Thursday, July 9, 2009

It Comes With the Territory!

Have you ever had a time when God was speaking to you about a subject and everywhere you turned you ran into it? It seems as though every sermon you hear, every book you pick up, conversations you have, songs you hear, scriptures you read from the Bible and even thoughts you have in your head are all about the subject. Well, that has been happening to me lately, and the subject is "spiritual warfare." I would have to be dumb to not see that God is trying to teach me something!

Of course we need a balance on the subject! On one side there are people who seem to look for demons under every rock. On the other end of the spectrum there are people who stick their head in the sand and don't even acknowledge the existence of demonic strongholds. To those in the first group I want to say, "Who are you magnifying--the devil or God Almighty?" To those in the second group my words are, "Wake up! There is a realm beyond what we see with the natural eye that is just as real (if not more) than what we experience with the five senses."

Yesterday someone asked me, "I keep hearing all this talk about expecting attacks of the enemy if you do anything for the Lord. Why does it have to be that way? Can't it be that I'm just protected and don't have to experience that?" I have been pondering the conversation ever since. In fact, I woke up this morning with some insight that might help answer that question.

Last week our family took a vacation on the beach at Cape San Blas, FL. We met a man who has just recently had a house built there. He told us that the house was built to resist hurricanes. The windows in the house are specially built to withstand a 2 x 4 board being hurled at them at 160 miles/hr. Why do they do that? Because they know storms WILL come, because that's where hurricanes hit--on the sea shore. It comes with the territory! If you don't want to weather through a storm, don't build a house at the beach! I don't know how much more a window like that costs than the standard windows that are in my house, but I can assure you that when the next storm comes, it will be worth the cost to the owner.

This reminds me of the what Jesus said in Matthew 7:
24."Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25.and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

To answer the question, "Do the storms have to happen if I step out and work for the Lord?" Yes! It comes with the territory! The enemy is not going to sit idly by while we are out rescuing the perishing. If you don't want to weather the storm, don't do anything to advance the Kingdom! The better question would be, "Can I be protected from storms and not be harmed just as much as if they didn't happen?" YES!! I'll give you an example...

Remember the three Hebrew children who were in exile in Babylon. They were warned that they would be thrown into the fiery furnace if they didn't fall down and worship a golden idol. Their response was, "Our God is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, but even if He doesn't, we will not bow our knee to anyone or anything beside the One True God!" (my paraphrase) So, they were wrapped with material to bind them and were thrown into the furnace. When they were in the fire, Jesus appeared with them. While they were with Jesus in the midst of the fire, instead of being bound, they were walking around free and not even hurt! They not only didn't burn up, but when they came out of the fire, the only thing that was burned up was the material wrapped around them to bind them! In fact, the Bible says that the smell of smoke was not even on them! Were they just as protected as if it never happened? Absolutely! Really, they were BETTER than if it never happened! Think of how much their faith had to have strengthened! Think of the level of getting to know Jesus they experienced that they would not have if they didn't have to go to the furnace. (See Daniel 3 in the Old Testament.)

Back to Jesus' words in Matthew. The wise man had to prepare for the storm ahead of time to be ready. You cannot just wait for the storm to come and then start building. How do we prepare? Hear what God is telling you and do it! Read His Word so you can know what He wants you to do. Spend time with Him in worship, prayer, Bible study. He knows what is ahead. He can SO prepare you if you just give Him the time of day to do it! You will start knowing His promptings and have a desire, no matter what the cost, to follow His lead.

Those who build houses on the beach have so many advantages. They get to see awesome sunsets over the ocean (or sunrises depending on which ocean); they get to experience times of relaxation laying out in the sun, or times of excitement riding the waves; they get to be lulled to sleep at night with the sound of the waves crashing into the shore; they get to find awesome shells as they walk along the shoreline. Bottom line: they get so many perks by living in the territory of the storms that is it well worth the sacrifice to be prepared for the storms.

God has proven that time and time in my life. A life of ministry for God can be hard...VERY HARD at times! However, the rewards I experience are so much greater than even the toughest times! God knows when we need respite times of rest off of the front lines. We need to take those times and allow Him to pour into us so that we will be ready to go back out to battle. Then when we go back to fight and we win with Him, He will also give us time to enjoy our winnings before going out again! Keep your eyes on Him and remember what God says..."Thus says the LORD to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle [is] not yours, but God's."

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