Monday, July 23, 2012

Satan the Roaring Lion

Satan is at war with Christianity; this is what Spiritual Warfare is all about.

Know 1 Peter 5:8 which reads: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Satan is not a wimp as some people teach, nor is he to be ignored; thus, we need to be prepared! Satan is not a cowardly lion like in the Wizard of Oz. A coward is someone who does not attract, and such a one invokes no fear; thus, no defense is needed. The term roaring lion comes from 1 Peter 5: 5-9, describing the most feared animal at that time. Such lions would strike absolute fear into the people who had no real defense against them (Psalm 7:2; 10:9-10; 22:13). This referred to Satan’s power and destructiveness, as he is someone who is out to get you and an enemy of God. He is your enemy, the devil/Satan, as his name means “the slanderer” and “our adversary.” This refers to the accuser or the prosecutor (Job 1:6-12; 2:12; Zech. 3:1-2; Rev. 12: 9-10). Peter says Satan is seeking to accuse us of wrong so he can blind us to God’s love and grace. He twists our mindsets to be ashamed, seek apostasy (because we think God does not care), or into not taking our faith seriously.

Satan seeks us out as the lion who seeks the weak prey. His prey is Christians, specifically those who are not mature and not always faithful. Christian maturity requires us to submit and to be humble. The result is respect, cooperation, unity, community, and the power of His Fruit at work. This is our armor and defense against Spiritual Warfare. But, if we do not submit, have no regard for unity, or have no respect for authority, our sinful nature will win out. The result will be Satan’s influence causing us to succumb to quarrels (because of pride), discord, and shame.

We have to see that God wants us to submit; this is best for us, both individually and collectively as a church. Keep in mind that when God talks about Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, it is in the context of who we are and how we are to be in Him! Humility, Fruit, and Character in the Word builds not only our precious relationship with Christ, but our defense in Him as well. He knows that his time is short. Satan knows that his authority and dominion are still under God’s sovereignty; he can do only what God allows for His purpose. Satan has lost and fights like a cornered animal as well as using all the weapons at his disposal to oppose God’s people and goodness. In the last days, he will become more intensely hostile toward the people of God (1 Peter 5:5-9).

Satan also seeks to destroy those who are doing a good work, those who are faithful and being used in service to Him for His glory. He hates those who live their lives for Christ, thus may wage war upon you. So, it is very important to remain in Him and stick to His precepts. Being a Christian and a church is about relying on Christ, not ourselves; it is about His mighty power at work in us—not our feeble ways! It is not allowing our frustrations, disappointments, and failures take hold of us and cause us to concentrate on them and not on Christ. His favor and power will be poured out on us when we are faithful, obedient, and meek (strength under control). Nevertheless, be warned; pride is the complete opposite of these. Pride is what Satan is all about; it will destroy relationships and churches fast and furiously. That is why God hates it so much! Thus, to be confident in Jesus and be used by Him, we need Him to empower us. With this mindset and empowering, we do not need to worry or fret because our mind is not on our status, situation, possessions, or experiences, but on Christ! We can then know the devil’s lies and ways. This comes about when we realize that Jesus does indeed care, and loves us ever so deeply!

The devil gets a hold on us when we fail to comply with the previous precepts of humility, Fruit, and Character! He will attack to discourage and sway us away from God and His ways. Our defense is simple; we are to stand firm in Christ, pray, and allow His work in us to be demonstrated; what we alone would bring to the table would just be fuel for the devil and his ways!

We also can be comforted that God is totally sovereign and Satan can do nothing to us other that what God allows. However, he still has power and has not been tamed yet. Consider that your will is the door through which he comes prowling and attacking; why give him an open door? Satan is still our adversary; he not only wants to take you away from God‘s love and precepts, he wants to utterly destroy you! Peter’s point in 1 Peter 5? Be on your guard and resist him; do not let Satan have that open door—as Peter personally experienced (Luke 22:31-34; Eph. 6:10-20)!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why does your church Exist?

The Church exists by what Christ has done for us in and for His Glory!

According to Scripture, the Church exists because of what Christ has done for us in His glory and the production of His love and work. The church exists for us to be in Christ our Lord, to be His people, His hands, and His feet to first worship Him as Lord, and then respond by our work to build His Kingdome.  

The church exits to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and it continues to be inhabited by the people God chooses, and the response we give back to Him. God is our God and we are called to be His people, so let’s do this, let’s do a better job at it. In all honesty, most of us suck at it! Because we are so engrossed with our petty desires and trend chasing we forget the main thing! That Christ is Lord over our Church and we are supposed to glorify Him, not please ourselves or others!   

Time for a history lesson on why we do church. What started as a system of sacrifices performed by a specific, chosen tribe of priests who were the primary teachers and caregivers, moved and transitioned through God’s covenants to the modern church of today. The early Jews had exclusive rights to the things of God, including the writings of Moses. The main part of the sanctuary was accessible by the high priest only, and that inner sanctuary journey happened only once a year. By the work of our Lord, the old church was broken down and became accessible to all that would accept and believe at any time—by the work of our Lord and not by any human effort. The Lord was accessible to one nation who had the responsibility to spread His Word to all nations. This is why the land of Israel was and is so important; in that day, just about every group of people in the world would travel through Israel to Egypt and back. As the principle trade route brought countless numbers of people through it, Israel had the opportunity to be the evangelists of the Glory of God to the world. When they did, they were blessed, such as in Solomon’s time.  

The cross replaced the old way of the church, and the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom to lift up our Lord and the church became poured out by the Spirit to us, the body. Thus, the ministry and responsibilities became real and relevant to all rather than to just a handful of priests. The experience of the church was for all, and the ministry for all believers became our call.  

When Christ was put to death for our sins, the Temple veil was torn. The veil’s job was to separate the priests and the holiness of God from the people; it protected God from our sin, and protected us from the wrath of God. The veil has been lifted, or actually torn in two, because Christ paid that debt, and we now have access to God without fear of retribution.  

God still chooses people into the ministry as a call and vocation, and their responsibility is to administer the Word and Sacraments. They are responsible to equip and train the lay people, and do the priestly things of marriage, burial, the Lord’s Supper, and proclaiming the Word and most importantly, Worship Christ as Lord.  

The problem we run into is that most churches have forgotten that the veil has been torn, and expect the pastor to perform everything while they sit as spectators. They want their ears tickled; they want this, that and the other thing to make them happy. Therefore, they do not have to fulfill their responsibility and call, when one can sit and take no responsibility or determination in ones faith.  

We must ask the question do we have a healthy understanding of the purpose and mission of the church and the role of the lay person and the pastor? Do we know why we exist as a church, not the pastors pathetic or wayward vision; rather the call of our Lord? So, let’s do this, let’s do a better job at it!  

Not sure what that call is? It is here: Colossians 1:15-23