New Website for new book up and running

Dear all,

Please check out the link http://theljandpofs.wix.com/theljandpofsex for the website for my new book for Christian married couples “The Love,Joy and Peace of Sex.”

Blessings to all,

Chris

Advertisements
October 18, 2012 / wopod

Armor of God 5 – The Shield of Faith

Armor of God 5 – The Sheild of Faith

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The Shield of Faith – Active Use!

We have already spoken of the flaming arrows relating to the devil’s attack. His primary attack is one of lies. He attacks the truth – against which we need the belt of truth firmly buckled. We then spoke of his attack of our righteousness in Christ and how we need to be clothed with God’s own righteousness (the breastplate of righteousness), in order to fend off all his flaming arrows of guilt, condemnation and accusation that he will regularly be fired in our direction.

Now we come to the shield of faith.

As we come to the shield please note that there are only two pieces of the armor that are held. The others are worn, the others are put on but only two pieces are grasped, only two that are held in the hand. That is the sword (which we will speak of later) and the shield.

In the same way there are only three that call for active use – again the sword and shield and, as last week, the feet. The feet are not just fitted they must be ready to do something, ready to share the gospel of peace. There is an active call to USE this piece of the armor not just to wear it.  It takes no skill to wear a helmet or a breastplate. You put them on and there they are. They remain as facts. God gifts to us salvation! God clothes us in his righteousness! And there we stand, in that salvation, in that righteousness, nothing for us to do but receive it, put it on and stand in it! Hallelujah! But not so for the feet – we are called to go – called to share, called to use those feet to reach out to others.

Likewise the sword and the shield are not automatically in operation. The shield does not leap itself between the soldier and the arrows fired against him! It must be raised, must be lifted, must be held in place. Nor does the sword leap from its scabbard to attack the enemy, it too must be held firmly, it must be swung, it must be used skillfully. Today we focus upon the shield.

The Shield (as the belt) relates to all the pieces of the armor.

The shield calls for active use – it call for a soldier to be awake to the reality of an attack and to raise the shield to catch the incoming arrows. The sheild calls for the soldier to duck behind it when such an attack comes and trust in it to keep him safe.

Now the shield, as the belt, relates to all the pieces of the armor. The devils attacks may relate to the other parts of the armor as we mentioned in the last two sessions.  The devils attack may be against our righteousness (breastplate), against our confidence in the gospel (feet), against the truth of our salvation (helmet), but whatever the nature of the attack the attack is intercepted and the attack is extinguished by the same shield – by faith.

We have already mentioned that the belt (Truth) is central to the armor. “Truth” relates to all other parts of the armor also. This is true for the shield too, for the heavy shield rests on the belt. Without a tight belt the shield has no firm place to rest. The point is that faith rests on truth. Conversely, as we have seen, central the devil’s attack is lies. So shield relates not just to having the truth (as a belt) but grasping, holding, and using the truth (as a shield). The shield is an active holding on to the truth of God. There is a sense that truth holds on to us (belt), but there is also the sense that we need to actively hold on to the truth (Sheild)!

So we firmly grasp onto the truth of God’s love, for example, when circumstances of life turn against us and the devils flaming arrow is a whisper – “see God doesn’t love you after all!” We hold on to the truth none the less, “God does love me, So much he sent his son to die for me, so much that he took away my sin (breastplate), so much that I am heading for an eternity in heaven (helmet) and you think that because finances are tight this month that cancels out all of that? Devil take a hike!”

In this way the shield is something to hide behind. The primary thing we are hiding from is the devils lies! The big mistake is listening. Listening, meditating on the devils lies, is like sticking your head up out from behind the shield and painting a big X target on your forehead. The devils flaming arrows of lies need to make contact before they can set you alight! Listening to his whispers is taking that flaming arrow into yourself and its not a flaming arrow for nothing. Take it in and soon your mind and your heart will be aflame!

But ..

“…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Faith extinguishes those arrows! Faith is refusing to listen to lies and instead grasping firmly to the truth. When doubts/fears/temptations/accusations come whistling through the air in our direction, threatening to set our whole body to flame, we duck down behind the shield, we grasp firmly upon the truth of God and that truth becomes our hiding place against the storm of flaming arrows. Hallelujah!

