A Call to Battle and Prayer…

November 18, 2008

The following verses, recently preached during Sunday Worship, have suddenly become very real for me and many others in our church family:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

(Ephesians 6.10-12, ESV)

This afternoon, after hearing yet another piece of distressing news [ed. note: Charlie is in the hospital with pneumonia], I felt that God was urging me to recognize and pray more seriously about the suffering of NHF members and their families.  After compiling a mental list of personal emotional traumas, major life-changes of the unpleasant variety, car accidents, hospitalizations, surgeries, illnesses, colds that went on too long and too severely, and assorted mysterious physical and emotional maladies, I ran out of fingers and toes on which to keep count.  I also ran out of the excuses that said “I have the worst, most lung-rattling, most debilitating cough of my life because of a change in the weather” or “Car accidents happen when the leaves fall and get wet on the roads” or “I just can’t focus on the Lord because there are so many things stressing me out lately.”

While its true that, yes, life happens and God is always sovereign, its also true that, as children of God, we have big fat bulls’-eyes drawn on our backs.  I’ve heard it said that Satan doesn’t care as much about non-believers because he’s already got them; those whom he greedily wants are the ones he doesn’t have — Christians who walk in the power and under the cover of the blood of Christ.  So, to our great discomfort (and sometimes, immense pain), he shoots, jabs, stabs, pokes, burns and slashes, and we feel every bit of it.  I’ve also heard it said that “the higher the level, the higher the devil.”  In other words, the more closely God’s people are walking with Him, the more the Holy Spirit is moving and working the Father’s good will in a Christian community, the more a Christian draws close to the heart of the Lord in obedience and love … the more Satan plots and schemes and unleashes.  It could almost be a badge of honor if it didn’t hurt so much, right?

There’s a horrible irony in the enemy’s attacks, though: his power is NOTHING in the face of the power that we have in Christ.  For even in our weakest, sickest, most demoralized and down-trodden moments, we still have more spiritual authority in and of the Lord God, than Satan could ever have over us in his own evil.  It is this holy and immense authority that is guaranteed to us in Ephesians 6.14-18, if we will only obey our Father’s Words and commands: put on, stand firm, take up, pray, be alert, keep on praying.

So in the face of all of our heartaches, all of our sniffles and coughs, all of our visible and invisible fractures, all of our and our families’ pains and trials and worries, and not the least of which includes 1-year-old Charlie fighting off pneumonia in a hospital bed, let’s be sure — in these days and in this season especially — to CLAIM the proper spiritual authority given to us only by our Father in Christ, PRAY for ourselves and each other like we mean it, and “TAKE UP the whole armor of God, … to WITHSTAND in the evil day, and having done all, to STAND FIRM.” (Ephesians 6.13, ESV).


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