A Deeper Cut

THIS BIBLE STUDY ATTEMPTS TO TAKE A DEEPER CUT AT THE STUDY OF SCRIPTURE WITH DIRECT APPLICATION TO OUR EVERYDAY WALK WITH GOD.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

THE BATTLE WE FACE

As little boys, most of us battled a fire-breathing dragon hundreds of times. In our make believe world we were always strong and courageous. Then as we grow and mature our make believe play fades away into memories. But I am here to tell you that the dragon is very real and the battle we fight is a spiritual one. We need to be very strong and courageous to face down this dragon. As we begin to step into our role as spiritual head of our families, the dragon will attempt to stop us.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. Revelation 12:7-8

This dragon is very real indeed and he goes by many names - Satan, Lucifer and Beelzebub to name a few. He made an attempt to overthrow God but did not succeed and was cast out of heaven and thrown to the earth. The dragon now wages war against our families and us. His desire is to turn you from God. He wants to neutralize your Christian witness and your effectiveness as your family’s leader.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9

Who does this roaring lion want to devour? You and your family! The battle is very real. Are you willing to engage your enemy? The enemy is engaging you. If you will not fight for your family then who will? Satan would like nothing more than for you to sit on the sidelines of this battle.

If you don’t think your enemy is real, just look at the world around you today. Remember, the dragon wants to keep you distanced from God. Look at the distractions that call you away from time with your Creator. Media influences are all screaming for your attention - TV, radio and the Internet. How can you hear from God over all of the noise? God doesn’t usually come to you in a shout but a whisper. If you are not paying attention you will miss an encounter with God. If there had been radio, TV and the internet in Jesus’ day – would the original disciples even have heard him? Jesus simply says “Come follow me”. There is no shouting or yelling or jumping up and down to get our attention.

This spiritual battle is tough. The war is raging all around us but we can’t see it with our eyes. It would be much easier if our enemy would show himself. The first thing is that you must acknowledge that the battle is real. The second thing to know is that you are in it whether you know it or not. You can choose to let the enemy run over you or you can engage him and fight back. The Apostle Paul tells us more about this spiritual war:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13

The first part of this passage is crucial. Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. If you do not have a close relationship with God through is son Jesus, you are destined to lose the battle. The Lord’s strength is the only thing that can turn this battle and make us winners rather than losers.

The most dramatic impact in my walk with the Lord comes from this foundation. A few years ago I was just the average Christian guy. I accepted the Lord but I did not have a quiet center to my life. I prayed – but not regularly. I usually waited until I got myself into trouble. I knew I needed more time with God and had actually been grumbling to myself that I did not have enough time during the day to spend with Him.

My Sunday school teacher at the time, Brett Smith challenged all of the men in his class that had long commutes to turn off the radio and talk to God for two weeks. It was like he had issued the challenge just to me. You see, I have a two-hour daily commute to and from work. Here I was alone in my car for two hours a day. This is plenty of time to spend with God. Why hadn’t I seen this before?

Even though I am a believer I had been tricked by the devil. Through my busy schedule I’d been blinded to the fact that I really did have enough time. Plus there is so much good music on the radio – I didn’t want to give it up. The devil had engaged me and I didn’t even know it. I was beaten before I even got started.

I took Brett’s challenge to do without the radio for two weeks. My life has never been the same since. I can now hear the voice of God and I have a closer relationship with Him than ever before. I long for my time with Him everyday - time to talk, seek His guidance and listen for His voice. The Lord has opened my eyes to the spiritual battle raging all around us.

The point of this story is to demonstrate that even though I was in the spiritual battle I did not know it. This is exactly where the devil wants us to be – lazy and ignorant. I was fighting my daily battles in my own strength – not the Lord’s and I was losing.

Paul tells us in this passage that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but it is every bit the same life and death struggle of any military battle in history. He also tells us that the devil is scheming against us and that we need to take our stand against him. There is no wavering here; there is not a question of backing down. Paul is urging and exhorting us that we MUST take our stand against the devil. You must be aware that the devil is constantly scheming against you.

