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WAGING WAR ON THE RIGHT BATTLEFIELD-- What many fail to grasp is that their greatest enemy is themselves, and the fiercest battles takes place in their own mind. There are certan thoughts and imaginations which arise in us, which oppose our efforts to obey God. It is only by utilizing a violent mode of attack against these thoughts which fight against our efforts to pursue truth and righteousness, that we can wage effective warfare.
Paul describes this violence as literally casting down our thoughts. "3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Cor. 10.3-5). The main areas we are striving for victory are in the areas of 1. A Relationship, 2. Fellowship, and 3. Discipleship.
Covid 19 ??-- What does God say concerning this issue? Covid 19 has had devastating worldwide impact, in many cases, causing doctors and other heath care providers to feel completely burned out. As we are aware several high profile religious leaders made headlines by advising believers to stand in faith and not take the vaccine.
Yet (sadly), some of these same individuals have died from covid themselves. These circumstances have raised critical questions regards to how should we as believers respond to this crisis. In a two part message I address this issue. You can click on the image above and join us in our services, for part one of this message. And you can click on the image below, for part two.
As we have noted there have arisen many Bible teachers who have taught that the right type of faith when combined with a positive confession, will always result in health and prosperity. We also noted that, It is now a very common teaching in many churches that God has given the believers the authority to bind and loose circumstances as they so deem.
The words of Christ are referred to as proof. “ “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith..” MK 11:23-24). Thus believers are told when it comes to trials, “don’t claim it and in won’t be”.
A key verse in this chapter which is often quoted is Hebrews 11:6. “Without #1. faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a #2. rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb 11:6.
It is the combination of these two words, “faith and reward.” which spawned what became known as the “word of faith movement.” This movement proclaims that faith equals rewards, therefore with the right application of ones faith, one can have anything they decree.
The truth of the matter is that there is really nothing wrong with having positive desires, dreams and aspirations. Nor is it a sin to love self and desire and pray for the nicer things of this world.
In fact anyone who is in their right mind, loves themselves, and seeks to take good care of themselves. The apostle Paul says the same thing, 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: Ephe 5:28-29.
There is also nothing wrong with desiring nice things for yourself and those you hold dear. Even as John expressed his desire for the believers, Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 Jn 1:2.
There is no denying the fact that God does want us to believe Him and be bold and aggressive in professing and acting out our faith. The fact that God has made such bold promises to us, is what motivates us as believers to boldly express our confidence in these promises. All of us who are true believers have an scriptural expectancy of God.
This expectancy is based on God’s promises that he will take care of us and provide for all of our needs. God expects for those of us who are partakers of the new birth, to fully embrace the promises he’s made to his children.
When the trial, pain and suffering persist, in spite of my profession of faith??? The Bible clearly tells us that we must have faith in God, if we are to be pleasing in His sight. We are also promised that God will greatly bless those who trust and obey Him. Many believers came to believe that their faith and obedience, would serve as an insurance (assurance) policy. In the sense that they would be exempted from much of life's’ pain and suffering.
Yet in spite of their expressions and confessions of faith, for many, their turmoil and strife remains. Many found that their faith did not stop the physical abuse on the part of their spouse.
Others came to realize that naming and claiming their child for Christ, did not stop their troubled child from continuing down the wrong path. Some claimed perfect health for themselves or a loved one, yet frail health still remains. Others who when they were younger named and claimed perfect health, now are finding in old age, they are susceptible to the ailments as everyone else.
Thus they are experiencing, hair loss, having to wear glasses due to bad eyesight, high blood pressure, arthritis, Alzheimer's etc. In the economic climate we are facing today, many are facing troubling times financially. Included in this group are many sincere believers.
Some believers who gave themselves, their pocket book, and their faith completely over to the doctrine of health and prosperity are now expressing feelings of disillusionment. Did God fail their faith, Or did their faith fail God??
The reality is that things don’t always work out as you had hoped. As a result you may at times may find yourself coping with disillusionment, despair and discouragement. Shattered dreams at times can turn into painful reoccurring nightmares. Many become frustrated or disillusioned when they feel their prayers concerning healing, prosperity, and divine protection, seems to have gone unanswered.
Many sincere believers have had to come to terms with the fact, that much of what the rest of society encounters, by way of life's trials, they also encounter.
By way of review we noted the fact that many believers have been discouraged along the way, because the trials they told would not come, did come. And in many cases the trial still lingers. You can skip this review or click on the next tab to read it.
When it comes to faith, and a balanced expectation from God, there are many confused and hurting people. To add on to this confusion and pain, is the abundance of wrong teaching, in regards to faith.
Paul extensively taught on the subject of the proper usage of faith by word and example. Unfortunately, much of what Paul taught by word and example is now being either twisted or totally ignored.
Just before his death Paul warned that, many false teachers would come, and proclaim doctrines which in truth would be perversions of the biblical doctrines of faith. “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits, and doctrines of demons;” 1st Tim 4:1.
As we revisit the teachings of Paul on the subject of faith, it will become clear that much of what is being taught today, is not what Paul and the other disciples taught.
Perhaps the most quoted verse in the Bible when it comes to faith, are these words pinned by Paul, “Without #1. faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a #2. rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb 11:6.
As we noted earlier, It is the combination of these two words, “faith and reward.” which has been the source of much debate. Some put forth the argument, that other than salvation, the main benefit of faith is health, wealth, and overall prosperity.
Others disagree and say that these are some of the benefits that can come our way, the main benefit of faith, is its ability to enable us to endure and overcome, whatever comes our way. Thus believers are faced with the question of what we should most use our faith for, compare below.
After mightily preaching the gospel for years, and after being used of God to perform may mighty miracles, we find Paul sitting on death row waiting to be executed.
It is in this setting that we see Paul writing his final words, where he is rejoicing over the fact, that in spite of it all he had gone through, he had kept his faith in God: Consider these last words of Paul “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” 2nd Tim 4:7.
Considering Paul’s present circumstances, it would appear that he was anything but victorious. in the faith department. Yet according to Paul he had by God’s grace continued in the faith and victoriously finished his course. Paul’s teachings and example, in regards to waging spiritual warfare is very important. The reason being, is that we can learn from Paul how to have a balanced expectation from God. (faith wise).
As we know Paul had a special calling on his life, which led to him being mightily anointed by God. It’s in the book of Philippians that this anointed man of God, tells us of how he used his faith, in such a way as to allow himself to stand in faith, regardless whatever life threw at him, compare. The flexibility of Paul's faith.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Phil 4:11-13. Let us first consider Paul’s own personal testimony and example in regards to the flexibility of his faith. Paul tells us of the many things he endured while standing in faith, compare.
“ In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 2nd Cor 11: 23-30. Compare below.
As we saw earlier Paul stated that his face was flexible enough to trust God through what ever God allowed to come his way. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Phil 4:11-12.
There is no denying the fact that God can make us wealthy in a moment, if He so chooses. according to Christ all things are possible. According to Paul God deals with each of us individually therefore we don't all encounter the same life experiences. But our faith must flexible enough to trust God, no matter what comes our way.
This is the point that Paul stressed in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, where Paul noted the various circumstances those who trusted God encountered. Some obtained miracles, and others supernaturally delivered from death. Then there were those who endured hardship and in some cases were killed. Yet according to Paul they all had faith. compare.
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Heb 11:33-38.
The truth of the matter is that we must be willing to trust God either way, As Paul tells us, "
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Heb 12:1-3.