Thursday, August 28, 2014

Help, I'm Being Attacked!

Have you ever felt like you were being attacked from all sides? Maybe not physically, but in other ways. Does it seem like many around you are collaborating against you and you don't know how to respond?
Well, you certainly would not be alone. I am sure that we all go through those times. I know I have. Take it from me that when you are coaching and your team is not winning most of the time, people will rise up against you. Even when your team is winning, parents of those players who are not getting playing time will not be happy with you.
The question is, how should we deal with that kind of attack? Do we fight back with a counter attack. Do we just "turn the other cheek" and let it continue? Do we gather others to fight on our side with us? What do we do?
As always, we want to look to the bible for our answers. There are many passages that we could go to but I would like you to check out how King David dealt with this problem. We see a good picture of his approach in Psalm 3.
 1 O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!Many are rising up against me. 2 Many are saying of my soul,"There is no deliverance for him in God." Selah. 3 But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. 4 I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. 5 I lay down and slept;I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about. 7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. 8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah. NASU

In verse 1 David tells us that the number of people rising against him was increasing. What was happening here? The answer to that can be found in 2nd Samuel 15:13-18. David's son, Absalom has led a rebellion against his father in order to take the throne for himself. He has been successful in this effort and David will have to flee in order to survive. The situation has gotten so bad that many are saying that there is no way David survives this, God will not deliver him. Has it ever been this bad for you? I hope not. But however severe your situation is, there are four principles that we can see in David's approach. I think they can help us when we are being attacked.

1. Recognize the reality of the situation. In verses 1 and 2 we see that David recognizes what is going on. He does not ignore the situation or downplay what is truly happening. He is going to face his circumstances head on. We need to do the same. So often, when times get tough, we want to withdraw from the fight, rather than confront it. Usually, that just makes the situation worse. Rather than withdraw, we want to ask God for a strategy in fighting the battle.

We also want to realize that all believers can go through attacks and it is not necessarily a sign that we are doing something wrong. It is OK to admit that we are struggling and feeling despair. Look at what Paul says in 2nd Co 1:8 "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;"

2. Trust in who God is and what He does, rather than who you are. See what David says about God in verses 3-8? What you are getting is a close up look at David's personal relationship with God. Because he knows God, he understands that God is his shield (the Hebrew word means to "hedge about"), his glory (David was not wrapped up in himself and even though he was a king, he gave glory to God), and his exalter (it was God that place him on the throne, not himself). The trust David had in God came from many years of walking with Him and watching God deliver him many other times.
This perspective on God only comes through the knowledge of His word and life experience with Him. The more time you spend with God, the more you will learn to learn to rely upon him to help you with your situations in life. 2 Cor 1:9-10 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, NASU

3. Petition the Lord for His help with expectation of an answer! Look at verses 4 and 7. David cries out to God and he knows he will receive an answer. In fact, he believes that the answer has already been delivered and that his enemies will be smitten. Paul shows us that it is good to ask others to join you in your petition. 2 Cor 1:11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. NASU. 

4. Rest in the Lord and do not fear! Verse 5 is telling us that David is secure enough in his relationship with God that he can sleep at night. He knows, "God's got this!" He rests, understanding that if he wakes up in the morning, it is because God has allowed it. In verse 8 he says that salvation is from the Lord. That means if he is to be delivered, it will be according to God's plan and purpose. There is a second application for us. Even if we are not delivered from a particular attack, nothing can take away our eternal destiny in Christ. That is why Paul said in Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. NASU  When you believe that, you need have no fear of what man can do to you.

Now, I am going to add one more principle to the mix, again using David as an example. You see, this was not the first time David was in this kind of a pickle (if you don't know what that means, you need to rent the movie Sandlot and watch it!)
For at least fifteen years, after being anointed as King by Samuel the prophet, David had to run from Saul, who did not want to give up the throne. Saul tried to kill David many times, but was unsuccessful thanks to God's divine intervention.
But David also relied on God to give him wisdom in what actions he should take. He used many different strategies to avoid being killed. You can read about them starting in 1st Sam 18.

So, ask God for wisdom in what actions you should take. James 1:5 assures us that God will give it to you. Interesting though that James says "if you lack wisdom," to ask for it. I believe he states it that way because if you are spending enough time in reading God's word, which is full of wisdom, you should already have a clue of what actions He would want you to take. Take a look particularly at the "Sermon on the Mount" in Mt 5:1-7:27.