Conclusion1: The Central Point of Faith

So remember how central faith is to all the pieces of the armor. Our salvation (helmet) comes by faith (Ephesians 2:8, 2 Tim 3:15, 1 Peter 1:5, Luke 7:50), our righteousness (breastplate) comes by faith (3:22, 4:13, 9:30 Philip 3:9, Heb 11:7), our justification (again breastplate) is by faith (Rom 3:26, 3:28 Gal 2:16, 3:18), God has purified out hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9)! We receive these things by faith! We need to hold onto these things firmly by faith.

Thus when they are attacked our defense is the same, BY FAITH!

When doubt comes relating to our salvation, faith turns us back to all of God’s promises of salvation. We  hold those promises tightly, we hide behind them. When the devil condemns us, faith turns us back to the truth of our justification, the truth of our righteousness in Christ, the fact we have been cleansed and purified from our sin, and all such truths act as a shield against all the accusation and the condemnation the enemy can throw.

But we have to use the shield, we have to know such things are true, we have to be clear relating to them, we need the truths of scripture in our minds and hearts, we need to hold them firmly, we need to call them to mind as the attack comes, we have to firmly take our stand upon those truths, to take shelter behind those truths.

As we do so what a secure hiding place faith provides! What a wonderful shield that is capable of extinguishing every flaming arrow of the evil one! But, be warned, the shield requires active use! It has to be grasped tightly, it has to be placed in between you and the devil’s lies, you have to know exactly when to duck behind that shield. Failure to do so and may receive a flaming arrow full in the face!

Conclusion 2: The only way to stand firm.

Remember the call of Ephesians 6 is to stand firm…

6:13…. 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.

The whole armor is about standing firm against the devils attack right!? That is the whole point of the passage! Ephesians 6 is written so that the devils attack does NOT knock us completely off our feet. It is written that, even if his most evil day comes and after Satan throws absolutely all he has at us, nevertheless we remain still standing at the end! That is the whole point. But, there is only one way to do that!

Again and again scripture tells us there is only one way we can possibly stand…

  • Romans 11:20 “…you stand by faith…”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:13 “..stand firm in the faith..”
  • Romans 5:2… “we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:24 “…because it is by faith you stand firm

Faith is our only safety against the flaming arrows, the only way they are extinguished, the only way we can stand firm against the devil’s attack is by faith. The only way that the enemies’ arrows will not knock us clean off our feet… is by FAITH! Without it we are completely floored by the devil’s attack…

…as Isaiah says..

Isaiah 7:9 “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

Let’s take this seriously and prayerfully,

Amen!

October 18, 2012 / wopod

Armor of God 4 – Feet fitted with Readiness

PART TWO – A Feet Fitted with Readiness.

Let us continue looking at the pieces of the armor of God and Satan’s corresponding attack. We now come to the third aspect of the armor…

 Feet fitted with Readiness to Share (Satan’s third attack – Complacency, Fear and Distraction)

Ephesians 6: 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Satan wants to attack that “readiness”. In many cases he is successful. Many of us are not fitted with readiness at all! Why not?

1)      Do we really believe?

Again, in the first place  the focus is truth. The leg pieces fall off if the belt is not tight. The readiness to share the Gospel stems from the truth of the Gospel! The Gospel truly IS….

… the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16)

In as much as we believe the truth of the Gospel we want to share it, we are fitted with readiness to share it. Why? Because we know the people around us are going to hell and in the message of the Gospel really does lies the power of salvation, to transform a person from an eternity in hell to an eternity in heaven!

So much of lack of readiness to shre the gospel stems from the fact is that we are not so sure and certain we have received the gospel! Satan has sewed doubts pertaining to own salvation (see later section on the  helmet of salvation). In this state of doubt  we are far less likely to reach out to others with a salvation that we ourselves are unsure of.

We need to re tighten the belt and the leg pieces will become properly fitted as well. We need to re-read scripture and invest our faith in it where it tells us that the Gospel really is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), that Christ really has paid for our sins and we truly are fully cleansed, fully forgiven and fully acceptable before God because of the cross.

2)      Are we Fearful?

However for so much of us our not being ready, not so fruitful in our sharing of the word equates to the parable of the sower.

