Originally posted at Livejournals 16th March 2011
I find it hard to relate to anyone who says God isn’t a living and active force in people’s lives, mainly because I so clearly see him at work in both my life and the life of my church. Why is this, I wonder? We’re not super-spiritual beings, we’re not particularly noteworthy; we’re just ordinary people, living ordinary lives in an ordinary part of Britain.
Take these last couple of weeks for instance, and the ‘seemingly random’ occurrences of one particular Bible passage. First of all, our friend Cherry rang my prayer partner Monica when she knew we were going to meet, to say that she really felt we needed to pray over this passage. Then, in one of my own Bible reading times a couple of days later, the same passage cropped up and it became my meditation. I kept turning it around and around in my head. Last weekend our guest speaker Derek Tidball preached on it and then finally last night, Ken, our Associate Pastor, also used it as part of something he was communicating. In addition, he also explained that Derek had told him that he had very clearly been given that message to preach – even though it doesn’t sit easily in a celebratory service.
Four instances of the same Bible passage over the course of ten days, coincidence? I don’t believe so. I believe God has been giving us a warning. We booked Derek to speak about a year ago and last weekend turned out to be a crucial one for making sure as many of us as possible heard this message loud and clear. God knew what was going to happen this week and last Sunday was the call to arms.
Let’s look at the passage. If you’re a Christian, you’ll recognise it instantly, it’s very famous and deals with spiritual warfare.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armour 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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 Lord’s people.
For quite a while in the life of our church, the battle has been going through a quiet phase and we’ve been enjoying being a prosperous church, modeling itself on Acts 2: 42-47. But I suspect with all the warnings that have been issued, it’s all about to metaphorically kick off.
At the moment, I’m not really at liberty to comment on what’s going on until Sunday. After that, most people at the church will be aware of the situation and the reasons why ‘the powers of this dark world’ may single us out as a target. They aren’t going to be knocking us down in the street; their methods will be more subtle than that, more insidious and they will be carefully selecting the right weapon for the right person.
Take our church as a whole. The happy, loving fellowship may be suddenly affected by division and discouragement if we do not take a stand and be alert to the schemes of the devil. We must at all costs remain united and I have certainly felt the call to be an encourager. I say call, but it’s so strong that it feels more like something trying to escape from my chest. I’ve never felt it this intensely before and I just know what I have to do. It’s going to be up to the likes of me and others with that gift to keep us motivated, to keep us focused and to support our church through what’s going to be a difficult time. God gifted me to be a church cheerleader… Ra ra ra! If you don’t mind though, I think I’ll forego the pom-poms and the short skirt.
Individually, the devil is very good at attacking your mind – he had control of mine for years before I wised up to what was going on and told him to bugger off. Sometimes I slip and the doubts and negativity descend again, but I’m better at brushing him off than I was. The devil knows all our weak spots, the things most likely to make us fall. The devil knows our church’s weak spots and don’t think for one minute that he won’t target them. He’ll do whatever he can to get in and cause disruption and discord among us.
By giving us repeated instances of Ephesians 6:10-18, I believe God has issued the warning that we have, as soldiers in Hollywood action movies are fond of shouting, ‘incoming’. It’s now up to each and every one of us to put on the armour of God listed above and take our stand for the battle ahead. We need to pray a strong perimeter of protection around each and every member of our congregation, each and every member of the leadership team, our structures, our beliefs and our mission statement, so that there is nowhere for the devil to get a foothold and take us down.
We are armed, dangerous and fully prayer loaded. We are in effect a fully operational Prayer battlestation ready to smite whatever comes our way. You come at us devil and God will see to it that you flee from us in seven different ways (Deuteronomy 28:7). We are not ignorant of your schemes, we know what you’re up to (2 Corinthians 2: 11) and, here’s the clincher… we have the Lord God on our side.
Lock and Load…
Please note: I am not a scholar, I do not hold a theology degree, I’m just an ordinary woman living out a Christian life as best I can with the help of the Holy Spirit. These are my thoughts, my opinions and I am always grateful to those who will gently correct my errors or suggest a biblically-based alternative point of view. I welcome your comments and constructive criticism.