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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What is Your Center?

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cross & thornsCol 3:1-3 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

For me, Jesus is life, PERIOD. I can’t image approaching life without Him, I can’t imagine facing a day without being centered on Him. He gives light in the darkest days and perspective to the brightest ones. This study has been a great reminder sinking even deeper in my own heart. As we wrap up this series, I hope is has in yours as well.

Before you move on, ask yourself one more time: What is the center of your life? Not the answer you think I want, but the truth. What trumps everything on your schedule, in your wallet, in your weekend? How has it been working? What if you got even more aligned with Jesus as the center? What would that look like? What would it take? What is He asking of you? Here is one final look at the big picture of what we gain when we are centered on Jesus.

Centering on Jesus Restores our Lives to His Original Intention.

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Avoiding Spiritual Traps

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prison wallOne of the reasons many people aren’t interested in Jesus is because they see people trapped by religion. People who seem addicted to spiritual activity or rules who practice religion in a way that bugs everyone around them. People who restrain themselves with incredible discipline yet lack real peace, joy, impact and sometime humility in their lives.

They see people who have fallen in spiritual traps and they instinctively know they don’t want that for themselves. Who would!!

Recognizing these traps is one thing, avoiding them is even better! Colossians 2:16-23 shows us three timeless spiritual traps that steal freedom and kill joy. These traps deceive by sending us down a road that will never lead to the deep peace of Christ. See which one is most likely to trip you up and make plans to avoid it.

#1  Avoid the Better Rules Trap.

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Why Jesus?!

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question mark coffeeEveryone hopes for a great life. We look different places and try different things searching to make that a reality. We drop some things right away discovering they weren’t what we thought. Other things seem good for a while but then either fade in effectiveness or turn on us.

Life seems like an unsolvable puzzle with the nagging sense that it is supposed to be better.

As a Jesus follower of nearly 45 years, I believe the centering my life on Jesus has hacked life’s puzzle. Jesus is Your Best Hope of a Secure & Significant Life. Why should anyone center their life on Jesus? Let me share some big reasons why.

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Where Do We Start?

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follow-me-shoesJohn 10:27-28 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

I started playing piano officially around age 5. My mom was my first teacher. Later in elementary school she found another teacher for us. This teacher gave each lesson a grade and had her students compete with each other as well as other outside students. Even better. That was a big motivation or me. As I go older and the world got bigger I realized there was one teacher and his best local protégé whose students always won the bigger competitions. So when I got a chance to switch, I was really eager. She didn’t take very many students, so it was a real honor. I remember she interviewed me. What do I like about piano. What do I hope to do with it. What are my current practice habits? The seriousness of this step was rising to a new level.

You must trust me. You must take practice seriously by doing only what I show you, how I show you.

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The Big Reason

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follow-me-graphic-seriesJohn 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

“It’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.” How many times have you heard that? How about this twist? “It’s not WHY you start but WHY you finish that matters.” As we grow in life our insight & motivations change, hopefully for the better.

This happens for believers in our walk with Jesus. For example I first trusted Jesus when I was only 5 years old. I believe it was a genuine and true faith, but 45 years later my faith relationship with Him is much richer and deeper.

Last Sunday we discovered that there were many reasons people began to follow Jesus when he first came. However as time went on there was only one reason they continued. They began out of curiosity, need & invitation. However, before his crucifixion more people left him than stayed with Him. Understanding why is key to knowing what it means to really follow Jesus. We find that answer in John 6.

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