A Foundational Strategy for Life’s Battles

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praying togetherEphesians 6:18-19 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…

Whenever we get to the edge of something spiritually significant, the verge of a breakthrough, something crazy happens. Some threat, worry, person or situation rises up to derail, delay or distract you from moving forward. The challenge is discerning what is happening and how best to move forward.

This final entry of how to stand firm in the face of life’s battles deals with critical communication. Everything is worse when communication goes down. It leaves us isolated and unaware. It is easier to misstep when we no longer hear needed insight or direction. This is where the final strategy comes into play.

Stand Firm through a Deepening Prayer Relationship with Jesus for His Family & His Mission.

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Spiritual Weapon Training

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bible study with penEph. 6:11-17 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Is 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

At the outset, I have to warn you that this post’s issue is a core passion for me. I believe it is critical to the growth and health of every follower of Christ. Yet it is among the most common struggles and regrets I hear other talk about.

I want to teach you something that can’t be fully learned in a simple post. The best I can hope for is point a direction, introduce a process and motivate you to embrace this path for yourself.

This is the martial arts of following Jesus. Anyone who follows Jesus can begin. It takes time to master and there are always more advanced levels. For it to work in your life, ongoing training will be required.

How do we stand firm AND take ground in the face of life’s spiritual battles? We must grow strong in God’s Word… the Bible.

It Matters Because Satan Seeks to Disrupt our Communication with God.

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Drawing Strength from Salvation

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colored crossEphesians 6:10-11, 17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… And take the helmet of salvation 

What has your salvation meant to you this week? How often do you think about it? I know seems like a weird question to ask. But is it really? What if it is the most important question of all?!

Salvation is so simple a child can receive it and yet it is so deep that you will never fully understand its depths. To an average person salvation could be an odd religious thing, deep emotional experience, place to run when life breaks down, or the overriding core of life.

For followers of Jesus it might be a moment in the past when they first trusted Jesus AND the promise of eternal life in the future. Both are true but it is even more. It is also the present life of Jesus working itself out in all who believe. It is meant to make a difference right now. It is your source of life and power now. If we forget this, we are left weak and disoriented to spiritual attacks.

Keeping our heads clear with the fullness of Jesus salvation is a key way to stand firm in life’s battles.

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Why Should We Care?

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messy heart1John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 

Gal 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Last week we got to experience something incredible. We slimmed down to one larger service on Sunday and spent the afternoon showing Jesus’ love to many in our community through practical care projects. Nearly 200 of us regathered and dispersed in 22+ teams for yardwork, deck building and variety of home projects to encourage others in our community. The celebration meal with family & guests overflowed with joy. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!!

Why would we do that? Before we went out we looked at some of God’s core principles for showing love to others. Here are the highlights. You can catch the full lesson at www.parkviewfamily.com.

REASON #1 Our Practical Love Helps Others see Jesus.

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Stand Firm In Your Faith

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umbrella in stormEphesians 6:10-11 & 16 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  …in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Faith can be a confusing cliché. Many people claim to have faith but what exactly do we mean by that? Faith is more than a wish or a hope that somehow the universe will work it all out for us. Some claim faith in Christ yet we don’t own it with life changing conviction. It caves when trouble, pressure or challenge comes.

How do you know if the faith we claim is any good? ANSWER: it must be tested. Now no one signs up for that on purpose, but there is no need to worry God’s enemy is happy to accommodate that need. Just like He did with Job in the Old Testament and Peter in the new, Satan continues to poke and press those who claim to follow Jesus to test the reality of our faith.

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Stand Firm in Christ’s Peace

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umbrella in stormEphesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 

Is 26:3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.

October is scary movie season. As a kid I spent a lot of Saturdays watching Creature Feature movies. I loved the classic psychological thrillers. Honestly I liked the old fashioned monster movies as well. I was so excited to introduce my kids to the Creature from the Black lagoon and the Blob. Somehow they weren’t so impressed. The approach has changed but there is something in the human heart that is drawn to scary stories. Something in us likes to be started and frightened for our entertainment.

Real life is a different story though! Fear can be fun in a movie theater or Halloween haunted house. But not in real life. Real fear in real life drives us to fork over the bucks for insurance and security devices. Fear leads to paralysis and panic. Fear makes us withdraw and worry. Sometimes is hits us with sudden intense emotions. Other times it is a low grade worry. It almost always holds us back. For followers of Christ too often it keeps us from moving forward in our walk with Him. God’s enemy uses fear to keep us from living the full abundant life Jesus calls us to experience.

We need to Recognize Fear & Worry as Key Weapons of Spiritual War.

Satan schemes to choke us out with fear & worry. In a parable Jesus describes worry as weeds that choke out the good seed God seeks to plant in our lives. Faith begins to sprout, but worry rises and chokes it out!