When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away…. (Mark 4:17)

We are not fitted with readiness because the enemies firy dart of fear has hit home. He whispers of all the negative consequences of sharing! the consequences of sharing. That people might be aggressive or that we ourselves “Think about what people might think!”  he whispers “Consider what you might loose!”, he suggests… “you may loose face, you may loose yopur positions and benefits, position, loose benefits because of the gospel”.  And he is right! If you are not willing to give these things up then maybe you need to reconsider your faith… The Gospel of Luke has a key reoccurring theme relating to this and it does not make comfortable reading…

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)

If we are not willing to carry the cross, if we shrink back in the threat of persecution, if we are not willing to give up everything if necessary,  if we become ashamed of Christ … There are no words of comfort for such people…

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27)

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26)

In this we immediately feel weak but take heart! May the final section of this meditation restore our hope. But let us note how clear this passage is.

3)      Are we Distracted

…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.(Mark 4:19)

Either way they have become fearful, discouraged, distracted – and we lose that readiness to share. Our mind and heart is on other things. We have not orientated our lives with God, fellowship and his word as central and supreme aspects of our lives. Other things have overtaken the Lord in priorities in time, in heart and in mind. As a result we are growing lukewarm, and half hearted in our faith. We loose all readiness to share.

There is a word for you guys…

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” (Revelation 3:2)

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14)

This may be your last chance. If you sense you have been backsliding, you have not the zeal, passion, enthusiasm, love that you once had – Wake up. Are you content to let even what little remains die! Wake up. Re-orientate your lives with the things of God as central not peripheral top your lives. As first, not way down in our priorities.

Satan will always throw more and more thorns at you,. More and more distractions, more and more excuses, “I’ll turn back to God once this or that is out of the way”.  Newsflash – there will always be a “This or that” IN the way! Your life will never be clear of such distractions unless YOU actively clear them away! You need to chop down those weeds, move them to one side. You need to say..

This other stuff, important though it may be, can wait for I need to make time to prioritize something far more  important, My relationship with the Lord, my creator, my Lord,  and my savior and his salvation.”

4)      Are we Self-reliant!

Now let us end with a final aspect of understanding that may bring encouragement where previous sections may have instilled us with fear!

Consider the disciples and their own “readiness” to share. Consider Peter who had been with Jesus since the beginning ….. one of his precious and closest of disciples..

He proclaimed himself ready… ready even to die…

But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. (Mark 14:31)

But was he really. Human determination alone cannot go the distance. When the time truly came…

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. (Matthew 26:69-70)

he denied it before them all…”!

He thought he was ready – he wasn’t! Peter clearly did not have his armor on, his feet were far from fitted with readiness. He was ashamed of Jesus. He was not prepared to carry his cross. He was not prepared to give up his life. He was the seed on the rocks shrinking away in the face of persecution! In this we can Peter’s actions fit the many warnings of the passages above in this meditation.

The other disciples weren’t much better. As persecution arrived, they too all fled and abandoned Christ…

55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled (Matthew 26:55)

And even beyond the resurrection, were their feet fitted with readiness.. No! They were hiding in fear!

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)

They had disobeyed all that Jesus taught. They had become all that Jesus warned against, those ashamed of him, those unwilling to carry their cross, the unfruitful seed on the rocks, it all fit them perfectly! Yet still Jesus still comes to them and spoke “Peace…!”. You would have expected anger over their weakness, their desertion, their denial… but no.. “Peace be with you!”

Are you fearful? Are you hiding your faith? Have you denied him? There is still hope! Jesus still came to them. May he come to you too!

Even as jesus met them there in the room, it was not there but later at Pentecost (Acts 2) where Jesus Truly came into them! For in that first room he came to them, but at Pentecost Jesus came to be INTO them by his Spirit.

Jesus had promised in John 14..

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Jesus promises them that HE HIMSELF would be in them by his Spirit.

And in Acts 2  it truly happened…

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

And the result…

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you;…

22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was…..

29 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that….

32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact…..

For Peter, a transformation from fear to faith; from ashamed of Jesus to boldly speaking of Him; from hiding to shining, from denying to proclaiming; from shrinking back to the “readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace” was clearly in evidence.     

“I can tell you confidently…! Says Peter. Where has that confidence come from?Before Pentecost he certainly couldn’t – but now he can! What a transformation.

Here was the readiness. Armor is not an armor of human effort nor human commitment or human determination. It is the ARMOUR OF GOD! At Pentecost God himself entered them! The Spirit of God entered them and there was the transformation of the fearful into the faithful, the ashamed to the bold, those hiding transformed to those always living with readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. May  he do so with us too! We too need to pray for the fullness of the Spirit of God. We cannot manufacture the pieces of the armor for ourselves. It is the Armor of God we must receive it from him! It is re that can RE-fit our feet with readiness. May he do so. That readiness, comes from him.

