In this series we have talked about how God strengthens His people. and the first step in allowing God to strengthen us is to connect with God.  Doesn’t it make sense to consult with the inventor of this thing we call us to see what I (we) was created for?

SECOND – Life is a Battle . . . a SPRITUAL Battle!

The Bible is full of stories about battles and God’s involvement in them:

  •  When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the LORD your God and rescued from your enemies.  (Numbers 10:9 NIV)
  • He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. (Deuteronomy 20:3 NIV)
  • Saul immediately called his army together and they went straight to the battle. When they got there they found total confusion—Philistines swinging their swords wildly, killing each other. Hebrews who had earlier defected to the Philistine camp came back. They now wanted to be with Israel under Saul and Jonathan. Not only that, but when all the Israelites who had been hiding out in the backwoods of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were running for their lives, they came out and joined the chase. God saved Israel! What a day! (1 Samuel 14:20 MSG)

Like it or not there is good and evil out there.  There is continual spiritual warfare going on between God and His antithesis; call him Satan, The Devil, The Enemy or even He who shall remain nameless!

When we are connected to God and hearing from Him it means we are growing closer to God.  And you know what, we can’t grow closer to God without growing further away from the Enemy.  And . . . the enemy is not going to like that!  He will use the very things God uses to encourage us; friends, books, scripture and spouses to discourage us.

I have been blessed by a great word picture for this.  My good friend Sven (sounds like I’m setting you up for one of those old Swedish jokes doesn’t it!) who Kris and I met shortly after moving to California has been a great spiritual partner for the last 20 or so years.  Sven is one of those guys that is larger than life itself and will hold you accountable to your values and convictions in a non-threatening way.

Anyway, at one of our small group (bible study) meeting we were discussing the issues of spiritual warfare and Sven, with his still slightly present Chicago accent told us this:  “I like to think of it like the old cartoons we used to watch when we were kids.  You remember Tom and Jerry?  Besides it being probably one of the most violent cartoons at that time, it had some great spiritual messages!”  Sven turned to me and said, “You remember when Tom finally had Jerry right where he wanted him and all of a sudden, a little angel would show up on Tom’s right shoulder.  The angel would always try to encourage Tom to do the right thing: Let Jerry go . . . don’t be so mean to him”.  Then, suddenly, on the other shoulder a little guy in a red suit, horns, a pointy tail and a pitchfork would show up; “Him, don’t worry about him . . . wad ee ever do fer you?  Do him in!”

Having the room’s full attention now Sven was standing with all eyes on him.  “So I just do what brother Tom (of Tom and Jerry) taught me . . . whenever the devil is telling me I can’t do something, or I’m not smart enough, rich enough or spiritual enough, I put my middle finger behind my thumb, turn to face the enemy on my shoulder and FLING, flick him off of my shoulder and out of my life with a loud HIT THE ROAD! It’s easy!”  With that Sven sat down and we were all left with that word picture for life . . . and now you have it also!  By the way the translation for “Hit the Road!” is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Wouldn’t be great if that would be the end of the enemy’s efforts?!  Well, it won’t be.  He will continue to come back to you in different ways to discourage you or to get you focused on other things . . . away from God wants you to be doing.

But now when the rubber meets the road and we are out there in the world and those situations come up about doing the right thing . . . following God’s direction for us.  As followers of Christ we will have to fight these spiritual battles over and over but remember, God strengthens His people:

Joseph – when his brothers sold him into slavery . . . was in prison and then finally became the King’s right-hand guy . . . only to be tempted by the King’s own wife!  God strengthened Joseph and he became a great person for the Kingdom of God.

David in the story of David and Goliath.  David could have (as did most) shrunken from the challenge and turned away.  But God strengthened David and we all know that David killed Goliath.  Through God’s strength David became a great man for the kingdom of God!

Shadrach, Neshack and Abednigo they could have bowed down to their king and turned their backs on God.  Instead, faced certain death and walked into the fiery furnace.  Through God’s strength,  Shadrack, Neshack and Abednigo became great men for the kingdom of God!

He will also strengthen us . . . when we seek His help!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!

First – Be Open to God . . . connect with Him.
Second – Life is a Spiritual Battle . . . turn the enemy away!

Amen and Amen

Again, thank you for reading and following these posts.  Be sure to stay tuned for the final posting in this series: It Will Take Determination . . . A Laser Sharp, Single Minded Faith!