Genesis 28:18 (NIV)
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.
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From The Pastor's Desk
Where are your battles? Are they social, legal, physical, intellectual, emotional, financial, spiritual or a combination of all of the above? Has anything been working on you personally, or your family? Do you ever feel under attack? It is not your imagination. Spiritual warfare has been ramped up these days and the playing field for Christians has changed. The church defi-nitely feels targeted at times. Shootings, arson, and moral failures in churches; divisions, clos-ings, and compromised faith statements - all are sadly in the news these days. Is not a coinci-dence. There is an agenda.
A battle is raging for the souls of people, and the church is in the crosshairs with a bull-seye on your back. There is an attempt to render us ineffective, ignored and isolated, without a trusted voice. Who is at fault, and who gets blamed? People get the blame a lot, but we are told in scripture that people get used in a larger power struggle: "..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" (Eph. 6:12). That is why when you blame and battle against people, there never seems to be a clear winner. There is a spiritual battle going on that requires spiritual weapons, God's Word and Prayer.
God's Word says that as children of God we are "conquerors", made possible by the one "who has overcome the world". The scriptures also remind us that the "gates of hell shall not prevail against the church", and "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world".
At the same time we know that Satan is relentless and he counts on Christians being weak, giving up because they have forgotten the truth of who they are in Christ. He knows the power of the church united in the truth of God's Word and in Prayer and trembles. That is why he has a strategy to single you out, separate you from the fellowship of the church, make you doubt, weak, discouraged and ineffective.
In Ephesians 6 after listing the "armor of God" we are told in verse 18 to: "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for the saints." It is in prayer that we gain power, wisdom, and direction, from being in the presence of God.
Being alert means praying fervently and strategically, engaged in the spiritual warfare with God on your side. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). What does that mean, you might ask? That means praying in the power of Christ's name for people and situations, while also praying against an enemy's agenda to destroy and kill. Sound scary. It should not be. Christ is with us!
Without sounding like a mere commercial, a good place to learn about praying strategically, resisting the devil and calling on God to rebuke him is in the movie "War Room",in theaters locally August 28 - September 1. Companion books have been written and are available. They are good, but for my next sermon series on prayer I will be preaching from prayer lessons from our Lord, when he said, "This is how you should pray..." (Mt. 6:9) We call his teaching example the Lord's Prayer.
Last fall in our Re-visioning Survey, one area we said we wanted to work on as a congregation was "Prayerful Dependence". Since the spring I had been planning to address that issue following my month of study putting together a "Clear Path of Discipleship". That report will be given in September. So join me as I return to the pulpit, and we learn from Jesus about prayer. His words are simple and powerful.
Prayerfully, Pastor Mike
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.