Amen!

October 18, 2012 / wopod

Armor of God 3 – Breastplate of Righteousness

The Breastplate of Righteousness (Satan’s second attack – Guilt)

…with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

Now the breastplate is held in place by the belt – the central fact of the attack here is still truth. Satan is attacking the Truth or our Righteousness in Christ. Now in this it would be a mistake to think that  Satan is merely attack our righteousness as to cause us to sin – to tempt us down sinful paths – though clearly he is very active in that area. But the breastplate of righteousness is not primarily speaking of that kind of attack for it is not our own righteousness we are standing in – it is Christ’s righteousness in which we stand. Satan is attacking nothing less than the truth of our righteousness in Christ….

Philippians 3:8-9 8

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

 Romans 3:21-23

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

It is the truth of our righteousness that Satan will attack. His weapon to this end – his flaming arrow, is guilt. “You are not worthy, you are not a real Christian, you are not really clean, you are not truly forgiven… etc etc.” Do you recognize any such whispering in your our life, oh Christian?

This attack of guilt, just like the attack of doubt, is found to be central to Satan’s own nature. Another of his names is “The accuser”…

(Revelation 12:10) …the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night,

One translation (Weymouth New Testament) even translates 1 Peter 5:8 in this way..

Your great accuser, the Devil, is going about like a roaring lion to see whom he can devour(1 Peter 5:8).

He is the one to point our your guilt, but God in scripture points out that in Christ ALL of your guilt is past tense! It has been removed and paid for in Christ hallelujah. Meduitate on the following passages. Let them reach your very heart oh believer.

1 Corinthians 6: 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Here is the breastplate  for those who trut in Christ “the righteous requirements of the law” are “ fully met in us”! We were condemned but since coming to Christ “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Use the belt of truth to tighten your breastplate of righteousness, oh Christian, and, by doing so, extinguish that flaming arrow of guilt!

As one hymn-writer so wonderfully wrote…

“When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see him there who made an end to all my sin!”

And that flaming arrow is extinguished upon the breastplate of righteousness – Hallelujah!

October 18, 2012 / wopod

Armor of God 2 – The Belt of Truth

Belt of truth (Satan’s first attack – Doubt)

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,

The armor being described in Ephesians is a Roman armor. The central piece is the belt. It holds the whole armor together. Without it the breastplate would be flapping around as you ran, the leg pieces would fall off, there would be no place to rest the heavy shield, no housing for the sword. In short – the whole armor’s effectiveness hinges on the belt being buckled tightly. And what is that belt? What is that central piece? Truth.

So, if truth is central to the armor you can bet that the primary attack of the enemy will be an attack upon the truth. Indeed this is so, lies are the enemy’s primary mode of attack. His very nature in fact is most centrally described in that he is“The father of Lies”

When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

His primary attack is always an attack on the truth, or more specifically an attack on your hold upon the truth – if he cannot take away the belt he will seek to loosen it a few notches. Cause you to hold the truth loosely, to pay less attention to it.  This will expose gaps in the armor which will prove sufficient for the entry of one of his flaming arrows.

The Devil has always operated in this way. Consider the fall of man in the garden. It was His words, that were the first step in all that followed. Satan’s attacks do not primarily come with swords or with snarling demons as much as from apparently friendly words! Those words attack or distort the truth of God. Listening to his subtle persuasion is poison to your ears. Just as he whispered to Eve in the Garden his targeted flaming arrow is one of doubt  – “Did God really say…?” Just as the temptations upon Jesus himself “IF you are the son of God…” again, he always attempts to introduce doubt. Where he cannot successfully contradict God’s words he twists them and their meaning. This is still his primary more of attack today.

Believer, Satan’s target upon you has one primary focus and one primary focus only – that you would NOT believe and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation! That you would begin to doubt Jesus, doubt the cross is sufficient, doubt the payment for your sins by his blood, doubt the salvation that is promised to all that believe, that your hold on Christ, that your trust in Christ, that your faith in Christ would loosen, notch by notch.