 Remember that ultimately, we are in a spiritual battle which calls for spiritual weapons.
Eph 6:10-14 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. 12 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.  13 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. NASU

If you are under attack, I pray that you will apply these principles and that God delivers you and that you experience the victory that is yours in Christ Jesus!

God bless you,




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A New Creation?

One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is 2 Cor 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. NASU

Pastors love to share this verse and I think it's  because it seems to indicate that we can have a fresh start. That is appealing isn't it? Who doesn't like the idea of getting a new start on life? I would think that most, if not all of us, have some things we have done that we would like to forget about and then be able to start over with a clean slate.

But what exactly is this verse referring to? What are the "old things" that have passed away and what are the "new things" that have come? Have you ever really stopped and thought about what specific things Paul was talking about? I think it is worth a close examination, how about you?

First, we see that there is a condition to being this new creation. It is being "in Christ." So, what are the requirements to be "in Christ?" The phrase was used often by the apostle Paul to express a positional state. (Ro 8:1, 12:5, 16:7; 1Co 1:30, Gal 3:28 and many more.) This is the state of one who has made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him for salvation (Ro 6:23), sanctification (making us more like Him, 1 Co 1:2) and is committed to allowing Christ to be the Lord of his/her life (2 Co 1:21). Jesus put it this way, "you must be born again," (Jn3:7) and after being born again, abiding (living) in Him (Jn 15:4-11)

If that describes you, then you can be guaranteed that old things have passed away and the new has come. So again, what are the "old things" and what are the "new things" that come with being in Christ?
Well, here is a list and I think you are going to like it!

Some Old Things
1. Condemnation (Ro 8:1, 6:9) That means the judgment of death. Before we were in Christ, we had a sentence of eternal death on us. We would spend eternity, without God, in the place the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev 20:15)
2. Bondage to sin (Ro 6: 6,11, 14) Though we still have a sin nature, we no longer have be a slave to that nature. Jesus said that those who commit sin are slaves to sin (Jn 8:34), but Ro 6:11 tells us that when we are in Christ, we consider ourselves dead to sin.
3. Bondage to works and legalism (Gal 5:6, Ro 11;6) We no longer try to earn our salvation, which was impossible anyway. Gal 2:16 tells us that we are justified (made righteous) by faith in Christ and not by works of the law.
4. The veil that covered our eyes to the truth of the gospel (2 Co 4:3-4)
5.  Bondage to the mindset of the world (Eph 4:14-15,17-19)
6. Bondage to living only for self (2 Co 5:15, Gal 2:20)

Some New Things
1. Eternal life with God (Ro 6:11, 23b, Jn 3:16, 1 Co 15:22)
2. A personal relationship with Christ. Once we were considered strangers, aliens and slaves. Jesus now calls us friend, brother, fellow citizen and sons (Eph 2: 13,19, Jn 5:15, Gal 2:20, 4:7)
3. New Family (Ro 12:5; Gal 3:28, 6:10; Eph 3:6)
4. The Holy Spirit indwelling, teaching, comforting and empowering us to live a Godly life (Jn 14:16-18; Acts 1:8, 2:17-18, Ro 5:5, 7:6, 8:4-17, 26, 14:17; 1 Co 12:4-11, Gal 5:16-26)
5. The assurance of provision (Mt 6:31)
6. The assurance of never being abandoned (Mt 28:20; Heb 13:5)
7. Freedom from fear (Heb 13:6; Mt 10:26, 28; 1 Jn 4:18)
8. Knowledge that God is working out things for your good
(Rom 8:28)
9. A life that fulfills God's purpose (Ro 8:28, 2 Cor 5:5, Eph 1:11, 2nd Ti 1:9; 1 Pe2:21; Eph 2:10)

I'm sure we could add more to this list, but shouldn't this be enough to convince anyone that being a new creation in Christ is an awesome thing? I hope it encourages you that are already "in Christ." If you are not yet "in Christ," you can make that choice right now. On the right side of the blog is a statement on how to become a Christian. I pray that you will follow those instructions and from your heart, receive Christ as your Savior and become a new creation in Christ today.

God bless you,