Wednesday, November 06, 2013, 8:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with this song: I Need Thee Every Hour/ Annie S. Hawks / Robert Lowry I need Thee every hour; stay Thou nearby; Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain; Come quickly and abide, or life is vain. I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will; And Thy rich promises in me fulfill. I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Ephesians 6:10-20(NIV). Perspective In Gary Barkalow’s book, “It’s Your Call: What Are You Doing Here?” he gave a very thought-provoking illustration that fits perfectly here. [This is not an endorsement of the book as a whole.] He was speaking of our lives being like a story. He said, “The story you believe you are living determines how you interpret and react to life.” And, then he illustrated his point by giving two different scenarios. In scenario one, we are to imagine we have just boarded a cruise ship for the vacation of our dreams. We have high expectations that our trip (cruise) is going to be everything it was advertised to be. Yet, once on board, things begin to change. Bad weather sets in. It becomes turbulent, in fact, and some of our freedoms are taken away from us. We are forced indoors by the turbulence, and so we begin to become discouraged and discontented. The conditions are crowded now, and there are too many needy people crowding in around us. Gary said, “We ask, ‘Why do things have to be like this; why do things have to be so hard; why can’t you come through for me, God – at least once?’” Then, the author changed the setting. This time we are to imagine boarding a ship, but this time it is a battleship. We are soldiers in an army, so we have prepared for this moment through our training and hard discipline. Expectations are high – “to be in the company of other warriors playing a significant part in a great battle for the lives and freedom of others.” It is crowded here, too, but we are glad we are not alone, and we recognize that we need each other… He said the first story was about “Personal comfort, enjoyment, peacetime; vacation, and that the second story was about a “Great mission, transcendence, a time of war: the battle for freedom and life.” Then he said, “Most of us live under the illusion of the first story, while assenting to the reality of the second story. As believers, we say we understand that there is a great battle between the kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. But we live as if we were civilians and believe the battle to be an unthreatening distance away. And, so we have made our mission the quality of our lives and the controlling of external factors. We have made our lives about being on a vacation cruise liner, rather than about realizing we are on a battleship heading toward a great mission.” [Wow! What a great illustration! - Though sadly so true.] Take Your Stand When coming up against obstacles, hurdles, and turbulences in your life, which come against your faith, how do you do? Is it easy for you? Or, is it hard? In our flesh, we don’t have what it takes to be strong in the face of a spiritual battle with our enemy Satan. Yet, there is hope! In the Lord Jesus Christ and in his mighty power within us we can be strong, immovable, and steadfast in the face of our enemy, i.e. we can stand firm in our faith. We just have to yield control of our lives over to the Lord Jesus Christ and let him work in us. The Devil’s Schemes The devil has many schemes which he uses to come against believers in Jesus Christ, and most of them involve lies and deception in some form or another. One of the means he is using today against the church is a false doctrine of salvation, and a presentation of this concept of the church being more like a pleasure cruise ship rather than a battleship. These false teachers are among those who say “Peace, peace, when there is no peace,” and they dress the sin wounds of God’s people as though they are not serious (See Jer. 8:11). In other words, the focus in this pleasure cruise ship church of today is one of fun, entertainment, attracting the world, making the world comfortable there, and diluting the gospel to make it “fit.” Their presentation of the “gospel” is more like an invitation to a pleasure cruise ship than it is to a battleship. And, they give people the impression that “faith” is nothing more than a mere acknowledgment of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying for our sins, and/or that of a heart desire or need to be forgiven so we can go to heaven one day. Yet, they leave out the fact that Jesus said that if anyone is to come after him, he must die to self and sin and follow him in obedience (See Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Eph. 4:17-24). Another scheme Satan is using against the church today, in particular here in America, is convincing the church to come underneath the authority of the US government via the 501c3 incorporation status. This places the government as head of the church in place of Jesus Christ. Also included in this scheme is convincing the church that the US government is to be worshiped (See the pledge to the flag), not questioned, and that we are the “good guys” in the world, i.e. the “saviors” who go around the globe rescuing other nations. We do nothing of the kind. Our government is part of a global government which has been raping, looting, killing, and destroying the other nations of this world in order to bring us all underneath a one world government – alias or else culminating in the beast of Revelation. They are these powers of this dark world who are aiming for world domination. And, this pleasure cruise ship church is all part of their master plan for destroying the Body of Christ. The Full Armor of God We are to put on the full armor of God. So, how do we do that? Well, for one thing we must realize that it is the armor of God, and not our own flesh with which we fight this battle. The armor is given to us by God by his grace, and through our faith we take it up and adopt and accept it as our very own. Having faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we now become puppets on strings and that God just pulls the strings to make us do what he wants us to do. We have to daily choose to die to sin and self and to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives (See Lu. 9:23). Yet, we do this only in his power and strength within us, putting on HIS armor daily in order to fight this battle. When I was much, much younger, I thought that if I just prayed this armor over me each day that somehow I was then protected from the evil one. Yet, this says we must put it on, i.e. we are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually involved in this process. Even though our salvation and even our sanctification is the work of God in our lives, we must cooperate with that work. So, we must stand firm, fully prepared for action with the truth as our basis for action, with uprightness and integrity, and with the true gospel of salvation going forth from our lips (and fingers). Our faith in Jesus Christ serves as a shield of defense against Satan’s attacks, and taking our helmet of salvation, by God’s grace, shows we submit to the authority of Christ over our lives. Interestingly enough, the sword of the Spirit hangs from the belt of truth, i.e. it is based in the TRUTH of God’s word, it is his word, and if our lives are dressed for spiritual battle, then we should readily be equipped to pull out our swords whenever Satan tries to trick us, deceive us or manipulate us. We must stand against the lies of Satan by exposing them and by stating and living what is true. For All The Lord’s People Not every Christian in the world is traveling on a pleasure cruise ship. Many know the reality of the battleship firsthand. Numerous Christians are among those who are being oppressed severely at the hands of the global elite and their cohorts. They are being persecuted, imprisoned and even killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. The Day of Evil is upon us, or it is most certainly at our doorstep. Are we prepared for battle? Or, are we still under the illusion that the Christian life is a pleasure cruise ship for our fun and entertainment? We need to be in prayer seriously for our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world, but we also need to get off the pleasure cruise and join our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world on the battleship - for the lives and freedom (from sin) of others. God, I believe, is saying we need to get ready for spiritual battle here in America like we have never known before as his church. The Day of Evil is certainly very close, and we can see the rumblings of it in the church and in our government today if we have eyes to see. Our enemy is not sleeping. He is very determined. He will oppose us on every front. That is why we need to daily put on the spiritual armor of God so we are not caught sleeping, but we are fully prepared and ready to take our stand. Yet, God will allow this to purify his church, to make her ready for her husband, to revive her and to make her the shining light for the gospel that he intended her to be all along. Through adversity God will strengthen his church, and she will become mighty in battle – all in His strength and power! Amen!