Fear causes us to make bad decisions, to lose our courage, focus or sense of reality. Through worry & fear, Hitler rose to power. This weapon also disrupts peace in our relationships. This lack of true inner peace drives us to stiff arm others in ways that hurt our chance of harmony and wholeness with them.

Worry is low grade fear that doubts God’s care or strength for us. It is a pollution of faith. It fertilizes doubt and distracts us from our true hope in Jesus. It causes us to lose our footing. It sets us up for a fall. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Rest in the Ultimate Peace Jesus’ Cross Brings.

Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Mark 4:40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

It seems contradictory for God to tell us to dress for battle by preparing our feet with the gospel of peace. Peace seems incompatible with war. Biblically however, we cannot stand firm in war without soul deep peace. This peace calms the storm in our hearts so we can face the storms of the world with a clear head.

This peace means standing firm in the face of the enemy or uncertainty. It is an inner calm and tranquility, a clear-headed confidence. Peace with God is the source of our peace with others. Peace comes from confident faith in Christ.

The gospel is the foundation of true peace. Jesus is the prince of peace. His cross makes ultimate peace possible. Peace with God settles our hearts so that we can be at peace with others. When we are securely loved. We are free to love others… even those most difficult to love! In Christ, we have nothing to fear. The key is to continually, intentionally remember our security in Jesus.

What fears keep coming up for you? Keeps you up at night? Paralyzes your heart in the day? What low grade worries drive your work, decisions, approach to relationships. What are you afraid of? Why not release your fear to Jesus to settle your heart in His peace?

Ps 56:11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Phil 4:7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Recognize & name your fear. Release your fear to Jesus through intentional prayer. Stand Firm in Life’s Battles by Anchoring your Heart in Christ’s Peace.

To catch the whole lesson go to www.parkviewfamily.com. Even better, join us this weekend at 9 or 10:45 to experience God’s life changing presence and take in the next part of the lesson.

Stand Firm in Christ’s Righteousness

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water splashing

Eph. 6:14 Stand firm therefore… having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

In every one of our lives, there is a moment we hope no one ever knows about. Something we fell into. Well at the time we chose it, but were quickly realized what a mistake it was. We were overwhelmed by guilt or shame that can hang over us a long time. In an age of social media we can live with low-grade fear that somewhere, sometime someone will call us out over a past moral failure.

Secret sins have great power over our hearts. They make cowards of us in moment when we should be strong. They cause us to fit in when we should step out. This happens to every follower of Christ who dares take up Jesus’ mission and engage the battle. If we are going to stand in those moments we need to embrace the righteousness of Christ.

This Matters because Satan Seeks to Trap You and Define You by Your Sin.

1Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. CF. Job 1-2

Personal sin makes us weak, vulnerable & guilty before God. But then, Satan who deceived us and invited us to sin immediately become our accuser. To Him, our sin is like blood in the water to a shark. He wants to overwhelm you with guilt that spiritually paralyzes. He attacks with tenacious accusations of our sin & identity. Satan finds a weakness and pick it to death!

One of the ways Satan holds believers back is with his constant whispers of accusation:  “I know what you did, who you are! If they knew what I know they would be anywhere near you. You’ll always be a … You’ll never get past this. You are really messed up! You don’t deserve a break. I really suck. I’ll never get past this.”

Satan knows your name but calls you by your sin…  He seeks to define you by your sin. He wants us to play hurt, limping along without the confidence you can have in Jesus. Which whispers plague you?

The answer is to stand firm in Jesus’ Righteousness.

Rom 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Is 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.  

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Righteousness means being clean and clear of all accusation. Being right with God is ultimate security for the soul. Are we good enough on our own? NO! But Jesus makes us righteous through His sacrifice. When we stand in Him at the cross we are righteous. God knows your sin but calls you by your name.

To get it we simply agree with God about our sin & His holiness. We receive His gift of soul deep cleansing through the sacrifice of Jesus. Then we can live with confidence in his righteousness that keeps our conscious free of false guilt and the paralyzing accusations.

Through Jesus, we become new creations, we get new names, we receive a new nature! Simon became Peter, Saul became Paul. You become… NEW! Righteous in Christ.

We live on a spiritual battlefield. Like Goliath did to David, Like Job’s friends did to him, Satan whispers accusations in our ear. They are designed to neutralize our growth & impact. There is no need to listen to them. Jesus cross & resurrection set us free. The only question is where we stand. Solid ground or sinking sand? Satan will still accuse but we have power to shut it down. Stand Firm in the Righteousness of Christ.

To hear the whole lesson, go to www.parkviewfamily.com. Even better join us for the rest of the series each weekend at 9:00 or 10:45. @ 803 west 18th street in Lexington, NE.