Conversely, having belt of truth firmly buckled is linked with the practical question to whom are you listening and how close is Gods words to your heart and mind? More practically still how often do you actually read God’s word? As you read God’s word, meditate upon it, follow and obey it, the belt is being tightened up notch by notch. As you neglect God’s word and begin to listen to other “words” meditate on things that are not of God you find the belt loosening notch by notch. As it does so the whole armor begins to fall apart. The breastplate (righteousness) is soon quite obviously loose, the leg pieces, (readiness to share) is soon trailing in the dirt, the sword (The word itself)is in danger of slipping out its sheath, the shield (faith) no longer has a firm place to rest.

Tighten the belt daily oh believer through affirming your hold and trust in Christ in prayer and by reading and following his word! For the enemy’s attacks – the Devil’s lies, will be targeting you even at this moment. You need to stand firm against them with that belt firmly buckled.

October 18, 2012 / wopod

The Armor of God 1 – (Spiritual Warfare and a Victorious life).

The Armor of God – (Spiritual Warfare and a Victorious life).

When it comes to Spiritual warfare the most famous passage is Ephesians 6…..

Ephesians 6:10-20

 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

1)      Know Your Enemy.

Now in the first case we have to consider the enemy and his weapons and resources.

From this passage we can see that the enemy has plans – “Schemes” (11) – a hidden strategy which is well designed and well thought out. His power is active both in “this world dark world” and in the “heavenly realms” (12). There seems to be structure and powerful hierarchy of his forces including “rulers” and “authorities” who command all of the “spiritual forces of evil” (12). The picture is like one of generals in charge of large and well organized armies of foot soldiers.  They have real “power” and real “authority”.  In their arsenal they have real arrows too (16)! Arrows are not indiscriminate weapons. Instead each arrow is a single arrow to a single target weapon. It is a weapon that is aimed very carefully, very specifically. That Paul tells us the arrows are a threat it tells us we are a specific target. It is personal! The arrows the evil one is firing are specifically targeting ME – he has ME in his sights! Yikes! In addition his arrows are not just normal arrows but  ‘flaming arrows’.  They will not simply cause an entry wound but will set your whole being aflame. Nervous? You should be!

2)      God Designed the Armor!

However, oh Christian, fear not for God knows exactly how the devil will attack us so he has designed armor accordingly. All armor is designed from the knowledge of the weapons used against it. By knowing the enemy’s weapons you know what armor to give your troops for defense. If the enemy uses gas, you give your troops gas-masks. If your enemy is using mines –you give your army metal detectors. If the enemy uses radiation you give your troops radiation suits.  The design of armor matches the design of the enemies weapons used against it.

Thus you want to know what type of weapons the devil is using against you – look at the armor God has given you – he knows and so he has designed the armor accordingly. Each peace of the Ephesians 6 armor is given because it is exactly that area that the devil will attack. Let’s look at each piece in turn.

September 13, 2012 / wopod

How do we understand/receive God’s leading? How do we hear His voice?

How do we understand/receive God’s leading? How do we hear His voice?

1)      Key to God’s leading 1) Humility and Obedience..

There are approximately 323 passages in scripture that contain the phrase “Do not/Will not/Did not Listen” or similar.

These are instances where people failed to listen and failed to follow Gods leading.

Here is one example…

Jeremiah 17:23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline…

and another…

Jeremiah 26: 4 Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, 5 and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth.’”

Most of these 323 are in the context of discipline! That the primary aspect of God’s leading is His leading of people to repent, to change, to stop sinning, to let go of pride; His leading them into to greater obedience/ holiness/ humility etc.

Hang on”, you cry, that is not the kind of leading I was hoping for! When we ask about the Lord’s leading we maybe have in mind “Lead us to greatness,” “Lead us to Success,” “Lead us to Victory” “Lead us to Safety”!

Well, yes, all of that is scriptural relates to may promises from the Lord but nevertheless these things are utterly secondary!  The point is that God does not lead the disobedient, unholy, and prideful, into success, greatness and victory! Scripture again and again tells us the opposite story.

James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble!”

If you want God leading into his grace and blessing – then ditch pride because if you don’t, rather than blessing you, God will be opposing you! God leads his Sheep – he does NOT lead Goats! Sheep know how to follow – Goats don’t – they can’t be led!

