14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.—Romans 12:14 NIV
Praying for and blessing those who persecute us is hard. The flesh wants to scream, strike back and get revenge. Paul tells us this is a constant battle and we know from our own experiences that that is true. Why? Because the flesh wants what it wants and it doesn’t give up easily.
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.–Romans 7:18,19 NIV
We were born in sin into a sinful world. We are constantly tempted by the things we see, hear and read. That old father of liars, satan, knows where the chinks in our armor are and he pokes at us through those holes continuously. We are taught the “it’s all about me” philosophy on a daily basis. “You’re okay, I’m okay” is a lie from the pits of hell. No one is okay without Jesus and no one can do Godly things without the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As long as we live in this old decaying tent of flesh, we will be tempted and we will have to fight a daily battle against those temptations. But, God has not left us alone to do this, He has made provisions for us. There is always a way out.
12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.–1 Cor. 10:12,13 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ — Col. 2:8 NLT
Col. 2:4-10 NLT
With so much information available today, it is almost impossible to get through a day without hearing a lot of high-sounding nonsense. As I go about running my errands each day, I see billboards, listen to talk radio and watch the opinion shows on TV, I am amazed at the amount of nonsense that is sent out everyday. I sometimes wonder if the producers of these things think everyone in this country is of low intelligence. Empty philosophies and words abound everywhere. How does one keep him/herself from being overly influenced by this worldly chatter?
Those of us that have accepted Jesus Christ must understand that there is a spiritual battle being waged 24/7. It is just as real as any military operation and it has consequences that last for an eternity. The mind is the battlefield and that is where we win or lose each battle. We must keep our spiritual eyes and ears focused on Jesus. We must put on the full armor of God each morning before we hear the first human voice speak. God is the Commander of the Heavenly armies and we are a part of that army. Before you leave home each day, check in with the Commander and see where He needs you to be today. He is looking for warriors to stand in the gap for families, neighbors, and our country. Christ is the ruler and authority over the whole universe. Be committed to Jesus and be so convinced that nothing can change your mind. If we suffer with Him here, we will reign with Him there. Show the world Jesus by helping and loving those around you today.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
— Ephesians 6:13 NLT
God’s purpose for us is to advance His Kingdom here on earth. How can we do that? By waging a spiritual battle for the minds of people, so that they will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We certainly are not strong enough to defeat satan alone, but God has made a way for us to do just that. God’s way requires a lot of preparation and He tells us how to prepare in Ephesians 6. We are to “put on the whole armor of God” and stand against the wiles of the devil. We may never have to physically fight for our Lord and Savior, but we are in a mental battle every second of every day. Are we winning or losing the battle of the mind? The “wiles” of the devil lets us know that satan is very cunning and devious in his plan to defeat God by defeating God’s children. As we are told in 2 Corinthians, we must pull down strongholds and bring our thoughts and imaginations into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ. And, again, in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.
— Acts 2:39 NLT
The disciples had been through basic training and spent three years with Jesus. They had peen patient, prayerful and persecuted and they had persevered through it all. True, they had their moments of doubts and disappointments and had at one point run away and left Jesus all alone to face his killers. But when the time was right, Jesus had brought them all back together and given them their final instructions before His departure. The first instruction was to “wait in Jerusalem”. The basic training was over and they were about to go on their first missions without Him as their leader. Up to now, the provisions and power had come through Jesus but He was no longer physically with them. Now, the time had come for them to tap into the source of power through another person, the Holy Spirit. A person just as much as Jesus, in fact, the same person but not in human form. Jesus was God in visible human form. The Holy Spirit is the new heart-sized version, just as powerful and able to be everywhere at once.
The disciples now had the power and God would give them the provisions. The fight was on, the Commander had given the order– “Charge!” and the power started a great movement that is still alive today. We are the “far away” mentioned in this verse. It is up to us to be the hands and feet as the Holy Spirit carries on the battle.