The devil would like nothing more than to keep you blind to his attacks. If he can keep you on the sidelines he’s won. You are nothing to worry about if you aren’t in the game. If you’ve never come under spiritual attack before, maybe it’s because you have not engaged the enemy. If you are warring and battling against our ancient adversary he will not leave you alone. The fact is that the more you serve God and are in His will the more likely it is that you will come under spiritual attack. If you are not doing anything to take territory away from the evil one, why should he attack you? Why should he beat you down and “wake you up” to his schemes? If you sit on the sidelines of this battle you may as well be on the opposing team. Are you ready to get in the game? Are you ready to fight back? This is war – spiritual war!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus first tells us what Biblical leadership is not. Authority is not to be lorded over someone else. It is not to be used as an excuse for getting your own way. Jesus then goes on to tell us that whoever wants to be great shall be a servant. What? How can a servant be great? This is diametrically opposed to how the world thinks.

The servant leader is great because even though he has all of the authority God has given to him he does not use it as a weapon. He uses his authority in love and he uses his authority in the service of others. Jesus himself is the perfect example of a servant leader:

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

He did not come into the world to be served, but to serve us. He served us by sacrificing himself on the cross so that we might be saved from our sins. This is the ultimate act of service, to give your life for another person.

Do you have what it takes to be a Biblical leader? The world tells us that we need to get power, money or position to be a leader. The world tells us that we need to do what it takes to climb to the top of the corporate ladder. The world tells us that the end justifies the means. The world tells us that it doesn’t matter whom you have to climb over in your climb to the top. The world tells us to watch out for number one.

Do you have what it takes to put your family before yourself? Biblical leadership is hard work. It’s easy to try to get people to do what you want by bullying. But that is not real leadership. That is more like the caboose trying to push a train. Jesus never bullied anyone. He put others needs above His own, looked to His heavenly Father to guide Him and then called, “Come, follow me”.

Can you exhibit the same type of leadership that Jesus did? Can you put your family’s needs above your own? If you can, then they will willingly follow your leadership. They will follow your lead not because you can win the power struggle. Rather, they will follow your lead because it is based on love and respect. To be a good leader your compass must be pointed in the right direction. You must seek to follow God and His will for your life. This is your “true north”. To be a Biblical leader you must learn to live under the authority of God. We should model our leadership after the Lord Jesus.

Jesus was the epitome of servant leadership. He sought to put others first as a way to glorify God. Jesus was subject to authority. He put Himself under the authority of the Father. As part of the Father’s will He put Himself under the earthly authorities – willingly. Jesus did not seek the approval of men. He did not seek the approval of the religious leaders of the day, but went to the “sinners” instead – as a servant. Jesus was humble. He showed great humbleness by submitting to the will of the Father. Jesus is forgiving. While on the cross He asked the Father to forgive the people because they did not understand what they were doing. Jesus was willing to sacrifice. He made the ultimate sacrifice of dying on the cross for our sins. Jesus was a promise keeper. His ultimate goal on the earth was to go to the cross. He never wavered from his chosen path. In the same way that Jesus leads his church we must be willing to lead our families. We should model servant leadership, be subject to God and our earthly authorities, not seek the approval of men, be humble in heart, willing to forgive, keeping our word and willing to sacrifice for the good of our family. This is what Biblical leadership looks like.

As we have seen from the previous passages of Scripture, God desires that we be the leaders in our families. Not worldly leaders but Biblical style leaders. Being the leader of your family is a serious responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Remember the serpent that was in the garden? He’s still out there. If you decide to step out on faith and fulfill your calling as the spiritual leader in your home I can guarantee that you will come under spiritual attack from Satan. Because if you do these things we’ve talked about you will be encroaching on what he considers to be his territory. You see, the devil wants you to believe that you cannot be a leader. He doesn’t want God’s people stepping into leadership positions. The attacks may not come right away but be assured they will come. You will need to be ready for the coming battles.

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