In fact, in one sense  God DOES lead disobedient, prideful, unfaithful, people – he leads them into failure and into defeat! He leads them into lowly positions, into struggles and difficulties, not to into promotions, and comfort, so that they can learn humility, faith, and obedience etc. Once they have all of that and in that state THEN God may well, in time, lead them to Victory/Success/and Greatness!

Consider Nebucadnezzer in Daniel 4 in exactly this light…

29… as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.

….

It is Strong stuff. I read a similar passage this morning which is also a perfect illustration – this time Manasseh…

2 Chronicles 33: 10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.

God’s leading is always towards holiness and obedience before it is to victory, success and greatness! Ignore holiness and obedience and demand God’s leading to victory – God will more likely lead you to defeat! Here was Manasseh’s leading – led by a hook in his nose!

Mercifully, like Nebuchadnezzar, it didn’t end there. Manasseh was humbled and this led to another kind of God’s leading…

2 Chronicles 33: 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.

Therefore first aspect of Gods leading is usually to Repent – literally “to turn around” to “U turn”.

We often want geographical/decision making leading for God. “Which way should I go, to Hangzhou or Beijing…?” “ to the UK or China….?” I think God would often answer such questions “Forget that.. Hangzhou or Beijing is irrelevant… the way I want you to go is Holiness, Trust, Faith, Obedience, Love!” Focus upon those things, focus upon the lord himself and the Lord is well able to personally carry you to Hangzhou or Beijing anytime he needs you there!

Key to Gods leading 2: God has Already Spoken!

All too often we are asking for Gods leading, asking for new revelation when we have failed to listen or follow God’s old revelation! When it comes to God’s leading the primary point is that God Has already Spoken! Have we listened? Have we obeyed? Do we even read his word daily and seek his will through the bible? Do we prayerfully read asking God to guide us and instruct us through his written word? Are we familiar with scripture and know that therein lies the answer to many of our burning questions.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Therein lies God’s leading!  There is not much point asking for some new word from the Lord when you have not listened to the old word from the Lord!

So you may cry “I asked but the Lord did not answer!”

The truth of the case may actually be as it was in Jeremiah 26 above..

5 …you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened),

The answer is I have already spoken, again and again, but you haven’t listened!

The Danger of Special Revelation

Be aware that if you have a sense that you have that God is speaking some fresh new special revelation directly to you, or through another person “I have a word for you…”, that this has always got to be supported and not ever contradicted by God’s written word.  Someone else might have “A Word” for you but god has 774,746 words for you! It’s called the bible!

God’s written word is perfect. Special revelations are NOT and NEVER perfect despite what some ‘prophets’ might claim! Remember Satan himself can appear as an Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The New Testament is full of warnings of false messages, false prophets and false prophesies. The old testament likewise speaks of those who prophesy out of their own imaginations (Ezekiel 13:17). The bible speaks of deceiving spirits (1 Timothy 4:1)!

So never, never trust special revelation that is not confirmed by both scripture and mature Christians within the church. “Oh but I had a dream” well maybe it was too much coffee, maybe you are just hearing what you want to hear, maybe it was real but if so you must be sure that it is not in any way contradicted by God’s word or the mature believers around you and that God confirms it from mmore than one direction before you jump!

Key to God’s leading 3) Faithfulness..

Are you seeking God’s leading into bigger things? The answer is to be faithful in what you have already…

Luke 19: 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

…. Later after the King had returned

16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

Your focus is to be upon being faithful where you are, where God has placed you now. It is GOD who lifts you up. Do not be over zealous to exalt yourself. God is your shepherd. Let him lead. You – be faithful.

 

Gods leading 4) Quiet Waters and Dark Valleys Both!

Finally please note that Gods leading involves both green pastures and still waters but also dark valleys!

Psalm 23: 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,  3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  4 Even though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Following Jesus, following God’s leading, may involve dark valleys, sacrifices, it may even involve death!

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

If you are simply following for what you can get, to make your life better,  – be warned – following Jesus may make your life worse! Do not be the seed sown on the rocks!

Matthew 13:20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

Such people are not worthy of God! Do not ask for God’s leading if you are not prepared to make sacrifices to him.

The case of the Rich young ruler is exactly this. God’s leading was made all too plain to him… and he didn’t like it – He went away sad.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.

He made lead you to tough times and dark valleys, he may lead you into sacrifices. Be prepared for such a call but be encouraged he will equip you with his love and his strength you as he does, even in the dark valleys he will always be with you.

Amen!