23 But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. 24 Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” — 1 Samuel 30:23, 24 NLT
All of us are spiritual warriors and we live in a spiritual warzone. Some of us go to other lands to carry on the battle and this is important. But just as important are those who stay behind and guard the “stuff”. In our case, the “stuff” is carrying on services in local churches, teaching Sunday School classes and witnessing to those around us. We are fighting the same enemy whether we go or stay. What sense would it make to go to battle for others and lose our own families and neighbors? One job is just as important as the other. How could we carry on any campaign against the enemy, if we didn’t have workers who supported the war with their tithes? God has given each of us talents and He has a plan and a purpose for each of us to use those talents in service to Him.
Our mission, Mr./Mrs/Miss Christian, should we decide to accept it, is to determine what those talents are and use them for Kingdom purposes. There are no spectators on the battlefield. Each of us has a job to do and God has blessed each of us with the talent to do it. The war has been won, we know the final outcome. Jesus wins! But there are battles to be fought and we need to strap on the full armor of God, step up and take our position in the fight. Just as God told Jehosphat, the battle is not yours, it is mine, but you and your people still have to take up your position on the battlefield. 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
So it is today, God will win the battle for us, but we still have a job to do. We must take up our position on the battlefield and stand while He fights the battle.
8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1: 8,9 NLT
In verse one of this chapter, we read “the Lord spoke to Joshua”. So the instructions for Joshua to study the Books of the Old Testament that Moses had written came straight from the mouth of the Lord. The Lord says that “only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do”. God gives us the same intructions about studying the whole Bible.
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.. — 2 Timothy 2:15 NLT
The King James version says “study to show yourself approved unto God”. How much time do we spend in meditating on God’s Word? How often do we go out into the world unprepared because of a lack of studying the Book of Instruction that God has given to us? Is it any wonder that we are so often defeated when we haven’t given God time to speak to us before we enter the fray? How often do we go naked into the battle instead of being dressed in the whole armor of God? Is it any wonder that we walk so trepidly when God has commanded us to be “strong and courageous”? Our courage and our successes come after we have read and meditated on His Word, not before or in the absence of allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us and to explain God’s word to us. God has not changed, so, yes, He still speaks to us today. He speaks to us through His Word, through His people and yes, He speaks to us directly if we will be still and listen. Jesus said “my sheep know my voice” (John 10:25-30). To know someone’s voice, it would be necessary, at some point, to have actually heard that voice speak.
17 “Jeremiah, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything I command you to say. Don’t be afraid of the people, or I will give you good reason to be afraid of them. 18 Today I am going to make you a strong city, an iron pillar, a bronze wall. You will be able to stand against everyone in the land: Judah’s kings, officers, priests, and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you, but they will not defeat you, because I am with you to protect you!” says the Lord. — Jeremiah 1:17-19 NCV
God had just told Jeremiah to go and tell the rulers and the people of Jersusalem that the city would soon be overrun with armies from the north. Once the disaster started, it would be over quickly, like water pouring from a pot that has been tipped over. It is understandable that Jeremiah probably was not too excited about delivering that message to the kings and their armies. Jeremiah would soon learn the lesson that we need to learn. God never sends us on a mission that He has not prepared us to go on. He never sends us alone, He is always with us. If He says we will not be defeated, then we can be assured that He will prevail for us. It is our weakest moments that God uses for His glory. He wants the odds against us winning to be so great that when we do win and the world sees it, they have no choice but to say that our God is the Great Almighty God. Jeremiah was told to “gird up his loins” (KJV) to prepare himself physically for the battle since he would be facing people. Since our warfare now is not against people but against spiritual rulers and demons, we are told to “gird up the loins of our minds”. (KJV).
13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. — 1 Peter 1:13 NLT
Whether the battle is physical or spiritual, the battle is not ours, it belongs to the Lord. He will overcome and we will not be defeated. But, just as Jeremiah was directed to stand up and deliver the message to the people, our instructions are the same. So, we need to prepare ourselves and our minds for the tricks of the devil and be ready to stand up and tell the world everything that God will give us to say.